Summer Project: 5.5 Gallon Planted Tank

BlackOsprey

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Decided to try this since I have a lot of free time at the moment. I'm trying to use soil with a cap of black gravel in a 5.5 gallon tank. Right now, all I got in there is some anacharis and bonsai rotala with some really stunted growth. Not ideal but it's what was on my hands at the time.

The light I'm using is a 15 watt bulb. I'm sort of unsure if this will be enough to promote low-light to medium light plant growth. I'm currently waiting on a heater and I'll add more plants as I go along and get more money.

Any advice/suggestions would really be appreciated, especially in regards to the lighting!

Here's the tank currently. It doesn't have much water because I was busy planting, and I decided to let a few of them float for now.

DdHWXmHVwAARiog.jpg
 

danhutchins

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BlackOsprey said:
Decided to try this since I have a lot of free time at the moment. I'm trying to use soil with a cap of black gravel in a 5.5 gallon tank. Right now, all I got in there is some anacharis and bonsai rotala with some really stunted growth. Not ideal but it's what was on my hands at the time.

The light I'm using is a 15 watt bulb. I'm sort of unsure if this will be enough to promote low-light to medium light plant growth. I'm currently waiting on a heater and I'll add more plants as I go along and get more money.

Any advice/suggestions would really be appreciated, especially in regards to the lighting!

Here's the tank currently. It doesn't have much water because I was busy planting, and I decided to let a few of them float for now.

View attachment 437989
Right now you are getting 2.7 watts/gallon. I would step it up to a 20 watt or 25 watt if its possible. That way you will be able to grow what ever you want and not have to worry. Just make sure it is the right spectrum.
 
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BlackOsprey

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danhutchins said:
Right now you are getting 2.7 watts/gallon. I would step it up to a 20 watt or 25 watt if its possible. That way you will be able to grow what ever you want and not have to worry. Just make sure it is the right spectrum.
How would I know what's the "right" spectrum?
 
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BlackOsprey

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danhutchins said:
Look for something with a rating of 6500k or 7000k. That should be fine.
Okay, got any bulbs you would recommend? The lamp I'm using limits me to 13 watts for any CFL bulbs.
 

aussieJJDude

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Wpg (watts per gallon) is highly overrated... and is a rule that should be avoided. PAR is a better system to use.

I personally think your light would be fine.

Colour spectrum can easily be found if unsure. Daylight bulbs are usually 6500K, redder bulbs are lower and bluer bulbs are higher.
 

danhutchins

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BlackOsprey said:
So these kinds of LEDs work even though their wattage is much lower than fluorescent?
Yes I have both but only use one on my 55 and can grow very demanding plants. Trust me if you go with one of these you will not be disappointed. And since they are so cheap why not. They are honestly better than a bulb 100000 times.
 

ParrotCichlid

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danhutchins said:
Yes I have both but only use one on my 55 and can grow very demanding plants. Trust me if you go with one of these you will not be disappointed. And since they are so cheap why not. They are honestly better than a bulb 100000 times.
Its a 5.5g tank, not a 55? lol.

I'm no plant expert but 25w of LED seems over kill on a 5.5 tank. People was suggesting that kind of wattage for coral growth in my nano reef tank! Could be wrong though
 

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ParrotCichlid said:
Its a 5.5g tank, not a 55? lol.

I'm no plant expert but 25w of LED seems over kill on a 5.5 tank. People was suggesting that kind of wattage for coral growth in my nano reef tank! Could be wrong though
Was just going by personal experience with regular lights. That's also why I suggested an aquarium plant specific light.
 

bitseriously

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Let's break it down by power, and spectrum (temperature).
The best spectrum for freshwater planted tanks is said to be 6,500K. But there's sure to be some wiggle room around that. You can get a regular screw in bulb from the hardware, big box, or walmart in that temperature range (CFL or LED), and these will do the job, as long as they have enough power for your plants' needs. [But I don't know what those numbers would look like, sorry]
Power rating varies by the type of light. 10w of LED gives more light than 10W of CFL. [I think]
The reason watts per gallon is an incomplete metric for lighting is depth: 10W over a 10 gallon tank that is broad and shallow puts a much higher light level on the bottom level, because it's closer to the light. Conversely, the same light over a 10 gallon tank that is tall and skinny (like a hex) will yield a much lower light level at the substrate. Both are 1 WPG, but the light to the plants in different parts of the tank can be totally different.
But PAR is also difficult to work with, for beginners like me. Because different light types (LED, CFL, tubes) - and even different lights in the same type/wattage ranges - give off different amounts of light, you would need to know a) the needs of the specific plants you're trying to grow, and b) the PAR readings from a given light at the depth you are trying to grow the plants. For some lights those numbers are out there, but not for all.
But in reality, IMO, all that is overkill for this situation. ie 5.5 gal.
Your choices, as I see them, and IMHO, are:
A. normal CFL light in the right wattage/temerature range, in your existing lamp.
B. a plant-specific light, again for the fixture you already have (check this out, I have used them, and like them): (I've copied this amazon US link from canada, so sorry if any issues there).
C. Go to an LED light
A and B are easy, quick and fast solutions (so long as you're not trying to grow high-light requiring plants, which you shouldn't be unless you also plan on adding CO2). If you go to C, you have some more research and shopping to do.
Finally, you might look at a different lamp fixture to capture more of the light that you're losing, and direct it into the water (eg something with a better or larger reflector). More bang for you buck, basically. Or put a block under the fixture you have so it can be pointed directly down into your tank.
 
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BlackOsprey

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Alright, after some deliberation, I decided to go with an LED fixture meant for plants. I'll be returning the lamp I'm using now when it arrives.
Hopefully this works!
 
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BlackOsprey

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Alright, I think I'll try to keep tabs on this thing's progress from here on out. I guess this is... Day 10, maybe?
I can't really see any huge growth in the plants, but it hasn't been that long. I now have 2 rocks, a thermometer, and a heater that keeps everything at a steady 78 degrees.
I've also added a corkscrew val today, as well as two MTS's to help the cycle along or eat any dying plant stuff.

DdbSsxnVMAAu_vV.jpg
 

danhutchins

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BlackOsprey said:
Alright, I think I'll try to keep tabs on this thing's progress from here on out. I guess this is... Day 10, maybe?
I can't really see any huge growth in the plants, but it hasn't been that long. I now have 2 rocks, a thermometer, and a heater that keeps everything at a steady 78 degrees.
I've also added a corkscrew val today, as well as two MTS's to help the cycle along or eat any dying plant stuff.

View attachment 438947
At first it will seem like plants are doing nothing. Dont let this drag you down. They need time to "root" and adjust to your tank and water conditions. Could take up to a month or so to see any growth.
 
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BlackOsprey

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danhutchins said:
At first it will seem like plants are doing nothing. Dont let this drag you down. They need time to "root" and adjust to your tank and water conditions. Could take up to a month or so to see any growth.
That's alright, as long as they don't totally melt. I got all summer.
 

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BlackOsprey said:
That's alright, as long as they don't totally melt. I got all summer.
Once things start growing your vals are going to explode. I had some and it spread like wild fire. I was always cutting runners and planting the plantlets somewhere else. It's a very fast growing species. Very good for soaking up access nutrients. If you ever decide to try flourish excel it will kill your vals, just keep that in mind.
 
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BlackOsprey

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danhutchins said:
Once things start growing your vals are going to explode. I had some and it spread like wild fire. I was always cutting runners and planting the plantlets somewhere else. It's a very fast growing species. Very good for soaking up access nutrients. If you ever decide to try flourish excel it will kill your vals, just keep that in mind.
Oof. I already knew excel could kill fish but I didn't know about vals. All the more reason to not use it. Thanks for telling me!
 

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BlackOsprey said:
Oof. I already knew excel could kill fish but I didn't know about vals. All the more reason to not use it. Thanks for telling me!
No problem. If you need anything just let me know, I'm always glad to share what I know, and if I can't help I'm sure someone else can.
 
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