Too little light for low light?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Plants' started by DanGer1285, Jan 5, 2013.

  1. DanGer1285Valued MemberMember

    Not really knowing much about the lighting other than "on/off" I went out and bought two new lids for my new 55gal tank. Ideally I'd like to put some low light plants in, I didn't think it would really matter too much what the lighting was if I was only putting in the really low light beginner stuff like java fern (one post I read said it would probably grow in a closed toilet).

    I got two hoods, each houses an 18" T8 bulb (comes stock with a Marineland F15T8 apparently rated at 6500k).

    The tank is 55gal, 21" deep. The light would sit right on top of the water, more or less.

    Is this at all suitable or is it way too low? Would upgrading the bulb (but staying with the same T8 fixture) help at all? If yes, could you suggest a more suitable bulb? If no, what would be a more suitable option without breaking the bank? The guy at my LFS was telling me about glass covers and light bars that just sit on top but they were upwards of $250 (+the glass) and I'm not sure the wife would allow me to live if I brought that home.

    FYI: Nothing has been used in this tank yet, everything is still brand new in wrappers and empty - I'm content with my established tank for now - but planning ahead for this newer, bigger one and buying things over time.

    Thanks for the help.
  2. Orion5Well Known MemberMember


    I'm curious, how many watts is the bulb?

  3. Matt BWell Known MemberMember

    It should be 15W.

    I really think java fern would grow with those bulbs, I've grown it in lower light than that. However, if you think you may become interested in more varieties of plants later, I would put on the glass tops and go with a full length normal output dual t5. You can also go for higher light with a high output fixture but things generally become more complicated, involving ferts, co2 etc.

    Here is a link for easy diy sliding glass tops, they're what I use on my tanks:
  4. Matt BWell Known MemberMember

  5. AlanGreeneWell Known MemberMember

    I have the worst tank hood ever right now with a bad yellowish light that is pretty weak and my Java fern has been okay for the past few months!
  6. DanGer1285Valued MemberMember

    @Orion - Matt B is correct, they are 15W.

    As for the DIY - I don't think I'm ready for anything like that. I'm more of a "throw money at a problem to make it go away" instead of "do it myself." I'd rather spend a little more to get something that is done "right" and comes with a warranty instead of buying some materials and then breaking them all and being SOL :p (I've tried my hand and handiwork before, it wasn't pretty)

    Thanks for the advice. I think I'll return these hoods and see about getting a glass-top and 48" dual light bar. If they're only like $60, that's not bad at all. Although I know I should account for CDN$ and LFS prices and expect it to be a bunch more.

    @AlanGreene - thanks for the input. I'm hoping to get whatever plants I end up with (java fern or other) to be lush and thrive (HOPING), so I'd like to make sure I have enough light for that. Surviving isn't the standard I'm hoping to achieve, but I realize I'm already at a disadvantage with these being my first kick at the plant-can.
  7. DanGer1285Valued MemberMember

    So I bit the bullet and spent some extra dollars and got a dual bulb T5HO. Shouldn't have any trouble growing my low light plants now, the trouble may be dialing it back so I don't get too much light that I need to start investing in high tech plant gear.

  8. Matt BWell Known MemberMember

    To start, you could take one bulb out and that should put you closer to medium lighting. You may have to fiddle with photo-periods to avoid algae. I kind of work backwards but I'm not the most experienced plant keeper but I tend to start out with longer periods and dial them back if I see algae, remember most plants need a photo period of at least 4 hours.
  9. DanGer1285Valued MemberMember

    I was thinking I'll likely get a timer for the light regardless of how long I'll be putting it on, at least that way it was consistent.

    The lady at the LFS told me that the fixture I chose is great but the bulbs are lackluster for plants. I'll take a closer look at them in the near future (read: 'when my girlfriend leaves and doesn't see them just yet') and get the specific specs of the bulbs. Maybe if one of them would be sufficient for low light I could just leave one in and have a back up ready to go for the future.

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