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Thread: The Ground Up

  1. #1

    The Ground Up

    I'm in the process of putting together a planted aquarium which I'm starting from scratch. I just finished building the cabinet & canopy and now starting to put together the lighting. I am using a 38 gal, 24" tall tank. Originally I was planning on using 2 - 24" 40W HO bulbs with low lighting plants but now I'm not sure if that would be sufficient given the depth of the tank. Would I be better off going to VHO & 2 75W bulbs? Thanks for any input.

  2. #2
    It is the reflectors that determine how well any light will work at a 24 inch depth. That is why T5 lights are so good. Here is one source of kits for T5 installations: Next best, in my opinion, are the light kits from AH Supply, 36 or 55 watt Bright Kits, which I am using. You can buy good reflectors that could be used with T8 bulbs, but I don't think they will be as good as the others.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the links, I'm definitely checking them out. Right now i have a Coralife Aqua mirror for a reflector. Would 150W be too much light for the size tank i have? I understand that plant's growth rate is encouraged/limited by light, nutrients, & available CO2. But would this much light be overkill?

  4. #4
    150 watts would be almost 4 watts per gallon, so unless those lights are raised above the tank by 10 inches or more I think it is too much light. With that much light you will need to maintain very close control of your CO2, to keep it at 30 ppm every day during the time the lights are on. You will need to be sure to provide all of the nitrates, phosphates, potassium and trace elements the plants need, even as the plants grow and increase their demand. And, you will need to constantly monitor the water circulation in the tank to make sure there are no areas not receiving good water flow at all times. Of course maintaining good water and substrate cleanliness will also be essential. You can do all of that, but it's hard to imagine enjoying the tank with that work load always there.


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