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Thread: What lighting for my 29 gallon planted tank?

  1. #1

    What lighting for my 29 gallon planted tank?

    I currently have a 29 gallon tank with a few plants and DIY CO2. For light, I have a 24" 20w fluorescent tube. I have a few more plants on the way and realize that my lighting could stand to be a bit brighter, both for the plants and for looks.

    So I guess my options are:

    -Buy a dual-bulb fluorescent fixture and use two of the bulbs I already have
    -Buy a single/dual T5 fixture and bulb(s)
    -Buy a single/dual compact fluorescent fixture and bulb(s)

    If you look at wattage alone, it's something like this:

    -Dual-bulb fluorescent - ~40 watts
    -T5 - ~24w single, ~48w dual
    -CF - ~65w

    I'd like to get as much light into the tank as I can without having to use pressurized CO2. I think that puts me around 2ish WPG, which means I'd need to go with Compact Fluorescent lighting.

    I'm hoping to keep this to under $100 or so ($150 very maximum).

    Am I thinking of this right? Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    More light = faster growth = more CO2 = faster nutrient uptake

    Unless you want to prune/harvest a lot, I'd suggest using the minimum light necessary to suit your eye.

    I would buy a $10 shop light and paint the outside black, but that's just me.

    If you want something more professional looking, I think the low-end Coralife fixtures are pretty decent for the price...but I hate the gold anodizing, so I paint them black too.

    Remember, the smaller dia. bulbs cost a LOT more than the good old fashioned T12s. Of course, they also use a lot less energy, but there's a trade-off for everything.
    70g corner - Re-established May 15, 2009
    220w PC; 6700k; 12 hours
    Rena XP3 w/ ~80% mechanical media
    Koralia 1 (comines w/XP3 to make around 750 gpm)
    CO2 timed with lights into AM1000 with bleed valve loop into filter outlet
    70/30 eco-complete/flourite black (130 lbs / ~4" deep)
    Learning/adjusting my dosing regimine
    Fauna - 12 Ghost Shrimp, 24 Nerite snails, 20 Gold clams, 5 Giant Danios
    Flora - Ludwigia Repens, Kleiner Bar, Hemianthus, Dwarf sword grass, Pennywart, Contortion val, Jungle val, Rotala Indica


    55gal reg - Established 2005
    80w T-12; 6700k; 12 hours
    Fluval 304 w/ 100% mechanical media
    DIY CO2
    Flourite Brown 2"-3"
    Learning/adjusting my dosing regimine
    Fauna - 6 Giant Danios, 6 Nerite snails
    Flora - Ludwigia Repens, Pennywart, Contortion val, Jungle val, Crinum, Unknown Swords, Unknown Apons

  3. #3
    Dont' judge lights by "watts per gallon". That was never a very good criteria, and is worthless today with so many light types available. You need a light that gives adequate intensity at the substrate level under the bulb, with enough and long enough bulbs to get that adequate intensity over the entire substrate. T5HO bulbs are likely to be to bright for a standard 29 gallont tank, which is 18 inches high, unless you suspend them a foot or so above the top of the tank. Doing that is actually a good idea, because it also makes the light intensity much more uniform from top to bottom of the tank, and it allows the light from a single bulb to spread out so it better covers the whole footprint of the tank. Since a 29 gallon tank is only 12 inches from front to back, a single T5HO light suspended above the tank can cover the whole tank well. A one bulb, 24" T5HO fixture, with the typical great highly polished aluminum reflector would be a very good choice, in my opinion, but not the only good choice.

    If you have reasonable woodworking or metal working skills you can make a very nice suspended light fixture, allowing you to raise and lower it to adjust the level of lighting, and with the looks that go well with the rest of your furnishings. Here is one way to do that: Another Light Fixture??
    Hoppy

  4. #4
    Yes, WPG is silly, I agree (it's power, not light output! as an engineer, this bugs the hell out of me, but most people still seem to use it. argh! end rant)

    How would I go about suspending a lamp a foot or so above the tank, short of hanging it from the ceiling? Anywhere I can see pics of this sort of thing?

    Would either of these fixtures be decent?

    Aquarium Lighting for Freshwater and Reef Systems: Nova Extreme Compact SLR T-5 Fixtures

    Aquarium Lighting for Planted & Reef Aquariums: Hagen GLO T5 HO Linear Fluorescent Fixtures




    Quote Originally Posted by VaughnH View Post
    Dont' judge lights by "watts per gallon". That was never a very good criteria, and is worthless today with so many light types available. You need a light that gives adequate intensity at the substrate level under the bulb, with enough and long enough bulbs to get that adequate intensity over the entire substrate. T5HO bulbs are likely to be to bright for a standard 29 gallont tank, which is 18 inches high, unless you suspend them a foot or so above the top of the tank. Doing that is actually a good idea, because it also makes the light intensity much more uniform from top to bottom of the tank, and it allows the light from a single bulb to spread out so it better covers the whole footprint of the tank. Since a 29 gallon tank is only 12 inches from front to back, a single T5HO light suspended above the tank can cover the whole tank well. A one bulb, 24" T5HO fixture, with the typical great highly polished aluminum reflector would be a very good choice, in my opinion, but not the only good choice.

    If you have reasonable woodworking or metal working skills you can make a very nice suspended light fixture, allowing you to raise and lower it to adjust the level of lighting, and with the looks that go well with the rest of your furnishings. Here is one way to do that: Another Light Fixture??

  5. #5
    One problem with 29 gallon tanks (16 inches tall) is that the three bulb reflectors of T12 or T8 fluorescent tubes (20/18 watt) don't get enough light to the mid-level and bottom of the tank.

    What starts at about 1700 lux 5 inches below the surface drops to about 900 lux 10 inches down and to 500 at the bottom, using broad spectrum "sunlight" bulbs.

    1500 lux is considered the minimum for most upright plants, although some low light plants can do with less.

    More watts will penetrate further, but without CO2 they will cause a mess.

    Good luck.

    Bill

  6. #6
    Thanks for the responses. My current lamp has since died - I'm using a 20" fluorescent tube from another tank but I'd really like to get something new ordered ASAP.

    I have since decided to go with T-5 lighting. I like the fact that it uses less energy and I should be able to get what I'm looking for in my price range.

    That said, I'm currently trying to decide between:

    Catalina Aquarium

    and

    Current USA Nova Extreme T5 HO 10K/Freshwater Fixture

    They're both 30" dual bulb T-5 fixtures. I'd heard a lot of good things about CA and their products on another forum which is one reason I'm considering them.

    A few more questions:

    - Will a double tube T-5 be too much for my tank with only DIY CO2?

    - My tank is 30" long, but it seems most of the 30" fixtures are actually just using 24" bulbs. So should I just get a 24" fixture since it's cheaper and more adaptable?

    Thanks!

  7. #7
    The photo of the Catalina fixture doesn't show the reflector, but it is likely to be much like that in the Nova fixture. And, that isn't nearly as good a reflector as we normally see in a T5HO fixture. That is the good news. If the fixtures had the usual, single tube, highly polished, reflectors, they would be much too much light for a 29 gallon tank, but with the single, basically flat reflector used in the Nova fixture, you might not have too much light. I suggest you hang the fixture above the tank so you can adjust its height, and control the intensity and uniformity of the lighting that way.
    Hoppy

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by VaughnH View Post
    The photo of the Catalina fixture doesn't show the reflector, but it is likely to be much like that in the Nova fixture. And, that isn't nearly as good a reflector as we normally see in a T5HO fixture. That is the good news. If the fixtures had the usual, single tube, highly polished, reflectors, they would be much too much light for a 29 gallon tank, but with the single, basically flat reflector used in the Nova fixture, you might not have too much light. I suggest you hang the fixture above the tank so you can adjust its height, and control the intensity and uniformity of the lighting that way.
    Thanks for the reply. I ended up going with a 2x24w 30" Catalina Aquarium Solar T5 fixture. They threw in the legs for free so I'll probably mount it on them and see how things go from there.

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