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RE: 2 Watts/Gallon -- It's just a rule of thumb.
I have some additional comments to add to Wright's input.
Wright Huntley said:
"I have always liked the 2W/G of NO T12 fluorescents in a normal aluminum
(85%) or white (90%+) reflector as a good rule of thumb. A 40W (5000K) AH
"Bright Kit" gave me well over twice as much as I was expecting from the
Wattage alone. [My guess is that the tank would have cried for CO2 at about
0.75W/G! I had 2.7W/G!]
After the shock of the rapid algae growth and nutrient "instant imbalance,"
I would suggest anyone just getting going stick to about 1W/G of
AH-Supply-style lighting. Most plants will grow well, and the system will be
a bit more forgiving, IMHO."
I for one jumped into this with both feet about 1.5 years ago (I have had
tanks before, not a plant tank). I ordered a 2x55W bright kit for my 30G
XT. I have to say that my tank was overrun by thread algae for some time
(1-2 months): I had to pull plants out and hand remove algae, dip them in
mild bleach solutions, etc., etc. But... once the tank settled down I have
seen some pretty amazing growth from my plants (admittedly easy to grow
plants), and some great red color from Rotala Macrandra.
Yes, I inject CO2 via the low pressure method made (in)famous by another
list contributer, and I have very high CO2 concentrations (as far as I can
tell, since I drop the pH from natural 7.8 - 8.0+ to 6.9 - 7.0), but I have
to remove about a 1/2 pound of plants trimmings per week (mostly just
rotala), and I think the tank looks nice. And the fish seem to love it,
even the Discus (3 little ones) are out and about all the time.
Although the 2x55W kits are bright as h-ll, they have been very good for me
personally. Without CO2 though, it would just be an algae machine... I
broke the Eheim diffuser recently, and in the time it took to get a new one
(1 week), thick clumps of algae had started to grow on the upper rotala
reaches. Thankfully, everything is back to steady state.
Just my comments.
From Tracy, California... where it may actually snow tonight!