Re: Plant ID and Lighting

Subject: Plant ID

> I'm having a hard time identifying one of the nicest plants in m
> aquarium.  I've looked in several books (both Baensch atlases in
> can't seem to find a picture that exactly matches what I have.  
> guys can help me out...
> I suspect, especially after reading Karen's excellent article in
> a crypt that looks the way it looks because it's under low light
> I now understand that the same species of crypt can look differe
> lighting intensity.  I've had the plant for about six months, an
> (currently) a low-growing rosette type plant with reddish-brown 
> with a point on the end?) leaves on small stems.  It seems to be
> it usually puts out a new leaf every two weeks or so, straight o
> middle of the plant.  Each has three major veins - one in the mi
> near, but not on, either edge of the leaf.  The plant hasn't gai
> from the base in the time that I've had it.
> Again, this plant is under low lighting conditions - 64 watts in

It is sometimes very difficult to ID different species of Crypt 
when you can hold them in your hand, let alone via a written 
description.<g>  If I had to make a guess though, it would be 
something in the C. cordata group.  "C. blassi" is one possibility 
that is commonly sold commercially, although I am not certain 
whether this is a valid species name or not.  Under good 
conditions, with bright light and CO2 this is a rather large plant 
with long petioles, but I have some in "low tech" tanks that looks 
similar to what you describe.

Question #2:  Lighting Sources

> PetStuff was recently bought out by PetSmart.  In the ensuing fi
> picked up a flourescent light fixture for my 55-gallon.  Unfortu
> fixture only holds 42" T8 (1-inch diameter) light bulbs.  I foun
> California that carries 32 watt Sylvania bulbs which fit, so I o
> Unfortunately, I don't think these bulbs are ideal (or even clos
> a plant tank.  

I dont know what bulbs you are currently using, but there _are_ T8 
bulbs that are great for planted tanks.  I have already converted 
most of my fixtures to using them and intend to convert the rest 
as time permits.  The cost in terms of electricity _and_ 
replacement bulbs is astounding, and they are brighter than many 
(if not most) 40W fluorescents.  The ones I (and a number of my 
plant friends) use are 5000K full spectrum bulbs.  They are 
produced by both GE and Philips. (GE# F32T8-SPX50, I pay $5 per 
bulb)  The initial lumens (measured after 100 hour burn in time 
during which they are extra bright) is 2800.  The drop in lumens 
OVER THE ENTIRE life of the bulb is only 20%, as opposed to up to 
50% during the first year for many fluorescent bulbs.  They are 
rated for 24000 hours on a 12 hour start.

Because they run on an electronic ballast (a 2 bulb balast cost 
under $20) you do have to replace the ballasts in your standard 
fixtures.  The _GOOD_ thing about replacing your ballasts is that 
instead of paying for more electricity to run the ballasts, the 
electronic ballasts run at _minus_ 5% (don't ask me how... as I've 
mentioned, I am mechanically challenged) so that they actually 
reduce the cost of running the bulbs even further.  

We've been testing the lights in a number of member's tanks for 
over a year now, and one member has been running them for several 
years.  I have nothing but good to say about them.  I would never 
go back to "normal" fluorescents.

The bad news is you can't just walk into the average pet shop and 
ask for them (yet).  You won't even find them in a household-type 
lighting store.  You will have to find someone in your area who 
deals in _commercial_ lighting and have them order them for you.  
They are worth the extra effort though in terms of energy 
efficiency, $$$ saved, _and_ the increase of light.

(Gee, can't tell that I like these light, can you?<g>)