Plant Bulbs, Newbie Questions and Big Sig lines

Subject: Aquatic Plant Bulbs

> Are actinic bulbs ok to use in a freshwater plant tank?  I want 
> some red plants and one actinic bulb was recommended for them. D
> like a lot of blue light?  So that this bulb does not give me a 
> using one "red" and one "50/50" bulb was recommended to offset t
> How does this sound?  What bulbs are considered "red" bulbs?  Ot
> Coralifes 50/50 bulb, what are some other bulbs that fit the 50/
> Thank you in adavance for the help. 

This wa not the only post in the last APD on using actinic or 
50/50 bulbs in a planted tank.  Actinic bulbs were developed for 
use in reef tanks, where many photosynthetic organisms live at a 
much greater depth than aquatic plants.  Actinic lighting is 
_definitely_ not necessary in a planted tank, and there is some 
anecdotal evidence that it can lead to algae problems.  

While it is true that plants use light in the red and blue areas 
of the spectrum most efficiently, they are capable of using all 
areas of the specrum at least to some degree.  It has been pretty 
well established that intensity is more important than spectrum.  
Most aquarists also feel that a balanced full spectrum "daylight" 
bulb (@ 5000K) produces a more attractive color light. A 
combination of just red and blue light tends to make the tank look 

Finally, since intensity is most important, it makes little sense 
to spend lots of money on a single buble, when the same investment 
could buy you several good quality 5000K T-8's or probably at 
least a couple of Vitalites.


Subject: Newbie Questions....

> I am planning making my 20g (30"X17"X10") tank into a heavily pl
> setup, perhaps with a school of neons or a some such small accen
> most; the tank has been setup for 3 years, housing at first Afri
> Cichilids, and currently two small and messy oscars; it has a su
> fine gravel (2-4mm) about 2 1/2 inches thick; lighting is compos
> Vitalite twist and a 24" Triton in the hood (it was originally s
> planted tank); a Penguin power filter is the only filtration.
> I was planning on chucking the Penguin power filter and putting 
> smallest Ehiem canister filter with varying mechanical, and carb
> filtration,

An Ehiem canister is fine, but your Penguin isn't a bad fitler 
either.  Just remove the bio-wheel if it has one.  You should not 
need chemical filtration in a properly designed planted tank, so 
skip the carbon.

> and perhaps adding a 1/2 inch to an inch more of sub
> (sand?), dosing the bottom of the tank with laterite, adding a D
> (yeast method) injection system, and sticking with the two 24" f
> fixtures...

Those are all good steps to take.  Make sure your bulbs are not 
over a year old.

> Does this sound like a go for most plants? Is the lighting inade
> the canister filter a good choice or would an Aquaclear on the b
> well...? From what I have surmised a slow flow of water is optim
> these "lush" growth tanks...?

Slow flow is _not_ optimal in a planted tank.  minimal _surface_ 
agitation is.  As long as the current is below the surface, water 
movement is appreciated by many if not most plants.  Many of us 
add power heads to our tanks to increase water circulation below 
the surface.


Subject: B I G signature lines.

Hey guys, the big clever sigs are cute...once.  But it's getting 
so half of each APD is taken up by sig lines longer than the posts 
above them.  Can we go back to a couple of lines?  Please?

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Assoc.
Boston, MA