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darkness period + extended photo period.

Hi all,
I finally set up my 65 gallon 1st proper plant aquarium. Yay!
I will have the lights on for 12 hours per day, correct? why do some people
have a 10 hour photoperiod for a tropical tank?

When the lights are off must the tank be pitch black? Is it ok if the tank
lights are off but the room lights on? eg at night? will this small amount
of light reaching the plants make the plants photosythesize weakly or will
they respire as if it was dark? i supose the ambient lighting should be no
problem as its probably no brighter then full moon light?

Also is it ok say once a week to have the lights on for a few extra hours
(3 to4) when entertaining? will this cause harm to the plants?

Thanks in advance.
bevgreen at cygnus_uwa.net.au