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Lighting, reflectivity & potted swords

This may really seem to be a dumb question, but! (forgive me, but I'm 
relatively new at this).

I keep defying the rule "If it works don't fix it". I'm remodeling my 20 
gallon long tank that is outfitted with a single 20 watt daylight 
flourescent. The plants in there are flourishing: a few swords, water sprite, 
anubias, java moss, fontanalis, java fern. (My intentions were to move the 
lower light plants into another tank and bring in some other higher light 
plants). I attribute the higher-light plants doing well because of a window 
nearby. I also, noticed, that although less wattage per gallon than my 55, it 
appeared significantly brighter. The 55 has a mostly dark gravel, and the 20 
had white gravel. Because of an untimely demise by my diligent pleco about a 
month ago, the white gravel has been discoloring with algae, etc. I decided 
to remove some of the top layer of gravel, leaving most of the old gravel 
below, and surface it with a brown gravel. I'm planning on adding another 
strip light, and the neons and cardinals and cory cats will prefer the darker 
bottom, as I understand it, while plants would get more light. Here's the 
question (and I warned you it may be really dumb)--I know there has been some 
discussion here about the differences in how our eyes perceive light and how 
much light is actually being produced, and/or being utilized by the plants. 
There's also been discussion about reflectivity of materials used in 
flourescent strips--this, I reason, would apply to the entire tank as 
well--backgrounds, bottom material, etc. So, obviously the tank now appears a 
good deal darker than it did, darker, in fact than the 55. The light being 
produced is obviously the same, the lumen output the same, but would the 
amount of light available to the plants be lessened by less reflectivity 
occurring within the tank? 

Any ideas?

I also decided to pull the swords out of their pots, which I'd only potted 
about a month ago and plant in the gravel (I was concerned about rot, which 
I'd read about in archives). I was distressed to see the root system had 
grown throughout the soil and wrapped around the pot. Obviously they seem to 
flourish in a peat and soil base . Unfortunately, my tank is gravel only, as 
I never intended to get as involved in planting when the tank was set up--it 
was supposed to be just fish.  Question: How successful is plain 
run-of-the-mill gravel only on rooting plants? (Maybe I should tear down and 
start over and do it right?)

My thanks on your patience and any ideas . . .