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Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #676

> From: Dennis8425 at aol_com
> Subject: light ideas please
> After reapeated requests my wife is getting her 60 gallon Hex tank for
> Xmas.  I have already started working on the custom oak stand but am
> a little puzzled on how to properly light it.  [...]
> Has any one set up a 60 gallon hex tank for plants?  And what did you use
> for lighting.?  Suggestions please.
> Dennis

I have such a tank set up for plants.

I got a 175W Metal Halide that mounts on the sides of the
tank. I ordered it from Aquatic Lighting Systems (aquaticlight.com),
but they no longer have anything but retrofit kits on their 
web page. I really like this fixture, maybe if you call them
they still have some. 

This worked OK, but not great. The plants never pearled, and
plants near the bottom of the tank did poorly, and there was
algae. So I went to Home Depot and got two clamp lamps and
two Lights of America 40W compact fluorescent bulbs. These
bulbs screw into a regular light fixture. They have a ballast
in the base.

I took a board, set it over the top of the MH fixture, and
clamped a clamp lamp on either end. Since the CF bulbs jut
beyond the clamp lamp reflector, this got light all over the
room. So I went back to the Home Depot and got some mirrored
floor tiles. I leaned them against the MH fixture, so all the
CF light gets reflected into the bottom of the tank. A couple
manilla folders screen the light that gets around the mirrors.

This seems to be working OK. I've got java fern, Mayaca, H.
zosterfolia, Hygrophilia difformis and Ammania senegalensis 
doing very well. I've got an Echinodorus osiris, an onion 
plant, an Aponogeton rigidfolius, some E. quadricostatus, some
corkscrew val, and some Peruvian ludwigia that are not dead yet. 
We'll see. I just added some Bacopa. I have had DIY CO2 running
in the tank since I set it up 9 months ago. Since I added the
clamp lamps and mirrors 2 months ago, everything bubbles away.
There is Natural Gold laterite in the gravel. No other fancy 

The tank has still got some algae, but I think that's because
I give the pike cichlid in there too many goldfish. The Lights
of America CFs are pretty yellowish, which seems to contribute
to the algae, or maybe I imagine that. I tried making my own
hood with three clamp lamps for a 30 gallon tank, but it was
too ugly due to the yellow light, and pointing the clamp lamps 
straight down caused the bulbs to burn out in a couple weeks 
from the heat rising directly onto the ballast. The lamps are 
clamped sideways over the hex tanks and they have lasted two
months so far.

I posted a picture of the tank to alt.binaires.aquaria so you
can check it out. The pike is looking at you head on under the
angelfish in the middle. There is also a ghost knife, a fancy
pleco (L-114), some giant otos, and some whiptail cats in there.
My original plan was to do leaf fish, which did not work. They
died, and I'm not sure why. The water conditions were good, 
nitrates never got over 10 ppm, and they weren't being harassed 
by the pike or the angels. Maybe it was pH fluctuations due to
the CO2, I don't know.