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Old 08-01-2013, 01:19 PM   #1 
Fin Fancier
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DIY plant lighting

I've been courious as to late how members rig up lighting to compensate for the poor quality lighting that comes with some tanks. I got a 6 gallon pillar a while back, and due to not liking the filter it came with (the lighting is hooked up to the filter which is dumb) I can't even use the led function. I want to add some plants, but so far have just been borrowing the hood of a different aquarium to give the plants the light they need, needless to say this does not look pretty as the pillar is circular, and the bow front I stole my light from is not. I was trying to think up a better way to light the tank. Any suggestions or favorite lights you've used to DIY a plant set up?
I was thinking of looking in to some something that might work with a desk lamp since the tank is kind of tall.
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Old 08-01-2013, 01:35 PM   #2 
Oldfishlady
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I scrap the hoods on all my planted tanks, however, I usually will still use the light strip itself-I just swap out the light bulb for one that is better for plants.

I use and buy my light strips and bulbs in the lighting dept-not the aquarium dept. IME-florescent 6500k bulbs is what has worked best for my planted tanks, however, the color temp of florescent bulbs can be used up and you will have to change the light bulb every year, otherwise, you can sometimes see algae problems, poor growth and even plant deaths with some species.

When I remove the hood and keep the light strip-sometimes the light strip is too small/short and I have to make slats for the light strips to sit on. I usually use yard sticks I cut to fit for the light strip to rest on. On some the light strip is long enough to rest just on the inside lip of the tank

For my big tanks-I use the shop light strips with the 40w 6500k bulbs-I hang them over my tanks on chains so I can control the height over the tank.
For the smaller tanks-this can be more of a challenge-especially if it came with LED's and no way to swap out the light bulbs for the correct color temp bulbs. You could use the clip on lights or a sunny window to get the need light, however, with natural light you can run into some problems sometimes-over heating, algae, too short photoperiod to name a few.

Sometimes you have to get creative and go through a bit of trial and error and sometimes accept something that doesn't look as nice as what you would like for the sake of plant growth...
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Old 08-01-2013, 01:41 PM   #3 
InfiniteGlory
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There is a link in my signature that shows my adventure in LED lighting.
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Old 08-01-2013, 06:22 PM   #4 
Aluka
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the easiest for a small tank is use one of those clip on desk lights and buy a 6500k cfl for it.
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Old 08-02-2013, 11:02 PM   #5 
Shadowsun
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I'm in basically the same position the OP is in; most of the aquarium lighting I've seen is too large and too expensive for my tank. If I go with the desk lamp and alternate lightbulb suggestion would the watts per gallon be calculated the same as with standard aquarium lighting? (ex. a 15 watt bulb would provide 3 wpg in my 5 gallon tank). My aquarium hood isn't transparent, so if I used a lamp to the side of my aquarium instead of over the top of it would this change anything?
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Old 08-02-2013, 11:11 PM   #6 
Aluka
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just take off the hood if you are doing to use a desk light. A 13 watt cfl 6500k is more than enough for a 5 gallon tank.
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Old 08-03-2013, 02:40 AM   #7 
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clip on light for me too, I have a 9w CFL for my 2.5, its great.
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Old 08-03-2013, 10:01 AM   #8 
Fin Fancier
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Thanks everyone. I was looking on the home depot website and found a pack of 13watt 6500k cfl bulbs 4 for 8.79 which is crazy considering 1 6500k bulb at a petsmart is like 9$. I'm starting to like this option, now to find some desk lamp options.
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