CFL Lighting In Small Tank - Betta Fish and Betta Fish Care
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-13-2020, 06:29 PM Thread Starter
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CFL Lighting In Small Tank

I am getting ready to set my baby Polaris up in her new 2.5g tank. It is a Minibow, with their old-style lid that uses a standard household socket, not LED's. I bought these CFL bulbs that fit quite well in the hood and seem a nice bright white- https://www.lowes.com/pd/SYLVANIA-60...ack/1000074261 ... but I don't know if they're any good for plants!

Would I be able to keep a couple of plants alive under such a light? It's equivalent to 60W (real wattage 13W) and the tank is only 2.5g, so I'm wondering if the light will be too bright? I have Anubias and Java Fern already that I can transplant into this new tank but I feel like they would appreciate dimmer light, right? I'm not trying to either fry any potential plants or blind my poor betta. Maybe some sort of floating plant that likes a decently bright light?

The next step down that the store had for wattage (that would also fit in the hood) was a 25W incandescent, which I don't prefer because of the yellow tint and for how hot incandescents get, which is why I went for a 60W-equivalent CFL.


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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-13-2020, 07:42 PM
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Well I know that a 25 watt incandescent also come in different colors like bright white and cool white (which I think cool white are the ones with a yellow tint. But they also have incandescent aquarium bulbs and plant light bulbs. In the old days of fish keeping we only had incandescent lighting for all of our tanks. and yes they gave off a lot of heat. But then back then the heaters were not real good so the lighting created the heat to make up for the bad heaters.

I would say The CFL bulb would be about right for low light plants But if you can find a two light fixture to place on top of the 2.5 I would put in a 25 - 40 CFL bulb and a UV bulb to make up for the sun light the plants are not getting.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-13-2020, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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Oh yup, I know incandescents come in various tints- but the store only had bare-glass bulbs in the right size, which is why I mentioned the yellow tint. Should have made that more clear. :) And I was honestly surprised that all their "plant" lights with good spectrum coverage were either halogen with their special settings or else LEDs that were much too big to fit in my dinky lid! Probably could have found something better if I'd gone looking online, but it made sense to go to a physical store at the time.

I just got the tank set up and dang, that light is bright to my eye. Hopefully when it's daylight out I can gauge if it's going to be too bright for my betta's comfort or not.


(Pardon the bubbles, and she'll have a cave once I finish sanding the sharp spots)

I will keep UV and supplemental lights in mind, thank you!


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-14-2020, 12:12 AM
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Personally, knowing that a 60 watt bulb is enough to give decent light in my small bathroom, I think it's going to overwhelm your tank and probably do a great job of growing algae. It might be bright enough to stress out your betta since they tend to be shade, dim light, loving fish.

One of the first things I tend to do when I get a tank that comes with a lid is try and find a glass lid that will fit the tank, that way I have more options when it comes to lights. If I can't find a glass lid I will make a cover out of plastic craft mesh, or keep the water line 1 inch below the top of the tank, that way I can choose my own light and keep the betta from trying to explore the room, and then 'll put the lid, that the tank came with. back on at night to slow down water evaporation.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-14-2020, 06:23 AM
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I really thin Rainbo is right here about the 60 watt. I think I would lower the wattage to around 25 watts. Betta really do not like very bright light. I also have done what Rainbo has as far as putting a glass canopy on each one of my tanks, instead of the hoods that came with them. I usually take the LED lighting that came with the hood and tape in to the top of the glass. You see that lighting is low light and works well for the plants and I have plants that float over head for my betta's comfort and stress level since they tend to be scared of over head predators. ( yeah I know that is not likely in a 5.5 gallon tank but try and tell that to a betta. LOL)

There is a tank light sold at Walmart pet dept. for less than $20.00 that is an LED and gives off the light you would need There is a single bar and a double bar I use the double bar in a few of my tanks and it's not to bright for my betta but does light up the tank and grow plants. You might want to look into that also. If any thing you could hang it above the tank if it is to large or long. You may also look into a piece of plexa glass that you could have cut at a hardware store to fit the top of your tank. Give them the dimension's and where you need the cuts for filter and heater and they could do it while you wait.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-14-2020, 10:38 AM
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I've had a 13W CFL on a lamp that was a few inches over my 5g and it was about right, as you have found out, it may be a little too bright for your liking right above the water line in your 2.5.
The bulb is also 5000k and while the the sole indicator of how a plant will fare, more times than not you want to tend towards the 6500k range for your bulb.
There are good options above that I will not rehash, I know for my Saffron who's more on the timid side, I covered the top of his tank with floating plants.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-14-2020, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks folks! I'm going to give it a test run for a couple of hours today to see if the light bothers my girl and if it really is that bright in daylight, and see where to go from there.

Probably I will downgrade the light, or might look around for a cheap tank kit that has a more versatile lid- I feel like the cost of getting a lid to fit this tank, because of the curved front making cutting tricky, is not going to be much less than starting over with a new tank (And then I'll have another tank! Yay! lol) Craft mesh would have worked fine but my apartment is so dusty I can't have an open-topped tank. Maybe I can slide some mesh between the lightbulb and the tank with the lid on, and dim the light that way for now.


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