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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hmm... I am not sure how to balance my fish's needs against my plants' needs. I currently have a desk lamp - a 13w Ott-light task lamp, which I can't find exact specs for but it supposed to be ~5500-5900K. I have a 5gal filtered, heated aquarium with a few plants - 1 anubias, 6-7 water wisteria, a bunch of watersprite, 6-7 pennywort. They are pretty small, though, and I would like them to grow and multiply!

...But I don't want to disturb my fish in the process...

Lights on:
* Plants need it!

Lights off:
* From what I understand, bettas prefer dark water...
* When the aquarium light is on and I am gone, the room is dark - that means the tank walls are reflective. I am wondering if this is why he's picked up such a pernicious habit of glass surfing... he does it much less when the room/tank is dark :(

I don't get a ton of natural light in my room (sigh, north-facing windows). Any creative solutions?
 

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I give my planted betta tank 12+ hours of light, my bettas are doing just fine. Humans just think Betta's need their 8 hours of sleep, lol
 

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Here's an easy solution, get some big leafy plants and some floating plants. Break up the light. The plants get all that bright light, the fish gets to be in shadow.

Remember, fish come from the wild--with the sun. Brighter than any lights we can make! They can hide in the shadows of plants and roots and feel safe and secure. :)

Give them places to escape the light if you are worried, but most tend to be fine in the light.

But of course, watch them and all. See if they react differently. If a fish starts freaking out and eating his tail, maybe he is stressed.
 

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I know this sounds kind of counter-productive, but maybe you want to up the kelvins of your light bulb? Those kind of plants thrive better in 6500k bulbs- that being said, your plants will grow better and faster with a stronger kelvin bulb. I had a 5500k when I first started- I had wisteria. However, once I got a 6500k bulb, I noticed QUITE a bit of difference xD Those things grow pretty fast once they get in the right conditions... Anyway!
I say that 'cause once your plants grow out more, it will help block out the reflection in the tank, which will in turn give your guy less chance to seeing his relfection as well as give him places to hide if he gets too freaked out..
If his glass surfing seems to stress him out to where it's evident that his health is declining- then you will have to intervine in some other manner. One solution is adding a background- not too light and not too dark; otherwise he'll more than likely still see himself... Another, put him in a less reflective tank temporarily until the plants grow out more and then see how well he does... If that doesn't work... seems like you'll have to do without plants that rely on light hardcore if worse comes to worse... Hopefully it doesn't turn out that way.
My betta loves flaring and surfing at his reflection. I noticed that once the wisteria grew up, though, he's less prone to doing it... but even then, he never declined in health and his appetite never waned in any way whatsoever... If anything, it can provide exercise for your fish so long as it's not hurting him ^.^ So there's an upside!

Edit: Also, have you tried angling your desk lamp? Not sure if it's like one of those snakey-bendable kind of lamps... >.>... but if it is, then you should try that. It's more or less the way the light is bouncing off of the tank walls that enhances reflections, so if you can adjust the light in a way to where it still provides light for your plants, but not so much light to where your betta can see it, then that might help as well.
 

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For the desk light does it use regular light bulbs or ones that are tiny and are on their side? Because at Petco they have some light bulbs that would work if they are regular. They are also 6500k. I am agreeing with Draug
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the feedback!

I tried raising the light stand (by putting a box under it) and angling it a little, but honestly I have no idea if that makes the surfaces more or less reflective. Any intuition? Is light closer to the water surface or further away better? Better to be parallel to the water surface or a 45* angle? Or something else?

Also, until the plants grow out, I was thinking maybe I could get some large, leafy silk plants to block off the glass... does that sound like it might help?

purplemuffin said:
Here's an easy solution, get some big leafy plants and some floating plants. Break up the light. The plants get all that bright light, the fish gets to be in shadow.

Remember, fish come from the wild--with the sun. Brighter than any lights we can make! They can hide in the shadows of plants and roots and feel safe and secure. :)
Good point! I guess that's true that they are used to the sun being around =)

Draug Isilme said:
I know this sounds kind of counter-productive, but maybe you want to up the kelvins of your light bulb? Those kind of plants thrive better in 6500k bulbs- that being said, your plants will grow better and faster with a stronger kelvin bulb. I had a 5500k when I first started- I had wisteria. However, once I got a 6500k bulb, I noticed QUITE a bit of difference
Thanks for sharing... yeah, I think I'd like to try that! So far the wisteria has been growing slowly - they have been putting out roots and growing a little, just not really noticeably week to week. I'd like them to grow faster! I have to figure out what fixture/bulb to get for a 5gal... since I'm not sure whether my desk-lamp solution will accept other bulbs.

Also, for a medium color background - is paper-bag brown a good medium?

kfryman said:
For the desk light does it use regular light bulbs or ones that are tiny and are on their side?
Here's what the bulb looks like:
http://www.ottlite.com/p-323-13-watt-replacement-tube.aspx

Do you think a Home Depot or Petco bulb will fit in the same fixture? Otherwise, maybe I will move this for use as an *actual* desk lamp and get something else for the aquarium. =)

djembekah said:
i think Ott lights have a particular kind of bulb. we sell them at Michael's, and I think they're extra bright for working on small crafts.
Yeah - I happened to buy on Amazon, but I have seen it at JoAnn Fabrics and Michaels as a craft light.
 

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I'm the same way as Bombalurina- I've done it before with nail polish, but never felt 100% comfortable... Gloves are definitely a good alternative. If not, make sure you wash your hands thouroughly, ESPECIALLY if you're going to clean it after you're going to use nail polish remover... Main reason why I say that is I've waited a day or so without washing my hands after using nail polish remover... ate some food- it got on my fingers.. I used my mouth and BLEH! >.< That stuff can really cling... I can only imagine how much of that stuff can leak into a tank if it was that way with me... Definitely does better to be safe than sorry!
So yeah, if you do clean the tank without gloves, I'd say leave the nail polish on- Now that I think of it, I remember that you can treat snail shells with nail polish if they have small cracks (you apply it on them out of the water and wait till it dries before putting them back in their aquarium- it's not harmful when it dries and if it is I assume the toxicity level is not noticeable for you tank mates; kinda like low ammonia ppm- won't hurt them in small quantities). It seems like if you cleaned your nails the nail polish remover would definitely leak into the tank and be more harmful to your fish than the nail polish.
 

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Oops, my bad -.-;; I read some of the threads that I had in my notifications and went back... Shoulda double checked before I posted... Sorry!!

Edit: Oh wait, I know what happened! I usually type my stuff up in wordpad and I made one for this, but apparently I forgot to copy that particular one after I typed it up, so it ended up posting the previous one I typed up for a different thread... I'll fix it!!
Edit edit: .... or not, since apparently I'm unable to edit after a certain time period(?) I can't delete it, either, so if someone could get rid of that one, it would be great! Eh... oh well... Here's what the previous post was supposed to say from me:
Hopefully you'll get your lighting situation worked out to where you'll have better lighting ^.^ You'll really notice the difference in your faster growing plants with the right conditions.
A paper-bag brown background sounds good ^.^ Sounds like it would have a very 'flat' look, if you know what I mean... so it sounds like reflections would be minimal to non-existant. Definitely give it a try when you get the chance and see if it makes a difference.
 

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Trouble with Ott-Lites (in my experience) is guessing at the Kelvin rating of their bulbs. I can't find that info on their website. And the K varies from one fixture style to another.

Also, I have a hard time finding replacements other than Ott brand bulbs, which are expensive.

I got real simple with a cheap second-hand screw-in desk lamp and spiral CFL bulbs rated at 6500K. Done and done.
 

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I'm seeing lots of good advice here, but I thought I'd chime in a little.

Plants will grow fine with a bulb in the 5000-7000K spectrum. ~6500K is ideal, yes, but you won't have magically better results going from a 5500K to a 6500K bulb.

I really recommend reading over Byron's four part guide for plants, it is full of information you may find useful, and also stop by the plant section on the forums here. Lots of helpful people.

http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/...approach-natural-planted-aquarium-part-34861/

You have Water Sprite, which can be grown floating and is actually very good at it. Floating plants provide excellent shade for the fish below, and most fish thrive under the cover of them. Fish do need rest, and do need periods of absolute darkness each day. Bright lighting, as you've seen, is stressful to these fish. Most tropical fish come from forests and marshes where there is a thick canopy of trees providing shade, they are not exposed to direct sunlight all day.

Are you using a fertilizer? A comprehensive fertilizer like Flourish is ideal as it provides all the nutrients plants require in the correct proportions with the exception of light and CO2. Your fish and decaying mater will provide all the CO2 you need, and your lamp will provide the light. The photo period (the time the lights are on) should be kept under 12 hours a day.

Plants will photosynthesis all out until they run out of a nutrient they need. Once they run out of a single nutrient, they stop. You really want your light to be the limiting factor, because otherwise algae will take advantage. With light being the limiting factor, algae does not stand much of a chance as the plants will out compete it for nutrients. There will always be some, and a little is good, but it will never explode if you limit your light (either by intensity or duration).

The lamp you currently have is more than sufficient for a 5g aquarium. How old is the bulb? Fluorescent bulbs only maintain their full spectrum intensity for about 1 year, after which they need replaced. Your eyes won't notice a difference, but the plants will. The 'angel' won't mater, straight down is fine. The distance from the surface however does, the closer it is the more intense it will be for the plants.

You may consider getting a fixture that uses are regular spiral CFL and use a 10W 6500K bulb. That could safely be placed directly over the tank and provide a moderate light level.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks Geomancer! I really like Byron's guide. To answer your questions:

- Yep, I've left the water sprite floating. Since it's so feathery, it filters rather than completely blocks out the light.
- I have Flourish "comprehensive" - which says it's all the micronutrients and doesn't include macro. Is that the right one? Should I get Excel?
- The lamp is about 9 months old now. I'll swing by the hardware store and pick up a cheapo lamp + 6500k CFLs and see if it helps... seems like it's worth a try.
 

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Flourish Comprehensive is ideal, it is the one I was talking about. With a 5g tank a bottle will last you a long time. 5 mL / 60 gallons comes out to 0.42 mL / 5 gallons each week. The smallest 250 mL bottle would last you 600 weeks which is about 11.5 years ;) Thankfully it does not have an expiration date.

Smaller bottles exist (down to 50 mL bottles) but the smallest I've seen in my area is the 250 and 500 mL (they go up to 2L bottles).

Excel is a carbon supplement, it can sometimes be used in place of CO2 injection but carries the same problem/side effects. That is, it raises the bar and all the other nutrients, and light, must be raised to balance. High light plus carbon (and the fertilizer to match) will generally result in faster plant growth. Balance is the key though.

Some plants do not do well with Excel, but I am not familiar enough to know which ones.
 

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It will cause anacharis to melt. Not sure about any others, though. The guys on theplantedtank would probably know. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks! I have a 100mL bottle of Flourish and I expect it will last me a good long while =)

Today I picked up a simple desk lamp and 6500K bulb:
* Desk Lamp - Black (Includes CFL Bulb) : Target
* Shop SYLVANIA 2-Pack 60-Watt Equivalent Daylight Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb at Lowes.com

Just eyeballing it, the new light is noticeably brighter and white/blue-er, especially through 10" of water. So let's see how this goes! Hopefully with enough plants/decorations, the bright light won't bother my betta. =)
 

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If you can get hold of Indian Almond Leaves, they not only provide shelter by floating on the surface, they stain the water slightly with tannins so your betta will feel more comfortable. :) They've never had a noticeable effect on my (admittedly low-medium light) plants.
 
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