View Full Version : Lighting a 55

12-08-2011, 10:46 PM
So after the meeting last weekend and talking with Len and Marcie I confirmed something I have thought for a while. I don't have enough light in my tank for my plants. Can i please get recomendations on lighting a 55 gal planted tank? Thanks!


12-08-2011, 11:08 PM
What level of plants do you want? low-light only? Medium? High (grasses)? 55s are so deep, its hard to get high light to the bottom.

2 T8s or T12s will be enough for java ferns and maybe swords with no CO2. How planted do you want to go?

12-08-2011, 11:50 PM
Here is a chart I use that was posted on TPT that I find extremely helpful ...


12-09-2011, 07:04 AM
I'm wanting to go with high light. I really want lots of healthy plants!

12-09-2011, 08:48 AM
Generally, high light tanks will require CO2 & ferts. There are a lot of plants that will flourish in the low-med light area and not require as much of the other efforts. IME, planted tanks can become as complex as reef tanks if you want them to be. Check out fishneedit.com. A 2 bulb T5HO fixture would probably allow you to grow just about anything except the excessively needy plants. If you aim for higher light / fert regimen, I'd suggest you talk to Ken or Brian. It's definitely outside of my expertise (and by expertise, I mean my lazy ways).

12-09-2011, 09:03 AM
I have discovered with my 55, it was all about the cO2 not the lights. The plants grew well for about 2 years with just a 48 inch CF with 2 65 watt bulbs. Then things just went awry. Plants stopped growing, algae fluorished, I was cleaning algae off the glass every 5 days. I doubled the lights (to 4 bulbs), but that didn't do it. So I cut the lights back to 2 bulbs, and added cO2, and that has made all the difference in the world. One can hear the plants growing. I haven't cleaned algae off the glass in 3 weeks. With 2 65 watt CF bulbs and cO2 (and of course ferts) they seem exceedingly happy. So happy in fact, I am considering lowering the light level in other tanks. My thoughts are that because the tank is so deep it needed cO2.

12-09-2011, 10:35 AM
I don't really have the resourses (money) to put in a CO2 system, so i guess medium light is what i'm looking for. I'll definatly check out fishneedit.com as well.

12-09-2011, 01:26 PM
Nice chart, Raethe! I would point out that the chart's "too high" levels work fine for noonbursts to bring out some better coloration, though.

12-09-2011, 02:30 PM
If you don't have the money for co2, you should go low light. If you would go med light with no co2 and ferts, you will have an algae machine.

Buy one of the HD diamond plate T8 2x 32w shop light fixture, those light have decent reflectors, and you can grow a lot of plants under it. (i have 2 of them and they are awesome lights for the price)

Do more research about planted tanks on Plantedtank.net/forum