Freshwater Plant Guide

in Light

The cause of straggly plants is almost always insufficient light. The amount of light you need to provide will depend to a large extent on what kinds of plants you have and how deep your aquarium is. Nowadays it is not difficult to provide sufficient light because there now exist high-powered fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lamps as well as very powerful LEDs.

It is easy to tell when you have insufficient light because your plants will have few leaves and what leaves there are become pale green or even yellow. They have weak stems and the presence of diatom algae growing on or near them will clinch it.

As well as light intensity being sufficient the light also have has to be of sufficient quality. Light quality is measured by its colour temperature in degrees Kelvin. The lower the colour temperature the warmer or redder the light is. Similarly, the higher the colour temperature the bluer the light is. As a guide, the colour temperature of the light coming from the Sun is about 6000? Kelvin.

Tall and leggy plants indicates that the lighting colour temperature is too low. Low and squat growth means that the colour temperature is too high. If the plants are stunted then there is too much green/yellow light.

Aquarium lighting can be a very technical subject but as a general rule, for fluorescent tubes you need roughly between two and five Watts per gallon to give a planted aquarium of about 18″ depth sufficient light of the right quality for most plants. Sorry to be a bit vague about this but it does depend to a large extent on what the plants are as to how much light they need. It means that one or two T5 tubes should provide enough. These tubes do deteriorate over time so it becomes necessary to change them every six months at best (every year at most).

You may have sufficient light but still have straggly plants. In that case it is probably due to the fact that it is not on for long enough. A planted aquarium requires 10 to 12 hour of lighting every day. Any more than 12 hours means that algae is likely to grow.

Find the best information about t5 aquarium lighting for your saltwater aquarium. You might also want to learn more about fish tank lights and how they impact your reef aquarium.

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Freshwater Plant Guide

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This article was published on 2011/01/05