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With plants in the tank, you should definitely keep the lights on. I would call 1.7 WPG of t-5 medium light on a 46G. With that, you'll need to watch carefully for algae growth. You will need fertilizer for the plants (not just the micro nutrients, but N,P,K as well) and a carbon source (Flourish Excel).

The lights should stay on for about 8 - 10 hours with that amount of light. To help with algae, you might consider a split schedule ( 5 hours on, 4 hours off, 5 hours on ) . You may also want to get a timer for the light.

Here's a link that might help with some basic info:

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/new-planted-aquariums/8790-basics.html

-Dave
 

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As far as I have been able to learn, based on reading these forums and on the advice of the "experts", a split photoperiod has no effect on algae growth, either good or bad.

For the carbon the plants need you can dose Excel, but no amount of Excel is equal to CO2 as a carbon source. It is just much better than none at all.
I use a split photo-period and my algae is nothing like it used to be before doing it. That said, I can't honestly say the split photo-period is the reason my algae became under control. That's because at the same time I changed it, I also got better at dosing ferts, learned to spot nutrient problems, and my tank has been aging and getting more settled in (even a 7 month-old set-up is still young).

I won't change what I've got going because 1. I like seeing the lights on at night and 2. I'm too chicken to change what is working for me right now.
Just keep in mind that there is great wisdom in learning from another's experience/knowledge...and hoppy's got LOTS of it.

Totally agree about the CO2. If you really want a non-CO2 tank, use excel. But if you want the best results, there's no match for CO2.

-Dave
 

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I just this week did kinda what hoppy is talking about. When I ripped up my UG filter last Saturday I took the opportunity to tear the tank down COMPLETELY. I cleaned/scrubed the HOB, the powerhead, the glass, and rinsed/siphoned the gravel with clean tap water several times (still not sure I should have done that...but it sure looks new) . If any bacteria survived it was only on the driftwood and possibly some plants.

I re-planted with what was previously in there (after some well-needed trimming) and filled the tank back up, squirted in dechlor (as I filled) and threw the fish back in. All that in 6 hrs. It's been 6 days now and no sign of stress in the fish. My water is kinda cloudy right now (I'm guessing a bacteria bloom? ) but that's all. So, if you plant heavy, you are good to go. :D

-Dave
 
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