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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a 5 gallon tank for my betta. It originally had 2 screw in incandescent bulbs, which I recently replaced with Coralife mini florescent 6700K Colormax bulbs (2x10w). It has a large piece of driftwood with java moss and an anubias nana which are doing fine. I also put in a crypt wendti that completely melted down to the roots but is now putting out some new growth. And then I had a micro chain sword that took over the tank producing about 12 new plants in 2 weeks and I just pulled half of them out because it just looked like a bunch of weeds. I also grew a lot of algae, which I almost have under control by dosing with excel.

I have no idea what to try to grow in this little tank that will look good without outgrowing the tank. I guess 20watts over 5 gallons is a high lighted tank and I'm not sure how best to utilize this in such a small environment. I see that people have nano planted tanks, but I have no clue how they succeed with them. I don't have much experience with planted tanks but I seem to be doing well with an 18gallon with a mid-tech approach.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 

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With that much light (and depending on your reflectors) you could have a HC carpet or try some other high light plants.

I don't have any experience with a tank that size, so I can't offer much info except the basics.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have seen HC mentioned all over this site, but I still have no clue what it stands for, can anyone clue me in.

As far as reflectors, is there any DIY material that people use to make their own? Right now there is a tarnished piece of metal that doesn't reflect anything.

Any suggestions for high light plants that grow compact enough for a 5 gallon.
 

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HC is shorthand for Hemianthus callitrichoides. It's common name is dwarf baby's tears.

Mylar is good for a reflective surface.

Any small fined leaved plants will work well in a smaller tank. Also, Anubias nana 'petite' is a good choice.
 

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FYI Hoppy just did an experiment with a light meter and found that aluminum foil is a better reflector than the mylar. It's cheap and much easier to get.
 

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Yes, aluminum foil is almost as good as the AH Supply polished aluminum reflectors. And, it is certainly easy to get.
 

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Thats interesting lol.

Some sites i read say that your better off painting a reflector white than using aluminum because it doesn't reflect light at all and does something like scatters or diffuses it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Interesting, I will have to play with some aluminum foil. Although why wouldn't you just use a glass mirror. Perhaps 2 of them so the light is deflected back toward the center of the tank. This should reflect the light back without absorbing or changing the frequency.
 

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Interesting, I will have to play with some aluminum foil. Although why wouldn't you just use a glass mirror. Perhaps 2 of them so the light is deflected back toward the center of the tank. This should reflect the light back without absorbing or changing the frequency.
You are making the same logic error I made! There are two aspects to specular reflections - how true they are (can you apply makeup with it?) and what percentage of the incident light is reflected - how bright the reflection is. Your eyes make you evaluate mirrors by how true they reflect, so glass mirrors look like they are superior. But, for lighting an aquarium it doesn't matter if the reflection is distorted, what matters is what percentage of the incident light is reflected to the tank. For that a sheet of aluminum foil is much better.

Good bright white paint is surprisingly good at reflecting a lot of incident light to the tank. Not all white paint is bright white - bright white should be almost painful to look at out in sunlight. That's why "white" meant for house paint is rarely very near being pure white, but is always a grey or brown or yellow tinted white - much more pleasant to look at. But, you can buy bright pure white paint, and that rivals aluminum foil for effectiveness. I would have bet anything against that being true, but my measurements using a PAR light meter showed white paint to be very good.
 
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