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Lighting for lowlight 5.5 gallon

3919 Views 12 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Rob G
Anyone have any input as to what the best option is for lighting a 5.5 gallon, lowlight, low maintance aquarium. It will have mosses, anubias, Java fern Windelov and maybe some hairgrass in one corner. Inhabitants are still undecided but possible a pair of dwarf Aferican cichlids. The person it is for wants one or 2 fish with lots of personality.

I have been thinking of getting a 1x13 watt from AH Supply but fear the coverage will not be very good. The tank currently has a Prefecto flourescent hood that holds 1x8watt T5 lamp (I think it is 8 watts). IN the past I thought the light seemed pretty bright with decent coverage but now it seems very dull. Perhaps its age has caused it to loose alot of its intensity? I figured i could almost buy the AH kit for the cost of getting a bulb for the current hood. If ya'll think the current setup would be fine, what is a good replacement bulb? Who makes them in that size (12" I think)?

Thanks in advance:)
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Dennis, did you come to a conclusion?

I have an odd-shaped five gallon that is a couple of inches shorter in length than the 5.5 gallon. I use the 1 x 13w bright kit and have been able to grow low-light and light-demanding plants such as glosso without any problem. I have the light sitting approximately 1/2" above the glass. I'm not sure how high I would need to raise it to get good coverage on a 5.5 gallon, but I can check into it and let you know. Since you are planning on going the low-light route, I would think raising the 1x13w would be a good option. However, I'm not sure what that would do to your idea about having hair grass in the corner of the tank.
Dennis, I placed my 1 x 13w over a 5.5 gallon Perfecto last night. I didn't have any water in the tank, so the results would likely be somewhat more dim if it were full. However, the empty tank was fully illuminated with the light raised approximately 2" above the top of the tank. This would make it a very low light tank. If you stuck with java ferns, anubias, bolbitis, moss, etc., I think it would be sufficient. However, if you are determined to add hair grass to the corner, an option would be using two 13 w bulbs end to end. The total length of the reflector is 8", and since the tank is 16", it would be tight. The lights could either be slightly staggered, or one of the reflectors could be trimmed with a sturdy pair of scissors. I traded messages with Pineapple about trimming the reflectors, and he has successfully taken off one facet of the reflectors - I think he used scissors. He was attempting to attach two together front to back, and took one facet off of each reflector to make one wide reflector.

I hope that helps. I look forward to seeing pictures of the aquascape.
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gnome said:
Remember that the wpg calculation changes when you factor in PC and reflectors. With a really good reflector, a 13W PC would be equivalent to about 19-20W of normal-output fluorescent lighting. At this point, you wouldn't be looking at a "low-maintenance" tank.
Naomi, I agree that using two 13w PC fixtures would not be in line with Dennis' desire for a low-maintenance tank. I was offering a suggestion that would enable him to grow hairgrass in the corner of the tank as he desires. Maybe that is where the contradiction lies. I'm not sure a "low-maintenance" tank can be achieved using hairgrass, if by low-maintenance one means not performing regular water changes.

As for the wpg calculation to which you referred, I have found that tanks 10 gallons and under in volume generally need a higher wpg than larger tanks. I would not consider 13w PC over a 5.5 gallon to be a high-maintenance tank. For instance, here is a link to my 3 gallon tank (, which is illuminated by a 1 x 13w PC fixture. I add CO2, fertz, and change 90% of the water once per week. I don't consider it to be high-maintenance, but it is more maintenance than a tank for which no regular water changes are made. Maybe that is what you had in mind as low-maintenance.

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Dennis, what did you decide to use to light your 5.5g? I'd be interested in hearing how the setup is developing.

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