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I've enjoyed reading about your project. How great to be getting back in to plants - aquatic nonetheless.

For you light I would recommend T5 bulbs. They are much more efficient and last longer. A friend of mine built my light for me and it is amazing. He is also a McGuyver type. (You'd get along well!) If you look on pgs. 53 and 55 (http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/large-aquariums-ponds/47782-125g-rescape-53.html), you can see some current pxs. of the tank.

Here is a link for my light build.
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/diy-aquarium-projects/55906-texgal-s-new-light.html

As important as the bulbs, are the reflectors for them. Geisseman bulbs and reflectors are really amazing. People have told me that the Geisseman bulbs will last for 7 years, where as others must be replaced anywhere from every 6-9 months. I used the Geisseman midday and you can see from my pxs the amazing color I get.

Good luck on your project. I'll be interested to see your progress.

BTW- there is NOTHING like real plants!!!
 

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Your dog is so cute. Good thing he's small enough to get the real skinny on all your projects!

One more thing to consider about your lights. Any barrier between your lights and the water, ie. glass, acrylic, will act as a filter cutting down the amount of light that gets to your tank. Since T5s are very intense that might not be a problem. Then again it depends on what plants you grown. I have about an 18" brace in the middle of my tank. I can't grow certain plants there simply because that glass is in the middle. It really makes a difference.
 

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There's a big difference in output between T5s and T8s. If you checked out the link I sent you to my light creation you'll see how close mine is. I have no glass except the center brace. My bulbs do fine. I think you will definitely need more light than the two you have now. Remember that the reflectors make a huge difference.

You may want to paint first. Finish the room first and then plan to your heart's content. That way your gf will not mind what you do with the tank. :D
 

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Good going! Looking forward to seeing the "entire" project.

FYI - about my link - just wanted you to see how low my light was to the water and that the lights are ok without a splash guard. Also you can see the big brace I have in the center. :D
 
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