There are many different options for lighting a planted aquarium. Especially now that LED’s are becoming popular lights for aquariums in general. However most of these lights will not be able to grow plants effectively and can be a waste of money. In the long run it is better to buy the lights you want and need at the beginning. Now you can upgrade your lights later but expect to run into a few simple algae problems. To avoid this however you need to know about the four types of lighting available.
DIY (Do It Yourself) lights are a good cheap option for growing plants. Especially if you do not have access to a pet store with the right kinds of lights. These lights do however have there advantages and disadvantages.
- Cheap. DIY lights can save you a lot of money. Especially since most planted aquarium lights are a bit expensive.
- Effective. They are great way of growing most basic aquarium plants rather rapidly.
- They do not look “pretty”. These lights do not look very appealing in a home. The system can be kinda big and wont come in many colors. So you may have to come up with a way to hid them. Some people do not like to color of light they give off. As it tends to have a yellow tint.
- Not water proof. These lights normally are not water resistant or over long periods of time can be damaged by the moisture or water splashes. So if you want them to last you need to get a glass or acrylic lid.
- Not very bright. These lights can grow plants just not all plants. If you want a professional looking tank with a lot of foreground plants then you will need to invest in a better light.
These are just some of the cons and pros that I have experienced. I have used two different DIY lighting systems to grow plants. One was a plant grow bulb you can but at any home depot. The lights go with the clip on metal light fixture. The other is on my 55 gallon aquarium. And it has 2 T8 bulbs with the highest brightness I could find.
This is what the fixture on my 55 looks like.
So this a very brief look at some different DIY lights. There are also so many different combinations and ways to make them. So if this is something your interested in, then i would go and see what other people have made.
Make sure to check out my blog again to see the next post about lighting planted aquariums!
The use of dirt in aquariums is not a common thing. However it can be a very effective method for growing plants. Dirt is the most natural plant growing substrate you can use. However if you do something wrong there can be frustrating results. There are some simple tips that can keep this from happening.
1. Use organic potting soil. Make sure it has very few additives, the more there are, the harder it is to cycle the tank successfully.
2. Only use about an inch of dirt in the bottom of your tank.
3. Make sure you put the same amount of a cap substrate on top of the dirt.
4. Use a small substrate for a cap, but not too small. bigger than play sand, but small enough so the plants can move it out the way to grow. (Pool filter sand is very good at this.)
5. Do weekly water changes until the dirt stops leeching a tea color in the water.
6. Wait about a month before adding fish. The fish will make cycling the tank much harder.
7. Add a lot of plants initially, this will help reduce the amount of nutrients for algae to use.
Follow these simple steps to make sure your dirted planted tank is a success. This is a picture of one of my newest dirted aquariums. Notice all the plants in the tank, this will help reduce algae. You can also see the pool filter sand on the right of the tank with the dirt beneath the sand.