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Mr. Drew's Tank

by "Mr. Drew" <hon/>
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998

Subject: light ideas please

After reapeated requests my wife is getting her 60 gallon Hex tank for Xmas. I have already started working on the custom oak stand but am a little puzzled on how to properly light it. [...] Has any one set up a 60 gallon hex tank for plants? And what did you use for lighting.? Suggestions please.


I have such a tank set up for plants.

I got a 175W Metal Halide that mounts on the sides of the tank. I ordered it from Aquatic Lighting Systems, but they no longer have anything but retrofit kits on their web page. I really like this fixture, maybe if you call them they still have some.

This worked OK, but not great. The plants never pearled, and plants near the bottom of the tank did poorly, and there was algae. So I went to Home Depot and got two clamp lamps and two Lights of America 40W compact fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs screw into a regular light fixture. They have a ballast in the base.

I took a board, set it over the top of the MH fixture, and clamped a clamp lamp on either end. Since the CF bulbs jut beyond the clamp lamp reflector, this got light all over the room. So I went back to the Home Depot and got some mirrored floor tiles. I leaned them against the MH fixture, so all the CF light gets reflected into the bottom of the tank. A couple manilla folders screen the light that gets around the mirrors.

This seems to be working OK. I've got java fern, Mayaca, H. zosterfolia, Hygrophilia difformis and Ammania senegalensis doing very well. I've got an Echinodorus osiris, an onion plant, an Aponogeton rigidfolius, some E. quadricostatus, some corkscrew val, and some Peruvian ludwigia that are not dead yet. We'll see. I just added some Bacopa. I have had DIY CO2 running in the tank since I set it up 9 months ago. Since I added the clamp lamps and mirrors 2 months ago, everything bubbles away. There is Natural Gold laterite in the gravel. No other fancy stuff.

The tank has still got some algae, but I think that's because I give the pike cichlid in there too many goldfish. The Lights of America CFs are pretty yellowish, which seems to contribute to the algae, or maybe I imagine that. I tried making my own hood with three clamp lamps for a 30 gallon tank, but it was too ugly due to the yellow light, and pointing the clamp lamps straight down caused the bulbs to burn out in a couple weeks from the heat rising directly onto the ballast. The lamps are clamped sideways over the hex tanks and they have lasted two months so far.

I posted a picture of the tank to alt.binaires.aquaria so you can check it out. The pike is looking at you head on under the angelfish in the middle. There is also a ghost knife, a fancy pleco (L-114), some giant otos, and some whiptail cats in there. My original plan was to do leaf fish, which did not work. They died, and I'm not sure why. The water conditions were good, nitrates never got over 10 ppm, and they weren't being harassed by the pike or the angels. Maybe it was pH fluctuations due to the CO2, I don't know.


Some photos of a mystery Apistogramma (possibly female A. sp. "rotpunkt").

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