Indoor lighting for CP's
Hello everyone! I am a new member to Terraforums and I am loving it so far!
I just had a few lighting questions.
I have an empty 65 gallon acrylic aquarium that I have flipped on its side to use as a "green house" for CP's. The dimension of the aquarium is 36 inches long, 24 inches wide, 18 inches high. I am playing to grow a verity of CP's including VFTs, pitcher plants, sundews, butterworts, etc. I currently have fluorescent dual T5 24W 6500k(22 inch long tubes), and one 17W Fluorescent 22 inch long tube (K unknown).
How much more lighting do i need? Lights you recommend I add?
Do you recommend covering the back and sides with aluminum foil?
Thank you so much!
Hey Octopus, I am by no means the indoor lighting expert here, but seems like all my posts lately are geared towards talking my experiences with growing under lights. Sorry I didn't see your request earlier. First off, the fact that you flipped the aquarium on its side making it only 18 inches high is great, you will enjoy having easy access to your plants from the front and the lights can rest on the glass and be really nice and close to the plants.
I had a 40-gallon tank and used:
TWO 4-foot 2-lamp fixtures from Lowe's: http://www.lowes.com/pd_420865-43921...ure&facetInfo= The fixture looked a little different in 2010 but it is this same basic T12 fixture.
Bulbs I used were T12 6500K daylight bulbs: http://www.lowes.com/pd_255319-3-243...tInfo=SYLVANIA
As for backing your glass and sides with reflective material? Absolutely! In fact, with your dimensions, you can go for these mirrors at Home Depot/Lowe's like I did and put them in the Bottom, Back and Sides. Reflect as much light back into your growing space as you can: http://www.lowes.com/pd_197427-405-5...$10|$10%20-$15
Your light fixtures you already have are pretty close, but I would recommend getting the lights I linked above to ensure you have enough light. With your fixtures you are short 14 inches and if you are stacking them lengthwise to cover the place, you might be okay if you had double. That 3rd light that is also 22inches is only good at first, when you get more plants, you will want more complete coverage of your grow space. You can always test them out for awhile, but I recommend getting up to four 4-foot daylight bulbs. At the very least you can know that I can vouch for that setup providing enough light to grow dozens of plants in my setup quite happily.
What do you use to attach the mirrors to the terrarium? I would love to do this someday but mirrors are heavy as can be. All that glass makes me very nervous, especially since my 4 cats constantly bounce around like they're on steroids.
Honestly? I used something that was really a bad idea, and was only supposed to be temporary but lasted two years.
Blue scotch painters tape.
I thought I would swap something out but never did. It worked great and wouldn't leave a bad residue on the glass when removed. The mirrors from my link are very light. There is nothing but 6-12 small squares of mirrored glass in that box and keeping them on the tanks was rather simple. Just tape up all sharp edges and you will find that your cats may be completely safe around them.
Here is an image of the package of mirrors I got and what they look like simply taped on:
This now sits in my garage next to and under some boxes, That is why the tight angle.
Last edited by Odysseus; 02-18-2014 at 06:43 PM.
Reason: Added some images of the Mirrors
I bought two of these lights
I put these parallel to each other. Then the other one in front. I know they don't span across the whole tank but do you think that is enough for now? I will add some pictures when the tank is fully set up with the lights, and mirrors.
Yeah for sure! At least for now it is probably plenty! It obviously doesn't maximize coverage over your entire growing space, but it should work for everything below it. I think this will be an awesome setup for you and should get you some nice dewy, healthy drosera and some happy Neps and other CPs. (VFTs are short lived happiness in tanks I am afraid, they just do better in Sunlight. So don't expect a long life of any VFTs you put in there. But you should be able to enjoy a solid growing year with cool flytraps to watch grow and eat! )
That said, this is suspiciously more expensive than I would expect.
All it appears to be is a fixture for holding T5 tubes. Even though it COMES with two bulbs, it still feels like a rather poor deal. Only "14 watt" ? That seems awfully low for getting the lumens you need, but that is just a neophyte like me making assumptions. Perhaps that is golden. It just seems bad compared to my 40-watt T12s from above. Perhaps someone has experience with this light fixture and can vouch for it.
I do feel though, that at first glance, you could get a lot more for $100 of your money.
For full coverage should I buy two more for the sides of the aquarium or try and find something cheaper like the light you posted? Is 14W bad? It says 6500k so I thought it would be enough. I am also going to get the mirrors you recommended this weekend! I will also be purchasing a small fan (like the kind inside of your computer) to keep the air circulation going.
Another question I had is do I need any kind of heating for the plants? I am from San Fran so it's not to cold here. (Setup is in my garage)
Thank you so much for your help!
6500K is just the spectrum of the lights, 6500k making it a Daylight spectrum. Not the value of the light output.
Lumens is what you want to be above at least 1450 and I couldn't see any lumens info at your Home Depot link in my cursory review. 14 watts isn't inherently bad, just don't know what kind of lumens you have going there to say for sure if it is enough light.
You want to cover the top of your tank with as many bulbs as you can fit up there. Even then you will probably have too few, but it will work at least. Your plants will grow and be happy. But if you filled the top of your tank with lights and then magically found an impossible way to double it then and only then would your plants be happy.
So long story short, probably can't get too much light, it usually is limited by space long before you pass what the plants want to receive.
That fan idea for air circulation is great! I did that too before and it helps nicely. Better than stagnant air that is my problem right now...well my conditions right now. Not a problem, yet.
Do you have a hygrometer in your tank that can tell you the humidity and temperatures? Anything from 65f-80f should be fine just really depends on the plants you are growing. Some will hate constant 80f warmth and some will love it. My plants experience a temperature drop at night to 70f and that is really nice and some plants appreciate the temp drop.
You are in San Francisco? Do you have any open space you can grow with sunlight? Your humidity and temps there are rather perfect for many plants and you might not even need the tank, except for plants wanting more constant conditions, more light (no cloudy days) and the most tropical of CPs.
Honestly you should try and grow out in the open where you live, you have nice natural conditions for most CPs, in my humble opinion.
You should consider putting your VFTs, Pings and Sarrs in a mini-bog out on your doorstep if you get some sunlight during the day. I had a southwest porch in my Pacific Grove apartment near Monterey down on the Central Coast where I grew an awesome mini-bog out of a tupperware container I got at a local target:
To grow in tanks or outdoors in San Francisco isn't really a necessary decision to make. Nothing is the WRONG way necessarily, just consider yourself fortunate to be in an area that offers you MULTIPLE ways of growing CPs. Wish I could do a bog here, going to try come spring maybe....just depends on if I can get it in the ground where drying up on the hottest days won't be a major possibility.
Last edited by Odysseus; 02-18-2014 at 07:30 PM.
I have some room outside except my parents don't want me to take over the garden... I had the tank and room in the garage so it just seemed like a better fit. Indoor just seemed easier to control and care for.
At the moment it can drop to the mid 50s at night and around low to high 70s durning the day. Do I need a source of heat in my tank? Humidity I am not to worried about as it is pretty enclosed and I will be spraying it down daily.
I will cover every inch of tank with light and will surround the back and sides with mirrors. I will take a picture of the tank with a get home to show you. How short will the VFT's life be indoors? I want the plants to be happy with healthy growing.
I could not find the lumens of the lights I purchased.. Do you think they are fine? I mean if it helps they are vary bright to the eye.
Thank you so much for your help!!!