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Fish/Lighting that works for BOTH fish and plants.


I have a 10 gallon tank in my room, it is out of the way of all the windows there for gets very little natural light. I currently have very average lightbulbs in the hood and the plants (live) that I get always die! I currently have a FRESHWATER aquarium - 10 gallons - and in it is a big vale angelfish and a few tetras along with a dwarf pleco. I plan ( once the sad day when my angelfish passes ) to get a few cichlids. I know they need lots of caves and hiding places so I wanted to get some good plants and have a freshwater planted I said before...plants always die in my tank!!! :( Also, I would like to clear the fact that it would only be the cichlids and the DWARF pleco in the tank, all other fish would be transported downstairs to the 50 gallon community tank in our living room :) :) :)

Which lights should I have in this tank and how many for what I want? (A planted tank with fish). I heard that the bulbs meant for plants can harm fish. Is this true? The only thing I have successfully kept is bamboo, but it slowly eventually dies too. :(

the tank is 10 gallons and I have a sufficient heater and filter. The temp right now is in the 84 - 86 range in the tank and there is not a giant temperature fluctuation in my room, it is the third story/top floor if that helps.

Thank you very much in advance---
Sincerely, Rikk T.

Hi Rikk,
  Bulbs safe for plants are fine for fish. Bamboo is not really an aquatic plant and that is why it dies.  In fact, many of the plants sold for aquaria are not really aquatic, they live only partly submerged some of the time, and that is why they often do not last very long in a tank if they are completely underwater.  There are some exceptions.  Java fern is a great plant as are several others.  
 BTW, you already have a cichlid.  Angelfish are cichlids.  
 Because most cichlids eat most plants, I do not grow many live plants myself other than water sprite which grows fast enough that it stays ahead of most of the fish.  It is basically a floating plant, not a "planted" plant.  For really lush planted plants, you really need to investigate water chemistry. They often do best in situations where you are adding CO2 (carbon dioxide) into the water because that is what they need to do their thing. Pumping CO2 into the tank is usually not very good for fish, in fact, it can be quite harmful.  That is why it is hard to have a tank with great plants and great fish.  

-- Ron C.
  Cichlid Research Home Page <>


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Ron Coleman


I am an expert on cichlid fishes, particularly New World cichlids. My broader expertise includes the behavior, ecology and reproduction of fishes in general. (I am NOT an expert on Goldfish). Please do not use abbreviations, such as "my GT has a swollen eye" because I don't know what a "GT" is. The more clearly you can explain your question, the better chance I have of understanding what it is that you seek. I keep fishes both as a scientist and as a hobbyist and I currently maintain about 140 aquariums.


I am an Associate Professor at the California State University, Sacramento in the Department of Biological Sciences, and I run a website, called the Cichlid Research Home Page . I also write for many popular aquarist magazines, and I was editor of Cichlid News magazine for several years. I am a scientist and I spend my time teaching fish biology, ecology, behavior and evolution and doing research on the reproductive biology of fishes, particularly cichlids. I do research in the laboratory and in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Mexico. My main interest is understanding the evolution of parental care in fishes. I am interested in encouraging greater public awareness, understanding and participation in science.

Cichlid News, Tropical Fish Hobbyist, Freshwater and Marine Aquarium, Science, Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, Copeia, Canadian Journal of Zoology, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, AUK, Environmental Biology of Fishes

PhD (Toronto, 1993) MSc (Simon Fraser, 1986) BSc (British Columbia, 1983)

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