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Best Light for a Planted 5 Gal


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Hey folks,

I’m setting up my new 5 gallon shrimp tank at the moment and I need a light. I thought I might throw my question out there for some suggestions after a few hours of failed research. My tank is 36cm wide (14”) and 24cm tall (~10”). So I can’t use a light larger than a 14”. I’m keeping mainly low to medium light plants. Does anyone have any suggestions on a particular light that would fit this box? Or any specs I would require for plants, if I go the eBay/amazon path.


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I probably can't be much help as I don't know what is available in Australia, but a lot is just down to your preference. If you were thinking of one that is a light that goes from one side to the other (above post hints at that?) and rests on the side glass, then bear in mind you will probably have to keep removing it to get to the top glass (assuming you have that) every time you need to take the top off and you won't then be able to see well in the tank unless you put it back on etc! They look nice (I have a variation on this on my betta tank) but you soon get fed up with having to take it off and put it back, especially if the top fits as snug as mine so even feeding needs lifting the top - no hole in the top?????

The most popular type that just sits on the back, that you have already mentioned in 'stocking a 5 gallon', comes in various Wattage and sizes. I have this type on my shrimp tank (connected to a timer) and it looks nice enough I think, and can just be left in place permanently even when doing maintenance which is helpful! A 6W is probably all you need for the shallow tank you have! Obviously the dearer ones look nicer and will probably last longer being better quality but the one I bought (dennerle) cost more than the tank, so that will need thinking over? I actually bought a 8W (same depth tank as yours) but it was so bright I had to cover one row of LEDS with electrical tape, I didn't want to blind the shrimp or give them a sun tan? The only variable with these is the thickness of the glass they fit but as you have a small tank I doubt the glass will be too think for any of them?

If you get a lot of condensation on the top glass that will reduce the amount of light getting to the tank/plants etc - again, I don't know whether you have that problem in warmer climates?



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Ah perfect thanks a load Simon! I went to a place that was selling recently and was told by an employee that I needed a 20W + light for my tank, which confused me as most bar-lights I have access to that are above 20 watts are at least 45-60cm.

17 minutes ago, sdlTBfanUK said:

The only variable with these is the thickness of the glass they fit but as you have a small tank I doubt the glass will be too think for any of them?

My tank is actually fitted with a top rim for a lid that I do not possess. This may be a problem, but I can probably work something out. 


18 minutes ago, sdlTBfanUK said:

If you get a lot of condensation on the top glass that will reduce the amount of light getting to the tank/plants etc - again, I don't know whether you have that problem in warmer climates?

Yeah definitely still do have that problem, but it'll happen no matter what, and with the homemade lid I have I can take it off and wipe it at any time.


19 minutes ago, sdlTBfanUK said:

If you were thinking of one that is a light that goes from one side to the other

Was considering this, but I'm open to anything. 


20 minutes ago, sdlTBfanUK said:

you will probably have to keep removing it to get to the top glass

This is something I hadn't thought about, and it makes a lot of sense. Leaning towards the clip-on-back type.


23 minutes ago, sdlTBfanUK said:

A 6W is probably all you need for the shallow tank you have!

Now that's some good news. I have an option between a 6W or a 12W. But it's (probably) not worth it to pay extra for a 12W if I'm going to have to do as you did and reduce the light levels anyway.


Thanks Simon!

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I have a florescent tube type in my really old tank and that has 11W tube but I doubt those type are even sold these days anyway so LED I would say the 6W is plenty. I bought the 8W basically as it was only £10 more but would get 6W if I had to get another!

If you suffer evaporation then you probably need some sort of glass/plastic/perspex cover otherwise you will be topping up a lot and the evaporation may affect the light above the water, but the cover will stop you losing water to evaporation (but will create condensation-pure water) and also protect the light! 

Hopefully the rim is just plastic and you can cut a section out carefully using a hacksaw blade or something?


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I have a lid on the tank made of polycarbonate greenhouse sheeting. Works well. And yes, the rim is plastic. But I was thinking I could even just stick a thin piece of plywood or something behind the back glass (painted black) and behind that another thin sheet of ply that has room between the two so that the light could clip to that. But that could be over thinking it a bit ?

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Just purchased the 12W version. Light is bright enough I think. Looks pretty good! Not worried about it being too bright - I also just got a little nerite snail, and the tank will eventually be stocked with native algae eating shrimp.

All is working well so far - except for the extra light spill. But that’s not a huge problem.

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I am pleased to hear you have the light and hope you manage to work out how you are going to fit it without too much work? It is best to have some sort of cover for many reasons so good to hear you have made one! 


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