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Been an avid African cichlid keeper on and off for 20 years. So my plant experience is quite low. I recently aquired a 28 gallon tank. It currently has a 27 watt aquasky on it. I know it's a bit wide. But that's what came with it. I was wondering if this is enough for plants? Or do I need to upgrade and what would be a good upgrade? Thanks in advance.

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All I can advise is that lights matter, and you get what you pay for. Do you want to grow a planted tank that looks amazing, has room for growth and brings out the true colors of your fish? Then you will have to spend money. The problem with budgets lights is that they use white light versus individual red, green and blue lights to make white light. This always results in a yellow cast in the tank and lacks the ability to make the tank "pop". 

I would just use your current light and see what it will grow. If you decide to move more into growing plants, you will need to set a budget, and research those light in your budget window.

Budget light:




Current USA

Many recommend the Fluval 3.0, but I can not recommend them. I've sold all of mine and it was a smart decision to do so.

The above will grow tanks fine, but all have that dull yellow color cast

Higher end lights





Onf Flat One

Just to name a few, these light are to top end, and use true RGB to create various spectrums.

My progression into planted aquariums has led me to the high end category, but I was very happy with Nicrew and Current USA when I first entered the planted tank hobby.

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I second what Mmiller said--start with the light you have and see how you like it and whether it grows the plants you care about, and whether the color of the light pleases you.

When I first switched to LED lights I hated the brightness and the too-white color of the lights--I'm older so I was used to the 1970's and 80's incandescent tank lights giving tanks a warm look.  

Eventually, with the LEDs (mine are Finnex Stingrays) my plants grew so well that they pretty much cover the surface of the tank and that gives the tank a yellow/green cast that I prefer over the bright white. In my other tank, I keep tannins to prevent the tank from looking too bright to me. 

The point being that the "right" light depends on what you want to grow, tank size and your own taste in how you want the tank to look. 

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The topic of lighting strains my sanity.  I have a 10 gallon plant and snail only project lit by a discarded LED flashlight.  By the end of the 17 hour light period, the charger can't keep up with the aging battery and the tank goes dim (no programming required).  The low-medium light plants could not be happier. I can't explain why this setup works, but I would like to get the same results in my 29.

All of my light setups are DIY, so I will also ask @TravisBumpy's question.  I have an established 29 gallon planted tank with Italian Val., Anubia, Wisteria, PSO, Asian Water Fern(Bolbitus Heteroclita), Amazon sword, a Cryptocoryne, and a banana plant. What would  be a good upgrade in the budget range.

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