What's new
TerraForums Venus Flytrap, Nepenthes, Drosera and more talk

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

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?

Any advice?

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-MXL-101_0__?productId=4013481&Ntt=4-ft+fluorescent+fixture&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3D4-ft%2Bfluorescent%2Bfixture&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_255319-3-24348_0+1z140ll__?productId=1072605&Ntt=daylight+bulbs&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3Ddaylight%2Bbulbs%26page%3D1&facetInfo=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_197427-405-50555_1z11ook+2z8vj+2z8vk__?productId=1161873&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1%26page%3D1&facetInfo=$5%20-%20$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:
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! :D )

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.

Air Circulation:
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.

San Francisco?
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. :D

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. :D 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:
  • #10
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!!!
  • #11
T5 lamp wattage is much lower than T12 wattage. You can expect roughly 111 lumens per watt from a new 14w t5 lamp. So your 14 watt lamps will produce roughly 1554 lumens each. They will be perfect for your tank.
  • #13
Current Pictures:


  • #14
T5 lamp wattage is much lower than T12 wattage. You can expect roughly 111 lumens per watt from a new 14w t5 lamp. So your 14 watt lamps will produce roughly 1554 lumens each. They will be perfect for your tank.
I knew someone would know the math for it and could verify whether these would be fine. Thanks, Oregon!

Seeing your setup, your lights are definitely going to be fine. It is different seeing that your lights are over the growing space shelf and that the plants will be right in direct contact with the best light. So I am pretty confident it will go rather well. You can always go bigger, but like I keep saying in my other posts, I think your plants are going to grow well and be very happy. Once you start growing on the edges of your tank there on the sides and front, you might benefit from getting longer lights or more of the same lights to cover those spots. 4-foot shoplights with T12 fluorescent bulbs are cheap. :)

Getting the mirrors around the back and sides and I even suggest the bottom will help make use of your light. But your tank is a unique shape, might have to settle on reflective foam or tin foil to cover it more easily. But if you are up to it, and if I were you, I would get the mirrors up all around where you don't want to look in on your plants. Save some viewing space for sure. :D

Flytraps are just more robust in sunlight. I don't mean to make it sound like you can't grow them there. You will, and they will just need the attention to help them go into dormancy next winter and you will have some neat VFTs growing in your space. They just are EVEN BETTER in Sunlight, not that they are going to die in tanks.

Your garage temps are pretty low at night. Temperate plants coming out of dormancy might appreciate it and do really well, but any plants that don't like 50s at night are going to have a rough time. Do you have a list of the exact types of "VFTs, pitcher plants, sundews, butterworts, etc." you are going to have in there? Many of those will be fine with the temp drops right now and as it goes throughout the year. But some tropical sundews will not like it, you might have to wait for warmer temps for those to be added. Just depends on what you plan on growing.

You only need a heat source if you plan on growing anything that wouldn't like the 50 degrees nights. VFTs coming out of dormancy and some temperate pings will do fine.

"Spraying it down daily"
Because it is your garage that doesn't have a furnace heating the space and drying up the air and that you live in San Francisco already naturally humid, I wouldn't spray your tank. In fact, I wouldn't even cover those holes you have up front until you check the temps and humidity.

Looks like your setup is there and ready to start testing, so if you have a hygrometer already, place it in the tank on the wood plank with the lights on their schedule and see how the temps and humidity handles for a day. See what the highs and lows were and then decide if you even NEED to spray or close those holes off.

If you don't have one, I can recommend this cheap and works good enough for me Hygrometer you can buy from a from Home Depot: http://www.homedepot.com/p/AcuRite-Digital-Humidity-and-Temperature-Comfort-Monitor-00619HDCSA2/202260980

Looking good, Octopus! I am excited to see you fill that with plants!