What is a Garden Light Box?
A water garden light box is a cost effective and attractive way to keep your tropicals healthy throughout the winter months. And, It's a fun project your friends and family will certainly enjoy!
In the cold seasons of the year, tropical plants especially need extra care. Some pond plants (such as frogbit) will grow just fine with a regular florescent light and others will survive outdoors even in freezing temperatures. Other more tropical plants need a little extra help with lighting, heat, and humidity. Water hyacinth is one such plant.
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Step 1: Start With a 10 Gallon Aquarium
A basic light box is made with a rectangular 10 gallon aquarium. These can be purchased used for a few bucks or new from the store for $10 - $12 dollars. I had an old cracked aquarium, so my cost was $0. You can easily find a 10 gallon aquarium at a thrift store or yard sale. Craigslist.com is also a great place to find free project materials.
Step 2: Cut and Insert Mirrors
I initially purchased 6 - 12x12 mirror tiles for $12 at Lowes, but they were the wrong size and needed to be cut. Then I made friends with a man who owns his own glass business in town. And, he said that he would be glad to cut scrap glass for the garden light box! My cost was $0 dollars for this.
There should be...
One mirror for the bottom
One for the backside
One for each end
And if you do not have a lid, clear glass for the top
Measure the inside of the aquarium for mirror size and allow for a slight shorter measurement (about 1/16 inch) allowing the glass to fit in the aquarium. A tight fit is not necessary.
Step 3: Select Lighting
If not, then a regular fluorescent kitchen cupboard florescent light will also work. The long fluorescent bulbs are great, because you can install red or blue grow bulbs. A 100 watt daylight bulb can be purchased at Lowes. Any higher wattage (such as a 400 or 1,000 watt flood light bulb) needs a special fixture for fire safety reasons.
I already had an old aquarium dome lamp, so my cost was zero. However, lighting might not be necessary if your light box is placed in a window facing the sunlight where the sun's rays can reflect the mirrors. I enjoyed the look of my light box so much, that I turned toward my living area.
Step 4: Choose Your Plants and Install!
Fish are cheap and easy to find. Every county has some kind of mosquito abatement program, so you can even fill your tank with free minnows! I placed 4 baby goldfish from my pond in the tank, and with the mirrors, it looks as if I have 8 or more fish!
Step 5: Everyone Loves It!
See more Pond Plant Girl videos at
The Pond Plant Girl Show.com