I'm a little bit proud of the homemade lighting I created for my 10g shrimp tank and 20H guppy breeder tank.
1 - 18" (three socket) Vanity Bar light fixture ($9.97 from Lowe's)
1 - 24" (four socket) Vanity Bar light fixture ($14.97 from Lowe's)
7 - 17W daylight CFL bulbs (2 x 4 pack for $11.97 at Lowe's)
1 - Assorted scrap lumber (already on hand)
1 - 1" x 8" x 8' pine board ($19.97 at Lowe's)
1 - box of 1.5" screws (already on hand)
2 - standard wire with plugs (already on hand)
2 - Glass cut to size for each tank ($9.11 total)
Drill w/ Philips bit and assorted bits
10gal - $25.94
20gal - $52.02
I searched and searched Lowe's for the right light fixture. I considered all types of fixtures and decided on building a box and using premade bathroom (vanity bar) fixtures, which have several advantages. First, they are designed for use in damp conditions. Second, they come in standard lengths that roughly correlate with standard tank lengths. Third, I can adjust the amount of lighting by simply replacing the CFL bulbs with different wattage.
The fixture for the 10g was the experiment. The fixtures are designed to be hard-wired and mounted to the wall, so I tapped into my very limited experience with electrical wiring. I had two broken hoods designed to fit 10g tanks. The hoods were fried. I cut the cords from them (one for the 10g light box, one for the 20H box) and added one of the cord to the fixture.
Since the fixture is going to be mounted flush to the board inside the box, I used the tin snips to cut a small hole in the fixture's decorative plate, for the cord to run through.
I used whatever scrap lumber I happened to have in the shed and created it to be free-standing with legs on either side of the aquarium. Then followed the mounting instructions that came with the light fixture.
The finished light box in position.
With the lights on.
Once I got to the 20H light box, I had a much better idea of how to do it. I was originally going to hang it by plant brackets, but opted for a simple design where it just sits on the top of the tank.
I didn't have enough scrap wood to build this one, so I had to purchase a board for it.
The process was pretty much the same as for the 10g.
I made one change where the cord comes out the side of the box near the top-rear, which means that I had to use a router bit with the drill to create a hole for the cord. It had to be run through the hole prior to wiring the cord to the fixture.
Using tin snips again, I cut a hole in the decorate fixture plate for the cord.
Here is a good inside pic of the completed box with mounted, wired fixture.
The box in place.
With the lights on.
Top view. You can really see where my carpentry skills are lacking :P
Full stand pic with both light boxes in place and on.