Spiral Compacts Over A 55 Gallon Low-Tech
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:53 PM   #1
Racine Vice
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Spiral Compacts Over A 55 Gallon Low-Tech


I have been contemplating lighting on my 55 gallon tank for about a month now and am currently considering building a fixture using spiral compact fluorescents. I am planning on low light, no CO2 and dry ferts as necessary. Substrate is half flourite, half gravel.

I made a spiral compact fixture about six months ago for my first planted tank, a 20 long. It has four bulbs, two 15W and two 10W, all orientated horizontally, with roughly 6 inches from the bulbs to the waters surface. I run either three or four bulbs depending on how many plants are on the surface. It has the same substrate as the 55, but DIY CO2 as well. This tank had bad hair algae on the glass only for the first month, but has been pristine since.

If I made a fixture like this for my 55, how many bulbs would I need (including their wattage) and how should I orientate them (horizontally or vertically)? The reason I ask is because the significant increase in water depth. I am shooting for PAR values from 50-60. I have some ideas, but I would really appreciate yours, as there are some extremely knowledgeable individuals on this forum. If this is a bad idea then please let me know as well. I have also been considering T8 shop lights (which wouldn't be waterproof) and T5NO fixtures (I wish Catalina Aquarium made one).

Thanks for taking the time to read all this!
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:58 PM   #2
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I would satick with the CF personally,

I would say do 4 25W culbs, 2 on each side, but make sure you wire it to have power switches, each one cotrolling one bulb on each side so you can readily cut back the power
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Old 03-20-2010, 05:36 PM   #3
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Thanks, any other input?
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Old 03-20-2010, 07:53 PM   #4
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I had 8 27W Compact Fluorescent Spiral bulbs mounted horizontally over my 90 gal about 6 inches above the water. I had the inside of the hood painted glossy pure white, no reflectors. I have since upgraded to 2x55W T5HO from AHSupply. The spirals (6500K) with sockets and wiring cost me about $50, the T5HO was about $120. IMO, the light actually hitting the bottom of the tank is roughly the same even though the wattage (and heat output) is 50% less for the T5HOs. After the first year or so, the spirals end up costing more because of the extra electricity and they start burning out and have to be replaced.
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Old 03-20-2010, 07:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ezcry4t3d View Post
I had 8 27W Compact Fluorescent Spiral bulbs mounted horizontally over my 90 gal about 6 inches above the water. I had the inside of the hood painted glossy pure white, no reflectors. I have since upgraded to 2x55W T5HO from AHSupply. The spirals (6500K) with sockets and wiring cost me about $50, the T5HO was about $120. IMO, the light actually hitting the bottom of the tank is roughly the same even though the wattage (and heat output) is 50% less for the T5HOs. After the first year or so, the spirals end up costing more because of the extra electricity and they start burning out and have to be replaced.
He means power compacts. T5HO is a whole different beast.
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Old 03-20-2010, 08:13 PM   #6
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I would make a light fixture holding 6 bulbs vertical, in reflectors - I would buy these at Home Depot:http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...atalogId=10053

With 23 watt bulbs you should get between 50-100 micromols of PAR, so using lower wattage bulbs would likely give you the light you want. The layout would be like:


I would wire this with two switches so I could use only the middle 4 bulbs if I wanted to lower the light still more. You would want a small fan to help get rid of the heat. A little ingenuity should let you make this look pretty good.
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burks View Post
He means power compacts. T5HO is a whole different beast.
I was simply stating my experience using 8 27W "power compacts" or whatever you want to call them over my 90gal and then upgrading to T5HO. IMO, after the first year or so, it ends up being cheaper to buy a real fixture due to the extra electricity wasted due to restrike with the CF Spirals.
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Old 03-21-2010, 02:26 PM   #8
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I would just go and buy two fixtures from Home Depot or Lowes for Four foot T8 bulbs and use that. I've used this on my 55g with success over the last four years, cheap too.

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Old 03-21-2010, 02:31 PM   #9
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they have bulbs with built in reflectors now, but I don;'t know about the light spread or anything.. might be worth takin a peek.

http://www.homedepot.com/Electrical-...atalogId=10053
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Old 03-23-2010, 05:00 AM   #10
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Thanks for sharing your experience and suggestions. I think I am going to give Hoppy's idea a try, with shop lights as a back up.

-Scott
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