Help on Budget lighting for 110g
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Old 01-25-2008, 12:32 PM   #1
ranodide
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Help on Budget lighting for 110g


I am new to planted tank keeping. I recently aquired a 110 gallon x-high tank (48LX18WX30H) and have only one 48" flourescent light atop it. I am looking to go for a heavily planted style, and know that i need sufficient light and possibly CO2. I am planning on building a wooden canopy for the top of the tank and considered adding 8, 48" daylight bulbs in dual strip shop lights that the Home Depot sells for 8.00 each for a total of $32 for the fixtures and about 24 for bulbs. At 40Watts each (40x8) I get a total of 320Watts.

Is this enough, the right type(i plan to use the daylight and sunshine 5000K and 6500K bulbs)

I really appreciate anyone's input on this.
Thanks,
Roland
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Old 01-25-2008, 01:06 PM   #2
KurtG
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I don't know how effective normal output fluorescents would be on such a deep tank. I really think you are going to need more intense light.

You are not going to find anything more intense near your $60 bucks I suspect.

I did a diy 175 watt MH on my 20g (long time ago) and I think theinduistrial ballasts were in the $30 range as were the bulbs ($60 total). You might look into doing a two bulb MH diy setup but expect you'd be in the $120 range. Check the reef boards (reefs org or reefcentral com) to see if there are any budget setups.

edit: I forgot the MH sockets were about $15 each too.
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Old 01-25-2008, 01:13 PM   #3
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There is always www.ahsupply.com. can get a decent setup through them and their reflectors are outstanding.
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Old 01-25-2008, 04:22 PM   #4
ranodide
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Thanks for the responses so far. Your comments lead me to 2 more questions:

1. If i go with something like a dual DIY 175 Watt MH light, can i put that under the wooded canopy? Or would there be too much heat?

2. How many wats of compact flourescent light would i need for this type of setup (30" deep)? On the CF subject, are the small spiral CF bulbs an option for the DIYer, and if so is the wattage and intensity listed on them equivalent to that of the similar wattage of the tube CF bulbs?

I am also a little concerned about the operating costs of the MH lighting -- i hear that they can become very expensive to run and replace ...

Thanks -- again, i appreciate your comments.
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Old 01-25-2008, 04:33 PM   #5
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The fluorescents will do you if (1) you can mount them really low (2) you keep the water really clean by using the methods of overfiltration, UV, activated charcoal, etc (3) you keep the glass clean, and (4) you don't have a lot of canopy type plant growth.

There are those that say water depth doesn't affect intensity, but that is only true if the above conditions are met (low lights and clean water and glass).

When I ran MH over a 20 g, I mounted a fan ($7-$10) in the diy wood canopy and wired it with the lights so both ran at the same time. I didn't have temp probmes with my reef.

It really depends on where you want to go, I might be tempted to try the fluorsecents (see my sig) given the price you found, but you might have to face upgrading if things don't work as you expected. I also like fewer overdriven versus mashing a bunch of tubes in.

I think you'll get as much heat from 8 fluorescents and (4?) ballasts as the MH (the ballasts are mounted remotely). I think wattage is wattage versus costs, but the MH bulbs last longer as I recall (they do cost more, but we're talking 2 versus 8).
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Old 01-25-2008, 05:07 PM   #6
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As an alternative to metal halides (2x175W would be pretty strong light for low tech) consider a T5 setup.

With 4 T5HO bulbs you would get good even lighting for your tank to grow loads of plants. Less wattage and heat than the MH lamps, less wattage and more light into your tank compared with T8's.

Cost-wise, about $40 for the ballast, $80 for individual reflectors, and between $50 and $80 for bulbs. A few bucks for endcaps and misc parts. Total less than $200.
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Old 01-25-2008, 08:12 PM   #7
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When it comes to T12 vs. T8 vs. T5 ... i'm not sure i fully understand the difference between them, other than the overall diameter and wattage. T12's are by far the least expensive as far as both fixtures and bulbs go, is there a reason that i should not use them and go for T8 or T5 instead? Sorry for my ignorance on the subject.
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Old 01-25-2008, 09:09 PM   #8
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Have you considered ODNO? I haven't tried it myself but the ballasts in the cheap home depot shop lights are supposed to work well for overdriving bulbs. Buy 2 shop lights, combine the ballsts into one fixture and overdrive two bulbs, repeat for as many shop lights as you can fit on top of the tank. I'm sure there's a break even point somewhere as you'll be replacing bulbs more often this way than you would with power compacts or metal halide, but I'm not sure how long it takes to reach that break even point, T12 tubes are cheap.
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Old 01-25-2008, 09:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ranodide View Post
When it comes to T12 vs. T8 vs. T5 ... i'm not sure i fully understand the difference between them, other than the overall diameter and wattage. T12's are by far the least expensive as far as both fixtures and bulbs go, is there a reason that i should not use them and go for T8 or T5 instead? Sorry for my ignorance on the subject.
Good question...

As bulbs get slimmer, reflectors become more effective. If you have a fat diameter bulb like a T12, it blocks much of its own light if used with a reflector. Due to that fact, there aren't even good reflectors available. Now with T5s on the other hand, being thin allows for a lot of light to be reflected without the bulb itself being in the way. First class specular aluminum reflectors are available readily, and lead to a huge advantage of T5s.

Second, as surface is reduced, brightness increases for same wattage. Say you have a 40W T12 and a 40W T5 bulb, the T5 bulb will have brighter, more concentrated light. This is a great advantage as you can get more light with less bulbs into your tank. The will also run a bit warmer which is just a side effect, no big problem.

Third, T5s can be driven to higher wattages, which equals brighter light, which again gets more light to your plants, with less bulbs if you assume equal total wattage.
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Old 01-30-2008, 01:41 AM   #10
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Thanks for all of your feedback. I will let you know know what i decide to try.
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Old 02-01-2008, 12:44 AM   #11
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I'm pretty sure he's talking about the $8.00 magnetic ballast strip lights. ODNO requires an electronic ballast. I recommend power compact fixtures over T5's since they are cheaper than T5 fixtures with individual reflectors. Plants require much less light than reef tanks. If you were getting a reef tank though, T5's or metal halide's would be the way to go.

This comes with 6700k bulbs: http://www.aquacave.com/detail.aspx?ID=646

For T5's without individual reflectors get two of these: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...0&pcatid=16770
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:56 PM   #12
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ODNO is an option, I'm not too familiar (or extremely enthusiastic) with it. You can get a VHO setup, if you do some custom work. I have a 2' 75W bulb over my 29Gal so intensity is not a problem for me. But 40W is probably a bit low for the depth you're going. Either 65W CF's or 110W VHO (48") bulbs are an option. You can pick up a VHO ballast for around $30, enough to power 2 4' bulbs. That gives you 2WPG.

So total costs, 2 (110W) bulbs 25x2=50, ballast $30, custom/wood work and wiring depend on how fancy you want it. You could make it under $100 if you want.
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Old 02-01-2008, 08:44 PM   #13
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the home depot near me carries a $9 shop light with an ELECTRONIC ballast, brand name is commercial electric. There is a break even point, I calcuated it in another post recently, the difference is in the cost of bulbs, 4 T12 bulbs will cost in the neighborhood of $30, a compact fluorescent bulb will cost in the neighborhood of $30 with the same output as 4 T12s, I assume that overdriven bulbs would need to be replaced about twice as often (if not more.) After buying your third set of T12 lights you've spent the same amount (roughly) as someone who bought PC lights, from that point on it's cheaper to do PC. Initial cost is about half for T12 compared to PC though, if you've got the cash in hand PC is better in the long run, for short term or on a budget today T12 looks pretty nice.
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Old 02-01-2008, 09:21 PM   #14
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Well Wal-Mart has $7 shop lights with electronic ballasts, but for a planted tank I would stay away from shop lights.
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Old 02-02-2008, 02:37 AM   #15
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So 260 watts is a low tech level for a tank this size?
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