AH Supply 2 x 55 Watt Kit Installed!
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Old 03-04-2003, 07:14 AM   #1
STAT 007
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It's been a couple weeks since I did all this, but I just now got around to writing a post about it, so sorry. :P

I officially have my "plant-ready" lighting installed! As part of a four or five step process to get my tank ready for live plants, I put the AH Supply (www.ahsupply.com) 2 x 55 Watt Compact Fluorescent lighting kit in my All-Glass Black Pine canopy. Now, when I first got this canopy (~$50 from www.leisure-time.com), it wasn't quite what I had expected. First of all, the top has two fairly large gaps in the slats that run the entire length of the canopy. So you can see right down into the canopy. I was expecting the top to be solid (closed). Second, the whole top of the canopy isn't hinged. Rather, just the front 2/3 of the top opens up (and opens up all the way). These two surprises worried me because I thought that the gaps in the slats would make fitting the fixtures in the limited-space canopy difficult, allow too much light to escape out the top, and would make all the "innerds" of the lighting unsightly when looking down from the top (since the tank isn't all that high off the ground). Then the issue of only the front 2/3 of the canopy being hinged worried me because it might create a problem when trying to mount the reflectors in a way that would allow you to actually open the canopy.

So I called up Kim at AH Supply and told him what the problem was. At this point, I was about to send the whole canopy back and try to find a different brand of canopy somewhere else. But Kim told me that the slats might actually be good because they'd allow for natural convection of heat produced by the lights out the top of the canopy. Then he told me the exact measurements of the reflectors (primarily that only a 1" wide strip of the reflector actually contacts the surface it's mounted on) and guided me through some measurements of the canopy. Turned out that it'd work!!! I promptly placed my order for the light kit and waited for the mailman. ;D

Once the kit arrived, the installation began! Realizing that the tops of the reflectors would be visible when looking down onto the aquarium from the top, I decided to spray paint the backs (or tops) of the reflectors flat black (to match the canopy). I put two coats on while leaving the protective plastic on the mirrored sides of the reflectors and it worked great! I then installed the two reflectors on the hinged part of the canopy (there was plenty of room), wired everything together (I used solder and electrical tape instead of the little supplied wire connectors), and installed the bulbs. Voila! It worked like a charm!!! ;D I was very impressed with the instant start of the ballast and the intensity of the lights in those awesome reflectors. Everything fit perfectly, everything looked perfect, and best of all, I'd installed it all myself! Needless to say, I was a very happy camper.

The only thing that surprised me was that I'd ordered the 5300K bulbs and decided that they were a little too yellow for me (so I ordered a 6400K bulb and am now running one of each). Other than that, I was very impresssed. However, now that I'm frequenting some aquatic plant boards and reading a lot more on lighting than I was before the installation, I've realized that I only have 2.97 Watts/gallon in my tall tank. So the next thing I'm considering doing (once I finish taking care of substrate, CO2, and actual plants) is installing a third 55 Watt fixture. This would give me 4.46 Watts/gallon, which would be even better. But that's an extra $60 I'll deal with at a later time...

All in all, as the lighting of my tank stands right now, I'm VERY VERY happy with it all. AH Supply was wonderful about everything and I honestly can't wait to do business with them again in the future (although I'm sure I'll end up spending more money than I really should). I definitely recommend their lighting solutions for all you other aquarists looking to make your tank look better and/or better-suited for live plants. 8)
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37 gallon AGA Black Seal, Emperor 400, Ebo Jager 200 W, 100% Flourite Substrate, 2x55 Watt AH Supply PC Lighting (5300K & 6400K) @ ~3.4 WPG, High-Pressure CO2.
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Old 03-04-2003, 12:49 PM   #2
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Sounds like a enjoyable and successful DIY lighting project! Glad to hear it went well. That 2.97 wpg will be pretty efficient with those miro reflectors, so I would definitely give the plants some time and see how they grow before adding additional light. Perhaps put off the 4.46wpg for when you move up to a pressurized CO2 system (which, eventually, I think you will).
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Old 03-04-2003, 01:13 PM   #3
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Yeah, that was pretty much my plan (to hold off on adding an additional 55 Watts until I found it was needed). As for pressurized CO2, well...I ordered the Carbo-Plus because my tank's relatively small, my KH is extremely high (about 410 ppm or 23 dKH), and my pH is extremely high (about 9.0). So I'm *hoping* that the Carbo-Plus will be the right thing for me by reducing those levels and providing enough CO2 for this little 37 gallon tank. Also, I can't afford a setup that's more in the $200-$300 range right now, so rather than not have any CO2 at all, I decided to spend $120 to get the Carbo-Plus. Yet another issue is that I plan on my next big tank being setup as an African Cichlid tank w/o any plants at all, so then any pressurized CO2 system I was to buy would be used solely on this 37 gallon tank. =/
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37 gallon AGA Black Seal, Emperor 400, Ebo Jager 200 W, 100% Flourite Substrate, 2x55 Watt AH Supply PC Lighting (5300K & 6400K) @ ~3.4 WPG, High-Pressure CO2.
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Old 03-04-2003, 03:31 PM   #4
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It sounds like you've got a solid plan. That is indeed some hard and alkaline water you've got there! I think it's very wise to keep African Cichlids in water like that, as if it were carved right out of chalk! Why fight the system when it can work for you, eh?
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Old 03-04-2003, 10:06 PM   #5
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I have similiar water conditions, and if I had another tank it would be African cichlids. Fish that are in their natural water handle some things a lot better. My friend who has similiar water conditions had most of his fish die when a heater "broke" and went way too high, but the africans stayed alive!

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Old 03-05-2003, 02:18 AM   #6
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You could have gotten a pressurized system for $120. One person on this board just set one up for $80.
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Old 03-05-2003, 02:53 AM   #7
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Yeah, but I read that thread and got the impression that there was more to the story than $80 (such as problems and good-deal-findings). Perhaps not though. If somebody could give me the link to a place (or the places) that had the exact items I would need at the best prices around and the total was $120, I'd buy it and be good to go for $120. Of course, it wouldn't do anything about my sky-high KH, but I would probably deal with that shortcoming to not have to pay $30 for new carbon bars. So show me the place to get all this stuff for $120! Thanks!
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37 gallon AGA Black Seal, Emperor 400, Ebo Jager 200 W, 100% Flourite Substrate, 2x55 Watt AH Supply PC Lighting (5300K & 6400K) @ ~3.4 WPG, High-Pressure CO2.
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Old 03-05-2003, 12:13 PM   #8
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There was some good deal finding there. But it's not that hard. You can get a new regulator and tank from Harborfreight.com for $100 + shipping. Or order the regulator from them which is $30 and start calling welding shops and fire extinguisher shops for a good deal on a tank. Then head on over to AquaBotanic.com and get his $18 needle valve, you can order plants and other items while you are there! Get some silicone airline tubing and you are ready to go. So figure $40 for the regulator shipped, $25 for the needle valve shipped and no more than $50 for a tank and you are sitting at under $120.
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Old 03-05-2003, 03:34 PM   #9
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I'm the one that got lucky with the $80 CO2 setup, actually. The biggest luck I had was on the cylinder. You want me to buy that other aluminum cylinder they had and ship it to ya? hehe.

But Rex's estimates are right - You can get a good dual gauge regulator for $40, shipped on Ebay. Beverage Factory and Kegworks has auctions on there all day, every day.
The needle, I paid $24 shipped from marine monsters, but could have gotten it for $22, shipped straight from clippard.
And then say you find a Cylinder for around $50-$60, you've still got a better system than the Carbo-Plus and your long-term operating costs will be lower.
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Old 03-06-2003, 04:50 AM   #10
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Wow...you guys really have my attention here. But I have to admit, this is all new to me so I'm fairly naive about it all (although I don't share the fairly common fear of high-pressure CO2 equipment that many people on this board seem to--I used to own a paintball equipment business and filled paintball CO2 tanks).

GCA, I very well might be interested in taking you up on your offer. How much would the tank be and is it a good tank to get? Also, aren't you guys forgetting some stuff, such as special hose, check valves, bubble counters, and reactors (like that little Eheim I've seen around)? I dunno...just seems like there's other stuff to be bought (especially a way to get the CO2 into the water). But like y'all said, you DEFINITELY have my attention here. I might wind up sending the Carbo-Plus back unused after all!
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37 gallon AGA Black Seal, Emperor 400, Ebo Jager 200 W, 100% Flourite Substrate, 2x55 Watt AH Supply PC Lighting (5300K & 6400K) @ ~3.4 WPG, High-Pressure CO2.
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Old 03-06-2003, 01:01 PM   #11
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I use silicone air line tubing for hose. It works fine. Check valves are a couple of bucks each. I built my own bubble counter and reactor.
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Old 03-06-2003, 01:13 PM   #12
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Rex is right - I used silicone tubing as well. It still loses some CO2 through the walls of the tubing, but only small amounts and it doesn't harden over time the way vinyl tubing will. As for the check valve, some people will tell you that you need an expensive metal check valve, but that is only for corrosive saltwater calcium reactor applicaitons. I used a $1.50 Tetra valve I got at Wal-mart.

I built my own bubble counter and reactor as well. Check out my website for more info.

The tank is very very good. Aluminum tanks are usually far more expensive (I've seen them run for as much as $100) but it will be at least $5 less to ship. Shipping will still be around $15-$20, I'm estimating. give me your zip code and I'll get a shipping estimate. (email me at sponjican@oreck.com )
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Old 03-06-2003, 01:41 PM   #13
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Shipping is actually pretty reasonable. Does anyone know if there are any issues with shipping full CO2 cylinders? If it ended up laying on it's side in the big brown truck, could it damage the valve and leak?
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Old 03-06-2003, 02:38 PM   #14
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I may be mistaken but I seem to remember reading somewhere that shipping filled cylinders is against the law, you may want to check on this.
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Old 03-06-2003, 04:07 PM   #15
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I'll call UPS and see what they say. Thanks
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