DIY Lighting/Hood for lowtech 10g - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2006, 05:55 PM Thread Starter
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DIY Lighting/Hood for lowtech 10g

Hi all.
I've spent hours reading the posts on here...you're all such a knowlegeable bunch of people! I'm planning on getting a 10 gal in the near future which I intend to plant. I'm also considering making my own hood and light fixture as the prices around sydney are outrageous. I know a bit about aquariums, and little about wood or electronics. However my boyfriend is comfortable with wood and electronics, but knows nothing about aquariums. I figure between us we should be able to come up with something. I have a few n00b questions concerning the setup.

What wattage, and what type of fluroescent light/s would you guys recommend for a 10 gallon? At this stage I won't be interested in using CO2, so I'm just looking at a low tech system. However in the future (knowing me) I will probably want to experiment with CO2, so ideally the ability to upgrade the lighting easily will need to be factored into the hood design. Or is this gonna be too hard? I realise that a 10 gal tank doesn't leave much space to play around with.

In regards to the lighting, what needs to be done to ensure the setup is safe? The idea of having lights hanging directly over a tank with nothing between them doesn't sit well with me. I'm guessing I could just place them over a glass aquarium lid, but would this affect the efficiency of the lighting? Are there any other safety factors I need to consider too?

Sorry for the longish post...but there's so many things to think about...

Thanks
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2006, 06:25 PM
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I am no expert, but here are a few of my thoughts. Lights hanging above water to do scare me much. Lights in a near airtight box, cm's above the water worry me more. Metal+humidity=corrosion (x10 if salt in present - err, I suspect our ferts are pretty close to salt in the corrosion dept). I usupect that glass and forced ventilation will help lower humidity - but so will a couple inches (pendent/legs). That said, getting the light closer will probably help with efficency. The deciding factor is probably if your livestock will work with an opentop tank - and personal preference.

13 watt compact flourcent trouble lights cost about $10 in the states. A lot of reefers use several on nano tanks. One advantage is that you can always add more. spiral cf bulbs are also another cheep option on small tanks. Understand that w/o good reflectors, none of these will be increadably efficient - just probably inexpensive and easy to come by. Personally if you were here, I would recomend ahsupply, but understand shipping will kill this for you (perhaps other retrofits are available down under).

Personally, I would probably start with 30ish watts, but to be honest this is just a guess. I suspect it would but you into the low light area. I have 13 watts on a 1 gallon nano right now - but have mostly just grown bga with it . Still working on getting that tank balanced.

58 gallon oceanic, Kessel 360 tun sun, pressurized co2, eheim pimp #179 - 2217 and diffuser
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2006, 06:52 PM
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Welcome to the Planted Tank Winfield, nice to have you!

Like jgc mentioned there are several options to get a 10 gal tank lit.

The simplest of them would be to take one of the black plastic hoods that have sockets for incandescent lights, and use two compact fluorescent bulbs in there. I lit my 10 gal tank with two 6500K 10W lamps (sold in WM pets aisle) and it was a nice inexpensive low light solution.

The next step up would be to use that same hood and gut it (or build some wood enclosure) and use a 2x 13W bright kit from AHSupply.com. This is what I have now and while some consider it low light, it let's you grow quite a bit of plants, and IMO requires CO2 and some fertilizer dosing.

For a high-light tank, you could use a 36W kit, along with regular dosing and CO2 that will allow you to grow most any plant or algae, in a very rapid fashion.

Regarding cover glasses, there are discussions, some use them, some don't. They take a little light, but I use them on all my tanks to keep moisture out of reflectors and electronic, to keep evaporation low, and to keep fish in the water.


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2006, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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Wow! Didn't expect to get a reply so soon. Thanks for your helpful advice

I would love to get an AHSupply kit, or something similar. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be anything like this available in Australia. You guys in the States are pretty lucky - I always read about the cool things you can get over there.

Looks like CF's are the way to go, I really like the price and availability. I think I'm going to have to build a canopy though. I haven't been able to find any hoods or light fittings for under $60.

In regards to the wood, what type and also what size (thickness) would you guys recommend? Pine is quite cheap here in Aust, would it be suitable? What kind of treatment would I have to give it?

Also regarding the reflectors, is there a cheap material I could use for this? I remember reading somewhere that empty chip packets are good...but this may be another of those "kitty litter = great substrate" legends.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2006, 11:38 PM
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Ooops... after looking at jgc's location I subconciously deducted you are in Austin

Not sure regarding the wood, as long as it is moisture-protected I'd think the exact kind wouldn't matter too much.

With reflectors, looking at various comparisons, white paint ranks pretty high up there with expensive specular aluminum reflectors. So for a tank that isn't too deep this might be an economic solution, just to paint the canopy white inside.


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-20-2006, 12:44 PM
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keep planted tanks in general are an urban myth. Had not heard of the chip bag one they though.

I have been fighting with lighting 2 tanks for months now. I do not want to splurge and get aftermarket lights for them, but can not thing of a diy method that is cheep enough to warrent the effort. My 10 gallon has been sunlit only so are (but the plants and shrimp are doing ok and it has no algea of any kind so can not really complain). I have the cf trouble light laying across the 1 gallon, but that tank is being reworked and I might just break and spend $30 on an azoo light (I can build better, but do not think I can build cleaner).

58 gallon oceanic, Kessel 360 tun sun, pressurized co2, eheim pimp #179 - 2217 and diffuser
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-30-2006, 11:34 PM
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I made a DYI fluorescent system using two Fluker's 8.5" Clamp Lamps w/o the clamps on top of a glass aquarium cover w/ two Spiral CFL Screw-In Full Spectrum Bulbs (27watts each for me, 18g). The aquarium cover I got for $10, the clamp lamps for $12 each (I bought one at a time tho, this is a low budget project) and the bulbs were $6 each. I get 3 watts per gallon now and my plants are taking off w/ the addition of CO2 and ferts. (The amazon sword almost constantly spurts oxygen under these lights!!) It looks really nice since the lamps are black on the black rimmed aquarium. They're also safe since they're made for reptile heat lamps (rated to 660w it says). Like you I looked around and couldn't find any solutions that really interested me. I was impatient and on a low budget so I tried this and it's seeming to work really well.

I also wanted to add that the lamps fit perfectly on the aquarium cover. The rim of my aquarium is 20 by 10.5", and apparently the plastic on the back (used to cut out for filter, co2 line, heater, etc) is about 2.5" so the lamps sit nicely and project light evenly throughout the tank. Not to mention you don't have to make a hood of any type!

16g, 54 watt DIY screw in CFL lighting, DIY CO2, Rotala Indica, Wisperia, Amazon Sword, Bacopa Monnieri, and Acorus. Arcillite/Zeolite Substrate w/ Tahitian gravel. 5 Tiger barbs, 4 Green barbs, Rubber Lip Pleco, Pond and Malaysian Snails. EI/Greg Watson Ferts (dry). Biowheel 100 (biowheel removed)

10g shimp tank soon.
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