I'll be getting a 180g tank in the next couple of weeks and have been debating the best lighting options for quite a while. The tank will be an All-Glass 72-1/2 x 24-1/2 x 25-5/8" with cross-braces every 2 feet. Despite my best efforts I couldn't find a 180g Oceanic - sob, sob, whimper, sob. It will be arriving with a very tall enclosed custom canopy that was originally designed to house MH lighting to go over a reef setup.
As I see it, there are 2 good options available to me:
1) AH-Supply CF lighting, probably three 55W bulbs per 2' section. This would result in 9 bulbs total. I'd probably only run all three for about 3 or 4 hours a day.
2) 150W Metal halide lighting, one bulb per 2' section, supplemented with regular T8 or T12 lighting. I'd probably run the MHs for 8 hours a day and use the regular fluorescents just for tank viewing (per Dennis' suggestions).
Arguments against 9x55W bulbs: Lots of messy wiring with 9 separate bulbs. Questionable penetration of CF lighting to a depth of 24". Maybe I'm making this a bigger issue than it is, but I want good light all the way to the bottom of the stemmies & for the foreground plants.
Arguments in favor of 9x55W setup: Very modular - easily able to mix & match bulbs and hours per day at a given light setting. Familiarity with AH supply stuff. Availability and variety of 55W CF bulbs.
Arguments against MH setup: I have absolutely zero experience with this. This project is big enough that I want to get the right stuff the first time. I don't know what brands to look for, what type of bulb/ballast combination is best, what type of reflector to get, or what the availability of appropriate bulbs is. Mogul base? Double-ended? Medium base? What's the difference????? Also, heat is more of an issue, I'd probably need some serious cooling fans in the canopy.
Arguments in favor of MH: Fewer wires, fewer bulbs to monkey with, good light penetration to 24", most people with big tanks tend to go this route.
Is there anyone out there with experience in the MH stuff (former reefer)?
Does anyone have any input/experience with this reflector:
With this bulb:
Any input will be greatly appreciated.