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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

I've lurked the forum for years, but am only now actively planning for "the return." I've had fish for most of my life since I was a little kid, but following a work related move in 2005, never got around to setting up my tank again. Kids, renovations, work stuff, other hobbies... there just wasn't time or energy.

So, I'm learning what's new in the hobby and could use some help sorting out the lighting situation, which will have implications for stand/hood. It's a 90 gallon glass tank (drilled) (48"wx18dx24h). I've got my traditional wood stand but it's a bit ratty. The tank will be a highly visual piece in my family room and my wife wants it to look nice, so I'm green-lit for a nice stand and hood, but a lot depends on what I decide to do for lighting.

My previous lights are from 1999, a Hamilton Technologies 2x175W Metal Halide plus 2 48" VHO fluorescent tubes. Worked well enough, but damn it was noisy. The ballasts buzzed so much I had to put them in the attic above the tank. That won't work where I live now, so I'm thinking to buy a new lighting system that's more modern. I presume the electronics driving LED systems are quieter than the older tech I've got.

My intent is for a nice community tank with strong plants and likely CO2 injection (I used CO2 on this tank last time, rather crudely). The 90 gallon is pretty tall, and having been out of the loop for nearly two decades, I'm not sure what the right LED lighting for this would be. Any suggestions appreciated. I've read through a bunch of the threads in this forum including the FAQ. Thanks so much for the great starter information. Key things are bright natural looking light that makes colors pop, and QUIET. For once in my life, the money isn't the issue in this hobby. I can DIY as long as it's concealed in a hood, but buying something ready made may be the better choice at this point.

The lighting is critical to figure out first, so I can plan to get a sweet cabinet/hood that is "furniture quality." Obviously the lights need to fit in the hood. By the way, where do folks get nice stands/hoods these days. It used to be that any pet store or fish shop had things ranging from the lower end basic wood stands like I have, to the nice "oil rubbed" really pretty stuff. I've looked around without finding much like I remember. Where's the go-to place? I will also take another swing by my relatively local store, as I like to support the (few remaining) shops.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions. I've been reading threads here like a mad man for about a week. My wife has gotten sick of the disused tank, and has gradually coaxed me to setting it back up, but she may have created a monster. A year from now there may be tanks in every open nook and cranny in the house... :)
 

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I wish I could help, but I didn't even like hoods, back when hoods were the norm. And it seems that most of what I see on the market today, is hoodless.

There's zero chance that you'd go with an open top and hanging lighting? Cause that would really open up the discussion. Tons and tons of great lights out there these days. I just went through a lighting exercise, and I racked up reams of data on lighting. But nothing that's suitable for the hood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I wish I could help, but I didn't even like hoods, back when hoods were the norm. And it seems that most of what I see on the market today, is hoodless.

There's zero chance that you'd go with an open top and hanging lighting? Cause that would really open up the discussion. Tons and tons of great lights out there these days. I just went through a lighting exercise, and I racked up reams of data on lighting. But nothing that's suitable for the hood.
As someone returning to the hobby, I'm cautious about ruling things out. There are new technologies and paradigms out there so I'm still very much in fact-finding mode. Questions like yours are SO valuable! Thank you.

As to "open top with hanging lighting" I have some concerns. One is that this tank will be out in our living room so it's not in a "controlled space." Our house cleaners will be using cleaning products like dusting products literally right next to the tank. Fortunately no cats or anything trying to score a quick meal off my fish though! But I'm really concerned about evaporation, as a practical concern. Also, this has to look NICE. As our kids are older we are remodeling/improving the house and my wife wants to be able to have company over more; the idea is the tank will be a showcase. We just got nice new furniture and the tank has to fit in, if you know what I mean.

Perhaps a hybrid approach would work: open top with hanging lights, but I could buy or fashion a hood of sorts to surround it? Still, open top worries me. Our water is hard enough to start off with, and dealing with evaporation would be a real issue in a big tank like this. Still, I'm open to practical approaches.

If you had a 90 gal, with intent for lush plants, all other constraints off, what would you use for lighting?
 

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Well, we basically have the same setup, you just got a couple inches of height on me. I just got a 75 gallon, and it's going to be stocked to the balls, with plants, shrimp, snails, and small fish. My personal choice for the light, was 2X Chihiros Vivid 2. I got it, because it's the highest output light, with the "proper" spectrum, AND most programmable, that I could get for the money. And it has spectacular reviews. I am not super tech-y, but one of my personal criteria, was that my light ramped up slowly to the photo period, and then ramped slowly down. Smoothly. Not an abrupt change. Not something that I couldn't adjust. I spend a lot of time in that space, so I want to start and finish my day with smooth transitions.

For open top, I actually prefer it, as it adds humidity to the air in my room. Not everyone will want that, I understand - but it was part of my reasoning. The other part of my reasoning, was that I don't want to pay a lot for lighting, just so I can lose a significant percentage of it, through a piece of glass. I want all of my light in the water. And finally, open tops, for me, just make maintenance that much easier. I'm lazy. So this works. I am currently in the process of hanging the lights. I chose to drop a spreader bar from the ceiling, with decorative chain. I'm not as concerned with appearance as you may be. My tank is in my "laboratory", so I made my stand from cinder blocks, with a black painted carrier frame under the tank.

I did something a little odd, that maybe most people wouldn't even consider... But I love killifish. Killies jump. So I fabricated an acrylic valance, 6 inches high, and cut clearances for all of my plumbing. Mine is transparent, but one could easily go opaque. You could drop the lighting down, such that it's inside a valance like that. So you get the look of a hood, but the functionality of an open top. Choices. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quick follow up question: are the lights and control transformers/ballasts/whatever silent? Or do they buzz appreciably?
 

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That depends on your light. The Chihiros aren't completely silent, but it's not a buzz. There is a quiet, but not undiscernable, fan noise.

With LED, the less output they are, the more likely to be silent. When you get into higher output lighting (again, speaking LED here), if they are packaged small, they are more likely to have some sound. Otherwise, the compromise is a bigger package, with large heat sink area. Those are often completely silent. But really hot, and bulkier.

If it's important to you - I found that some of the highest rated, and most expensive lighting, is also the least programmable. Much of the big names are simply on/off. That wasn't OK for me.

I can't really speak to MH or fluoro lighting fixtures, because that's just not something that I've ever been interested in using.
 

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Open tops are a more trendy option these days, however a lot of us still run hoods. I have 1 open top tank and 1 tank with a hood. More modern T5-HO fluorescent fixtures are dead nuts silent, and we use small computer fans to keep things cool inside the hood. Because of this, we can run very low profile hoods without risking over heating.

LED's are completely silent as well, and have really stepped up their game lately. A lot of the active people on here with tanks around your size are running an array of T5-HO with very colourful bulbs - myself included.

You've basically got a few options:

T5-HO bulbs
Strip style LED's (DIY or Branded fixtures)
Pendent style LED's (DIY or Branded fixtures)

Other than lighting, the newest trends seem to be flow meters for CO2 instead of bubble counters, smart switches and controllers for running everything on a timer / control the entire tank with your phone, RO water changes with custom DIY fertilizers instead of tapwater and using pH controllers / measurements for controlling CO2 levels. instead of drop checkers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My metal halides w/ VHO florescent were beasts. Noisy beasts.

A bit of quiet fan noise is fine. Sixty cycle buzz not so much. 😉
 

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My metal halides w/ VHO florescent were beasts. Noisy beasts.

A bit of quiet fan noise is fine. Sixty cycle buzz not so much. 😉
For what it's worth I have 2 x 4" computer fans drawing air from 5 x T5-HO bulbs inside a very low profile hood and you cannot hear a thing over the filter noise from my very quiet Eheims.

My open top tank has no fans, 2 LED strip fixtures and 1 T5-HO fixture and absolutely no noise at all.
 

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My open top tank has no fans, 2 LED strip fixtures
Which LED fixture do you have?

As stated previously, there are tradeoffs with LED fixtures. Active vs passive cooling, and the effect on the size of packaging, and access to air circulation are all factors.

Some of the open top tanks aren't done that way simply because they are trendy - some of them need the open air to cool the lighting fixtures.
 

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Which LED fixture do you have?

As stated previously, there are tradeoffs with LED fixtures. Active vs passive cooling, and the effect on the size of packaging, and access to air circulation are all factors.

Some of the open top tanks aren't done that way simply because they are trendy - some of them need the open air to cool the lighting fixtures.
Strip style passive cooling LED's are what I have.

But yes, some of the open top tanks are that way for cooling reasons.
 

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Quick follow up question: are the lights and control transformers/ballasts/whatever silent? Or do they buzz appreciably?
New electronic ballasts rarely buzz ( if ever) like the old magnetic with their huge transformers.

Biggest noise complaints nowadays are ac solenoids for co2 or cheap fans on some led lights.
Occasionally capacitor singing on drivers or power supplies ( Peizo effect).

Unless you spend big bucks any t5/ mh setups will not match the aesthetics of new leds

Conversely to get rhe power of your old lights with modern leds
isn' t cheap either.

Say 4-6 ai prime freshwaters to compete w/ your old output at $200 plus each.

A 6-8 tube modern t5 May be the way to go if "bells and whistles" are not part of your need/wants.
You can have the best of both worlds with a hybrid setup.
Add over $600 (3) of primes.

Led alone .

Should add the cost of german engineered mh/t5

Got to admit that besides the hope of more
" daylight" spectrums in ceramic metal halides I consider mh's a dead end in fw.
VHO's as well due to lower efficiency.

As someone who despises using and disposing of mercury based glass tubes I will "suffer" the use of t5/8's for now but caution on using "disappearing" sizes ie 36 60 72.

:)

If you had a 90 gal 48 x 18 x24, with intent for lush plants and looks good, all other constraints off, what would you use for lighting?
Mitras LX 7204, black, USA/CND – GHL USA

1000 K – 18000 K adjustment range of color temperature
6800 K center color temperature
9 seperately dimmable colors, LEDs within each cluster:
2 x Cree XPG3 Sky White, 2 x Cree XPG3 Neutral White, 2 x Cree XPG3 Cool White, 1 x Cree XP-E2 Blue, 1 x XT-E Royal Blue, 1 x Osram Oslon SSL True Green, 1 x Osram Oslon SSL Yellow, 1 x Osram Oslon SSL Red, 1 x Osram Oslon SSL Hyperred
Mitras LX 7006 has 6 clusters (Total of 72 LEDs)
Mitras LX 7004 has 4 clusters (Total of 48 LEDs)
Well I'd just build one ..;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Where are people buying stands, these days, for those that actually purchase them?

I looked online and the "Marineland" brand stand (Monterey, either color) is going for >$1000? That's crazy.

Meanwhile thanks to discussion here I'm considering seriously the idea of open top, with a wooden "valence" sort of like a hood but open-topped so hanging lighting can come through.

Thanks so much for great discussion to get me primed to start again.
 

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Yeah, I just don't see stands anymore. I know they are out there, but typically, they're show tanks, and have Titanic budgets. (which typically means custom)

It's not surprising that the ones you are seeing cost that much. Everything (especially materials) is a victim of inflation, and it's a super low volume item, even at that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hi folks,

My journey back into the hobby continues, slow but sure. I'm sorting out the stand and lighting first, and based on design input from my wife, I will be getting a new cabinet and presumably matching hood from the collection here, but ordered through my local fish store:


I'm looking at both the heritage and classic lines. The extra ~$1000 for buying a stand/hood is not a stopping block; happy wife = happy life, and there's no financial pressure from her to lower the project cost by skimping on furniture. She sees the tank as an important visual element in the room and has green-lit this cost.

Based on input from this thread, I'm strongly considering going with hanging lights directly over the water without a glass top. This will be new for me. But I've got some follow up questions for you folks:

1. Integrating the lights with the hood is an interesting challenge. I'm mostly thinking to get a top-lift hood that looks like this:
Rectangle Wood Material property Table Gas


... and remove the top entirely by unscrewing the hinge shown in the back leaving me with a "valence" around the tank. Has anyone done this approach? The idea is the lights will be hidden inside the canopy, unless one is right next to the tank and looks down (and is tall enough to do so as the top of the canopy is around 5 feet tall [I'm six feet]). I can always reattach the canopy top if needed.

2. The lights I'm looking into most at this point are the Chihiros Vivid 2 series ( a pair) or the AI Prime Freshwater (2-3 of them). Either of these would probably be hanging down into the open-top canopy. Question: What do you guys hang these lights from? I get that they come with (or you purchase extra) stainless wires that mount the lights, but what do you fasten them to up on the ceiling? Ideally I'd like to be able to easily raise the lights out of the way, or swing them out of the way (can't swing 'em if they are "inside" the canopy of course). So, I'm wondering what the most practical way is to suspend them, that enables me to move them out of way as needed.

I've seen some videos where people had a huge extruded aluminum frame kind of thing; that probably wouldn't go over well with my wife. Looking for a clean and neat solution. What have you got for me?

Thanks to all who have participated in this thread. It will continue, and I greatly appreciate your contributions.
 

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... and remove the top entirely by unscrewing the hinge shown in the back leaving me with a "valence" around the tank. Has anyone done this approach?
It wasn't what I did for mine, but for the aesthetic and resources that you're going for, it sounds like a decent solution. You'd still have to put a piece on the back, if you have "jumpers".

The lights I'm looking into most at this point are the Chihiros Vivid 2 series ... Question: What do you guys hang these lights from?
I literally built my own mount, that spans the length of the aquarium. 1 piece of plywood that I had left over. I cut it in 3 pieces. One piece the length of the tank, the other pieces are just high enough to suspend the lights. (I think I built it to 13") I put 2 "keepers" on the outside of the legs, so it can't fall into the tank. Then, I drilled 4 holes in the top piece. I put one piece of the cable through both holes, and just adjust it at the fixture - then balance it out. I really wasn't interested in adjusting 4 cables, individually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Another idea I have involves the top lift canopy, without removing the top part, but cutting a circular hole in the top above each of the Chihiros fan areas, so the fan can blow out through the hole in the top. The light system would be screwed onto the liftable top, so that when I open the canopy, the LEDs attached to the hinged lid lift out along with it.

Rectangle Composite material Gas Technology Font


I would route the power cables through small holes out the back of the canopy, with sufficient slack so that they wouldn't be taut when the lid opens.

Anybody see any issue with this plan?
 

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Anybody see any issue with this plan?
Under no circumstances would I EVER do this.

The fan is supplementary cooling. There is a heatsink the rest of the length. It's a short one, to keep the size compact. But it's still a heat sink. What does that mean? Heat - and lots of it. Unless you're raising discuss, you will absolutely end up raising temperatures in the tank. Which leads to the next point. Condensation. You never put an LED light fixture inside a closed area with fluids. They're not waterproof, water resistant, or even water aversionary. You will end up with water inside the light. Maybe not right away. But it will absolutely end up there.

The concept is a huge NO. You'd be better off just using a piece of high transmission glass, and cleaning off the condensate once in awhile. (but with the light fixture on the proper side of it)
 

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Hi,

I happen to have a 90 gallon planted tank with a fairly nice stand / hood combo and 6 t5 HO bulbs that I have been running for years and I also recently purchased and set up an open top UN 75p with a Chihiros vivid. I’d be happy to provide detailed info on both. There are some really nice things about each system and there are also some downsides to each. I’ll try to provide some more information soon. I’ll also try to add a picture of each one if I can find on on my phone.
Water Organism Rectangle Plant Art

Property Cabinetry Plant Wood Interior design


Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Under no circumstances would I EVER do this.

The fan is supplementary cooling. There is a heatsink the rest of the length. It's a short one, to keep the size compact. But it's still a heat sink. What does that mean? Heat - and lots of it. Unless you're raising discuss, you will absolutely end up raising temperatures in the tank. Which leads to the next point. Condensation. You never put an LED light fixture inside a closed area with fluids. They're not waterproof, water resistant, or even water aversionary. You will end up with water inside the light. Maybe not right away. But it will absolutely end up there.

The concept is a huge NO. You'd be better off just using a piece of high transmission glass, and cleaning off the condensate once in awhile. (but with the light fixture on the proper side of it)
Thank you. Great input. The idea of keeping the lights inside the canopy with the top down but vented is effectively dead unless I decide to use the glass top.
 
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