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Discussion Starter #1
About a year back, I was reading niko's threads on custom light fixtures, and decided to tackle one myself. While there are certainly cheaper lights than the one i built, I doubt the quality of the light is as good, at least until you get into the sunlight supply/giesemann quality range. At that point, this project starts looking pretty reasonable. :)

Details

2 x 24" IceCap SLR T5 Reflectors
2 x 24" Giesemann Midday T5HO bulbs
1 x Fulham Workhorse 5 ballast
1x 24" Catalina Aquarium light shell (call to special order)
1 x 8 ft. power cord

I bought all the materials about a year ago, but i think it was right around $140.00 for the total on everything. The guy (whose name is escaping me ATM) at Catalina threw in the T5 endcaps with the fixture at no extra cost.

Pics!




Thanks to niko for the idea, help and guidance.

If anyone wants to try this project, send me a pm, with niko's permission I'll share the pm's he sent me about details. Also, go over his threads for ideas/tips.
 

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Shell

Cool custom. I was thinking about doing something like this. Is that the solar t5 shell from Catalina?
 

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I think you're right- it is a really good quality light for the money. Do you know how much just the shell was? I have similar componenets in a DIY wood fixture I threw together because I couldn't find an empty shell and I'd love to replace it.

Is Catalina pretty cool about ordering just a shell?
 

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Indignation,

YES! I too want to know how much the shell was!

Do you happen to know if he sells all kinds of shell sizes?

This is getting somewhere now. I'm sick of people asking about Kelvin ratings and always having to say that the Giesemann Midday bulbs are out of this world. Once you try them you know.

The only "improvement" that I'd do to this DIY fixgture is to use two Workhorse 3 ballasts so each bulb can be turned on/off independently. It will add about 30 to the cost, but the fixture will be the best planted tank light you can find. By far.

--Nikolay
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Lotek - Catalina Aquariums was very friendly and accommodating... I think the shell cost $80, but I got two fulham workhorse 5 ballasts and a set of legs with it. I would call for a quote of the bare shell.

Niko - Catalina will sell you any width/length that they carry. I'm pretty sure that if you asked, they would even sell a custom length. The standard Solar shell will hold a max of 3 icecap reflectors. They also sell a wider model that could hold 4 or 5 of the icecaps.
The one problem I have with Giesemann Midday bulbs is once you use them, it is impossible to go back to using anything else. ;) I ordered 4 bulbs on your recommendation, and they are, true to your word, the best bulbs I have seen for this hobby. The plants also do very, very well under them.

I tried out an aquaflora/midday combo in this fixture too, but the separation of color was pretty extreme... clear banding between front and back. It looked a little too odd. I use the aquaflora/midday in a 24" nova fixture that has a single reflector, which does a much better job of mixing the colors.

This project originally had 3 bulb/reflectors with 2 workhorse 5 ballasts. I pulled one bulb/ballast as it was far too much light for a 20 gallon, even using it as a "burst". Another possible improvement would be the addition of a splash guard. I find no need for one, but I know some like/need them.

BottomFeeder - thanks!

my next project is a 2x8w T5NO 12" fixture for a nano tank, using the leftover icecap reflector chopped in half. It will be interesting to see just how much light I can get from a SLR T5NO.
 

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Hmm, now you're tempting me to do a slightly different version of this for my 40 breeder...

Why doesn't money grow on aquatic plants? :icon_mrgr
 

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Discussion Starter #9
What I'd like to see is this fixture with a strip of 5-6 high power white LEDs in the center. You would get the awesome color rendition/spectrum of the Giesemann bulbs, but you would also get the "shimmer" effect of the LEDs.

Anyone up to the challenge? :)
I plan on doing just that with the next fixture I build, but with a wee one on the way my next big tank might be further out than I realize.
 
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