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Discussion Starter #1
As I posted before, my 20G tank has been running using a 500W halogen spotlight to light it. I'm sure many of you who saw that post had a good laugh. Well, it was justified. I had a huge outbreak of brown hair algae that I'm pretty sure was caused by huge amounts of light and low CO2. I have realized, although I should have known before hand, that this combination won't work. I shut the light down and only ran it for about an hour or so a day until I could get a new light sorted out. I decided to try a DIY fixture using energy efficient spiral lamp bulbs. Total wattage would be about 69W for 20G, or 3.5ish WPG. There will not be reflectors or anything so I figure this is medium light tank and I will be OK with DIY CO2 as long I keep up on them. I think I will supplement the CO2 with some Flourish Excel. The fixture is built from some scrap 2x4 I had around. Outside dimensions are 24 1/8" x 7 1/8". All the frame is secured using 2 1/2" building screws.



Next step was to add some holes for the lights. The back is open so that I can have access to the back and not interfere with the HOB filter and heater currently in the tank. To add the lights, I drilled 2 sizes of holes through the long 2x4. On one side, it will fit the light bulb base, on the other the hole will fit a lamp style light fixture. All of this part was done with a hole saw kit. Here's the fixture with the holes and one light already installed:



The lights are wired in parallel to the a plug with 16-2 lamp wire. Wiring like this is dead simple but if you've never done it before it is worth doing some research and practice since water and electricity are not the greatest mixes. Here's the whole thing wired up and just needing a top:



Last step was just to attach a top to keep most of the light inside the tank. The top is 1/8" melamine coated MDF with the coated side turned in. Also shown are two outside tabs to prevent the fixture from ever falling in the tank. Eventually when I get ambitious I am going to coat the whole thing with marine epoxy to waterproof it but for right now this is going to be OK. Here's the finished product:



I may eventually add a 4th bulb to this fixture but we will see how it goes with these 3. Hopefully it will be enough to at least maintain the current amount of HC in there and have it spread a little bit. All said and done this took about $35 with $14 of that being the epoxy that hasn't been put on yet. I suppose I should have just put the time in to make this earlier instead of trying the spotlight out. Oh well, live and learn. Full details of the build at http://canaquaticgardens.wordpress.com
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I was worried about that so I checked the heat after running for several hours. The base of the bulbs were barely warm to the touch so I think there is no danger but I will put some foil in the wood holes when I take it apart to waterproof the whole thing with marine epoxy.
 
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