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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey All.

As everyone on this forum has probably experienced, and probably why a quarter of the posts in "Lighting" section exists, is to shop around for the best but cheapest lighting options.


As I always like taller tanks, during my light hunt, I turned my attention to Metal Halide lights for their sheer penetration ability. Looked online, looked online more, called up shops, looked in the phone book... all very expensive. UNTIL!!!!

I typed in Metal Halide on craigslist. Apparently warehouses and factories and such use MH! Who would've thunk it :iamwithst

Anyway, as they remodel and replace these lights, they often end up on craigslist for very cheap, cheap at least for the hobby standards. I've seen 4x 250W lamps for $50... 2x 150W for $35ea... unreal.

One issue is that 250W of MH is a lot more horsepower than you would need in a planted aquarium (maybe not for reefs though). But hell... for $15 a pop... just hang it on the top of the ceiling :grin2::grin2::grin2:


I imagine the only issue you might run into is the color of the bulb... but again $15 a pop leaves a lot more $$$ to find a bulb.

Potential Negatives you could run into:
- Heat produced by lights (all MH run hot, shop versions maybe even hotter. Good airflow req)
- Noisy Balasts (Electronic ballasts are quiet, magnetic ones hum horribly, -Kathyy)
- Electricity (Not sure how shop MH lights compare to grow-light versions?)



Thoughts? Opinions? Worth it as an option?
 

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Noise? Electronic ballasts are quiet, magnetic ones hum horribly.
A bulb of a good color will take some work to find at a good price too.
Consider the current they take starting up too, you may need to upgrade the outlet used.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I noticed you live in Florida. Another thing to consider with metal halide is the amount of heat they put off.
I am in Minnesota right now, so the heat is welcome :grin2:
... at least for right now

I will throw up a list of potential negatives.
 

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I ran the gamut of the Reef lighting life cycle over the course of 13 years on that side of the hobby.

When MH first became the platform of choice on the reef side, it spawned a whole wave of some of the most creative DIY solutions to the ridiculous prices for anything made specifically for the hobby. One of the first was the DIY retrofitting of MH spot and shop lights to accept reefing quality bulbs; everything from brackets, to retrofit ballasts became available from multiple vendors.

The three posts above this one list all the things that led to the demise of MH as the platform of choice on the SW side. All three posts are spot on. The heat a 250W MH bulb produces is not to be taken lightly and will force you to add more cost in the form of how to cool the whole thing down as well as the tank itself.

Yeah, this was one of the reasons I came back to the "realistic" side of the hobby.
 
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Back when I kept an SPS Reef for many years I used 250w halides. Tons of heat and power consumption and in turn you get lots of light. It was beautiful and I really like them, but with LEDs now it's not worth it. I mean the thing used to heat the room comfortably in cold weather but in the summer I had to run a fan across the tank to keep it cool enough. Fun for experimenting with though.
 

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Look at your energy bill and find out how much you pay for kW and then calculate it based on duration and wattage using online energy calc sites.

For plants that aren't picky about K rating, it's not needed and will end up costing more long run w/o including bulb replacements.
 

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If you were talking about keeping sps corals in a reef tank. I would say go with a quality metal halide or an ATI sunpower t5ho fixture. But alas...we are not. While those metal halides are cheap, finding decent bulbs at the right spectrum will not. There aren't a ton of good looking 6500k bulbs out there that are real reliable. There are some major cheapo ones that can be found on Amazon but the spectrum will vary widely from bulb to bulb and many times they won't even turn on.

The quality Giesemann or Iwasaki 6500k metal halide bulbs will run you upwards of $100 a pop. They'll last a year or two but there you go. Hang them high enough and heat isn't an issue. I had 500 watts of metal halides inside a vented canopy over my 90 gallon reef tank and a simple clip on fan from Walmart was enough to keep the tank at 79 degrees. A chiller is only needed once you get up to 400 watts and have them real close to the water in a poorly vented room.

People don't use metal halides for the savings, they use them for the look and results you get from them.

Probably overkill in your situation though.

If your tanks are 24" or less, t5ho lighting has no problem handling those depths. 30"+ and you should shoot for metal halides or at least some of the tight optic super high powered cannon style LEDS


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I am using a 150W and it doesn't seem to be doing too much to my electricity to be honest. I am only comparing by bill to last years of the same month, and it is less... which I can't blame on the light itself... but I can at least say it is not making a big enough dent to notice.

Alas... for deep tanks... especially just really large ones. 4 MH vs the LEDs you'd need could potentially save you $1000, though a little more hastle and such.

It's good to have options ;)
 

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In the building and street lighting industry, high power 80 watt LED 'corn-cob' lamps have become available as direct replacement for those 250 watt MH fixtures. Lotta pluses to those, because they run in the same fixtures, ( just disconnect the ballasts.) often come in 6500k spectrum and have better color rendering.
 

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There's a very good reason you can find used MH fixtures cheaply... It's more of a cost savings to use LED and T5 or T2 lighting in the long run where you need a lot of light. If you're looking for serious punch I would definitely look into the commercial LED offerings, or go to your local aquarium and see what they are using
 

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I found a good deal on a coralife hang on back 150 watt halide that I run on my 75g. As stated above I spent more on a good bulb than I did the fixture, but was still up and running for 125.00! Eventually and given a choice, and unlimited budget, I will have the Halo's or Kessils over my tank. The wattage on the Halo is 85 watts so there is a 65 watt difference.
 
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