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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, I'm running a low tech planted tank and I currently have a 48x4 T8 shop light as the lighting source. I think the bulbs are around 6000k in color.

Anyway, both ends of my tank are dark even though I have the fixture elevated about 4in above the tank. I'm also aware that the light output isn't nearly as high as it needs to be even though my plants are pretty healthy.

So, I'm thinking of switching to T5 bulbs with a color temp between 7000-10000k to compensate for the yellowish tannins in my water and make the colors of the fish "pop" some more.

My questions is: How should I set up this lighting system to get brighter, more even light distribution in a 6ft long tank? 36in bulbs seem to be really rare. Would two 24inx4 bulb fixtures suffice if I'm using t5 HO bulbs?

Also, I will be building a full hood that matches my stand to enclose the top and finish the whole thing off.

 

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Many people stagger the bulbs. If you use 4 bulbs and they were 48 inch, it would look like this:
_____________ooooo
ooooo_____________
_____________ooooo
ooooo_____________

o=Blank space
_=Light tube

That way you can get light on the sides, though the intensity is still higher in the middle. Some may add another 24in bulb on each side but then it starts to get complicated.

I haven't had a tank anywhere near that big so I will let others chime in but that is a common way to do it.
 

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How much you want to spend?

two 4 blub 3 ft T5 Ho's and should be able to grow anything.

I would suspend the light's above the tank

Just my opinion.


Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
How much you want to spend?

two 4 blub 3 ft T5 Ho's and should be able to grow anything.

I would suspend the light's above the tank

Just my opinion.


Jeff

I'm having a hard time finding 3ft 4 bulb fixtures. I'm trying to keep it around $250 (Low I know)

The new fixtures will be suspended inside the new lid. The current fixture is spaced up about 4in on blocks behind the OE plastic hoods. Those are just there to block the light from going outside the tank. It's rather bright when you're viewing the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Many people stagger the bulbs. If you use 4 bulbs and they were 48 inch, it would look like this:
_____________ooooo
ooooo_____________
_____________ooooo
ooooo_____________

o=Blank space
_=Light tube

That way you can get light on the sides, though the intensity is still higher in the middle. Some may add another 24in bulb on each side but then it starts to get complicated.

I haven't had a tank anywhere near that big so I will let others chime in but that is a common way to do it.
I considered that, but I'm trying to just use 2 fixtures if possible to simplify the setup as well as cut costs.
 

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I considered that, but I'm trying to just use 2 fixtures if possible to simplify the setup as well as cut costs.
You can do the same idea and stagger the fixtures if they aren't too big wide.

You can also use a 4 foot fixture and add two 20 inch or something on the sides.

If you are building a hood, you can do a retrofit instead of a fixture as well.

Again, never done a big tank, much less a 6 foot so I should probably let others chime in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You can do the same idea and stagger the fixtures if they aren't too big wide.

You can also use a 4 foot fixture and add two 20 inch or something on the sides.

If you are building a hood, you can do a retrofit instead of a fixture as well.

Again, never done a big tank, much less a 6 foot so I should probably let others chime in.
Retrofit? I'm guessing that means build my own housing using something like THIS and wiring up the ballasts separately? I could do that...... Thanks :thumbsup:


Will I need a cooling fan for this type of bulb and ballast inside of a hood? Although, I think I'd mount the ballasts somewhere else to avoid corrosion.
 

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Retrofit? I'm guessing that means build my own housing using something like THIS and wiring up the ballasts separately? I could do that...... Thanks :thumbsup:


Will I need a cooling fan for this type of bulb and ballast inside of a hood? Although, I think I'd mount the ballasts somewhere else to avoid corrosion.
They make kits that are plug and play but it's the same idea. You have the bulb holders, ballasts and just mount them, just plugs in and you are ready to go. You may want to add individual reflectors which may or may not come with the kit, the good ones can be pricey. I don't know anything about this site but came up in a search and it's what I am talking about, don't know if these are any good:

http://www.hellolights.com/T5-HO-Retrofit-Kits-Retrofit-Systems/b/6794660011

A lot of my friends with big reefs started with these before going LED. Not sure that they are as cost effective as they used to be though since fixtures are getting cheaper.
 
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