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Discussion Starter #1
I just got a Nova Xtreme light for my 29 gal tank. I managed to place it right on top of my existing hood, in place of the original light that came with the hood. The two T5 bulbs are placed exactly over the plexiglass opening in the hood (good engineering I suppose!)

But I see so many tanks with the lights on legs and open hoods, and I love the look too and I love it when the driftwood sticks out from the top of the tank. I was also thinking of growing some anubias emerged. Just something stops me from going for it. I'm afraid to have my tank open and I'm looking for people's experiences with one vs. the other.

TIA for any advice you may have!
 

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What's to be afraid of? It's hard to answer that questio because I can't comprehend being afraid of it. If you have fish that jump, that's something to be "afraid" of I suppose. Or maybe if you have cats you can be afraid that they'll eat your fish. I've thought about that myself before, actually, but other than drinking water from the tanks when I'm not looking, they seem disinterested.

So it really boils down to just, the look. And with each look comes pros and cons. Open top, you have more evaporation, which means you will be constantly topping the tank off with more water. Closed top you have less evaporation, but things are more of a "hassle" when it comes time to feed, perform any maintenance, just generally stick your hands in for whatever reason. Whereas with my open top tanks I just stick my hands in and rearrange or do whatever needs to be done without thinking about it.

There are other pros and cons, but they are kind of trivial. It's all just whatever fits the specific occasion.
 

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Aesthetics aside, I avoid lids on tanks that require CO2 first and foremost. Unless you feel like piping in air at night, keeping the lid off offers better gas off at night.

In terms of pure lighting, I don't like to have condensation or scaling effecting the light that I'm trying to get into the tank; if i'm going to pay for higher lighting, I don't want it to be inconsistent or reduced.

Low tech is a different story for me; stock lights usually have a splash guard built in, so there's only one layer of plastic/glass separating the tank from the light. There is no CO2 to gas off either.

Evaporation without a lid isn't too bad if you're pulling weekly water changes, or if you've got an automatic top off system, or if you just top off every 4-7 days.

-Philosophos
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I don't have CO2 and don't really feel like dealing with it for now.

Pros for me are:

1) Look
2) Light not diffused by the plastic window (hazed/humid)

Cons:

1) Sound (can hear water from filter splashing)
2) Water loss (hassle to have to top off, plus more often having (1))
3) Light has to be on legs, 2 to 3 inches higher from tank (how does that compare to light having to travel through the plastic window in the hood?)
4) Afraid that fish will jump out or some crap will land in the tank
5) Afraid that the light will fall in the tank (biggest fear, probably irrational)
 

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I'm not sure why people say they don't want to deal with CO2. It's helped my tanks far more than it's ever harmed them; there's far less algae around, healthier looking plants, and more options. I've lost 3 shrimp because of CO2, but it's allowed me to spawn dozens of apistos. The only real drawback is the price.

1) Sound (can hear water from filter splashing)
Definitely a pain if you use HOB's. Keep the water topped off and it will help.

2) Water loss (hassle to have to top off, plus more often having (1))
It's not so bad; once or twice a week should keep the noise down. Keep a bucket of dechlorinated water around.

3) Light has to be on legs, 2 to 3 inches higher from tank (how does that compare to light having to travel through the plastic window in the hood?)/
Way less. The reflection off the surface of the glass, the fogging, the scaling, etc. will do far more to inhibit your lighting than raising 2-3 inches. Even if you don't account for lensing off the interior glass bouncing light back into the tank, you'll still lose less based off the inverse square law alone.

4) Afraid that fish will jump out or some crap will land in the tank
Definitely a concern with some fish. There are certain fish I would not keep with an open hood, but many of those aren't the type I'd keep in a planted tank anyhow. Shrimp during their adjustment period are usually the biggest concern with an open top planted tank.

5) Afraid that the light will fall in the tank (biggest fear, probably irrational)
Yup, pretty irrational. I've never had legs fail, and it's not something I've heard of happening besides rumors. Most of the time when a light falls in it's either because of a poorly designed suspension system or sticking the light on top of the tank without the legs.

Anyhow, I'll stop playing devils advocate. Enjoy your tanks :)

-Philosophos
 

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Discussion Starter #7
What kind of fish do you have. We can probably help you figure out if they are jumpers or not. I love open top. I don't ever want a canopy. I like being able to look down on the plants and fish.
It's not the fish that I have now, I guess it's the worry that I will be limiting myself in the future. Really, I'm not planning on keeping anything but angels :) (maybe neons also) But, I guess that point was not that high on my list.

Philosophos said:
I'm not sure why people say they don't want to deal with CO2...... The only real drawback is the price.
You got it :thumbsup: Price is 1 but also I'm quite limited in my space and how much "tech" stuff (wires, beakers, bottles, tubing I can put around the tank area (limited by girlfriend and my own choosing as well). It's a 29gal in the middle of the living room on a metal stand and we didn't feel like putting a "skirt" around it like many people do to hide crap as IMHO that looks cheesy...

Anyways, thank you for the advice. I'm gonna do it and see how it works. If I hate it I can always put the hood back! But I don't think I will.
 

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Floating plants will reduce the lighting penetration much more than stained plexiglass or 3" elevation. I usually keep my tank open, but am currently using a glass top because my new (used, but new to me) fixture doesn't include the acrylic (plexiglass) shield that my old one had and I don't want water splashing directly on the bulbs- a shield in the fixture won't get stained as easily as one that's really close to the water (like standard hoods). I'm getting an acrylic shield to retrofit on my "new" fixture- open top is the way to go IMHO.
 

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but also I'm quite limited in my space and how much "tech" stuff (wires, beakers, bottles, tubing
LOL someone's been reading that "journal of a mad scientist" thread. :)

Here's a good DIY on putting paneling over the metal stand, and it comes out looking real nice imo. He didn't give it any doors or anything, but obviously that would be easy enough to modify.
 

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I've had too many jumpers to have open top tanks: an RTBS, rainbows and a common pleco--and we never found him until we realized he wasn't in the tank (can you say 'mummy'?! :eek5: ). No open tanks in my household.
 

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A few years ago I had my beloved hugemungus yellow angel fish jump to his death. I now use a thin piece of plexiglass with cutouts for the light feet and filter to cover the tank.

Why hasn't anybody invented plexi glass fish guards to solve the jumping issue? Kind of like an extention that goes up four or five inches around the top of one's tank?
 

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My tank is topped with All-Glass brand lids. When I used to run HOB filters, I ran the water level quite high to keep the splashing noise at a minimum, and green algae would grow on the bottom of the glass lids, eventually cutting down on the light passing through the glass.
Since changing to sponge filters, I run the water level an inch or so lower, and so far haven't had the algae problem.
I had trimmed the plastic strip at the back of the lid to be a very snug customized fit around the Emperors, and so had to replace it with a new strip.
The new strip is not trimmed at all, but I did drill a 3/8" hole every 2" to allow passsage of airlines and electric cable for the heater, as well as some ventilation and easy escape for the air bubbling up from the sponge filters.
 

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The danger of having an open top in your living room is any foreign house sprays landing on the surface of your open top tank. I was always concerned whenever I had people over (some would stick their hands in and around the tank, or my girlfriend was dusting or spraying something in the living room of my old apartment. If you do open top, I think the pros outweigh the cons, but keep it somewhere away from the things I've stated. Or maybe even have a temp lid whenever cleaning is going on or people are over.
 

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Evaporation depends upon the exposed area and the moisture content in the air. In bay area, I noticed about 1/2" depth of water loss from evaporation from my 24X15" (area) tank per week (between water changes). Not bad for the look.

Or as some others suggested use a glass or plexiglass top. The cover really helps more the evaporation if you have fauna that are known to jump/climb out, but if you use a cover, you should not fill it to the brim so that there is some space between water surface and tank cover for air contact and gas exchange.
 

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^ Another factor that evaporation is affected by is how much air movement there is. For instance, there will be more evaporation when the ceiling fan is on then there would be if there were no ceiling fan.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
One of my neons jumped yesterday. I jokingly told my gf that whenever I count my fish and can't find one, first thing I do is look on the floor. Last time that happened, one of my harlequins was just hiding in the bushes. Yesterday she calls me saying that she could only count 7 neons out of 8 and did as I said and there he was on the floor, all dried up. She didn't pick up the poor guy and left him for me to come back from work and take care of.

Guess I'm getting a versa top. I looked at plexiglass sheets at Home Depot yesterday and with how much work it would take to make my own, it's worth it to just buy one at DrsFS. Will also reduce evaporation and splashback on the protective light cover.
 
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