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Re: (possible resend) tank setup questions

Kevin Vigor at kvigor at eng_ascend.com wrote:

> First, I am building a custom hood. While I don't yet own the
> ballast for the fluorescent bulbs, I have noticed on several ballasts
> a warning to the effect that the bulbs should be mounted within some
> distance of a grounded reflector. This is a problem, since I don't
> intend to use a metal reflector at all (the hood is wooden, and (if I
> can find some) I will use mylar for a reflector, otherwise just white
> paint). So, the questions: is this true of all ballasts? What happens
> if I don't provide a grounded reflector? And should I worry about
> grounding various metal bits (like screws) that are in close proximity
> to the bulbs?

No, not all ballasts are created equal. I would recommend you look at
electronic ballasts, such as those from Motorola. They are very easy and
safe to use, and come with ample installation instructions which will help
you to properly ground your fixture.

Of course, any electrical device around water creates a potentially
hazardous situation. You might want to consider a ground-fault outlet for
your tank accessories.

> Second, the dread question of filters (I'm sorry, I know this is a
> religious topic here, but that won't stop me...). I want to use a
> cannister filter to minimize surface disturbance and to reclaim the
> space behind the tank previously taken up by a hang-on filter. My
> choices have come down to the Magnum external or the Fluval 4
> internal. The Magnum looks more solid, and has more local presence (I
> can find filter media easily, which isn't true of the Fluval); the
> Fluval is cheaper and requires zero plumbing. So: anybody have any
> data which might make this choice clearer?

I use a Magnum Pro 350 with a piece of scotchbrite pad stuffed in the top
half of the return deflector to minimize surface turbulance. I think I paid
$99 for it from That Fish Place. It came with two biowheels and a gravel
vac. I don't use the biowheels. The filter is quiet, reliable, easy to
clean, and moves a lot of water. I only use the blue filter element -- no
carbon -- and occasionally the micron element. I am very pleased with it.

I've never used the Fluval so I can't compare the Magnum with it.


Dan Dixon