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Metal Halide/ Mercury Vapour Lights

Dear watergardening gurus,

Does anyone know how Metal Halide/ MV lights work? Exactly?
Are they similar in design to flourescent lights? ie, the ballast is there 
primarily to limit the current flowing thru the bulb, and they have a starter 
unit to generate an initial electron flow thru the gas which then disconnects 
once the lamp is ignited?
I have seen warnings printed on MH luminaires, "Warning: 4500Volts". I'm 
guessing this may be the operating voltage but 4.5 kV seems a little 
excessive for a tube that's about 10cm by 0.7cm. What's inside them? What 
metal, and which halogen? 

Are MV lights more or less similar to MH lights? I have seen both these types 
in operation and can see no difference in their discernible light colour. How 
do they operate?
Is there a website that anyone knows of where I can find this info?
Thanks very much,
in my study, where i'm watching my new trickle filter VERY carefully. (It's 
going on a new 30-high tetra tank,-....sweeeet.)