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Re: lighting opinions

If cost is not a major consideration then metal halide is a good choice, 
especially once the tank is 24" deep.  Retros are available for hoods but I 
think pendants over an open tank are better looking.  Compact flourescents 
are a great choice also and are becoming more popular with more affordability 
now available.  One must consider that such high intensity lighting will 
require more diligence with CO2 delivery as plant nutrient requirements will 
increase.  Overall balance of the tank is important as algae blooms may occur 
more readily with high intensity lighting.  You should be able to get 5 or 
even six NOs over this tank and this may be sufficient depending on what type 
plants you desire and also how deep your tank is.