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AH Supply Kits and 48" Hood/Bulb Choices???

JoAnn wrote:
Since my 4X65 watt fixture needs all new bulbs and I'm very
displeased with the poor quality of the brand, I'm thinking of
dumping it altogether in favor of the AHSupply.com kits. I can build
the hood myself, so that's not a problem, but I'm having trouble
deciding which of the AH options to put together for this tank.

It's a standard 48"x18" 75 gallon. I already have one of the 96 watt
kits that I want to use. I'd appreciate comments from anyone who has
put something similar together for a tank this size. I'm thinking of
building the hood so that the front contains lights and lifts up and
over the back of the hood on hinges. Building it that way might be
the only way to get enough light over the tank using the kits.  I'm
shooting for about 3 wpg.

I suspect those 65 watt lamps are just overdriven 55 watt lamps. If that's
the case it's no wonder they don't last very long. If you are going to go to
the trouble of building a hood, why not just use 4' lamps and save yourself
a ton of money.

3 watts per gallon does not really mean much when it comes to light levels.
I wish people would get over the idea that the watts per gallon rule will
predict light levels. I guess that's not going to happen but I still have

You can get plenty of light using 4 to 6 4' lamps. If you build a split hood
like you are thinking you put half the lamps in front and half the lamps in
the back. When you open the hood the one half folds back and lies upside
down on the other half. Split hoods are kind of a problem because you have
run an electrical cable of some kind to the end of the hood section which is
a little bit unsightly. They are pretty good for aquascaping though because
you can leave the lights on in the one half so you can see what you are

Even the people who like lots of light will probably agree that 4 55 watt
lamps is lots of light for your tank. So assuming that will be sufficient,
you can get even 20% more light with 6 sylvania 865 lamps and 3 4x32 watt
ballasts. I think this is too much light for anybody but if you want, it can
be done. Just 4 lamps with 2 of those ballasts is enough to grow any plant
you want. You can also buy 3 lamp 1.2 BF ballasts. 6 lamps will give you the
equivalent of very nearly 4 55 watt lamps.

Building a good light fixture is not really very difficult. The easiest way
is to buy one of those shoplight fixtures that are only 6" wide and replace
the ballast but it will only work with the 4 lamp setup in a split hood. A
better but more involved method is to remote mount your ballasts on a 10" x
10" junction box which will allow you to use 6 lamps. This is a lot easier
if you buy some 12 conductor cable at an electrical supplier.

OTOH I would say that building a nice furniture quality hood is very
difficult for the average person. It seems like it ought to be simple: just
build 2 boxes with 48 1/8" clearance inside and when put together measure
18" across on the outside, then join them with hinges. Unless you have the
tools and are handy I wouldn't attempt it. One important point when building
a wooden hood is that you must protect it from moisture. This means using a
glass cover over your tank or finishing the inside of the hood with marine
epoxy. I prefer to eliminate the glass cover and use the epoxy.