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RE: Safely coverting Eclipse lights to AHS PCs

> Date: Sun, 1 Jun 2003 07:33:59 -0700 (PDT)
> From: "S. Hieber" <shieber at yahoo_com>
> Subject: Safely coverting Eclipse lights to AHS PCs
> Eclipses can make nice, quick low light, slow grow planted
> tanks.
> YOu can boost them with PCs using kits such as those from
> AHS.
> But note that the cover that keep the Eclipse bulb from
> getting splashed will not fit over the AHS light.  

If you shear about 1/4-1/2 inch off each side it works great.  When I
was doing mine I already had some sheet metal shears and used a 'cuts
straight' (they also make cuts right and cuts left) to do this.  The cut
didn't look all that great but if you scribe a line first with a ruler
and a nail the line will be fairly straight and it fit.  A sheet metal
shop could probably do these cuts in a few seconds and for very little
$.  It is well worth the effort.  The AHS reflector is very good and
when fit inside the Eclipse hood it is almost totally protected.  I
definitely think this is the safer than having the fixture exposed on
two sides.

Because of the way the fixture sits in the hood (aimed a little towards
the back anyway), I tried to favor the side towards the front of the
tank (leaving it a little longer) and shorten the side that ends up
towards the back to compensate.  I hoped this would reduce the amount of
light leaving the front glass since the positioning is completely to the
front of the tank and to minimize the amount of light that ended up in
my face every time I opened the hood to access the tank.  I thought it
also might throw more light towards the back of the tank where there is
almost none.
> Anybody?
> Scott H.

> Date: Sun, 01 Jun 2003 18:39:22 -0500
> From: "Kirk M." <triax at bellsouth_net>
> Subject: Re: Safely coverting Eclipse lights to AHS PCs
> Custom SeaLife makes a retrofit specifically designed for the Eclipse
> family of hoods.  Unfortunately, the are only available with
> Bulbs which are 1/2 actinic, 1/2 10000K.
> The reflector isn't that great either.  I have one, but purchased a
> bulb from HelloLights.com, and it seems to be working fine.  

I started out with the Custom SeaLife kit.  It was not a conscious
choice, I just found out about them before I found out about AHS.  The
CSL reflector is much shorter on the sides and from my observation does
not appear to reflect as much light.  To be fair I swapped reflectors
about the same time I changed bulbs (same ballast though - I purchased
both of mine about 2 years ago and at that time both kits use the same
Fulham ballast).  I also kind of like the high CRI 5300 ºK bulbs that
AHS has though I know many on the list prefer something closer to 6700
ºK.  I have run the 8800 ºK bulb offered by CSL and the 6700 ºK AHS bulb
(what I am currently using).  It was a long time between bulbs so I
really don't know that I can say there was any difference that could not
be attributed to my experience (or lack thereof) instead of the bulb

> Only thing I don't like about the Eclipse hood is how it concentrates
light over the
> front of the tank.

I agree completely.  The back of my 10 gallon tank was pretty dark and
most everything planted back there would lean heavily to the front of
the tank trying to reach the light.  It would keep growing over the
lower plants in front.  Naturally if I didn't frequently keep it well
trimmed the stuff in front would quickly die off.   Things are such for
me that this was an impossible task to keep up with and it kept this
tank looking pretty bad.  

A long time ago I had tired of the frequency and expense of the Eclipse
hood filter maintenance and put a canister I had bought for a larger
tank on this one and cut back the flow way back.  BTW, that also worked
great (filter maintenance is now a pad every few weeks with a major tear
down every few months - costs a lot less, takes far less time and the
tank is much cleaner) but now I had this plastic at the back of the hood
that I was no longer using.  It dawned on me that a light fixture might
fit there.  I did some measuring, then convinced it might work ordered
an extra twin 15W bulb replacement Eclipse lighting unit.  Further
checking with the extra fixture in hand convinced me to try.  Using a
hand held jig saw I cut out the filter section from the hood.  I then
placed the extra fixture in place of the vented cover.  This is as far
as I have had time to get with this one.  Right now the second fixture
is just sitting on top of the opening and I have run a little electrical
tape to seal off the light until I decide which way to go and have time
to do it.  From here though I think there are two possibilities:  make
the standard light fixture fit the opening or remove the guts of this
fixture (the white base and plastic cover with bulbs) and attach them to
the standard vented cover.  Either way could also use an AHS or CSL
retrofit.  I would just be more careful about making sure the fixture
was properly in place and could not fall in the tank before doing the

To do the first approach I have seen the following.  The fixture is
obviously not made to fit down in this opening and some light leaks out
along the front (<1/16") and back (slightly >1/16").  It looks like that
to get this to drop down where no light will escape and both fixtures
can be raised up without removing them from the tank will require a
couple more modifications to the Eclipse hood and the second fixture.
First would be to notch the second light fixture along the front and
slightly along the edges.  This would permit the extra fixture to clear
the hinges of the original fixture so the second fixture could drop down
behind the normal fixture thus sealing off the leaking light.  If done
properly it looks like this modification would also allow the normal
fixture to operate as it originally did - you could raise it without
moving the cover at the back of the hood (in this case the second
fixture).  This leaves the hinges for the second fixture sitting on top
of the hood.  Cutting two slots in the back of the hood for the hinges
of the second light fixture far enough down so that the top cover of the
second fixture would be flush with the hood would seal off the leaking
light there.  I then thought a metal block (for long term strength) or
some really hard plastic would make a couple of good hinge retainers.
Drill and tap the blocks for mounting bolts or drill them all the way
through for bolts and nuts, then drill a hole for the hinge pin on the
second fixture.  Position them on the hood and mark it, then drill
through the back of the hood.  Run bolts through the hood and secure the
hinge retainers to the hood.  This should hold the extra fixture's
hinges in place so that the second fixture could be swung up while
allowing the top of the second fixture to drop far enough that no light
could escape there.  It is does not look like it would be a perfect fit
(the vented cover has a bend in it and the light fixture does not) but
it looks like it will go in rather easily, permit raising and removal of
the second fixture and covers the top sufficiently to keep light from
escaping.  The curved front edge of the second fixture (if not trimmed
too heavily) looks like it will more than accommodate the bend that is
in the hood.  The other advantage to this path is that you still have a
switch on top of the cover for the second light that looks pretty good.

Although I did not time it, I am sure it took me way less 15 minutes to
do cut the filter portion of the hood and put the second fixture in its
place.  I have lived with the tape for a coupe of weeks and am pretty
convinced that with these modifications it would be fairly acceptable
solution aesthetically.  I think the key is to properly position the
hinge retainers so that the top of the second fixture lies flat along
the hood.  Then trim what is necessary to get the front of the second
fixture to drop down and also permit the front fixture to be raised.
Considering the switch, this might not be too bad a way to do it.  

My results are good so far, though for full disclosure I have developed
a problem.  This set up ran for over a week with absolutely no trouble
except that my tank had been extremely overgrown for some time.  During
that time I could see the plants in the back start to straighten up (as
best they could with the overgrowth) and, oh yeah, I could see the
plants in the back of the tank.  It was really nice to see them and it
made the tank appear bigger.  A week after doing this I found the time
to trim up about 60-70% of the overgrowth and do some replanting.  Doing
this I noticed the second benefit.  I could turn off the front light and
not be blinded doing work in the tank which I could now see with the
light in the back.  This was especially nice.  I had always had to
monkey rig something to give me a little light before and that is not
necessary any more.  However, in the process I uncovered the only
problem and I should have known better.  I disturbed the substrate,
removed over half the plants in the tank, changed over to the Barr
Method of fertilization and now have 6.6 watts/gallon on this tank.
Now, all this new imbalance has created a little bacterial or algae
bloom (kind of a white cloud) in my tank that is slowly going away - or
at least sometimes it looks like it is.  For the record, I would not in
any way attribute this to Barr's technique.  Actually I think that is
what will eventually help me get rid of it.  I know I have been
fertilizing really heavily for quite a while trying to keep all the
plants going - the water probably has got 3-4x what it needs for the
current amount of plants.  I am still struggling to get the fertilizer
levels where they should be with the far fewer plants in the tank.  I
simply just changed too much too quickly.  I think I need to finish the
trimming, a few quick and large water changes with proper dosing for the
current plant load and more CO2 for a while.  Eventually things should
get to where they are supposed to be.  I may turn off the second light
or remove one of the bulbs and use it just for maintenance even though I
did not have any trouble until I messed with things.  I think the high
light just accelerated things a lot when I stirred them up.  Somebody
please correct me if this doesn't sound right.

Though I have not looked into it much as yet, I think with a little
effort the white plastic guts of the fixture could be retrofitted to the
standard vented cover too.  This would have a much cleaner look
(actually except for the extra light in the tank I don't think you would
be able to tell it had been done) but it might be a little more
difficult.  It appears at first glance (and literally about all I have
done is glance at it once) that part of the white base and perhaps some
of the clear cover might have to be trimmed (or the back of the hood)
for it to fit on the standard vented cover and allow that to be raised.
Then there is the issue of attaching it to the cover.  It does not
appear that there are any buttressed areas to screw the white piece into
the vented cover.  That leaves screwing through (could use black button
head cap screws - they do sort of disappear nicely against the Eclipse
hood's color) and/or gluing.  Personally, I'm sure I do want to trust
glue to hold an electrical device (light fixture=) over a tank my hands
go in.  Perhaps putting one or two screws at each end then gluing it but
not glue alone.  This solution would require a switch somewhere if you
wanted a switch.  I have not looked but again with only a glance and
barely remembering what the white base looked like when I did the AHS
conversion a couple of years ago I think that the switch could possibly
be retrofitted to the vented cover.  I cannot remember for sure but I
think that the switch looked like it might be fairly close if not into
the vent area of the vented cover.  This could be address but that's
something else to do.  I also think I would somehow cover the vent so
that any water spill would not be able to get into the back of my
fixture.  This would be particularly true if you also used an AHS kit on
this fixture too.

Aren't you glad you asked Scott?  :)