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Re: [APD] Re: Help with lighting choice

I'd look seriously at metal halide.  While the previous posters have voiced
reasonable concerns regarding heat, I think the benefits in terms of quality
of light and tank appearance more than warrant the use of the bulbs.  Most
of the tanks I'm lighting are growing corals (I've been doing plant tanks
for about 10 years, but have gotten heavily into reefkeeping as well), and
utilize much higher light levels than are generally seen in planted tanks.
My current tank is a 37 gallon (24"x18"x21") and uses a 250w Iwasaki 6500k
metal halide and 2 65w PC actinics (about 10.2 watts per gallon) in an
open-backed hood that is about 12" tall, with no chiller and no major heat
problems that can't be solve by running the tank at night when 100 degree
temps hit Denver where I live.  There is a single 4" fan.  The metal halides
will do a far better job of growing short stuff like Glossostigma, as
they'll do a much better job of punching through the 24" of water.  They
also provide a much more complete spectrum than any type of fluorescent.  As
long as the hood is tall enough to get the bulbs 6-8 inches off the surface
of the water, you'll be OK, and, contrary to many horror stories, the bulbs
can handle the occasional splash with no problems (according, anyway, to the
salt I have to clean off mine).  I haven't ever run any sort of shield or
glass cover on any of my halide equipped tanks, and don't really see a need
to.  Alternatively, you could use 70 or 100 watt halides, and supplement
with VHO to get the color mix you like.  I like VHOs better than PCs, having
used both extensively, as I think the VHOs grow stuff better and look
better.  This is, of course, entirely subjective.  I don't personally like
the yellowish cast of the lower Kelvin PCs.  As for VHOs being an outdated
technology, they may be older, but work just fine, and the bulb replacement
costs are comparable or slightly lower than PCs, depending on where you buy.
Check out the Fulham ballasts available online (the Workhorse 7 is a great
model) for cheap ($35?).  These are the same ballasts utilized by AH Supply
and, if I understand correctly, Custom Sea Life, so the reputation for
aquarium use is well established.  Hope some of this helps.  Feel free to
email more questions if you've got them.

Justin Collins

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bill Wichers" <billw at waveform_net>
To: <aquatic-plants at actwin_com>
Sent: Monday, September 29, 2003 10:00 PM
Subject: [APD] Re: Help with lighting chocie

> >Hi...I'm new to the list and have a question that has been driving me
> >for the last few weeks. I have a 155 gal bow front tank, 72 inches long,
> >inches deep. I am going for a high tech planted tank, flourite substrate,
> >dupla heating cables, pressurized C02, heavily planted from the start,
> Excellent start!
> >fish load. I just can't figure out the light specifications. I'm looking
> >3 to 4 watts per gal., realizing that that's not the best measure but a
> >guideline. Here's my question...assuming cost is not the largest factor
> >(plays a role but the the starring role) what makes the most sense for
> >plants. Power compacts alone ??, power compacts and metal halides ? VHO
??? I
> >need to have the lights on the tank, not pendants..I have cats and don't
> >my "catfish" to be of the 4 legged, burned to a crisp variety ( maybe I'm
> >over reacting but they love walking on top of the tank now and there's no
> >to stop them as the tank is next to a shortrise stairway, hence easy
> MH is really best with an open-top tank, so if you can't use an open-top
> setup then MH probably isn't your best choice. The difficulty with using
> in an enclosed hood is getting rid of the heat (which usually also means a
> lot more water evaporation from the tank and more resulting top-offs),
> protecting the bulbs from splashes, and getting sufficent spread of the
> light to avoid large shadow areas in the tank. The MH reflectors really
> work best when they are suspended higher above the tank than a typical
> enclosed hood will allow.
> I'd stay away from VHO. VHO is an older technology and has the highest
> ongoing maintenance cost in replaced bulbs than any of the three light
> types you mentioned.
> Power compacts are probably your best bet. Heat is less of an issue with
> them, which also helps with the "protect the bulbs from splashes" part
> since it allows shields and lens to be made of plastic in most cases. They
> also have a much longer bulb life (several years, I get about 3 years on
> 55 watt fixtures) than VHO. The shape of the light bulbs allow easy, even
> lighting of tanks even when using the lights very close to the water's
> surface. I think you'll have the best luck with the power compact setups.
> >Any help ? Are MH over kill. I seem to be able to only find system's that
> >have 3 75 watt MH's or 3 MH's and PC's..or VHO's. Would power compacts
> >the same effect as the MH's. I always loved the ripple effect of lighting
> >with Mh's but since the water movement in this tank needs to be kept to a
> >minimum,(not dirving off C02) then am I paying for an effect that I will
> >even see if I got the metal halides for the "glitter" effect alone ?
> Three 175w MH lights is a typical configuration for a 72" long tank. MH
> fixtures are generally said to provide good lighting for about a 2 x 2
> square area, and the higher wattage bulbs cover the same area but can get
> enough light into deeper tanks. 175w is usually good for a 24" deep tank.
> If you get a hood with some room inside (which will probably mean a wooden
> hood), you should be able to fit PC lights inside in whatever arrangement
> works for you. http://www.ahsupply.com has a good selection of parts and
> very reasonable prices. You can save a lot of money this way if you have
> the time and are comfortable working with simple electrical devices.
> Only MH and other point-source lights (single, bright, relatively small
> bulbs) will provide the ripple effect. You won't get the ripple and
> with any of the fluorescent. I have been able to use a few small halogen
> lights as "accents" to provide a little of the water ripple effect, but I
> don't think it's worth the effort. You *will* get the ripple effect if
> using MH, even with a calm tank. *any* water movement will make some
> effect. I used to get this effect just from fish swimming near the surface
> (and yes, the fish do cast shadows) in a tank that had no water movement
> all.
> >Any help or suggestions would be tremendiously appreciated as I have now
> >entered over-analysis paralysis !!! Thanks in advance
> The list is usually happy to help change paralysis into information
> overload ;-)
>          -Bill
> *****************************
> Waveform Technology
> UNIX Systems Administrator
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