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Jeremy and Ken,
One of the reasons people are not that responsive to beginner lighting
questions is that almost every question has been asked and answered in the
past. Check through the APD archives or the Krib. Personally, if you have
any DIY ability, I would go with 2-3 175 W 5500K MH ($250-$375 total cost
plus whatever the canopy costs). You can even have a LFS build the canopy
if you are not mechanically inclined. Make sure to make the hood 12-15" in
height to avoid any heating problems, however.
You can also go with VHOs, which you decided on. An Icecap 430 with 2
160 W bulbs should run about $250 plus canopy costs. Another option is to
use 6 4ft triton bulbs ($200) but the replacement bulb cost is fairly high.
Finally, you can go with the most inexpensive solution which is 2 4 bulb
4ft T8 ballasts and 8 daylight bulbs. The total cost of this would be less
$200, replacement bulb cost would be less than $100 per year, and you would
have the equivalent of 320 W of light.
I personally would go with 2 175 W MH + 2 6 ft daylight bulbs for
dusk/dawn simulation but that's personal preference. BTW, 180 W of light
is not necessarily too little for good plant growth, it really depends on
what your keeping and also on how your other parameters are in balance. If
I remember correctly, George Booth ran one of the most beautiful hi-tech
setups I've seen with 160 W of NO flourescent over a 100 gallon. Hope this
sheds some light on the issue <GRIN> (couldn't resist)
This is not meant as a personal attack on either of you; I've just
noticed a lot of these questions being asked over and over recently. In
the future, please check the archives and the Krib before getting upset
that your question is not answered.