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Re: Sunny thoughts

Hi George,

Iíve been lurking first on the aquarium news groups and now this list for
three years. I have always enjoyed your posts and am glad you brought up
natural lighting as there is very little information on this topic in the
archive. I have kept a 75 gallon planted tank for two years and a 135 gallon
(home built wood and glass) African Cichlid tank for the last year. We are
moving into a new house next week. The living area has high ceilings with
clear stories on the south and east side. I plan to build a large tank (300
gal ?) for this room and would like to take advantage of the natural light.
At a minimum the natural light should supplement any lighting above the
tank. I admit my biggest motivation is to save some electricity. I Would
think that a lot of us on this list feel conscientious about energy use and
the environment with our obvious interest in ecology.

I like the idea of an aquatic greenhouse and plan to pursue this after Iíve
used all the interior tank space, but right now my emphasis is getting the
sunlight into the house. I am hoping the clear story will do the trick, but
if it wont, I am ready to cut a hole in the roof. Skylights However do have
an energy cost associated with them, both summer cooling and winter heating.
I would like to minimize this by using insulated shutters and some method of
reflecting unwanted light back out the skylight. For this, I have in mind a
reflective shutter separate from the insulating shutter. Another feature I
would like to incorporate is a way to get more light through a given sized
opening. This would be a reflector arrangement that focuses light collected
over a larger area into the skylight. Not necessarily an attractive thing ,
but my flat roof with a parapet should hide it.

This concept is similar to a commercial product called a light pipe. A web
search will reveal at least a half dozen manufactures of tubular skylights.
The prices are in the $250-300 range which is competitive with the up front
costs of a metal halide pendent and forever after much cheaper. I think that
for the right person, a customized skylight of the conventional type might
work better. For example a long narrow skylight could be used to direct the
light over the entire length of the tank.

I donít think there is any question that we should take better advantage of
natural light. Sunlight is, after all, what we are trying so hard to
duplicate. With the potential to outperform artificial light, save energy,
and save money, I look forward to hearing everyoneís thoughts on this
important issue.

Ken Potter

Kpotter at flash_net

Albuquerque, NM