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Re: Best fluorescent tubes? / ahsupply.com

>When looking at http://www.ahsupply.com, I notice the bulb lengths are not
>in the standard 24", 36", etc.  I take it 21.1" = 24"?  And 34.1" = 36"?
>Kind of confusing.  My bulbs were sold as 24".  So I am assuming I cannot
>use these bulbs in my standard ballast?  I guess I need to buy their "bright
>light kit" to use them, but apparently you have to install said kit onto a
>pre-existing hood/ballast (they don't come in one).  Hmm...  The plot

PCF lights *ARE NOT* compatible with NO (Normal Output) florescent bulbs. 
You are correct that you will need a special ballast to use them. AH 
Supply's "bright kits" include the ballast, a *very* good reflector, and 
the special socket for the PCF bulb. I think they sell the bulbs separately 
so that you have the option of several different color temperatures (you 
want something in the 5000-6700 K range for plants). They also include some 
wire to hook it all up. It's a pretty complete kit, and installing it in 
one of the All Glass-type hoods is actually fairly easy.

The PCF bulbs that AH Supply sells use a different technology from the NO 
bulbs like you are currently using. They use a "folded tube" design and a 
special socket, along with a special ballast. The result is more lighting 
power in a smaller space, and a slightly more efficient light too.

>Looks like I am getting myself into all new territory in regards to
>lighting.  I was assuming it would be as easy as finding the correct bulbs
>for my pre-existing hood.  Is that still an option?  Higher powered bulbs
>for a standard aquarium hood?  Or do I have to start completely from
>scratch?  My hood's not in the best condition, but it WORKS, and I was just
>hoping to not have to get into another $150+ adventure (like I just did w/my

You won't be able to find any higher output bulbs for your fixture. You are 
limited by the ballast. For more output, you will either need to replace 
the hood with something that uses more powerful lights, or retrofit your 
existing hood with something like the AH Supply bright kits (which is 
probably the cheapest option).

I would recommend retrofitting your existing hood with the AH Supply 
lights. AH Supply can offer you some help with ideas, and they have some 
pictures on their site of the installed fixtures. They include a wiring 
diagram with the kits to show you how to wire the parts together, and it is 
a simple diagram to follow. A retrofit will be your least expensive way to 
get more light over your tank, and the upgraded hood won't look noticeably 
different outside (although you'll be amazed how much better the tank will 
look INSIDE with all the extra light!).

You can start with two 55w lights over your 55 gallon tank. To go to the 
next step if you decide to get seriously into the hobby, you're going to 
want to go with four 55w fixtures which will probably require some more 
complex modifications to your light hood. The reason for the added 
complexity with the four lights is that I don't think four will fit in a 
normal 55 gallon hood since one light will completely fill one of the 
AGA-type light bars. Use the length of the REFLECTOR when measuring for a 
fit, NOT THE BULB. The bulb will "grow" about 1" when you put the socket on 
the end, and you don't want the light-end of the bulb to touch the side of 
the hood if you can avoid it (it is possible to mound the socket on the 
hood if you want, or leave it free-hanging supported from the light bulb).


>Any advice on this lighting madness would be greatly appreciated!
>Thanks!  :-)
>Over and out.... ... ..  .    .
>beatsfrombeyond at mac_com

Waveform Technology
UNIX Systems Administrator