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Re: Are "Liteway" shoplights any good ?

On Thu, Jun 03, 1999 at 03:48:01PM -0400, Aquatic Plants Digest wrote:
> Subject: Re: Are "Liteway" shoplights any good ?
> David Boukmn wrote;
> <snip>
> > attractive enough even w/o a wooden hood. But, they have no ballast.
> <snip>
> Can you elaborate a bit ? You mean that they come with no ballast
> but you have to add one, right ? Otherwise how a fluorescent tube
> would work ? I'm interested in shoplights or any other type of
> fluorescent-holding fixture that is sold with no ballast, so I
> can add my own high quality electronic ballast without having to
> throw away whatever ballast comes in the fixture.

At Home Depot around here they sell a $7-10 cheapie by "Lights of America".
It doesn't have a recognizable ballast but there is this little plastic black
box (maybe 1/2" x 1" x 1 1/2") inline with the wires inside the channel 
which I suspect is an electronic ballast.  No idea how it works though.  
I have used them around the house.  They have a different startup signature 
too - sort of a short delay, then a "snap" sound (like a HV spark) and the 
light is on all at once rather than the slightly more gradual ramp-up that 
you usually see.  They also seem to work with any wattage tube that will 
fit (23ish, 30ish or 40 are the ones I've seen).

In principle the high voltage is only needed for starting right?  Once the
mercury is vaporized and the current path is formed from one end to the 
other, it remains highly conductive.  So I figure they might be using a 
diode ladder voltage multiplier and a small capacitor to get a starting 
"zap".  That could fit in the little plastic box.

I also have a single-tube 3' fixture in the kitchen that has a conventional
ballast, and has a hard time starting; it is supposed to auto-start but 
in practice I have to turn it on (no light at that point) for a couple
seconds, then very quickly flick the switch off and back on.  It's like 
it has to be turned back on while the magnetic field in the ballast is 
still collapsing, or something like that.  Of course I promptly lost the
receipt and anyway it was a royal pain  to install (due to the wires in the
wall not being long enough) so I haven't tried to fix it and not sure
what to try.  It has only a ballast, not a separate starter.  I was wondering
if getting hot and neutral reversed would cause a problem, but not likely
I guess... the house has very old wire with insulation that looks like
cloth over old brittle rubber, and the white paint on the neutral wire 
is worn so you can't always tell which is which.  

BTW I'm new to the list, hi everybody and sorry for going a bit off-topic
with my very first post.  :-)  My dad gave me a 20 gallon tank and I'm 
going to try to set up a planted aquarium.  I built a redwood hood for it 
with 2 24" "fat" tubes (the "plant and aquarium" ones from Home Depot).  
I winced (hard) and then bought a Fluval 203 canister filter after reading 
mixed reviews of using a UGF in a planted tank.  It sounds like a great
design (separate filter chambers) but it isn't built well enough to be
worth the money IMO.  I was debating on a Vortex diatom filter; one web
site said they work fine as a main filter, others said that you should only
use it for occasional "polishing" because it clogs up faster and can add
some harmful substance to the water (I forget what).  My reasoning is that
with my pool, I really appreciate being able to backwash my sand filter
and not have to clean it manually or replace cartridges.  Sure seems like
it should be possible for aquarium filters too.  But I don't see sand
filters much.  Petsmart carries the "sandman" but it's a largish, in-tank
filter which uses other media besides just the sand, and isn't backwashable.

If I do stick with the Fluval (and don't just take it back - I'm tempted
'cause it really isn't $85 worth of chintzy plastic) I'm wondering if the
carbon media that comes with it for the middle stage is a good idea? 
It will remove ammonia and that will delay the establishment of the 
bacteria colony won't it?

I think I'm going to try
to feed CO2 from a yeast bottle into the intake of the filter.  No ego
yet about having to try hard-to-grow plants so will probably start with
Java moss/ferns and easy stuff like that.  Still trying to decide whether
to use plain gravel or use some kind of clay-like additive, and what to get
for first fish etc.  I'm in Phoenix so the temperatures are high (I need
warm-water fish and plants because the house could sometimes get as hot as 
the 80's or 90's while I'm gone to work; I could control that a little 
better if necessary) and the water is a little hard and alkaline but not 
extremely so (when I refilled my pool last year, the water was not as hard 
as it ideally should have been; one pool guy told me to increase the hardness, 
another said not to worry because it quickly becomes harder anyway by 
dissolving plaster off the pool and any calcium deposits that might have 
formed in the plumbing.  So I left it alone.  The pH is very stable anyway.)

Should I bother with Stress Zyme in a planted tank, or is getting the
bacteria going quickly just not important because of the plants?

  _______                      KB7PWD @ KC7Y.AZ.US.NOAM   ecloud at bigfoot_com
 (_  | |_)   Shawn T. Rutledge    on the web: http://www.bigfoot.com/~ecloud
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