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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone! My sister-in-law found a 50 gallon aquarium with a wood stand/ canopy at a garage sale for $50 yesterday (12W x18H x48W). It's pretty nice but the only thing is that it doesn't have any lights. It would be nice to install the lights in the wood canopy, but I'm not really sure how hot they get or how much room you need. I'm thinking I'd like MH's, Antics and moonlight leds. (Probably around 175-250w ?) I'm not sure if I'll add corals or what kind, but I'd like to keep the option open. Anyone have any ideas, suggestions or kits that you've used that you've liked? Thanks.

Greg
 

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the heat in the canopy wont cause a fire or anything but you will want to put fans on the end of the canopy to keep you tank from overheating, i personally cant give any examples on this because i have never done it be for but i know many people who have
 

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If you do not plan to add corals as you stated then something like normal output fluorescents in a cheap shoplight fixture from HD or Lowes will work great. If you plan to one day add corals you could still do fluorescents but in VHO or Very High Output wattage (110w for VHO vs 40w or less for NO or standard fluorescent tubes). VHO will cost more for the ballast and endcaps but is still very affordable.
Another inexpensive option is Power Compacts or PC bulb. PC has fallen out of favor though much like VHO has with the new T5 bulbs.
T5 is very popular today and bulb and color choices are very good. T5 is very dependent on individual reflectors though, each bulb needs its own small reflector for best results unlike the NO, VHO and PC which usually share obe large reflector.
What I consider top of the line is Metal Halide or MH. If you are not planning on corals I would not consider MH due to its cost and heat generation. The others all give off heat too but MH are much hotter. Nothing that you cannot handle with a couple strategically placed computer fans but it is still pretty warm inside a canopy. I run 2x250w MH and 2x140w VHO together in a fully enclosed canopy with only two 4" computer fans here in Phoenix and its managable without a chiller.
 

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Aquarium Lights Hellolights.com is the place I go to get all of my lighting needs fixed.

You really need to sit down and do some serious thinking about what kinda corals you want to do if any. If you can do this you will save a lot of money in the long ruin by not having to up grade a time or two in lighting and there by save money by getting what your going to want in the end.

Like mentioned if your going to just do FO or FOWLR a shop light is definitely the budget priced way to go. 2 x 40 watts one in a 10K day light and one bulb in Actinics will be the hot ticket. With NO bulbs you will need to replace them every 6 months. The bulbs will generally run in the 14-18 dollar range though. This is a bit lacking for corals though but you might be able to get away with something like Mushrooms. Fitting this fixture inside the canopy might be a bit challenging though as it will be a very tight fit length wise. Build your own canopy to replace the one you have might be necessary to pull this off.

The next step up is VHO's. I really like these for the amount of wattage they pack per a bulb. A two bulb fixture here will work very well and give you enough light to do just about any soft or LPS coral. With a 4 bulb fixture there are some who do pretty well with SPS corals susch as Montipora Caps and digitata's but there are better options out there that I think if thats your goal. The bulbs here will have to be changed semi annually, and the bulbs run about 22-28 bucks each depending on brand. For your tank if it came with the typical canopy I would suggest getting the 46.5 inch retro and use a electronic ballast. This will make fitting it inside the canopy much easier.

Recently I have been using T-5's and I am starting to really like them quiet a bit. They have a few advantages over VHO. Being so thin in diameter you can cram a lot of them under a conopy in a small space. In a tank the size of yours, I would recommend no less than a 4 bulb fixture and six if you can get that many inside and still have clearence for things like a heater, skimmer and filter ect....The other great thing about T-5's is the Actinic bulbs are rumored to need changing at 10-12 month intervals while the "day lights" are rumored to be able to go as long as 16 months. I change mine at 11-12 month intervals and change out all bulbs irregardless. I have been usiong T-5's for just over a year and prefer them to PC in no uncertian terms. When using these lights its best to use individual reflectors inorder to get the most out of the bulb PAR wise. So keep that in mind.

Halides are the ultimate though, but not all corals require this much light and some even do better under less intense light. If you want SPS or Clams this is hands down the way to go. I dont feel like they are all that much higher cost wise when compared to equal wattage in VHO or T-5's. Using the ARO or Icecap ballast you should be able to get away with changing the bulbs out about once a year without experiencing too much in the way of color shift. Halides do require about 6-9 inches of clearence above the water inorder to keep them from heating up the water as they are a concentrated form of "Point source" lighting. 150/175 watt halides will do fine for your tank if using 10K -12K bulbs. If you want to use a cooloer color temp bulb suh as the 14k-20 bulbs then you might want to step up to the 250 watt fixtures. If using bulbs in this color temp range you can also get away with no supplemental actinic lighting as well. Thats up to you.

These days I am running the cooler color temp bulbs exclusively on ARO ballast with out additional actinics primarily due to having Nano sized tanks these days. However on a larger tank, especially if I was going to use 10-12K bulbs I would most likely default to 175 watt 10K XM bulb and back it up with 2 x 110 VHO's in actinics. I must admit though I would seriously be tempted to substitute 4 x 54 watt T-5's.

As for the over heating issue...its all about ventilation. Get the hot air out and provide adequate clearance and you shouldnt have an issue. I have a 250 watt halide over a 20 gallon tank with just 6 inches of space above the water and due to canopy design rarely see more than a degree or two of rise in water temp here in Texas. I get away with doing this mainly becuase of the DIY canopy design I use that allows for huge amounts of ventilation. I can post pics showing this design later tonight if anyone is realy all that interested.

The thing to remember with halides is that they dont create much more heat that any other form of lighting in equal wattage, however due to their small compact size they dont have a lot of surface area to spread that heat out. For example a 70 watt halide will generate about the same amount of heat as 2 x 40 watt NO bulbs. The halide generates all this heat but only has 6-8 inches of bulb length to disapate the heat where as the 2 No bulbs have 96 inches of bulb to spread out and disapate the heat. As such NO bulbs dont "feel" that hot as compared to the more concentrated heat coming from the tiny 70 watt halide. This is why when you go to halides clearence is an issue to be taken into account and ventilating the canpoy becomes critical once you go to a more intense form of lighting and/or higher wattage levels. Hopefully I have explained this well enough that you are following me on this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wow. Thanks for all the info!! I wasn't really planning on buying another tank so I haven't completely decided what I'm putting in it yet. lol. Right now I just have a couple fowlr tanks and have never messed around with corals (or really don't know much about them). I'll have to sit down this weekend and figure out what I'm actually going to do with it. Thanks for the info, it answered a lot of questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ok. lol. I'm thinking I may go with the t-5's and if I decide later down the road I want to give corals a try I'll buy them accordingly or set up one of the 29g nano's. I think I may get 2- 48" 54w t-5 ho kits and go from there to see how many I can squeeze in there or if I have to build a new canopy. Or should I go for the 36" 39w t-5 ho's?
 

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Measure the inside of your canopy and buy accordingly what you can fit in there. If the over all length of the inside of your canopy is 47.5 inches then obviously fitting something like a 48 inch VHO will be impossible without modifying your canopy. You may find the same problem with 54 watt T-5's. This is why I often use the less common and popular 46.5 VHOs instead of the 48 inch long 1120 watt VHO bulbs. If your willing to build a canopy you can compensate for this little inconveience of measurments otherwise you have to be willing to comprimise and buy what fits. At hello lights they will often give you some pretty accruate over all demensions which is really helpful in choosing the correct componets you need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What do you think about Compact Fluorescents? This retrofit kit would fit pretty well.
(48" 4x65W Coralife Aqualight RETROFIT KIT, 2x Actinic and 2x 10,000K -Straight Pin)
 

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Dont really care for them much especially since they now make small T-5's. They work well enough though. Those should work good enough for Softies and LPS corals and will definitely be enough for fish and live rock. They arent bad, they just arent my first, second or third choice in lighting in most cases. They should be plenty adequate for your situation though.
 

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i would go with IceCap retro fit they started selling the premounted one preety cool and there the best my .02
 

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Coming into this thread i thought i had an idea about lighting, but dang... I sure am glad i read this thread.
 

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Folks, if you are interested in the most light for the dollar and you can do without the shimmer (I can't) then a T5 retro is the way to go. You will get enough light ,with the proper set up, to keep anything you want from anemones, to clams, to SPS corals. Your tubes will generate a lot less heat, last twice as long (as MH), and not draw as much electricity.

I would advise against PCs. Not as much light, cost as much as T5s, you need to change tubes every 6-8 months. You also severely limit the corals you can keep. Forget about SPS, many LPS, Anemones, and clams.
 

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and not draw as much electricity
Depending on the combination of ballast and bulb the difference might not be much. I have a Nova Extreme 2 bulb fixture that fits over my 5.5 AGA and it uses almost as much power as my 70 watt Retro fixture from hellolights.com on a 10 gallon tank. I have 70 watts of light over the 10 gallon vs 40 watts on my 5.5 gallon tank for about a .11 more in draw on the power.
 

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i know i am going with T5 but I am unsure on how much is enough for a 55g I dont plan on getting sps but i might. how much t5 lighting would i need to get some sps in the future?
 

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i know i am going with T5 but I am unsure on how much is enough for a 55g I dont plan on getting sps but i might. how much t5 lighting would i need to get some sps in the future?
The IceCap 660 prewired brings 4x54w t5 (more than enough ) for a 55g the ballast 660 is going to power two of th bulbs regular and it's going to overdrive two of them.It's premounted so all you need to do its screw it into your canopy fits perfect (I laready had one coule month's ago) when they put them for sale it's not going to be the cheapest thing out there but def. it would be the best thing you can buy trust me.Im going to see if i can find the review for it and post it in your thread ;)
 

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Finally the T5 retrokit you’ve been waiting for!! All the best components in an EASY TO USE plug and play system!!
The aluminum IceCap T5 pre-wired retro comes assembled so that all you need to do is select your preferred lamps, install them, snap the supplied reflectors to each lamp, plug the pre-wired retro into the supplied Model 660-009 ballast and finally plug the power cord into the wall!
Of course like all IceCap Incorporated products we will also support you with our legendary 3 year warranty.

The T5 Pre-Wired Retro Kit Includes:

* Aluminum T5 pre-wired retro-kit: 47 inches (L) x 10 inches (W) X 3 inches (H)
* Including 8 T5 IceCap waterproof endcaps
* 660-009 wire harness – wired to the kit
* 4 pcs - 46.5 inch Miro4 Aluminum Single Lamp Reflectors – 95% reflectivity
* Model 660-009 Ballast
* 1 Power Cord (Grounded)
* One 660-009 Extension Harness and Power Cord – all pre-assembled
* 3 year IceCap Incorporated warranty

T5 Lamps Options:

Option 1:
2 x AquaSun 54W T5 Fluorescent Aquarium Lamps by UV Lighting
2 x Super Actinic R 54W T5 Fluorescent Aquarium Lamps by UV Lighting

Option 2:
2 x Actinic White 54W T5 Fluorescent Aquarium Lamps by UV Lighting
2 x Super Actinic R 54W T5 Fluorescent Aquarium Lamps by UV Lighting

Option 3:
2 x AquaSun 54W T5 Fluorescent Aquarium Lamps by UV Lighting
2 x Actinic White 54W T5 Fluorescent Aquarium Lamps by UV Lighting

Option 4:
4 x Planta 54W T5 Fluorescent Aquarium Lamps by Aqua Medic
 

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Depending on the combination of ballast and bulb the difference might not be much. I have a Nova Extreme 2 bulb fixture that fits over my 5.5 AGA and it uses almost as much power as my 70 watt Retro fixture from hellolights.com on a 10 gallon tank. I have 70 watts of light over the 10 gallon vs 40 watts on my 5.5 gallon tank for about a .11 more in draw on the power.
He's talking a 55 gallon tank. Compare the retro Joey's come up with a pair of 175w -250w MY with electronic ballasts. To draw a fair comparison you'd need to be comparing a pair of 250 14Ks. That is a dynamite retro that Joey's come up with. I'll guarantee you more heat and electric consumption with the MHs.
 

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He's talking a 55 gallon tank. Compare the retro Joey's come up with a pair of 175w -250w MY with electronic ballasts. To draw a fair comparison you'd need to be comparing a pair of 250 14Ks. That is a dynamite retro that Joey's come up with. I'll guarantee you more heat and electric consumption with the MHs.
DOC is right the MH is just going to over heat your tank my freind has two mh on his 55g and he has alot of heat problems in the day i go's way too high and then in the nigh drops MH are good but when it comes to heat T5 is your best choice.Here some par reading i've done with my freind melev and then with zachito tank
MH par reading

T5 par reading
 
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