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Old 03-04-2007, 07:09 PM   #1
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40 gal canopy build - lighting questions!

Hey guys. Okay, so this is our first tank (40 gallon regular), and my husband's building a canopy for it 'cause we have big cats who will break glass.

I have a TON of questions, it seems! Our plan is to have a lightly-to-moderately planted freshwater tank - I don't want to get into CO2 just yet, so think easy, newbie plants.

I need some advice on light selection and installation advice. I think we're nearing a finished design where the front half/significant portion of the canopy will flip up to rest on the back half, with sliding glass or plexiglass inserts to protect the electrical/lighting stuff at the top of the canopy. If I buy something like a T5 fixture with reflector (maybe something like this: http://www.commodityaxis.com/ProductData.aspx?id=67), is this something that can easily be affixed to the top of the canopy? Or do I need to buy a light kit?

Finally - is a 36" bulb really 36"? Does that include the end caps, etc? I think the inside span of our canopy will be close to 36-36.5" and I worry about buying lights that won't fit!

Help! I'm looking at articles online, etc but I'm still confused. I've found so many canopy DIY stuff where people aren't covering their lights with plexiglass/glass, using non-water-resistant stuff, etc - I'm not entirely sure WHAT'S needed at this point!

Thanks in advance!

-Julie
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Old 03-05-2007, 02:09 AM   #2
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I built my own canopy & wired it, but mine is 48" instead of 36".

For a 40 gal FW planted, you would want around 60-80 watts to keep the plants happy, anything less & you are stuck with Java ferns & even those won't grow much.

If you are going to use T5's, you'll need T5HO's. The normal output T5's in that link will not work unless you can stuff 5 or 6 inside that canopy (and you'll be breaking the bank even if you have the space!) I don't know if T5HO's come in 3' lengths. 4' T5HO's at 55W each are great, but still quite pricey (around $100 per fixture). <And the T5 bulbs are shorter than stated so that bulb + end caps = nominal length. However, it is always best to double check the length of the fixture rather than rely on bulb length .... some might be off by a bit .... or a lot!>

Your best bet would be a power compact. You can get a single 55W or 65W PC for now, and if you ever want to upgrade to high light, you will have room to add another 1 or 2. Check out AH Supplies for some very reasonable PC kits, like this:
http://www.ahsupply.com/36-55w.htm

Note that PC's are more efficient than NO fluorescents, so a 55W PC = around 65-70W NO fluorescent.
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