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Old 04-04-2013, 05:18 PM   #1
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DIY tank hood with multiple light tubes

So I just bought a 29 gallon Aqueon Deluxe Kit. It came with this light-weight injection molded plastic hood with room for only one light tube. Since my daughter wants glofish and I want to have real plants I'd really prefer to have two (maybe three if they fit) different light tubes. One full spectrum for the plants and one blue/UV/whatever tube to show off the glofish. I've seen products on the market that allow you to add more tubes but the ones I've seen leave the tank uncovered or you need a glass/acrylic two-piece cover. I'm worried that if the cat jumps on one of those type of covers she'll end up swimming. Now since I'm an engineer and a rather handy person I figure that I can design and build one that fits my exact needs without breaking the bank. I'm thinking of making the hood out of wood that will accept ?T5? light mounting fixtures and rest on top of the tank. I'm thinking that in order to fit more than one light tube I'll have the 'door' be the entire top, lights and all. There will probably be a stationary 'base' that sits on top of the tank that has a lip that goes around the edge of the tank to keep it from sliding off WHEN the cat jumps on it. I don't know yet how/where I'm going to mount the hinges.

So here comes the part where I ask for help. Can anybody answer any of the following questions:

-Has anybody else tackled something similar? (I apologize, I didnt do a search of the forums)
-What type of wood is chemically inert and safe for fish untill I can seal it (I'm thinking teak would be good to resist moisture/algae growth)
--I want to test it out for a while before I seal it because I don't want to have to reseal it if I decide to change it.
-What type of sealant is safe for fish (preferably black/ebony color to match my stand)
-Would stainless steel fasteners affect water chemistry?
-Are there any special considerations I need to take into account when wiring and choosing switches?
-Do I need additional insulation on the wires to prevent any stray voltage from radiating into the fish/water?

I realize that these are some fairly technical questions but I have faith in the AA community

Right now this is just scribbles on a mental bar napkin. And yes, if/when I tackle this I will photograph and document the steps I took to build it.

So what do ya'll think?
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Old 04-04-2013, 06:59 PM   #2
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I love DYI projects...
I built a canopy 20+ years ago for a 55 gallon tank (48") and I used pine. Stained dark brown and sealed it with either varnish or urethane. I used stainless steel elbows and screws. I used 4 x 48" 39 watt bulbs and BJB waterproof end caps. I cannot remember if the bulbs were T-8, 10, or 12. I ran two generic ballasts mounted on sheets of plywood under the tank in a cabinet. I put a dab of aquarium safe silicon where the wires went into the end caps. Wired some 3 prong plugs to the ballasts an plugged those into timers. Worked great for a planted tank and the separate ballasts ran on different timers so that I could simulate different intensities of light during the day. Initially the lid was quite heavy (48"x16" inches I think) so I cut the lid lengthwise and added hinges. The back of the canopy was open and that was a good thing because it generated quite a bit of heat.
You can buy a dual T-5 fixture and in some cases, mount it within a custom canopy.
I understand why you want to keep a cover on the tank to prevent fish from jumping out. I recently switched to an open top tank and I am dealing with a lot more evaporation than before.
Good luck with this.
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Old 04-05-2013, 02:29 PM   #3
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Thanks for the input. I completely forgot about the ballasts and the heat issue! I wonder how cost prohibitive it would be to set it up for LED. During my ventures into custom computer cases I found that LED lighting was cheap and extremely easy to accomplish. Those were just plain Radioshack LEDs though. Does anybody know if the LEDs in the aquarium light fixtures are a special type of LED? I THINK that I would also be able to dim the LEDs by reducing the voltage with a potentiometer. BRAINSTORM!! I could get REALLY fancy by incorporating a PLC like an Arduino so that the brightness and on/off state could be programmed! Sadly I haven't had a chance to play with an Arduino yet but if they're as powerful as I've heard then you're only limited by your imagination on how you want your lights to behave.
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Old 04-05-2013, 03:44 PM   #4
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You lost me at Arduino.
Yes the heat and weight (and further distance from the water) were reasons I placed it below the tank. Not sure if modern ballasts produce as much heat.

There are a few folks on this forum the are into DYI LEDs or purchase custom built LEDs. Low heat output, small size, and low weight make it ideal to put it into a canopy.
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Old 04-05-2013, 05:15 PM   #5
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The Arduino is an inexpensive PLC (programmable logic controller) that I've heard is relatively easy to program. Search youtube for "LED 3D globe" to see an example of what an Arduino can do. At least I think that one was built using an Arduino. Lol, I honestly can't remember which youtube video I saw that opened my eyes to the Arduino:p

I'll have to search the forums for DIY LED lighting. Thanks
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