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Old 10-12-2005, 11:10 PM   #1
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Metal Halide/Power Compact DIY - N00b Needs Help

Hey!

I really want to upgrade my lighting from my 40w NO on my 55 fowlr. I'm going to build a canopy to put over my tank and I'm looking into DIY metal halide because I refuse to pay $$$ for something that could be done myself.

I would like to keep an anemone in the future about half a year down the road when my tank settles more. If my starfish ever passes on I can add corals.

I know I need a ballast and I looking for something cheap with lots of wattage. I found a previous post that mentioned this one:
http://prolighting.com/sousm400q-k.html

I also need a bulb. How is this?
http://prolighting.com/mh400-u.html

The aluminum guard I'm not sure what I need exactly. Also would I be better off with the tube shaped lights. I know MH is also better because of the more focused light it penetrates the water better. I would like to add moon light leds with a cheap 30 dollar kit.

What would you guys recommend? I've never really build lights but I did replace a ballast on my mom's 10 gallon tank that went out.

As for cooling I am very familiar with computers but not so much with using A/C. Would I have to buy a converter and hook a couple of 80 or 120mm fans to the canopy to expel light?

On my canopy I'm thinking 15 inches tall or so.


Please help a noob.
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Old 10-12-2005, 11:37 PM   #2
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I bought my MH retro kits and cooling fan kits from captivereefs.com. They very easy to wire etc. If you want to do the fans yourself all you need is a transformer with the correct volt/amps. The fan kits are nice because they have a built in thermometer and do not run constantly. I bought my moon light kit from ledworx on ebay. Also very easy all you need is soldering iron and solder. I ripped a 1"piece of the low gauge pvc down the middle to make my moonlights. Drilled the holes small and the LEDs just pressure fit in.
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:13 AM   #3
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couple quick questions and comments.

Is your canopy going to rest on top of the tank or will it be suspended, like a big pendent light? If you'll be suspending it you'll want to consider the weight of the materials used but you wont have to worry as much about heat. If it will rest on the tank, you don't need to worry as much about weight, but you'll need to do more to keep it cool.


There are a number of AC driven fans, check radio shack. I bought an 4" box fan the same style as you would see in a PC case, at radio shack for 9 or 10 dollars IIRC. Just used an old appliance cord, put a fuse in line and it was all set.


(also, going to move this to the DIY forum for proper placement and better exposure)
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Old 10-13-2005, 07:08 PM   #4
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Thank you for moving my thread. I wasn't aware of the other forum subject.

Am I right thinking one bulb is enough in the center? On 5 tap it shows multiple wattages supported. Does that mean I should run two 200w bulbs from the same ballast or just one 400 watt?

My canopy will rest on top of the tank. So I will need to get an AC fan or wire one in from captive reefs.


I see some retro kits on captive reefs for 240. From what i see I can have the same thing for about 100 if I buy it all seperate and wire it together.
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Old 10-13-2005, 09:45 PM   #5
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Ive asked the same question.. 3 foot is the maximum for a MH bulb to cover.. so youll need two for your 55..
the 5 tap ballasts should show multiple voltages.. magnetic ballasts are only designed to be used with one bulb. There are some electronics that are designed for multiple bulbs though..
from my reaserch.. depending on what type of bulb you use.. the ballasts will run you minium around ~$120 for two.. If you want to buy prefab. reflectors.. the best price ive seen on those is $60 for two (I think these can be DIYed by the way).... then the bulbs.. the prices run the gammit performance costs $$ (then again the wrong spectrium can cost $ as well)
Im not positive on how long MH bulbs last for reef use, Ive gotten multiple answers on that question making this desision tough for me (wether or not to do MH). If they last on average 3 years say, then the project would be worth ALOT more to me..
I hope this helps..
I would say you would be fine with a pair of 175watt bulbs for clams and sps... maybe some LPS on the bottom.. I would shade mushrooms and low light softies with this setup.. just my oppinon though.
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:55 PM   #6
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Well would you guys think of Power Compact as a better option? I really want to keep the costs down but putting in two bulbs and two ballasts really jack up the price.

I want to keep anemones and corals down the road. I've always read you should have MH though for anemones.
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Old 10-13-2005, 11:01 PM   #7
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If your tank is taller then 20 inches then Id be willing to say yes.. MH would be one of your only options.. T-5 HO's and or PC would be an option.. but depending on MH usefull lifespan they might be more expensive long term..
what coarls are you intrested in? SPS? LPS? Soft? mixed?
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Old 10-13-2005, 11:04 PM   #8
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In other words.. Im asking a question in your question.. sorry.. a bit of a hijack.

What is the average usefull lifespan of MH bulbs for reef use?..
Maybe SW general discussion would get this answered faster..?
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Old 10-13-2005, 11:12 PM   #9
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I like the LPS and soft corals.

The water depth in my tank is 17-18" but suspending it 7 inches off the water would have some more effect on it I suppose?
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Old 10-13-2005, 11:31 PM   #10
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that will be a tough mix.. good luck.

You wont need to suspend T-5 HO's or PC's near that far off the surfase of your water.. you could put them in a DIY striplight with some fans and be fine (a couple of inches from the surfase tops, most likely less)
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