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Old 06-23-2006, 05:59 PM   #1
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lighting suggestions for my 30 gal. hex custom hood

I just got a 30 gal. hex that has a flat glass top with a flippy lid on the front section and a cutout for the filter on the back. It has a plastic hood that sits on there with a single 15" T8. I'd like to put a couple live plants in there (just a couple hearty things that don't need too much light). Even if I wasn't going to get live plants, a single 15" T8 seems pretty inadequate.

So, I was going to make a custom wood box that takes up all the available space on the lid. This is the best idea I've come up with so far:

Code:
          ____________________
         /                    \      <- Penguin 200
        ________________________
       /                        \
      /  |====================|  \     <- 12" cold cathode
     /   |====================|   \    <- 12" cold cathode
    /                              \
   / ||--------------------------|| \
  /  ||--------------------------||  \   <- 15" T8
 /                                    \
/ ||--------------------------------|| \
\ ||--------------------------------|| /  <- 18" T8
 \                                    /
  \  ||--------------------------||  /
   \ ||--------------------------|| /    <- 15" T8
    \______________________________/
                                   
      \            __            /
       \          /  \          /    <- flippy lid
        \         \__/         /        with handle
         \____________________/
Then I'll probably just have a single cord from the ballast going into an outlet with a timer, and then a 12V adaptor that plugs into the hood for the cathode moonlights. I'll probably put a 3-pos switch on there for the moonlight, for off, 1 light, or 2 lights. Then I'll have the main lights running strictly off the timer.

My main question is what kinds of bulbs would be recommended for a hex tank. I've heard people say you need a lot of blue because it penetrates more. I was thinking maybe two 15" Aqua-Glos and one 18" Sun-Glo or maybe Flora-Glo. Those are easy to find around here. The main reason I'm going with the 18" in the middle instead of just three 15" lights is because there seems to be a lot more variety available in 18" lights -- the only 15" lights I see in stores are Aqua-Glos.

Of course I'm fine with ordering cheaper lights if that's a good idea. I don't feel the need to pay $13 per bulb in the LFS.

Also, does anybody have any input on the wiring or general configuration? I know there are dimmers that work with fluorescent lights, and it'd be really cool (and probably nicer for the fish) to have it come on dim in the morning then gradually get brighter for an hour. That seems ridiculously complex, though. I also thought of having 3 separate ballasts with 3 separate cords for the main lights, then just having them all on separate timers so I could do sort of a gruadual on/off cycle, but that would be a pretty big jumble of cords, and then it would be difficult to turn them on/off manually. If I have them all on one cord going to a timer, then I can just flip the override switch for all of them at once.

Are there any single ballasts that would work for all three lights? Most of what I see are 1 and 2-light ballast kits. I'm not sure about mixing two bulb sizes on the same ballst.
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Old 06-23-2006, 06:41 PM   #2
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looks alright to me, just watch out for the heat, you may wanna add a couple 12V DC computer fans to it
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Old 06-23-2006, 07:30 PM   #3
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Where exactly do I have to worry about the heat buildup? Is it to keep the ballast from getting too hot sitting on top of the lights? Will the lights break when they get too hot? Is it the glass above the aquarium? I've heard people mention PC case fans for DIY hoods, but I haven't really seen any pictures of where they install them. Seems like it'd be hard to avoid a bunch of light leaking out unless it was just blowing across the ballast. I'm going to put some kind of reflector above the lights, so that might help.
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Old 06-24-2006, 12:20 PM   #4
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Also, can I pretty much get any 43W+ ballast and hook all 3 lights up in series? Like this one?

http://www.prolighting.com/wo4elba12loc.html

Or is everything over 43W going to be overdriving the lights? In that case, can I just add a pot switch and turn it down a little and everything will be OK?
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Old 06-25-2006, 03:46 PM   #5
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I see a lot of people suggesting Sun-Glo + Aqua-Glo lights. I was thinking a good combination would be 2 x 15" Aqua-Glo and 1 x 18" Sun-Glo.

But don't you want some sort of really bluish light that penetrates pretty deep in a hex tank? The tank is 25" deep. People say actinic isn't such a good idea in a FW tank, but is there anything particularly good at lighting deeper tanks? Or is 25" nothing to worry about if you've already got 3 bulbs at the top?

Any replies on any of this would be really appreciated.
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Old 06-26-2006, 10:55 PM   #6
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no matter how many bulbs u have the light only penetrates so much. there is a calculator for it but i forget the equation. if u want a really bluish light look at the power glo bulb. i have one powerglo and 2 life glos and i love the contrast. but keep in mind those bulbs are not cheap.
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Old 06-27-2006, 04:21 PM   #7
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Just remember that your total watts per gallon is still barely 1.5 in a deep tank, which might be enough for some very low light plants. I would look into using a couple of compact fluorescent bulbs, I know there is a quad-tube 96 watt PC that is very short (although a little much), or maybe two 35 watt bulbs or a 55 and a 35 watt. Much more bang for your buck with the PCs. Good luck!
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Old 06-27-2006, 04:25 PM   #8
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I have an exact same shape, a 30g tall hex.......I currently only have the stock one that came with it, a 16" 40w flourescent......I was thinking of just getting an additional 16" 40w flourescent for behind it....would that improve lighting and help my plants?
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Old 06-27-2006, 10:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmac
I have an exact same shape, a 30g tall hex.......I currently only have the stock one that came with it, a 16" 40w flourescent......I was thinking of just getting an additional 16" 40w flourescent for behind it....would that improve lighting and help my plants?
if u have a 40 watt 16" bulb then it is a vho bulb and they are not cheap. if u can afford it another one wouldgreatly help your plants. i think the original poster was looking for a cheaper alternative to lighting and vho and pc are fairly pricy. u do get alot more light from it but it comes at a price. i think u could get a retro fit kit and hook it up in your custom hood but i suggest checking out a few different sites like www.ahsupply.com or www.hellolights.com and see your options. i hope that helps
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Old 07-02-2006, 02:12 PM   #10
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So I tried to go to PetSmart to buy an additional 16" light fixture for my 30 tall hex (the 40w 16" that came with it is ok, but not enough for my plants and tastes)....They didn't and don't sell any fixtures that size. AM I relegated to finding this online or is there somewhere that might have it?
I would like if pssobile to get an exact of the one I already have. Its a pinkish color too.

Sticker says All-Glass Aquarium, Inc. in Franklin WI, " 16" Flourescent Aqarium Reflector" 120V 40 W 60hz JANICE F105A
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Old 07-03-2006, 07:50 PM   #11
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Great news I found the exact 16" strip at a Petco of all places. I snatched it up and its on the tank now...I can't believe how dull my lighting was with just the 1 wimpy strip before.
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