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Old 10-28-2008, 04:48 PM   #1
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inexpensive lighting fixture

I have all kinds of florescent lights at my disposal ballasts and all. My question is, is it safe or feasible to create lighting for my 29 gal saltwater tank with lights on hand? I you need a list of lights I have on hand please ask as there are too many to list if not necessary. It is a FOWLR now but want to upgrade to reef. Lighting is my only issue so far. The cheapest watt per gallon light I could find id almost $200. Please help!
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Old 10-28-2008, 06:26 PM   #2
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If you want to go cheaper then go with retro fits. I have VHO retrofits for 4 bulbs
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:27 PM   #3
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heh, i refit my 29 gallon to house a 14w florescent tube in the center and two 14w full spectrum bulbs(the small twist kind that fit in a standard light bulb socket) at almost 1,000 lumens each.

i have full spectrum and the regular tube on differant timers so i can adjust how much light is on the tank and when, as my 29 gallon gets some natural sunlight from a window.

what i would suggest, is do what i did, use silicone and then heat shrink tubing to ensure that the wiring in the fixture is water tight as a "just in case" precaution, and make sure that your bulbs do not put out more heat than the plastic covering over the balast can disipate.

i learned early on to stay away from anything halogen or "small" like candlabra style bulbs and the like.

you can easily make your own fixture if you can fab and have basic wiring skills. would i reccomend this approach for everyone? probbly not. dont want someone sueing me cause they fried themselves or started a fire...


EDIT: personally, I am sold on the new style of twist in bulbs that fit standard sockets...if you watch for sales you can get a 4 pack of the full spectrum minature bulbs for cheap, and I have been happier with the quality of light over a standard tube.
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Old 11-01-2008, 12:32 PM   #4
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Depending on what you have, you can make something yourself if you are handy with wiring and have good understanding of electrical safety, esp. around water. I wired my canopy using parts from 2 shop lights that I gutted. This is cheaper than a retrofit kit, although prob. not as efficient as the shop light reflectors are definitely inferior.
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Old 11-03-2008, 01:50 AM   #5
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I got it!

It took me a couple of days and a lot of experimenting and time but I have real, "GOOD" results. 29 gallon tank, I need the minimum which is roughly 87w. Well I could not equal 87 due to the fact that that bulbs I need come in 20w. So I went with 80W. 4 20's is what I came up with. After wiring and rewiring and testing for hours, I got good results. Bright lights and it cost me nothing. just the bulbs I have around and some simple wiring know how. I made a $160 LIGHTING system for around $30. Plus a little "LABOR". Which I did myself. Here is my "I would say 90%" Homemade SW aquarium!
http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o...d/S7303365.jpg
http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o...d/S7303364.jpg
http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o...d/S7303366.jpg
Thank all of you that helped and thank all of you that wanted to! I am almost done with my tank minus 20 more lbs if LS and about 20 more LBS of live rock. I would also like to change my bio-balls to LR rubble. If anyone knows where to get this cheap let me know! once again thank you all!
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Old 11-03-2008, 02:04 AM   #6
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This is what the new lights look like!
http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o...d/S7303368.jpg
Sweet! They are on separate ballast, two on in the morn, four on in the day, and two on at dusk. $160 for some aquarium lights. HAHA! $30. VHO, HO, Rubbish!
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Old 11-04-2008, 02:26 AM   #7
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heh, i responded to your PM, but you already have it finished! well, anyway, here is a pic of what mine was like. i used my tanks normal plastic cover and used the factory mounting points for the origonal balast to attach the smaller balast and the other bulbs and their aluminum heat shields.

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Old 11-04-2008, 08:35 AM   #8
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Just wondering, but why do you have 2 bricks in your tank? You aren't afraid of what they can leech into the water?
Quote:
VHO, HO, Rubbish!
Those lights will work fine for low light soft coral, but they have virtually no penetration into the water and minimal PAR. They are no comparison to T5HO or VHO.
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Old 11-05-2008, 04:28 AM   #9
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Did not think about leaching. I was replacing my CC with live sand and was doing it one half at a time, just finished it. As far as no comparison with the lighting, I am putting out more watts with a broader spectrum than if I bought a $120 dollar lighting "SYSTEM". Not to be ugly, but not everyone that is interested in the hobby has hundreds of dollars to throw out. If it works it works, if it does not then I will stick with FOWLR. This reef stuff is driving me mad. My fish are happy and my live rock is coming alive more and more each day. Thank you for your advise.
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Old 11-05-2008, 10:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Not to be ugly, but not everyone that is interested in the hobby has hundreds of dollars to throw out. If it works it works, if it does not then I will stick with FOWLR. This reef stuff is driving me mad.
Having a full blown reef tank is not cheap. There is no way around it. You can use whatever lights you want, but KNOW what you can keep with those lights. "If it works it works, if it does not then I will stick with FOWLR." So what has to happen? Do you need to buy some coral and watch them die before you realize what you can and can't keep using whatever lights you choose?
Please do some reasearch. Here's a few articles to get you started.
Lighting the Reef Tank: A Primer for Beginners
Classification and Terminology For Reef Aquarium Lighting
How Much Light?! Analyses of Selected Shallow Water Invertebrates' Light Requirements
Colors by the Thousands - Light, Colors and Corals
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Old 11-06-2008, 01:33 AM   #11
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I apologize for my post. It may have seemed careless and crude. The bottom line is that I don't have a lot of cash to spend. Now, with that being said. I do have two 80w ballasts and am only running 80w from the both of them with 4 lights. I read the article "Lighting a reef tank: a primer for beginners" it says that 24" HO lights use 75 watts. Is it possible to buy two HO lights, get rid of the others, and run two HO instead and create more actual light? Thank you for all your advise. It is well appreciated.
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Old 11-06-2008, 01:44 AM   #12
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Will this lighting system do? This is something I can afford.Remember this is only a 29 gallon tank. Thanks! http://cgi.ebay.com/AQUARIUM-LIGHT-24-REEF-ODYSSEA-130WT-POWER-COMPACT-U6_W0QQitemZ360096861241QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_Defa ultDomain_0?hash=item360096861241&_trksid=p3286.c0 .m14&_trkparms=72%3A1208|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240 %3A1318
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Old 11-07-2008, 12:02 AM   #13
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well, i cannot speak for other posters, but, i think maybe what the message was, not that you cant build your own fixture, but rather, that you have to spend some kind of money to at least get the proper parts if you dont have them already.

now, i dont know salt water tanks, but i did some hunting, and found that the lumens and color temp and wavelenth is only available from the lights they spoke of, or from some swirl type bulbs, the big brothers of what i use, and even those arent "cheap"... a 8k+ kelvin swirl thats a 65 watter seems to be rather expensive even in a 4 pack. the small craft lights i use were 20 bucks for 4 of them, but they are only 14 watter's...

anyway...my suggestion is ask the salt water guys the type of light you need, and if you can get away with a swirl type bulb set up, go for it. if not, save your money and get the right stuff!
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Old 11-07-2008, 05:06 PM   #14
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Odyssea, I believe have overheating issues.
Throwed, have you checked out Mike's DIY lighting?
Check this out:
http://www.aquariumadvice.com/galler...imageuser=6218
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Old 11-07-2008, 05:17 PM   #15
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I have this fixture (well the 260w version) and they do over heat and burn out the fans at the ends of the fixture. Be prepared to replace the entire fixture after about a year of use. I had to replace one of the ballasts after 6 months.

If you can save up a bit you would be far better off buying a TEK retro kit. I think the 24" versions run just under $100. I can get them locally for $95. T5HO is going to penetrate the water better then PC and far better then the other lighting you were talking about.

Check on Criagslist in your area people are always upgrading things and selling off their old equipment.
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Old 11-07-2008, 05:57 PM   #16
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I was going to suggest you go with some type of retrofits. They are cheaper but with VHO lighting. I`ve used VHO lighting for ten years and I dont think it`s rubbish. At least that`s not what my pics say if you check out my images. I also including a close up of my retrofits

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Old 11-07-2008, 06:15 PM   #17
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Cool, Mike, that was the actual shot I was looking to post!
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Old 11-08-2008, 01:46 AM   #18
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What about the 80w ballasts I have? Are they good enough to run VHO? I know they are kinda old but they still work.
http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o...d/S7303328.jpg
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Old 11-08-2008, 01:47 AM   #19
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Ohh, by the way. All of your pics are awesome. I envy you and your creativeness. Thank you all for all of your help.
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Old 11-08-2008, 07:53 AM   #20
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No the 80 watt will not run VHO`s. I believe my ballast are 400 watt. I have to run 2 of them as I have 4 160 watt VHO bulbs.
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