05-22-2010, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by outpost
I know they are about $10 but I was just wondering if they use a ballast or anything. My tank is going to be 55 gallons. Do you think the OSH or Home Depot would have a 4' shop light? What is a condensation tray? Thanks for the help. One last question Byron said it's good to use a 6500k and a "full spectrum" bulb. Would this be necessary for a 55 gallon? What wattage of light should I buy?
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Johnny subsequently answered your questions, so I just have a follow-up on the tubes.
First on the wattage, all tubes are standard wattages for the length of tube with some exceptions between manufacturers. In other words, you are talking about 48-inch tubes (over a 4-foot 55g tank) and these will be 40 watts in T8 (the now-regular fluorescent tube). However, some manufacturers have lower-wattage tubes that produce the same intensity for less energy (watts is the measure of energy used), but a given tube will always be one wattage for the size. Example, Hagen make the Life-Glo 6700K full spectrum tube which is 40w in the 4-foot length; this is the only 4-foot tube wattage for this tube. Zoo Med make a similar tube called Ultra Sun, and it is 32w in the 4-foot length. It also only comes in 32w for 4-foot tube. The difference between the two is that Zoo Med have special coatings inside the tube that result in more intense light at lower energy use.
As for the type of light, "full spectrum" is closest to mid-day sun. "Cool white" has slightly more blue than red, and "warm white" has slightly more red than blue; both these change the colour emitted accordingly. The kelvin rating (like 6500K) is the guide to this, but sometimes manufacturers can alter the colour so it is important to carefully review the kelvin rating and the spectrum graph for each tube. Tubes around 6500K are in my opinion the best; they provide the needed blue and red but have green to balance for a natural colour rendition in the aquarium (unlike the so-called "aqua" or "flora" tubes which are high blue and red but little or no green and make the tank look purplish). "Full spectrum" will be around 6000-7000K depending upon manufacturers.
A single 4-foot T8 tube over your 55g will work fine.