so i spoke some with angel079 (hope you dont mind the plug! lol) after reading a few posts she had made about using regular "daylight" bulbs from the hardware store. so if anyone is interested, ill spill a little about my experience so far to help anyone else out on the fence.
At Home depot (I THINK, it may well have been lowes but who knows) I bought GE daylight T12, with a color temp of 6500k. best part, they were 7 bucks for two of them lol I promptly ran home and put them in my 110g tank. They are a little bluey, but not terrible, and plently bright. The aquasun 40 watt T12s are the only bulbs ive had that were brighter.
the DOWNSIDE, ive had them in for about a week now, ive noticed some bits of algae growing on the glass. HOWEVER, i can not out right blame the lights. The tank is still stabilizing after almost a year of being ill-kept, and I just added a third filter. If everything settles nicely and I still have the algae, ill swap out the bulbs to see if it makes a difference. but really for 7 bucks... i can deal with some algae lol
Since this bulb talk got in my head, I have been considering options to illuminate a planted 20L. at the moment a sword of sorts is the only plant in the tank, however I have some rather big plans. My first step was to take the 30" strip light and javelin it into the yard. I chose two pieces of 18" x 12" 26ga sheet metal, two strips of scrap sheet metal, 4 ceramic bulb sockets, a preassembled lamp cord, some wire nuts, a push button on/off switch, and finally, 4 feit 18 watt 6500k screw in bulbs. I will post the picture I took of this rig when I get it remotely hosted. The down sides of this project are two fold. One, the reflector I made from sheet metal takes up literally the entire top of the tank. The filter is reloacted to the side of the tank lol second, its so amazingly bright that I can only leave it on for 3 minutes per day or the fish start to cook LOL
I have decided for this particular tank im going to try smaller 14 watt nvision 5500k bulbs I already had, and I need to find a way to shrink the over all assembly size so I can use a versa-top without having to move the light every time I feed. I might spring for all new reflectors, if i feel ambitous :) I cleverly used screws and nuts to assemble the entire thing, instead of pop rivets for just such a reason. when the final design is settled it will get riveted.
attached is a picture of the current hood I made with the 4 bulbs blazing away, you can get an idea of the sheer size of this beast lol my hand is there because there is a gap between the two halves of the reflectors, the camera wouldnt focus because it was so bright :) anyway, thats my adventure so far, stay tuned for pics of the current set up as well as revisions :)