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ajmckay 10-28-2008 12:49 AM

One lamp or two?
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Greetings. I realized the other day that I need to increase my lighting... The catalyst of this urge to increase my lighting came when I purchased a really cool chunk of LR last week that had lots of really cool things growing on it... What I thought to be coralline algae actually turned out to be evergreen star polyps... and beside that there's some other purple/green zoanthus-looking corals starting to grow... Under my currently whimpy lights they seem to be doing surprisingly good... the star polyps have grown slightly, and everything else seems stable since the new rock is about 6" from the light source. This whole experience makes me want to grow some simple corals (for now) and my ultimate goal would be to be able to support all different kinds. I am on a tight budget (which I'm sure nobody here can relate to, right?), so that means my options are limited and probably involve a lot of DIY. Here's what i'm thinking...

We've all seen the posts about these $70 MH lights, right? (How-to: Make your own 70w MH Pendant - Forums just in case)

My question is this: If I build this DIY 70 watt MH, will it be sufficient when combined with my current lighting?

Also, if (when) I decide that this new light isn't enough, what are the effects of just building a second (opr third) one rather than buying a single 150+W fixture? What I'm trying to get at is this: Which is better, 1 big one, or 2 smaller ones? With powerheads it seems the latter is better for creating more natural currents, so would it follow that 2 lower wattage bulbs would create a more natural light with less shadows?

I do have some concerns though:
I'm not sure what the lighting footprint of this new light would be... or if it would even be enough to provide even light for the whole tank being 6" or so from the water surface.

Also, does anyone have any clever mounting options for this sort of fixture? I'd put my tank out in-front of my garage, but I don't have one, and if I did the tank would probably get stolen...

So I would love to hear what everyone thinks about this idea... I hope to learn a lot.

onefish2fish 10-28-2008 01:24 AM

welcome to the forum
the lights you currently have are a 2 bulb t5?
nice find with the hitchhikers on the live rock! how long has your tank been setup?

i didnt click the link for the MH but there are retrofit or retrokit light options available.
my understanding is t5 is your "most bang for your buck" kind of deal as they arent as expensive, dont cost as much as MH to operate monthly, dont run as hot, the colors the bulbs put out are easily changed with 1 or 2 bulb switch outs as oppose to MH which get extremely hot which means you may need a chiller, bulbs cost a mint and 1 bulb = 1 color of light, dont get me wrong MH are great lights from what i hear but i personally am a fan of t5s
check in your area for lights or for ballast and im sure you could find a deal or even a reefing forum with classifieds of someone getting rid of their old setup, but you'll prob have to buy new bulbs
that being said, more about the light fixture you currently have will prob. help diagnosing how much light you currently have.

also i notice you have a canister filter on your tank, which for reef tanks isnt benificial as they act as nitrate factories and build up poopy and pump nitrates into the water instead of remove them. if your going with mechanical filtration, a sump with a protein skimmer is the way to go, if not 1-1 1/2lbs per gallon (est.) live rock and sand with good water flow is good biological filtration along with weekly water changes

ajmckay 10-28-2008 01:34 AM

Thanks for your input! To clarify my current T5 setup is a 2 bulb Coralife Aqualight, 1 10,000K daylight and 1 Acintic... the problem is that they are normal output... So I think the total wattage is about 40 watts only. Like I said... The living things in my tank are doing "surprisingly" well. Also, with regards to the cannister, I know they can be a pain, but it's what I have for the moment and I'm thorough in doing weekly 10-20% water changes and I also carefully clean out the cannister filter media at least that often. Thanks again.

Kellsindell 10-28-2008 02:08 AM

from your pics, they look nice and healthy as far as i can see. your bulbs are probably 40watts each? and the tank is the 29g right? that is a bit on the low side, but it's fine for some softies. zoas and GSP can live under many types of lights. as long as your bulbs are t5 then they aren't NO the are higher than that because NO will only put out about 10watts each.

OneFish is right the MH will add a lot of heat to your water, but if you can get fans on top of it it'll really bring that down. Sure you won't get the shimmer effect that MH give, but at least you won't have to get a chiller (you're on a budget).

But if you want the MH the footprint will be a decent size and you may not have the room for the second. i'd recammend looking at a local club for something in thier forsale forum. i got 2 MH ballast and bulbs for only $100 and they were 175watts. so i have 350 that i spent almost less than you will. if you don't know where local club is then check and they can point you to your local club. it's really nice being a part of a club in the local area, my local club forum has 500 members and 2000 guests that are registered. it's really nice to have them close.

onefish2fish 10-28-2008 02:09 AM

ok as long as your cleaning it out, but i personally wouldnt use it as a long term fix.

if what you have seem to be doing good then you might be alright. idk what your flow is through your tank but you may want to aim one of yuor powerheads up alittle to disrupt the water surface so there is no slim build up for maximum light penitration as well as the little glimmers light gets from the choppy water surface, which i believe can magnify the light

Kellsindell 10-28-2008 10:44 AM


Originally Posted by onefish2fish (Post 149649)
ok as long as your cleaning it out, but i personally wouldnt use it as a long term fix.

I quite agree.

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