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cal1112333 02-20-2009 07:49 PM

Need lighting advice
I am setting up a reef aquarium and don't know how much and of what type to shoot for. As far as lighting goes I would consider myself a novice still because the light system explanations are very ambiguous. What I know so far is that I will want a full reef as abundant as possible (as far as inverts, fish take a back seat in this tank). I know the wattage for low (1-2 wpg) medium (3-4 wpg) and high (5+ wpg) and want approximately 25% 420 nm actinic blue 25% 460 50% 10K. This goal is not chosen by any method just looking at lamps on ebay and think it would be nice.

My tank is 36"x20"x12" so there will be about 15" to the aquaria floor.

I am thinking about a setup that would supply 4 wpg with moonlighting and is a very good looking fixture.

Or for very cheap I can get a 4 wpg fixture, no fans, no ambiant lighting just the light fixture.

Would the cheap one be worth getting? Or should i just make the investment in an expensive one and be done with it?

onefish2fish 02-21-2009 08:34 AM

protien skimming and lighting are the 2 most important things in a reef tank, followed by flow. the watt per gallon deal is very general.

Power Compact Lighting ( PCs ) is the "cheapest" and allows you to keep some softies, zoos, mushrooms and thats pretty much it. the bulbs have a very short life span.

T5s (the T=Tubular, 5=size, for example T12s would be larger then 5s) "medium priced" a very broad choice on what you can keep. This is what i use and love it and i suggest if you getting a reef to go T5s or halides. granted you gave a bulb wish list they would all be compatible with a T5 setup.

Metal Halides (MH) "high priced" allows you to keep just about anything. Run VERY hot so a chiller will prob. also have to be purchased.

LEDs "very high priced" i dont have experience with these but the initial cost is very high.

why dont you post the fixtures your looking at and we can point you in the right direction.

Kellsindell 02-21-2009 10:46 AM

You can read this article on Lights and get an idea of what you need and for what type of corals.

cal1112333 02-21-2009 10:54 AM

Okay after a very exhaustive search I have decided that to get in the lighting range i want AND be able to afford it I will need to make my own canopy. The canopy will be 3 feet wide by 1.5+ feet tall and about 20 inches deep. It will have a full front open access to the tank. and there are plans to hide the ballasts in a hidden compartment above the main light storage area (holes will be placed to help airflow aided by fans).

The plan is a 150-200 watt MH bulb (10k? 14k? 20k? what would be best?) in the center with a strip of 96 watt t5 in the front AND back(if i decide to use all lights at once I will load both of these with 420 true acininc or one with a 460 and the other 420, If I dont need the full wattage of this setup these fourescant bulbs will be the only ones needed and therefore will have 2x 50/50 bulbs). along with 24 blue/white (1:4 white to blue) LEDs distributed evenly throughout the lid for moonlight lighting. the Leds and t5s will be dimable for sunrise/sunset/moon phase simulation.
this will be cooled with A: an open back, and B: 2 fans either side cooling lights specifically and one (maybe) on top cooling the ballast secreat compartment that i will build, if they need a heat outlet.

there will be 4 power stitches built into the canopy and depending on how in depth I go, up to 3 knobs for dimming (one for flourscants one for 2/3 of the acent lights this will be the "mood" knob, and one knob for the last 1/3 of the leds for "spotlight" effects).

this canopy should supply 6.5 - 8 watts per gallon and will be easily made highly variable (especially useful for acclimating all my new corals, this dimming effect will mean i dont have to use diffraction sheets over several weeks)

As I mentioned before I am a complete novice so I would love any input, comments, sudgestions, or reminders that anyone has to offer and since i am short on time for now anyone that would link explainations of ballasts or something else I might want to get more knoweldge on would be greatly appreciated!

cal1112333 02-21-2009 01:02 PM

separate question all together. What light range do I NEED? Clearly the individual bulb choice is dependent on my own opinion of what looks best. But what light range actually is used by corals and whatnot to perform photosynthesis? I only ask because JUST getting the light colors you want at the proper WPG dosen't make sense or incandescent bulbs would work too(or so i believe, correct me if I am wrong please) a MH bulb helps because (again assuming) it is a full spectrum bulb.

Would it not be just as effective to target a spectrum to the WPG you want and then not count spectrums that fall outside this range and only get these bulbs to change the look? If so, what spectrum would this be? I want an ideal enviroment for the animals I will be keeping, NOT the ideal enviroment for me to look at them. Of course we all want to combine both of these features when keeping reef tanks.

To sum up my question with an example: If I got a clam that required high lighting and only had a medium lighting but at the ideal color would it be better for the clam to have 4 wpg at its favorate light (for example actinic 420) than to have 7wpg at assorted lighting?

Another concern of mine is that IF this is the case I may just waste my time looking into the optimum lighting when other things like diferent light so a diverse tank needs the diverse light (all of the diferent things need about 2-3 wpg of the various color that would be good (out of red blue yellow) and thats how people come up in the first place with the 6-9 wpg requirement for high light creatures in a tank; not the light required by that one animal but the average light content in a tank that can accomidate him)

Another quick question is: Is there a marine PLANT that I can grow in my tank that would be reef safe, fish safe, and will not grow to be 20 feet long in a 40 gallon tank? When looking for marine stuff I noticed that live plants have not even come up, and while I realize that people probabally dont want a piece of seaweed thats just going to completely outgrow your tank. However at the same time I find it hard to believe that there are not plants ranging from an inch or two to about a foot in the entire ocean that are not popular or atleast available for the aquarium trade. I am not desperate for a straight up plant, but am trying to learn all I can about marine aquariums while I prepare for the switch.

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