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beetlebz 01-02-2010 12:43 AM

adventures in budget DIY lighting
1 Attachment(s)
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 :)

Angel079 01-02-2010 09:19 AM

Since this is 'my fault' lol....Does the tank you put them over have live plants in there? Sounds to me that there's not enough/ no plants to absorb nutrition from the water hence algae is growing.
You should have algae coming up just cause of these lights, I had & have them in all tanks no issue. So if you like I'l gladly get to the bottom of your algae issue with you and eliminate it?
Yes you may find the new one's "bluer" most bulbs that come with these combo tanks are high in red's and appear as a very orange type light, which is not too ideal really for planted tanks.

beetlebz 01-02-2010 10:42 AM

4 Attachment(s)
sooo here are the finished build pictures of the reflector i built. Angel, I suspect your right the more i think about it, not having live plants in the tank. the 110g is just very difficult to keep live plants in. the lights arent bright enough to sustain many plants, and the tank is too deep to trim too often lol maybe some java moss on the driftwood near the surface. now if only i could find anyone who actually sold java moss. lol

anyway heres the finished product of the first variation...

Mikaila31 01-02-2010 05:19 PM

Your brave running those on a open top tank:lol:. Certainly something I would not do. You really need to cap the ends of your reflector. And use proper heat shrinks not wire nuts near water! Again I hope you tank is on a GFI a least. Using double sockets probably would of been easier.

beetlebz 01-02-2010 11:24 PM

correct on all counts... let me address them one at a time lol

i already had the ceramic sockets :)
the wirenuts are there because its not finished. final product will have heat shrink butt splices.
open ends are because its not finished. when i get it just right ill weld caps over the ends and center section
and lastly, its bigger than the tank, so if the metal pops out it still wont fall in :) i tested it extensively before putting it on :)

oh and its on a GFI :)

final product will be much much smaller to allow a versa top to open lid

Mikaila31 01-03-2010 12:43 AM

OK, just wanted to make sure.

I've done some of these before and some suggestions I have are to use a raingutter to house the bulbs. Line it with tinfoil for reflecting. If you want to be more fancy you can make a wood house which looks nicer.

I was actually planning on making a DIY step by step thread in a couple days since I am going to be making another. I plan to cover making both a cheap and nice hood from scratch(using raingutter) and how to retrofit an Allglass hood. Both would be aimed for the lower tech planted tank(low to medium light). As well as go over how to do DIY LED moonlights, I might cover cold cathodes too, but that means I got to pull one out of my car first:-?.

beetlebz 01-03-2010 03:07 AM

holy crap. youre a genius!! rain gutter? i never would have thought of that. i have a ton of it at work too. I did consider making one of wood, but i dunno, didnt sit well with me lol

i might mock one up tomorrow just for kicks :)

MoneyMitch 01-03-2010 08:31 AM

seen this done many times on other forums great little contracption there be carefull from shock thou!

Angel079 01-03-2010 10:19 AM

With this light set up you can sure have more then only java moss in that tank now!!!
Anubias, Cryptocoryne's, Echinodorus's, Pennywort, Hygrophilia's, Vallis, Rotala's.....list goes on & on in my mind...
The only reason I could see why it may not have worked for you before: 1) Wrong lights 2) no/ not enough liquid fets. You have good lights now, balance it with some liquid ferts (or root tablets if you decide on Swords) you'd be all set :-)

beetlebz 01-03-2010 11:38 AM

so far i settled on java moss, java fern, Cryptocoryne wendtii, ambulia, and red tiger lotus, placed the order this morning. On top of that I have already red ludwigia, and water wisteria, echinodorus amazonicus, and some kinda sword i already had that was in my 29.

the idea isnt to farm them all before i get flamed lol im trying to find the line where my lighting lies. sure its a little over 3 watts per gallon, but its only a 20L so its short, im thinking i can get away with a little more.

just wait till i make my co2 system :)

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