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Discussion Starter #1
I've been scheming to upgrade my lighting and wanted some feed back. Currently I have a 48" 55 gallon tank with 260 watts provided by PCs and I'm working on building a hood to house my upgraded lighting (yet to be decided). Most likely i will sell my current PC and DIY a combo of VHOs and MH.

My question is:

If I set up two 46.5" 110 VHOs will a single 175 watt MH placed in the center provide adequate coverage for the tank on a whole or would i be better off just running two 175 MHs, spaced well, and forgetting the VHOs?

Let me know what you all think and as always cost is an issue....

Thanks
 

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dont really know much about lighting but why dont you try a combination of CP and MH, that way you wont need to waste money buying a VHO light, just an opinion though, im not even sure if you can mix these two
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well the PC unit i have is self contained and will not fit inside the hood I'm building (I could rip the unit apart for components but i think that someone else could get better use from it). So..... I guess What I'm thinking is that I can sell the PC and buy the components need for the VHOs and Metal Halide at my local electrical supply store for prices way cheaper than whats offered through my LFS or anywhere online for that matter.

But now I'm wondering if I should just do two MHs alone... So confusing..
 

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Your best bet will be 2 MH 10K-14K and some PC or T5 actinic supplement. The length of your tank dictates that 2 would be better then one. Skip the 175's as they are being phased out. Either get 150 dual ends or 250 se or de. Skip the electrical supply shop as well. The components are not quite the same. Yes it is possible to buy some of the components but most are quite unsightly and outdated. First it is recommended in this day and age to run electric ballasts instead of magnetic. Your supply house is going to recommend M52 mag ballasts as they are cheap and have been around forever. DE bulbs will not fire correctly on mag ballasts. Mags are noisy, prone to flicker, known to have color shifts each day, and cost more money to run in your electrical bill. Electronic ballasts last longer, run cooler, do not make any noise at all and are much more stable day to day. About the only thing you might save on is the Mogul socket. It's even tough to get a good reflective material as it needs to be properly bent so as to maximize the light output. It's not just as easy as gluing a mirror to the canopy and gluing the sockets to that. It will not provide good coverage or intensity. Your local supply house does not carry a wide variety of spectrum bulbs. Typically industrial supply stops at 6,500K. The reason why MH is expensive in the trade is because it is designed for the trade and therefor has less of a market. A good retro kit from Hellolights is less then $200 for everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for getting back to me with the good advice... I figured it would be best to run 2 MHs..... How many of those T5 lights do think I would need if running two 150 MHs?

On the issue of buying components from the electrical store I still think that it's waaaayyyyyy cheaper. When talking about a retro kit most online aquarium suppliers charge way too much for the exact same stuff that your local/online electrical supplier offers. The average cost is in excess of $250 (hellolights being one of the cheaper ones at $250). These kits are not hightech and you still have to wire them yourself! I priced out what it would cost to go through both and every time the electric supply shop wins every time.

Two 150 watt MHs:

2 moguls $10
2 ground cords $7
Two Foot Aluminum Highly Polished Aluminum Reflector (you can cut it in half or buy 2) $13
2 electronic ballasts, $49.99 X 2
for a grand total of $130

Hobbyist get ripped off!

I don't mean to rude or any thing but I think that people should know that there is a cheaper way to enjoy this hobby. Not everyone can throw down $300-$500 on lighting.



http://www.ballastwise.com/item.asp?PID=126&FID=17&level=1[/quote]
 

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I had a PC fixture and when I got the 2-250 MH's I gutted the PC fixture and replaced all the bulbs with actinic.
 

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I'd try for 2 bulbs each the length of the tank for actinic supplements. one in the front, one in the back and the halides between.

Do you have any info as to who the $50 ballast manufacturer is? I'm wondering if it's an ARO or Advance. Generally Icecaps are considered some of the best available. Make sure to cross referrence it to the type of bulb you plan to run. It sounds as though you plan to run American SE bulbs so it shouldn't be a problem. Make sure it's not a Sodium Vapor ballast being sold as a MH. They are sold as the same all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I thought about tearing apart my PC (4 65 watt) but even if i use two (can i do that?) of the bulbs that's 130 watts plus 300-350 watts from two MHs for a 55 gal tank. Will that be too much?

Would it be bad (what's the worst that can happen?)to run a single 250 bulb? (Still not sure how i want to set this up)

As far as the manufacture for the ballast Ballastwise was the online provider: http://www.ballastwise.com/category.asp?FID=17&level=1
 

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A single 250 will light up the tank to make it visible but about 10" out from the edge of the reflector it will begin to dim quickly. The general thought is that from about the center of the bulb you have a 20" diameter to mess with. higher wattage does not necessarily mean more spread, it means deeper water penetration. Lumenarc reflectors will spread the light even further but it's still the same wattage which means the intensity will saturate. Think if I put a cup of sand in a 40oz soda cup VS a cup of sand in a 5 gallon jug. No matter what it's only a cup of sand. That is why it is generally recommended to set up 2 150w de bulbs over a 48" tank. The spread will be much nicer. But if you are spending all that money you might as well make it 250w bulbs and ballasts as the cost is not much different. At least that way you still increase the intensity of the lighting for about the same cost.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I like the idea of useing 250 watt bulbs but I'm afraid that it would be way too much light for a 55 gallon tank but it would good if i were planning to upgrade......
 

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That's only 10wpg, the exact same wattage I run over my 75g. I have 2x 250wMH+240wPC. You and I should have the same footprint, just my tank is taller. And as mentioned, you can grow into that lighting. That would be spectacular for an SPS dominated tank. Of course you could go with less if you wanted only softies or some LPS.
 
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