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MH vs. VHO lighting for newbie w/reef!

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davidborning

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Joined
Nov 24, 2003
Messages
12
Location
Seattle
I DON'T KNOW WHAT LIGHTING TO GET FOR MY NEW "REEF" TANK (only live rick and shrimp and fish right now).

Someone help... please! Here are my options (as you all know) and pros and cons.

STATS: It's only 50 gallons, 36" by 18.5" by 15". There's a 6" by 6" sump intake in the back corner... Hood and stand. Right now I have only two fluorescent lights... one white, one itinic blue.

<b>Metal H. </b> - I love the look of it... it sparkles! I have a stand and hood but I'd have to build a new hood about 7" taller to make room for the light. SO... my girlfriend also hates fans since they are so noisy (any quiet fans out there??) and I'm afraid putting MH into a hood would make the tank too hot. Our place stays as a realtively constant temperature between 68 and 72 degrees F (we live in a basemant). Would MH overheat? I also have a plastic cover as part of the top of the tank that opens to feed fish, etc. Would the light melt the plastic? Would most of the inportant light be lost through the plastic?! I found a retrofit medal halide kit for $175 which is cheaper than three or four VHOs... BUT...

<b> VHO</b> I was originally planning to have a four bulb VHO retro-fit kit along with my fluorescents... it would cost more but I wouldn't be worried about heat (!)... but the light wouldn't be halide :(

I guess the other option would be Power Compact lights.

<b><i>MY QUESTIONS</i></b>: Will I be able to keep a metal halide without my tank overheating? If no, is there a way I can cool it off without being incerdibly noisy? I really want a MH because I want the look of MH light... <i>I want to keep mostly soft corals and SPS... but perhaps move into stony corals and clams later on.</i>

Any advice?!?!

;)
 

Solov

Ez reefer
Joined
Nov 11, 2003
Messages
115
Location
Bothell, WA
I'm not much of an expert, but I know that if you want stony corals you need MH. They known to "like" that type of lighting.

As for not being able to get enough PC for your tank... Well, if 2x96W sounds not enough, than you can search for some retro-fit with four, which will make up for 384W total with 4 lamps, I don't know where did you get 20.

I don't know about VHO. Seems like an older version of PC to me.
 

mojoreef

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Jul 5, 2003
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Sumner
David if you eventually want sps and such its probibly best to start with MH, that way you dont have to upgrade down the road. If you have a sump you go have a fan blowing on it when the lights come on, this will cool it a bit. Good air flow in the canopy also helps, but sometimes a chiller is the only way to go. On the plastic yes it wouuld melt. if its the cover of the tank most folks just remove it.



good luck

Mike
 

davidborning

Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2003
Messages
12
Location
Seattle
The flip-open cover is acrylic, not plastic, just like the rest of the tank and the hinge is glued on really well because it used to be an octipus tank. Any ideas on how to remove the top without having to remove everything in the tank and sawing? The flip open lid only covers a 24" by 7" area on top... the rest is just a clear cover that helps hold the tank together. Would it just melt under the light or all the acrylic?

mojoreef said:
David if you eventually want sps and such its probibly best to start with MH, that way you dont have to upgrade down the road. If you have a sump you go have a fan blowing on it when the lights come on, this will cool it a bit. Good air flow in the canopy also helps, but sometimes a chiller is the only way to go. On the plastic yes it wouuld melt. if its the cover of the tank most folks just remove it.



good luck

Mike
 

davidborning

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Joined
Nov 24, 2003
Messages
12
Location
Seattle
The twenty PC was a mistype because my girlfriend was typing for me :oops: Thanks.

Solov said:
I'm not much of an expert, but I know that if you want stony corals you need MH. They known to "like" that type of lighting.

As for not being able to get enough PC for your tank... Well, if 2x96W sounds not enough, than you can search for some retro-fit with four, which will make up for 384W total with 4 lamps, I don't know where did you get 20.

I don't know about VHO. Seems like an older version of PC to me.
 

davidborning

Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2003
Messages
12
Location
Seattle
More of my tank.

Some pictures for everyone...
<center>
<i>The tank w/o the itinic blue light :)</i>

<i>The entirety of the tank right now... note the hood.</i>

<i>The acrylic attached top and cover that opens.</i>

</i>Our shrimp.</i></center>>Anyhoo. I only have 26 pounds of live rock right now but I'll be getting another 10 and then 15 after Christmas... :!:
 

Solov

Ez reefer
Joined
Nov 11, 2003
Messages
115
Location
Bothell, WA
I did a bit of research on 48" VHO and it looks like it's easier to find good fixture with 4x110W VHO then 4x96W PC. And 440W should give enough light for most of the stuff even without MH. If you really have some extra money though, you can even go with 6 VHO :), I've seen this thing today. 660W sounds pretty darn bright :D
 

Katchupoy

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Jul 9, 2003
Messages
2,188
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Kent 98031
.

I like the color rendition of VHO's than MH... I think I am going VHO...

But I don't know about the cost...
 

Macbeth417

Reef Monkey
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Oct 18, 2003
Messages
563
Location
Seattle, WA
"What light do you use (not necessarily which you prefer)?"

two 250watt DE/HQI MH Pendants
two 110watt VHO: URI Super Acentic R
 

RobD

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Aug 31, 2003
Messages
13
Solov said:
I did a bit of research on 48" VHO and it looks like it's easier to find good fixture with 4x110W VHO then 4x96W PC. And 440W should give enough light for most of the stuff even without MH. If you really have some extra money though, you can even go with 6 VHO :), I've seen this thing today. 660W sounds pretty darn bright :D
He mentions that the tank is 36" long, so the VHO tubes would be 95w each. Also, the length of the tube itself is 36" so with the end caps on top of that you might need to route out a little space inside the hood to get them to fit. If you got 4 bulbs you could power it with an Ice Cap 660, but I don't think you could put 6 bulbs on it, so you'd need two ballasts.

96W PC bulbs measure out at 34" for the bulb, so you'd have enough room for the end caps.

Also, if you started with 2x96W PC, you'd be at a good crossroads. you could add 2 more 96W PC or add metal halide depending on where you wanted to go with your tank. If you bought one 10k PC bulb and 1 Actinic, you'd only need to replace the 10k bulb if you went to MH.

Also, t5 is the "new" thing for lighting. They have a tank set up with it out at Blue Sierra, you could go take a look at how you think it compares to Metal Halide, since their other main tank in the middle is on that. It's yet another permutation for you to consider.

That's a nicely purportioned tank. It looks much better than a 55 to me.
 

davidborning

Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2003
Messages
12
Location
Seattle
Just a bit of an update...

We added 23 pounds of live rock to our tank and looks a bit more grandiose :) <center>
<i> YAY.</i></center>


<b>We met this couple this evening who work out out of their home... they are the best dealers I have ever personally encountered and you can buy live rock for $4.50 a pound! Now, as a Seattlite I will always be adament about supporting small businness and so I encourage you to help them out and buy!

Shelly and Phil were so helpful. David and I spent 2.5 hours just laughing and talking in their basement. They answered all our questions, no matter how bizzare :), and they shared their many gorgeous tanks with us. They cure the LR themselves, they will trade corals, buy corals and other supplies for you... they're basically just amazing and helpful and real and fun people :) I can't stress how much you need to call them if you need something.</b>

I'm posting this in a new post as well so everyone can share the love :idea: ;) <center><b>Phil and Shelly in Seattle run Coral Beauty (206) 783 - 6988</b></center>
 

scat

Active member
Joined
Oct 19, 2003
Messages
25
T5 fluorescents?

I don't know if this would be a complete solution, but I got two 10K and one Actinic 47" 32watt T5 fluorescent bulbs and complete hardware for about $100 from The Fish Store.
 

Solov

Ez reefer
Joined
Nov 11, 2003
Messages
115
Location
Bothell, WA
RobD said:
He mentions that the tank is 36" long, so the VHO tubes would be 95w each. Also, the length of the tube itself is 36" so with the end caps on top of that you might need to route out a little space inside the hood to get them to fit. If you got 4 bulbs you could power it with an Ice Cap 660, but I don't think you could put 6 bulbs on it, so you'd need two ballasts.
Yeah, my bad :oops: I was looking for lights for 55 Gal, and forgot that here we have 50 Gal with 36".

Anyways, another possibility is to check DYI kits for PCs. Since there's hood already, it should not be too hard to place reflector and a couple of ballasts there for 4 or 6 96W PCs. They will also need a bit of ventilation too though. Won't _melt_ anything like MH, I think, just for longer life, safety and stuff.
 

davidborning

Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2003
Messages
12
Location
Seattle
Thanks, everyone.

Thanks you everyone for your info on the lights! We really want to have MH so I think we're going to try and make that work, although if we can't we'll get PCs (since VHOs seem to be going extinct in the near future :)).
 

Doug1

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Joined
Aug 1, 2003
Messages
249
Location
Southern Oregon
Re: VHO

OnTheReef said:
VHO is largely being supplanted by T5. According to a few LFS, they are phasing out their VHO equipment.
I doubt VHO will disappear overnight. Not to mention th fact that an Icecap ballast and most of the "Clones" will drive a wide variety of lamp types fitted with the proper end caps.
FWIW even with VHO or PC bulbs you will have more heat than normal flourescent tubes so you still need to factor in ventilation for heat control
 

Katchupoy

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Jul 9, 2003
Messages
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Location
Kent 98031
I love when technology are being replace by a newer technology, like vho's being replaced by T5's..... its like computers they keep on changing it....

Bottomline, prices of VHO's will go down because of supply and demand, and thats why I love them... It will be more affordable for us reefers...
 

Imaexpat2

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Joined
Oct 16, 2003
Messages
14
I am a big fan of VHO's. I dont think, in my opinion, that PC's even compete with them. I remember too that VHO's where going to make VHO's obsolete too. So while the new T-5's may be the latest and greatest I am not sure I want to throw out my VHO's yet.

I have one tank set up with MH/VHO combo and one set up with VHO only, and here is my opinion on them....

MH's are the ultimate, that I wont dispute. The intense heat they put out is a major bummer. Chillers are enough to break your back as if springing for a new MH system didnt set you back enough. They use a considerable amount of electricity too despite having electronic ballast. The colors on my Acro's are a bit better, I will admit. The light renditon is great from the MH's too.

VHO's are in my opinion thus far the best of both worlds. I dont at all feel handicapped using straight VHO. My Acro's grew great under them, and colored up pretty nice under them too. In fact I am still using this tank to grow out frags to sell to my LFS. I even have several Maxima clams growing under straight VHO. I do have a tad bit less color from my Acro's under VHO but very little. G.A.R.F. uses lots of VHO lights on their tanks and they look awesome. IceCap has several tanks in thier gallery's that make me wonder if maybe my money might have been better spent as opposed to adding MH's to my 135. VHO's use less electricity and while they do produce a little more heat than NO bulbs its nothing compared to MH's and can easily be negated with decent ventilation in your canopy.

PC's...I havent used them. I dont really care too much for the color rendition they produce. I dont think the coral growth in a couple of my buddies tanks are nearly as good as in my VHO lighted tank. PC 's are really compact though, if I had a 10 0r 20 gallon nano reef I would give them some consideration. With the new T-5's out...I would probably jump on the "technology bandwagon" and check them out.

T-5's....havent tried these yet but I am interested in checking them out. Bulb cost seems to be pretty stiff though. I think they would probably be great for a nano reef, you can get a lot of these under the hood VS VHO's. I am still waiting to find out more about them before I jump ship.

Hopefully I didnt ruffle anyones feathers and catch a lot of flak over my opinion. There are a lotta ways to have a great reef tank, but there arent many ways to have a bad one. Lighting is just one small piece of a puzzle you have to fit together with several other things to have a nice tank. Personally I will run VHO with or without MH's till something clearly better comes along. JMHO on this subject.
 
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