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Old 06-21-2007, 04:25 PM   #41 (permalink)
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Default Re: Big Tank. Big Lights. Need Advice.

I got my MH lights from Hamilton Technology http://www.hamiltontechnology.com/index.shtml. They are great to work with and their support staff is really helpful. As long as you don't have them in an enclosed space MH lights do not create to much heat (especially if you keep them 8 inches or above the water). I would go with the 4x250 or possibly even 4x175. Less light will allow you more wiggle room in terms of algae and that is probably important since this tank will be viewed a lot and can't afford a bad day....or week. The watt per gallon rule really breaks down with a big tank and although 4x175 is only 1.75 watts per gallon you should be able to grow almost anything you want in there.
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Old 06-22-2007, 01:17 PM   #42 (permalink)
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Default Re: Big Tank. Big Lights. Need Advice.

I have been following this thread and not getting to involved because there is lots of good, accurate info already. Sometimes you can get to many cooks in the kitchen.
I have created more large aquariums than I can count. Trust me and everyone else who has said go with MH for a tank this size. 250 or 175 will be fine. For the noise problem I can think of two Ideas.
Can you have a equipment closet on one end of the tank? If yes put all eq. in there and use sound dampening foam on the walls. If no, then have one side access below the tank and use sound foam below only. Access on the side away from the recording area. The sound foam will trap Heat so don't use it above where the lights are. Put the ballast below, chasseing the cords on the end of the tank out of view. Make sure the manufacture of the lights uses a extra long cord with quick disconnects at the fixture so you can remove the lights if needed. Another good idea that I use allot is a hanging kit. You can slid the light fixture up out of the way to clean and then slide back into place when finished. One big fixture will be heavy and hard to move around, maybe think about two fixtures placed end to end. Then work on one side at a time.
I have worked with all the big names and most have the same guts just different packaging. The bottom line is price and customer service. I have been using PFO Lighting for years, they will build to my specks and are easy to work with. Most of the other guys are good. I have built a business relationship with PFO
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Old 06-22-2007, 01:44 PM   #43 (permalink)
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Default Re: Big Tank. Big Lights. Need Advice.

I think we will go ahead and plan on four fixtures. If it ends up being too much, we can always put the fourth back for a backup. I like the sound of HQI as well and think we'll just go with the 10,000k bulbs. I'd rather the aquarium be more blue than yellow.

Some shadows will add depth to the set, so I'm not too concerned about that.

Thanks for the link, oblongshrimp, I will check them out!

Some good news is today we found that we already have some really nice fan blower units. These came off of an old bus and were used to pull hot air out of the engine area. They move a lot of air and we think they will work great in the basement pulling the hot air through the duct work.

Finally, to address net's idea. We are indeed thinking of some sound proofing material on the inside of the cabinet below the tank (not around the lights). That is where the filters, plumbing, water lines, and even a sink will be installed. We were thinking about mounting the ballasts on the top of the whole structure (not sure if you saw the photo diagram). That way they would be out in the open air and clear away from any recording. Lights and the fans would be on the same switch.
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Old 06-22-2007, 02:03 PM   #44 (permalink)
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Default Re: Big Tank. Big Lights. Need Advice.

Cool. I think you're on the right track here. IMO, when it comes to equipment, the lighting setup is the primary design consideration. Once this is figured out the rest of the equipment is pretty flexible. That location seems fine for the ballasts. Just make sure that they can't get wet and that you get enough wire when you order the kits. This is where a phone call really helps. What sort of filtration and circulation system are you considering?

By far the nosiest part of my tank is the pump to circulate water through the closed-loop sytem. By itself the pump is very quiet (it's an Eheim 1260). Once I secured it to the cabinet though the whole thing became a big sounding board with an obnoxious low-pitch hum. I partially solved the issue by placing some rubber material between the cabinet floor and the pump, but I'm now kicking myself for not just placing the pump in the room behind the tank. All of the inlet & outlet plumbing goes back there anyway. Just one more thing to consider.
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Old 06-22-2007, 04:18 PM   #45 (permalink)
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Default Re: Big Tank. Big Lights. Need Advice.

Sounds good, I have installed ballast on top of canopies lots of times. The only problem is when you can see them, some clients don't like that, but I have some solutions for that too.
MH and HQI are basically the same thing. As I understand it, A HQI is the same working components as the MH. If you look at the Mh bulb, the center, where it "fires off" is the same as the HQI. The MH has a glass shield around it, and has to be screwed into a large base. This shield and base is what makes it a larger bulb. The big difference is size and with MH you get more Kelvin ratings. The HQI is double ended, which makes it smaller. All this makes the HQI more desirable with the one exception the more Kelvin choices with MH. Also for large reef tanks when you need 400W, there is not HQIs that large.
I say go for the HQI, if you can find the K rating you want. I have used the ADA bulbs with good results.
note: I am not in the light manufacturing business so I may be off on this one. That is the way it was explained to me a few years ago.
Can someone out there give a better description of the differences?
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Old 06-23-2007, 01:15 PM   #46 (permalink)
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Default Re: Big Tank. Big Lights. Need Advice.

As for other equipment, I've been giving it a lot of thought.

I'd like 5, maybe even 6 (3 on each end) Rena Filstar XP3 canister filters. I'm a filtration freak, I know. I currently have an XP3 on my personal 55 gallon and really love it.

I'm thinking each canister would be equipped with a 300 watt Hydor in line heater to keep as much equipment out of the tank as possible.

As for circulation, I really liked what you (guaiac_boy) setup in your tank and plan on doing something very similar. Main difference is I was thinking of doubling it. Have each custom spray bar go about half way across the aquarium. The spray bars would need to be in the bottom middle of the tank though since it will be viewed from both sides. I was thinking two 20lb Co2 systems with Rex Rigg regulators. Plus two UV Sterilizers. One of each piece on each side. I'd also like to run the plumbing so that the pumps can pump into a drain for quick water changes. We'll have a water line going straight to the tank for quick fill ups.

I feel after the lights, my next big dilemma is going to be substrate. I'd love to get nutrient rich substrate like eco-complete, but I really don't think it's feasible. We'd be talking over five or six hundred dollars for substrate. When I can get great looking, larger grain pool filter sand for $12 per one hundred pounds. I'm wide open to ideas and suggestions in this area!

Thanks!
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Old 06-24-2007, 11:04 AM   #47 (permalink)
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Default Re: Big Tank. Big Lights. Need Advice.

If your tank is acrylic it would be relatively simple to cut some holes near the bottom to permit a partially burried spraybar to be 100% invisible. You could route it through a bulkhead. I really don't like how mine has a vertical 3/4" pipe up the center of the back wall.

As for the hydors - you could certainly get away with 2 or 3 of them. A tank that large won't be very susceptible to temp shifts. About the plumbing - absolutely do it so that WC's are as simple as possible.

When it comes to substrate you have plenty of options. Something inert would work ok but it might require a little closer attention to water column fertilizing. Soilmaster Select would be a very attractive option since it has nice characteristics for a planted tank and is VERY inexpensive. The only drawback with it is its lightweight nature. You could always cap it with something more dense.
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Old 06-25-2007, 05:58 PM   #48 (permalink)
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Default Re: Big Tank. Big Lights. Need Advice.

After doing some research on the SoilMaster Select you mentioned, I think it looks promising. I ordered three bags of it from my local Lesco to try out in the smaller tanks I'll be setting up soon to learn how to maintain planted tanks before the big one is set up.

I've read that it can drop PH and KH though. I hope that doesn't cause any problems. After sitting out 24 hours, my tap water has a PH of about 7.8, but it's KH is only about 4 and a half or so.

Thanks!
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Old 06-25-2007, 07:25 PM   #49 (permalink)
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Default Re: Big Tank. Big Lights. Need Advice.

Have fun playing with it. Be warned that it can be very dusty at first. There are two ways to deal with this. You can either place it in the tank as-is or do an extensive pre-wash. IMO either way is acceptable. Some part of me believes that the small dust-sized particles are important to nutrient exchange in the root zone. Another part of me thinks it probably doesn't matter that much.

If you decide to use it as-is, fill the tank VERY carefully. If you do it without too much disturbence it won't be bad. The water will be a little dusty at first but should clear up within 12 hours or so. If you aren't careful you'll have genuine mud soup. In that case I'd recommend you siphon out the mud/water and try again, very slowly. Even if you pre-wash it I'd still be careful when filling the tank.

About the effects on the water - most people would find a slight softening effect to be a benefit. Most plants do slightly better at lower KH & pH values and you'll certainly like it if you decide to keep discus or South American tetras. I've been using SMS in one 46g tank and have gradually learned to like it. It's lightweight nature improves a bit over time and it's pretty easy to plant in. It's no good for fine plants like HC, but then again very few substrates are. After a few months it doesn't cloud up when disturbed. The softening effect you refer to gradually fades with time too. My tapwater is GH 12, KH 7 and the tank usually ends up somewhere around KH 4 or 5 - not a big shift.

One possibility is to top it with something like Eco Complete (CaribSea) or Amazonia (ADA). Both of these products have similar coloration and larger particle sizes which would tend to work their way to the top over time. I don't usually care for a mixed or layered substrate (why bother?) but it's an option that might provide some benefits when on a budget.
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Old 06-29-2007, 09:52 AM   #50 (permalink)
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Default Re: Big Tank. Big Lights. Need Advice.

I laughed when I read gauic_boy's first post because that is exactly what I was thinking - three 250w MH fixtures. I would also supplement them with at least 1 wpg of T-5 fixtures (depending on what you want to grow). I use two 250w MH over my 125G (only 20" deep). I run the MH for six hours in the middle of the photoperiod and run ~160w of T-5 for the full 12 hours (MH's kicking on for the middle six hours). If you plan on having a high light tank with MH I highly recommend this course. CO2 is, of course, a necessity with this much light.

Go with 10000K MH lamps and whatever type of T-5s that you think look good. The MH during mid-day is what really counts for the plants.

And if you have any pics I would love to see them. Good luck man
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