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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm about to pick up a 135 gallon acrylic tank this week. All the lighting systems I made up to now were for 2 ft and 4 ft bulbs, which are very standard. Which lighting solution would you suggest for a tank of this size? The tank has a nice oak hood and stand with plenty of room to accommodate lights. Generally I like the efficiency of T5 and T8 lights and the excellent reflectors one can get/make for them. I also like to be able to have at least 2 timers each controlling 50% of the lights. Not sure what would be best for a 72 x 18 x 24 H tank - perhaps CF lighting would be better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Will an 80W T5, like the Giesemann 6000 Midday Sun, which is only 57.6 in. long, provide enough light for the sides of the tank, when the tank is 72 in. long?
 

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No it will not. But from what we see in TexGal's 6' long tank plants are doing fine even in the corners. Look also at the pictures on page 30 of that same thread:

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/large-aquariums-ponds/47782-125g-rescape-29.html

With this size bulbs there is no easy way around the darker corners in a 6 ft. tank. But the problem seems to be less important than we all think. Plants are capable of shuffling nutrients to poorly lit areas where they have runners or stems and with good light it seems that it all works fine.

--Nikolay
 

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What about staggering the bulbs in the canopy to cover the entire length of the canopy? I know this wouldn't give a uniform coverage but atleast there would be lighting over the length of the tank this way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Niko, GREAT job with that DIY fixture - a very clean job. Did you have room to use parabolic reflectors in your hood, or did you use some flat reflective material, like mylar?

What type of material did you use to vent the top, and where did you get it? It might be in the thread, but I just skimmed it very quickly.

stuckintexas, staggering the lights is a good idea I've been thinking about as well. I don't think there will be any aesthetic problems when the tank is viewed. A lot depends on how much of a light spread the Tek II reflectors will offer. I'm thinking perhaps the best setup, and a cheaper option than going with 3 ft reflectors, would be to stagger 4 T5 80W 5 ft Tek II reflectors, 2 and 2, and have 2 on most of the day, and the other 2 come on for a 2 hour midday burst.

I've been able up to now to hide my lighting inside an existing wood canopy. The 135 g comes with an oak canopy, so I'll be able to do this again. For the 20 g I'm setting up, I'll have to build a canopy, which is pretty easy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Would you guys go with an Icecap ballast, or with a Workhorse ballast? Is a cooling fan necessary with both types of ballasts? I've read the Icecap ballasts drive the bulbs brighter and hotter, and thus require a fan. Not sure about the Workhorse ballast.

If I'm going with 4 80W lamps and Tek II reflectors, and only running 2 bulbs most of the day, with an overlap of all bulbs only during a 2 hour midday burst, perhaps I should go with the Icecaps to run the bulbs brighter.

Again I'm trying to minimize power requirements and heat generation while providing enough light to grow some nice red accent plants.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what kind of fixture comes with the 135 g tank. My guess is there is at least 1 T5 80w bulb in the fixture from the picture I've seen.
 

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I personally would not use a workhorse ballast if I could get around it. I would try and get something with program start so the bulbs last longer. Advance makes good ballasts but dont have a 110v one for a 80w T5.

Niko uses and loves those Tek II reflectors.


I think you wont need as much light as you think. 2wpg at most will be plenty. There are many nice large tanks with ~1.5wpg or so of T5HO. This high energy myth that is going on is crazy. Heck, Niko grows many "high light" plants on a 55G with a single 54wT5 and the Tek II reflector, only 1WPG.
 

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2WPG T5HO giesemann is plenty of light. its equivalent to 4WPG CF IMO. i agree with speed, go with the programmed start ballast if you can...bulb life so in the long run it will save you money. i wonder how 3 x 80W bulbs would do in that tank? maybe have the three staggered and run the middle (centered bulb) as your burst...like 4 hours a day and run the other two around 7-8 hrs a day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
SpeedEuphoria and stuckintexas, that's what I've been trying to tell people about the Tek II reflectors, even without experience with T5s. Case in point:

1) with 4 4 ft T8 32W 6700K 96 CRI Verilux bulbs over a 75 g tank, I could grow most plants quite well, and could grow some easier red plants. That's only 128 watts total.

2) when I switched to a combination of very high quality T8 plant bulbs, two 32W Phillips ADV850 and two 36W Phillips Aquarelle on the 75 g, I could grow most plants very well, and got much better quality growth and color from the plants.

3) then, as soon as I added heavy duty 2mm reflective mylar to the inside of my hood, I could grow most higher light plants quite well and cut the hours I needed the bulbs on. I would run the bulbs overlapping in the middle of the day by 4 hours, and have only one set of bulbs running the first and last 4 hours.

4) Then I made a Tek II-like reflector with some high quality 98% reflectivity aluminum sheets for T8 bulbs and I could grow just about anything, and also run only 2 bulbs on at a time. That's very little wattage, and contrary to the standard WPG guidelines.

So I'm surprised more people don't use high quality parabolic reflectors or at least use mylar as they significantly increase the light pushed down into the tank and reduce your power needs and heat generation (important in summer). And I think you need to consider both the quality of the bulb (lumens and photosynthetic efficiency), whether or not there is a high quality reflector and the depth of the tank when thinking about WPG.

My only concerns here were:

1) the 135 g is 24 in. deep, when my 75 g was only 20 in. deep., but I think the 80W Giesemann Midday bulbs + Tek II reflectors will punch down into the tank.

2) the 80W T5 bulbs were just shy of 60 in., whereas the the 135 is 72 in. long. I think staggering 3 80W bulbs with Tek II reflectors across the midline of the tank might be enough.

3) Will I need a fan/s if use a high quality programmed ballast, like an Icecap, to run the 3 80W bulbs?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Will I need a fan? Which ballast? Placement of lights

To highlight the remaining questions:

1) Do you think I will need a fan if I use a high quality programmed ballast like an Icecap to run 3 80W Giesemann Midday bulbs?

2) Which ballast/s do you recommend to run 2 80W bulbs at once and then to run a 3rd, or another to run the 3rd for Midday burst.

3) Light placement and distance from clear tank cover and bottom of tank: The 135 g tank is acrylic, and it comes with clear covers for the top openings. There's also an oak canopy. If the space inside the canopy affords me the choice (I'll know today), would you:

a) use the clear tank covers, and mount the lights and reflectors inside the top of the canopy, which means they'll be farther from the clear covers, but also means I'll have easy access to the tank? Will the acylic tank covers, because they are farther from the bulbs, reflect too much light back at the bulbs?

b) don't use the tank covers, and place an acrylic shield directly under the bulbs and reflectors

c) place the lights directly on top of the clear acrylic tank covers, which will keep the lights closest to the water and the clear tank covers, minimizing light reflection, but means they'll have to be moved every time I need to access the tank

a) would be the best option for easy access, but if I'm trying to use less lights/power, I wonder if keeping the lights further up and farther away from the clear tank covers will greatly reduce light getting to the bottom of the tank.
 

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Many people remote mount the ballast in the stand, is that not an option. T5's give off better light if they are not HOT, it has be tested and verified so if you have a canopy keeping the ballasts out would be a great idea.

Here's info:
http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=933795

Personally for that tank. 36" bulbs would be best, all the rest would be a compromise. SO if your fudging it I would go with 4x 48" bulbs and stagger them with Advance ballasts, either 2 bulb ICN-2S54 which is ~$40, or the 4 bulb ICN4S54.

I think you will be just fine running 4 54wT5's all day on this tank and it will give you 1.6wpg which will grow anything. Heck you can even use the Icecap ballast as those run the bulbs at like 80w each instead of 54w.

Here check this 1.6wpg T5 100G tank:
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/tank-journals-photo-album/41827-avalons-100g.html#post368227
 

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i cant attempt an answer at all of those questions right now but i know that you will not need a fan. get programmed start ballasts. when i suggested staggering your lights, i meant to physically stagger them so they cover the entire length of the tank, didnt mean to stagger the times they are on. i think you know what i meant but just wanted to make sure. also, those bulbs will punch down 25"+ no problem. also, dont use any covers. you want those bulbs to have nothing in the way of them and the water. you can easily make waterproof end caps but putting silicon over the wire/pin connection...also, with no tank cover on you may be able to have the bulbs further from the water so you can work on the tank easier...i wouldnt want to place the bulbs any further than 30" from the substrate and of course the closer the better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
SpeedEuphoria, I always mount my ballasts in the stand, under the tank. Definitely the smart thing to do. Are you suggesting 4 36 in. T5 bulbs + Tek II reflectors in 2 rows + Icecap ballast would be best? I like the idea of using 4 36 in. bulbs rather than 4 4 ft bulbs to reduce electrical usage and heat output in the room (don't want to increase A/C requirements in the office in summer - not as concerned about heat buildup in the tank). Again, those Tek II reflectors push A LOT of light down into the tank.

How do the Advance ballasts compare with the Icecaps? Do the Icecaps use a lot more electricity than the Advance?

Every Icecap ballast I looked up recommended using fans on the bulbs. Are you sure we'd be ok without fan/s with 4 3 ft bulbs? I'm hoping I don't have to use a saw on the nice finished oak canopy.

stuckintexas, we're on the same page. I knew what you meant. Only reason I use covers sometimes is to minimize evaporation. By using thin DIY reinforced (with frame line across middle to prevent sagging) acrylic covers (I think 1/8 inch) on my 75 g, I was able to get away with minimimal light loss. The evaporation was only an issue when traveling for longer periods.

Thanks again for all the helpful advice.
 

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Hey if you reread my post, I edited it to be more specific. I was talking about 4x 48" bulbs.

Anyway I'm interested in what kind of reflectors you had for your T8 setup on the 75G? As I'm currently running some on a 55G
 

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