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Discussion Starter #1
I've been thinking about what to use to light my new 215G.

It's almost 30" tall and since I MAY keep it open top, I've pretty
much eliminated CF lighting.

Two options I've got...

3 x 250W MH with 10K bulbs, magnetic ballast and reflector retro kit - $325
Pros: Good price. Plenty of light.
Cons: Magnetic ballast. Retro kit. Will need to spend another $120 if
I go with quality bulbs.


3 x 150W HQI Coralife pendants - $600
Pros: Finished product. Electronic ballasts and HQI make this more efficient than above option. Manufacturers warranty. Lighting levels can
be adjusted easily for each bulbs by adjusting height of pendant.
Cons: Expensive. Don't know if light is enough for the depth of the tank.


Your opinion?
 

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IMHO 150W HQI is sufficient to light a 30" deep tank with the proper reflectors. that said:

Option 1 With quality bulbs will run 445 + the expense of an enclosure. Long term the mag ballasts are more expensive to run and produce greater amounts of heat then electronic.

Option 2 Upfront will cost 155 more but offer a more finished look out of the box. Also in the long run should be less expensive to run. However the cost difference between running opt 1 or opt 2 will take a long to realize.

Being as my DIY skills in building an enclosure are lacking for an item for show, I would go with opt2 myself, given those 2 options.
 

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Also don't the electronic ballasts drive bulbs, especially higher kelvin bulbs, better than magnetics? I've read "somewhere" that higher kelvin rating bulbs (13000k+) require an electronic ballast, but don't remember why. Maybe someone could elaborate. Anyway this would be beneficial for you Ghazanfar since you'd be running 10000k bulbs.
 

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Ghazanfar,

I thought you intended to make this 215 tank a low maintenance one. With the 2 kinds of lights that you are considering you will probably have enough light to grow anything you want, but what about the maintenance? :D

Anyway, to me more light makes a tank look much better. I think that this store has the lowest prices for lights. If you don't leave the tank open VHO is the cheapest and best choice but VHO is considered obsolete so...

Another good link - AtoTLamps

--Nikolay[
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah Im considering dropping the amount of light. Something I
failed to mention - the lights will be about 2 feet from the top of the
tank, so that will cut down the light going in somewhat.
 

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david lim said:
Also don't the electronic ballasts drive bulbs, especially higher kelvin bulbs, better than magnetics? I've read "somewhere" that higher kelvin rating bulbs (13000k+) require an electronic ballast, but don't remember why. Maybe someone could elaborate. Anyway this would be beneficial for you Ghazanfar since you'd be running 10000k bulbs.
I've never heard of this. People have been running 20000K bulbs on magnet ballasts without any problem. Electronics will run all bulbs in most cases where as magnetic ballasts are usually limited in the type of bulb they can run but not because of their color temperature. Here's a great explaination of the differences:

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=201570

And another link showing performance of some of the popular reef bulbs on various ballasts:

http://www.cnidarianreef.com/lamps.cfm

Hope that helps
Giancarlo Podio
 

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acha.. thank you gpodio. Electronic ballasts can drive just about every type of bulb at that wattage, ie an 150w electronic ballast can drive de, se, etc. But a magnetic ballast is more limited. I believe I was thinking about how manufacturers wanted to "optimize" old electronic ballasts to specific Kelvin ratings (?).
 

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david lim said:
acha.. thank you gpodio. Electronic ballasts can drive just about every type of bulb at that wattage, ie an 150w electronic ballast can drive de, se, etc. But a magnetic ballast is more limited. I believe I was thinking about how manufacturers wanted to "optimize" old electronic ballasts to specific Kelvin ratings (?).
Yep electronics are the way to go if you are not sure what kind of bulb you'll be using or want the freedom to change. My ballast will run any bulb including HQI for example. There is some truth to the high kelvin issue however but it's more so between probe and pulse start ballasts as many of the higher kelvin bulbs coming from Europe require a pulse start to ignite properly. I guess that's where you probably heard that. But a pulse start may have issues with probe start bulbs so hard to say which is better of the two. Electronic sure is more flexible and a piece of mind IMO.

Giancarlo Podio
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ok - I've researched the lighting options for a few hours yesterday.
Decided I'm probably going to go with a 2x250 MH w/ electronic ballast.
Raul - thanks for the hellolights link - that's a pretty good price.
But I'm wondering if I'll get good light distribution with it. It's a 6 foot
tank and I'll probably mount the bulbs about 12"-14" above the tank.

Also, any reccomendations on the bulb?
 

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Here's some bulb info, I think the Ushio bulbs are probably the easiest to buy and we know how popular they are in reef tanks. Spectrum seem good, CRI90...

http://www.purelandsupply.com/Ushio_Aqualite_lamp.pdf

They are 10K but don't look very blue at all:


The Osram Powerstar bulbs are popular in Europe for planted tanks:

http://www.osram.se/Bilder/PDF/Allmänbelysning/powerstar hqi t-ts.pdf

However I believe these are single ended HQI bulbs meaning that they are probably not UV shielded regardless of being a mogul socket. They should probably go behind a UV shield, not too hard to get from a glass or frame shop.

This place has many bulbs to look at including many 4000K with good CRI, they also carry the Powerstar bulbs:

http://www.atlantalightbulbs.com/browse.html
http://www.atlantalightbulbs.com/ecart/pg/1378.html

Or these perhaps:

http://www.electriciansupplies.com/pdf/HID031.pdf

Hope that helps
Giancarlo Podio
 

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Yeah, the color of the Ushio is not my favorite for a reef tank, as many others have noted it seems a little yellow. But for a planted tank we're more used to those tones. I have the Hamilton 14K occross the room from my planted tank and in comparison the planted tank looks very yellow/greenish. I wouldn't be surprised if you could get a couple of different types of used bulbs to try out from the reef folks at reefcentral. Just make an offer and pay for shipping, I'm sure some of the old timers have several used bulbs in their junk boxes...

You also see used bulbs appear on ebay from time to time, might be worth looking there too.

If you like I can take a photo of how my tank looks with the 14K bulb over it... fried fish for dinner ;-)

Giancarlo Podio

PS. go with the electronic ballasts for sure, this will give you the best flexibility.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Nope - freshwater planted - wouldn't do it any other way.
In the pictures above - take a look at the white sand - I'm basing
my color preference off how true the white color looks.
Theres a good chance that the digital camera used to take those
pics adjusted the color and how it would look in person could be
different. But a lot of reefers have complained about the yellowness
of 10K bulbs - an issue with them, but it'll be just fine for a planted tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Ok - I've decided!

2 x 250W MH retro kits from Hellolights
I just hope I get good light distribution...

Now - I need to figure out what bulbs I need.
 
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