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I am looking into starting a 55 gallon tank this weekend and was wondering about lighting. What are differences between the kinds of lighting and what would you suggest for a 55 gallon tropical aquarium?
 

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I suggest you seriously look into T5HO bulb. Specifially Giesemann Midday 6000K T5HO.

One of these bulbs (54 Watts) will be enough for a 55. I grow downoi in such a setup so the light is enough. But make sure the bulb has an individual reflector.

Look at http://www.reefgeek.com. A 55 watt bulb + a reflector for it + a ballast will be about $80.

Any other lights that you may consider will be inferior. If you can't make your own fixture you will end up overpaying for a light that is not very good, will use more electricity but will still grow plants.

--Nikolay
 

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I assume this is to be a heavily planted, high light tank? If so then Niko has the best advice, in my opinion.
 

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Look at http://www.reefgeek.com. A 55 watt bulb + a reflector for it + a ballast will be about $80.

Any other lights that you may consider will be inferior. If you can't make your own fixture you will end up overpaying for a light that is not very good, will use more electricity but will still grow plants.

--Nikolay
Compare that price to a 130 Watt (2 x 65) 'Current Satellite' PC fixture + bulbs for $120 (unless the price went up). That's the set-up I have.

You get more light, but it's inferior and less efficient (so about the same effective light or less as what Niko is getting with just 1 55 Watt t-5). In summary, the PC costs more upfront and uses more electricity to get the same/less usable light for your tank. Get the kit and save yourself some $$.

-Dave
 

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agreed. i took niko's advice on this and couldn't be happier. all it takes is some cutting of wires, a little aquarium sealant (waterproof end caps), and whatever choice you want to use for your housing. i went with corner roof flashing which is a thin sheet of soft metal bent at a 90 degree angle. it was dirt cheap. you just cut and bend it around to make a rectangular fixture. there are many things you can do to make your own housing.
 

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I currently have 220W (4x55) over my 55 gallon and the back two bulbs won't turn on which leads me to believe my ballast died. I switched the bulbs that wouldn't turn on to the front ballast and they worked so the bulbs are fine. In terms of converting the single 54W T5HO light into the wpg, how much would it be? Would two 54W T5HO be overkill then? How are these lights?
 

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Lildark,

Two 54 watt T5HO will not be an overkill, but you better be good with your maintenance. It would be best if you could switch on/off the 2 bulbs independently of each other. You will have an awesome fixture for a 55 gal. tank. But keep in mind that what I'm talking about is the Giesemann Midday bulbs. They are like nothing else on the market (except a bulb which name I don't remember bieng marketed under some other name, but actually a Giesemann Midday).

The fixture that is $66 has a very nice looking housing. You maybe able to use the ballast too. The bulbs are cramped together making them essentially a stupid old Power Compact. Also there are no individual reflectors. And at last - the end caps are not waterproof, but that doesn't mean too much usually.

I'd get this $66 Chinese piece of wonder, remove the stupid bulbs, and put 2 Giesemann Midday bulbs. At least one German reflector maybe able to fit in there too. Unless you add the working ballast that you already have both bulbs will be on/off together. One bulb with its own reflector and the other bulb without an individual reflector may be the best combination of a cheap (but very nice looking housing) and the best quaility planted tank bulbs you can buy.

--Nikolay
 

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Are there any 48" 2x54W T5HO fixtures out there right now with each bulb having its own relfector that I can just purchase and replace with the Giesemann bulbs? Most fixtures out there currently have all the bulbs under one reflector and that, as you said, would make them similar to PCs.
 
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