View Full Version : lighting question

01-17-2006, 03:35 PM
I want to start putting SPS in my tank now that I have eveything under control and looking good for more than a year. My question is about what kind of light to use in the tank (55 gal). On RC someone told me that T5's would be enough but the popular choice seems to be MH. Will 4x130 VHO be enough? I am just looking at things that may be cheaper than MH. And with me being a college student I don't think I will upgrade tanks anytime soon unless it is a 75 gal. Any information or opinions would be appreciated as my post on RC only got one reply, the one on T5's.

01-18-2006, 10:41 AM
For a 55 gallon you can get 175 watt retro MH kits for $150 each. You would need two systems for a 55 gallon tank. You can also get 250 watt retro's for $160 on the net and would need 2 of these. The 250 watt systems would give you enough light for most 4 foot tanks. Check out Ocean Encounters for their systems. I have one and they get very good reviews. The ballast has some of the best PAR numbers on Sanjay's website.

01-18-2006, 12:36 PM
I would go with 1 or 2 175w MH 14k's, that way you get a bluer look with out having to add any VHO, PC or T5's for actinics to keep your costs down.

As for the T5's, you can run them only and the sps will do fine and you will have a slimmer hood design since they can be closer to the water than MH's. I have seen some really nice SPS tanks that are running T5's. But if cost is an issue I would go with the MH's since you can get the equipment used off RC for alot less. I bought my dual 175 set-up off RC for $125 shipped.

01-18-2006, 01:02 PM
Thanks a lot for the ideas, just a question about the retros. Are they difficult to put in a hood or is it fairly easy? and do they come with the reflector and everything I would need? I am kind of clueless when it comes to lights.

01-18-2006, 01:30 PM
I all depends on the retro kit. Most come with everything you need like the ballast, socket and reflector.

Here is a link to the 175w retro from Hello Lights

It comes with ballast, socket, reflector and wires all you need to add is a bulb.

As for installation... they are pretty easy to install. You can just mount it right to the top of the hood (I did use a couple of pieces of scrap plywood cut down too 1"X10" as a spacer between the hood and the reflector for heat)

01-18-2006, 01:37 PM
I have a 55, and am running 2 175w 10k XM's, along with 2 65w actinic PC's. While I could go with the two halides alone if I bumped it up to around 14k, I personally prefer the actinics on before and after the halides are on. Also it is argued that the increased actinic light is why my coralline grows so well in my tank.

As far as retrofits go, it depends on what your canopy looks like. Mine had to have some surgery done to it (made taller) to accomidate the heat. Looking back now I would rather have built another canopy instead of modifying this one, for many reasons.

01-18-2006, 01:38 PM
bman2221 Wassup!!!!!!!!!!!!

in regards to your question MH, VHO, T5's.

I dont have any experience with T5's but lots with MH and VHO.
If your willing to go the used route, you can get a halide setup for next to nothing.

for an Icecap 660 + endcaps + 4 bulbs its going to run roughly ~$350
if you bought it all brand new.

a dual halide setup might cost ~$350-$500.

so IMO, save the extra few bucks and go halide. VHO's are great, but I dont think they are adequate for sps. I currently have an all softy tank lit by only VHO's and they grow like mad crazyness. but I had 1 monti cap, pagoda cup and I could NEVER see any amount of growth. I dont know the exact reason (IE: water quality, etc....) but I also have a 40 breeder plumbed into the same system with a 150 DE pendant and i get mad crazy growth on all my sps and clams.

If you willing to go the used route, you can find a setup for very cheap. also, halides have a completely different appearance then VHO's. halides are MUCH brighter and give the "shimmering" effect.

in technical terms, halides, offer much better PAR, Lumens, etc...that corals need to grow efficiently.

If you can swing it, my ideal combo is 10k DE halides, with VHO actinic supplementation. best color, and groth, IMO.


01-18-2006, 01:46 PM
Yes heat will be an issue and you will also need to look into adding in some fans to get the air moving in and out of the hood so the tank does not over heat.

01-18-2006, 01:53 PM
I just have the entire back of my canopy open...but to each his own. :D

Jeremy E
01-18-2006, 01:57 PM
Tony's setup is what you would want for a 55gallon tank and trust me it works. He has a nice tank. I would do two of the 10000k's xm on 175 watt ballasts with the 2 65 watt power compact actincs to. Or you could do Vho's say 4 4footer off a IC660 and that would give you the blue on your tank. Be alot in the canopy though. But that would kick butt. Also your growth would still be there with the Halides. That would be awesome so long as you could keep the temp down. You could with some fans. Pm tony and check his out. It would give you some good ideas.

01-18-2006, 01:59 PM
I was actually planning on going with 4x65w actinics, but have been to lazy to put a back on the canopy and add fans. But the ballast is for 4 65w bulbs, only reason I was going to do it.

Bryan Thompson
01-18-2006, 02:21 PM
I like the VHO and MH combo look. Bevis does have a nice set of MH for sale. You can get a used IceCap 660 pretty easy to add some actinic VHO. With that combo you can keep anything in a 75 gal tank.


01-18-2006, 02:46 PM
Ok so is 2x250 MH too much light for a tank that is 18" deep? and if it isn't how high would I have to put it off the water? I have found a few that I am looking at. Thanks for everyones help on this.

01-18-2006, 02:49 PM
A lot of people would argue that there is no such thing as too much light. Your main concern would be to keep the lights high enough above the water.

01-18-2006, 03:04 PM
Check out this system from Ocean Encounter

http://oceanencounter.com/Merchant2/mer ... Code=EVMHR (http://oceanencounter.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=OE&Product_Code=E2R&Category_Code=EVMHR)

This has an electronic ballast and comes with the EVC bulb. You can check the PAR for any combination of ballast and bulbs on Sanjay's site http://www.reeflightinginfo.arvixe.com/

When I installed my retro I just took some 1/2 OSB and made an enclosure. I also put a computer fan in one end to help with the heat.

PM me if you have any questions about the EVC hook up.

01-18-2006, 03:30 PM
A lot of people would argue that there is no such thing as too much light. Your main concern would be to keep the lights high enough above the water.

yup. you can never have too much light ( i did a test) i have a 400 DE over a 14" tall tank. The main concern is heat you just have to keep the light high enough off the tank. for ahlides, it should be a min. of 10" anyway, I prefer 12"


01-18-2006, 03:36 PM
Well if you want to go with MH and actinic's do like I did. dual 175s and dual 110w vho actinics. I got a VHO kit from Hellolights for $67! just add bulbs! Plus you can get 46.5" VHOs that will fit in a 48" hood. I love my lighting and I get great color and growth on the SPS.

01-18-2006, 06:06 PM
I think I am going to go with the 175 mh and either pc or VHO's with it. I just don't know if I am going to go with retro fit or not. I am already getting the cold shoulder from the old lady for spending as much money as I have, if I make a mess in our apartment putting in a retro kit I will never hear the end of it. Again thanks everyone for all the help, I really appreciate it.

01-18-2006, 08:16 PM
I'll second the Ocean Encounter evc setup, I have one, also had the Aor, I love this ballast better, it's not just a raw ballast, it has a great heat sink, the thing runs so cool its really not even warm. The aor ran hot. The evc bulb however I wouldn't want.

01-18-2006, 11:34 PM
Well as nice as that seems Bevis I decided to go with the 175 MH with 96 watt pc's. I ended up getting a fairly good price that was less than I expected to pay.

I want to thank everyone again for your help I was clueless as to what kind of lights to buy. All your opinions really helped.

01-19-2006, 10:14 PM
if it were me i would do the 250's too because you can always use it if you were ever going to get a bigger tank. for some softies if you were planning any in this tank i would do some light shields to build up a tolerance to the light. i have 250's and i keep them about 6 inches off of the water. any lower and i dont thing that the light spreads out enough to give a good look..but you might have heat problems that close so you could raise them to a foot if you wanted and then it shouldnt be that big of a problem