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Lighting for 55 gallon
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: Meadowlakes, TX

PostPosted: 2007.04.27(Fri)21:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have used both, I am an strong advocate of T5's but I would not go back to them any time soon. All bulbs shift, all bulbs wear out, it is a fact. I had a 6x39 T5HO with Tek reflectors on my old 58, everything grew OK, not stellar but it grew. I switched it out for a single 250 watt DE and the change was amazing. Frags on the sandbed grew where under the T5's they would die. My clam grew better and faster and looked better. The difference was the PAR. I loved the T5's but they did not compare in my tank. I ran 2-12k bulbs on a workhorse 5 ballast and 2-14k on an icecap ballast both of which overdrove the bulbs and 2 actintics on a workhorse 5. The color was nice but the growth not. We currently equate a 6x39 setup with a single 250 watt halide. Sanjay on reefcentral is close to doing an actual controlled head to head test between the two. I am interested in the outcome and will watch it, but for keeping light loving corals I will keep my halides. Bulb combinations for T5's get better all the time and reflector design gets better too. My old Tek reflectors were great when I bought them but by today's standards they represent the low end of reflector technology.

It is amazing to me how inefficient the eye is at judging light. Under the T5's my tank looked brighter but the difference in growth under the halide was tremendous. My rock was in my tank over a year and macro that never emerged from my rocks under the T5's did in a very short time under the halide...that told me a lot right there. T5's are great, and I still advocate them for most situations and I have seen some awesome tanks lit by just them and I know they can work great but deep tanks still benefit from halides and T5's are closing the gap...but that gap is still there for now. The debate on the life of the bulbs is moot, it cost me 60 bucks to replace a single DE bulb every 9 months, ( though we are learning that they can go longer than that) and to replace the 6x39 watt T5's every 18 months would be about 150 buck's so the savings isn't there in bulbs. My halides simply work, they draw about the same amount of power and the corals respond better.

I am very interested in the PAR results from Sanjay. I would still advocate a pair of DE 150's for a 55 gallon tank. Cool

You cannot just replace the lamps and ballasts in a standard fixture, you need the correct reflectors and they will not fit in a standard fixture designed for T12 bulbs. Even a standard shoplight will not accomodate 4 T5 bulbs with the correct "W" shaped reflectors, they just won't fit. A cheap Tek reflector is 2-1/8" and 4 of them would be 8-1/2" wide. If you do not use the correct reflector you have nothing better than a shoplight.
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SharkyX
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003

PostPosted: 2007.04.28(Sat)7:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

sirreal63 wrote:
You cannot just replace the lamps and ballasts in a standard fixture, you need the correct reflectors and they will not fit in a standard fixture designed for T12 bulbs. Even a standard shoplight will not accomodate 4 T5 bulbs with the correct "W" shaped reflectors, they just won't fit. A cheap Tek reflector is 2-1/8" and 4 of them would be 8-1/2" wide. If you do not use the correct reflector you have nothing better than a shoplight.


Sorry I should have made myself a bit more clear when I said that. From standard T5 to HO T5 you can make the direct change as the bulbs are the same length.
If you do go from T12 or T8 lighting then your optics will be off and your fixture won't be the right size as the 4ft T5 is nominally 4ft in length... which is fancy talk for almost 4ft feet. That kind of conversion is way off and wouldn't recomend that even... it looks like junk, distributes poorly and all the other problems you mentioned.

The fixture efficiency is an interesting thing to bring up... most Metal Halide fixtures are somewhere in the 70% to 80% efficient range which makes them pretty darn good (you can get some that are better but $$) with T5 fixtures you're able to get in the 90% efficient range (these kinds of things have been available in commercial applications for some time now... I'd be surprised if they have found there way into aquarium... but again $)

Human eye is a poor judge for sure... only real way to do it is run the math or just experiment until you get one that works for you and what your keeping in your tank.

Your corals are probably responding better because of the spectral distribution of the halides vs the spectral distribution of the fluorescent.
When the metal halides are 10,000K they still contain a fair bit of the rest of the spectrum. Fluorescents on the other hand... well I'm sure you've look at the part of the spectrum they cover... it's a lot more spikey and specialized due to some contraints they have to face using the different phosphors to get that colour to begin with.
Sunlight of course still contains large parts of the spectrum all day long, just at certain times different parts shine through better.

6 39 Watt T5's gives you about 2,000 lumens more mean light output then the 250 watt.
If you have the length 3-4 4ft 54 watt lamps might work better. and would only cost you $80 to relamp(if you used 4) and by using the 4 4-footers you'd still have more light output... and 4 4-footers will use slightly less energy (not a huge amount... 20 watts give or take)
But you can do it with one ballast... and I'd try using Osram Sylvania or Advance Transformer... they make a superior ballast over workhorse so you might find you'll getting slightly better results.
I'm not a big fan of the 39 watt lamps personally... so if that's what you were using then I would have to agree that the Metal Halide is the better alternative.

Anyways as I said, I wouldn't advocate ripping out your existing MH system to anybody... but for looking at new tank setup that could be a good way to go.
Or very interestingly some kind of a hybrid using 2 t5 lamps plus one 150w MH for that noon day kick.
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: Meadowlakes, TX

PostPosted: 2007.04.28(Sat)11:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting but you cannot use 4' bulbs over a 3' 58 gallon tank. Laughing

Your experience seems to be mostly on the industrial side where halide and sodium fixtures were common and just recently have begun to be replaced by T5's which they are a much better choice for. Light moves much better through air than it does in saltwater. Those industrial fixtures use old school tar ballasts and are very inefficient. Halides lit with electronic ballasts from IceCap, ARO, Geisman, Blueline and others are much more efficient than tar ballasts and operate the lamps better. FWIW the 250 I put over my 3' 58 gallon tank was run with a true M80 HQI ballast which drives a DE bulb more than 250 watts so the light output is greater than a normal magnetic ballast would. I believe the actual output on an M80 would be equivalent to a 275 to 290 watt lamp.

I run all ARO electronic ballasts on my halides now which have a power factor of min. 90%. Industrial fixtures are not very good at comparing against what is available in the high end aquarium trade, they are simply apples and oranges different.

The lighting for aquarium has grown greatly over the past few years and will continue to grow because it is big bucks. Dropping a thousand dollars for a decent light fixture is common. Reflector technology has also come a long ways. The current king of the hill is the LuminArc style which was originally a horticulture fixture that has been adapted for the aquarium trade. Their diamond shaped reflectors are amazing and give to halides what "W" shaped reflectors give to T5's. These will be my next pendants over the 125 as they easily double the amount of light going into the aquarium over standard reflectors.

Thanks for the input, it is good to have another equipment junkie here. Time to get that tank going and if you aren't too far from the Midwest I'll send you some nice frags to get the tank populated. Cool
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SharkyX
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003

PostPosted: 2007.04.29(Sun)6:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually I'd call my experience commercial rather then industrial since I've spent very little time in warehouses and manufacturing plants. Spent much more time in pools, heritage locations, office spaces and a wide variety of other public spaces.
The electronic ballasts for MH have been around for some time commercially, they aren't new... although neither is T5... that's been aound since 1990. They are more specialised here I know, but the principles of operation remain the same.
Speaking of... it's not your power factor you should worry about for modifying light output, it's your ballast factor(unless that's what you meant?) power factor is just a real power to apparent power ratio. Ballast factor is the amount of light output measured against a reference ballast with a ballast factor of perfect 1(you should see the size of these ballasts there as big as a desk!) Maybe we start another thread if your interested and I'll explain since we've already hickjacked the heck out of this one Smile

I would think you'll only get about 20% more light from that luminarc at most... you'll just get it where you need it as opposed to it being all over or reflecting back into the bulb Smile But if you have one or access to one try setting up a light meter and just measure the light level at the surface of the water and see(since they don't really make waterproof light meters that are readily available) what you come up with.

And sorry, not close to the midwest, I'm in Ottawa Ontario, so looks like we'll just have to share pics of each others projects instead Smile

EDIT: and admittedly, I don't know the dimensions of a 58 gallon as I've never owned one Razz 10's 20's and a 55.
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