Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

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Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by GoodToGo on Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:36 am

Hi all--

I have a 46 gallon bow front, my setup is about 6 months old. Mixed reef, a few fish, and a blend of softies, LPS, and a couple of assorted montis. All parameters are good, nitrates zero, very little for green algae, all in all it is in very good shape. Everything (pretty much) I bought used.

I have had very little growth from any of the corals. Mushrooms, xenia, kenya, toadstool, leathers, candy canes, spongodes, zoa's, all are doing okay, but haven't really changed in the last 4 months or so.

My current lighting is a 24" coralife with 4 T5 bulbs. Bulbs are 8 - 12 months old. The tank is 36" wide and 18" deep. My rock comes about 1/3 of the way up the tank. 96 watts/46 gallons = a little over 2 watts per gallon. I know this is low and older bulbs don't help. Here are my thoughts:

1. The easiest is to move to a 36" wide coralife which is 156 watts/46 gallons = 3.4 watts per gallon, which is better. I like my current fixture with moonlights and I have the separate lights on timers.

2. I have looked at LEDs. I can not afford the "nice"ones (my budget is probably $250). I see cheaper ones but they don't have moonlights and are of dubious quality. Plus I have no idea how big I would need and how many LEDs etc. The more I read the less clear it is.

3. I can replace my current bulbs. But at $80 per set, I'm not too cool with this as an annual expense. Makes LED's look like a better option. I'm not going to do it just to see if it makes a difference due to cost.

4. I am going to build up the rock a bit to get closer to the light. I still need to be able to use the whole tank however.

Thoughts? Anyone have the cheaper LED's and had good or bad experiences? Am I expecting too much for coral growth? Thanks.

Paul

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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by blennieluvr on Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:17 pm

They had a good lighting discussion over on the RRVR forum a couple of weeks ago. Check it out. From what I'm hearing, cheap LED's are not what you want. They tend to lighten the colors of your corals. I've not had experience with them so I can't help you much beyond that. The one that Jim bought and was used at the frag swap for our frag tank was under $250. Maybe he'll chime in here and tell us where he got it (He told me but I can't remember.) and if it might be a good option. The bummer thing is, good lighting and cheap don't usually go together.

http://www.redrivervalleyreefers.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1349
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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by cdness on Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:15 am

Are you coming up to the Frag Swap on the 12th? Reefkoi will be there with his Evolution line of lights. I use one of them and I really like it.
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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by seaponygirl on Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:46 am

I have used LED exclusively on my 20 gallon and my 45. They have all been from Marineland. They worked great until they fell into the tank. But my mushrooms and Zoa's grew great under them. I also have used one of the socket type LED bulbs. It had white, blue and red lights. I did not care for that combo. My mushrooms did not like them either. The Reefkoi, evolutions lights get pretty good reviews around the web. They are what I am looking for to get more light on my 45. Right now it has a 12 inch Marineland reef ready display. I think the colors look fine. My blue "shrooms look blue and my red pipe organ coral is the same color as when it is out of the tank. That's my experience.

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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by cdness on Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:59 pm

I forgot to mention, in the Fargo Frag Swap raffle/drawing we will have one Aquaticlife and 3 Marineland LEDs to give away... They will all be a part of the final drawing of the day.
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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by cdness on Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:01 pm

I forgot to mention, in the Fargo Frag Swap raffle/drawing we will have one Aquaticlife and 3 Marineland LEDs to give away... They will all be a part of the final drawing of the day.
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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by seaponygirl on Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:34 am

What a great prize! Thanks. See you next week!

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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by GoodToGo on Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:34 am

Thanks for the feedback. I am still researching options it may be awhile before I make a decision.

Paul

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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by blennieluvr on Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:32 pm

sent pm instead Smile
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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by Swanwillow on Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:29 pm

Alright, I've had Metal halides, LEDs, T5's and HO something-else. I prefer the T5's and if you can get leds shoved into your T5 setup, it is a wonderful experience.

One thing to do with T5's is to find the color combination you personally like. Like I love growth-so I have a 6500 *K bulb in my 6 bulb mix. But I still have 2 blue blue blue bulbs, and a purple. So you can mix and match the T5's a lot.
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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by seaponygirl on Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:03 pm

I have a question on the T-5's. If you are supposed to replace them every 6 months because they loose effectiveness, just when do they start that. Are they at 100% the first month and loose from there, wouldn't that mean they are only at 50 % at 3 months?
You can get all kinds of colors with the LEDs now too. There are two good refurbishing outfits. One is AquaTraders, but I've heard the other one is better. Someone is sending me the name of the other, and I'll post it as soon as I find out. I am looking at the refurb option as my budget is tight too.

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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by cdness on Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:14 am

T-5 lamps need to be changed out every 9 - 12 months if you are overdriving them (like me) or every 18 - 24 if not overdriving.

I tend to push the limits on this one and end up replacing at close to 14 months overdriving as I am usually broke when they need to be changed out...

LEDs never need replacing as they have no spectral shift... They get replaced when they burn up.
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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by blennieluvr on Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:18 am

I am not overdriving my t5's and I change out half of them every year.
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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by GoodToGo on Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:49 pm

I made up my mind and ordered a 24" 120watt (55 LEDs ) LED light from reefbreeders.com. $330. It is a fully controllable and dimmable light. Should be here this week.

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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by blennieluvr on Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:17 pm

Nice. Let us know what you think.
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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by HSCmember on Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:19 pm

Swanwillow wrote:Alright, I've had Metal halides, LEDs, T5's and HO something-else. I prefer the T5's and if you can get leds shoved into your T5 setup, it is a wonderful experience.

One thing to do with T5's is to find the color combination you personally like. Like I love growth-so I have a 6500 *K bulb in my 6 bulb mix. But I still have 2 blue blue blue bulbs, and a purple. So you can mix and match the T5's a lot.

Any recommendation for the science center 210 if we changed the halides for LED and and keep the T-5s?
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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by seaponygirl on Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:18 am

You know I love LED. I just bought a set off of E Bay. They are 3 watt dimmable blue and white. They are approximately 150 watts. I paid $200 for them. I do like the dimmable feature as on full blast most of the zoa's shut down. I really like the blue for night and boy do the flourescing corals pop!, even in the daytime. They are unbelieveable. So LED is my choice.

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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by GoodToGo on Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:16 pm

So far so good. The controllable feature sure is nice. It is easy to program, in either one hour or half hour increments. The lighting ramps up gradually throughout the morning and back down again in the evening. It also made acclimating easy, every few days I bumped up the lighting 5%. It is now at roughly 2/3 power for 6 hours and lesser amounts for the rest of the day. Enough that you can see the tank nice, but not enough to cause algae problems (hopefully). I'm not sure how bright to make it. I've had them in for a month and I've had more growth since then than I had the 6 months before. The monti's look great and everything else is budding and spreading. A good purchase I think.

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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by Raul Badillo Jr on Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:46 am

LED is such a touchy subject. My personal choice is DIY from RapidLED. They can be used with a controller or normal timer. Lenses on the LED is key. I don't use lenses and have a 120 degree spread but the Apogee read low par at the sand and throughout the tank. Lenses are to LEDs like reflectors are to MH or more importantly T5s. My favorite is T5. BUT, from personal experience I can say that the ballast and reflectors are THE MOST IMPORTANT part of the retrofit kit. Most fixtures are aweful. I ran a t5 fixture over my 20L with 2 ATI aquablues and 2 ATI blue plus bulbs and got mediocre growth....not im rocking a retrofit kit that includes a icecap 660 ballast and miro4 (reefgeeks brand) reflectors and the Apogee read almost 400 par on the sandbed! Just did the tests this past week. I also use a DIY fixture I made from Rapid LED. I will post pics of this setup. Its sweet!
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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by Raul Badillo Jr on Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:58 am

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Re: Looking to upgrade lighting - thoughts?

Post by Raul Badillo Jr on Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:08 am

This is the Rapid LED fixture I made, Drilled and Tapped heatsink, no soldering all plug and play.



My T5 retrofit



My angel modeling my newly made fixture

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