Need help with light


New member
LFS directed me to seek help here. Just wanted to say Hi. I have kept FW and Brakish for about 5 years but just started SW 2 years ago. Recently I got frustrated with the hobby and took a break. I am ready to give it a go again and am building a 30g into the wall behind my bar in the basement. Why 30? because that's all my wife will let me :( Anyway LFS asked me to post here so that he could get me some info on lighting. Hope to get to know all of you.
What are your plans for the tank? Do you want to keep corals and other photosynthetic stuff (commonly called a reef tank) or just fish and rock (a fish only with live rock tank, aka FOWLR.)

The lighting requirements will be vastly different!

What other equipment do you plan to use?


New member
Well, your lighting options are many and before I ever make a reccomendation I like to find out where people are coming from with a few questions first. How long and how deep is the tank? Does it have a center support spanning the width at the top of the tank? Do you have an idea of what kind of corals you want to keep now and in the future? Is the room the tank is in air conditioned, or in this case will it be in a cool basement? Is initial cost of the fixture much of a consideration? Are increases in your electrical bill of much concern to you?

Theres a lot you can do with lighting and each person's situation is different. The one general thing you want to do when purchasing lighting is that you can save a lot of money by either buying used here or searching online/ebay. Buying lighting from shops can sometimes unfortunately be very costly.

Edit: and do you have a hood or an open top?
I agree with Der Wille, lighting will depend on what you want to keep in the tank.
Softies will need less light some of the LPS will need and desire less light. However the SPS will need alot more light than the softies or LPS .


New member
I just bought LFS Workers Life Reef Sump? and I have a CPR in sump skimmer? I also have a 750gph mag pump? And an orbit 2X18 light but its only for a 10 gal. The sump holds like 28 gal. and LFS Worker said when he had it made he asked them to make it for tanks up to 90 gal. My basement is split in two. A finished side and an unfinished side. The tank will be placed in the wall with all of the plumbing on the unfinished side. This facilitates a pendent or hanging light. I want MH lights and was wondering if you could make them for less money using stuff from Maynards? or homedepot. I want to do mostly soft corals and only a few fish. I am leaning towards BTA and clowns since that is the only thing I have been successful with. All the easy stuff like leathers and shrooms I have killed fairly quickly. By the way der_wille_zur_macht I will help you with a planted tank any way I can. I love them because they are zero work. I have one that I havn't cleaned in 4 years (just added water and fish food). The nitrogen cycle is great :)
Check out for cheap MH parts. You basically need a ballast, a bulb, a socket, and a reflector - just make sure they're all compatible. Should be $150 or less per bulb for everything. On a 30g, you'll only need one bulb.

If you only want softies and fish, you really don't need halides. That shouldn't totally rule them out though, as putting them on now will allow for a lot more down the road when you realize softies are boring. :D
If you want to do softies then you really do not need Metal halides IMHO . I would look more at T-5's or10K /ACT 03 Pc's instead. Most softies in my experience like less light rather than more....
I think I would use the T-5's on the 30 it is only 18 inches and 12 inches wide.
I think the Metal halide would over power the corals and might produce overheating problems also.
The T-5's you can get in a nice hood that would fit the 30 even though it is covered by being in the wall. You would probably have a good ventilation fan in them as well. OR you can build your own T-5 setup... just my 2cents
To sum my above post, which might have seemed vague: If it were me, I'd do a single moderate wattage (i.e. 250) MH. Price is hard to beat, and if you *really* do have heating or intensity (too much) problems, you can just raise it up a few inches.