overkill for my tank?

BankerJohn

New member
I have been searching for lighting for my tank. I want something that will work for today and eventually work for a *possible* upgrade to a 120 (4X2X2). After seeing the different colors of light between MH, PC's & VHO, I like the colors of VHO's but have not seen T-5's yet. As of now, I am leaning toward VHO's. I am not mechanically inclined and therefore respect electricity enough to know that I will NOT be doing ANY of the wiring other than plugging a unit into the wall.

IceCap seems to be the marketing leader and advertises the ability to overdrive NO's when no other ballast manufacturer claims this. I found this, http://www.aquariumsupplycompany.com/catalog/item/3156992/2740043.htm online and want some opinion/feedback. What do you think of this?

Once I get the lights, I can then begin the search for a canopy/hood, either a DIY or perhaps a matching stand & canopy.
 

robthorn

New member
john vho looks like ummmm I have to a dogs behind compared to t5's. you are more than welcome to come to my house to see my lights. I can stage them anyway you want to see what 2 bulbs up to 8 bulbs looks like.
as far as ice cap goes I can't say enough good about the company. I even have a 660 ballast to sell but for t5 I would never recommend them. I also have a few t5 ballasts for sale but that is besides the point. mh looks great and shimmers and all but create alot of heat and use alot more power to get the same light results. ice cap ballasts I believe were initially designed to run vho bulbs and maybe even n.o. bulbs. I don't know if they tweaked them to run pc and t5 and whatever they will run or if they just found out they will do it. overdriving bulbs electrically is honestly a bad thing. it works and it is safe but it is not the way the bulb manufacturer intended the bulbs to be started or run. it will significantly reduce the life of overdriven bulbs. this is true for t5 and n.o. bulbs to my knowledge but I am not sure about how the ballasts effect pc or vho. I assume they are fine. as far as ice cap mh ballasts I find that they shorten the life of some european bulbs and not others. radiums on my old system lasted 5 to 5 1/2 months then started killing corals. change the bulbs and everything was fine. I changed the pulse start not electronic ballasts and the bulbs lasted over 9 months and never killed anything that I know of. the ice cap 660 on my old t5's that were 5 ft in length had enough of a color shift to negatively effect my corals. this happened after 4 1/2 months. I do hear that ice cap has a t5 ballast in the works or maybe even available somewhere but I have not seen it yet. t5's were designed to run on programmed rapid start ballasts only. it warms the bulb slightly then fires instead of just slamming it with high voltage I believe is how some others do it.
as far as doing the electical work on wiring the ballasts it is the most basic easy to follow electricity I have seen to date. each ballast has a picture and everything is color coded . make sure to use a cord with a ground prong and for t5 ballasts you need 18 gauge solid strand wire.
if you need more help then myself or I am sure alot of people here would be more than willing to lend a hand and get you started in the right direction.
on my 265 I have a total of 432 watts of t5. 31 inches deep and acros 6 inches off the bottom showing good growth and polyp extension. the coral color is marginal at best to me but some other people think the color is great. I have 4 actinics and 4 11k bulbs. I am thinking of adding 2 3 foot bulbs just a couple hours a day to see what happens. I bought them just incase but not exactly sure if I want to pay for them since growth appears to be doing well.
like I said you can come check out my setup and then you have something to judge by. also john is running t5's on some of his tanks at his shop but he uses ice cap with the same bulbs I have and you can see the color difference from the 2 ballasts. I like the advance ballasts better and I own both all I would have to do is switch them over.
 

guntercb

New member
John,

I have overdriven NO with an IceCap and I had great results with it on my old 55. I currently have an empty 120 in my garage. My ultimate buildout plan with it is to use 4 NO overdriven with the IceCap and 2 VHO atnics on another IceCap. I believe T-5s may be better, but the 4 dollar cost of 6500k NO bulbs is a heck of alot cheaper than T-5s.

I would like to get MH but the bulb cost is just too much for me to justify. I know I am old school with my T-12s but they work for me and I try to stock my tank with critters that will do well in the "lower" intensity light.

Good luck,
Chris
 

robthorn

New member
4 ft 6500 t5's are under $20 each. reflectors for the initial install to me is the big deal. everything else you have to buy anyway. besides you don't need as many t5's as you would the t12's. kind of weighs itself out with less bulbs and lower power usage. 4 t5's would probably give you as much light or more as the 6 other bulbs. per bulb price may be cheaper but what about replacing the whole set?
 

AJ69

New member
Rob,

my tk is a 75 running on 2 175 retro + actinic sup.My ? is if I switch to T5 how many bulbs/wattage should I use?
Thanks
 

robthorn

New member
good question aj it depends on your corals but I would say 4-6 4 ft bulbs would grow anything you could ever want. at least the 8 bulbs on my tank grow acros at about 25 inches under water and 8-10 inches of air between the bulb and water surface. i wouldn't switch unless you just need to save money or don't like your mh or too much heat. I like half 11k and half actinic. it looks very nice too me with a hint of blue not just white looking and in no way pink. you can use the blue bulbs some people are claiming bring out more greens but the ones I had on my tank kind of dulled the greens. I also had actinic and daylight on together. just not for me.
 

AJ69

New member
Rob,

What I have is mostly LPS/Softies, not a "lover" for SPS.The 4ft bulbs are 54w?
 

robthorn

New member
yes 54w each . 2 actinics on the advance electronic ballasts I have are right near 119 w and the 11k are 110 watts including the power usage of the ballasts electronics. notsure why the actinics use more but they do at my house. I would think 4 bulbs with ice cap reflectors would be pretty nice and powerful. if you have ever been to fish and other ichthy stuff over this way johns lps tank has 8 4 ft bulbs 4 on each side of his 8ft tank. and they are at near 2 feet off the water. everything is doing very well. the overall tank appearance isn't as nice as I see at home but I think that has to do with the shop lights and distance off the water.
 

AJ69

New member
Rob,
I just got a 65 tall and I'm thinking of T5,would 4/39wts will work?
The tk is 24H/36L/18W.
Any idea/help.
Thanks
AJ
 

robthorn

New member
I think they would work perfectly. I had a 65 in an L shape next to my old 180 so I could build matching stand and canopies for them both. I had one 250 mh and it was ok. I think the t5's you are talking about will be more useable light than I had. lots less electricity though. you do need the ice cap reflectors to get the most out of the bulbs in my opinion. reefgeek has the new ati bulbs and I think the coralife also. I am going to get the ati to try next. the geisemann are starting to turn uri pink already. still useable and my corals are growing and showing decent color but to look at the tank it looks pretty pink when all the lights are on. I think ati has aquablue special listed as there blue 450nm bulb and there 11k is now a 12k . new manufacturing plant that is not the same as geisemann anymore. hopefully meaning a better bulb. europeans are liking them alot.
 

AJ69

New member
I'm thinking of 2-12k and 2 actinic blues(39watts each).What do U think about this lay out? Also what's the "life" on this bulbs based on 8hr phot period?Any ideas?
Thanks
AJ
 

robthorn

New member
ballast means everything. but not on ice caps I have seen 6 months to a year depending on sps or softies. I am shooting for 9-10 months.
those bulbs will be fine and the tank should look very white. if you want more blue I would say one actinic and one blue. or if saying actinic blue you mean the blue bulbs and not true actinics then that would probably be a very pleasing look for me. the actinic and actinic plus/blue bulbs flouresce different. that is why I like the mix of the 2 bulbs. but the ati may be different than geisemann.
 

AJ69

New member
I saw the Odysea plug n play T5 on aquatraders,they look fine to me,kinda of cheap price $50 for a 2-39watts HO T5.Do you have any inputs on this one.
 

robthorn

New member
well your right with the cheap price. I am a builder so I get exactly what I want. individual ice cap reflectors to me are the best so far. I am sure the odysea will share a reflector that is less reflective. so you will lose some output there and who knows what ballast they use,if it's electronic and if it is program rapid start or not. they all factor in how the bulbs operate and how long they last.
 

glyle41

Premium Member
I use a 4x39 setup on top of my 75 Softie tank and things seem to be doing real well and have seen robs tank with the T5s they do the job if i wouldnt of already had the Mh for my 180 Id have T5s over it too
 
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