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Anonymous

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and of course I have many questions on the topic! I was at Home Depot (kind of like crack to me) the other day in the lighting section (getting ballast, of course) and I ran across their MH selection. They have ballast for all the various sizes (175, 250, 400watt) for cheap (relativiley) and lights, whoah - they have phillips 175watt MH's for $28. Can I use either of these products on my tank? I pretty much figure the light's are a no-go, but what about the ballast? There isn't anything special about aquaria ballast, correct?

Thanks,
Joe
 
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Anonymous

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... *OR* you could buy the lamp and then go to a theatre supply company and buy a "full blue" kelvin boosting filter. That's what I did and I saved $$$.

-Nathan
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I'm not an expert, but I'd think a ballast is a ballast. Actually, if the MH lights are 5500 K or higher, they'd probably work, too. You'd want some actinic with them, though, if they're that low K, I'd think.

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My drug habit cost less, but reef colors are better!
 
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Anonymous

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Please do tell Nathan. Can you give a brief run-down on what you did? Is the filter you used a colored glass that changes the color temp of the bulb? Do you have any algae problem? Have you had success with any corals?

Thanks in advance,
Joe
 
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Anonymous

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Hmm...

I have considered getting the stuff from Home Depot (HD) too but in the end I decided to source it from a lighting supplier.

The ballasts will work without any problems but the bulbs themselves are questionable. They usually don't generate enough blue spectrum that is beneficial to coral growth.

Now daylight is quite yellow to begin with and it's K temperature is about 5000 to 6500K. The bulbs from HD are most likely a 3200K or 4200K if you are lucky. So the HD bulbs are really yellow which won't make your tank look the way you want. But there is more to just looks.

Yes you can alter the visible characteristic of these cheaper MH lamps by putting on a blue film. However, you are not creating more blue spectrum by doing so but merely blocking out the reds, yellows and greens. This makes the bulb look bluer. If the bulb doesn't provide the correct spectrum for coral photosynthesis to begin with putting on a sheet of blue celluphane won't change that.

Many associate yellower bulbs to micro and macro algae blooms and these yellower bulbs also burn warmer due to a higher infra-red spectrum.

I would consider a minimum colour temperature of 5000K (4100 if you really want to push it) for MH and supplement them with true actinic lighting.

JM2C
Clint
 
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Anonymous

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Yes, I have 2 NO Actinic bulbs that will be used to suppliment the MH. Were you able to get a deal outsourcing the bulbs? I will check to see if everything is included, but the ballast I saw at home depot were for 175watt MH and were $59 I beleive. That, and the $28 bulb cought my eye. I think I will pick-up 2 ballast and try to beg/borrow/steal 10k corralife bulbs.

Joe "The Cheap"
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I have been in the buisness side of this addiction for 3 years now, and the general concensus amoung producers and distributors of MH lights is that the cheaper ballasts will light the bulbs just fine. By just fine I mean that they will light them up like any other ballast, but they have a major downside. Those cheaper ballasts are not made to run higher Kelvin bulbs, therefore they cause the bulbs to color shift much earlier in their life. Bulbs that are used to light stores work if they light up; bulbs that are used to light reefs must maintain consistent color temperatures in order be truely useful.
I do not recomend the use of those ballasts with higher kelvin bulbs because they will shorten the life of the bulb.
 
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Anonymous

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Could someone please explain the difference between standard ballasts, solid-state ballasts, Ice Cap ballasts, etc? Ice Cap claims their's runs the lights 50F cooler and doesn't hum, for example. I don't know much about electronics...
 
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Anonymous

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I am not a lighting guru (having a few GE, philips, sylvania and standard products catalogs just don't cut it
smile.gif
) and definitely not well verse with electronics. But this is what I know about the types of ballasts you stated.

For MH lighting, Standard ballasts are core and coil transformers with a capacitor. These are the toughest type of ballast available and has been around since the dawn of MV lighting. The transformer increases the house hold line voltage to some higher value to light the bulb. The frequency of the alternating current stays the same at 60 hz.

Solid state ballasts are an electronic version of the above.

Icecap ballasts consists of a total different concept. Instead of increasing the voltage it increases the frequency of the alternating current. (Another way to energize the gaseous mixture to point of light emission.) This is a more efficient way of increasing the energy input into the bulb and generates less heat. Studies have shown that these increase light output and prolong bulb life but I don't know if the tests were done independently by qualified professionals in the lighting industry.

Well this is a basic summary of what I have learned. Visit Icecap's website and look in the archive of aquarium frontiers. There are a few articles on this.

Cheers
Clint
 
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Anonymous

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Thanks Clint. That helped a lot, and was just about at the level needed for my comprehension. Are Icecap ballasts therefore clearly superior?
 
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Anonymous

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Also, you mentioned their website - do you have the address?
 
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Anonymous

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Are Icecaps superior? That's a tough one. They certainly don't have enough track record for a solid reputation for reliability.

Those of you who have had the first VHO ballast (or read the articles in www.thekrib.com) should recall the problems with the first generation VHO ballasts (early 90's). Their MH ballasts are NEW and, like car buying, I prefer to wait till they work out all the bugs.

Based on the current articles and manufacturer's claims the Icecap ballasts appear to be superior. But as I said earlier there is no independent study or test performed on them (that I know of anyway). The few articles I read on the internet are written by people in the hobby that may or may not receive personal gain by giving Icecap a good review. We should rely on our peers here for honest comments on this product.

I wonder if Icecap will ever build a 400 and 1000W ballast. The hydroponic industry would like to see a cool and efficient ballast. And knowing how these "plant" growers spend their "easy" money, Icecap ballasts should become their preferred equipment.

Joe,
I better answer your question about sourcing MH bulbs. Philips, GE and Osram don't market any 175W MH with more than 4300K that lighting wholesalers would carry. They may manufacture aquarium bulbs with a different brand name though. Iwasaki don't make any 175W bulbs at all. So you are stuck with costly aquarium brands.

I think the 175W format is limiting your options. 400W bulbs with >5000K colour are readily available from many manufacturers and in turn are available from your commercial lighting warehouse. Their prices are more competitive but the cost of electricity is obviously higher than a 175W.

What do you need? How big/deep is your tank?
 
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Anonymous

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>"And knowing how these "plant" growers spend their "easy" money, Icecap ballasts should become their preferred equipment."

I wonder if I am the only person in Santa Cruz using high-intensity lighting for something that is (presently) legal?
 
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Anonymous

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My tank is 4'x2'x2' (approximations). It is a 72-gal bow-front. If I could do it Having a $10-$20 rise in my elec. bill is not my biggest concern - shelling out $600 for 2 bulbs and ballast is. Do you know of any commercially available bulbs that would meet our criteria?

What I am trying to say (and babbling to do so) is that if I can get 400w bulbs/ballast from a lighting supplier cheaper than I can get 175w from my LFS or the internet - I'm there. What is the minimum temp, IYO, that you think I should stick with? I've heard pretty much 5500 is the bare minimum.

Joe
 
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Anonymous

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hey folks,

Just wanted to make a few points here..

1) There is NO correlation between coral growth/happiness and blue light. I have been researching this topic for a while now, and the blue is just to make us (Reefers) happy. Corals will grow just fine under a 4300K bulb.

2)A ballast is a ballast is a ballast (well, as far as each type goes) While an electronic ballast will outperform a core and coil ballast, most all core and coil ballasts are identical, and one brand over another is not going to affect things like color spectrum. They work off of the same scientific principals, and unless you want to say that company A's ballast is inferior because they only spent X.XX dollars on copper wire for the windings...anyways...

3)no one has mentioned "Venture" This is a great company, and one of the leaders in metal halide lighting. They make the ballasts in ohio, and the bulbs in canada. They are the manufacturer of the coralife 5500K bulb, AND will sell this bulb direct to the public. they also sell ballasts, and mogul sockets. One stop shopping!! and you can get a 400 setup (bulb, ballast, socket) for about $120.00 It doesnt get much better than this!! now, you still have to put the ballast in a box, but you can't beat the prices.... They have all sizes of halides as well. check them out.. well worth it. www.venturelighting.com

hope it helps...

vigg aka

g
o
b
y


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Anonymous

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Joe,

I would prefer to use two 400W's as an ultimate setup for SPS for your tank and supplement with actinics if you really like the blue. Less wattage if soft corals is all you intend to keep.

Hey Vigg,

Totally agree with you on the blue light theory being our fave. There was an article somewhere saying that 4100K lighting did just as well for coral growth compared to 10000K and higher. But I think CRI rating is important.

Many SPS reefs in nature are so high up in the water column that they are exposed to air during extremely low tides. The colour under a few feet of water is not blue but a full spectrum and lots of lux.

A 400W "growers" setup with ballast, socket, wiring, bulb (cheap <50 CRI & <4200K) and a ballast case is about $150-200 cdn.

A "Contour series TFR" fully encased aluminum fixture with 400w bulb and built in ballast is about $240.00 cdn. These are the lights that you see outdoors shining at the side of hotels etc.

A high bay pendant for warehouses with a 15" diameter bell reflector is about $120.00 cdn.

So as you can see us reefers are doing things the hard way by buying the hardware and DIY.

Clint
 
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Anonymous

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I must disagree, slightly, with some of the information put forth about Kelvin ratings.

VIGG
I won't attempt to disagree with your facts concerning coral growth being unrelated to the blue light because I am not versed on the subject. What I will say is that readings have been taken over the Red Sea and the Great Barrier and Kelvin ratings will vary from 10,000K to 30,000K. Also, a notable "blue shift" from light refraction through water is noticable at less than one meter. The blue wavelengths have much higher energy than those more towards the red end of the spectrum due to their shorter wavelength. Zooanthellae (excuse the spelling) photosynthesizes mostly at 420 nanometers which is visibly blue light.
It seems that there is too much blue in nature to be purely for our enjoyment.
 
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Anonymous

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rishma,

I recall reading that somewhere as well (about the color temp on the red sea) anyways, using a lower kelvin bulb (say 5500K) does not mean that you are not using enough blue!!! it just means that there is just as much red, orange, yellow, green, and purple in the bulb as there is blue (a true "white" bulb) the blue bulbs that you see like actinics, if you look at their spectral output, you will see that they have NOTHING else other than blue.. while blue is great, is is known that 420nm is NOT the only wavelength that zooxanthelle (sp?) use for photosynthesis. They do require some lighting in the red spectrum, I just forget the wavelength.... but i digress..

use what you want, but if you want to do it without thinning the wallet too much, use the cheaper bulbs that have just as much blue, but other stuff as well......

vigg aka
g
o
b
y

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Anonymous

Guest
The "power spectrum" curve characterized by the Kelvin rating (Planck's law) looks like a bell curve with one side (the red side) extended. The power of the light is equal to the area under the curve. So if you are comparing two lights of the same wattage, one at 10,000 K and the other at 5,000 K, and both are perfect black bodies (ie., the application of Planck's law to describe the power spectrum is a reasonable approximation), then both curves will have the same area under them. If one has more area under the red region, it will have less area under the blue region. Hence to get the same amount of blue light from a lower K bulb, you will need to use one of higher wattage.
 


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