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Old 12/14/2017, 06:54 PM   #1
Fishdisease
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What Lighting Fixture Would You Choose?

Hey Everyone,

After putting my build on hold for the past 6-1/2 years I'm back and looking to finish it (I updated my build thread in Reef Discussion if you're interested). Anyway, I have a 180 gallon, 6" long tank and I want to keep LPS and SPS. I'm not married to any lighting technology but I'd like something I can plug into my APEX to controller. I don't want to DIY something, well I'd like to, but work and family takes priority at this pint in my life. So I'm looking for an easy and budget friendly solution. Not sure about budget, but let's not go crazy.

With those criteria, what would you buy for a fixture?


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Old 12/15/2017, 02:33 AM   #2
jda
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I would get a 6' Hamilton fixture with the 3x halides and T5s. Whether you need the 150W or the 400W version depends on what you want to keep. It will last for a decade (or more) and will have exceptional coverage, color and growth. This is going to be the most efficient way to adequately light the tank, but lots of folks will suggest under lighting it (although they don't know it).

T5 are cool, but they stop at 60 inches... so you need twice as many 36" bulbs. I would look at 8 bulb fixtures. You could get away with a single 60" fixture if you don't mind the outside 12" being under lit and the final 6" being very much under lit - this is not the end of the world, but mine was like this for a long time and I eventually purchased lights to cover the ends.

Most folks skimp on the number of panels needed to cover a large tank, but if you get enough, they are quite costly... especially with Acropora. 6 black box units might get the job done, but they have shortcomings with Acropora and some other SPS. There are many serious SPS keepers who have replaced each MH (2x2 area) with three Radions 30s. The bottom line is that with shadowing and coverage, it takes a lot of panels to cover a large SPS tank.

Reflectors are the most efficient way to light a large tank.

You can look used for MH and T5 fixtures.... if you have a while, you can find some.


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Old 12/15/2017, 03:58 AM   #3
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Interesting. I went down the LED rabbit hole last night and haven't made it back to the MH/T5 fixtures yet. It seems that the 3 x 400W is in the same price range as 2 x 32" Reef Breeders Photon V2. The V2 has an equivalent of 500W (1000W total) while the Hamilton has 1200W MH / 320W T5 (1520W) total so that's a consideration.

I've always been a fan of softies but I'd like to keep a mixed LPS/SPS tank this time around. I would imagine with the Photons (or anything with that wattage) I'd be able to keep SPS on the upper rocks and SPS on the bottom, but I wonder about too much light for LPS/softies with the Hamilton. Is that actually a concern?


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Old 12/15/2017, 05:34 AM   #4
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Nearly nobody needs 400w MH unless you have serious light-demaning corals or are looking to spread a large area or penetrate super deep. I am a super serious Acropora keeper (no Montis, Stylophora, Birdsnets or Pocilipora) and I use 250w halides. 150W HQI Halides have lots of output and are lower in wattage and a great choice for mixed/LPS tanks with superb color and coverage - three of these on most of the time with no T5s is only 450w and you could grow nearly anything anywhere. You do not have to use the T5s all of the time. I do not use any at all - I don't want to pay for the wattage and I pick MH bulbs with the color that I want so that I don't have to supplement them. Some use the T5 only for dusk/dawn and shut them off when the halides are running.

Watts are watts. There are no efficiencies with LED - 250w is half of the power in the tank of a 500w fixture... do not believe what a manufacturer tells you. There is more to it than this with a bit of wasted energy over 850nm for fluorescent and MH bulbs, but the peaks in LEDs are just as inefficient. The spectrum from 350nm to 850nm has value - all of it. UV has huge effect on proteins and pigments of most corals and IR over 700 helps the corals process energy by relieving pressure of PSI through PSII - the presence of IR is why you can use more of a light containing it and corals will grow faster and not get harmed. Nearly no LEDs cover this entire spectrum, but some are getting closer - some are using 390nm true UV diodes now (now quite down to 350 yet) and the European panels are putting IR into the units in good numbers. MH cover all of this spectrum in spades - T5 do as well, but each bulb will have more or less depending on temperature (actinic more UV and less IR whereas daylight will have less UV and more IR). There is a great thread on the other board about 6.5K bulbs that evolved into a spectrum thread that might be worth a read - the results from it have a lot of LED users considering 6.5K T5s to supplement specifically for yellow, green, red and far red that diodes don't appear to get to yet.

No, you cannot have too much good light to harm corals. However, they might not need that much. I keep a few LPS and softies in my tanks and while they might not need that much light, they are not harmed. You can indeed have too much bad light. Lots of white diodes in LEDs can be harmful with peaks and spectrum that burns coral, which is why you see so many at 50% all of the time - this does not happen with T5 and MH.

Photon V2 is a fine LED for most mixed tanks all the way up to beginner/moderate SPS. It covers better than a Radion or Kessil, but does not quite blend colors as well. Even though I have never used one, it appears to be a nice blend of price, performance and features. Nobody runs these at 100%, so your wattage will be lower than the max. The corals do not appear to be able to handle the white spectrum when turned up too much - the corals can get harmed. The Photon V2 is in a nice place between the super-cheap black-box units and the more expensive, ultra featured, wider spectrum Atlantic Orphek v4, for example.


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Old 12/15/2017, 06:01 AM   #5
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Personally, I would use these: http://a.co/gSC3uWs

...because that's what I use on my 6' tank, and they are amazing!


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Old 12/16/2017, 09:58 AM   #6
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Hmmm, it seems I can buy a Hamilton fixture without the ballasts and use the ones I already have, that's an attractive option. And I do agree that the spectrum isn't as full with LED as MH/T5 combos.

But I have to disagree that a watt is a watt (I don't really want to open this can of worms again...). A watt is a measure of energy and in lighting systems energy is dissipated as light, heat and sound. So if you have a more efficient conversion process that produces more light and less heat then it's possible to have the same light with less watts being used (or more light from the same wattage). But this has been argued thousands of time I'm sure. So in that case there is credence to watt equivalencies, as we're really talking about radiation (not even lumens as also want the non-visible). It's just we've been trained by manufactures to associate watts with light output. Does this apply to the current LEDs we use? I'm not sure, but it definitely adds to the debate.


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Old 12/16/2017, 10:52 AM   #7
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I think you will find many/most of the LED fixtures to not be apex controllable. So if you go LED, and that's a rigid requirement, that will limit your choices. I went with a combination of kessil (which are apex controllable) and ETM Radion (which are not). Not particularly budget friendly though.


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Old 12/16/2017, 11:27 AM   #8
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The older Hydra 26,52's can be controlled through the APEX and AWM module, I run 2 26's with 4 T5's this way and couldn't be happier. You can still find good used fixtures if that is the way you want to go, there's a AWM module listed on the Canreef board right now (since your in Canada as well)


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Old 12/16/2017, 12:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MurphyLong View Post
Personally, I would use these: http://a.co/gSC3uWs

...because that's what I use on my 6' tank, and they are amazing!
Are you seriously using 1 12" wide fixture on a 6' tank?


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Old 12/17/2017, 06:25 AM   #10
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you're going to get good programmable options with 95% of the fixtures out there today and as nice as an apex is to have it isn't worth limiting your choices... unless you go kessil which isn't programmable and is much improved when paired with an apex.
just plugging my ati into an apex outlet still allows me it's temperature cut-off feature which is all i need as the fixture itself handles the ramping and timer functions.


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Old 12/17/2017, 08:32 AM   #11
jda
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The heat inefficiencies (IR) in MH and Fluorescent bulbs are about equal to the peak inefficiencies in LEDs (mostly the blue peaks) except for that most of that IR is quite necessary and not all that inefficient. It takes the same input watts to produce the same radiated watts. If somebody now is using 100w, for example of LED, they could have been using 100W of T5 or MH all along.


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Old 12/17/2017, 10:45 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jda View Post
The heat inefficiencies (IR) in MH and Fluorescent bulbs are about equal to the peak inefficiencies in LEDs (mostly the blue peaks) except for that most of that IR is quite necessary and not all that inefficient. It takes the same input watts to produce the same radiated watts. If somebody now is using 100w, for example of LED, they could have been using 100W of T5 or MH all along.
Cool, this is the type of stuff i don't know yet. Thank you


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Old 12/17/2017, 10:52 AM   #13
Fishdisease
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you're going to get good programmable options with 95% of the fixtures out there today and as nice as an apex is to have it isn't worth limiting your choices...
I'm figuring this out now too, it looks like I'm spending $1000-$1500-ish either way so that's fine. I've never had a nice light fixture before and I just don't want to make things overly complicated or be unhappy with my choice.

Cost per watt seems to favour MH/T5 but I'm still concerned with balancing getting enough light for a mixed reef, heat output and functionality.


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Old 12/17/2017, 11:26 AM   #14
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LEDs are only more "efficient" when they cut spectrum. People used to think that this spectrum was not necessary, but this has never been true and more and more folks are changing their thinking - this why so, so many have added in T5 lighting to bring a lot of spectrum back.

You live in Canada - you should have no issues with heat. It is probably a complete blessing. I am in Colorado and other than 2-3 weeks in July where it can get really hot and I need fans, the halides allow the heaters to work a less. Unless you have a tight canopy, then heat will not be an issue for you. Most folks outside of Arizona, Florida and some parts of Cali can handle heat with simple fans.

If you pick a MH that has a good color, you don't need to run any T5s which can save some money in purchase, watts and bulb replacement.


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Old 12/18/2017, 06:29 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Fishdisease View Post
Interesting. I went down the LED rabbit hole last night and haven't made it back to the MH/T5 fixtures yet. It seems that the 3 x 400W is in the same price range as 2 x 32" Reef Breeders Photon V2. The V2 has an equivalent of 500W (1000W total) while the Hamilton has 1200W MH / 320W T5 (1520W) total so that's a consideration.

I've always been a fan of softies but I'd like to keep a mixed LPS/SPS tank this time around. I would imagine with the Photons (or anything with that wattage) I'd be able to keep SPS on the upper rocks and SPS on the bottom, but I wonder about too much light for LPS/softies with the Hamilton. Is that actually a concern?
With that fixture you can keep sps anywhere in the tank. I have a V2 50" over my 20" deep, 125g tank. And with that you get sunrise/sunset control which the family may enjoy, and 6 channels of color control without shopping and buying extra bulbs. As jda has said before, leds do create shadows and that is a bit of an issue with some sps. But I never found it to be a big deal.

My tank was 75% sps and doing great until a chiller malfunction made it run all night and super cool my tank. I lost almost all my sps and fish. The zoas and anemones survived and that fixture makes them grow like weeds. Not to mention the tank looks like Pandora at night (the movie Avatar) when the corals fluoresce under blue sunrise and sunset!


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Old 12/18/2017, 12:11 PM   #16
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Are you seriously using 1 12" wide fixture on a 6' tank?
No. The kit I linked includes 4 of those 12" fixtures.

lights.jpg


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Old 12/18/2017, 07:35 PM   #17
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No. The kit I linked includes 4 of those 12" fixtures.

Attachment 384510
It was a little unclear to me which is why I asked. I saw it said 4 but listed the dimensions at 12" and it didn't add up.

Thanks for clarifying and the pic!


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Old 12/18/2017, 09:10 PM   #18
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You live in Canada - you should have no issues with heat. It is probably a complete blessing. I am in Colorado and other than 2-3 weeks in July where it can get really hot and I need fans...
Correct, where I am it doesn't get too hot, for the month of August it only gets into the lower to mid 90's, so while I'm slightly annoyed at that stereotype, you are still right. The real factor with my setup and heat is that the tank room shares space with the utility room in the basement where the furnace lives. So in the winter that space sits in the high 70's and in the summer it's definitely hovers in the high 90's. Also the room is enclosed so I worry about lack of airflow as well.

Still leaning toward the Hamilton as I can use my ballasts, but the photon V2 it a close contender, but I haven't really been looking at other possibilities the past couple of days.


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Old 12/19/2017, 12:25 AM   #19
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If you end up deciding on the Photons you can get the same light in Canada for a tad cheaper and avoid customs and it would be free shipping.
http://www.reefsupplies.ca/online-st...ow-LED-Canada/


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