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FAQs about Canopies, Tops and Housings for Lighting for Marine Systems: Design & Engineering

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Related FAQs: Canopies 1, Canopies 2, & FAQs on Canopy/Cover: Rationale, Construction, Sealing, Reflectors, Fans, Wiring, Repairing, & Marine System LightingFAQs 2, FAQs 3, Actinic Lighting, Metal Halide Lighting, Fluorescent Lighting, Compact Fluorescent Lighting Small System Lighting,

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DIY wooden tank hoods   12/1/11
Hello:
<Judy>
I found a cheap way to build an aquarium hood that involves a wooden frame.
It is here:
http://www.plantgeek.net/article_viewer.php?id=11
I was wondering how someone who would build something like that would prevent mildew and warping? Do they need some kind of veneer?? Thank you
Judy
<For me, a coating of a waterproof material like Varathane. Oh, please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/canopycoatg.htm
Bob Fenner> 

Tank Canopy Weight? (and more!) -- 10/27/11
Good day Crew!
<<Greetings Ivan!>>
Thank you very much for ALL of your advice since I started a few years ago! You guys played a huge role in my transition from 'hobby' to 'passion' in the saltwater aquariums field.
<<Ah! We're happy to be a part'¦>>
Over the years, I kept upgrading my tanks. My girlfriend and I are now the proud owners of a 120 gallon with a 50g sump, and of a small 29G.
<<Nice>>
I have a question regarding our new 120G setup (actually running since our move in June'¦ we moved the 65G we used to have 'into' the 120G) and another one about the 29G. Both questions are COMPLETELY unrelated. (sorry for caps).
<<No worries>>
Currently, we are using the lights we had on our 65G for the 120G. We want to slowly upgrade to a reef system, and obviously, the lights we have (4 x 39W T5 HO) are way too insufficient for our future needs.
<<Likely so>>
So I bought a 2 x 250W Metal Halides retrofit kit (used). I would also like to install a retrofit kit of 2 x 60 inches T5 HO (80W).
<<Okay>>
Now the fun part is that the tank doesn't have a canopy/cover. I am planning to build one over the winter (fun project for an unheated garage).
<<But satisfying, nonetheless [grin]>>
My first question regarding this would be'¦ how much weight could the tank take?
<<If the glass is 3/8' or thicker, more than you might think'¦a wooden canopy should not be a problem. I have seen some pretty large, ornate, and heavy units>>
It's an all glass aquarium, measuring'¦ oh God'¦ I have it in centimeters'¦ 153 cm x 47 cm (5' by'¦ 18' I think). I would like the canopy to be more or less 14' high, so the MH doesn't overheat the water (fans shall be installed as well) and in order to prevent splashes.
<<Good>>
Now, this said, my father (used to be a civil engineer) and my sister (just completed studies in architecture) strongly suggests I build an aluminum frame and then cover it with thin plywood.
<<Not necessary, in 'my' opinion>>
In your opinion, would this reduce the weight and make it last longer? (don't mention the cost part, I am aware'¦)
<<The weight would likely be less, yes'¦but it wouldn't necessarily last any longer than an 'all wood' canopy'¦plus you have to take measure to coat or otherwise protect the aluminum from exposure to the water and possible contamination/poisoning re. A wooden canopy built from ¾' stock should be fine>>
Also, it is my first time with MH. I read a lot about it, and from what I understand, if the lights are on, then turned off, I need to wait prior to turning them on again, right?
<<Yes, there's a function of metal halide lamps known as restrike time'¦this is the time it takes for the lamp to cool down and restart after a momentary outage. Supposedly this is not affected by ballast type, but it seems my electronic ballasts of most recent manufacture will restart the lamps faster than those of older manufacture'¦though this is of little consequence>>
What if there is a power failure?
<<Not to worry'¦ If the lamps don't fire back up after a power failure (momentary of otherwise), your livestock will be fine until you get home to recycle the ballasts. Even should you be away for a few days all should still be fine re the lights being off'¦but if you have the lights on timers (recommended), these will cycle the ballasts for you with the next off/on period>>
I use a computer backup battery in order to prevent such unwanted events, but the battery is now quite loaded with the pumps and heaters. If I plug 660W of lights over all that, it will last maybe 1, 2 minutes?
<<Dunno'¦but it's my suggestion you do not put the lights on the batter-backup'¦is not necessary>>
(lol'¦) Here in Quebec, we have a VERY reliable electricity service, but it's not infallible. Is there a way or a system or anything I could use/do/make/invent so if there is a power outage, the lights don't try to turn back on once the power comes back?
<<Not needed'¦you don't need to be overly concerned here>>
Now, regarding the 29G. We used to keep seahorses in it. We had them for a year, but last summer's move killed them. Sad story. The male got stressed, died a week after we moved. The female kept looking at the spot where the male's body was and let herself die within the next few days. After that loss, we decided to keep the 29G running empty, but now we're ready to move on. We have two possible plans for it and I would like your opinion on this.
<<Okay>>
First, make an echinoderm aquarium, all urchins and stars! It would be nice, but I don't know how feasible this is.
<<You could make this work with small species that can also be supplemented with prepared foods (do research re)'¦but grazers/difficult feeders like Linckia spp are definitely not recommended>>
Second, a Mystery Wrasse. At first, we wanted to get one for the 120G, but it's a no go with our 6-Line Wrasse.
<<Indeed>>
Is a 29G too small? (I personally think it could be a little too small'¦ but I want a professional opinion on this one).
<<In my opinion, yes, it is too small for a mystery wrasse. Have you considered utilizing it as an inline refugium for the 120?>>
I am deeply sorry about writing such a long email, and I hope you won't hate me for that!!
<<No problem at all>>
Thank you for all your help.
<<Happy to share>>
Best regards from getting-a-little-too-cold-Canada,
Ivan
<<Ah, sunny and a forecast 80-degrees here in South Carolina! Cheers'¦ EricR>>
Re: Tank Canopy Weight? (and more!) -- 10/29/11

Good afternoon Eric,
<<Hey Ivan>>
Thank you so much for your quick answer!
<<Quite welcome>>
So, I finally opted for the all-wood canopy option.
<<Okay>>
Started doing the plans in SketchUp/AutoCAD/3D Studio Max... name it. (gives a better finish than me poking my eyes out with rulers and pencils)
<<Indeed [grin]>>
Unfortunately, I'm not able to find a double 60" T5 retrofit kit for the Actinic lights, so I'll probably go with a double 48" (54W each bulb instead of 80W).
<<Should/will be plenty of actinic lighting>>
At this point, I don't think the difference would be considerable. Or... would it be?
<<Not enough to matter>>
(considering the potential keeping of Tridacna genus clams, crocea or maxima possibly)
<<You need strong 'full-spectrum' lighting for these (e.g. -- 10,000 Kelvin). The Actinic lighting is more for aesthetics, than anything else'¦and is not 'needed' in most all cases>>
My next concern regarding this project is "putting-everything-together". I'm far from being at this step, but gathering the needed material shall begin soon. So, what would you recommend to assemble everything? Screws? Nails? Glue?
<<You can use either nails or screws (my preference is screws, for their added 'holding' ability), and certainly use in conjunction with a good adhesive'¦either a water-resistant PVA glue like those under the 'Titebond' brand, or even better, an all-purpose waterproof Polyurethane glue like 'Gorilla Glue'>>
Is there a risk for nails or screws to rust?
<<There is'¦but coating the hood with a quality finish (either a 'clear coat' finish or paint) will help with this, and will also help to protect/extend the life of the wood. This 'finish' can also be used to tie-in the hood with your existing décor>>
Regarding the 29G, using it as an inline refugium for the 120G is unfortunately not an option in our current home setup.
<<I see>>
We discarded the Mystery Wrasse option, as per your recommendation, but we are still considering the echinoderms tank.
<<Okay>>
We already took a look at different species that would be compatible and not overly demanding.
<<Excellent>>
But yesterday, while shopping for T5s, my girlfriend came with an idea. She always wanted us to get a Panda Goby (Paragobius lacunicolus I think). So, she thought of maybe having an aquarium with small gobies, let's say Clowns, Neons, etc.
What are the odds they end up killing each other? And if the odds are small to none, how many could a 29G host?
<<You could try mixing species, but I think it would be best to stick to a small group of one or the other. I would about 5 of these diminutive fishes should do fine here (give though to obtaining some Acropora skeletons if you go with a clown goby species). Do read here, and among the links in blue (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gobiodon.htm)>>
Thanks again for your help!
<<Always happy to share!>>
Ivan (80 degrees in South Carolina?! I had frost on my car this morning...)
<<I do appreciate the extended warm season here'¦but the humidity in the summer; indeed much of the year, is killer! EricR>>

T5 lighting, placement    12/29/10
Hope you're well this evening.
I am reading Anthony Calfo's book, book of coral propagation volume 1 edition 2.
<... there is only one V.>
Mr. Calfo's recommends that t5s should be placed 3" above the surface of the water. I have four t5s. They are positioned about 5.5" above the water.
They are 2x 10000k day bulbs and 2x true blue actinics.
<Do see WWM re. I'd switch at least one of these out for more "white">
Now, being my first tank, I installed the lighting (2x Hamilton tech Aruba Sun t5) very poorly. I am not a handy man by any stretch of the imagination. I ended up gluing the retro fit into the cabinet.
<Really?>
Now I cannot lower it as it is glued in place permanently.
<It's fine where it is>
I have a colt coral, gsp, mushroom and a Kenya tree in the aquarium now.
Both are doing great. Will my lighting scheme be able to house them long term?
<Very likely so>
The aquarium is a 75 gallon with 20 gallon sump and a mp40w es.
I would also like to add some Zoas, toadstools, Ricordea and numerous other soft corals.
Thanks for your time.
Brent
<Umm, welcome. Bob Fenner>

Canopy weight: Construction of Steel Canopy Frame 6/23/2010
Hello everyone!
<Hi Jason.>
I trust everyone is well. Things are pretty good with me.
<Fine, thanks.>
I have had my 250 gallon up and running for a few months now, and other than the devastating
velvet fiasco, things are ok. I wanted to ask a question. I have a steel stand (60x36x31) supporting my tank, and it is dead level, and strong (overbuilt). I feel very good about the structural integrity of the stand/tank. I was planning on making a canopy like I made the stand.
Steel frame, wood cabinet doors held on by magnets.
<Nice!>
I would use much lighter steel ( I was considering thinner 1x1 square tubing) in the shape of a rectangle which would rest evenly all around the edges of the tank, (except where my plumbing comes over the edge of the tank). It would be 60x36x12. I have attached a jpeg to show you what I mean.
<Nice drawing. AutoCAD?>
Can you see any flaws with this plan?
<Two.>
Will this be too heavy for the tank?
<In my opinion, yes. 1 x 1 square tubing with a 0.250" wall thickness and rounded corners has a rough weight of 2 pounds per linear foot (Sharp corner is 2.55 lbs\ft). Looking at your drawing, that figures to roughly 88 pounds just for the frame, With the addition of wood, panels, this will easily top 100 lbs. Now if there is a way to have the stand support the canopy.>
I will have this powder coated also.
<Another consideration is that much metal in close proximity to the top of the tank, where all of your evaporation will occur, a high humidity, high salt, higher temperature (Lights) environment, could leave you with cracking, and corrosion anywhere there is a defect in the powder coating.
Which is why you can find several metal stands, but no metal canopies.
Also, many of the marine grade coatings can be toxic to marine life. >
Any input you can offer would be appreciated.
<Your design is sound, but I think you really need a different material other than steel.>
Thanks
Jason
<MikeV> 

 

Re: Canopy weight: Construction of Steel Canopy Frame 6/27/2010
Thanks so much for getting back to me.
<Hi Jason, my pleasure, sorry for the delay in getting back with you on this one.>
I used cheetah 3d for the rendering.
It¹s a great program, you can do amazing things with it ;-)
<I'll have to give it a try.>
Thanks for the input. If I did this design in wood (pine?) would that be reasonable for weight?
<Pine should be fine for something like this.>
<MikeV>

Re: Old Tank, New Owner: Moving an established, yet neglected tank.
Follow up with Plexiglas cover 1/1/2010

Thank you so much Mike! I will do as you suggest.
<Hi Jr.>
One follow up question if you would be so kind:
<Sure.>
I will be using a single 150 watt clamp on halide for the lighting. I often find that the standard aquarium covers are to say the least, unacceptable, providing very little light penetration and room for upgrading.
<I agree I leave my covers off, or if I have 'jumpers' use glass ones.>
This is the case with this tank as well. I will be making my own acrylic (Plexiglas) cover for the tank and wanted to know if there will be any problems with the halide melting the Plexiglas.
<A very distinct probability. If not melting, it can and will soften the acrylic, leading to warping.>>
I have done this several times in the past using NO and PC lighting and it has worked wonderfully. Do you think that the increased heat will pose a problem for this DIY cover? Would thicker Plexiglas help?
<It may help in the short term, but over time, it will still degrade the acrylic. Halides should best be used over no cover at all, or a glass one.>
<MikeV>

Tank Cover 3/20/09
I have a question for you that I have tried to find the answer out now for a very long time.
<Okay.>
I have recently purchased a 125 gallon all glass fish tank off craigslist.
This fish tank is 72 L by 18 W. This tank does not have any braces on the top of the tank making it very difficult to find a top for this tank. Is there anything that you can do or anywhere you can direct me to that can help me find a top or someone that has dealt with this problem in past.
<This is a fairly standard size depending on the glass thickness. You will likely be able to contact some of the major tank manufactures to purchase "trim" for this tank. It will give you a lip around the edge for a cover if you wish to use one.>
I very badly want a top for this tank and do not want suspending lights as I do not like the idea of suspending lights above my tank due to evaporation.
<Well, if this tank has no trim whatsoever you could always go to a glass company and have some panels cut that will rest on the edge of the tank itself (maybe with the addition of a bit of foam backing to prevent accidental slamming into one another/cracking). I would just contact a tank manufacturer as stated above, then add a canopy to the tank if you wish.>
Please help. Thanks, Jake.
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Tank Cover 3/21/09
There is trim on the tank already and a lip but they do not make tops to these tanks without a brace in the middle. It has walnut trim
<Well, it leaves you with three options I can think of. First, you still could acquire new trim with the center support and replace what you have.
Next, you could just have a glass shop cut you a full length lid....they should also have the hinges needed. The third and probably best option is to add a center support with a strip of acrylic and a few nylon screws.
This will allow you to use the tops sold for these tanks. Scott V.>

Lighting, MH in Canopy 9/21/08 I currently have a 125 gallon semi-reef with compact fluorescent lighting. I would like to upgrade to Metal Halide but I only have about 5" between the top of the tank and the canopy (and would rather not build a new one). Am I stuck with what I have? <There are other options.> Any suggestions on other lighting options? <Well, the question is what you are trying to accomplish, what livestock additions do you plan to make that needs more lighting? That being said you could fit MH into the canopy, but I surely would not. Issues are heat buildup (with fans can be controlled), light spread (negligible in the front to back span of 125's), heat transfer to the tank (can be very significant) and the fixture/bulb getting splashed (it most certainly will in these close quarters). If you plan on obtaining livestock that requires more lighting, do consider either adding more PC's or switching to T5's. Either can keep a myriad of corals. The T5 fixtures definitely get my personal nod, although it may not be worth while if you already have PC's, depending on how much you now have and how much you will need. If you would like to go MH, it can be done depending on the look you want. In the past I have had the same issue and simply mounted some pendants above the canopy, while having cut out the top of the canopy beneath the fixtures. Up to you and your taste!> Thanks. <Welcome, Scott V.>

Aquarium Lighting... canopy size limitation   5/28/2008 Hi, Hope you are all well. <Pretty spiffy, thanks> I am in sort of a dilemma. The canopy I had made, has a support beam down the middle front to back (who knew, I'm not a carpenter), leaving the available space at appx. 21.5"L x 16"w. Having trouble finding decent retrofits for PC mainly; all 65" units are listed and tested at 23-24". No one seems to do retro for the 18" lights - and they need to be single kits, one bulb each side lengthwise of the MH. FYI, with the end caps, all 22" CF are over 23" in length. I got a whole shipment from CA and while they looked pretty good and would 'almost' fit, let's put it this way - 3 out of 8 items actually worked and now I have to pay shipping back... All PFO are 24"; Hamilton only has the MH kit, which is nice but wow, bare for the $$. <We are in agreement, shock here> I am tempted to chop up the canopy I paid extra to have made taller for retro and get a silly Jebo light and be done with it, lol. I am not cheap but between all the attempts with CA, PFO, Hamilton, I could have bought 3 Odyssea lights already and used the canopy for kindling. Any advice on a 'real' custom lighting maker for retro? With real ballasts and reflectors that fit and don't look like they came out of a Reynolds Wrap box? Venting, sorry :) Take care <Am familiar with many domestic, and repatriated "foreign" brands (have just come back from a/"the" tradeshow there) of fixtures, reflectors... and concur that given the current size of the "box" canopy you have your choices are limited. I would choose between the two you list... modifying the current or... Bob Fenner>  
Light Panels, canopy... design  4/26/08 Dear WWM crew, <Hello there Lindsay.> I am in the process of getting materials for my first aquarium. I have a 55 gallon SeaClear tank (48"x13"x21"). I plan to eventually have a fish/invert system plus live rock (corals are probably too far out of my league). Although I plan to get started with fish-only and slowly work my way towards inverts, I've been selecting equipment for the final stages. <Smart, plan ahead and spend less time and money.> One particular question I had is regarding lighting and a tank cover. I purchased a Hagen GLO T5 HO 48" with 2, 18K lights. My particular goal is to get an anemone with clownfish. <This will not be nearly enough light. You will need at the least 3-4 times this, preferably in the 10,000 Kelvin range.> However, I don't know what type of cover I can have with this light. My tank doesn't have a canopy, so there are several openings I need to cover. At the same time I don't want to use a cover that's going to block out the light and not be enough strength for inverts. <This can be a dilemma, balancing the benefits of each option.> I looked at egg crate panels and only see 1/2"x1/2" grid-type. I would like to get a Jawfish at some point and maybe Firefish, and I know they're notorious jumpers. I fear that a Jawfish would get past this no problem. <Not to say it can't happen, but it is very unlikely.> I also saw styrene prismatic panels which are also made for in-ceiling fluorescent fixtures. This has raised edging but no holes to jump through. Is this suitable for my set-up or will this block the lighting too much? <These do tend to diffuse much of the light, I would not use them for a potential reef.> Am I better off with the egg crate panel? <Yes.> If so, will jumping be a concern? <Very little of a concern. If all is aligned just right, the planets and such, the fish could wiggle through, but it is rare.> Any other ideas? <A solid piece of glass or acrylic would work, although this does diffuse and scatter some of the light also. The other nice thing to keep in mind about an open cover such as the eggcrate is the evaporative cooling effect it allows. This can make the difference between investing/running a chiller and not.> By the way, loved The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. <I do too! This will be passed along to Bob.><<Ahh! Thank you. The new, 2d. ed. is soon to be out... Is a beauty, enlarged, updated a great deal (needed it for sure!), but a bunch more money... only in hardbound for another year or two. RMF>> Sincerely, Lindsay <Have fun, congratulations on the new tank! Scott V.>

Re: Light Panels/Anemone Lighting 4/27/08 Thanks for the feedback! <Very welcome.> Would 1 bulb at 6700K and 1 actinic bulb be more appropriate, or otherwise, what would you recommend for an anemone? <The 10000K bulbs are fine, will look better aesthetically than the 6500's. You will need at least 6 or so of these daylight bulbs to keep an anemone happy in this tank. Even then this is hoping the anemone is content in the upper half of the tank. They are very light hungry creatures, a two bulb T5 will not cut it. For more info on anemone lighting check out the link and related FAQ's. Regards, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemonelightngfaqs.htm

Eggcrate to Keep Fish Inside Tank 3/29/08 I have a 180g reef w/sps, LPSs and softies and 55g refugium running for 2 yrs. Am using t5's and have had great success so far. <Great!> Have had problems w/wrasses jumping out. <This happens.> My tank is a euro type and I have eggcrate around the sides that do not have glass edges. I have my overflow covered. What kind of cover can I use for the rest of the tank that does not block light. <More of the eggcrate.> I have a canopy cover that holds the lights and cooling fans. Have had two Cirrhilabrus Wrasses jump completely out of the tank. These fish are great additions and I would really like to keep them but I don't want to interfere with the sps light situation. The t5's seem to really do a good job. SPS's are not only living, but they are growing! <The T5's can grow more than some think!> Currently have 4 Yellowtail Blue Damsels 2 Engineer Gobies 1 Pink Spotted Shrimp Goby 1 Foxface Rabbitfish 2 Blackaxle Chromis 1 Midas Blenny 1 Bristletooth Tang (flavicauda?) <That is one variety, see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ctenocha.htm > 1 Green Mandarinfish 1 Copperband Butterfly 1 Lysmata Amboinensis Is eggcrate over the entire tank going to inhibit the light to a detrimental degree to the SPS's? <No, it will work fine.> I have Acropora, Pocillopora, Montipora Favia, Favites. Any help you can give is greatly appreciated. Roger Tisdale <Sounds like a nice system, eggcrate will keep everyone where they belong. Welcome, Scott V.>

55 Gal Canopy Weight 3/9/08 Hello. I am building a DIY canopy for my All-Glass 55 gal FW Planted aquarium. I was wondering what is a standard weight limit that I should strive for when finished? <Not really, obviously not excessively heavy. Brick canopies are out!> I am using solid red oak, and will have (2) 48" double shoplights mounted inside. I think the final weight will be somewhere around 45#. Should this be ok? Thanks a lot. <This will be fine, be sure to make the canopy contact along as much as the tank's edge as possible to avoid points with excessive pressure. Have fun, Scott V.>

Clarifying the use of Egg Crate  1/19/08 Hello, <Marc> I was reading a comment Steven Pro made about the use of egg crate. You stated that one way it will intensify the lighting, is this with the taper up or down? One side is thick and one side is thin I believe. Thanks for your help. -Marc <The tapered side down, yes. Bob Fenner>

MH Lighting, Acrylic Tank, Very Low Canopy...Not The Best Recipe -- 10/18/07 Greetings, <<Morning>> I've found a lot of useful information on your website, but after reading countless FAQs, I still can't come to a decision on lighting for my tank. <<Oh?>> I'm currently in the process of setting up a 400 gallon reef tank (96"L x 30"W x 36"H). <<Cool!...love big reef tanks...have a 375 myself>> I've got just about everything I need except for the lighting. <<Okay>> It's an acrylic Tenecor tank with two 25" x 15" top openings on both sides, with 21" between openings and 13.5" on either side length wise. <<Mine too is a Tenecor built tank, though I had them 'customize' mine with three openings in the top versus two to make 'lighting' the reef easier...as you are no doubt discovering with that 21'-wide center brace. In retrospect, I wish I had spent a bit more money and had the top thickened and the bracing/perimeter reduced...but I digress...>> I've got about 275 pounds of live rock and a few fish, and the tank has been running for about three months now. I'm currently using a 36" Coralife Aqualight Pro out of my old setup, which has 1x250W HQI lamp, 2x65W CF lamps, and 2x1-watt LEDs. My problem with the new setup is the canopy. I've only got 6" from the top of the acrylic to the bottom of the canopy, which doesn't give me a lot of room. <<Mmm, indeed...and if you are planning to install MH lighting this will be too close and enclosed in my opinion (bulbs will be mere inches from the acrylic)...serious potential for softening the acrylic and causing a catastrophic failure of the tank. I have seen 250w MH lamps placed within 4-inches of ¾' acrylic soften it to the point where a 14'-wide brace would flex with the push of a finger...and these lamps were not 'confined' in a canopy. Even if you position the bulbs over the openings on your tank, I think the confines of your very low canopy will hold too much heat. I'm doubtful fans will even be of much help considering the proximity of the bulbs and the containment of the hood>> On top of that, both top sides of the canopy open up independently, so I'm not sure how I could hang a fixture over an opening. <<Not sure I follow this...>> (The openings have acrylic covers, but everything I've read thus far says that the MH lights aren't as efficient shining through the acrylic.) <<Is not a matter of efficiency...'clean' acrylic will allow about 95% light transmission regardless of the light source (and for what it's worth...regarding reef systems, metal halide gives the most 'bang for the buck'...in my opinion). But you don't want to leave those covers on anyway as they trap heat, reduce evaporative cooling, and, depending on how your system is configured (e.g. - sump/no sump), can prevent adequate gas exchange>> The Coralife light is currently resting on modified legs, with the lights just over 2" away from the top of the acrylic. <<Dangerous...in my opinion>> Any help that you could give me would be greatly appreciated! Great work on the site, and if I left anything out, please let me know. Thanks! Heavy D <<Well Heavy D, your options as I see it are these... You can use the current canopy but with a 'cooler running' light source light standard-wattage fluorescent bulbs (will limit stocking organisms with 'high' light requirements). These standard-wattage bulbs will still need good ventilation to prevent excessive heat buildup in the canopy. You could consider HO (T5) or VHO fluorescent tubes, but these get 'quite hot' and again, the confines of this low built canopy may prove too much... Another option is to abandon this canopy and build/have built one that is 'designed' for use with the high-intensity metal halide lighting... A third option is to abandon using a canopy altogether and opt for open suspended lighting such as metal halide pendant fixtures. You don't state what biotopic representation/type of reef tank you plan to keep...but if you really want to utilize the high heat producing lighting usually associated re...it just doesn't seem like the canopy you have is going to work with this acrylic tank. Please write back to discuss further if you wish. Regards, EricR>>

Re: MH Lighting, Acrylic Tank, Very Low Canopy...Not The Best Recipe - 10/19/07 Thank you for the quick reply. <<Quite welcome>> Your name is a good one, but to set the record straight, it seems that you've spelled it incorrectly. I believe it's spelled with a "K". <<Ha!...perspectives!>> To give you a better idea of what I'm working with, I've enclosed a few pictures. <<Thanks much for this>> Picture 1 is my setup as it sits, without the canopy. <<Okay>> Picture 2 is where my Coralife MH light sits right now, on the modified legs. Not too far above the acrylic... It's 3/4" thick, and I haven't had a problem yet, but I'm pretty sure you have a lot more experience with this kind of thing than I do. <<It may well be fine>> Picture 3 is just an overhead view of the top of the aquarium. <<Mmm, not much 'open space' for sure'¦the bane of the 'stock' acrylic tank. Obviously whoever designs these has never had to 'work' in one of these tanks'¦>> I too wish I would have had something a little more "custom" built, as this was a standard Tenecor tank. <<Indeed>> They built the cabinet and the canopy as well. <<I see>> When I ordered it, I didn't really have the intention of building a dedicated reef tank. <<Oh?>> After reading up on the subject and seeing all kinds of pictures, I decided after the fact that it was something I wanted to do. <<Ahhh'¦the little slice of ocean in your living room'¦ Can be/is very addictive'¦ As said by this 30+ year marine hobbyist who became a 'reef-addict' about 17 years ago now'¦so I do understand the allure>> Probably not the smartest thing, but it is what it is. <<Yup>> The cabinet is too small to house my sump/refugium, (that's all in the crawl space) and the canopy is apparently not tall enough to house MH lights. <<A common problem all around'¦ I do wish manufacturers would design these items with more of an eye toward housing the necessary support systems>> Again, I wish I had something a little different. <<Mmm, how's that saying go'¦ Hindsight is 'always' 20-20'¦>> As far as the canopy goes, I'd like to use it with my current setup, as taking it off doesn't leave the tank near as aesthetically pleasing. <<Indeed>> It's in a dining /living room area, and I like the way it looks with the canopy on. <<Understandable>> Picture 4 is the canopy, and that's what I meant when I said that both top sides of the canopy open up. That's my only way to get inside the tank, and I don't know how I would suspend something underneath them. Not that 6" gives me any room to suspend something... <<Ugh'¦ I see what you mean. Looks like 36' fluorescent bulbs mounted to each door will be your best option>> When it comes to species, I really haven't decided what I'd like to keep yet. <<This will determine your lighting needs>> Any recommendations that you have would be greatly appreciated. <<I suggest you first research and decide on a specific biotope or niche of the reef you would like to replicate. Stocking organisms from the same ocean and reef habitat/zone/niche can mean much toward long term success>> Again, I don't really want to get rid of the canopy, so if I need a light source that's not going to be bright enough for my setup, I guess I'll have to deal with it. <<If you can get some air flowing through the canopy'¦T5 HO lighting is worth a try. I doubt you can fit the 4-foot 54w bulbs and end caps on those door panels, so you will have to go with the 3-foot 39w bulbs. I figure you can fit about eight bulbs or more (w/reflectors) per door panel on this 36' deep (wide) tank. The T5s are very nice technology'¦I have even seen some beautiful European SPS tanks lighted with these bulbs, so'¦the possibilities/choices for your reef may be broader than you think>> It's been fish only so far, and by the sounds of things, it may have to stay that way. <<Maybe not'¦ I would feel better if the canopy were taller to allow better heat dissipation along with positioning of bulbs (metal halide) further away from the acrylic. But if you can get enough air moving through the canopy through the installation of some fans, the T5 lighting could work out fine>> One more quick question for my current setup... <<Sure>> I've been getting a lot of algae on the front glass. If you look in from the side, you can see that it follows the pattern of where the light shines. <<Typical>> Is this just a case of having the lights on too long during the day? They're on for about 12 hours right now. <<Nope, this lighting period is fine. The algae is likely a result of the newness of this tank (hasn't found/reached its 'balance' yet)>> The light is so bright at night that I've had a few neighbors ask if I currently have a 1.)Botanical garden or 2.)A tanning bed in my living room. <<Hee-hee! When I was building/installing my system (in-wall), and before I had the lighting enclosed, my neighbors and visitors to the house thought I must be growing 'Pot' in the living room because the light was so bright!>> Should I cut the lights back to 9 or 10 hours to help with the algae? <<Not my opinion>> I can only assume this will get worse if I add more lights. <<Unless something is amiss with your filtration/feeding/stocking levels, or you're not filtering your tap water'¦this will likely pass>> Thanks again! Heavy D (a.k.a. Erik) <<Always welcome'¦do let me know if I can assist further. Eric Russell>>

R2: MH Lighting, Acrylic Tank, Very Low Canopy...Not The Best Recipe - 10/20/07 Thank you again for the advice! <<Hope it was/is of use>> I'll research some lights and I'll send you a picture or two of the finished (although they're never really finished) product. <<I look forward to seeing them>> Gracias,
<<De nada, EricR>>

Metal Halide Canopy- How much height from top of canopy to top of light???   8/12/07 Hey all! I've heard numerous things about making sure you mount your light 9-15" above the top of your aquarium, but how much space should you have between the top of your light and the top of your canopy?? <Mmm, mainly depends on what the canopy is made of (flash point and melting point wise) and how this might be insulated... can be "right next to" if thermally protected, the waste heat reduced through fans...> I'm custom making a canopy and trying to figure out how tall I need it to be. The light fixture(s) (Reef Optix III 250watt) is 4 inches tall. And I plan on keeping the light around 9-10" from the top of the aquarium. The aquarium is 30 inches deep. So far I only have 1 light, but will probably have a total of 3 eventually. Thank you! <Do look into non-corrosive insulation... like foam sheeting... at large hardware stores... Oh, and please have a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm the second tray down... on Canopies... Bob Fenner>

Tank Tops Hey Guys, Super Job (wise cracks and all): <Gotta have a laugh now and then, right? Scott F. with you this afternoon> Thanks for all of your help through this last month of my new journey. I have an All-Glass 55gal. The top is sectioned in half and has the double cover, single bulb combination. First, are they all like that? Could I have gotten a different maker of the same size without this partition/support thing in the middle? <There are many different configurations on the market, the one you have is fairly common> I want to replace the standard 40 watt 48" light with something more. I have seen doubles, but are there triples? <Once again, you can purchase hoods/fixtures in many different configurations> A triple would give me 120W, just what I would need, right (3watts per gal)?<Depends upon what you're trying to keep; for example, Tridacna clams require intensity that standard fluorescents generally cannot provide. For a fish only tank, or freshwater plants, this may be adequate. Again-largely depends on your animals/plants. Hard to generalize.> I think I have seen a quadruple, but that would cover the whole top? <In all likelihood, yes, but depends upon manufacturer's specifications> Can I get two 24" tops so I can leave one side on while I do stuff on the other? <Certainly a possibility-but remember, if your tank is exactly 48 inches wide, there may be some "overhang" on each side from the hoods. Have you considered one of the hanging pendant lighting systems? They are usually available in compact fluorescent and metal halide configurations, and may give you the access and flexibility that you want. Why don't you check out some of our advertisers' web sites for information on the various options available?> I also want to make my own cover(s); should I use Plexiglas or real glass or something else? And what thickness would be right?<This depends upon the type of light you are using. Lights that burn at high temperatures, such as HQI could damage Plexiglas/acrylic over time. Additionally, some of these lighting systems give off considerable UV radiation, and glass may be more appropriate to shield the inhabitants. Salt creep is another consideration. Much to think about here. Best to consult the tank/lighting system manufacturer and find out what they recommend.> When I cut slots for the HO filter space, heater and whatever else I need, how tight should they be? A couple of millimeters space or like none? Should I drill holes for air in the top? <Open tops favor gas exchange, but there are (once again) lots of considerations, such as fish that jump, evaporation, etc. If you are cutting holes for filters, etc, you can allow a little extra space for gas exchange. Not necessary to be air tight-but do think of the aforementioned considerations.> Sorry, I didn't mean to ramble...thanks! Rich <And thank YOU for stopping by!>

Lighting Hi again, Currently, I've got 2 x 96 watts power compacts about 2-3" off a glass cover and cool it with a fan, but I don't think the glass cover is such a great idea because it blocks the light, accumulates a lot of salt, and also the canopy gets pretty hot after a few hours. What height would I have to place these lights off the surface of the water to not have the lights so they are still effective, but not ruined by the salt spray? <I would leave at 2-3 inches off of the water surface and instead attack the source of the salt spray. Remove any venturi airlines on powerheads, lower any spray bars, remove any airstones, use a bubble trap on your protein skimmer, etc.> Are there better solutions than glass covers? <Some people use egg crate material to stop fish from jumping out while allowing nearly full light.> I'd like to grow LPS corals, mushrooms and polyps. Thanks, Ben <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

MH and Oceanic canopies I'm still in the design phase of a 120 gal reef and I have been looking at the Oceanic 120 for the main tank with several Rubbermaid sumps in the basement below (more on this in future questions I'm sure). Do you have any experience with mounting MH bulbs in the Oceanic wood canopies. I appears everything will fit but I'm a little worried about having the bulbs so close to the water surface. The canopies appear to be only 6" or so tall. Thanks, Kenny <metal halide bulbs closer than 6" to water surface can be challenging... do be sure you will be keeping high light creatures that will favor this. MH though are typically mounted 6-9" off of the water surface... any higher is a waste of light/efficacy. As importantly, with a commercially designed tank, be sure that you get a model with large enough drain holes for a proper reef... too many tanks just have 2-3 holes for 1" pipe or smaller. This will be inadequate for a high light MH tank full of SPS corals that need very strong water flow. Browse through our archives on this subject (overflows) and do a google search of our site as well for such topics... there is much in the archived FAQs here. Anthony>

Egg Crate Material Reference Lighting Hi Steven, Just a comment about using egg crate material to cover the tank instead of glass covers. I read somewhere a few years back, that an enterprising student studied the effect of egg crate material on light and discovered by turning the egg crate upside down (opposite of the way they use it in elevators and office buildings) it increased the fluorescent light intensity by almost 30%. Don't know if its true, but I thought I would share. Paul E. Proue of St. Joe Beach, FL <It is definitely true. Egg crate has distinct top and bottom sides. If you look closely you will notice that there is a slight taper to the plastic. Used one way it blocks out light, the other way it focuses the available light. -Steven Pro>

Re: canopy and light design I think I'm nearly complete on the canopy and light design and, if you be good enough to make comments on the plan and open items, I'm done. 200 gallon 72L x 24 W x 27H.  I will have clams and SPS corals. I am having a custom built canopy and stand that will be against but not built into the wall (but will have a built-in look) set two inches away from the wall, so air can travel behind the tank.  So no "back" on the canopy other than the wall.  The front 1/3 of the canopy will fold up on piano hinges and fold back on itself.  The outside height of the canopy will be 14" high.  The canopy will be made out of maple plywood.  The inside of the canopy with be painted with white epoxy.  The fixture will be a Custom Sea Life retrofit kit 3 x 250 Ushio 10000K MH with VHO (actinics?).  The fixture is about 71" x 12.5" x 2" H. The fixture will be hung at least 1" from the underside of the roof of the canopy, so the bulbs will be about 10" from the top of the tank.  Perry at Champion insists that I need a lens cover, acrylic Plexiglas would be fine, hung 2" beneath the fixture.  It seems to me that this would interfere somewhat with access and may not be convenient to hang. Is it really necessary? He also believes fans are necessary and that it should be mounted on one end with a finger guard (is that a filter?) on the other end for optimal air flow.  He thinks that the canopy should have a back so that together with lens cover the "heated air" is enclosed and kept away from the water and then sucked out by the fan.  If I had to have a fan I would want it mounted in the top of the canopy?  Do I need one, and if so, where should it be placed? So I'm still uncertain over fan location and the lens cover.  Can you illuminate these issues? << Fan location: Yes you need fan(s). The idea is to keep the air moving to cool the canopy. There are some interest FAQs here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/canopyfaqs.htm and beyond about fan placement and if top/back/sides are best. The best placement is such that there are areas of stagnant air. Lens Cover: Excellent idea but acrylic too close to halide = melting!!!! Trap the air??? Never thought about that one. But keeping water spray out of the canopy is a good reason. May use coated glass to cut down on UV. Oh, to my knowledge, a finger guard is a metal protector over the blades of a fan for exactly that reason, guarding your fingers. There may be a foam filter as well>> As always, your input is valued. <<Thanks, Don>> Lawrence M. Benjamin

Cost of a metal halide hood - 2/20/03 Hey <Hi. Paul back atcha'> I would like to know how much would a metal halide hood cost? <Depends on many things, the least of which is the size of your tank, what type of fixture, and brand.> Can you give me some web sites with cheap hoods? Thanks <There are a great many sites to find such. I would first think about what type of animals I plan to keep, what size tank I need to light, then I would look at the following links for information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/mhmarfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/growingcorals.htm After this information has been assimilated, I would just click the various links that are advertised on this site and do a price comparison for the fixture you want. The links are on the right hand side and top of this page as well as here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/general_links_pg.htmBe sure to look under Retailers/E-tailers. Hope this helps! Regards Paul>

MH lighting and custom hood. I have a 60 1/2x18 32deep with 4" crushed coral base 200lbs primo Fiji rock some soft/hard coals urchins, mushrooms, anemone, quite a bite of vegetation.1 1" red abalone didn't know it survived warm water still kicking need to build a top for tank. Daughter keeps putting scuba Steve in tank have glass top don't stop her. so my quest on is what would you do for lighting. Have a Solar Lighting Systems 6' to long 4 tank, with 6 55wat VHO fluorescent. I have access to any type of halide from 175-1000wat. I was thinking of putting 2 250 5500k metal halide and put my 6 55wt all aqua lux in custom hood. Or ma by 4 175wat halide. how high should I place lights from water going to put a 1 piece glass piece in hood with 3 squirrel cage blowers to removes heat. Have all types of interstitial ballast that will work. what is your option on ballasts. should I spend the money and get good ballast like a ice cape or something like that. Have all the ballasts and hook ups in any size to fit a army of tanks. Just need to by special bulbs. Or will the regular halide bulbs work didn't know the cal. on bulbs. have high preacher sodium, mercury vapor liquid cooled&non liquid cooled exa. all interstitial grade. Dad is electrician & has stocked pilled. What would you do?????? I know that probably going to have to buy bulbs, no problem just need to know how height to place off water .plan to have major reef tank. All I know is have to build top to keep hands out so mite as well do it all at once even if not ready yet always leave some lights off for now didn't really want to buy more VHO cost to much. my light was $450.hopping to use what have stocked pilled would like your opinion on situation.... <OK, I see 4 questions here, 1) What ballast to use, 2)Distance of MH from surface, 3)Wattage of bulbs, 4)Temperature (K) of the bulbs. If this is incorrect, let me know. Here goes, 1)The obvious answer is to use a ballast that will properly fire the bulb you get. Not all ballasts will fire all bulbs. Check with the manufacturer. As far as brand is concerned, I have seen ballasts from $40(US) to $200(US) You will have to look at the pros and cons of each and decide 2)8-10" is recommended for Metal Halide and as close as possible for the fluorescent. 3)A 32" deep tank (28 after substrate) with SPS and anemone would benefit from 2 250W bulbs. 4) 5500K will not do. Go to at least 7100K or even 10000K. Ushio and Aqualine/Buschke (AB) are bulb manufacturers recommended by many. BTW, keeping corals and anemones that require such a wide range of lighting needs (corallimorphs to SPS/Anemones) will be very challenging. You might want to rethink your livestock list. Don>

Light Hood and Tank Access I'm reading The Conscientious Marine Aquarist -- very good information. <Yes, an asset to anyone in the hobby> My question is a practical one.  I have a 55 gallon tank (48X13X20).  I have a Hamilton oak light hood (halide/CF) which is 50X12X7.5.  It covers most of the top of the tank.  I cannot hang the hood from above.  I can't scoot the hood back because of the hoses/cords hanging over the back lip of the tank.  Can you think of a workaround so that I can access the tank daily for feeding, etc.  without having to lift the hood and setting it on the floor?  I also use glass canopies, half of which folds up to access the tank.  I can't move the hood enough to fold up the canopy.  Is there a way to make a miniature, say 4X4, opening or door in the front right of the glass canopy or use a plastic canopy and make a little door?  That way I could perhaps move the hood enough to get access to a little opening. <Yes, this is why customized and DIY hoods are popular. If your glass top is similar to others I have seen, it has a plastic strip that acts as a hinge between the two pieces of glass right? You should be able to remove the smaller piece (normally the front) by sliding it out of the hinge. Any glass shop should be able to cut the glass to give you what you want. Or, you could replace the smaller piece of glass with plastic eggcrate to give access to the tank. Eggcrate is used as a diffusion panel in overhead lighting. It is sold by home/hardware stores in 2ft x 4ft panels. Hope this gives you some ideas, Don> Lifting it off weekly is not a problem, but lifting it off daily or twice a day is tedious and increases the risk of breakage. Am I the only one that has problems with a hood that covers the entire top of the tank?  I've never read this question anywhere. <Certainly not the only one. I have seen some very clever uses of drawer slides and hinges used for the tops of chests that solve the problem. Most of these designs are on DIY sites so you would have to be pretty handy with woodworking tools to accomplish some of these.> Thanks, Randy

Re: metal halide cover hello, <Hi Eric, PF here tonight> I am building a new canopy for my 55 gallon tank. It will house 2 175 w MH with Ushios and a 55w actinic power compact. My question is should I have any glass protecting the bulbs from splash <I'd say yes, and as UV filters too.>, and how high should the halides be off the water? <10" - 12" is standard from what I've read/done.> Also I am switching over from all fish to a reef, I had 65 lbs of live rock and a tomatoe clown in this tank, I have a sump with 10 lbs of miracle mud with bio balls in the water. I cannot seem to get nitrates under 40 <Yipes!> I do regular water changes, the tank has been set up for about 2 years, thanks <Well, MM should be used with a nutrient export method: i.e. macroalgae. The official EcoSystem method advises Caulerpa, but I'm not fond of Caulerpa as it causes to many problems. IMO Chaetomorpha is a much better choice. You didn't mention a skimmer on your system, also you might want to look into using a DSB to help reduce your nitrates.>

Distance from lights 3/25/04 I am building a canopy for my 90 gallon tank...I have purchased a DIY kit with 2x250 metal halides and 2x46.4 inch VHO's What would be the ideal height I would want each light from?  I have heard that the metal halides should be 6 inches and VHO's 2 or 3?  Does it really matter? <It isn't super critical.  The closer to the water you get, the more light you will get into the tank, but there are practical limits in terms of splash risk and being able to work in the thank.  The distances you stated are reasonable ideal goals, but you will likely find that a bit higher is more practical, and that is fine.  I would recommend staying within about 10" of the surface, though.  Best Regards.  Adam>

The Dreaded Hex!  >hello!  >>Greetings.  >first time "question asker" kind of a beginner with saltwater tanks.  Here's the dillio. I have a 30 gallon hex (was a free gift) with over 30 lbs of live rock, a wavemaker, and a filter (soon to be replaced by a protein skimmer  [SeaClone 100]), recently added a cleanup crew of some hermits and emerald and sally light foot crabs, and bubblers (do I need to get rid of those??).  >>The emerald (a.k.a. Mithrax) and Sally Lightfoots (one of three possible species), you very well may need to. Not always known for being polite customers. As for the bubblers, the salt creep they generate will help you along with your decision one way or the other.  >Well the main question I have is!! . . . what can I do for some great lighting? I don't want to do a metal halide because I plan on moving in probably 5 months  from now (or my roommate probably won't approve of how it looks hanging from the ceiling as it does) and there are no compacts that can fit with the top of the  tank being 20" across. I recently found an Aqualight Deluxe 20" exuding 96 watts. Should I just go with it or is there someone out there that can take this hex to other places than 3 watts per gallon.  >>Well, I don't see why you can't go with power compact fluorescents at all. You'll be somewhat limited as to what you can keep in terms of photosynthetic creatures, but you may be able to create a "bank" of lights, or go with the MH lights post-move anyway (5 months in terms of setting up a reef and getting it going really isn't a very long time).  >I don't really want to put in that much time making a hood with a compact. I'd rather buy another tank than do that, but are there other stories I can hear about overcoming the dreaded Hex? Can someone just make me a hood and sell it to me on eBay, please?!?!  >>I'm sure someone could, but you'd have to ask them.  >p.s. the top is glass (looks custom made) -Michael  >>Right, well, there you have it. Or, stick with entirely non-photosynthetic animals and you'll have no worries on the lighting front. Marina

Metal Halides above water - 11/22/04 Hello, <Hey Brent!>      I have a 55 gallon aquarium that I'd like to add metal halides.  Since my canopy is 7 inches, about 6 inches off of the surface of the water, it seems through reading the FAQs that I'll have to build a custom canopy.  Can you tell me how high the canopy should be?  <Well it is more important to note how high the recommendation for halides to be above the surface of the water. I would suggest 7-10 inches above the water (minimum) and definitely incorporate a fan or two into the canopy for cooling and moving the trapped heat out of the canopy. Do search the internet (via Google, Dogpile, or Yahoo) for DIY canopies. See if there are any helpful DIY plans available. Good luck ~Paul) Thanks, -Brent

Building your own metal halide system and canopy Hi crew, I hope all is well, and if its not, I hope it gets better. I just finished building my own canopy to house my metal halide  system.  It is built out of pine.  My MH are complete DIY, with a  reflector.  Do 250 HQI's get hot enough to warrant some insulant between  the reflectors and the wood( I spent hours making it, don't want it to turn to  ashes just yet)? << I don't think so, but I would certainly have fans in there for water heat reasons, and I guess for wood heat reasons. >> Is painting the inside of my canopy white sufficient to reflect  light? << No way!  For about $10 you can buy fantastic reflectors which make all the difference in the world.  Best money you will spend on your tank. >> I also want to address everyone who asks a question to you guys.   There is a donation area to keep these guys up and running.  I figure about  1-2 dollars for every email you send to this site is more than worth it.   The information is invaluable, and it will keep them here.  I figure I have  asked about 10 questions this year, so I'll be sending them $20.  It is  expensive to run a site, so let's all chip in!!! << Well that is awful nice of you.  I think that is a little high, and I feel bad seeing you pay that much.  I think $.02 is fine (like asking for my two cents on something).  You know if you really want to, write in a question about advertising for a certain price (I have no idea how much) Cesnales will put an add for you on our site.  We appreciate the donations, and we are here to help. >> Thank you crew. James P Rhode Island <<  Blundell  >>

Building your own metal halide system and canopy continued The metal halides will have a polished reflector.  Would covering the remaining interior of the canopy with silver Mylar work? << Not really.  I did this on a tank once.  It was great for about 8 months but eventually the salt creep just ate it away.  A polished aluminum reflector is definitely the way to go, and I wouldn't worry about using anything else. If you can, just use more of it. >> Thanks again. James <<  Blundell  >> - Canopy Completion - Hi crew - <Hi.> Hope all is well, my next step is to wire a direct hotline to you guys to save on typing. <Can it be a 900 number?> I cannot thank you and your website enough for the  information provided while upgrading my tank. Lighting is the only part I am uneasy about.  I have upgraded from  PC's to HQI halides. I have built my own canopy- and I would sleep better if I get your approval/suggestions on it- <Ok.> It's going to be a 90 gallon tank, with mixed corals, a lot of LPS and  SPS. My lighting is DIY HQI- 2-250w with Ushio 10,000K bulbs.  Since I don't really want a suntan (Irish), I will be sealing the top half of the  canopy (where the bulbs are) with 1-inch glass. <One inch? Won't that be incredibly heavy?> The bulbs will be about 10  inches off the surface when installed.  Under the glass- I will have 2-80  CFM fans blowing through the canopy.  Above the halides, I will have 2- 30  CFM fans blowing upwards. Directly above the halides will be a polished aluminum reflector. The  rest of the canopy will be coated in silver Mylar reflective covering. I installed a dual closed loop system in the canopy, but I am confident in the plumbing area.  I am kind of seeking a "stamp of approval" on my setup, and any suggestions would be helpful. <Sounds good to me. Make sure your plans to "seal the top" of the canopy and lighting don't make the canopy too heavy to maintain OR make it impossible to swap out bulbs. Other than that, it all sounds good.> The info you provide to the general public on fishkeeping is more than helpful.  You guys (and gal) have guided me through a complete overhaul of my tank. Thank You. James P Providence, RI <Cheers, J -- >

Hood Options, Hex Tank 1.8.05 <Hello, Ryan with you today.> Ok, every time I look at your site, which is a lot, I find myself with another question; well here goes.  My 44 gal. Pentagon tank has fairly insufficient lighting, only two 15W fluorescent bulbs for a 25'' deep tank.  Problem is the hood that came with my tank is unable to support any other lighting system.  So I went to my hardware store and made my own hood out of 1/8" thick Plexiglas. I can only fit at most a 20"Lx6"W lighting system on top. <Have you considered using a MH pendant?> I only wish to boost my coralline growth, but I was thinking of the Satellite light fixtures(?), I forget the proper name at the moment, which is only 10W more powerful than what I have now, but much more light will be able to enter the aquarium. <I have used the fixtures you're thinking of.  They worked well for a moderately lit tank.> Anyways, is Plexiglas a very good material for this purpose, and if so, would the light system be flush with the Plexiglas hood, or rest above it so that the lights are approx. 3" or so above the hood. <I'd give a bit of room for air- And hands, etc.> Thank you so much and sorry for flooding your mailbox with questions.  Thanks again! <No problem!  Ryan> -David Hume DIY Hood And Lighting Greetings To The Best Knowledge Base Around! I have read many of you faq's on lighting and am narrowing down a setup that is right for my pets.  I am an employee of Lowe's home improvement and naturally I have been looking through our lighting dept.  I have decided upon constructing a hood from wood to match my stand, and plan to add five fluorescent bulbs- Four 10000k Ocean Sun 32 watt T-8 and One Coral life actinic blue 40 watt T-12.  all 48" bulbs with the T-8's on a four bulb ballast, and the T-12 on a single T-12 ballast.  I had planned on mounting the ballasts in the tank stand away from the hood. <And carefully... away from where waste heat might cause troubles> This is for a 55 gallon 48"x18"x12".   <Mmm, s/b 13" wide... or my memory is bunked out... again> I have not seen much talk about using these type bulbs for corals or anemones, only the halides and other high-dollar setups.  Will my lighting plan satisfy a bubble-tip or some types of corals? Thank you for any suggestions. <Will... but "barely"... however sufficient from my point of view. As you will come to understand, you could bring to bear much more photonic energy here... but, there are downsides to driving photosynthesis... these are covered in the extreme in archived FAQs on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Aquarium lighting I currently have a 55 gallon tank (standard) with 4 x 55 watt PC. Two are 10000K white and the other two are 03 actinic blue. I know that this amount of light limits some types of corals I can keep, so I recently upgraded to 2 x 175 w MH. I plan on building a canopy and incorporating all of the lighting under this canopy. First of all I was wondering if you knew of any good canopy plans for such a common size tank. <Hello Corey. I'd copy one of the nicer hoods from a dealer. I would suggest a hood where the whole top opens which makes it easier to clean the tank without having to take the hood off.>  I think I am leaning towards suspending it from the ceiling to avoid having to buy a chiller. Also do you think this would be too much light?  <Definitely not too much light.>  I would like to keep lower light loving species as well (i.e. mushroom coral). Another option I was considering was taking apart my PC fixture (same one as described above) and assembling it into a hood for my 15 gal. tall sitting beside my other tank. I have some anemones and corals in both tanks that would enjoy a lighting upgrade. What would be a good way to "divvy up this light" so to speak. I also have a spare 48 in 40 watt 50/50 fixture I plan to throw in the mix. <I would use one 10K with an actinic. James (Salty Dog)>  Thanks, Corey 

Lights in a Canopy? Good day, I have been reading through this site for several weeks now and think that it is really a wonderful forum. Thank you to everyone that participates and shares their skill. <Welcome> I have about 30 years in freshwater and I am starting my first marine tank this year. I have a lighting question that I have not found in the archives. I built a stand and canopy for a 48" 90 gallon AGA drilled tank. The more I research lights the less I want the bulbs fixed to the top lid (retrofit kits) do you see a problem with using one of the common aluminum fixtures inside the canopy (like the Aqualight)? <Mmm, for marine use, yes... the aluminum reacts with seawater, the residue from this is toxic to livestock> There is about 8" across the back for airflow and 8" of height inside. I plan on one 4" fan as a pusher and one as an exhaust in the canopy I would prefer MH on the tank but the common thread that I am reading is that they are so hot I would (or should) be worried about them starting the canopy on fire (it is oak). <Mmm, can be fitted with a non-metallic thermal buffer, reflector behind, twixt the wood, fixture> I was able to find a manufacturer that will put six 96-watt PC bulbs in an aluminum housing. I believe this will allow me some good options for more light hungry inverts. What are you opinions on enclosing MH in a canopy? <This is posted... can be done... with cooling fans> If I go the PC route I was thinking about four 10k bulbs and two 50/50s, do you think that would allow room for growth down the road? <Also posted... I am a bigger fan of boosted fluorescent technology than metal halide in water depths (not tank note) of less than two feet... Others opinions here vary> Is lighting the most bewildering subject or do I have another surprise coming Filters seem easy by comparison? <Heeee! You'll see. Do make sure that whatever fixture you employ is resistant to marine

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