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  1. #1
    NTRH Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Lake Dallas TX

    Lighting for 29gal Biocube

    So looks like it will be next year when I finally get to build my big tank. Unforeseen money pits happened through the year and the tax return (super awesome big reef tank fund) is gone for 2015.

    So I now turn my attention to my BC29. I've had it a little over the year and have never really done anything to it. It has some left over xenia, GSP, mushrooms, a Clarkii clown, and to my surprise still a maxima clam and red BTA. They were both placed in the tank until I could sell them and they never sold and have somehow survived well under the stock BC29 lighting.

    Anyways, since I have another 12 long months before I can even start thinking about my large reef tank I want to give this little tank some love. First thing I want to address is the lighting.

    LED vs HALIDE?? Your thoughts?
    LED fixture vs hood retrofit?? Your thoughts?

    Right now I'm thinking about retrofitting one of these chinese bad boys into the hood since they are super cheap:

    Or thought about maybe the Kessil A160W or the new AI Prime.

    I want to keep softies, Lots of LPS, and some monti caps. No real SPS at this time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    North Garland,TX ( Firewheel Area)
    The Marsaqua led unit seems like a decent fixture. For the price it wouldn't be a bad investment and could prove to be more than what you need and probably have to dim the white channel if it puts out too much light for your softies and lps corals.
    If you don't have a problem spending more money then the AI Prime and Kessil would be very good purchases for what you need. I personally like the features of the AI prime better. I haven't seen the AI prime in person yet but it seems to be a good unit from the reviews and list of features.
    When it comes to lighting preferences, ( LED, MH, T5 ) it's a matter of performance, pros and cons, and what specifically fits your criteria for each lighting use.
    LED's run over a tank much cooler than MH or T5, more efficient, no bulb replacement, can be dimmed downed on separate channels ( although there are dimmable T5 units) and can take up less space mounting wise.
    MH are still very popular and provide excellent growth and spread under proper reflectors as well as providing good to excellent colors depending on the type of bulb and ballast they are ran on. Both MH and led's put off shimmer but IMO the shimmer from MH is second to none. Also while led's are efficient, the spread of light is much more narrow being that each emitter can only cover a small distance and requiring more of the same colors to over lap to get an even spread of the same spectrums. MH bubls are also much easier to replace versus having to take the entire led unit down open the fixture de solder( if applicable to the board or heat sink they are on) and re solder the new one in, close the fixture back up and re hang it. For some it can be a pain if you don't know how to solder and know anything about basic electricity and wiring. Some you units are only serviceable by authorized dealers or the manufacturer.
    T5's ( I know you didn't consider this one in your post) but they are also a great lighting source and have a very strong following. They run cooler than MH's, more efficient than MH's but not as efficient or cooler than led's. Bulb choices and colors are almost limitless and light output with the right unit, reflectors and ballast will provide great growth and color to all corals and can even grow clams on the sand with no problem at all. It takes more bulbs to run a single unit but comparing the price of quality T5 bulbs to a single MH bulb comes in around the same price range give or take a few dollars. T5's do not provide shimmer but many people do not care one way or the other about shimmer and if corals are coloring up like many of the tanks I've seen and growth is good, the focus won't be on the shimmer anyways. T5's also put out the best amount of spread across the entire length of the tank than either of the other 2 lighting options. Under each reflector there are no shadows until you get a little bit outside of the length of the reflectors and bulbs.
    No lighting option is necessarily better than the other and each type excels better in certain areas than the others. IMO the best options are what a lot of people have been doing and are currently doing which is combining 2 or more light sources to take advantage of their specific qualities and get the most out of lighting their tanks all the way around. Two different light sources are always hard to beat when combined properly.
    I know you have been in the hobby for a while now and I'm pretty sure you know a lot of what I brought up but I wanted to help you to perhaps think more about what your specific needs and your tanks specific needs are. Is a hood a must for your tank and if not which type of lighting do you think would fit into your tanks requirements more.
    I asked myself these questions before finally ditching my all led set fixture and doing a T5/LED combo.
    There are T5/LED units available, some are within average price ranges of led units and others like ATI are pretty steep and can hit the wallet pretty hard.
    Think about some of the things and certain qualities and aspects that you like about each type of lighting before making your next purchase. IMO it's best to not just settle on something but better to get what you feel is going to be the best choice within your price range and what will help your tank and animals look their best.

  3. #3
    NTRF Sponsor
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    What did you end up with? And did you start on your big build? The Lake needs one

    SURF, DROP and HOG Scrubbers® from



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