View Full Version : the sun is much cheaper... and brighter!

11/18/2008, 11:49 PM
Hey guys! i just signed up and this is my first thread on RC. I have a 1200 litre fully cycled (over about a year) soon to be reef aquarium. I have a pair of maroon clowns and a oblique lined dottyback and a small handful of corals in it. My issue i would like to discus is how it will be lit in the future... currently im using a Geissman Infinity with 3x250w halides and 4x80w T5. This light unit is awsome but its costing me $400 a qurter to run the tank with halides only on five hours a day. The sun however, does not charge a cent! I wish to convert to using three Solatube Infinity (yes thats funny) units above the tank. My roof design happens to be perfect and Mildura is always sunny. I would love to know what you guys think of this idea or any personal experiences to share with me would be highly appreciated!

ps. i got this idea from reefkeeping's "thread of the month section" a while ago:)

11/19/2008, 04:38 AM
Its been done, and you being it australia you are geographically where you need to be. However, I didn't like how the coral looked one the ones I've seen, even with supplemental lighting.

11/19/2008, 06:45 AM
This thread has some nice pics of a tank build using three Solatubes.



11/19/2008, 08:57 PM
I plan on using two 80w T5's for the blue spectrum. I'm not over the top about my corals being insanely bright colors, i just want them to look natural. And cut costs...

11/19/2008, 09:47 PM
it's a sweet idea this hobby is way to expensive so cutting costs where you can is always a plus good luck

11/19/2008, 09:54 PM
It's a great idea as long as you can source the solar tubes and construction for a reasonable price. The "solar powered reef" thread in the SPS forum is where you'll want to look. His build is well documented.

If you plan on keeping the reef for any length of time I think it would definitely save you money.

11/20/2008, 01:07 AM
FYI, once you start looking at multiple tubes, you might want to consider one large skylight instead. The installation cost for one large skylight is usually less than multiple tubes... then you can break up the skylight shaft into individual 'shafts' with sheets of aluminum. Around here, one skylight that is 14"x48" costs less about the same as a 14" solatube, and provides much more light.

11/20/2008, 02:12 AM
I wish I could do this right now!!! Going to have to wait until the new house is built. :(

11/20/2008, 09:53 AM
Fantastic concept. I have to do this one day. I like hahns idea of the skylight for any 48-60" tank. Hey Hahn, did you ever put a lux meter underneath one of those?

11/20/2008, 11:29 AM
I have not... I only own a PAR meter.

I helped design/setup a 1500g in the Chicago area... a 1500g 'square' tank (8x8) with a central 6x6 skylight shaft over it (the parimeter was left for supplimental T5 lighting). The light readings were high enough that in summer, we didnt need the T5's at all, not even for supplimental lighting. The light levels at the bottom of the 3' tall tank were up to 500 at noon. We ended up using blue and purple colored films on the skylight to 'tint' the light, and there was still enough. In winter though, the T5's come on for about 6 hours every day... but not alot.

IMO, its easier to start with a larger opening and cut it back with films and shading if needed. You can also use a large skylight that tapers down, a literal 'funnel'... perhaps a 4'x4' skylight up top, but the shaft can reduce down to 2'x2', concentrating much of the light into a smaller patch (there is some loss, but as long as the angle is kept steep, not too bad). Im considering this myself... rather than need a whole large area, Ill make 'funnels' to concentrate the light into a smaller area by the time it gets over the tank... get some shimmer back too.

11/20/2008, 04:22 PM
Sweet thanks guys, my tank is 6 1/2 feet and my roof is on a slope but gets full sunlight all day:) it just happens to be perfect! it will cost me $AU765 for each of the three units but save me $1000 a year in electricity, i wiil put me Geissman light on ebay and sell it so i will still end up will some cash in hand or at least enough to cover the upgrade.