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View Full Version : Reefing on a budget. JP's testing thread.


JPMagyar
03/31/2011, 10:07 AM
I love to share my hobby, and so many young folks I talk to feel they can't get involved because the tanks they dream about all seem to have expensive equipment so . . . I thought I'd start a thread where I look for and test equipment that is less expensive than the "Top of the Line" goods, but hopefully just as usable. I already have several pieces in mind, but I thought I would start with everyones favorite T5 lighting.


Up to now folks believed that if a T5 hood didn't have fancy reflectors and lots of cooling it couldn't be any good, but when it get's down to brass tacks any hood that puts out a PAR reading of 600 umol/m2/sec at the surface of your tank and 100+ umol/m2/sec at the bottom of your tank is plenty good for most reefs. Yes more is better for some situations like blue milleporas etc, but I'm talking in general, and I'm talking about getting great light for less money. So today after 4 weeks of frag growing in my tank. I bring you my first "Reefing on a Budget" idea:


C.A.P. Maxlume T5 Fixture (http://www.horticulturesource.com/grow-lighting-systems-fixtures-movers-ballasts-sockets-reflectors-components-c21/high-output-ho-fluorescent-grow-lighting-fixtures-t5-t12-spiral-compact-fluorescent--s38/c-a-p-custom-automated-products-2-6-bulb-fixture-w-grow-bulbs-25-x-5-x-21--p7331/?osCsid=fa3547691c3946383f57b72ee41bc762)


I'm not saying this is the only budget fixture or the best budget fixture, but what I'm trying to show is that items that are inexpensive can still be worthwhile. When placed with a lamp height 4.5 inches above the surface this fixture provides a PAR reading on my Quantum Meter of slightly over 600 umol/m2/sec at the surface and a reading slightly over 110 on the bottom of my 24 inch tank which is plenty for most corals, AND after 4 weeks my frags look great! For those who are technically minded, I tested the "cool spot" temps with an infrared temp gun, and guess what I found :eek1:


ATI Aquaspecial 42* C
ATI Blue + 36* C
KZ Fiji 36* C
ATI Aquaspecial 46* C
ATI Blue+ 37* C
ATI NG 37* C

In other words even with NO cooling the lamps are running pretty darn close to the optimum temperature for T5 HO (which by the way is 35* C or 113* F)


What does all this mean? Well I'm glad you asked because to me it means someone starting out with a 24 x 24 x 24 cube could buy a decent light fixture for a mere $119! That's 1/3 the cost or less of a "Top of the Line" fixture. Does this produce PAR 1000? No absolutely not, but it does provide more than enough light for a great tank.

So there you have it. JP's first of many recommendations on how to reef on a budget!


Thanks for takin' a look!


The pictures below are, my frags, the fixture I'm talking about, the temp gun, and of course a picture of my favorite reef . . . mine :D




Cheers,


Joe in NY




http://i927.photobucket.com/albums/ad115/JoePeck66/RC%20Uploads/T1.jpg?t=1301587366





http://i927.photobucket.com/albums/ad115/JoePeck66/RC%20Uploads/T2.jpg?t=1301587388





http://i927.photobucket.com/albums/ad115/JoePeck66/RC%20Uploads/T3.jpg?t=1301587409






http://i927.photobucket.com/albums/ad115/JoePeck66/RC%20Uploads/FTS2.jpg?t=1301587465

JPMagyar
03/31/2011, 07:10 PM
O.K. . . . this is a bump that's on the ragged edge, but I really think this is a worthwhile thread so if you agree and want more cheap alternatives to be reviewed I hope you'll read this and then :bounce2: post a simple shout out to keep it alive!

haikufriday
03/31/2011, 07:38 PM
Great post! I look forward to further tests!

CyclistMT
03/31/2011, 08:38 PM
JP, I think this thread is a great idea! I too believe that we all tend to over indulge in our equipment when something less could not only help our charges survive, but actually thrive. That being said, solid reviews of budget products are hard to find because so many of us believe more $ = better quality (which is true in most cases but there is a limit when ROI begins to suffer). Maybe it's just my analytical mindset but I'm always on the lookout the "best value" which doesn't always mean cheapest but that which gets the job done right and provides me the best return over the long run.

Anyway, great job on the first write up. Would I use that fixture over my main display? Probably not, but you've given me a great option to consider for a frag or sea grass tank.

What could be helpful is providing feedback on the products you're reviewing over the long term. For example, how well is this fixture holding up in 6, 12, or 18 months, etc. That will help determine how good of a value these "budget" items really are.

JPMagyar
03/31/2011, 08:53 PM
JP, I think this thread is a great idea! . . .


What could be helpful is providing feedback on the products you're reviewing over the long term. For example, how well is this fixture holding up in 6, 12, or 18 months, etc. That will help determine how good of a value these "budget" items really are.



Looking back on your earliest posts I see that you and I are "2 peas in a pod"!

Thanks for the bump, and I promise to provide a long term outlook on the items I review. In fact the next item I was going to discuss was my own tank as it is a GlassCages.com special which has a checkered history for sure, but based on my personal experience can be an enormous money saver. As a quick proof here's my tank today :D



http://i927.photobucket.com/albums/ad115/JoePeck66/TOTM/wholetank1.jpg?t=1301626375







http://i927.photobucket.com/albums/ad115/JoePeck66/TOTM/BigL.jpg?t=1301626403

ckw_1980
03/31/2011, 09:27 PM
Nice!

franklinbeens
03/31/2011, 09:36 PM
your tank is amazing!!

BPro32
04/02/2011, 01:10 AM
As a college student, I've been interested in those hydro fixtures for a while now. Are your only frags under that fixture ~6" away? I would love to use one of these over my display if possible.

evsalty
04/02/2011, 01:55 AM
I am curious as to how well those frags would do if you had them at a more middle of the tank location as opposed to 10" below the lights?

JPMagyar
04/03/2011, 07:23 PM
your tank is amazing!!

Thanks!

As a college student, I've been interested in those hydro fixtures for a while now. Are your only frags under that fixture ~6" away? I would love to use one of these over my display if possible.

Yes, the frags are only a few inches under the lights. The corals that I sell are all high light lovers and do best when the PAR readings are 250 and above.

I am curious as to how well those frags would do if you had them at a more middle of the tank location as opposed to 10" below the lights?

Without question the frags shown would lose some color if I moved them half way down in the tank, but then the frags that I grow and the ones that sell for the best price are often ones that love intense light. On the other hand I think this type of fixture would be perfect for chalices and zoos. In fact I moved some recent new purchases to this light for that exact reason. I'll try to post some pictures later this week.



Standby tomorrow for a review of a cheap tank. My GlassCages special :spin3:

BPro32
12/29/2011, 08:53 PM
Any update on this?