View Full Version : I have seen the light part II (results & pics)

10/30/2000, 09:17 PM
For those of you interested in how my venture in DIY MH turned out, here it is. Find the original thread here (http://www.reefcentral.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?threadid=7129).

Here's my tank with both 250W Iwasaki 6500K MH and 2 110W VHO actinics:

Here's a shot of the outside of the new hood I built to house the MH:

Here is a shot of the workings of the hood:

Here's an Acropora sp. happy to finally get some "real" light:

Surprisingly, the coral who seems happiest about the new lighting is my frogspawn. It has expanded at least 50% more under the MH:

I hooked everything up Saturday and started with a photoperiod of 3 hours each. I plan on adding 15 minutes every other day until I get to a total of 8 hours. I actually didn't expect things to like the MH so much. I was really expecting corals to wither for awhile as they got used to the extra light. They seem to be taking it well. In fact every single one of my corals looks as good or better than they did under VHO. That includes polyps and mushrooms. The bulbs haven't broken in yet, but the overall color is still very pleasing. I would call it "crisp white". Definitely much less blue than my VHO, but where they gave my family room an overall purple glow, it now has a bluish white glow. Looking at the tank now, it just looks really bright. I'm very glad I went to MH. I only wish I would have done it sooner.:D As for the $23 ballasts, they get warm but not really hot in 3 hours. They fire up the bulbs right away every time. I highly recommend them as a cheap DIY option. Someday I might replace them with Icecap ballasts, but not anytime soon. I'm also glad to have better access to the tank with the new hood. I took some ques from Playfair's hood with the flip up front design. It affords much better access than my other hood which required me to reach in over the top.

Anyway, I really like the setup. If anybody has any questions, feel free to fire away!


10/30/2000, 09:25 PM

10/30/2000, 09:27 PM
Looks great! I love the color of Iwasaki's! IMO they are by far the best LOOKING bulb on the market, not to mention the additional PAR... Kudos on the cabinet!


10/30/2000, 09:35 PM
WOOOO!!!! that is awesome!!!! i gotta hand it to ya for posting such an informative thread on your Part I version of this. Your tank looks excellent and i can't wait to get mine all set up! That is exactly the type/color of lighting i was looking for. now all i need to do is build my hood to house everything. that is where my next question comes in. I dunno if you have seen my post, but i am looking for a good diy front flip hood just like yours..hehe..i just need some ideas. What did you line the inside of your hood with? You think you can get some better pics of your hood?? from the inside?? and the hinges? how high are your lights from the water? did you hook up any fans to your hood? if so, how did you wire it? where did you place your ballasts?? on the back of your hood?? or under the tank?? I guess thats all i have to ask..hehe..sorry for all the questions, i just wanna be sure i hit all the bases before i get off and running on this thing. i cant wait. once again, great job.

[Edited by MrSandman on 10-30-2000 at 09:43 PM]

10/30/2000, 09:51 PM
MrSandman, I guess I must have missed your post. I will try to take some more pictures tomorrow night. I just painted the inside of the hood with white glossy paint. The hinges are just small brass (couldn't find stainless - if I can ever find some the same size, I will replace them). The bottoms of the lights are about 6" off the water. I have 3 fans in my hood. Two are directly over the MH bulbs blowing up in hopes of exhausting the hot air out of the hood before it ever contacts the water. I'm not sure how effective they'll be - time will tell. The other fan is in the back center of the hood blowing in. They are all very high capacity fans (I forget how many cfm) so that alone has made them very effective in my last hood. I actually have a ledge around my family room that I have been keeping my Icecap 660 on and since the ballast enclosures are so small, there was plenty of room so set them there behind the tank. If I get time to take some more pics of the hood tomorrow, I can give you more details about dimensions, etc.

Thanks for the compliments!

10/31/2000, 02:24 AM
Hey! Great lights! Great Tank! I cant find that ballast on the graybar site. My dad can order the ballasts from his office so that wont be a problem, but i cant find the ballast wit the 71A3802 model number. Can you point me in the right direction? Thanks.


10/31/2000, 07:36 AM
Excellent job Brian on everything! Love the design :) ; wish I had thought of getting rid of the center verticle support piece (great improvement). Do you have any bowing in the top? I think I see a mod to my hood in the near future!

Decided not to do the left/right doors, huh? It does keep things a little simpler, but it may drive you nutz to lift the whole front just to dump in some food. At this point, all you would have to do is add hinges to the outside, remove the lifting panel, and make a cut down the middle of the door. A little weatherstripping in the seam and you're back in business, without even loosing a day of sun (Hey, you said fire away!)


10/31/2000, 08:48 AM
Do you have any prints of your hood. I think its fantastic and would like to build something like it for my 90gal. Your original DIY post has me really excited about setting up my lighting.


10/31/2000, 09:51 AM
krazykoletang, I don't know anything about Graybar's website. To my knowledge, you can only order from their brick and mortar locations. The one closest to me didn't stock those ballasts - they had to order them from Advance. Just call your closest Graybar and tell them what you want and they should be able to get it for you.

Dave, Thanks again for all your help and tips. I don't think that bowing of the top should be a problem. I used all 1x dimensional lumber and the top is a bunch of 1x2s glued together. It seems to be pretty solid. As for the doors, I thought about having the two doors, but I figured 1 door would aid in rigidity. It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but part of the top is actually attached to the front door so that having everything all one piece makes for a really solid setup. I will probably leave it that way because when I open the door (at least for now), I really like being able to see everything from the top and would probably even open both doors just for feeding. I'm just glad to have better access at this point. The only thing bad about having the whole front opened is that it's rather blinding!:D

Olgranddad, I will take some more pictures of the hood tonight if I get the chance and will post some measurements and specifics then.

10/31/2000, 10:00 AM
Originally posted by bjmumy
The only thing bad about having the whole front opened is that it's rather blinding!:D

You know, that might not be something to joke about. Maybe you should get a piece of tinted OP4 and put a shield between the bulbs you.


Wear sunglasses :)

10/31/2000, 10:03 AM

Simply impressive, great job, the tank and hood look great!:)

Bamm Bamm
10/31/2000, 10:24 AM
Iam gonna go ahead and do it if i can find those ballasts somewhere...Perry has a really sweet flip up hood over his tank..Dan

10/31/2000, 10:31 AM
GREAT LOOKING TANK I can only hope my tank looks that good when I am finished with it! Problem is, I don't think anyone is ever finished, are they??? Keep up the good work!!

10/31/2000, 12:39 PM
Great looking hood - I've been following these threads lately as I'm going to do the MH thing soon.

One question for you...I couldn't tell from the pics, but did you use any UV shielding on the MHs? I thought they put out harmfull UV rays - or am I smoking an illicit substance?

10/31/2000, 12:51 PM
Icarus, bulbs made for the aquarium trade have a UV shielding coating on the outer envelopes so no shielding is necessary. If you use bulbs that weren't intended for aquarium use, a UV shield might indeed be necessary.


10/31/2000, 01:08 PM
Did we ever figure out which ballast of the 2 disputed best ones for this bulb was best? I know you went with the 3802, but would the other be better? I want to order immediately, and have someone who can get them special order, but I don't know which one to order. Thanks.

David Newman
10/31/2000, 01:24 PM
This is an e-mail I sent to Eye Lighting:

"A few questions about which of these Advance ballasts would be most appropriate for use with the MT250DL lamp: 71A3572 or 71A3802. If both will work, would you expect any operating characteristics to be different between the two ballasts? Will either affect the life of the lamp?"

And this is the response I received:

"Thank you for your interest in EYE lamp products. In answer to your question, the better ballast for use with this lamp is #71A3572(-001D)Advance mercury CWA. This will best maintain lumens and color over lamp life.

John Petrak
Sales Engineer"

We don't yet know why the 3572 is better (assuming it is better, that is).


10/31/2000, 06:46 PM
Nice hood and nice tank. You have done a good job. I know why the 71A3572 is better than the 71A3802, it costs three times as much. :( Graniger has the 3572 for $81.55. Has anyone found it for less?

10/31/2000, 07:42 PM
Hi Brian,

The hood looks great as does the tank!

Great work!


10/31/2000, 07:54 PM
I want to thank you for making my lighting decision MUCH easier! I have been searching for the right "Look" for some time now, and you have hit it on the head. Thanks again for all the info. Paul

10/31/2000, 09:09 PM
For those that asked, here are some more pictures of my hood:

Here you can see the fan tumors on top:

I had to bump up the brightness in this one so you could see anything but the MH bulbs:


This one shows how I mounted the VHO:

That's it for pictures I could take without being redundant. Hopefully they are somewhat helpful. THe hood design is pretty simple. I used 1x10 for the sides which sit directly on top of the tank. The front is 1x3s glued together. I put 1x3 around the bottom to conceal the top lip of the tank and keep the hood from moving side to side. I used 1x2 around the top as moulding. The top piece is just 1x2s glued together. The door consists of the front piece and a 1x3 on top so that it wraps around the top and opens up the top a little when the door is open. I used a rabbit-type joint on the 1x3 part of the top that meets the 1x3 top part of the door and on the 1x3 top part of the door itself so that light doesn't leak out the seem there. Like I said, it's a pretty simple design. Hopefully my description has helped more than confused.


10/31/2000, 10:36 PM
PurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrFECT! hehe..now...one last question... can you build me one just like that? hehe.. just kidding (i'm actually not). Yes i am kidding. Once again, you have managed to be thorough and prompt and damn near flawless in all of your posts. How much easier can you make it? I think i have a pretty good idea of what im gonna do for my canopy now. I appreciate all of your help.

11/01/2000, 12:08 AM
BJMUMY - Could you give us the exact outside dimensions of your hood? I'd especially like to know how tall it is.


11/01/2000, 06:03 AM
Great Hood/Setup!

Now that it's finished, I was wondering how your temperature is doing?

I just built a pendant type hood w/MH for a small tank and was thinking about putting fans in it an lowering it down closer to the tank.

11/01/2000, 07:13 AM

Looks great. What size is your tank?

11/01/2000, 07:21 AM
Awesome job man!! Wish I had 1/10th the talent to do something like that!

11/01/2000, 08:29 AM
Wow, lots of questions!

MrSandman, glad I could be of help. If you have any other questions, don't be afraid to ask (email is good too).

moviegeek, the total height of the hood off the top of the plastic tank lip is the height of a 1x10 or 9.25". The total height including the part that overlaps down over the sides and front is 11". With the height of the Spiderlights (which hold the bulbs pretty far away from the top of the hood), the bulbs are about 6" off the water. The total height from the inside top of the hood to the water surface is about 10".

olgakurt, my temperature is exactly the same as it was with VHO right now (~80). It has been cooler here though, so I wouldn't expect it to be too hot. The big test will be next summer. I will say though, that since the heat is coming from just 2 points rather than 4 4' tubes, I don't think it will be a problem. I think if you were to spread out the heat from MH to an area the size of VHO, there would be little difference in temp. It just seems hotter because there are 2 really hot spots.

smiller, it's a standard AGA 75 gallon.


11/06/2000, 03:13 PM

Just one word. Spectacular. You have saved a lot of people a lot of money with this little DIY!!! I think that the reef community will not be the same now that they realize that they can get MH at affordable prices. The pictures are spectular! They show exactly what the set up is like. I do have a few quetions.

1) How will you replace the Actinics when it is time to replace them. It looks like they feet just right over the canopy and not much room to allow removal.

2) Awesome shot of the tank. Can we see a picture of the tank with just the MH lights on so we can see how much a difference look the actinics provide?


11/06/2000, 08:45 PM
1) How will you replace the Actinics when it is time to replace them. It looks like they feet just right over the canopy and not much room to allow removal.

The covers on the VHO endcaps that slide over the bulbs unscrew to allow the bulbs to rotate and drop right out of the endcaps so changing bulbs will be very easy. That being said, I don't anticipate changing the actinics often. Since they provide such a small amount of light compared to the MHs, they are really only for aesthetics and I will therefore replace them based on how the tank looks rather than age. I figure I'll let them go a couple years unless the tank becomes at all noticeably less blue because they are fading.

2) Awesome shot of the tank. Can we see a picture of the tank with just the MH lights on so we can see how much a difference look the actinics provide?

I just took these shots tonight:
Here's a shot with the Iwasakis only:

Here's a shot with the Iwasakis + VHO actinics:

I think the actinics help a lot. Without them, the Iwasakis are too yellow. With them, the tank looks bright and white and I really like the color.


Bamm Bamm
11/06/2000, 11:36 PM
Wow that looks nice what size tank is it...Well I final;ly called graybar today they tried to charge me $76 a piece for the $23 ballasts..the guy said he'd have to call advance and he would call me back..never did waht a jerk i will call back again tommorow at my lunch break how you guys get them for $23 when they told you $76 i told them they were only supposed to be $23 and thats when he said he would have to call advance he did say that I didn't need an account they can just put it under misc.. contractor.. so thats good...Dan

I really want these ballasts they would be great since I am going from a 46 gallon bowfront to a 90gallon tank!!!I really will need the extra light for my corals now...

11/07/2000, 09:03 AM

Thanks for the pictures.. Now that is what I call service!!! Witht he actinics on it definitely softens the look. Beautiful!

By the way for those who are looking for the ballast, graybar is not the only name in town. Most electrical supply stores can also order this ballast for you. Most of them won't have it readily in stock. I was given a quote of $25 plus tax from one of the locals.

**** I currently am running 440W of VHO (4 110W) I am wondering if I would see much of an improvement going to two 250W MV bulbs with 2 110W actinics?

BJ, what kind of lighting did you have before the new set up? By the way is that some sort of toadstool on the bottom left?


11/07/2000, 09:15 AM
Bamm Bamm, it's a 75 gallon tank.

I had 440W of VHO before. This setup is so much better than the VHO, I'm amazed. The tank looks a lot brighter and the corals absolutely love the extra light. My tank has never looked so good. Even my mushrooms have perked up (which I certainly didn't expect). I really wish I had done this a long time ago and I certainly encourage anyone else to make the same change. I now know why most people eventually upgrade to MH. Yes, that is a toadstool on the bottom left. I got it last summer for free at HA. Gary just threw it in one of my bags. At that time, it was the size of a dime. It seems to like the Mh also.


Bamm Bamm
11/07/2000, 10:37 AM
I just love the shimmer effect MH gives on the water..LOL....I gotta call around today after I go to work and vote etc...Dan

11/07/2000, 11:01 AM
I finally got my MV ballast through the Cincinatti Ohio branch of Graybar. The NY branches weren't very helpful at all. Then again I have no clue how much S&H is going to be, but I figured it shouldn't be more than a few bucks... i hope. I'd just call the cincinatti branch if I were you, the've gotten a bunch of orders already, so they should know what you're talking about and that the price should be $23.


12/30/2000, 08:45 AM
Well, unfortunately Graybar was no help here. They insisted that I open an account. I was in the process of trying to find the parts elsewhere(did find it for a lot more money), when someone pointed me to http://www.acropora.com. If you go to their pfo metal halide kits, you'll notice that they have several that are "iwasaki only"(think I might have posted something on this earlier). They are MV ballast kits. Good prices. The 250 watt kit, for example, is $109.00, and includes everything but the bulb and reflector. Maybe not quite the deal BJmumy got going DIY but pretty close. Unfortunately it would probably cost me more than the pre-fab kit to go DIY with the parts prices I have available to me.

This was a very nice looking DIY project....I love the color of the Iwasaki's on the MV ballast.


12/30/2000, 10:17 AM
Beautiful tank!! Great job on the top. Hope I can do something near as nice with my DIY :)

12/30/2000, 10:20 AM
Your tank looks great! Are you still happy with your lights? DO the ballasts get hot now that they are own for a long time. What ballast are you using for the VHO's?

So far I have the ballast, the Spiderlights, and the Iwaski bulbs but I don't have the Vho part of my lighting.
Thank so much for the great information you have provided in this thread. I had been struggling with the lighting question for a long time. The pictures you provided are great and very helpful.

12/31/2000, 02:32 PM
I never have heard why is it a iwasaki bulb balast only.Why couldnt you use different bulbs?

12/31/2000, 09:36 PM
Hey guys (n'gals), here's a big part of the Iwasaki confusion: The Iwasaki 250w bulb is technically a mercury vapor bulb. That's why they are only $55 bucks. The "eye guy" told you that now, and a few weeks ago, a reefer in Hong Kong, in a post here, gave us direct quotes from the Japanese Iwasaki catalog also explaining that the 150w Iwasaki is a metal halide bulb and the 250w is a mercury vapor bulb and they are from two different lamp series. That is why Iwasaki (in the US, Eye Corp.) consistently recommends the mv ballast for the 250watter. The big confusion happens because mercury vapor lamps can run on metal halide ballasts (but oh how darned unfortunate, not vice-versa) but not exactly right. That's the way that mess sorted out when a few of us thrashed through it. The upshot of it for me was, I traded the Iwasaki 150w which I never fired up, in on a 250w 12k sunburst(which I have a 250w MH ballast for, already). because I was looking for a mercury vapor cheap ballast solution, and the perfect setup for $80 total could be at hand.
When I eventually do actually get my hands on that elusive 250w MV ballast, I will start getting the 250 watters too.

05/04/2001, 02:31 PM
Graniger has the 3572 for $81.55. Has anyone found it for less? [/B]

Graybar (www.graybar.com) $49.48 delivered.


Bamm Bamm
05/04/2001, 03:25 PM
wow I almost forgot abou this thread..Now iam contemplating ordering one for an extra since I never got around to it before..

05/04/2001, 03:44 PM
I'm I the only one who can't see/view any of the pics that bjmumy has posted?
I feel left out... :(

05/04/2001, 03:48 PM
I have the pictures in my home computer if you like I can send them to you.

05/04/2001, 05:05 PM
Damn thing won't let me see the pics, they apppear broken.





05/04/2001, 05:08 PM
could you send the pictures to me to... I can not see them for some reason

[email protected]

Thanks much

05/04/2001, 07:17 PM
Now I know its not me. Its his site, its down where his pics are.


05/04/2001, 07:37 PM
no bubafat its YOU, its YOU.


05/04/2001, 10:07 PM
Would you mind sending the pictures to me. I was trying to find these pictures last weekend and all I found was a broken icon instead of pictures. I want to use them as references.

email: [email protected]

05/04/2001, 10:25 PM
Here are the pictures guys. I hope this works.






05/05/2001, 09:55 AM
Hey guys,

I don't know what happened to Geocities that it won't let RC display the pics, but I put all of the pics that I posted for these threads in one html file. You can see it here: