Display refugium lighting

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fermentedhiker

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Nov 11, 2011
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I'm in the process of planning my first reef tank. Because of the space available I'm limited to a 36" tank. In order to maximize volume I'm adding a sump and separate display fuge. The DF will probably be a 30B in a header config(above the DT) with a 40B for the DT.

The DF will be setup somewhat like a freshwater planted tank. I'm thinking of using about 25lbs of live rock in a fairly spartan scape. I'm hoping to use several types of macro to achieve the look I'm interested in. The only ones I for sure won't be using are chaeto and caulerpa sp. Hopefully I'll be able to create a beautiful display in it's own right as well as have it be a pod factory.

My question is about lighting it. Obviously I could go with daylight florescent lights(CF, T8, T5, PC etc...)and make it work. I've been looking at LEDs though as I would like to keep electricity usage down and maybe more importantly heat down(as this tank stack will be entirely enclosed in cabinet.

Originally I was thinking of going with a "Chinese" fixture using a custom layout. Using their hydroponic layout as a starting point(looks like a 3:1 ratio of red to blue) which would obviously look pretty nasty as a display(fine in a sump fuge but this will be in my kitchen). The idea was to sub enough cool whites(not sure what K to go with at this point) for reds to pull the appearance up to between 7-10k. I'm just not sure how to figure out in advance how many whites need to be added to make it look alright while still maximizing the useful sprectrum.

Current has a fixture(which would be about 25% cheaper that is 72W and 36RGB I think) that might work, but I'm not sure if it would be enough PAR and if I ended up having to buy two then it's not cheaper anymore.

Finnex is coming out with something similar(should be in the same price range as the Current), but I might find myself in the same boat in needed more than one fixture.

buildmyled has a freshwater planted(dimmer available) that is a bit more(229$) but it might work as well.

The modified d120 would definitely have the most par and while it is the most expensive option it's cheaper than any two fixtures from the other companies.

Any suggestions?

Thanks
Adam
 

Khemul

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Oct 14, 2010
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Macros will grow under the same lighting as a reef. They are just less picky. If you can customize color, 1:2 neutral white to royal blue or 1:3 (or maybe even 1:4) warm white to neutral should supply plenty of red. But any reef level light should supply more then enough light, especially with LEDs.
 

greech

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May 13, 2009
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You will not need much PAR on a planted 30B due to how shallow the tank is. Honestly, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the options you are considering. The Current fixture should be fine PAR wise. I was very impressed with the buildmyLED fixtures at MACNA. Understanding the cost is a bit more, either the 12K reef (would be my choice) or the 10K FW planted strip would likely work well for you. The other added benefit to the buildmyLED is that you can grow coral under them if you need to.
 

fermentedhiker

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Nov 11, 2011
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Thanks for the replies. I was a bit worried about the LEDs because of how narrow their spectral peaks are which caused some problems for early adopters who used them for reefs. You'd get loads of measurable Par but not great response from coral. I've sort of experienced something similar with a freshwater planted 40B. It has a finnex RAY2 which uses 7K leds. Should have PLENTY of Par for this depth of tank, but plants only do OK( Substrate is potting soil capped with ECO-complete) I ended up throwing a couple 13W 6500K CFL lamps in the back corners where some higher demanding plants were languishing and BOOM turned them around completely, which shouldn't have been necessary. The CFLs are only marginally brighter(visually at least) directly beneath the fixture but have a much broader spectral curve I believe. So I'm a bit hesitant about the finnex planted fixture(with whites and RGB) or the Current fixture with a similar setup, for fear they might not really deliver the spectrum necessary to grow a variety of macros(green, red, purple, brown). Which pushes me toward the buildmyled and "Chinese" Evergrow ones sold by reefbreeders. Both are customizable and dimmable(standard on the d120 and a 15$ add on for buildmyled). I was incorrect earlier when I said the d120 was the most expensive as they are around 180$ and the buildmyled is 229$ before adding the dimmer. One advantage with the D120 is it's a two channel unit with two separate dimmers and power cords which gives you a bit more flexibility. So you could do reds/blues on one channel and whites/blues on another and then play with the dimmers until you got the look you wanted.

You make a good point Greech about being able to grow corals in there if I wanted to. Would be handy to have and optional place to put frags or ones that end up not doing well in the main display, although the flowrate through the fuge will be much lower than the main tank so it would limit what corals would be able to be placed in it.
 

greech

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I don't think you will find anyone that is going to recommend LEDs over t5, cfl or halides for a fuge tank. However, since this is going to be a "decorative" fuge and not one solely for nutrient uptake, the types of macro you will be growing should do fine in a bluer tank.
 

fermentedhiker

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Yeah if I end up needing more nutrient export I'll build an ATS off the sump(a 100gallon rubbermaid trough that's going to be in the basement). I'll just have to be careful not to starve out the display fuge if I add an ATS.
 

TL1000RSquid

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I have some macro's in my display tank all doing fine under reefbreeders LED fixture(d120 basically). macro's in my other fuge/sump are growing under t5h0's, 6700k and 10000k bulbs, which I think would look fine for display, I use the same combo on my planted FW tanks.
 

fermentedhiker

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Yeah a 4 bulb T8 or 2 bulb T5HO would work fine and allow bulb changes to find the right mix if I wasn't happy with my first choice. I just find T5HO fixtures a bit pricey when you factor in the frequent bulb changes.

That was part of the appeal with an LED fixture, lower electricity usage, lower heat production, and hopefully no bulb changes(although the d120 ones it would be easy enough to solder on new LED's if some burnt out).

Just mulling over getting as close to ideal in the spectrum area as possible.
 
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