VHO lighting question, help anyone!

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freshwaternoobi

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So I just purchased a 40 gallon Seaclear acrylic tank and I want to have planted tank. I see I will need about 80 watts. I was told I could not find that in the size of 24" but after days of searching I did. I found a VHO bulb by MarineDepot that is 24" and 75 watts.My question is will I be able to light with the hood light that came with the tank. I keep hearing a VHO will not work without a ballast or special ballast, what's the difference and can I use this bulb with the equipment that came with my tank. I decided against adding an extra light strip because I am afraid it will melt or disfigure the acrylic. People said it wouldn't but I don't want to risk my warranty with damage. Thanks, this is the tank and I want to add the VHO 24" 75 watt with a plain 15 watt 24". I will be having a planted tank with crayfish and some smaller fast fish.
 

mathas

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freshwaternoobi said:
My question is will I be able to light with the hood light that came with the tank. I keep hearing a VHO will not work without a ballast or special ballast, what's the difference and can I use this bulb with the equipment that came with my tank.
VHO bulbs should be used with ballasts specifically designed to drive them. When you use a bulb your ballast is not designed for, you risk anything from premature bulb/ballast failure to even, rarely, electrical fires in the absolute worst-case situation.
 
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freshwaternoobi

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So my next question is...

So if I can't afford a ballast now for the VHO, will a HO work ok with my standard lighting hood instead of a VHO meanwhile? I am going to try to find to 24" HO's?
 

mathas

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freshwaternoobi said:
So if I can't afford a ballast now for the VHO, will a HO work ok with my standard lighting hood instead of a VHO meanwhile? I am going to try to find to 24" HO's?
Probably not. Each type of lighting has ballasts that are designed to drive them. Some ballasts are designed to drive multiple types of bulbs, but they tend to be more expensive and aren't normally included in the type of aquarium kits that you're talking about.

Chances are high that if your kit came with normal output fluorescent bulbs, that's all it's designed to be used with. If there's a sticker visible anywhere on the fixture or ballast, it should tell you what type or types of bulbs the ballast can support.
 
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Thanks, the bulbs are not included but I will have to see if there is any identifying info on the hood when I get the shipment from Petco, still waiting!
 
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freshwaternoobi

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Ok actually I found some info, sorry so many questions but I am trying to buy the lights before I get the tank. It says a "24" UL listed lighting fixture". HO friendly or not if you know,thanks for the help!
 

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It's probably T8 fluorescent lighting and if so, you are limited to that wattage in that hood, as wattage is determined by bulb size. There are retrofit kits you can use to turn standard hoods into VHO or HO fixtures. HO are T5 bulbs and require their own specific fixtures and ballasts. I haven't read up on VHO because it's out if my price range so I can't say what size they are but I can almost 100% guarantee that you wouldn't be able to use VHO or HO without a retrofit kit which means rewiring the whole thing.

-Lisa
 

mathas

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freshwaternoobi said:
It says a "24" UL listed lighting fixture". HO friendly or not if you know
"UL listed" just means that has tested samples of the product and found that they "meet requirements", whatever that may mean. Knowing that the fixture is 24" and like-model samples have been tested doesn't tell you anything, really, other than how long it is.

As I alluded to earlier, expensive ballasts aren't likely to be found in a pre-packaged aquarium kit. Kunsthure is correct, it most likely comes with normal output T8 lighting. If they were providing a higher-end lighting system, they would do well to highlight that beyond the phrase "a lighting fixture".
 

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Does the tank come with a cover of some sort? It just looks open in that picture.

-Lisa
 

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VHO gets very hot, more then likely it would melt the plastic light cover you would need to run a fan in the ends of it also. the ballast would have to be off the tank and light because of the heat.
 
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The tank just has two openings and the light fixture goes right over it from what I see. I believe in front and in back of that lighting fixture is closed. So what do you mean by open? Also so are you saying I need to buy a lid for this tank because from the reviews it doesn't seem like I would, would the lighting melt the plastic top divider, it seems like the light hovers over it? Thanks, again!
 

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Vho lights need to be raised above the tank about 6-12 inchs
 
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"Fixture is compatible with any T8 or T12 24" fluorescent tube." SO I am guessing unless I buy a special ballast I can't have a planted tank? I would be stuck with 1 watt per gallon because I would have 40 gallons and 40 watts, can any plants grow with this? This is my first tank so sorry so clueless. I have found alot of info but the lighting thing is kinda complex and confusing with all these different types of lighting and requirements!
 

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you can have plants. low light plants look very nice in a tank, java ferns and java moss to well just to name a couple.
 

Kunsthure

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I feel ya on how confusing lighting stuff is. I've spent the past few days buried in it trying to find a fixture so I can have more than 1.5wpg but less than 2wpg and all the options are overwhelming.

The tank looks like there's nothing covering the top so that you could just stick your hand right in the water. I asked because you might be able to have a second fixture in front of the one you have.

It's not only a matter of the ballast, it's the also the size of the bulb. T5s are a totally different size than T8s or T12s so it'd be like trying to use a candelabra lightbulb with the tiny bottom in a regular lamp. The numbers denote how many 1/8ths of an inch the bulb is in diameter, so a T8 is one inch, T12 are 1.5" but someone smart made sure that T8s could be used in the older T12 fixtures. So unless you want to take apart your stock light fixture and replace its guts with a T5-compatible ballast and socket, or you are willing to add a second fixture, you'll be limited to whatever wattage a 24" T8 or T12 bulb is. T12 bulbs have a slightly higher wattage because they are a little bigger than T8 but they aren't energy efficient.

Java ferns, a lot of mosses, a lot of anubias, some crypts, some swords and a few others are low light plants. Check outplant geek and you can look at plants by light requirements.

-Lisa
 
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Kunsthure said:
I feel ya on how confusing lighting stuff is. I've spent the past few days buried in it trying to find a fixture so I can have more than 1.5wpg but less than 2wpg and all the options are overwhelming.

The tank looks like there's nothing covering the top so that you could just stick your hand right in the water. I asked because you might be able to have a second fixture in front of the one you have.

It's not only a matter of the ballast, it's the also the size of the bulb. T5s are a totally different size than T8s or T12s so it'd be like trying to use a candelabra lightbulb with the tiny bottom in a regular lamp. The numbers denote how many 1/8ths of an inch the bulb is in diameter, so a T8 is one inch, T12 are 1.5" but someone smart made sure that T8s could be used in the older T12 fixtures. So unless you want to take apart your stock light fixture and replace its guts with a T5-compatible ballast and socket, or you are willing to add a second fixture, you'll be limited to whatever wattage a 24" T8 or T12 bulb is. T12 bulbs have a slightly higher wattage because they are a little bigger than T8 but they aren't energy efficient.

Java ferns, a lot of mosses, a lot of anubias, some crypts, some swords and a few others are low light plants. Check outplant geek and you can look at plants by light requirements.

-Lisa
Unfortunately I am pretty sure the tank top is covered all except the part where the light fixture goes. And the light fixture even covers that part so I think there is no openings except some for a filter, heater etc. If anyone can do me a favor and take a look at the tank, are you seeing what I am seeing? It looks completely enclosed versus an open top, right?



Also do any of these low light plants grow tall? I plan to post some pics on the outcome of my tank in about 2 months once I get it together so thanks to all!
 

mathas

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freshwaternoobi said:
Unfortunately I am pretty sure the tank top is covered all except the part where the light fixture goes. And the light fixture even covers that part so I think there is no openings except some for a filter, heater etc. If anyone can do me a favor and take a look at the tank, are you seeing what I am seeing? It looks completely enclosed versus an open top, right?
Yep. The review on Pet Smart even says:
Think of the top of the tank as yet another solid sheet of acrylic with cutouts in it to accomodate equipment.



freshwaternoobi said:
Also do any of these low light plants grow tall?
Depends on your definition of tall. Start , and look for plants where the suggested placement is "backdrop".
 

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Java ferns can grow fairly tall. Crypts are pretty tall too. And actually some higher light plants that are supposed to be short will grow taller in low light.

-Lisa
 

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Hornwort, does very well in low light, and will grow very tall also. It grows amazingly fast. I bought one bunch at Easter time this year, for my 55 gal and I have divided 3 times so far. Now my 10 and 13 gal tanks both have it in there and I have divided the plants in my 10 gallon once already. All of my tanks had 1 watt per gallon or less until just recently and it is thriving.
 
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