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hello once again im a newbie sorry for all the questions but im just trying to gain knowledge . what kind of lights would u recommend for a 55 gallon flatback hex acrylic tank for reef please all comments are welcome
 

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I would suggest thoroughly researching coral before trying to keep any of them. Having a fish only is more than enough for most new to saltwater people, fish are far more forgiving than coral with a lot of the newbie mistakes. If you want to try a few corals once you get in the swing of things with fish there are a few corals that you can grow under normal output flourescent lights in the right spectrum. Then after that for the most part you need lighting that is specially made for growing corals. But light is only the begining to a successful coral tank. It is one of if not the most important aspect for long term success in a reef tank. Two or four T5HO 54 watt 46.5" bulbs in the right spectrum would be a good place to start for your size tank. Two bulbs would grow a lot of the soft corals and corallimorphs, and a fair number of the large polyp stony corals. Four bulbs would grow just about anything you wanted to have in there if all the other needed elements of a proper habbitat were in place.

LED is the new craze, if you have the money 120 watts or so of LED evenly distributed with 60 or 90 degree lenses would be great for your size tank. Prolly run $200 or so for a decent fixture... I would suggest you find one that has roughly a 48% white/ 48% Blue/ 2% Green/ 2% Red bulb ratio.

Reading a few weeks worth of old threads on here or reading the tank of the month threads on reefkeeping.com for the last few years can give you almost everything you need to know to create a successful tank, but maintaining it can be difficult if you don't have the experiance to fall back on. Simple things like drip loops, stray voltage, and mixing salt are incredibly easy for a newbie to kill a whole tank without knowing they are even doing anything wrong.
 

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agreed! read up and decide where you want to go with your tank. the idea is to make a purchase that gives you what you want for years. i'm on my third light now and finally finding a bit of happiness out of my puchase.

determine if you want corals, and if so if you want softies or sps. If you want sps you'll need stronger lighting so i'd recommend either 4+ t5ho bulbs, halides, or LED. if you only want softies 2-4 t5ho bulbs will do the trick.

its important to consider the long term use of the light you purchase. halides and t5's will need new bulbs every 12-18 months. LED are said to last a decade with several years before there's a noticeable decrease in spectrum. Halides produce heat so cooling fans or a tank chiller become an important consideration. both halides and t5 produce multi directional light so it also is important to think about the reflection. t5ho finds the best efficiency from parabolic shaped reflectors. individual reflectors (one bulb, one reflector. two-two , etc) are better than a single reflector for multiple bulbs. many reflectors have ratings on them saying they reflect 90%, 95% 98%...

LED fixtures are pretty expensive. a lot of people have been talking about taotronic and similar import fixtures lately. they're said to be getting better the last year or so and cost quite a bit less than the american/european made counterparts. a lot of people also choose to buy DIY kits from rapidled.com which usually ends up being a bit cheaper.... there are plenty of threads on this forum and others about LED lighting to read up on.

there are a lot of functions and features to consider as well as your plan and financial involvement the next several years.
 

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LED will save you a ton in $$ on your power bill. In fact, you will likely make up the cost of the lights within a year compared to metal halide.

That said, I have a kessel 150W over my tank which is 18 x 24, but the problem with it is that the light comes down in a cone shape and there are several dark corners in my tank. I kind of wish I had bought LED strips. Research LED lights before buying. Not all brands provide adequate PAR for your corals.
 

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LED are said to be a huge power saver but it's nickel and dime as far as im concerned when talking about the power use on your entire house. a 150w LED that provides a cone and uneven lighting vs. my 3foot 4 bulb t5 putting out 156w of power that evenly lights a 3foot long tank and grows SPS on the sand.

IMO led would take YEARSSSSS to pay for themselves if you neglect changing the lamps in fluorescent/halide.

i've owned both LED and t5. I'd say i'm leaning toward LED for my next fixture to save an extra $100 a year in bulb cost.
 

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LED are said to be a huge power saver but it's nickel and dime as far as im concerned when talking about the power use on your entire house. a 150w LED that provides a cone and uneven lighting vs. my 3foot 4 bulb t5 putting out 156w of power that evenly lights a 3foot long tank and grows SPS on the sand.

IMO led would take YEARSSSSS to pay for themselves if you neglect changing the lamps in fluorescent/halide.

i've owned both LED and t5. I'd say i'm leaning toward LED for my next fixture to save an extra $100 a year in bulb cost.
If you're running pure T5's, the power savings of going to LED's will probably be minimal. If you're compairing to metal halide with supplementation (VHO or T5) you will likely save quite a bit of power. The main cost savings of the LED's is going to be in your bulb replacement. Ideally metal halide and T5's should be replaced yearly - average about $20-25 a bulb for T5 and $50-75 a bulb for MH. That could be anywhere from $50 for a simple 2 bulb T5 setup to $200 or more for multiple metal halides with T5 supplements.

LED's typically claim 50,000+ hour lifespan. That is 5.7 years at 24/7 burn....and LED's "lifespan" is actually rated at L70 - that mean it is "dead" when the LED hits 70% of its original output. It will still go for much longer than this, but it will have a perceivable output difference to the human eye.

Now.....saying all this.....I'm a realist. I don't think the lifespan will be as great as everyone says it is and there will probably be some burnouts after a few years. Also, the ballasts are the weakpoint in LED fixtures and have the potential to burn out much sooner than the actual LED's themselves. Worst case, you chuck the fixture and get a new one.....best case you get out your soldering gun and slap a couple new LED's in the fixture. Even so, if you get 3 to 4 years out of a fixture, that is still at least 2 bulb changes in a metal halide or T5 fixture's life.

Is it worth the savings? That is something that you will have to figure out yourself, but for me, it was worth the gamble....especially with the price of some of the economy priced LED fixtures out there.
 
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