Planning my lighting system

Weasel1960

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@Kessil - I am starting the equipment planning for my 180 gal build (6’x2’x2’) and am considering using 2 pairs of LET T5 retrofit kits (one pair in front and one pair in the rear). I would like to supplement this with some LED lighting.

I plan on having a mixed reef of mostly softies and LPS with some SPS but am not planning on wall to wall corals, trying to strike a neutral balance between open space for fish to swim, corals and rock.

I was hoping to use 3-80 Tuna-Blue as my supplemental but after watching your product video am not sure this will work. What are your thoughts of using the A80 in combination with T5?
 

minus9

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Four T5 bulbs will give you a medium light tank and if you're considering sps, then you need to up the amount of light. A80's are great little lights, but they wouldn't work in your situation. At minimum, you could start with three 360x's or maybe two? The 360x, combined with T5's will cover your lighting needs and give your tank an awesome look.
 

EuphylliaAddict

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You'll want more light for a tank that long, I use 4 t5 and 4 ai hydra 26s, I'm on the 350 par side on top of my rocks. You'll want to replicate that also for sps/lps mixed reef.
 
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Weasel1960

Weasel1960

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@minus9 and @EuphylliaAddict thank you for your responses and helping out a noob. I should clarify a couple of things about the build...

I plan on splitting the tank 2/3 for main reef/fish display and 1/3 for h-erectus seahorses. I would like some shimmer but to me a lot of shimmer is distracting. The build will have a custom canopy so whatever light will need to be mounted inside. I will be building a ReefPi control system so lights will need to be controllable. And I selected the retrofit instead of a highbrid partially to save some cost and partially so I don’t have to be locked into any one LED fixture but this may sway me to an all in one hybrid solution instead.

So some follow up questions to help in my planning...

From my reading in the forum and BRS videos I was getting the impression that the larger LED lights being more powerful caused more shimmer. True, false, or somewhere in between.

The 360s are a little beyond my price point right now but could probably swing the AI lights however I can’t find an AI Hydra 26, only 32 & 64 did you mean the Prime 16?
 

Kershaw

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I ran 3 a350s years ago on a 180. I could grow sps but the had to be pretty much under the kessil. Lps and softy’s did fine.
if you do 3 a360we and have t5 I think you will be able to grow allot. I would still add another 1 or 2 down the road.
 

EuphylliaAddict

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I have 3 old ai hydra 26 hds and one hydra 32 hd. I run the David saxby program from ais website. It looks amazing paired with 2 coral plus, a purple plus, and actinic t5 combo. I run this combo and it looks amazing.
 

minus9

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@minus9 and @EuphylliaAddict thank you for your responses and helping out a noob. I should clarify a couple of things about the build...

I plan on splitting the tank 2/3 for main reef/fish display and 1/3 for h-erectus seahorses. I would like some shimmer but to me a lot of shimmer is distracting. The build will have a custom canopy so whatever light will need to be mounted inside. I will be building a ReefPi control system so lights will need to be controllable. And I selected the retrofit instead of a highbrid partially to save some cost and partially so I don’t have to be locked into any one LED fixture but this may sway me to an all in one hybrid solution instead.

So some follow up questions to help in my planning...

From my reading in the forum and BRS videos I was getting the impression that the larger LED lights being more powerful caused more shimmer. True, false, or somewhere in between.

The 360s are a little beyond my price point right now but could probably swing the AI lights however I can’t find an AI Hydra 26, only 32 & 64 did you mean the Prime 16?
You could use 360we's or 160's and cover a lot of ground. Running T5's with Kessils will reduce the shimmer and if you run Kessils on the whiter side, say anything above 30-35% color, combined with T5's, you'll have a very pleasing and muted shimmer. The other thing that reduces shimmer is reduced surface agitation.
Also, it's much easier to control a species specific tank on it's own, than to divide a tank and create a species zone. Especially for a completely different type of "zone" for seahorses. A cube tank lit by a single Kessil running above 50% color would make for a very pleasing tank. If you ever snorkeled in the keys or lagoons where seahorses are found, you'll know that look. Sea grass and mangroves would do it justice.
Just food for thought.
 

Jon's Reef

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Do the T5s and buy 1 a360x now. Then in the future as your needs grow add additional light.
If you hate shimmer, go with the T5's and use 1 G5 XR15 to start.

Mount the a360x (or XR15) over a high part of your aquascape.

3x a80 is about the same price as 1 a360x or XR15.
 
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Weasel1960

Weasel1960

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I have 3 old ai hydra 26 hds and one hydra 32 hd. I run the David saxby program from ais website. It looks amazing paired with 2 coral plus, a purple plus, and actinic t5 combo. I run this combo and it looks amazing.
That explains why I can’t find them, 26 & 52 are discontinued for the 16 & 32. Thanks for the color tips.
 
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Weasel1960

Weasel1960

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You could use 360we's or 160's and cover a lot of ground. Running T5's with Kessils will reduce the shimmer and if you run Kessils on the whiter side, say anything above 30-35% color, combined with T5's, you'll have a very pleasing and muted shimmer. The other thing that reduces shimmer is reduced surface agitation.
Also, it's much easier to control a species specific tank on it's own, than to divide a tank and create a species zone. Especially for a completely different type of "zone" for seahorses. A cube tank lit by a single Kessil running above 50% color would make for a very pleasing tank. If you ever snorkeled in the keys or lagoons where seahorses are found, you'll know that look. Sea grass and mangroves would do it justice.
Just food for thought.
Separate tanks of course would be easier. I have limited space with the opportunity to get a 180 free which of course will allow other upgrades, possibly lighting, in the initial build. Thanks for clarifying how the two light types work in tandem, would adding another t5 front and back help or hurt...that would be 3 in front and back.
 
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Weasel1960

Weasel1960

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Do the T5s and buy 1 a360x now. Then in the future as your needs grow add additional light.
If you hate shimmer, go with the T5's and use 1 G5 XR15 to start.

Mount the a360x (or XR15) over a high part of your aquascape.

3x a80 is about the same price as 1 a360x or XR15.
Thanks for the recommendations, something I hadn’t thought of since you always plan for a completed install but definitely doable over time as the tank matures.
 
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Weasel1960

Weasel1960

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You could use 360we's or 160's and cover a lot of ground. Running T5's with Kessils will reduce the shimmer and if you run Kessils on the whiter side, say anything above 30-35% color, combined with T5's, you'll have a very pleasing and muted shimmer. The other thing that reduces shimmer is reduced surface agitation.
Also, it's much easier to control a species specific tank on it's own, than to divide a tank and create a species zone. Especially for a completely different type of "zone" for seahorses. A cube tank lit by a single Kessil running above 50% color would make for a very pleasing tank. If you ever snorkeled in the keys or lagoons where seahorses are found, you'll know that look. Sea grass and mangroves would do it justice.
Just food for thought.
Just to be clear the tank will be divided but running independent sump and temperature systems. I am also looking into sea grass and other macro algae for both tanks. Any recommendations on type and source for a small short sea grass. Can source most of the dragon tongue, shaving brush and other but sea grass haven’t found a source for yet.
 

minus9

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Just to be clear the tank will be divided but running independent sump and temperature systems. I am also looking into sea grass and other macro algae for both tanks. Any recommendations on type and source for a small short sea grass. Can source most of the dragon tongue, shaving brush and other but sea grass haven’t found a source for yet.
Gotcha. Adding more T5's would help and supplementing with a Kessil or two would make for a great look.
Here's your source for plants straight out of the keys. Florida Pets
 
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Weasel1960

Weasel1960

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Thanks book marked them, always good to have recommended sources. Thanks.
 

Kessil

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Pretty much all of the advice here has been spot on. For a tank that size, you'll want to start with A160s or A360Xs as the A80s just won't put out enough light to act as anything other than supplemental lighting.

This sounds like a super interesting build - keep us updated as it gets going!
 
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Weasel1960

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Thanks for the reply. Will have to do a little more homework now before making final selections.
 

Kessil

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Thanks for the reply. Will have to do a little more homework now before making final selections.
We're here to help. Feel free to call us if you want to bounce ideas off of someone. We're all hobbyists ourselves, so we tend to have a pretty good handle on what will work well.
 

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