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Old 04-22-2019, 08:02 PM
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Default lighting and stand advice sought

Well, it's been a long while - you know, life happens - but I'm back into getting these daggone tanks finished, so help me. Computer's on the fritz right now so adding photos might be a challenge...will try with phone after this posting to see how easy/not that is. I have posted pictures of the tank construction in prior threads, so maybe searching my username or something will turn them up in the meantime.

As a refresher, I have two Exo Terra tanks: one 36x18x24, the other 24x18x36. Neither will house animals - only plants. Both are intended to be set up in a living space on stands (or suitable furniture) so they can best be viewed with regularity, rather than in another room where suitable industrial shelving already exists. The long tank was originally going to be under a suspended unit of 4 or 6 T5HO lights, but given its new display location and the fact that it won't be on a shelving rack any more, I switched it over to a hood instead. I got the large Exo Terra Compact hood (with the four sockets) that I am going to use Jungle Dawn 13W fixtures in. I went with this based on the advice of the vendor I used. Upon testing it atop the tank, the light is sufficient but not as bright and all-illuminating as I was imagining it would be. If I situate the hood over the rear half of the tank top, the front is dimmer than I would like; and, as you'd expect, when I move it to the front the top of the rear wall is dim. Putting the hood in the middle creates dim spots on prime wood mounting spots due to the tank screen top's center brace, so I'm wondering what to do. I don't want to overkill it with too much light, but when I tested adding one of my other, smaller hoods with three 9W Jungle Dawns in it (to the front, with the long hood in the back), it is much more to my liking.

I have searched the web for examples of lighting tanks of this size but am not coming up with much that isn't, in my opinion, under-lit. The people posting images/videos are not planting the tank as I would and are merely keeping a few larger houseplants alive for their reptiles. I know some (many?) people use the wider, flatter LED bars, but I'm not ready to make that leap at the moment. I see that one can fit two full-size hoods over the lid and probably light it very well, but my concern there is that I'm minimizing ventilation potential. I do plan on using the glass inserts I purchased to keep the humidity high, but in case I needed more ventilation I didn't think it was a good idea to block essentially ALL of the screen top with lighting hoods.
Thoughts?

On stands...other than the Exo Terra stands (any feedback there, by the way?), all I can come up with are aquarium stands and other pieces of furniture that would be rated for enough weight (like TV stands). Problem with the TV stands is that they're often too long and not often as high as I'd like to fit in the space I want to display the tanks in and to offer an ideal viewing height. I suppose the stands made for these tanks is the most reasonable way to go, but I'm curious as to what others are doing for tanks of this size and weight. (Incidentally, I'm assuming I should go with at least a 100lb. weight rating, since it's the 75lbs of tank plus some driftwood, water weight (moist substrate plus a bit in the drainage layer for humidity), and a fudge factor for safety. It bothers me a bit that the Exo Terra stands don't mention a weight rating, but one assumes, hopefully, that they plan on the weight and moisture of a typically-planted tank with driftwood, water feature, etc. Whatever stand I use, it will be on carpet (no choice), though there are no pets or kids running around who could mess with it.
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Old 04-22-2019, 08:17 PM
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Default Re: lighting and stand advice sought

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chlorophile View Post
As a refresher, I have two Exo Terra tanks: one 36x18x24, the other 24x18x36. Neither will house animals - only plants. Both are intended to be set up in a living space on stands (or suitable furniture) so they can best be viewed with regularity, rather than in another room where suitable industrial shelving already exists. The long tank was originally going to be under a suspended unit of 4 or 6 T5HO lights, but given its new display location and the fact that it won't be on a shelving rack any more, I switched it over to a hood instead. I got the large Exo Terra Compact hood (with the four sockets) that I am going to use Jungle Dawn 13W fixtures in. I went with this based on the advice of the vendor I used. Upon testing it atop the tank, the light is sufficient but not as bright and all-illuminating as I was imagining it would be. If I situate the hood over the rear half of the tank top, the front is dimmer than I would like; and, as you'd expect, when I move it to the front the top of the rear wall is dim. Putting the hood in the middle creates dim spots on prime wood mounting spots due to the tank screen top's center brace, so I'm wondering what to do. I don't want to overkill it with too much light, but when I tested adding one of my other, smaller hoods with three 9W Jungle Dawns in it (to the front, with the long hood in the back), it is much more to my liking.
Well, you could use those two two banks of Jungle Dawns if that is "to your liking". Nothing wrong with that, and you already own all that equipment.

An upgrade (in terms of intensity as well as quality of light) would be Spectral Designs panels. These can be built (they're all custom built, so email SD and ask Kurt to price out whatever it is you want) with added LED spotlights (up to 50w spots, and dimmable too) so punching light down to the bottom won't be an issue. The spots can be located so that they won't interfere with your 'wood mounting spots', too.

www.spectraldesigns.com

You can eliminate the center bar issue by removing the stock screen top, installing a piece of glass the leaves a couple inch strip open in the back, and making a screen to fit that ventilation strip. This sort of screen kit works great:

https://www.amazon.com/ADFORS-DIY-Sc.../dp/B000VYIWLE

I think kimcmich has a big viv that is lit with metal halides...I'll try to find the thread.
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Last edited by Socratic Monologue; 04-22-2019 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 04-22-2019, 08:20 PM
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Default Re: lighting and stand advice sought

I can't comment on the stands exo makes. I now keep all my tanks of wire racks, but my first tank I had on a custom aquarium stand. It looked very sharp.

I think the 100lb minimum that you mentioned is too little. I would want a much higher rating than that.
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Old 04-22-2019, 08:25 PM
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Default Re: lighting and stand advice sought

Here are a couple threads that may be relevant. I think it was the first one that I was thinking of:

https://www.dendroboard.com/forum/me...5-x-2-5-a.html

https://www.dendroboard.com/forum/me...-vivarium.html
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Old 04-22-2019, 11:13 PM
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Default Re: lighting and stand advice sought

Well, I do own the equipment already, but it's slated for other tanks. Yeah, I know...glutton for punishment here greedily hoping to get several tanks set up in a relatively short span of time. They're smaller tanks, though...20G high, 20G long, and a couple 10Gs. So the hoods above them are smaller. That said, that's probably a good thing so I can leave some screening open at the top. I'm not up for a custom top at the moment...maybe some day, several builds down the line. I'm also in a rental place (basically an apartment) and have limited tools and space for making a mess.
I did just happen across Spectral Designs' page earlier today, before posting here, but would have to see what an estimate would be. Again, given how much money this hobby is already using, I'd prefer to use what I have if I can, assuming it isn't ill-advised. (Or, if other responses assure me that a second light fixture isn't worth it.)

Thank you for the links...very inspirational tanks, those two!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Socratic Monologue View Post
Well, you could use those two two banks of Jungle Dawns if that is "to your liking". Nothing wrong with that, and you already own all that equipment.

An upgrade (in terms of intensity as well as quality of light) would be Spectral Designs panels. These can be built (they're all custom built, so email SD and ask Kurt to price out whatever it is you want) with added LED spotlights (up to 50w spots, and dimmable too) so punching light down to the bottom won't be an issue. The spots can be located so that they won't interfere with your 'wood mounting spots', too.

www.spectraldesigns.com

You can eliminate the center bar issue by removing the stock screen top, installing a piece of glass the leaves a couple inch strip open in the back, and making a screen to fit that ventilation strip. This sort of screen kit works great:

https://www.amazon.com/ADFORS-DIY-Sc.../dp/B000VYIWLE

I think kimcmich has a big viv that is lit with metal halides...I'll try to find the thread.
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Old 04-22-2019, 11:21 PM
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Default Re: lighting and stand advice sought

Yes, I understand and agree that my safety margin on a stand should exceed 100lbs by more. And I definitely wouldn't have a problem with the wire racks I already have -
essentially this, in white, and from InterMetro, I think
https://www.google.com/search?q=inte...By18XnM-PKB0M:
except that this being in living space, I'd prefer more of a "showpiece" setup than a utilitarian one...in other words, a stand that looks more furniture-like than not. I fully realize I'm being picky now about what I'm throwing money at, but hey, there it is. Well, that and the fact that the shelf rack I have won't fit where the terrarium is slated to go, and with an open floorplan to my place, I have limited options there. Still...it is a good backup option. At least the leading contender in my aquarium stand search is one made for a 50/65 gal tank (I looked and 65 gal or a 40 gal breeder matches the Exo Terra 36" by 18" footprint, excepting the height) and is rated to hold over 600lbs. Reviewers have pointed out that a 65 gal would weigh too much for that stand with water and glass - not to mention rocks, etc - but it's still well within my weight range given that the terrarium will certainly never hold that much water. So good on that front. The point in favor of the Exo Terra is the pins that help prevent the tank sliding around. Not that I expect it would, but...still. So it's weight versus stability, maybe, in the decision-making process. Costs are similar enough between these two contenders.


Quote:
Originally Posted by varanoid View Post
I can't comment on the stands exo makes. I now keep all my tanks of wire racks, but m -y first tank I had on a custom aquarium stand. It looked very sharp.

I think the 100lb minimum that you mentioned is too little. I would want a much higher rating than that.
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