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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've had a few people ask about this, so I figured I'd re-post my guide from another site.

Whether due to excessive heat or just for aesthetics, there is a growing need for suspending lights above vivariums today. Most people are hesitant to drill holes in their wall or ceiling, and the majority of "legs" provided with lights are typically ugly and cheap looking. Well, there's a solution that's simple, easy and cheap that looks great.

Aqua Design Amano (ADA) has been on the forefront of clean design in aquaria for quite a while and they developed an ideal solution to this lighting dilemma. It connects to the back of the stand and suspends the light over your tank, relieving you of the hassle of drilling holes in your house.

Unfortunately they charge a fortune for it, so I set out to build a cheaper version, and in the process I think I improved on their design some.

First, you'll need the following tools:

figure 1
Left to right:
Square
Dremel (optional)
Drill (with drill bits that can cut through steel)
Conduit Bender
EMT piping (not pictured, I used 1/2")
Conduit Hangers (see figure 3)
Conduit Clamp (see figure 3)

Lowe's has literally everything you need for this project. They also sell 5' sections of 1/2" and 3/4" EMT pipe to make transporting it easier. Depending on the height of your viv you might need the longer pipe though.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
First of all you will need to learn to bend your EMT pipe. This is a good diagram of how to measure everything out, but I just did it by eyeing it. Make sure to buy multiple lengths of EMT pipe because you'll probably throw out quite a few while you're getting used to it

Figure 2


You'll likely only need to bend it 90 degrees, and the bender has marks to help guide you (though not one for 90 degrees)

I didn't take good pictures to show how to do this, but there are endless ways of bending the pipe to get the desired effect. You could just bend it once and connect the light stand to the middle of your aquarium stand and be done with it. I wanted to connect mine off to one side to make adjusting it easier, so I had to bend it twice.

Essentially I had to bend it once to where I thought 90 degrees was and then use the square to make sure it was actually 90 degrees. You can fine tune it by bending it by hand. Just use your feet to pin it to the floor in a way you can get decent leverage.

After it was bent once I had to do the second bend, and this is where I wasted the majority of my pipe. The easiest way I could do it was to mark off where my tank was going to be on the stand and try to imagine just how much pipe the 90 degree bend would take.

Once you have both bends in it it's time to make sure both bends are square and exactly 90 degrees. This is where it gets a little tough to bend it by hand, because you don't want to tweak the first bend too much by adjusting the second one, so just take it slow.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Next it's time to attach the pipe to the stand to make sure your contraption is tall enough to hang the light where you want it. These are the bits I used to hang mine.

Figure 3
It's just 2 hanging brackets and a nice sturdy clamp that has a screw to help secure it at the bottom.

Once you're sure it's going to be tall enough, use a tape measure to figure out exactly what height you think will be the maximum height you're going to want to hang the light. For me it was 6", so I had someone hold the pipe while I measured 23" from the top of the stand to the bottom of the pipe. I know my tank is 14" tall and the light is 3" tall, so to get 6" from the bulb to the top of the tank I needed 23". Make sure to factor in the height of the wire hanging kit if you're planning on using that instead of physically mounting the light to the light stand.

Once you're sure that you have the correct height, mark that spot on the pipe right where the screw from the clamp will go. (measure twice, mark once). Use the drill (choose a drill bit large enough to allow the clamp screw to enter the EMT pipe) and drill a hole where you marked.

If you're planning on using the wire hanging kit to adjust the height of your light, skip this next step.

I didn't like being restricted to only one height, so I decided to alter the original design a bit. I marked the pipe in 1" increments in order to allow me to adjust the height, as seen below
 

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Discussion Starter #4
From there, you just need to drill holes in the top of the pipe where the mounting points on your light are. It's fairly straightforward, so I won't go into detail.

Here I decided to clean up the original design some more. I didn't like the idea of having the power cord just hanging around, so I decided to drill a third hole in order to feed the power cord through it.

This is where the dremel came in handy. I used one of these bits designed for cutting metal (but not for drilling holes) to widen the original hole I drilled until it was large enough to feed the power cable through it. The bit is also good for cleaning up the holes you've drilled, it can be used to smooth out rough edges, which is critical if you plan on feeding the power cable through it.

Make sure to wear safety glasses and gloves as bits of metal will irritate your skin and you wouldn't want them to get in your eyes.

From there you need to dismantle your light in order to remove the power cable. I didn't take pictures of this because all lights are likely different. Then you just feed the power cable through the bottom of the pipe and use a hook or small screwdriver to pull them through hole you just drilled. Reconnect the light and test to make sure it works.

Now's a good time to test fit the light stand with the light attached to it to make sure it looks and sits the way you like.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
From there you can either be done with it, or you can take it a few steps further.

Remove the light stand from the vivarium stand and remove the light fixture from it.

I decided to drill holes about 90 degrees around the pipe from the first ones in order to allow me to swing the light out of the way for maintenance. Totally optional but it might be necessary if your light takes up the majority of the space above your tank.

From there you can hit it with 3 or 4 coats of heat resistant spray paint from Lowe's, I used the Rustoleum brand with a satin finish. it's the paint that's meant for grills. This should help prevent the stand from rusting and it gives it a nice finished look.

Then wipe it down really well because that paint tends to leave a lot of dust and reassemble it. You're done!

The end effect:



All in all it took me about 4 hours to complete and the materials themselves cost about $10. If you need to buy the tools, the bender runs about $35+ (depending on the size), a drill runs probably $30+ and a dremel is likely a $100+ purchase.

Hopefully that makes some sense, it's really not a difficult project, but sometimes I can't properly articulate what I'm trying to say.

If anybody in the Myrtle Beach area is interested in building one of these I'm happy to lend out my tools and I can provide assistance if needed. Payment can come in the form of beers, frogs or plants :)

I'll take some pics of how I built one for my display viv tonight.
 

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Jason - Thank you for posting this info. I followed your steps perfectly and am going to make one of these light stands in the near future. Just yesterday I was telling my wife I want to do an ADA plant tank, so your timing is perfect!

Terry
 

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I've used that pipe bender to make trellis's for my veggie garden. They allow you bend the pipe with very little strength required and make for a perfectly smooth bend.
Nice idea!
 

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Great information, I also have access to a bender so I am going to give this a shot. Just a little FYI, if you use the 3/4" conduit HD and Lowes bot sell a plastic cap to plug the hole in the end of the conduit above the light.
Thanks again
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Jason - Thank you for posting this info. I followed your steps perfectly and am going to make one of these light stands in the near future. Just yesterday I was telling my wife I want to do an ADA plant tank, so your timing is perfect!

Terry
Awesome! It's really absurd how much ADA charges for these things considering how unbelievably cheap they are to build yourself :)
 

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Great thread!!

A friend wanted to put a tank on a shelf, but the tank with light was 16.5" Tall, and the space was only 15.25" tall. so using your how to, I came up with this stand, now the tank with light is 15.12" tall!:D

Thanks!:)





 
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