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MH bulbs, age, color and choices


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So how long do you guys run your MH bulbs for?


I have been running a 14K for about 8 months, but am starting to get some nuissance algae growth, and think the bulb my have shifted. Just curious if it is time to replace.


If I do replace, the tank is going to be a marine planted tank with a photo synthetic gorg and a sinularia.I currently have 5 species of macro in the tank doing well, but would like to add 7 more. I am thinking of going with a lower spectrum bulb for the macro's maybe something really low like a 6500K. If I do go that low I will need to supplement actinic so not sure if it is worth the investment or not. What would you do?


Thanks for the help.

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At least a year, more like 18 months. There are a couple of studies out there (this one for example, there's another one out there on SE bulbs) that show that most of the output loss occurs within the first few months, after that they decline slowly for at least another year and a half or more. There is some color shift, away from blue mostly but it's pretty slight. So, replace bulbs at 6 months (if you want absolutely the best output) or 18 months or so (if you want the most for your money). Radiiums are the exception, if you overdrive them they supposedly show their age at 8 months of so; on an electronic ballast they (hopefully!) lead a normal life.


If you are seeing increased algae growth, it'd mean that the PAR of the bulbs is increasing significantly -- and I don't think that's likely over many months. If it was me I'd run those bulbs for another year and look into PO4 levels, excess nutrients, etc.


EDIT: Here's the other article, on 400W SE. It does mention an output increase over time, but it seems very likely to be ballast-related.

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I really need some help. I'm just loss on this.


The tank has changed a lot in the last two months.


I added a CL to increase the flow to 50x, reaquascaped (had to to add the CL), added macro algaes to the display and removed maybe 90% of the chaeto so it would not outcompete the other decorative algaes. There is still a generous amount of chaeto in the refugium, prior to pruining the 25g refugium was stuffed from wall to wall and very dense.


Phosphates and nitrates test at zero, but that doesn't mean the hair algae is not consuming them. The macro algae in the display or refugium could be consuming them to. The only source at this point would be leaching out of the rocks, or poop from the fish and inverts.


The tanks inhabitants are 5 species of macro algae (ochotode, taxifloria, ulva, dragon's tongue, red grape), 2 peppermint shrimp, and a baby tailspot blenny (1.5"), 4 astrea snails, and an emerald crab. There is a photosynthetic gorg, a sinularia, some mushrooms, and some renegade yellow polyps. The chaeto in the refugium is the size of four softballs or so. Recently I did pull 8 zoa frags after an outbreak of pests and am housing them in a QT system until the problem is solved and then they will be moved to my little reef tank.


I have not fed the tank any food in 3 weeks, all the inhabitants eat algae. I was feeding the blenny algae flake food prior, but he prefers the other algaes so I stopped. Before the blenny was introduced the tank was empty besides the shrimp, crab, snails, and coral for 9 weeks. No food was fed at all in the 9 weeks, but I did dose amino acids weekly for the corals.


There is no skimmer, never has been. The tank is a 34g, the refugium is a 25g and provides all of the nutrient export. I am using no mechanical filtration or filter media's, never have. Am considering some carbon and perhaps phos lock.


I use only RO water for top offs in the ATO. All the water for water changes, 20% weekly since the first sign of algae, come from Waves. I have tested there water every so often including before the last water change, the source water change water is perfect so that's not it. I have not tested the TDS in the RO unit which provides the top off water, but I did replace the filters and cartridges less then two months ago so they "should be perfect". I ran the RO unit for a couple days for break in, but since then have only used the RO unit to produce less then 70g of water total, I go through 8 gallons give or take a week between the three tanks, this is the only one with problems. I guess I could take the top off water in and see if Joel or Jordan can test it for me. I am not running a DI cartridge perhaps I need to but in my systems I thought I could get away with just Ro and have been for the last two years.


I'm a stickler about testing, at least once a week sometimes more, and use software to help me monitor how much I need to dose for Ca, Alk, MG, and Iron. My pH is stable at 8.3 all day long thanks to the alk and refugium lighting cycle, tested with a meter (haven't upgraded to a probe yet, but soon) All levels are good iron is a bit high which may be a contributing factor but the lack of nitrate and phosphate should be limiting factors on algae growth.


I'm kinda stumped. The only thing I can think of is that my CL is pushed through spraybars which all the rock is wrapped around. Maybe the increases flow through the rock is causing it to release any stored phosphae or nitrate? I didn't think it worked like that. Not that I know much.


If it were my reef I would do the three days without light but since it is a planted tank with several species of macro that might not be good for me.


I want to get this solved before I make my next macro order (want to add 6 more species) and introduce my seahorse who has been in QT for 12 weeks. I was thinking I would have to add nutrients to grow the macro, this is just confusing.


How's that for to much info.


I really hope you guys can help me I am completely baffled. I really hope I'm missing something. Some advice about spectrums of bulb would also be greatly appreciated as most of the planted tank keepers have no experience with this type of system and recommend removing the MH's and replacing with CF. I like the shimmer, not going back.


Thanks a ton.

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I can't really offer much -- no skimmer, no filtration... seems like nutrients would build up. A macroalgae tank must be a real balancing act, easy to go too far in either direction.


Anyways, I was talking to Shannon (reefhut) the other night and he mentioned that he won a war with GHA by using Seachem PhosGuard. You might give that a try..

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what did you do with sand with resetting the tank? I find doing much of anything like that without replacing the sand frequently leads to nutrient problems...


How old was this system before the revamp?


Waz Up Joel? Thanks for the reply homie. (clap)


This system has been up since I got it from you in Oct. The rock was transferred from the 20g long I got from you back in Sept 06. I replaced the sand when I set up the new tank with the argonite I got from you in Sept 06, but was dry in the interm. The rock came out of my tanks I had when I lived in Cali, have had the rock since 2000. I moved them to Portland in water and cooked them for 6 weeks before I found your store and setup my first Portland tank.


The sand bed is about 1".


I redid the entire tank in March and moved the sand around a bit (just when moving the rock) when I did the first added the closed loop. When I redid the tank in March I did syphon the detritus on the san before and then after i added the liverock. I had to redo the closed loop because of an ignorant miscalculation on my part and did that two weeks ago, right after the Ha out break. When I redid the CL I did not move the sand and the exsisting LR did not leave the water. I just moved it to the other side of the tank and replaced the spray bars one at a time.


I'll syphon out the sand and replace it if you think it will help, I could go bare bottom too I suppose. Right now I'm open to just about anything.

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I can't really offer much -- no skimmer, no filtration... seems like nutrients would build up. A macroalgae tank must be a real balancing act, easy to go too far in either direction.


Anyways, I was talking to Shannon (reefhut) the other night and he mentioned that he won a war with GHA by using Seachem PhosGuard. You might give that a try..


Nutrients are not building up according to the test kits, they read 0. Macro systems are a new genre for me though, maybe I'm in over my head.


I ran a skimmer for the first four months a Remora HOB but it was pulling next to nothing in skim mate even after multiple cleanings and tunings, both with a MJ 1200 and a Mag 3.


It's not like I don't know how to use mechanical filtration or have it on hand. I have two UV's an 18w and a 24w, a Remora Protein skimmer, a Fluval 304, a Manum 350, a DIY Nitrare reactor, two different skimmers, more pumps, and different lighting all on the shelf in the garage, what would you add? Right now phosphates are 0, nitrates are 0, the tank has been fed nothing for 3 weeks, but the HA is growing, more in the last week then ever before. I keep up on the water changes. I don't know what else to do, my water tests out perfect on the Salifert test kits, MG is a bit high (red sea kit).


I have had hair algae before, many moons ago, but back then eliminating phosphates, eliminating nitrates, and keeping the pH up to 8.3, coupled with large water changes and macro algaes worked. Right now it is not.


Don't take me wrong, I really am just confused. I set this tank up and have run it to the best I know how, I just can't figure it out.

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Yeah' date=' it sounds pretty frustrating. Something is feeding the algae bloom though, it can't just grow out of nothing. Wish I could offer better suggestions :([/quote']


I can't figure it out either. I do appreciate your help though Andy.

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