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Back in the hobby 42 Hex build

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After a long hiatus from the hobby, I am setting up a reef tank with my daughter, and we figured we would take you guys along for the ride.

 We are using a 42-gallon hex that I have owned for many years and I still have a lot of my rock from before, including the large coral skeleton you see in the photos. Before anyone asks...I did not kill the coral, I bought it along with a complete 180 setup that had been really neglected. The rest of the equipment is left over from that tank along with many others that I have had throughout the years.

Currently, I am running a 150w MH for lighting, and I was able to fit a 10 gallon into the stand as a sump. It's is certainly a tight fit for the return and a large ASM G-3 skimmer that Ty sold me many moons ago.  I will post a full gear list and livestock when I get a little more time. I do have a couple of questions though;

Does anyone have any good recommendations on a good/cheap LED light for a deep tank? It's rather deep, and I am not sure how much technology has changed in the past few years. I am not looking to break the bank on this build( I plan on saving up for a larger tank in the next few years). I have done some research online, but most of the cheap Chinese knock-off lights are very vague about the quality, and PAR of their fixtures. Any information or product recommendations are greatly appreciated. 

Also, what is the consensus on Bio Pellets? I loved them when I used them 4 years ago, but I only used them for 6 months or so before shutting down. I do not currently have any nitrate issues so this is more of a preventative measure. I want this tank to be super low maintenance for my daughter. 


Thanks again, and its good to be back in the community. IMG_0655.jpgIMG_0651.jpg

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There are good cheap led fixtures but there are some pretty bad ones too.  A big problem I see with cheap "black box" or cheap light bars like the PopularGrow found on Ebay is they are marketed using the max wattage of the LEDs used not the actual wattage which is always significantly less.  Even so there are still a few very good fixtures that might work for you.  An additional issue I've found across the board with all LED fixtures, not just cheap "black box" brands is polycarbonate lenses either hold heat around the LED burning their silicone seal/lens or the polycarbonate burns itself from UV and blue lenses, Kessels being the only exception I've found using a glass lens.  (While much better than MH or T5s from what I've seen Kessils have about a 10% failure rate around 3 years.)   The other weak link I've seen with LED fixtures, and this include my own DIY fixtures, are fan failures but in most cases they are not very difficult to replace for the moderately experienced DIYer or mechanicly inclined.   Fixtures that have a pretty good rep that should work for you are the Ocean Revive 247 and the "black box" MarsAqua, ViperSpectra and Evergrow.  Their diamensions should allow them to fit inside a canopy for your 45 hex but you need to double check that and my guess is you'll probably need to add an additional fan to the canopy to help ventilate it if you're using one.  These fixture are able to put out a lot more light than you'll need for any corals in your tank so you'll need to borrow a PAR meter to make sure you don't fry everything.


If you're not adverse to DIY I have a couple DIY pdf files listed on this thread There's also a chart with PAR readings with different lenses so you can calculate an approximate intensity at the depth you need.

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