Garf.Org - Making Reef Aquarium Lights For Less Money

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Sally Jo and the rest of us here at Garf.org been working on an education program that is very dear to our hearts.

The characters in our set of family science books are Mikey, Molly, Chloe and their friends including many animals and mermaids such as Amity the hungry sea turtle and many others.

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I hope that you enjoy these teaching pages. We hope that you will share some of the stuff that you learned with the children around you. Showing your reef aquariums to groups such as the scouts may change one childs life. Seeing a living reef aquarium may interest them in science. Living reefs can teach them to love the wild reefs. Some of them may grow up to be the ones who have the education for important jobs with the power to make changes in the way we treat the oceans.

Molly the Grandmother Manatee has several roles that she plays each day. Her first love is that of mothering her Grandson Mikie. A very close second is her role as teacher at the Mermaid and Ocean School.

Molly's classroom consists of many different species of animals from all across the World. Her goal is to open the eyes and hearts of all of her students while educating them about the environment along the way.

Molly strives very hard to share her love of science with all the students by letting them know that the only dumb question is the one not asked.

This week's school project is very close to Molly's heart yet it is one she has had a very difficult time getting the students excited about. The project is to take the students out to visit Home Depot, and get them to understand what they can do to save money on the farm by doing many things as a family home project. The students know that saving the reefs and teaching people to love them is so very important. They want people to understand what role they play in all of our lives and what we can do to save them.

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We are making lights to be used by students so safety is the most important thing.

One of the best things that we can do to make these lights safe is to have them be waterproof.

We can do this by having the lights have the ends with the wires dipped in liquid plastic. We can also do this by making sure that the entire tank is grounded and this will make it much safer. We can do this by making certain that the electrical outlet has a ground fault circuit breaker.


These tools can be used for many home projects, so an investment in good tools is always a smart thing - at least that is what I tell Sally Jo.

These new strippers make the job of making so many lights much better

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

You can see the T-8 lights that we are using now for our farming lights. They are great and they save money.

These are the tools needed to make this type of money saving lights for your farm. Saving time and money are two important ways you make money farming. You will learn much more, and you will have fun when you join LeRoy's members only club:) It will be the best spent 40.00 in this hobby.

This new lesson will teach you how to make our lights much easier, much safer, and less expensive than our previous instructions. I've been working on 50 sets of lights and I think figured out some important things to teach you

We are now using a single strand of 14 gauge wire for our light bulbs for our reef tanks, and I'll show you why this works so much better than the extension cord.

I think you'll enjoy making reef lights like this because it takes less time.

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This image shows the 14 gage single wire that we purchased from Home Depot. This wire has been stripped about an inch and a quarter on each end. These ends will be attached to each end of the bulb. The wire comes in a 500 foot roll. I got black wire for extra UV protection. It has thick insulation on it and it only costs about $40 for 500 feet so that's a great deal

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These are my automatic wire strippers and they work very well. When you're doing lots of lights it saves your hands from pulling wires with your fingers. This wire will be bent into a loop, and then wrapped around the end of the pins.

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This slide shows how was the wire is bent. You can pull it around quite tight and then push it straight down the past the green cap. You can attach a pull tie to keep it in place and the pull tie helps when you dip it in the plasic.

You do have to be a bit careful that you don't pull the pins over, so you might want to practice a few times before you use the bulbs you want to keep.

I use to pull ties on this end of the bulb to make sure the wires stay in place and the pull ties will be inside of the plastic to keep the wire stronger.

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This shows the other end after it's been wrapped with the wire and wire is pulled tight around the second pin.

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This is how we bend the wire over the pin and now we pull the black wire on the left across the middle and pull it tight.

We have tried many ways of dipping these bulbs and this Plasti-dip product seems to be the very best.

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The large can of the liquid black is the best one to use. We let some of the can evaporate so it is about as thick as the honey on a cold day. Then we dip the end of the bulb into the plastic dip and then roll it around until it starts to dry. Then we dip it one more time to create a waterproof end cap. Now you don't have to worry about that water getting on the end of the bulbs because they're completely waterproof and safe.

We have tried using different colors and this is really good for a large coral farm, because for one month as you're making the bulbs you can use a bit of color on the end of bulb to show the month that it was made. Later when it's time to change the bulbs you know when it was made. These bulbs are very easy to change. After unplugging the balast, you just cut two wires. You connect the new wires with a butt splice and turn the lights back on. All of your lights can be dated by the color so you can change the oldest after one year.

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This is the balast that we've been using and it's been working very well for over two years. This ballast cost less than the one we used before, but it seems to be holding up the great.

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This ballast has a very simple to read wiring diagrams.

The most important thing to notice is that the yellow wires go to one end of each the of the bulbs . After you have wired pins to the yellow wire then you wire each red and blue wire to the other end of each bulb.

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Plasti Dip is a multi-purpose air dry, synthetic rubber coating that can be easily applied by spraying, brushing or dipping. Plasti Dip protective coating products resist moisture, acids, abrasion, corrosion, skidding/slipping, and provides a comfortable, controlled grip. It remains flexible, stretchy and will not become brittle or crack in extreme weather conditions; -30F to 200F.

This is how the wires are attached to the bulbs. The finished lights are waterproof and as soon as we turn them on their very brilliant and they only cost $2.50 each :)

Our one year of research with these bulbs have shown that they'll grow every kind of coral we do include some actinic blue light bulbs with this set.

The actinic bulbs seem to help with the color of the corals.

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