New Lights


Premium Member
I currently have 6-55W PC over my new 120. It's time to replace the lamps and I've decide to upgrade the lights. I've debated over MH and T-5 for a while. I think I like the T-5, mainly because of being able to leave the glass on top (No auto-top off yet so this makes it much easier to keep up with evap) and less heating issues. Also cheaper to run in the long run.

Basically was wondering if anyone has tried T-5 Locally, thoughts on cost versus efficiency, and if I go T-5, What mix would be good over a 120 mixed tank (Would love to be able to get a clam and easier SPS, which I've heard/read I could if i get at least a 6 bulb setup, or 8)

Or convince me I'm crazy and should stick to MH like most others are using! LOL
I recently built a T-5 Hood for my 75. I used 6 individual reflectors and 48" bulbs. Tremendous amount of light..... and I did'nt use all daylight bulbs... I had previously used a Orbit PC fixture with 4 65 watt bulbs... the T-5 blows it away....
My 75g tank hits 2 years young in april. It's been under T-5s the whole time. I started with 2 bulbs and around a year I added two more.

Incidently I just ordered my first set of replacement bulbs. I'm sure I'm over the time frame everyone suggests. Just using my eyes as a meter :cool: , it appears the blues should get replaced more often than the daylight bulbs.

I could probably get more punch from them to if I used an Icecap 660 to power them but then I wouldn't be able to do a dawn/dusk thing unless I bought another pair. As it is now the blues are on from 12 noon - 10pm and the daylight run from 1pm-9pm.

For Daylight bulbs I use these:

For Blues:

Here are some shots:

First set up:


6 months:


last november:


Here are some misc shots from my gallery:




Was re-reading this post I just wanted to add that with my current setup I don't think 4 bulbs is enough for SPS. I couldn't tell you if 6 or 8 bulbs would support SPS because I haven't tried.

I started this tank with a very low budget and it still is. My intent was, and still is, that I wanted to get into the reef hobby. Unfortunatly I don't have thousands of dolllars I wish I could spend on everything I want. So I have been buying/upgrading things as money allows.

My long term goal is/was to add some MH's as money permits. In the mean time I am content with keeping basically a softie tank.

As for the glass top, I don't use anything between the bulbs and the tank. My bulbs are about 3" from the surface of the water. I probably add about a gallon of water every three days or so.

For me, I am going to add the MH's last. I have plenty of other things I will add/upgrade before hand (Sump, Skimmer, bigger tank ;) ).

I just wanted to show that you can have a nice looking without using MH's. Hope that helps...
I was mainly thinking of the lower long term cost of the T-5's. Longer time between bulb replacement and less electrical cost. This Light decision is driving me nuts. I'm thinking of going with the 8 bulb config. with no overdriven bulbs from Reefgeek.

6000k or 6500 ge daylight

Am I overpowering a 120, or is this good if i want clams and get started in SPS.

The only drawback that stops me from going with MH is having to pull the glass tops off my tank and start dealing with all the evaporation. That's another reason I like the T-5's. Maybe I should just rig up the auto-top off and do MH/VHO instead and be done with it.

/Ramble off
Or you could do a MH\T5 lol :D

They both have their pros and cons. Just list them and make your choice. From the hundreds of threads in the lighting forum that I have dealing with MH vs T5 there is no clear winner IMO.

Here is a quote from h20cooled:

But here is my opinion.

1) Lots of light and great penetration.
2) A little cheaper to initially buy then a matching T5 setup.
3) Proven technology in reefs for a long time.
4) A large variety of bulbs, ballast, reflectors, etc...

1) Heat from the MH which means you might have to invest in a chiller of at least a good fan.
2) More electricity use. Maybe not from the ballast but to cool your tank it will cost more.
3) Shadows under your SPS due to the fact the the MH light sorts is coming from 1 point. You SPS will look great on top but the shaded areas will not have the same colors.
4) Yearly replacement costs for bulbs.
5) Tall canopy required to keep the MH bulb away from the water and allow the light to spread out.


1) Good light penetration also.
2) Ability to direct light to all parts of the tank from many directions and points; therefore no shadows and good color throughout your coral body.
3) Low heat output; there for less electricity use with cooling your tank.
4) Inexpensive to change your lighting look with the change of 1 or 2 bulbs.
5) Pretty good selection of bulbs and more coming with URI's.
6) Short canopy because the T5's are supposed to be closer to the water.

1) New technology and there are quite a few changes and testing still going on.
2) Initial startup cost high.
3) With just T5's its harder to do a sun rise and set.

I'm sure there are other things I forgot, but this is what came to mind.

I currently run a 2x MH setup with T5's for sun rise and set and actinics. I'm building a 120G system and I'm going to switch to a 8x 54w T5 setup over driven by Icecap 660 ballasts. It will be a lot of light and I hope to get very good coloring with them...


Oceanic 50, mainly SPS tank, some zoas and LPS though. Dual 250MH 14k + T5's actinics, DIY Deltec skimmer and Ca reactor, etc...
Also 30G softy tank..

Hobby Experience: 3yrs with Reef
Current Tanks: Working on new 120G Reef

Just like everything else in this hobby there is no clear cut directions just suggestions. You have to make choice.

If it works really well everyone will be like "HEY DID YOU SEE THAT GUYS TANK?" and you're mailbox will get full from all the PM's on every little detail of tank and buy all new stuff to match it!!

If it doesn't work so well try something different. I think my tank is too bright with the 2 suns and 2 blue plus. I should have got an aquablue with the my last order to try it out but I forgot.

Another thing to keep in mind is how fast you can get a replacement if a bulb blows for some reason. You will probably want to keep a spare around.

just my $.02
if going T5 remember to use individual reflectors for each bulb, otherwise its not worth the switch..
I am swithing my 125 softie tank over to 80w t5 I just ordered 3 reflectors & bulbs from reefgeek. I will run them on the icecap 660 I already have. I will let you know what I think when I get them up and running. If I like them I am going to get rid of the 3 250w halides on my sps tank and go all t5.
T5's - good reflectors = NO bulbs. Get good reflectors!

On the other hand, they are such a low form factor that you can over do it by cramming them in.

I have a 29 with 4 36in T5s (84 watts total) over it. Too much light! Mushrooms are dots and zoos and sarcos come out when all the other lights are out only. ( the sun specifically, the tank is in a window)

Anyone want to buy a 30G 84Watt T5 oak canopy? LOL!

Cost efficient tho!
I am looking into Overdriven T5s with individual reflectors for my frag propagation system that I have in the works. I am looking to cut down on heat. With Village electric I couldn't care less about the power bill. However The frag system will be in the basement and heat rises. I don't have Central A/C and probably wont have the scratch to put it in for a couple of years. Therefore I need to look into a low heat solution to high intensity lighting for fast grow out.

This passage was taken from above.

"I currently run a 2x MH setup with T5's for sun rise and set and actinics. I'm building a 120G system and I'm going to switch to a 8x 54w T5 setup over driven by Icecap 660 ballasts. It will be a lot of light and I hope to get very good coloring with them..."

Is there a big difference in running 4 110w VHO's with good reflectors vs 8 54w T-5's with good reflectors. T-5's a much thinner than a VHO bulb, but does one give out more light than another?
In my countless hours online going over this whole T-5 thing, I think overdriven T-5's are actually supposed to pull some where in the 80-85 Watt range. So if they have so much percentage more PAR than VHO. plus the individual reflectors, then maybe they are putting out more lumens than the VHO Watt for Watt. I personally don't plan on overdriving to realize the lower cost of electricity and longer bulb life.

I think people really like them more because of lower heat, can cram more of them in tighter spaces, and less electricity.

I honestly think ANY of the lighting schemes work..just personal preference and Coral keeping choices.
I have 4 54w t5's over my 55 gal. It's definately enough light for some sps (monti caps, hydnophora, pavona) but I would suggest 8 or more for a true sps tank.