new to T5's

180large

New member
Hoping for some recommendations on bulb color and placement on an ATI unit with 8 bulbs. The tank is a 180 gal (6'x2'x2') Plan is to have mixed reef and maybe a clam or two if that's possible. Thanks in advance -Dave-
 

cody6766

Super Best Friends!
Premium Member
I like ATI bulbs. I have a 6 bulb arranged like this, back to front:

Aquablue Special
Blue Plus
Actinic
Purple Plus
Aquablue Special.

If I had 8 bulbs, I'd probably start with this:
Blue Plus
Purple Plus
Aquablue Special
Blue Plus
Actinic
Purple Plus
Actinic
Blue Plus

Blue Plus misses some of the pop that a true actinic bulb brings to the table. The Aquablue Special can be pretty dominant over the others, so use them carefully. I'd probably buy an extra Blue Plus, AB Special, and Purple Plus to play with the bulb arrangement and blend. With these bulbs, it's pretty much all about the color. All of them are high PAR bulbs except the actinic, so whatever combo you settle on will work just fine.

For reference, I like my tanks less blue than most people set their LED-lit tanks. Mine is probably a straddling what a 20000K MH Bulb and T5 combo used to look like...maybe a little more blue, maybe a little less. Adding Blue Plus bulbs will bring you to the LED Windex look.

Before anyone gets their panties twisted, I know LEDs can be adjusted and many LED tanks aren't all blue. That said, a lot of people like to dial the blues up because they can and the corals pop more. That's why I used it as a reference example. I get it, it's just not how I like my tank to look.

Edit: An 8 bulb fixture will grow anything you want. You won't have any issues with SPS low in the tank or clams on the sandbed.
 

180large

New member
So the last time a had a reef a ran 3 175 mh , 2 super actinic and 2 actinic whites. This combo was kind of white. In your opinion will the bulbs you suggested be whiter than that ? I would like more color, I have never used t5's and have no clue as to how they will look.
 

cody6766

Super Best Friends!
Premium Member
So the last time a had a reef a ran 3 175 mh , 2 super actinic and 2 actinic whites. This combo was kind of white. In your opinion will the bulbs you suggested be whiter than that ? I would like more color, I have never used t5’s and have no clue as to how they will look.
It would be more blue, especially if you MH bulbs weren't 20000K bulbs. What I have is a little more blue than a Radium with VHO actinics. Again, not Windex blue (think the glass cleaner), but pretty blue compared to the old school lighting. You get more than blue, though. The Purple Plus bulbs do a lot for the reds and yellows without washing out the florescence you get from the blue spectrum.
T5s, like LEDs, have become more of an art than a science. By that I mean, you're going to get plenty of light to grow any coral so long as you use good bulbs and reflectors (you are). The science is done for you. The art is finding what combo works for you. That also includes the right bulb arrangement. Changing a bulb's location can actually make a pretty big difference in how the tank looks, but that's all aesthetics.
 
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