Newbie needing light input.....


New member
Howdy folks! Just moved back into the ShowMe state from bluegrass country and I'm looking to cut my teeth as a marine reefer after having been schooled by some freshwater Cichlids some years back.

I'm presently getting my ducks in a row on the purchase of a 72" long 125 gallon Oceanic with a few goodies. The canopy is in need of some lighting and I've got this idea making waves in the old 'noggin that I wanted to run by you veterans.

I'm wanting to have an assortment of soft and stony corals stirring about along with a few finned friends. I'm imagining my aquascaping as having a "sloped" appearance along each side from top down - maybe a 1/4 of the tank floor space off each end sloping up to 6-8" or so from the surface in the corners. This will be leaving the other half of the floor space in the center of the tank. In the center I imagine a pyramid shaped formation possibly/probably against the back wall given that the tank is only 18" wide - maybe even a spiral staircase effect with corals on several different levels. I don't know how far this would go up, on one hand right near the surface would afford more of an eye appealing look with several shelfs, on the other maybe some big wavy sea fan off center of a shallower mound might be pretty neat.

What I'm envisioning for the canopy lighting is 2 retro MH - one off each end with a 4 bulb 48" T5 grouping in the center. The thought being that the MH off the sides could reach the bottom of the tank for maybe a clam or two or anything else needing some strong light down there - but I was concerned that there might be too much light at the top of my "sloped" shelf for much of anything. (is there such a thing as too much light?) And I would be wasting a 1/3 of each MH's output seeing as that would be right at the ends. I assume 250 watt bulbs but maybe 175 would be better. I'm looking at an Icecap retro T5 from premium aquatics in the center.....

An alternative would be two/three (?) MHs in the center with a single/double (?) 60" T5 on both the front and back sides. (not sure if the canopy is wide enough for two front and two back with the MH in the center - probably so) I would like to have a 72" T5 set up in front and back but I haven't seen any bulbs/kits that long - would a single VHO bulb in front and back be a decent option if a 72" T5 isn't available ?

Lastly, is water splash such a concern that some sort of acrylic shield would be necessary ? (I think I'll have plenty of room in the canopy) How about convenience of feeding and maintenance - would either light setup be more user friendly. (I assume that might be more dependent on the mounting method) I understand that different K ratings and wattages all play a role, please make any and all suggestions about bulbs/fixtures including remarks about the quality or lack of regarding different manufactures.

Thanks for your time, sorry to be so long winded.....I hope to start a tank build thread with lots of pics here in the near future.


El Diablo

New member
Wow Mike, that was a lot to read:) but I would go with the second option and go with 250 watt fixture. I would go my self with the vho for actinics. I really don't think there is 72 inch T-5's. The vho actinic have a nice color. As far as k on the m/h I would try a 14k bulb.


New member
Hi Mike,

Currently, the longest T5 bulb you will find for your tank is 60".

I'm not a big fan of option #1 because a lot of light (and electricity) will be lost this way.

I like option #2 much better. If you want to cover the entire length of the tank with actinic while saving the most space inside the canopy, you could use four 36" T5 bulbs run end to end (two on the front, two on the back), or two 72" T12 VHO. An IceCap 660 would power either configuration. Then for halide's... If it were my tank... I would use three 250w in the 14K color range.

Another option to consider would be using all T5's... with so many different bulb configurations possible, you could find the color that is most pleasing to your eye. Four pair (8 bulbs total) of 36" bulbs running end to end, or six 60" bulbs staggered to cover the 12" gap. Two Ice cap 660's could power either configuration.

How tall is your canopy?

Looks like your off to a great start and,

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New member
Depending on how the canapy is made you may not have enough room for 72" bulbs including end caps. my 6 foot tank I could barely get 2 36" bulbs end to end with 3 M.H down the center.One thing to consider is that t-12 VHO's are alittle pricey compared to t-5's