T5 Retro Recommendation Needed (and my light saga)


New member
Well, after deciding to go with T5 lighting, I found what seemed to be a great deal online by a vendor that will remain unnamed (because I don't want to bash anybody). I got one of the Odyssea 48" 4X54W fixtures with bulbs included for about $100. So, I ordered it, and it arrived promptly. However, 3 out of the 4 bulbs were shattered. Over a month and numerous emails later, I still don't have replacement bulbs or a refund. About a week ago, I gave up on the vendor and decided to order new bulbs. I ordered one true actinic and 2 6500K bulbs to go with the surviving actinic. They just came in today, and much to my dismay, they're too long to fit into the odyssea that apparently doesn't accept standard size T5's. So...

Can someone give me a good recommendation on a retro kit? I have 3 good bulbs, so I can order another actinic that'll fit with the other three. So, I need a retro without the bulbs. I'd like something with individual reflectors and something that's relatively inexpensive (but not a POS like that Odyssea).

Thank, guys!!
Buy an IceCap 660 ballast, (8) end caps, (8) standoffs, and (4) reflectors. Reefgeek sells a good retro, but i would price check it at other places. It is by far the best way to go.
Best price I can find for reflectors, end caps, and stand-offs is about $160. Anyone know if I can beat this somewhere?
Sorry to hear about your saga. I'm even more sorry to tell you that those pure actinic bulbs are junk. I would recommend replacing them with D&D BluePlus bulbs. On the plus side, those GE 6500K Starcoat bulbs are PAR monsters. If they look too yellow to you, you can replace them with D&D Aquablues and won't lose too much PAR but it will blue up your tank quite a bit.

For cheap reflectors I recommend the Aqualux CDR's versus the IceCap SLR's. They are a bit wider, a bit longer, and a bit cheaper. Shipping was $9 on top of this...


For inexpensive endcaps and standoffs, Drs. Foster & Smith is killing reefgeek at the moment. Shipping is $8.99.


So this drops the shipped price down to $146.13, hope this helps.
It might pay to order the endcaps and standoff's as well from Aqualux. If you look at the top of the home page you will notice that they are offering free shipping on orders over $99

I do not currently own any T5 fixtures so you will have to get verification on their quality from someone that actually owns the product. Just giving you a heads up on a way to shave a few more dollars.
Thanks for the tips! The pure actinic are junk? That's disturbing. That was the most expensive bulb I bought. I thought they were supposed to be great. What's bad about them? PAR value?

The reflectors you guys are referencing advertise to reflect 50% more light thank any other reflector on the market. Is this accurate?
Yeah, the pure actinics are junk; they put out pathetic PAR. The Blue+, Aquablue, and pure actinics used to all be around $30 but just recently the prices on the Aquablues and Blue+ dropped 33%. I'm assuming because of volumes since these are wildly popular and the community largely shuns the pure actinics and the D&D 6000K bulb (the GE 6500K bulb smokes it).

The Grim Reefer (used to be the T5 authority) did quite a bit of testing with a PAR meter and the Aqualux CDR's and the IceCap SLR's reflected the most light. The Tek reflectors reflected about 90% as much but still weren't bad. I'm not sure what Aqualux is comparing themselves to, but it isn't the IceCaps.

As for shipping/pricing; Aqualux will price match so just send them the link to the F&S endcaps and you can save some bread. It will actually come out cheaper if you pay more for their standoffs and get the whole order from them with free shipping. Their Aquablue bulbs and Blue+ bulbs are the same price as on ReefGeek, so you can order bulbs with the same order and still get the free shipping. Let us know what you do and how it works for you.

For full spectrum, I currently use the Giesemann 6000K bulb. Is the GE 6500K that much better that I should buy one to replace the 6000K?
I am looking into T5HO retro also... are these suitable (www.prolighting.com)? T5HO 6x54 bulb unit (less bulb's) for $219/ T5HO 4x54 bulb unit $149/ T5HO ballast (4 x54) $24.99. Assembly come complete with hood,reflector,ballast etc.(no bulb's inc.)
You really want individual reflectors for each bulb to get the full effect of T5's. This one appears to have a single reflector for the unit.

Any feedback on the Giesemann 6000K vs. the GE 6500K?
The GE 6500K Starcoat is an absolute PAR monster. The 6000K daylight bulb by comparison is twice as expensive and puts out about 20% less PAR. One seldoms reads about anyone using the 6000K bulbs; most everyone running daylights is using the GE lamp.
aqualux reflectors (assumedly ATI, they are german) compare head to head with the icecap SLR's. they just cost less, and they come in all lengths of t5ho, not stopping at 4 footers, but 5 footers as well.

honestly, the standoffs from aqualux were a PITA to mount, the icecap easy mount standoffs form drs foster and smith would be easier to install. but, maybe they have switched designs since then? the ones i have are a flat piece of milled aluminum, and a slot for the endcap, and 4 holes for the screws, with 4 bushings to space the standoff off the wood. the little bushings were the PITA, thats all.
T5HO ballast (4 x54) $24.99.

That is not a T5 ballast on the site. It is a T8 ballast.

They have a 2 x 54 ballast for $36.99. I would get an Icecap 660
From the asking around I've done, the Teks, Aqualux, and the Icecap reflectors are very comparable, with the Teks being maybe a little less than the other two. Price is relatively close. The biggest difference is the width. Tek=2", IceCap=2.5", Aqualux=3". That makes a big difference if you're trying to cram a lot of bulbs into a narrow canopy.
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=7005714#post7005714 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by Qwiv
T5HO ballast (4 x54) $24.99.

That is not a T5 ballast on the site. It is a T8 ballast.

They have a 2 x 54 ballast for $36.99. I would get an Icecap 660

which one is a t8 ballast?

if you mean the workhorse, then yeah its a t8, t12, vho, pc and t5ho ballast.


go to fulhams website and see for yourself its a t5ho ballast.
nevermind i have been running my 3x39 t5ho retro for 15 months ona workhorse 5 ballst:rollface:

until very recently, aqualux's reflectors were on sale, for a very very long time. the 4 foot CDR was under 13 dollars until very recently. then it was a huge price difference, now its not so much.

still, its a great reflector, designed well, and no cheap "stainless" clips that rust like the icecaps, the aqualux CDR's use plastic clips.
Also, the CDR's do not get stained like tek reflectors do from salt spray. so less money than the tek, as good as performance as the icecap, and better designed IMHO, unless you plan to use them for flyswatters, then the bracing of the IC work great. Plus, you cant get icecaps in 5 foot reflectors. they refuse to make them saying there is not enough demand for 5 foot t5ho reflectors. well, tek and the aqualux sold ones make them in 5 foot lengths...

and as far as PAR, at surface level, the tek is 10% behind the IC and CDR, deeper the tek is 20% less PAR in the tank than the CDR and the IC.

yeah the IC is wiser than the tek, its also better, and the CDR is wider than the IC. you have to remember that when the grim reefer did this experiment with PAR levels on the same bulb, but 3 different reflectors, he wasnt happy with aqualux due toa broken in shipment t5ho bulb, that was later resolved...so He didnt even call the aqualux CDR what it was, merely "brand X" so he may have skewed the results. at worst, the IC and the CDR are equal in terms of performance.

as far as the extra width , the extra PAR takes care of that vs the tek. also, people have found that you do not need to cram as many t5ho as possible under the hood, but rather one per 3".. one t5ho per every 3" is the now respected rule when you use a good reflector. maybe the people in germany that make the CDR were thinking that all along...
I wasn't talking to you Horkin, did it look like I quoted you?

I was responding to Bodi. The ballast he was looking at is not a t5 HO ballast.
yeah, i see you were talking to him. now

i get so much flack for running a w ballast on my retro. so i usually put the truth in writing.:)

since you posted right after I did, one could deduce that you were talking to me.
maybe if you had used the quote button there would have been no misunderstanding.