Time for a lighting upgrade, your opinion will help :)


New member
Hi guys,
I am finally ready to upgrade the lighting on my 4ft mixed reef tank. I've been running the chinese black box LEDs for the last 4 years with some success. All softies are growing like weeds, LPS I have a huge torch, a few hammers and a turbinaria that are all growing well, SPS I have montipora growing very fast and some acro frags that have gained a couple of inches. The problem with the black boxes is the narrow beam (hotspots) and no controlability on the ones I have.
I am upgrading in the next month to 6 weeks and I am wondering what people are running and what are some of the best options now. Lets assume there is no budget for the moment, I'll decide that myself when I see what the options are.

What I am looking for from my lights are:
Ability to ramp up and down.
I like the tank to look more white than blue
I like to see solid natural colors rather than florescent colors
Good even spread over a 4ft x 22inch tank
Ability to grow any SPS

Any input is greatly appreciated and if you need any further information just ask. Also feel free to add a picture of your tank with your lights as it might help in the decision.


Super Best Friends!
Premium Member
I've been impressed with Ecotech's Radions if you're wanting another LED-only solution. They're not cheap, but they work well. They can have a little bit of a disco ball effect, but it's gotten better with recent generations.

I had Kessil A350s and they left a little to be desired WRT color. I had no trouble growing anything under them, but they tended to be a little too blue, or lack good yellows/oranges. There wasn't a good middle ground to get natural color and some good florescent pop. I imagine the newer ones are better since they improved the controls, but it's something to look into. I also don't love how LEDs tend to encourage strong growth on top of SPS branches, but not below. I'm guessing it is just due to the point-source nature of LEDs vs the flooding effect from T5 or MH.

My favorite combo was when I added 4 T5s to my A350s. I was able to use ATI Purple+ and others to add warmer colors and lean on the LEDs for extra intensity and cooler colors. Now I run an ATI 6 bulb fixture with some RB LED supplementation. It's good, but the blue light needs some help. I just need to swap out some LEDs and dial in the color.

As for what's currently out there, I'm not much help there. That said, I'd try to find a way to stick with a T5 and LED combo. Whether it be DIY or something off the shelf, you'll have the most flexibility in color/appearance this way. AI might make a combo fixture still. You might be able to rig some T5s flanking Radions in a good looking fixture if you have the resources and know how.

Vinny Kreyling

Premium Member
Full control with sunrise -sunset - 6 channels, Thin profile & low end on costs.
Reefbreeder's 32" LED, or 48" if you want end to end.
BRS just did a review recently.


New member
I moved to a hybrid system that has t-5s and LEDS. I really love it

I went with Aquaticlite hybrid put in some atnic bulbs and mounted a Radion xr15, the combo is gving me the best results I've ever had. I went with a non-dimmable model and use a controller to turn on/off the T5's (there are two banks of them with separate plugs.) Then mess around with the Radion programing to do all the fun moon lighting and full programing to dial in colors.

I was using an older reefbreeders light on with good results, but like T-5s and have flexibility on the LED's I buy. If you don't want hybrid then I was looking hard at Reefbeeders new V2 photon line

Yet in short I think Hybrid is the best way to go.
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Convince'em or confuse'em
+1 on Reefbreeders. My 50-V2 will grow SPS if I place it carefully, but according to that BRS video I don't have them high enough. If I was able to change that maybe things might improve, but even so I get very good results with my mixed tank. My biggest mistake was increasing the power too much, they are strong!


Well-known member
I started with T12VHO's over 30 years ago. They could grow just about anything and the color was perfect. Eventually they became rather difficult to replace so I started looking for replacements.

I ended up with a pair of AI Sol Blues and was amazed at the color and controlability. When I set up my frag tank I went with a pair of Kessil A360w Tuna blues. They too can grow anything.

When I needed to set up a real QT, I moved the kessils there, the Sols to the frag tank, and picked up a pair of Radion XR30 G4 pros for the DT. They are, by far, the best lights I've ever used. Controlability is excellent, color rendition is fantastic. I am using the AB+ preset and the SPS are loving it although it did take several weeks for them to adjust.

As mentioned above, shadowing is a (minor IMO) issue. I cannot get myself to add T5's just because I like not having to replace bulbs. If you don't mind the expense, that is a viable option that many seem to like.



Super Best Friends!
Premium Member
As mentioned above, shadowing is a (minor IMO) issue. I cannot get myself to add T5's just because I like not having to replace bulbs. If you don't mind the expense, that is a viable option that many seem to like
Definitely just an aesthetic issue. I didn't hate it, but I thought the once a year expense on a couple of bulbs was worth it. It really only affected larger acro colonies. Everything else was pretty normal, IME. Honestly, the hardest part is making a DIY solution that looks good. I'm still not entirely satisfied with mine, but that's because I haven't spent the time tweaking it. It's nit-picky stuff at the end of the day.


New member
I'm building my new tank and I was in between Radion and Kessil A360x and I will tell you both good lights. I did not like the disco ball affect on the Radion, the only way around that is to get the diffuser which is an additional cost. I will say when I saw both of them recently inperson I fell in love with the Kessil, they definitely have the best shimmer. No one can compete with. This is also a preference subject some people love other lights for other reasons.
I just want something that replicates the ocean and I think Kessil does the best.