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T5HO Information


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We don't have any really good comprehensive threads on T5HO lighting on NR, so I thought it was about time one got started.

I've been doing a lot of recent research on T5HO after buying a 24" 4x24w T5HO fixture from HelloLights.com at the incredible price of $100.



One of the really cool things about T5HO is the endless bulb combinations that can be used to produce various lighting effects.

Below are some pics and bulb information from different NR members who are using T5HO.




30G Finnex – 24x18x16 Tank

Aquactinics TX5 T-5HO Light Fixture

Bulb Configuration:

ATI Aquablue

ATI Blue+

ATI Procolor

KZ Fiji Purple

ATI Blue+




75g Reef Ready Tank

8 bulb Tek Fixture

Bulb Used (configuration and brand unknown):

4 Actinic

2 75/25

2 Actinic Whites




10g tank

Fishneedit 4x24w fixture

Bulbs Used:

2 ATI Blue+

1 ATI Aquablue

1 UVL Aquasun




20L Tank

24" Tek T5 HO 4x24 unit

Bulb Configuration:

Actinic Plus



True Actinic




15L Tank

Tek 4x24w Fixture

Bulbs Used:

1x GE 6500K daylight

1x Giesemann Pure Actinic

1x UV Actinic White

1x ATI Blue Plus

Comment from BK on above bulb combo-- "For what its worth, I'm replacing the 6500K. The tank is just too yellow for my tastes, but not by much. I just want a bit more blue."




30g Finnex Tank, 24w X 18L X 18h

4x24w T5HO fixture w/ moon LEDs built-in

UVL 75/25 14000K AquaBlue

UVL Super Actinic

ATI 12,000K Aquablue Special

ATI Blue+




Tank: AGA 40 gallon breeder. Started 12/7/05.

Lighting: 4x39 watt T5s overdriven to 64 watts each. One of each: ATI Blue Plus, ATI Aqua Blue Special, UVL Superactinic, GE 6500K Daylight.




40b Tank

Aquactinics 36 inch tx5 T5HO fixture

Bulb Combo, front to back:

ATI Blue Special

ATI Actinic Blue

Fiji Purple

ATI Blue Special

ATI Blue Plus





60g Tank, 36x24x16x 3/4" Cell Cast Acrylic

ATI Powermodule 6x39W Fixture


ATI Blue +

UV Super Actinics

ATI Blue+

UV Aquasun

ATI Blue+

ATI Aquablue special

This is exactly how the tank and corals look under that bulb combo




6x24w ATI Powermodule Fixture

ATI Blue Plus

KZ New Generation 14K

UV Actinic

KZ Fiji Purple

UV Actinic

KZ New Generation 14K


here is one with 4 bulbs.Its hard to show in my pics but this is close to true color as i can get.It works very well and not pink at all in person.Ill get one of the 6 bulb later.Its just a tiny bit more white and very bright





2 ATI Blue+

1 KZ Fiji Purple

1 GE6500


Some excellent information on T5HO including different bulb combos and PAR values can be found here:



I will continue to add FTS w/bulb combos as I find them.

In the interests of keeping this in a more useable format, if you have a tank with a T5HO fixture, please PM me your FTS and bulb combo to add to this post, instead of posting it yourself.

That way I can hopefully just keep all the pics together here instead of having them in different places all over the thread.

I will be continuing to post much more info that I have gleaned from various places and people over the next couple of days.

Edited by Weetabix7
  • Like 8
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This is a great Idea, It was always a pain to try and search through threads to find which bulbs looked best. BTW I used Geismann bulbs, next time I am going to try ATI.

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edit: Okay, I'm still collecting my info, but I'll be editing this post later on. Feel free to correct any mistakes I've made or help clarify some statements. I've temporarily removed references to most fixture/ballast brands due to there being many changes in quality.



What is a T5?


The bulbs we are talking about are "T5HO fluorescents" (aka T5-HO), but I will use the term "T5" from now on.


First, a T5 is a fluorescent bulb, which means it uses electricity to "excite mercury vapor" (yes mercury) to emit ultraviolet light. This ultraviolet light then hits phosphors (which are the whitish coating on the inside surface of the tube), which are excited to emit visible light. This reemission of light at a different energy (UV light is higher energy than visible light) is called fluorescence, which is where these lights get their name from.

is a cool video on how commercial fluorescents are made (T5s in the hobby are straight tubes, not U-curved like those in the video).


WARNING: Some companies choose to label PCs (Power Compact Fluorescents) as T5s or "T5 PC", but they are a different type of bulb than what I'm talking about because they have twin tubes on one bulb instead of a single tube like the T5s of this thread. However, I have observed my own Current and Coralife PC bulbs are actually 6/8" in diameter, so a proper term could be T6. Some other manufacturers will call PC fixtures "T6". In any case, PC bulbs look like this, and T5s look like this.


The designation of a fluorescent tube comes from a code of F##T##, where F signifies fluorescent, the first number for the wattage, T for tubular bulb shape, and the last number for the diameter (measured in eighths of an inch). So, a F24T12 is a 24W tubular fluorescent bulb with a 12/8" diameter. T5s are therefore 5/8" in diameter. Most of the vendors in our hobby don't write the "F" and just state the wattage outright (i.e. a "39W T5HO fluorescent").


The "HO" signifies "high-output" lamps which are brighter (and use more watts) than normal output (NO) bulbs of the same length, and they need to have suitable ballasts to work properly. Likewise, VHO stands for very-high-output, and it is currently used to designate "overdriven" (higher output than what is listed) bulbs on ballasts like the Icecap 430/660.


Things to think about when buying a T5 fixture (roughly in order of importance): reflectors, bulbs (these are easy to change), and ballasts.


Ballasts: Most of the ones offered seem to be okay, and they don't make a huge difference. If you decide to get a ballast separately, remember that the specific wattages of T5HO bulbs should be listed on the ballast's label to ensure safe usage. The Icecap 660/460 ballasts are used on "T5-VHO" fixtures because they overdrives the bulbs to around twice the listed wattage. This is great for limited spaces, but the bulbs need to have cooling fans and may age faster. More recently, there have been bulbs that are specifically designed as T5VHO with specialized ballasts, like those on the TEK "light ultra elite" fixtures.


Bulbs: ATI, UVL, Giesemann, Korallen-Zucht and some other manufacturers have a wide variety of bulbs that put out great PAR (photosynthetically active radiation). One con with Current USA and other less expensive fixures is that their stock bulbs are usually limited in color selection (usually the standard "10000K" and "actinic"). The "10000K" was for growth while the "actinic" was for color. The problem that is some higher-end bulbs, like the ATI aquablue special, have good PAR ratings for growth while also enough blue spectrum to avoid getting any pure actinics. Bulbs usually have peaks in output at different wavelengths (corresponding to colors in the visible spectrum), and so it's useful to see a spectrum chart of a bulb. So, switching your bulbs is a hidden cost that you must consider when calculating where you shop.


Reflectors: These are what everyone keeps harping on when comparing T5s to MH. A T5 is similar to a standard PC in wattage, but it's advantage is having a single tube that can get more light in the tank with a proper reflector. You can think of it in another way: you pay for the energy to light the lamp, and the next step is to effectively get all that light down into the tank.


The less expensive T5 fixtures often have just a flat reflector with bulbs are packed like sardines (similar to a PC fixture). The next step up is fixtures with an "individually contoured reflector" which is one piece of metal folded between each bulb. Finally, there are "individual (parabolic) reflectors" that act like a flashlight to reflect the most light, even from the back of the bulb.


Here is a good link on T5 spectrum charts to know just what colors are actually produced by bulbs that may be similar to the naked eye.


Edited by lakshwadeep
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Hey Weetie great idea..I like bluer tanks :)

My 75g has a 36" Nova extreme

2x 460 nm

1x 420 nm

1x 10000k

and 4 x 54watt T-5 on individual reflectors

2x aquablue

1x 10000k

1x true actinic 03



My 40 long has a 48" Nova extreme fixture

2x 10000k

1x aquablue

1x 460nm



and the contest tank 2x 20 watt 18" nova extreme fixture and also runs 460 nm LED's

1x 10000k

1x 460 nm



I can't wait to see how other tanks look as I would like to change my bulbs later on and with the new 24" fixture



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My 15g Nano


CurrentUSA Sundial 4x24w

2 x 24W Blue Plus T5 HO Fluorescent by ATI

1 x 24W Super Actinic T5 HO Fluorescent by UV Lighting

1 x 24W Fiji Purple T5 HO Fluorescent by Korallen Zucht

  • Like 4
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Yeah, the stock bulbs with the Sundial are not nearly as blue. A friend of mine suggested that combo for a bluer look at it worked. My acro responded well, went from olive green to lime green with baby blue growth tips :D

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Love that color Travis. I might have to add those four bulbs to the Current Outer Orbit that is on my RSM. I already have a 150W 14000K Phoenix in there with supplemental actinics, but nowhere near as nice looking as yours. thanks for posting.

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Yeah, the stock bulbs with the Sundial are not nearly as blue. A friend of mine suggested that combo for a bluer look at it worked. My acro responded well, went from olive green to lime green with baby blue growth tips :D


Do your colors really look that blue in real life, or does your camera make it look a little bluer?

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For comparison:

All pics taken on manual setting with exact same settings. Straight form the camera, no processing in photoshop. Not exactly how it looks in person, but gives a good look at different combos.

Please ignore my tank...its under going a rescape and the corals are pissed because I keep turning off the lights to change lamps.


ATI Aquablue -- 336

ATI Blue+ -- 311

KZ Fiji Purple-- 330

ATI Blue+ -- 311

PAR avgs. out to-- 322



ATI Aquablue -- 336 (This would look similar to the Current-USA 18" fixture w/just white and blue lamps)

ATI Blue+ -- 311

ATI Aquablue --336

ATI Blue+ -- 311

PAR avgs. out to-- 323.5



ATI Aquablue -- 336

ATI Blue+ -- 311

UVL Aquasun -- 345

ATI Blue+ -- 311

PAR avgs. out to-- 325.75



ATI Blue+ -- 311

UVL Actinic (Super Actinic?) -- 210

UVL Aquasun -- 345

ATI Blue+ -- 311

PAR (w/Super Actinic) avgs. out to-- 294.25



In Honor of Travis's beautiful tank

ATI Blue+ -- 311

UVL Actinic (Super Actinic?) -- 210

KZ Fiji Purple -- 330

ATI Blue+ -- 311

PAR (w/Super Actinic) avgs. out to-- 290.5



Any other combos your interested in ...let me know...I have other lamps and might be able to get a sample pic.

Edited by Weetabix7
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Finnex 4x24w w/standard bulbs:

2 - Shin Mao 24w AB Actinics

2 - Shin Mao 24w 10K



Current Sundial 4x24w w/standard bulbs:

2 - Current 24w 460nm Actinics

2 - Current 24w 10K


I plan on messing with the 20H's lighting tonight.. by taking out one of the 10Ks and replacing it with a Sunpaq 460nm, just to see how it will look. I'll post a pic of that too!

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Does anyone have any info on the different PAR numbers of the different bulbs? I clicked on that link weetie posted but it didn't have any numbers.

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Here are a few:


Tek fixture and 54 Watt bulbs.



Special 15K 320

DUO 15K 334

22000K Blue 304



Sun Pro 285

Ocean Pro 323

Blue Pro 266



Sun Pro 357 (no longer available)

Aquablue 336

Blue Plus 311

Actinic 137

Pro Color 215


Current Sun Paq

Daylight 10K 272

Blue 252



Midday 325

Aquablue 324

Actinic Plus 264

Pure Actinic 157



General Electric

GE Daylight 340

GE3000 319



Daylight 309

Super Blue 225



Coral Light (10k) 342

Fiji Purple 330



Aqua sun 345

Actinic White 293

Super Actinic 210

75/25 254


See why I dont care for actinics lamps when a ATI blue+ will give your corals the same pop/glow.



Edited by masterbuilder
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Useless comment, but great thread guys.


Masterbuilder: those side-by-side bulb combos and pictures were great. It's perfect for deciding which bulbs to order. You might want to merge your photo post with your numbers post into a single post with a total par for all 4 bulbs so you can see the photo and total par for each bulb combo.

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Useless comment, but great thread guys.


Masterbuilder: those side-by-side bulb combos and pictures were great. It's perfect for deciding which bulbs to order. You might want to merge your photo post with your numbers post into a single post with a total par for all 4 bulbs so you can see the photo and total par for each bulb combo.


I'll see if I can go do that myself in a bit here, thanks for the suggestion.

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Wawawang has contributed the following pic of his tank with just a KZ Fiji Purple bulb over it:




He gave the following commentary on the bulb:

"That is close to real life as far as the color. I used the same camera and settings for this pic for my latest fts. It is a pinkish purple color and its very bright. The colors it effects the most is red, orange, pink as far as pop. My orange digi and my sunset changed to a orangey pink color when i went to this light setup."


According to Masterbuilder's earlier post, the KZ Fiji Purple bulb has a PAR of 330.

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