Advice on transition to hybrid lighting?

Malum Argenteum

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Currently, my 90g mixed reef (LPS, a couple leathers, RBTAs, plating montis) runs (4) T5HOs (two Blue Plus, an Aquablue Special, and a Coral Plus) in individual Sunblaster fixtures mounted in a canopy. It works great, though makes a lot of heat and a big pile of lamps to be recycled. I'd like to ease into a hybrid setup by adding an LED or two and remove two of the T5s.

I want to make the change to reduce energy consumption and at least break even on long-term costs; I'm not looking to change the actual performance of the lights much. I want to ease into a hybrid instead of going full LED because I'm pretty conservative about changing things on the tank (it ran overdriven NO T8s until about five years ago, to give you an idea of how conservative ;) ), and because it would be easy to do given the individual T5 fixtures.

Reading threads, it seems hybrid systems tend to be some pretty standard LED (often a puck style) augmented by a pair of actinic T5HO. I'm not looking for any more blue spectrum than I already have, so I'm not sure that's the best idea for me (maybe it is and I just don't know it). I am familiar with AI Primes -- I currently own a FW model (gen previous to the current one, I think) that is on a frog vivarium, and used to own a first gen SW model (I didn't like it, and sold it -- I thought the performance was pretty poor).

I recently got a pair of Fluval Plant 3.0 fixtures for my FW planted tank, and I like them so far -- two of them are more powerful than the 4x T5HO I had on the planted tank previously. But I don't see the Fluval units getting a lot of love here.

I checked out the Orphek Light bars. A pretty different sort of light -- not controllable at all, it looks like. I'm not totally on board with the direct from China approach. All worth it because of the performance per dollar, maybe?

Reef Bright strips look pretty expensive for what they are -- just blue, or just blue and white. They'd need some work to find a T5 lamp that fills in the gaps?

Looking for suggestions, ideas to investigate, food for thought.
 
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minus9

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Orphek bars will add some really nice pop and are pretty good at what they do. Italian light brand GNC make a pretty good bar and I think they fall in between Orphek and Reef Brite in price? If you love the T5 look and coverage, maybe consider the CoralCare 2 or ATI Straton and replace the T5's altogether? I know you said that you didn't want to go all led, but those lights would give you everything you're looking for in an all led package.
 
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Malum Argenteum

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Thanks for those ideas. I'm not finding many leads on GNCs online; is there some vendor that carries their line that I'm just not finding?

Are the Orpheks really not dimmable? I presume that an inline dimmer (of appropriate capacity) could dim them, but I'm not finding any references to anyone actually doing this.

Backing up (quite) a bit: you suggest that LEDs are added to T5s make colors pop. My thinking here is rather to try to do exactly what T5s do well (look fine, and grow corals without a lot of hoopla and brain-wracking) with lower power consumption/heat production. Does this plan of mine suggest other LED options? Am I trying to do something that isn't really the intent of hybrid lighting?

I'm quite hesitant to jump in to LEDs for 100% of the lighting because I've been around for the shift from VHO/halides to CFL (that was not all it was cracked up to be, lol), and then CFL to T5HO (which turned out great, IMO, but was pretty expensive and fairly janky in the beginning, and I want to let everyone else take the hit on the testing phase of new tech), and now T5HO to LED (which was supposed to be a transition into lighting that lasts 50,000 hours before replacement, except the number of generations of LED tech in the last 10 years to get to a point where they're actually close to being a mature technology has lead to many units being swapped out almost as fast as swapping out worn T5 lamps).

Again, thanks for the input so far. :)
 

Speaking of your latest coral purchase...

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