T-5 Reefers, Can You Talk Me Into T-5's

Discussion in 'Equipment, Lighting, Hardware, Aquarium Filtration' started by 427HISS, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. 427HISS

    427HISS Well-Known Member

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    Hello all T-5 reefers. I started reefing back in the 90's and I built a 75g into the living room wall and put together a VHO lighting system. A few months before retiring the hobby I removed two VHO's and in it's place, I installed a 175w halide. Everything looked great with both lighting's. After several years my wife and I sold out for other interests, but now were back into this beautiful hobby.

    I was surprised that LED's has become widely used, so I first bought a Chinese type of LED for my wife's 29g cube, then Maxspect's on one tank and Kessil on another, but we're very disappointed with all, other than the Kessil 360we.

    One major factor, my wife does not like the "shimmer" that most of us like, but it gives her a headache, especially since the tank will be right below our 65" TV in the wall, in the living room.

    The main problem is the disco affect of most LED lighting tanks, some worse than others, even with some of the high dollar manufactures. I don't want a argument here from the devoted LED people, especially diehard EcoTech users, it's a quality light, but not for 800 bucks each ! (that's all I'll mention here)

    Anyway, I'm thinking of going back to halides, as a lot of people are saying that for my 125g in wall mixed reef, I won't need a chiller, because the lighting will be in open air, not enclosed in a canopy.
    And, with the German type reflectors, I'll only need two 250w, not three and I assumed.

    With that said, I know there's a lot,.....of small to mega sized aquariums out there that utilize all T-5 fluorescent's, even with dominated SPS corals.

    The only real issue with T-5's is the tube replacement costs every 6-12 month's, and having a 6' long tank, that's 6-12 tubes. eek.......The plus is the amazing amount of different colors to choose from and little in the way of heat.

    I need to know what lighting you have (your tube color decision) and how your corals look because of your T-5's.

    Tell me what you have, why, and VERY IMPORTANT, please,........post any photo's and video's of your system, corals & fish, to show off your T-5's !

    So, before I make up my mind and going with halides and supplement with T-5's or LED's, can you talk me into going to T-5 lighting ?

    Regards,
    Kevin
     
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  2. NEPAReefer

    NEPAReefer Well-Known Member

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    I am current putting together a 90 DT. I am building my own T5 setup in the canopy. I will be running 6 T5 w/3 dimming ballasts to control 3 groups of 2. I figure that way I will have full control of the intensity of the light given as well as sunrise and sunset features. Hopefully in a couple months I will be able to report some results but I just wanted to throw what I am doing into the ring to give you something to think about. It is also a plus for me bc my sales rep can get me the ballasts for cheap. Good luck.
     
  3. Ramasule

    Ramasule Well-Known Member

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    I don't know why you are going MH if your wife gets a headache from shimmer, is that not one of the main selling points of MH?

    T5 puts out a flat light.
     
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  4. 427HISS

    427HISS Well-Known Member

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    That sounds interesting. Can you give me what parts that you're using ?

    Some of the shimmer can be lowered by reducing the water surface agitation, and that's a good reason to use
    T5's.
     
  5. 427HISS

    427HISS Well-Known Member

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    Am I mistaking here, that the 36" ATI DImmable SunPower High-Output T5 Fixture, is rated only at these gallon levels,....off of the Marine Depot ?

    • Common Sizing Guideline: soft coral tanks up to 80 gallons, mixed reef tanks up to 60 gallons and SPS dominated tanks up to 50 gallons.
    • Recommended Tank Depth: up to 30" with carefully planned placement of corals.
     
  6. NEPAReefer

    NEPAReefer Well-Known Member

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    I am using 3 0-10v Dimmable Fulham Ballasts that control 2 F54T5HO each. I will get you the part# once I find it. I will be controlling them using the Reefkeeper elite w/ the lighting control module which has 0-10v dimming capability. I am also using standard T5 sockets instead of the Watertight sockets b/c I am going to have a clear plexi cover over the fixture protecting it from the water. I will also be running the following bulbs: Actinic (2 x 46 and 2 x 42) and 2 x 10k daylights. My local fish store was running the same on a display tank and it really made the fish and coral pop like it was 3D without giving that horrible blue hue that people seem to like for some reason these days.
    Bulk Reef Supply has dimmable 2 bulb ballasts for sale but they are some cheap Chinese ballasts and they are 65 bucks each. The Fulham ones have a 5 year warranty and are only about 60 bucks. So the choice was easy for me...lol
     
  7. 427HISS

    427HISS Well-Known Member

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    If you don't mind, I may emulate your design, as it sounds wonderful. The dimable ATI and Giesemann units are quality proucts, but expensive, so I assume yours will be much less. Have you approximated the cost ?

    Having a sealed cover would be great to keep splash and salt creep away, but arn't you concerned about the heat, or will you incorporate fans ?

    Like this ballast, or is this on more than needed ?

    http://www.ballasts.com/fluorescent/t12ho-ballast-fulham-2-bulb-140-200w-elec-is-208-240v/
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  8. 427HISS

    427HISS Well-Known Member

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  9. NEPAReefer

    NEPAReefer Well-Known Member

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    That is fine with me. I will be leaving the back of the canopy partially open to have a good amount of air exchange so hopefully I will not have a need for a fan. But honestly only time will tell if I will need one or not.
    So far the costs are as follows...
    The 3 ballasts cost approx. $140-150. The reflector and sockets and socket brackets I took from a defective fixture I had at work but below will be a link for the fixture I parted out. And the costs of the bulbs are going to be $120. Even if you have to buy reflector and sockets they will only cost approx. $20-30. So in total the whole project should cost no more than $350 with bulbs included and you will have complete control over dimmability and ultimately will have 3 separate channels to control the brightness and intensity of each set of bulbs you will be running.

    http://www.acuitybrandslighting.com/library//ll/documents/specsheets/fgb-t5ho.pdf

    It is a one piece reflector that I cut into 3 2 lamp sections.
    Hopefully this helps.
     
  10. NEPAReefer

    NEPAReefer Well-Known Member

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    This is for the non-dimmable ballast but yes that is the company of the dimmable ones I acquired. And also this ballast runs 3 - 4 f54t5ho lamps instead of just 2 lamps. I chose the ones I got b/c I would have as much controllability as possible. By controlling a lower number of bulbs with each ballast it will allow me to have more different control of more bulbs...if you understand what I am trying to say lol...Basically with the 3 2 lamp ballasts I can control 6 lamps 3 different and independent ways but if I had 2 3 lamp ballasts and a total of 6 lamps that would only allow me to control 3 lamps each so I would only have 2 channels of adjustability instead of 3.

    Hopefully I didn't screw that explanation up too bad.
     
  11. NEPAReefer

    NEPAReefer Well-Known Member

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    This ballast is for running t12 lamps which will not power a t5 lamp. And also it has an input voltage of 208v. This lamp controls the old style T12VHO(very high output) lamps which are no longer really used. I will get the part number for the Fulham ones I have and post it on here for you tomorrow. If you need help tracking them down after I give you the part number I might be able to give you a hand with that.
     
  12. Vaughn17

    Vaughn17 Well-Known Member

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    I believe that dimming T-5 bulbs diminishes their useful longevity. I have the ATI dimmable 36 inch 6 bulb unit and found that the dimming did cut into the life of the bulbs (plus you have to burn them in), and the dimming wasn't really necessary; i.e. compared to LEDs, T5s are dim.
     
  13. Vaughn17

    Vaughn17 Well-Known Member

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    IME, this is true. In fact, I called ATI a few weeks ago to complain that there was something wrong with my light, that the bulbs were done after 6 months (even though I was not using the dimming function) and that I had to hang the fixture 6 inches over the water and place acros near the top of my 38 gallon tank. Even then, most acros weren't growing much, although stylos and lower light acros were growing well (and red planet, which I think will grow in a toilet bowl under a flash light). To test my theory that it was the lighting and not the water, I added a $12 Home Depot 75 watt 5K LED floodlight to one end of the tank. The T5 covers the entire tank, so the LED floodlight was only able to shine through the glass. Anyway, I moved all my frags that weren't thriving (do to lack of light, I assumed) to that end of the tank and now they're growing like crazy. The ATI rep told me that the dimmable Sunpower had the same output as the regular Sunpower, but, according to the Marine Depot website it does NOT. Now I'm feeling ripped off because I thought I had a light that would perform like a Sunpower with the convenience of a built in timer and two controllable channels (as previously noted, I don't care about the f-ing dimming function).
     
  14. NEPAReefer

    NEPAReefer Well-Known Member

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    I work for an Electrical Supply company and when I was thinking about doing the setup I am trying to explain above I spoke to my sales rep about the dimmable ballasts and he assured me that they do not and will not diminish the life of the lamps. And when not being dimmed they put out the same output as there non dimmable counterparts. These questions already ran through my head b/c I wanted to make sure I would run into any problems. So burning them in will not be a problem. Could it be the kind of ballasts that ATI uses compared to the ones I acquired? I do not know. Only time will tell for me how this is going to work out. I have not hooked it up yet as I am still in the process of finish building the canopy and stand.
     
  15. NEPAReefer

    NEPAReefer Well-Known Member

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  16. 427HISS

    427HISS Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Reefer. I look forword to your build, and possibly mine.
    What brand and spectrum bulbs do you plan on using ?
     
  17. NEPAReefer

    NEPAReefer Well-Known Member

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    I will be using Zoomed bulbs...
    4 Actinic (2 x 420 and 2 x 460)
    2 daylight 10k
    These bulbs are made in the same German facility as the ATI but are a couple bucks cheaper each so I figured I would give them a try.
    My local fish store is running the same color setup and it looks amazing...It really makes the coral and fish pop without having that annoying blue hue that a lot of tanks seem to have.
     
  18. 427HISS

    427HISS Well-Known Member

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    Great.

    Where have you found the best prices for the ballasts, wiring harness and bulbs ?

    Is that, Zoo Med ?
     
  19. NEPAReefer

    NEPAReefer Well-Known Member

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    Yes Zoo Med.
    The ballasts I get from my sales rep at work for about 50 bucks each and the bulbs I get from my local fish store. The daylights I believe were 16 each and the actinics were 21 each. I am making my own wire harness so the cost is minimal.
     
  20. 427HISS

    427HISS Well-Known Member

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    I can do a lot of things, but I don't like or understand electronics, never had any training, so what can a guy like me do for that side of the build ?
     

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