I can share my very modest experience. I run two T5's over my 46Gal bowfront just for basic lighting as I'm not at the stocking phase of my 280Gal inwall yet (and won't be for months). I do have corraline growth on my LR and 1 Blue mushroom that is doing very well 3/4 the way up the tank.
I gutted a standard Flourecent fixture and installed two 36" 30watt T5's made by Helios. One is an actinic and the other a white light. They are about 20-30 dollars per fixture and come with a built in ballast, bulb and reflective back.
They do not produce much more heat than a standard fluorecent in my experience. The bulbs are said to be good for 3-5 yrs. They are also available in 48" lengths at 50 watts. I was able to fit two in a 4" space and could probably even squeeze in another.
I plan on suplementing my MH on the Big tank with 4-6 36" T5 actinics. Before committing to that though I am trying to find pics of reefers T5 tanks that show how well they flourece the corals.
I went ahead and combed through the info. The local Dealer is Blue Sierra so I called them up. These seem like better quality fixtures than Helios though they are more money too. There is a good chance I will try the 60" retro on the 280.
Thanks. Doesn't look like they have a 24" actinic available. Any information on PAR from the various T-5's (or comparable brightness per inch of length with VHO's)? Looks like they are half the wattage of VHO's, but are they equally as bright?
Anyone know how closely the bulbs can be spaced to avoid early burnout from heat?
How long have they been available in the U.S.? (how old is the experience base here) When were they developed in Europe?
A bulb life of 3-5 years sounds like how long they would last before burning out, not how long they would still give off good light levels.
I just installed a 4x54 watt T5 over my 60 gallon. They definitely are brighter than the flors. I got my Tek lights from www.reefgeek.com. I looked at Blue Sierra and I thought that the prices and set-uos were better at ReefGeek. When I bought my set-up the guys at ReefGeek threw in a few free bulbs. If you want to look at my set-up before you buy, PM me and we can set something up.
Well as nice as the reefgeek retros look they are over 100 bux more than Blue Sierra for the 2bulb 60" 80 watt kit!! Both are made by sunlight supply so I am not sure what the difference is other than Blue Sierra includes the bulbs anyway...
Thanks for the offer to see them. I'll pm ya.
dnjan: I would call some of the local fish stores. The 60" fixtures were not on sunlight supply's site but Blue Sierra new about them. I recall seeing a 24" Helios...
Drs Foster and Smith carries a bulb they claim is a true actinic, they say "spikes at 420 nm, the only T-5 HO true actinic bulb available in the U.S. market." I am not sure of the maker of the bulb or what it looks like.