View Full Version : Lighting Recomendation for 90 Gallon 48" Freshwater Tank

01-30-2010, 07:15 PM
I currently have a 90 Gallon freshwater tank with the Coralife 4 blulb compact flourescent (55/65 watt bulbs). I've had this unit for some time and one of the bulbs has gone out (third set I've been on over the years) and it is probably time to replace all 4 again. Since it's time to replace the bulbs and I've been wanting to get more WPG (watts per gallon). So I was looking at some of the T5 setups. My light output isn't high enough to keep my presurized CO2 system going

So I'm looking at the T5 setups and wondering if anyone has any recommendations. In the marine configurations, I would probably replace the acitinic bulbs with 6700K bulbs to offset the 1000K bulbs that come with the unit....that is unless someone knows of a retailer that sells the freshwater planted tank setups.

01-30-2010, 09:26 PM

Check out catalinaaquarium.com.

They have some of the best salt and freshwater lighting fixtures I've ever seen and at reasonable prices. They build them in-house and will even make them to order in whatever configuration you want. Their replacement bulbs are also very reasonable.

They built a 4 bulb t5 fixture for me with the guarantee that if I didnt like it for any reason, I could send it back for a full refund.

I have used the Coralife CFL fixtures, and I'll tell you in all honesty that the ballasts they use are crap, and blow out every six months (if they last THAT long).

Catalina Aquarium uses premium ballasts. i've had my fixture from them for over a year. Bulbs and ballasts still going strong.

the 'other' Larry

01-30-2010, 10:10 PM
fishneedit.com for good cheap T5s. They have a 4x54w and will put in all freshwater bulbs.

Slightly higher end are the Tek fixtures by sunlight supply. They are pricey, but very good.

01-30-2010, 11:00 PM
Looks like fishneedit.com has problems: (besides their English)...

*Dear Customer:

For the 4 bulbs fixture, because we change the design for the new fixture,but we are not satisft for the fixture when they come up,so the manufacture need to re-make it again,so we are not sure when we will have it available. I also wish I have this item on our hand ASAP, so that we can sell it to customer, however as we care for our quality we wouldn't push manufacture to put together a fixture that doesn't meet our standard of quality in order to sell to customer as I, myself is one of the user of this light. We sure wouldn't make our customer spend money a light that a quality is not satify to a buyer.sorry about this and thank you very much for your understanding and support.

01-30-2010, 11:16 PM
I use Catalina's four bulb HOT5 fixtures on my two CO2 injected aquariums with 6500K bulbs and have had good results. Their customer service is good as well. My first unit was a coralife and I wasn't impressed with it, both due to poor light distribution, and a loud cooling fan. Keep in mind that watts per gallon rules don't apply to T5 bulbs as they are more efficient. A 4 bulb fixture will let you grow even high light plants in your foreground, even in a 24" deep tank.

01-31-2010, 08:32 AM
RE: fishneedit

While the two guys that run it do not speak very good english their customer support is fantastic. I have a 150W MH fixture (4 months old) I bought from them that had random problems not firing so I sent off an email seeing what could be done. No less than 5 minutes later he called me. Shipped me a new bulb and ballast to try at no charge and let me keep the extra bulb to boot.
Their suppliers are definitely overseas and they seem to have issues with things not being designed to spec especially when they redesign items. A similar thing happened when they switched from magnetic to electronic ballasts. Thankfully though these guys are all about the customer and if they feel that something isn't up to par they aren't going to pass it on. I won't say their products match up to TEK 1:1 but at the price point you really can't go wrong.

01-31-2010, 09:50 AM

You are right on.

Coralife is a big name brand that uses inferior ballasts, and yes, the fans make noise.

Catalina built me a 4 bulb HO T5 in the same Coralife housing, using their own ballasts, connectors, etc,. with NO fans, and guaranteed me it would not overheat.

It hasn't, and I love it.

01-31-2010, 09:48 PM

I was looking on Catlina's website and they have a new 2 T5 HO with 2 LED light (48 Inch Green Light LED 2x54 T5s + 2 LED Light Strips + Moonlight) strips plus the moon lights that looks pretty neat. Anyone per chance used their new LED light strips? Each strip is supposed to be 175 PAR. The information on the web site says it is designed for freshwater planted tanks.

02-01-2010, 01:26 PM
I saw their LED lights but dont know much about them. Too new. Probably overpriced this early on.

Chris Noto
02-03-2010, 06:12 PM
I've been seriously considering, as in "about to pull the trigger on," Catalina's 30 inch 2x24 T5 HO (http://www.catalinaaquarium.com/product_info.php?cPath=71_190&products_id=1413&osCsid=0c99b10639d4d577f201c9c95e452696) fixture. The $100 price seems pretty reasonable, but I have a couple of other concerns. First, aesthetics, or, the design of the piece, which is described as "silver," probably aluminum, and, second, the heat buildup in a unit without a built in fan, and how that may affect tube life.

02-03-2010, 06:44 PM
The T5s don't need a fan as they don't get so hot as compact fluorescent. I have 2 30" T5s side by side on 3 10 gallon tanks. I never have to worry about heat buildup, they sit right on the glass top of the tank. And the plants grow well. I have had the same tubes for a long time.

These look like the coralife fixtures, which I use on my larger tanks. They are 'polished' aluminum. I think they look decent enough. On my 55 I put the coralife lights right on top of the tank. That one is burning 2 65W Compact Fluorescent lights, and it doesn't have a fan when only two bulbs are burning (it holds 4).

So, in conclusion, that would be a good choice in my estimation. Depending, I guess on the PF (plant factor), and what, if any, plants you want to grow in the tank.*

*Message courtesy of the AAAA HAP program.

02-03-2010, 07:50 PM
Well I talked with one of the people at Catalina's and they are actually recommending a 6 bulb T5 or 8 bulb T5 setup for the 90 gallon. 6 is probably the max the top of my tank has room for as 10" front to back which leaves only a few inches at the front due to a hang on filter on the back of the tank. Does 6T5's (4 on one switch and 2 on the other) seem like overkill for a 90 gallon (48" wide).

As to the poster about the coralife ballasts. I've had the coralife hood for 6 years and the ballasts are still going (or is there some other issue). The Fans are one reason why I'm looking at the T5's as the fan is background noise in my living room with the TV going and when the fans cutoff it cuts down on the background noise for watching stuff on TV.

02-03-2010, 09:53 PM
Chris, Mike, et.al:

You cant go wrong with Catalina. The fixture "looks" like the coralife, but as I mentioned in a previous post, the guts are not like the Coralife at all. The material and craftsmanship of the folks at Catalina is far superior to any Coralife fixture you'll ever get.

As far as the fans, Chris, don't sweat it. I have their 4 bulb T5 model with no fans. I was concerned about it at first, but they promised me it wouldnt be a problem. and it hasn't been. I have that thing running 10 hours a day, and it hasn't burped in the year I own it. It does get hot, particularly right in the middle, but I crack the plastic shield open a snip to allow the extra heat out.

Not a problem at all.

Whereas, I had to return two Coralife fixtures (CFs) for ballasts that blew out after a matter of weeks. And, their fans are cheap and noisy.

Dont hesitate to buy Catalina's units. They stand behind them 100%, and with good reason. Theyre built well, with good parts.

the 'other' Larry

02-04-2010, 06:58 AM
You can not beat Catalina's customer service and quality. There are a number of people that have ordered from them and have nothing but good things to say about them. I know I am impressed with the one Kristin as on her 90.