Coral Reef Aquariums

Specializing in Aquarium Equipment

HO vs PC vs MH vs LED

Lighting technology continues to evolve. High Output T5 have become the mainstream product over the past several years. They are a great light and offer a good solution for tanks up 120 gallons (4') since each lamp has an output of 54w and can be configured up to 8 lamps. For deeper tanks (30" or more) and longer tanks (72") we recommend using Metal Halide lighting or LED lighting in either a fixture or within a canopy.

LED's continue gaining recognition and have evolved to a point where they are a good solution. With other lighting options its clear on what you need, watts per gallon and color spectrum. With LEDs it gets more complex. There are 1 watt LEDs, 3 watt and now 5 watt. There are different lens to control the angle of light in degrees. There are different mixes of whites, blues and even Red and Green to give optional color spectrums. There are dimmable vs non-dimmable. Different arrays of LEDs are emerging that include the above colors along with UV for SPS coral.

Some LEDs can be controlled by a computer chip to simulate dawn, storms, dusk and lunar cycles. Some higher tech lights can be controlled via a third party Reef Controller or even a smartphone like iPhone, Android, Tablet or PC.

New products like EcoTech Marine's ReefLink allow a wireless connection to their Radion LEDs and Vortech Powerheads for complete control of lighting and pump control for feeding and acclimation periods thru the Internet via a Smarphone or PC.

The challange with LEDs is getting the right solution that will work for you and be flexible. There are many off-shore LEDs appearing in the US and we advise caution since many wont gow Coral and seem to foster algae blooms. Were here to consult you on the right Lighting choices. We've had 4 years experience now with LEDs effect on Corals and have seen how the different products create drastically different results.


While Freshwater and Marine Fish systems require lighting there is less focus on wattage per gallon and simply more on the color spectrum. In a Reef Aquariums Lighting is one of the more critical elements. We take pride in consulting our customers to determine the proper lighting based on value, wattage per gallon, color, annual costs, heat transfer and of course costs. Lighting continues to evolve from the standard T5 HO's. We now have T5 VHO and HO, VHO Twist, T10's and a host of new color spectrum's and more coming. We specialize in Sunbrite LED Lighting, AquaIluminations, AquaticLife, Radion XR30w with the new ReefLink WIFI Option, EcoXotic LED, Kessil A350w, EShine AquaSun and Current Orbit LED.

Lighting Facts

  T5, T8, T12
  Diameter of the Lamp Tube
  High & Very High Output
  Metal Halide   Mogul Base or HQI Double End
  Reef Lights
  3-4w per gal Soft, 6-9w Hard Corals
  Light Time 
  7-8hrs whites, 7-12hrs Actinic Blue 
  Lamp Life
  Varies but Ideally change annually
  HO Fixture
  2, 4, 6 or 8 Lamps
  HO Watts
  60" 80w, 48" 54w, 36" 39w
  VHO Watts
  72" 160w, 48" 110w, 36" 95w
  MH Watts
  70w, 150w, 175w, 250w, 400w, 1000w

Color Spectrum (Phosphor Blends) and PAR value are an important aspect of lighting. The critical parameter of good coral growth is having the right spectrum of whites, blues and even reds and the right PAR value. Most lamps made for Reef Aquariums have the blends clearly marked in Color Temperature (not heat related) like 10k, 12k, 14k and 20k. LED'S allow you to control the intensity of the whites and blues giving you the ability to blend to your needs as well as control the brightness simulating sunrise to sunset mode.

In todays market most people starting out are investing in the more expensive LED lighting for better color spectrum and minimal operating costs.

Contact Us

Visit our showroom we are located at Sweetwater Square located at 895 Fox Valley Drive, Longwood Florida. Just 2.7 miles from Interstate 4. Call us at (321) 972-6970, or EMAIL us at

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