the reflectors do play a big part in how effective the lighting is. Just think about a standard shop light (as i have on my 55g), there are no reflectors, so alot of the light is lost out the sides of the tank. On a good T5HO setup, there are single reflectors for each bulb which point the light exactly where it needs to be. Also, a 48 T8 bulb is 32 watts. A 48" T5HO bulb is 54 watts. So really, youre getting almost twice the light from a single bulb. What size tank are you working with and what kinds of plants? If its just a low-medium light setup on a 48" tank, an $8 shoplight from walmart will do the trick. If you're wanting more than that, you're going to have to upgrade, but fish need it;lights; food;Sponge
has some fairly cheap T5HO lights.
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