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Old 03-05-2008, 11:15 AM   #1
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Some lighting questions:

Here is some info I've gathered over the past two days about lights I'm looking at for my 48" 55 gal. I'm looking to go planted, either medium light (2-2.36 wpg) or high light (4+ wpg).

AH Supply:
4x 55= $129.99 (4 wpg)
2x96= $114.99 (3.49 wpg)
Bulbs= $17.99, 28.99
Housing= $46.99-49.99
220w = 217.40 w/out enclosure (enclosure is $49.99)
192w = 188.42 w/out enclosure (enclosure is $49.99)

Big Als:
Coralife Freshwater Aqualight- 48" Power Compact Light-2 x 65W= $109 (2.36)
USA Satellite 48" 2 x 65W Power Compact-Single Strip W/2 Lunar Lights=$99.99 (2.36)
Coralife Freshwater Aqualight- 48" (4X65W) $219.99 (4+)
Coralife 48" Aqualight Power Compact Strip Light- 4X65Watt $219.99 (4+)

Drs.FS:
All-Glass Compact Fluorescent Black Strip Lights (2x55W) $149.99 (2)
Current Single Satellite Compact Fluorescent Fixtures (2x65) $117.29 (2.36)

Two Amazon Options: (1) Amazon.com: Coralife Double Aqualight 48" 260w (4 x 65w) 6700k Aquarium Strip Light: Kitchen & Dining
Coralife 48" Aqualight Power Compact Strip Light- 4X65Watt $199.
There is also a 48" Coralife luna aqualight for 179.99 on amazon but it comes with two actinic bulbs. It's from a pet supply co. so if I could get these switched out for ones useful for plants this would be the deal right?!

So it looks like the best deal for a high light tank is the first one on Amazon. Does anybody have any feelings on the Coralife brand lights? AHSupply has some page that demonstrates the efficiency of a good reflector but is there really anything wrong with coral life's reflector.

Doesn't the extra 40 watts of light, plus not having to put it together, plus the $60-$70 in savings make the corallife deal on Amazon the best or is the AHSupply's claims to efficiency worth the extra cost/hassle?

Can someone also please tell me what they think of this auction for a 48" Odyssea 4x65w PC lights w/ ballast and bulbs for $140 total here:
ODYSSEA 48" 260W Aquarium Power Compact Light 3 cords - eBay (item 290210736119 end time Mar-10-08 12:43:07 PDT) Is this a really crappy manufacurere or something? B/c it seems too good to be true.
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Old 03-05-2008, 03:27 PM   #2
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Yes their reflector is that much better BUT you can still do just fine with a Coralife or Current USA fixture. I highly recommend checking out these refurbished Current USA units. You can save a significant amount and I've even heard that they'll swap out the actinics for daylight bulbs if you ask. I'm running a refurb unit from them and it's working beautifully. Great transaction and been using it for over a year with no problems. Even came with the legs which I ordered unknowingly separately.
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Old 03-05-2008, 04:14 PM   #3
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^ Ugh, way to add yet ANOTHER option!!

Just kidding. Thanks for the link, the more info I have the better. But that doesn't really seem to have anything for me. The cheapest refurb 4x65w 48" they had was 150 which is more than the Odyssea 4x65w 48" NEW, which only costs $140 out the door!

I can't understand why they're so inexpensive. I'm trying to find out if there is a huge dropoff in quality or something but I can't seem to get any info or feeback about that light.

Is Odyssea like the Ford Pinto of lights or something? It's half the price of AHSupply and that is all DIY! How would you rate the following: Odyssea, Current/Satellite, Orbit, (and obv. AHSupply would prob. be the best)?

Does anybody own Odyssea lights? Can you give me some feedback on em? I think I'm gonna end up buying that ebay auction for the setup unless something/someone changes my mind. I just feel like I'm missing something.

I would go with the 2x65 but as soon as I get em, I know I'm gonna wish I had the ability to get a high light tank. At least by getting 4x65, I can start out only using 130 watts and bump it up in the future if I wish.
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Old 03-05-2008, 05:26 PM   #4
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AHSupply has great reflectors but the rest is pretty standard.

For premade fixtures Coralife would be at the top with Current USA following close behind. Biggest difference in quality is that the Current Fixtures can be a bit more noisy. Odyssea are to be avoided from everything I've heard. Their quality matches their price. Almost always very noisy, although this can sometimes be remedied with minor mods. I've heard of multiple instances where the unit arrived in a non working condition. If you do a search on the forum for Odyssea you should be able to find some of the reviews that members have posted after trying them.
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Old 03-05-2008, 08:52 PM   #5
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Very helpful info Purrbox. After looking enough, I finally have an idea of what is a good value. To be sure, the reviews on the Odysea lights are not all bad, some are quite good. At the sime time, NONE of the reviews for coralife are bad. Noise is a non issue for me personally since the sound of the water will drown it out (no pun intended) but the common denominator of the complaints about Odysea seem to be concerns with overheating.

It's the old balancing act of finding a medium b/w a quality setup and a good value. I called my LFS to do some brick and mortar shopping and they have the coralife 4x65w setup for 249.99, and I get a 15% discount there (on fish at least) b/c an aunt is thier equivalent of a CFO, so maybe the coralife for around 212+tax is the way to go. Decisions decisions.

I'm hesitant to buy from BigAls b/c it really doesnt seem like that great of a deal when its considerably more than other systems and its DIY. It's JMO but I feel there should be a bigger incentive to go that route when the only clear advantage is in a better, more efficient reflector and lighting. Especially when you can get ostensibly the same wattage, asssembled, for 116 (that auction just ended for that amount).

EDIT:

I just found a craiglist listing. The guy wants to sell me a 36" orbit lighting system 2x96watt and three lunar lights for $175. This will put me at 3.5 wpg w/ about 5 inches on each side of the tank receivign less light. Should I jump?
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Old 03-06-2008, 09:50 PM   #6
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Guess what Purrbox, I'm gonna get em from that refurbished link. They're not even used, this is what sold me:

Quote:
Refurbished equipment has not been used. These items have been damaged during shipping or didn't work properly when first sold. We refurbish these items to near new condition. They are factory guaranteed for three months to work as good as a new one.
I mean really, can you beat that?

I just lost an auction on an exact model (Current Satellite 4x64w SunPaq w/ Lunar lights and fan) but w/out the two daylight bulbs (one was actinic) for 128 shipped, but I would have had to buy two bulbs, which are what 25-30 each so that makes it at least $188, and thats w/ NO guarantee whatsoever. Shipped and with the bulbs swapped the refurb comes to 194.95$

You mentioned that you had some of these. Did they arrived scratched? What was "not new" about them? What should I expect to be different, they're refurb for a reason right?

Generally I'm a big fan of buying used/openbox/refurb, I got my tv as an open box and saved a ton.
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Old 03-06-2008, 10:58 PM   #7
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Actually my refurb unit looked brand new to me. I managed to put a mark on it and break one of the legs (glad I bought some and had extras) getting it set up (dropping it is not recommended), but that was my own stupid fault. I really couldn't tell the difference at all.
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Old 03-07-2008, 10:10 AM   #8
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Thanks for the info. I really wish they'd swap out the bulbs for free but I guess if they did that they'd have too many actinics since nobody would really want all actinics.

To anyone who has a satellite fixture:
Are all your bulbs still working? How long did these 65w satellite bulbs last you? How noisy are the fans? If I can get a corlife 4x65w for the same price as a satellite would you get coralife instead and if so, why? Would you feel comfortable running all your lights on, over extended periods, with a canoby on your tank?
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Old 03-07-2008, 10:30 AM   #9
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Catalina Aquarium

$125 plus shipping, bulbs included (and they will swap them to your color preference), legs and moonlights included, new, with a 5 year ballast warranty.

I think it is $30 for them to add a fan if you wanted it.
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Old 03-07-2008, 10:56 AM   #10
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Thanks Ingg (is the name b/c you're a fan of the metroid prime series??)!

That link is great. Similar to Odyssea, the un-commonly inexpensive pricetag makes me question the quality. Do you own one from them? Their customer testimonials look good but I dunno, seems too good to be true. Though that setup, w/ that much power and that many lunar lights, is really really cheap.

Looks like I'm b/w buying from catalina aquarium or the tri-city tropical link to the refurbs.

This is cool, I like buying from small businesses (or at least not corporate giants). Usually mom and pop shops don't have the best prices but in this case they seem to.
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:35 AM   #11
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Forgive me for saying, but Odyssea are junk. Junk ballasts, junk bulbs, sloppy and potentially dangerous wiring, and they make their own bulbs so they force you to rebuy their bulbs when they make T5 fixtures - other bulbs are another length. I know of too many fixtures burnt out, burnt up, and dead after just a year or two to ever ever buy one. (And some of that burning is literal, google odyssea and fire.)

Catalina makes a decent fixture. They use Workhorse ballasts, 5 year warranty. Aluminum hoods, good german specular reflector material. Good end caps, tight builds. I'm not a huge fan of their legs, but then, nobody has great legs for fixtures. I don't know the quality of their fans, if my fixtures need a fan I retrofit in SilenX cimputer fans, I'm sort of anal about fan noise - one tank has a Current 2x40 light, that fan had to go!


I own a 2x13 PC fixture for my nano from Catalina, and I own a 4x54 T5 fixture from them - just got it this week for my 75g. Both similar builds, and good quality. I'd say they are at least on par with the commercial folks like Current and Coralife, and are better than them in the T5 arena. There are better quality light makers, but I get the feeling you won't like the price tag of a TEK.

That link I gave you had to be an overbuild or similar situation - they manufacturer for some resellers. They aren't all that inexpensive , figured you could take advantage of a sale. I just did the same with their 4x54 T5 fixture I have, normally well over $250, but they have one specific style being sold for $150. Same kind of thing, had to be an overbuild for a commercial order or something.
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Old 03-07-2008, 12:10 PM   #12
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Yeah I'm lookin at Catalina really hard. I've heard T5s run alot cooler than PCs, and since I have a canopy maybe I should think about gettin a 48" T5 setup instead but the jump from 125 to 275 is more than double! Eh...I usually have my hood open anyway. Is it true that T5's are cooler?

Oh and Odyssea is definitely out for me now, I've written them off. Thanks again for that link, it is one of the better options suggested in this thread.
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Old 03-07-2008, 12:31 PM   #13
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A friend of mine, member of GWAPA, recently purchased some catalina T5 fixtures for a 75g setup he's doing and did a little write up over on the GWAPA forums about his impressions of them. Here's the summary of the article he put together.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ingg from GWAPA
For the money, this was a good investment I can heartily recommend.

It has all the bells and whistles available, and a good buy can be found both from Catalina on their own site, and from EBay retailers. Legs, mounting sets, moonlights, fans, multiple bulb configurations, and they offer the ability to swap bulbs to what you want, as long as they stock the bulb type.

I think the Catalina fixture is a far better buy for the dollar spent than the Current fixtures, especially after Current raised their prices last last fall. It isa superior hood, has superior legs (Current fixtures have a wire frame "leg" that sits the fixture VERY low near the tank), and has a better warranty.

Yes, TEK's are a better fixture - and are easily 30-40% more, without the legs or moonlights included. Not everyone will see the need, nor honestly the benefit, of high end fixtures like TEK's. My high light big tank uses TEK's, and I am glad I spent the money for that tank - I am also pretty satisfied I saved the money on this 75g setup this Catalina fixture is for. Not necessarily a better buy than TEK's, but perhaps a better fit for many buyers (at least in freshwater).


In the end, it is a very good compromise of a better but still mid-line quality for a good price.
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Old 03-07-2008, 01:51 PM   #14
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Wow, thanks for the info Neil, that sounds like a raving review. Geeze, sounds like it's generally better than Current. Hmmm...what to do what to do. I think I may be sold on teh Catalina brand. 5 yr warranty, thats a long time.

I've heard that Currents have loud fans. Now I just need to decide between the $150 4x65w PC lights or the $250ish T5 setup. Why pay more for less wattage? WHat's the advantage of T5 lights?

****, I just lost an auction in the last 15 seconds. Big-time bummer. It was for a Catalina 48" 4x54w T5 fixture w/ the lunarlights. My highest bid was 153.75 and the winner took it for 155 (45 shipping) so they got it for 200 on the dot.

Eh...maybe I'll keep looking or settle for the $150 catalina 4x65w fixture. sure would have liked to steal those T5s though.

2nd EDIT: You know it's a good thing I did lose that auction. I called Catalina and they offered the 48" T5 setup, 4 bulbs (6,700k, 10,000k) w/ lunar lights for $190 to my door (10 buck cheaper!). He said they're completley swamped and probably wouldn't be able to get it to me for about 3 weeks.

Question: Do T5s need a fan?
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:02 PM   #15
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You so totally ripped off my review Neilanh

That is my review - I own Current USA T5 fixtures, TEK Fixtures, and now a SolarT5 (Catalina) fixture. I happened to be browsing posts here when I followed neilanh's tank build thread over here.

The SolarT5 is way better in build than the Currents. Better reflector setup, bulbs are spaced wider, legs hold it up off the aquarium instead of 1/2" from the water surface... just a better all around fixture.

It doesn't compare well to a TEK, but then, for the money I spent on it, it shouldn't. TEK's list price is $240 before lamps, best price I could find on the net. Shipped, it'll be around $300 or a little more, without legs. I got the Catalina for $190, shipped, with lamps, and it had moonlights and legs. BIG price difference.

By the way, a T5 fixture is also on sale, as long as you do a silver casing - go to aquatic specials, 4x54 is $149. You can find it on Ebay for 145 + 45 shipping, with legs and moonlights, that T5 version, search Solar T5.


Why do T5 over PC?

More actual output. Because the bulbs are linear, the reflectors are better able to be molded around, and therefore get more light out of, the bulbs. The bulbs don't bend onto themselves, so lose less to restrike.

Less heat. T5's run cooler than PC's.

Longer lasting bulbs. Because they run cooler in part, and part just from bulb design I guess, the T5 bulbs tend to run longer, and lose less intensity over time, than anything else - including metal halide bulbs.




Is it a huge difference? I don't know, to be honest. I've never replaced a PC fixture with a T5 fixture, so I can't give accurate same tank comparisons, if that makes sense.

I run several tanks, some run T5's, some run PC's. Both light systems work. I like the T5's because I feel I get the same intensity with less wattage - 54w T5's vs. 65w PC's. I like the T5's because I feel they allow for better reflectors. But is it a huge difference? Can't say for sure.
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:23 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ingg View Post
You so totally ripped off my review Neilanh
I gave you credit, named you and everything.

Your knowledge overwhelms me. I wish to share it with the world
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:38 PM   #17
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:42 PM   #18
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THanks for the review ingg. I'm sold on the Catalina T5's. I was really considering the refurb 4x65 Current/Satellite PC's but considering the longer lasting and more efficient, cooler setup, with the lunar lights, and that it's made in the USA, and that it's cheaper (5 bucks anyway), I think the Catalina T5's are for me.

It's more than I wanted to spend really, I was loving the price of the Odyssea's but when everyone consistently says something (they suck) with such solidarity, it's probably good advice.

Still have an unsanswered question though (not that EVERYONE's advice hasn't really helped me find what are IMO the best value light system there is).

Do T5's need a fan? I'm wonderin if I can use em above the tank w/ the canopy in place.
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:44 PM   #19
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I'm running the TEK T5 fixtures... 4x39 fixtures... they barely get warm to the touch.... no fan.
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Old 03-08-2008, 12:05 AM   #20
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Wouldn't know, I run all my tanks open top - I'd ask them, it seems to vary by manufacturer if they need a fan (I don't run one, it isn't getting any hotter than my 2 bulb current fixtures) or if they allow them under canopies.
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