Help! I Need New Lights!


Today my light cracked on the floor, and since everything in my tank is slowly breaking I am looking into getting a 20 gallon tank with the height being 14.17 inches, the width being 14.17 inches and the length being 23.62 inches. I want to have soft coral, live rock, and possibly LPS coral. What lights would you suggest?


Well, I'd personally steer you towards LEDs. T5's are still good, but the bulb replacement cost is kind of a killer. LEDs, as long as you don't just completely skimp on them, are usually pretty long-lived and will do the same job as a good T5HO fixture will.

Some recommend doing a couple of PAR 38's over a 20 high - you could do two of the ABI 23W bulbs, and I think that'd probably allow you to keep most softies and a few LPS near the top of your tank. Pretty cheap solution, too.

With where my hobby is at right now, I'd actually recommend that you get a decent black box LED fixture. A lot of people dislike them, because they have a reputation of being cheap and breaking pretty easily - they are made in China, after all. However, my experience has been pretty good. I got a powerful fixture with a good color spectrum and good build quality for $80. I went with the Wattshine 140W, and while it doesn't come with something to hang the light from, you can find a ton of people who have DIY'd something on the cheap. I personally removed the optics from the LEDs (which are just hot-glued on), and am much happier with the spread of light - I think if you removed the optics (which is truly easy), you'd be able to light the entire tank. The edges might be a bit dim, but you could probably still do mushrooms and zoas over there, with higher-light corals near the center of the tank.

As for going with a more expensive but "name-brand" fixture, you do get what you pay for. Most of the fixtures are very nice and come with a lot of cool features. However, in most cases, the price tag reflects that. Personally, I've found that the cheaper fixtures do the job very well for most tanks.
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