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Do I go for T5 or LED lighting for deep tank?


22 May 2008
Hi all
Well, it's been a while since I've posted here - I've taken some time out of the planted tank scene due to a house move and renovations. These are finally finished, so I've finally been able to get a tidy sized tank. I finally settled on a Maidenhead Aquatics Aqua Oak tank, with opti-white tank, so it's 60"(L) x 20"(W) x 24"(H). I can't believe how much lighting has progressed in the four years I've been out, so I could really do with some advice.
Before leaving the aquatic scene, I purchased 2 interpet twin compact lighting starters, so that's 4 x 55W bulbs altogether. I think that's enough to grow most plants? However, I also want to run some moonlight tubes so I would need to buy starters for these. My concern is that these units stopped production in 2009, so they are obsolete. Is it worth installing these or would I be better off buying LED units? If so, what can people recommend? I like the idea of being able to dim the lights, but I don't like the idea of paying more for functions that are not really needed.
With regards to the tank, it'll be a high tech setup, with two external filters, each with inline CO2 and EI dosing. I'm not sure what plants I'll be growing yet, but I want the flexibility to grow what I want.
Any suggestions would be much appreciated
Thanks all!


24 Dec 2014
I've a couple of similar depth tanks, one runs with Kessil A160, the other with a similar aged (obsolete) T5 luminaire ... both grow plants just fine
I've no doubt the fish prefer the slow turn on of the Kessil LED

At this water depth, look for high intensity LED such as Kessil have used - often you need to search a bit for LED information, PAR is a good hint but again you often need to look for this information (eg, Sanjay Joshi articles over on Advanced Aquarist).
If you stay with your T5 system, make sure you're using HOT5, also provide good reflectors (eg take a look at how Giesemann does this) ... T5 lamp design seems to have fallen down the rabbit hole of jamming as many lamps as close together as possible (less costly to produce) but this is not the most efficient design (again look at old technical reviews)
Some T5 units offer dimming now, you can also manage this with raising/lowering lamp unit or use of floating plants (except this rather impacts light color in the tank) - if running cost is a consideration, LED can be a worthwhile investment.

If you look in Featured Journals
Dimensions:120 x 55 x 55cm optiwhite
Substrate: gravel, mini landscape rock, ADA amazonia (used)
Light: 2 x 54w T5 (2 x 150wMH) Geissemann
Mark Evans has no difficulty growing most plants ;)
- the MH lamps are occasionally used for a short 'burst"