T5 or MH?


Do you prefer T5's or Metal Halides in your reef tank? How come?
Also, what are people's opinions on the company AquaticLife? The guy at my LFS really likes them, but I'm too new to the hobby to know much about any company's rep.


Active Member
I like both. But if I had to choose one over the other.
I would pick MH. I like the shimmer they provide, and colors come out better imo. With MH you get a wider variety of corals to choose from. But that doesn't mean you cant grow off T5's.
Better growth. But the bulbs and electrical use of MH is pricy.
But honestly those are the past. LED is the future, and becoming more an more available to the common reef keeper. Depending on your tank size you can DIY your own array for around $300-$900(30g nano-150g tank).
You will get much better colors, more vibrant. Arguably equal or superior growth to MH's. Fully customizable, and dimmable(meaning you can create your own custom color schemes). Oh and the bulbs last 50k hours(thats about 10 years) and then they only lose %25 of their potency.
You save on power and heat with LEDs as well. Everything about them is superior...except the initial price...spend around $4000 for something that will handle a 100-150g tank. OR like I said...DIY for around the same you would invest on a T5 array, or MH system.


Originally Posted by tank a holic
what size is your tank, deep tanks need MH more shallow tanks can use t5
I'm putting together a 55g reef tank. It'll be my first and I'm researching as much as I can as I look around for supplies.
Wow, LED does sound impressive though $4,000 isn't feasible for me. A DIY setup might be, but I'm not very DIY savvy. Can a newbie build the array you're thinking of without electrocuting herself?


Active Member
mh is the best if heat isnt an issue. t5 with good reflectors is good or comparable to mh, and it has no heat issue, but no shimmering effect. led is the best, but very new and pricey at this point. led wont really become widely used unless prices start to come down. also, led-reefing has no history, so reliability could be an issue.


there are several T5 units that are just as good as MH setups. the only downside to MH is the heat.
i dont think you'll go wrong either way. ive seen some beautiful tanks under T5's.

gill again68

Active Member
I dont think your really gonna get anyone to agree to your satisfaction on which is better, T-5s or MH.
I think what your gonna have to answer for yourself is more heat or less heat?
MH will put off a bunch of heat and use more tricity. T-5s less heat and less tricity.
I personally went with T-5s based on heat and electric use. If you can goto a LFS and compare you will see the difference that people are talking about with the shimmer affect. It is different but not enough for me and the 2 issues I mentioned.
As far as the water depth thing, certainly your tank will not be an issue with this. You can use both and really grow anything you like. You just have to get your lighting right. As a matter of fact, MH in that tank if your not careful could be too much light and burn stuff.
I say continue to read and get all the input you can but dont look for this debate to end here!


Active Member
Originally Posted by Kacey
A DIY setup might be, but I'm not very DIY savvy. Can a newbie build the array you're thinking of without electrocuting herself?

You can do it if you do your research. And work careful.
sound wave reef led
That will point you in the right direction. There is alot of DIY projects out there that give detailed instructions.


Thanks so much, everyone! Gill again68, I agree. Everyone has their own preferences. I'm not so much looking for a definitive, sweeping answer so much as a sharing of educated and experienced opinions. As I've got a tank of a depth that can do either, and as heat will be a concern in the summer because my house doesn't have air conditioning and it can get quite toasty in July and August, I'm going to look at T5s and LED. I've actually found one LED light that is a comparable price to a high-end T5, though because of its length, I'd need to purchase two to cover the whole tank (or just put corals on the left-hand side, I suppose
). I may make the investment, though I do have a lead on a lightly used T5 array for a very nice price. So, I may start with T5 and upgrade in the future.
Thanks you, everyone, for your opinions!


Active Member
Just to throw a wrench in, I like a combo MH and T5s or MH and LEDs on my 25 gal I now have one 250w MH and eight 1w LEDs and a nice fan that when the lights are on will drop the temp 1-2 degrees. I like this because it is versatile. Ran on different switches you can run the MH for 5-6 hour and then just light the tank with LEDs the rest of the day. Works pretty good low heat like I was saying with the good fan and I top off ½ a gal a day not too bad. We will see how summer goes…


Active Member
Originally Posted by Kacey
So, I may start with T5 and upgrade in the future.
Thats a great Idea! Plus you may find that you can retro fit your T5 array to also include LED's.
Keep your eye on craigs list. You will see deals on used lights almost weekly.