The T5 and T8 lighting options
T5 and T8 are high output florescent lights. They have been used for many years in the aquarium hobby. I used these in my original setup many years ago. They come in a variety of light spectrum’s and are fantastic lights. The T stands for the diameter of the bulb in 1/8 inch increments. A T5 bulb is 5/8 of an inch and a T8 bulb is 8/8 or 1 inch.
T8 Aquarium Bulbs
T8 are the larger and less expensive bulbs. They also have a lower lighting output. It is nearly half as much as a T5 high output. That means you have less room which means less light. A healthy marine aquarium needs strong lighting that penetrates the water. Most coral reefs are near the equator where the sun’s light is the most intense. The T8 bulb is the most common and is suitable for fresh water systems but not adequate for marine systems.
The T5 High Output
This bulb revolutionized the marine aquarium hobby. In my opinion it was the first lighting source available to the hobbyist in a price range that was affordable. In my first set up I used the T8 and lost many corals until I switched to the T5. With the T5 I experienced my first successful reef tank. They come in a variety of spectrum’s and applications. With these lights the hobbyist can expect fantastic coral growth.
because of their small size you can put more of them in a smaller space. By mixing different lights you can achieve amazing results. Combining 10,000k and actinic blue covers most of the light spectrum and brings out the colors of the corals and fish. Blue light penetrates water best and red light the least. This is why many marine fish are red. Using the 10,000k light simulates the mid-day tropical sun and will bring out the colors in the red fish while allowing the blue light to penetrate the water column.