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Does anyone use these light fixtures? I've been debating what I want to do for my 29 gallon tank, and this fixture is one that I'm considering. How good are it's reflectors? I could probably save a few bucks doing it myself, but I can't get a good reflector at that price, and I wonder if I might actually get more usable light per dollar by just buying the T5 fixture. How hard are the bulbs to find, and how long do they last? It seems to be an odd size (I won't be buying bulbs at Home Depot!) but if they're readily available and/or last a long time (I can always order a spare set when I buy the fixture)

thanks!

-Rick (the armchair aquarist)
 

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I have several of those fixtures and they work well for me. I have only seen bulbs for sale online. The replacement bulbs are fragile and I have broken a few just removing them from the packaging. The bulbs seem to last quite a while.
 

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I too have been using these fixtures for about 8 months now, and I really like them. Nice, compact size, and I combine the "colormax" bulb and "daylight" bulb on a tank with occies and calvus. Have 'em on a 30 gallon tank and 65 gallon tank.

I plan on doubling up 36 in. fixtures on a 125 gallon tank soon. For bulbs, I've got a LFS that carries them at a reasonable price, but online is also the best bet.
 

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I have the Coralifes in 48 Inch.. Throws a good amount of light,kind of cheaply made IMO ,but for the $$ they work well..
 

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I had a 48" dual-strip T5 that worked for about 12 months. Then, the ballast died. Unfortunately, it's cheaper to just get a new fixture than to replace the ballast, so I now use a $10 Home Depot light inside my hood.

I really liked the light spectrum that the T5 light had.... must have been that colormax bulb
 

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I had a bad experience with my first one. After about 5 months, a bulb burned out (I thought). So I ordered a new bulb and it did not work either. After a few more days, the other bulb went out as well. I could not get it working again. Yes, they are inexpensive, and when they work they put out nice light, but I would probably spend a bit more money on something better.
 

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I'll chime in with my experience with this light fixture. For me, it was a case of "when they work they output a decent amount of light, but when they have problems you might as well toss them."

I've had the 48 inch model on my 55 Gallon tank for the last 4 months. I thought it was a definite improvement over the standard "Walmart" style black plastic hood/light combo units. It worked great until last week. Then the lights just started flickering rapidly and would not stay solidly lit. Apparently, the ballast went bad. I tried taking the unit apart to see if I could replace the ballast, but there is no easy way to access it, since the aluminum housing is one solid piece. Also, I have not been able to find a replacement ballast for the unit available for purchase separately.

I will not be buying the same unit again. I'm out $50 and only got 4 months of use out of the product. I may be the exception to the rule, but from my experience, I don't trust the build qulity for this light. YMMV.
 

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Have you tried contacting Central Aquatics Customer service about a replacement? If you have only had it 4 months it is still under warranty.

Andy
 

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For what it's worth, these lights have gotten mixed reviews. I love 'em, but negative posts regarding quality seem to involve the 48 in. long fixture. I don't have that size, but I wonder if the longest size leads to problems.

Just an observation...
 

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I think you will find that the problems with the 48" fixtures will be over soon. I am intimately familiar with this fixture having worked on it for the last 6 months. Units made before January 2008 used 22 uf capacitors in the C4 and C5 position. These capacitors are responsible for firing the initial charge that lights the lamps. These are fine for lighting a new bulb. However as bulbs age they require more and more current to ignite. This proved too much for the capacitors. They would try over and over again to light the bulbs (the flashing you would see) until they overheated and failed. We fixed this problem by switching to 68 uf starting capacitors. These can provide more than enough power to light even an old bulb. These first arrived in the country in January but are indistinguishable from the old ones (unless you tear it apart and look at the ballast). Most dealers are now selling the new units. If you have an old one that has failed (remember it takes several months until the bulbs deteriorate enough that the capacitors won't light them) you can get a new one by contacting Central Aquatics customer service through www.oceanicsystems.com or 1-888 255 4527. You will need a receipt or some other proof of purchase.

Andy Hudson
Central Aquatics
Research and Development
 
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