So, this tread I'm making about the Aquatic Life 48" G12 HID unit vs. my prior 4 bulb T5HO unit. First of all, this unit has 2 multi directional 10k G12 HID bulbs with reflectors, 2 actinic T5HO's and 4 LED moonlights. It has a built in timer as do other aquatic life units. The timer is set just as I had my 4 bulb T5HO.
Background: I got the itch for metal halides hoping for more depth penetration and a pop in my coral growth and color. I sold my prior unit to a new saltwater hobbyist, and got this one. I could not find much on other reefers experience with this unit so I'll let you know mine.
First off, the unit looks cool, and is well vented. One of the major selling points for the unit is that the aquatic life claims that the unit will not cook your tank like other metal halides thanks to it's venting mechanism that dissipates the heat upward rather than downward. This I will attest to. There seems to be minimal heat transfer to the water despite being only 6-8 inches from the water surface on the frame mounts. This unit also comes with a suspension mechanism, but I'm not set up for that, and would rather not.
First out of the box, placing the frame mounts and T5 bulbs was no big deal, but getting the g12 bulbs in took some pushing that I wasn't real comfortable with. I'm assuming there is probably a trick to getting these single ended bulbs down in the socket but I didn't know it. The unit did not come with an instruction manuel, only a CD which I never opened. There are instructional videos on their website too.
Once the bulbs where in place it was time to put it on top of my aquarium and cut it on. This unit fired up quickly. There was a little overhang on my 72 gal bow front, but not real noticeable. They reccommend 30 hours of use for the true color to develop so I can not speak to that as of now but one unfortunate thing I noticed was that it the HID bulbs did not illuminate the entire tank. They are like spot lights, which is quite different than the 4 bulb T5HO which seems to illuminate the tank very evenly. It's nice that I can turn these spot lights toward different corals, but I think I was hoping for a more even distrubution of the light. I think the reflectors should have been designed differently to allow for a more even distribution. I'm assuming that if I hoist the fixure usining the suspension wires that it will distrubute more evenly, but I would really hate to have to do that. I'm wondering if the double ended R7S unit would have been better about this. That's about all for now, I hope this thread will give some insight into these units if you are considering buying one.
So it's been about a week now and the color one these bulbs have turned out quite nice. There does still seem to be the spotlight effect going on with shading of the other areas, but it is somewhat less noticeable to me. Alot of the spotlight effect probably has something to do with me not being used to such bright lights. So to take this lemon and make the lemonade, I've moved my NonPhoto corals to the peripheries where the sun doesn't shine and my SPS towards the middle and this has turned out quite nice. I'm also shifting the lights just a little when I get home moving the direct beams outward some to kind of simulate a sunset then putting them back towards the middle before I go to work in the morning. What's one more little hassle per day? The directionality of the intense lighting does make for quite a unique view of a reef that up until now hasn't been seen as much.
I have noticed quite a bit of growth in just the 1 week of having the HID bulbs as compared to the amount of growth I was getting with my T5's, so that's a plus.
More to come in the future as other things come up.
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