The lighting for the tank consists of 8 24″ long T-5HO bulbs in a custom enclosure.

Here’s a picture of the light in the garage before I built the custom housing. The enclosure came with 48″ bulbs originally, but that would stick too far out in front of the tank.




The first thing in any construction is documenting the existing wiring. With today’s smart phones and cameras, this is a quick and easy task.


T5 lights are fairly easy to wire. Black and White go to the wall, all of one end tie together with the yellow wire and then each end cap on the other end gets an individual red wire. Each 4-light ballast is on its own switch, so it will make it easy to simply replace the switch with a 2-port relay for turning them on and off via the controller.

Once I had all the electronics removed from the housing, it was a quick cut with the carbide cut-off wheel to remove the ends from it. The new wooden canopy will wrap around the existing metal endcap holders.


Next up was to get the end pieces the correct length apart. I purchased  4 bulbs. Then I mounted one of the metal ends to a piece of 1x material. I installed two of the bulbs and used that to mount the other end of the metal piece.

A bit of soldering later, and you have a working light!

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Lastly, I had to wire in the 2-port relay and install the reflector.


I chose to go with a mix of ATI bulbs for the lighting above the tank. These bulbs were recommended to me by someone on the ReefCentral forum.

  • 4 blue plus
  • 2 coral plus
  • 1 ge 6500
  • 1 purple plus

I have the bulbs evenly spaced between the two fixtures so there is a mixture of lighting color on each one. This allows me to stagger the fixtures on and off so that I’m only running all 8 bulbs for a portion of the day. Having two pretty identical fixtures allows me to run light 1 from 7AM to 6PM and the light 2 from 9AM to 8PM.


I used 3/4″ plywood for the frame with just a plain box look. It’ll all be sealed, primed, and painted. I still don’t know what color the stand and canopy will be.


Moon Light

I bought one of the Mindak Blue LED 7.5″ light fixtures on Amazon. The thing was only $11. When I got it installed I discovered that it was way too bright to use as a moon light. I 3d printed some clips to cover a bunch of the LEDs in the fixture. It’s much better now. The corals and night creatures are coming out and doing their ‘nightly’ thing.