Well it came yesterday, so as promised here's the rundown of my new Catalina fixture:
For those who didnt see the starter thread here is the design I sent to Catalina
Packaging- arrived perfectly. The way it was packaged would have made it difficult for it to have been damaged.
Appearance- Beautifully crafted, paint was not really dry or didnt cure properly on screws, but not a big deal.
Lights- its bright... heres some shots of the different light modes.
outside t5's on one switch
The center bulb kicks on by itself as do the leds, but the pics I took of the individual functions dont give a good color rndering so I wont bother posting them. Here's everything on and a pretty accurate depiction of color.
I ultimately decided on 2x 6,000k giesemann middays for the outside t5's, and 1 aquaflor for the center bulb. The leds are supposed to be 6,700k (and they very well might be) but they look really cool to me, and Ive been at this for a while. If I had to guess id say the color they actually throw is closer to 8,000k or 10,000k. Not a problem for me, but it did cut out the need for the 15,000k I bought for apparantly no reason. I tried two aquafloras on the outside with the 15,000k in the middle and it was a very nice color (especially with the leds on, but it was just a little too warm for me. With the blue moonlights turned all the way up it adds just the right amount of blue.
Heres some shots of the tank under the new light:
two aquaflora combo
6,000k bulb combo
just the leds 36w 6,700k 6w royal blue
Overall I think the light is great. Its exactly what I asked for and the plants are already reacting to it on the second day. Its the same wattage as 4 t5's pretty much but with a much better spread and a great deal of controlability (4 chords in total as requested). It set up to work with coralife legs, which I didnt get even though I had asked for them >.< and it does not have a splash guard. I just put two pieces of glass under it and set it right on the top of the tank. The unit is very well designed and aerated so it stays really cool (even to the touch) with no fans. Its 12" wide so it gives great cover on a 18" deeptank even set right on the tank.
The fixture is 36"L x 12"W x 3"H and uses three 39w t5's. The final priced was $450 shipped w/o bulbs. I know there are alot of options out there in this price range, but this light fits my needs perfectly and its worth every penny. I am confident this fixture would have no trouble growing all but the most demanding corals with very little modification (changing the 1w emmitters to 3w would handle it no problem). Jim was awesome to work with and delivered on his word.
Catalina has a scaled down retail version available on their website at
its very reasonably priced.
Hope yall like it!