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whats the difference between the CF and t5's (giesemann and aqualight) that makes 65w vs 24 or 36W so comparable?
In this case 65w of CF is very inefficient. Most of the light is bounced around, between bulbs, atop of the tank or inside the fixture. The bulb lights the tank with brute force. The size of the bulb is actually its hindrance. Such a large bulb blocks reflected light. The CF bulb is good in applications like a nano where 27w quad style bulb provides much more light coverage because of the size of the bulb.

The Aqualight T5 fixture does not have a good reflector but provides similar light coverage with lower wattage bulbs. Lower wattage also means lower heat. The Aqualight T5 does not have or need a fan. Double bonus.

The 24w setup with individual reflector will provide almost identical lighting as the 2x18w fixture because of wide spread of reflected light concentrated downward on the tank. Check out my post here at APC for a picture.

Using watts per gallon will cloud your thinking. Think of it more as light output regardless of wattage. :)
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