Embracing a plug and play aquarium for personal coral reefs

Red Sea Max 250 replacement lighting

The Red Sea Max 250 out of the box T5 fluorescent lighting has been great for all coral growth so far. I wasn’t impressed with the color of my corals though as corals require different wavelengths of light to fluoresce in different colors.

Since T5 bulbs for a reef tank should be changed every 9-12 months, I decided to not use Red Sea’s bulbs but experiment with a wider spectrum of light. I replaced the manufacturer’s bulbs with ATI T5 39 watt fluorescent bulbs and couldn’t have been happier. The corals look great and grow well. If you are going to replace your Red Sea Max 250 lights, please consider the below recommendation and arrangement (really) as I did much research to arrive at this layout and it works well.

Note: replace one bulb every three days or even a week as replacing all of the bulbs at the same time will result in such an increase in light intensity that your corals will turn white or bleach.

Below is a photo of the new ATI T5 fluorescent bulbs from Front to Back of Red Sea Max 250 light hood.

New T5 lighting for the Red Sea Max 250

New T5 lighting for the Red Sea Max 250








39W Blue Plus T5 HO Fluorescent

39W Purple Plus T5 HO Fluorescent

39W Aquablue Special T5 HO Fluorescent

39W Blue Plus T5 HO Fluorescent

39W Aquablue Special T5 HO Fluorescent

39W Blue Plus T5 HO Fluorescent


I buy these bulbs at a great price from Amazon. Here is a link to all the bulbs you need on Amazon.

The light spectrum of each type of ATI T5 fluorescent is shown graphically below and what you should notice is the wide spectrum coverage.

39W Blue Plus T5 HO Fluorescent








39W Purple Plus T5 HO Fluorescent








39W Aquablue Special T5 HO Fluorescent








Have you tried other bulb combinations that work as well or better? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. Thank you for the detailed review of the lighting for the RSM 250. I recently changed my lighting per your suggestion and the difference is amazing. The tank is beautiful and the coloring of the corals and fish is awesome. I really have enjoyed your posts.



    • Mark, glad it was useful and thanks for the kind words. The coral growth is going to be awesome too. In case you were thinking of supplemental LED’s, I tried adding a few strips of stunner LED’s to enhance color, but the new bulbs were so awesome that the LED’s didn’t make a difference.

  2. Mark great post do you have any pictures on the tank with the new lights ??

      • Thanks for the idea. Sounds like it makes a big difference. Where do you usually buy these new colored lights?

        Looking for good deal.


        • Denise, it really does make a big difference. You will love it. I buy all of my bulbs from Amazon and also Reef Geek.

  3. Nishal,
    Have you experienced any heat issues with the new bulbs?
    It’s a middle of the winter and I can barelly maintain 80-82 degrees. My bulbs are over due for a change and I already changed all the fans.
    Have you noticed a change in temperature when you added the new ATI lights?
    Thank you

  4. Are the ATI tubes ( £18.50 each ) any better than the iquatics tubes that are much cheaper ( 3 for £27.98 ) on eBay

    • Never used the iquatics. But I really liked the ATI bulbs.

  5. Viktar,

    Sorry for the delay in reply. I didn’t notice any heat issues. Actually I never thought to check for that, but if it were significant I believe I would have noticed.



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