Product Review: Spectral Analysis of Aquarmckzo and Catalina Metal Halide Lamps

This article presents an analysis of the Aquarmckzo and Catalina metal halide lamps. The lamps tested along with the ballasts used are shown in Table 1 below. The Aquarmckzo lamps were sent to me by a member. These lamps are being sold on ebay for around $10. At this price it definitely increases the curiosity to determine the type of value these lamps represent. The Catalina Reef Grow series of lamps are sold by Catalina Aquarium (

Table 1: List of lamps and ballasts tested
175 Watt250 Watt400 Watt
LampsCatalina 15000KAquarmckzo 10000K

Aquarmckzo 14000K

Catalina 15000K


Aquarmckzo 14000K

Aquarmckzo 20000K

BallastsMagnetic (M57)

Icecap (electronic)

Lumen General (Electronic)


IceCap (Electronic)

Blueline (Electronic)


Reef Fanatic (Electronic)

EVC (Electronic)

Icecap –New (Electronic)


Taiwan HQI

EVC (Electronic)

Icecap (Electronic)

Coralvue (Electronic)


Magnetic (M59)

Blueline (Electronic)

Comparision of Lamp Performance Under Different Ballasts

This section presents the results of testing the different lamps using different ballasts. For each lamp tested different ballasts were used to fire the lamp and data is presented for the unshielded and shielded case. Spectral data is only provided for the shielded case, since we feel that most lamps will be used in this manner.

Aquarmckzo 250W DE 10000K

Table 2: Aquarmckzo 250W DE 10000K
HQI – M80349122.43.05166.164581376230
Reef Fanatic258123.72.22112695692.26771
Icecap – New263123.72.25116.1683295.56562

Figure 1: Spectral Plot of the unshielded Aquarmckzo 250W DE 10000K Lamp with the different ballasts


Aquarmckzo 250W DE 14000K

Table 3: Aquarmckzo 250W DE 14000K
HQI – M80322121.82.9262721751.36903
Reef Fanatic258122.72.2355.41049844.49213
Icecap – New264122.42.2846.4713537.96666

Figure 2: Spectral Plot of the unshielded Aquarmckzo 250W DE 14000K Lamp with the different ballasts

Catalina 250W DE 15000K

Table 4: Catalina 250W DE 15000K
HQI – M80302122.32.7459.748.667272
Reef Fanatic256122.72.2357.346
Icecap – New263122.92.2760.846

Figure 3: Spectral Plot of the unshielded Catalina 250W DE 15000K Lamp with the different ballasts

Aquarmckzo 400W Mogul 14K

Table 5: Aquarmckzo 400W Mogul 14K
Magnetic (M59)378122.23.6562

Figure 4: Spectral Plot of the Aquarmckzo 400W Mogul 14K Lamp with the different ballasts

Aquarmckzo 400W Mogul 20000K

Table 6: Aquarmckzo 400W Mogul 20000K
Magnetic (M59)436123.53.9875.7

Figure 5: Spectral Plot of the Aquarmczo 400W Mogul 20000K Lamp with the different ballasts

Catalina ReefGrow 175W Mogul 15000K

Table 7: Catalina ReefGrow 175W Mogul 15000K
Magnetic (m58)185123.12.0427.8
Lumen General179121.91.6539

Figure 6: Spectral Plot of the Catalina ReefGrow 175W Mogul 15000K Lamp with the different ballasts


Fig 7, 8 and 9 and show how these lamps compare in PPFD values to all the other lamp and ballast combinations tested over the last few years. The data for all the lamp ballast combinations is grouped into categories (6500K, 10000K, 12000-18000K, and 20000K as specified by the lamp manufacturer’s ratings) and plotted on a chart showing the complete range of PPFD output for a given class of lamps.

Fig. 7 shows all the data for 175W mogul lamps, and superimposed on it is the data for the Catalina 175W Mogul 15000K lamp. As seen from the chart, the PPFD values for Catalina 15K lamp falls in the bottom third of all the lamps tested in the 12000-18000K range. Furthermore, the spectral plot for this lamp indicates that it will appear very blue since it has a spectral plot similar in profile to the lamps sold as 20000K. This lamp tends to perform better with the electronic ballasts. Comparing the output to 20000K lamps shows that this lamp performs around the middle of the range of the 20000K lamps.


Figure 7: Comparison of the PPFD of Catalina ReefGrow 175W Mogul 15000K Lamp to all other 175W lamps and ballast combinations.

Figure 8, shows the comparison of the Acquarmckzo 250W DE 10000K and the 250W DE 140000K lamp against all the other 250W DE lamp and ballast combinations previously tested. Interestingly, the 10000K 250W DE lamp tested has quite high output when compared to the others in its class, especially on the HQI-M80 ballast. The performance with the other ballasts is quite good and compares well with other lamps. The tested correlated color temperature is in the 6200-7000K range, which is very similar to a lot of the 10000K lamps. The 14000K 250W DE lamp on the other hand is a very poor performer when compared to lamps in its class. Spectrally this lamp has a higher correlated color temperature than the 10000K lamp, but the output is significantly low.

The Catalina 250W 15000K DE lamp has a spectral output more similar to the 20000K rated lamps, and as seen in the chart the output is quite low compared to the lamps in the 12000-18000K range.


Figure 8: Comparison of the PPFD of unshielded Aquarmckzo 250W 10000K, 140000K DE Lamp and Catalina 250W DE 15000K to all other 250W DE lamps and ballast combinations.

Figure 9, shows the comparison of the Acquarmckzo 400W 14000K and 20000K lamps against all the other 400W mogul lamp and ballast combinations previously tested. The best performance of the 14000K lamp on the PFO HQI ballast puts it in the middle of the pack, and on other ballasts the performance is quite poor. However, once again the 14000K lamp has a spectral plot that is quite similar to the 20000K lamp, and if compared to the other 20000K lamps the output is quite comparable to lamps in the lower middle of the pack.


Figure 9: Comparison of the PPFD of Aquarmckzo 400W 14000K, 20000K DE Lamps to all other 400W DE lamps and ballast combinations.


When compared against other lamp and ballast combinations, these lamps tend to have lower output. However, this does not mean that the lamps are not useable. Given the low cost of the lamps, their use can be justified. Knowing that the output lies in the lower half to the lower third of comparable lamps, this information can be used to extract the most out of these lamps. For example, these lamps could be adequate if you could mount them lower and use them on shallower tanks, or with corals that require lower light levels.

  Advanced Aquarist, Advanced Aquarist
Sanjay Joshi

 Sanjay Joshi

  (51 articles)

Sanjay Joshi in real life is a Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Penn State University. He has been a reef addict since 1992, and currently keeps several reef aquariums at home including a 500G SPS coral dominated reef. He also co-manages the 500G aquarium at Penn State. He has published several articles in magazines such as Marine Fish and Reef Annual, Aquarium Frontiers, Aquarium Fish, and Advanced Aquarist. In addition, he has been an invited speaker at several marine aquarium society meetings in the US and Europe. He received the MASNA award in 2006, for his contributions to the marine aquarium hobby.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.