how much lighting do I need

How much lighting do i need for my 46 bowfront to be able to support sps. I am on a budget for now and this will only be temporary lighting until I save enough to build my led system. I would prefer to use t5 if I can. Trying to stay under $150 but $100 would be better. Or if someone has an old 36" fixture they would like to sell. Would a 4 bulb fixture be enough for this tank. Hopefully some of the people who made the meeting will have some new found knowledge to help me out

Wish there was an easy answer to this question. Unfortunately there are a lot of variable that have to be considered.

What types of SPS are you interested in? Some SPS can be kept in lower lighting, some need very high lighting.
You can keep SPS under T5s, assuming of course you have a decent fixture, good parabolic reflectors, and adequate ballasts coupled with good bulbs. What makes T5s effective is the individual reflector that wraps around each bulb reflecting a majority of the light down to the tank instead of allowing it to bake the hood.

I think a 3’ 4 bar T5 with individual reflectors and good bulbs would would enable you to keep most SPS throughout the upper 50% of your tank. I would not try to grow it on the bottom though.

So would a 6 bulb be better or should I just try to find a mh unit I can afford

I think a 6 bulb would be better. Of course I LOVE my MH too. I think for your tank it’d become 6 of one 1/2 dozen of the other