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T8 End caps and 18awg solid copper wire

I'm getting things together to build a new hood and have two

The Motorola T8 electronic rapid start ballasts I bought from
a local lighting contractor came without any wire, but they
specify 18awg insulated solid copper wire.  6 colors would
be real nice since that is how many colors they have on the
wiring diagram, but I'll go color blind if I have to.

I didn't even think about it at the time I bought the ballasts but
it turns out that this wire is unavailable!  I can get 12, 14,
and 16 awg at the drop of a hat, but 18awg is always stranded
in the local hardware stores, etc.  Any ideas on this?

The lights will be above the water surface with no intervening
glass.  I don't even know of a source of endcaps for t8's, but if
I did it would probably cost nearly 10 dollars a pair, a
signifigant fraction of the cost of the whole thing.  I can get
regular open end caps for less than two dollars a pair.  Any
ideas on how these could be used?

I am even thinking of siliconing the end caps and the end of the
light together with regular silicon sealant, then when I have to
replace a light simply throwing the end cap out with the light
and getting new ones.

Ideas on endcaps?