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FAQs about Power/Compact Fluorescent (PC, CF) Lights and Lighting for Marine Systems 2

Related FAQs: Compact Fluorescents 1, Regular Fluorescents, Metal Halide Lighting, Lighting Marine Invertebrates, LR LightingTridacnid LightingSmall System Lighting,

Related Articles: Fluorescent Light, & Lighting, Spectral Quality of Various Fluorescent Lamps by Dana Riddle, Coral System Lighting,

Aplidum sp. (colonial tunicate) pic in N. Sulawesi by DianaF.

New tank, 22" deep, PCs, stony corals      8/7/12
Dear WWM,
   I am setting up a new tank. 55 gal reef. I want to put two 65 watt power compacts over it, but this is not a lot of light. Would this be enough light for Euphyllia species placed high on the rock work?
<Mmm, yes>
 Is it enough for Brain, Disk, or Elegance placed in the sand bed?
<The Catalaphyllia, yes... not likely Fungiids, Faviids... this tank is 22" deep I take it... w/o a bunch of sand depth, too deep for these other families, this ltg>
The corals wont be added for at least 4 more weeks, so don't feel obligated to reply immediately.
<Do keep reading. B>

Compact Lighting? 3/5/12
has a splash shield was wondering if I could set it on my glass top. also has a cooling fan .65 watt 4 of them 48 inch. without the legs
<Is this an answer to a previous query?  If so, do reply to original thread.
If not, we need information on your tank size/type and please resend with proper grammar.
I do not have the time to correct/capitalize before posting on the dailies.
 Thank you.
James (Salty Dog)>

Power Compact Lighting 11/7/11
Hi, I have a question regarding my PC lighting. I have 4 - 65watt 50 daylight/50 actinic PC lights going on my 55 gallon corner tank for 12 hours a day. I want to keep some Acropora coral and my rose bubble anemone happy and growing... should I change out any of these bulbs to 100% day lighting?
<I would go with three 10K and one actinic in the 450nm range.>
Also how much does actinics decrease watts per gallon?
<The wattage is still the same but the actinic only provides a small portion of the spectrum range necessary for photosynthetic animals which is in the range of 450-700 nanometers.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

SHO Fluorescent question for Dana Riddle 1/26/10
Aloha Dana,
<Will forward to him>
Hope you're enjoying the Kona life.
<Am sure he is... there off Ali'i Dr.>
I'm building a 16' or 18' cube Nano SPS tank. I want as much of the setup to be DIY as possible (because I like DIY and because I like to prove that you can have a nice reef aquarium without having to spend a ton of money). Due primarily to the low purchase and operating cost, and the potential suitability for SPS, I want to give some of the newer 6500K CFLs a try. Even if I have to replace them twice or three times as often as MH, they're cheaper to buy and operate, and won't parboil the fish like a MH would with a Nano. I've found two types, the Super High Output (SHO) CFLs with integrated ballasts that will fit into a standard socket, and the LoA Fluorex bulbs that require an external ballast. I can't find a whole lot of details on them, except that they state that their 100W bulbs put out 10,500 lumens, the equivalent of a 1,000W halogen. They also claim an 84 CRI. I can't find a spectral distribution chart to compare them to the MH bulbs.
<Close enough>
A few questions. Are they tri-phosphor?
<Lo dudo>
Have you performed a spectral analysis on any of these bulbs?
Do you think they'd be suitable for SPS (with or without actinic supplementation) with my Nano? Has anyone done a side-by-side analysis comparing the aesthetic and SPS growth characteristics of these high-output fluorescents and MH bulbs with similar characteristics? If you think it's feasible, I want to give it a try.
<Really? BobF... aka Dogfish if you recall>
Re: SHO Fluorescent question for Dana Riddle 1/27/10
Aloha Dan & Bob,
<Howdy Dana>
I have some spectral data on a few CFL lamps, including some of the specialty spiral lamps sold at Home Depot. I don't have that info with me (I'm in Jacksonville for a conference, Atlanta next week, and Honolulu shortly thereafter).
Please remind me in mid-February and I'll get that to you. For now, those fluorescent lamps should be suitable (though I would personally mix in one of the blue lamps sold at Home Depot). I'm using a 13w spiral daylight CFL on a refugium and it promotes calcareous algal growth as well as Chaetomorpha.
<And you, a hu'i hou, BobF>

PFO ballast convert PC to VHO 12/28/08 Hello, <Hello Lenny. Minh at your service.> I currently have a 55gal (48 X 17 X 15)reef tank I purchased from a friend who came over and set it up the way he had it. The pumps that I am using are RIO 17 HF for the return (he had a Gen-x 4100. I couldn't stand the noise from that thing so it was changed) and a Gen-x 1000 for the skimmer. The lighting is a PFO-EL 2-2 ballast running 2 33" 96 watt PC 50/50. This canopy setup has the PC's 8.5" above the top of the tank. I would like to change to VHO's which this ballast is capable of. The main concern for my choice to do this is my tank seems to run on the warm side around 82 and that is with 2 fans in the canopy and one more in the sump. I've read and was able to feel myself that the PC's ran hotter than the VHO's. <This has also been my experience.> I have searched for the quick connects that are already wired to the end caps with no luck. I have emailed PFO and was told basically sorry, we don't have any but good luck. I can find some 3pc T12 end caps through aquacave.com(thanks to your site) but can not find a wiring diagram for my ballast. <From my research, it appears that the PFO-EL 2-2 consists of a PFO enclosure and Fulham Workhorse 7 ballasts. You may need to open up the ballast enclosure to verify this information. The Fulham Workhorse 7 ballast wiring diagram can be found here: http://www.fulham.com/Find_Process.php.> Also, not sure how long the bulbs would need to be if needed to be longer than the current bulbs. <The Workhorse 7 is capable of running up to 220W. You can review the specifications on the VHO bulb you are interested in running for the optimal power/length configuration for this ballast.> Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <If the above suggestion does not pan out for you. You can also contact the folks at DIY Reef (http://diyreef.com/shop/index.php) or HelloLights (http://www.hellolights.com), they are both very knowledgeable in fluorescent lighting.> Lenny <Good luck. Cheers, Minh Huynh.  

Re: PFO ballast convert PC to VHO  12/30/08 My previous email to PFO, finally they sent back an answer that was more helpful. They replied that my ballast uses the workhorse 5 which I confirmed once I opened it. After your response I went to the Fulham website to look for the wiring diagram needed for the type of bulbs used. They only show for the workhorse 7 or 8. Do I still use this even though this is not my specific ballast? <After reviewing Fulham's website, it appears that they only recommend the Workhorse 5 ballast be used with certain bulb combinations. For example, when using their diagram tool, "T5 Linear HO with a bulb set 2xF24 HO" will give you a Workhorse 5 wiring diagram but not with the T12 VHO bulb combination. It is best to err on the side of caution and contact Fulham to get their full recommendation on what you'd like to achieve with the Workhorse 5 and VHO combination.> Lenny <Good luck, Minh Huynh.>

Upgrading Lighting Good morning, oh sagacious ones: I have perused the many FAQs regarding lighting and did not see one that specifically addressed my concern. I have a 125G FO that is currently lit by regular fluorescents. I am in the process of adding live rock and upgrading to a 2 x 96 watt (one actinic, one full spectrum) CF system.   Do I need to slowly phase in the more powerful CF system or can I simply remove the old tubes and begin using the CF upon its arrival? I thought about running just the actinic for one week, coming on one hour before and turning off one hour after, the old fluorescent tubes. Then, I would abandon the old tubes and use the CF completely. As always, your thoughts are welcomed. Thanks, Mitch >>>Mitch, I don't think you have anything to worry about. Watch your fish and go from there. If you see the need to take steps, do so. Jim<<< 

VHO vs. PC lumens 12/13/05 Hello, A couple simple questions...I have heard that pc's put out twice as many lumens as VHO. Is this true? <There is some variation between brands of lamps and lamps of different color temperatures, but on average all fluorescent lamps will put out about the same amount of light on a per watt basis.  That said, there can be huge differences in how much light gets delivered to your tank, mostly depending on the type of reflector, but also lamp geometry.  Smaller diameter lamps (like PC and T-5) appear brighter because the same number of lumens are being emitted from a smaller lamp.  Also, PC's are usually folded over, so the light is being emitted from an even smaller area.  The downside to PC's being folded over is that some of the light from each tube shines on the adjacent tube and not downward.> I have heard that an ice cap 660 ballast that is using 440 watts of VHO will only actually consume around 220 watts of electricity. Is this true? <I am not sure of the exact figure, but it is true that Icecap ballasts under drive VHO lamps and overdrive normal output lamps.  Icecap ballasts will also under drive PC's if they are loaded to near their maximum capacity.  Icecap claims that their high efficiency electronics result in comparable light to lamps driven at full wattage on conventional ballasts, and this seems to be true.> When it comes down to light output and more useable light for my corals, which is better, 440 VHO watts or 265 pc watts? <In terms of light delivery only, these will be comparable (if you are using icecap ballasts, compare based on lamp rating).  I personally am a much bigger fan of VHO because PC's can be a pain to replace (different wattages, pin configuration, etc.) and there are too many cheap lamps on the market.  VHO's by URI are cheap, widely available and high quality.> Should I buy a reflector for my canopy for URI VHO bulbs with built in reflectors? <I would.  The internal reflectors are nice, but additional external reflectors will result in additional light being reflected into your tank.> Lastly, every time I use your search feature for a question, I usually find the link with the question I have. When I click on it, it brings me to a page with what seems like 100 different questions, and I never find the question from the link that I clicked on. Is that just the way it works? I guess I could use the extra reading anyways... Happy Holidays Thanks a lot.  <This is a common problem.  The link you get when you search brings you to a page that covers a broad category.  A good tip:  Once you reach that page with the 100's of Q&A's, click on "Edit" at the top left of your browser window and select "Find on this page" from the pull down menu.  You can then use keywords to hopefully find more specific info.  For example, if you search for "Berlin skimmer clogged venturi" gets you 100's of entries about skimmers, use the find function to find the word "Berlin" or "venturi" within the page.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> Lighting VHO vs. PC, anemone feeding, color, Clownfish eggs 12/13/05 Hello, I have a 4x65 watt Corallife power compact fixture on my 75 gallon aquarium. I am keeping some SPS's, including a 6 month old Acropora frag that is brown and fuzzy with purple tips. It is toward the top and doing ok, but obviously due to the lack of light it is growing slowly. I am building a canopy soon and I have the opportunity to upgrade to 440 watts of VHO for pretty cheap. Is this worth it? I hear that they don't put out as much light as pc's, even though there will be a big difference in wattage. <The PC's are brighter watt for watt, have a lower operating cost than other tubes and a much better bulb selection.> Also what if I put my pc bulbs and the VHO bulbs all into my canopy... can this be done...why have I never heard of this? <Because it isn't cost efficient.  Next to MH, PC's is the way to go.> If I did end up going with the VHO's will I be able to keep any corals that I couldn't keep with the PCs? I have always liked the look of the light put off by VHO way better hopefully it will be a better choice for my corals too. <The best lighting for Acropora and most other SPS corals is MH or HQI but if a MH/HQI upgrade is not in your budget I would rather see you add another 4x65 fixture than the 440 watt VHO.> Lastly, I have a Sebae anemone that I have had for about 8 months. The base is a very bright fluorescent green, and it has pink tentacles with purple tips. I was curious and looked at as many photos of them as I could find. I found a few that slightly resembled mine, but none that have had color even half as vibrant. Is this a rare find? also what foods can be used to get the best color possible? Right now I use silversides and squid alternating once a week and frozen prime reef cubes about 3 times a week. <The Prime Reef cubes is what I'd stay with and you don't need to feed the anemone three times a week.  Once or twice is plenty. It is also being hosted by a black ocellaris and an orange percula is it possible for them to produce fertile eggs? <I guess it could be possible but unlikely.> Thanks for any help that you could give me. <You're welcome and Happy Holidays to you. In future queries please do a spelling/grammar check.  It sure saves us plenty of time if we don't have to edit these.  James (Salty Dog)>

Possible Correction (VHO vs. PC) - 03/08/07 Hello, <Cheers John> On the daily FAQs March 8, 2007, the following was claimed: "I was considering changing the 4 VHO to power compacts 96w each double actinic. <<I would stick with the VHOs mate...more efficient with better bulb life over PCs...in my opinion>> " <Ah yes...not a scientific declaration...but based on my experiences, is my "opinion" as was stated> The efficiency claim of VHOs relative to power compacts seems patently false (unless 'efficiency' refers to something other than 'lumens per watt').  Any data here that I'm ignorant of?  Everything I've read on luminous efficiency indicates PCs are somewhere on the order of 30-50% more efficient than VHOs. <Mmm, I have read similar claims as well...  I have also seen tables where VHO bulbs were listed with higher "rated" lumens than PC bulbs.  Efficiencies vary among the different color temperatures and even among manufacturers, and it seems to me that with actinic bulbs, as what was being discussed in this instance, VHO usually wins out over power-compact.  But "lumens per watt" aside, efficiency can relate to other things as well.  Regardless of Kelvin temperature, is it more efficient if a PC bulb often costs more and requires more frequent "normal" replacement?  Is it more efficient if a PC bulb is more likely to "prematurely" fail?  Also, for a long tank as was also the case here, a more even spread of light can be attained using fewer of the longer VHO bulbs.  I wish to stress that these too are "my" perceptions/experiences with these lighting technologies as they relate to the reefing hobby> -John <Kind Regards, Eric Russell> <<Maybe a matter of useful photonic energy per cost/dollar total consumed? RMF>>

Do It Yourself Lighting Question... LOA Fixtures From HD? - 10/10/07 For almost 10 years I have been using 4 48" VHO's on an Icecap ballast to light my LPS reef. <<I've seen some very nice tanks lighted this way>> When it was a 72G bowfront, it seemed to work well, other than the fact that the bulbs were expensive, needed to be replaced often, and couldn't be purchased anywhere locally--I had to drive over an hour or pay big shipping costs. <<Mmm, yes...any bulb over 36" generally incurs an "additional" shipping cost...though I seem to remember a time when it did not>> I moved up to a 150H (after a seam burst on my 72G), and the VHO's are not getting the job done. <<Oh? Perhaps a better reflector and/or a couple more bulbs would do the trick>> I added 4 55W 24" CF, but it still isn't enough. <<Hmm...would normally think this coupled with the VHOs to be "plenty" for your application>> The tank is too big and too deep. Now the VHO's are long overdue to be changed, but I was planning to move to overdriven T5's. <<In my experience, overdriving fluorescent bulbs greatly shortened their life>> But I would again need to order bulbs, end caps, standoffs and reflectors, and pay obscene shipping (total around $300), <<Youch!>> which, due to some personal financial problems, I can't afford. <<Financial problems or not...Youch!>> Plus, I am concerned about overdriving the bulbs. <<And maybe rightly so>> Now, my best friend has been using a pair of 65w compact fluorescent fixtures over his 54G freshwater planted tank for some time, with EXCELLENT success. <<Okay>> I asked him what he was using, and it turns out that they are CF fixtures and bulbs made by Lights of America he picked up at Home Depot. <<Ah yes, I have some of these myself. I use them over my RDP vegetable refugium on my reef system>> Please let me tell the specifics. <<Am aware, but please do for other's edification>> The lights are a model called "Fluorex," and they are mogul based CF bulbs with like eight of those paired, U-shaped tubes. They are rated at 6500K and a CRI in the mid 80's (not optimal, I know, but as good as most MH), and a 10,000 hour life. In fact, one whole side of the box they come in is dedicated to advertising the high CRI with a graph. They create a nice light intensity, and they don't throw a lot of heat. <<Mmm...if you run them sans the plastic bulb shield do be cautious about laying your arm against a bulb while working in the tank...HOT!>> They come in 65W, 85W and 100W fixtures. <<Do double-check my facts, but I believe only the 65w fixture comes with/has the "6500K" bulb>> Is there some reason it would be a horrible idea to purchase three of the 100W fixtures (6500 lumens each, according to the data sheet--they list it as "1000W equivalent--I assume they mean 1000W incandescent) and evenly space them along the length of the tank (like MH's), supplemented by 2 or 4 55W/65W 24" actinic PC bulbs? <<Not "horrible" at all...but do confirm the color temperature of the bulbs first...but even if I am correct, four or five of the 65w fixture would likely suffice as well>> I know a lot of hobbyists are convinced you have to spend a lot of money to get the "best", most expensive solutions out there, but is there some reason I don't know about that makes light bulbs that come from the pet store inherently better than ones that come from the hardware store _IF_ they have approximately the same Kelvin rating and CRI? <<Nope>> The 100W fixtures are $60 each, and replacement bulbs are $17, and I figure they should last about a year. <<About, yes...maybe a tad less...due to deteriorating intensity/spectral change. Regards, Eric Russell>>

Protein Skimmer Selection Awesome site! Thanks for taking the time to answer so many questions. I just set up a 75 gallon tank and would like your advice on 2 things. What high quality (hang on) protein skimmer would you recommend? <Please see our extensive coverage of the topic on www.WetWebMedia.com.> I have been looking at a Berlin Turbo, Prism Pro, Remora, Turboflotor, & EuroReef. Which does the best job and what makes it the best? <When evaluating a good skimmer, the things we look for our performance, ease of cleaning, ease of installation, and ease of adjustment.> Also, do you recommend a VHO unit with 4 bulbs or (2) sets of 65 watt (total 4 bulbs) PowerCompact Smartlights and why? <To me, VHO or PC is pretty much a toss up. Equal wattages of either should give similar results.> I will be doing a fish, invert. & soft coral tank. I've got a 4" bed of live sand and approximately 100 lbs of live rock. Respectfully, Frank <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

Re: Lighting Question Anthony, Many thanks for the quick/informative reply. <my great pleasure> I have now however, created a new dilemma. It's amazing how addictive this hobby can be, such  is evident by my recent relentless fabrication of a new hood, and lighting system. I just finished it a few hours ago, and it has taken me a better part of a week to complete. However, after looking at it in action, it really didn't look that much different then the way the tank came with one singular 30 watt bulb. Currently I have 2 Coralife 50/50 30 watt florescent bulbs and the 1 30 watt that came with my tank. <hmmm... please don't gauge life supporting illumination by what your eye sees... we see light different than cnidarians use/need it. What is visible to us is less useful to them. And what does not appear much brighter to you now is still triple what you had before, yes?> After all of this work, I then found power compact ballasts for $30 (2x55 watt) and PC bulbs for the same price (some were actually cheaper) as my NO fluorescents from the pet store. <ouch... that hurts <G>> My question is: Is PC really worth it? <that depends entirely on the lamp color, its intensity and the needs of the corals and anemones under it. As a rule though, NO lights are extremely weak and limiting to invertebrate culture. Corals and anemones need to be 6-8" under such bulbs from surface and said lights cannot be any higher than 3" off the water. This is not even a subjective opinion... a Lux or PAR meter will make this all VERY clear to you when compared to VHO and Metal Halide respectively> Is there that much of a visual difference? <hmmm... visual appeal cannot be your primary purpose if corals and anemones are involved... lamp color (6500-10K) is the goal instead> Ideally I would like to have surface ripple effects and nice white lite, but I am understanding that these can only be achieved by using metal halide, <correct... called glitter lines> which are way too expensive for me. <hmm... I disagree here for several reasons. A) you are handy and a cap and coil ballast and ceramic socket for MH only costs about$50. Add a bulb for another 50-90 and you have MH. And B) MH light gives more bang for the buck than any other light (again... refer to the PAR meter, bulb life, light quality, etc. With your NO lights, you will need to change them every 6 months while keeping corals and anemones (efficacy of NO lamps is around 70% at six months... but MH is over 90% still at 3 years old!!!)> Would PC better achieve this? I have a 40 gallon tank, which is only 18" deep. I have live rock and sand, a Condy anemone and 3 damsels. But I want to add more anemones, <all Condys please... cannot mix anemone species> some clowns, and maybe (seem kind of pricey) some coral. <you should never mix any motile anemones with sessile corals> Will 3 NO fluorescents work, <if you keep hardy species of either in the top 8" of water> or should I try and take back everything I have worked my butt of for, and go  for the PC for a little more money? Had I of known PC's weren't much more than NO, I would have opted for them in the beginning, but after putting in all of this work, I really am not excited about starting all over again. Many Thanks--Bob Benson- <your best bet if you intend to keep corals or anemones is a simple, single 150 watt or 175 watt MH bulb. It will save you money (lamp life, bulb changes, usable light per watt, etc) give you glitter lines and keep healthier cnidarians. Best regards, Anthony>

At a Lighting crossroads, need input Bob et. al.., Real quick question, I have a 55 reef with several sps (just got a monstrous yellow Acro from Tonga! intent is to propagate), I have a 175 10k halide (bulb year old), 2 110watt VHOs. I have been looking into replacement of the VHO's with 96w (2-3) pc's, the VHOs are end of life and instead of dumping more money into them I figured now was a time to get out, I was thinking two dark actinics and one 10k, I have had tremendous success with 10k+ temp, not to mention I would be improving reflectivity as I currently do not have reflectors for the VHO's, what do you think? <I don't see any significant advantage to PC's over VHO... all fluorescents are only good for about 6-10 months. When halide is an option (lamps last 2-3 years easily), the fluorescents are merely aesthetic. Halide is a much better quality light and is more economical (bang for your buck on PAR produced versus watts consumed). Your call on which fluorescents to buy or simply adding another halide (better). Best regards, Anthony>

Lighting and heat. Hello, <Hi, Don here tonight>      I have a 55 gal tank which IM converting over too a reef tank. I have live rock and sand. I will have a couple of fish and want to add some corals. I have to upgrade the lighting. I want to get either 2x96 watt pc or 4x65 watt pc (will be retrofit). The light will be about 7" to 8" off the surface of water but IM concerned about the heat from the light's. I have no ac in the house and there are a couple of week's in summer that get pretty hot. (can't afford a chiller)! IM I over thinking this? Just put the light's in and see what happens? What lights would you go with? IM thinking lower wattage for heat concerns. Can get both for about the same price. Also can I take 1 bulb out of the 4x65 in summer time. Is that a silly question? <Never a silly question. Fluorescent light needs to be as close to the surface as possible. 2 or 3" at most. If heat becomes a problem, use a small desk fan to blow across the surface of the tank or sump if you have one. Many choices in lighting, open www.wetwebmedia.com and click on the Marine Aquarium Articles and follow to Lighting info and FAQs. The determining factor is what you want to keep. Good luck, Don>            Thanks for your help Light Output of Power Compacts VS NO Fluorescents 4/13/04  Good Morning WWW Crew.... Happy Easter! Hope the Easter Bunny was good to you!!  <Indeed he was! Season three of "The Family Guy" on DVD. Much sweeter than any chocolate!>  I had a question posted on one of the boards I moderate, to date there have been no replies that actually answer the question. I did do a good bit of research, including searching through your articles and FAQs, before bothering you guys with the question but have been unable to find anything that actually provides the information requested. I was hoping one of you could help me out.  <Hmmm... I will do my best.>  Their question was..... Why do PC bulbs the same wattage and length of NO fluorescent bulbs have a higher light output? Many of the internet sources & LFS simply state PCs provide much more light for the same # of watts as NO fluorescents do. I cannot find an explanation of how and why this is, just lists of the many advantages of PCs.  <This is not really true. Watt for Watt, no widely used light source significantly outperforms another. PC, VHO and T-5 pack more wattage into the same or smaller package, so the look brighter, and can produce more intense lighting over the same space, but watt for watt they produce very close to the same quantity of light. More intense light in a smaller area does penetrate better through water, but at the expense of even distribution. Another way to look at it is in terms of the energy efficiency. All light sources turn some of the electricity into heat and some into light. A regular incandescent light bulb converts less than 10% of it's wattage to light, with the rest going to heat. All florescent technologies convert about 30% of their wattage to light, and Metal halide can convert up to about 60% of it's wattage to light.  FWIW, I am not a big PC fan. The lamps are expensive to replace and the fact that their are several standard bases makes choosing the correct lamp quite confounding. Also, because the lamps are always "folded over", a large amount of the light is lost by simply shining onto the adjacent part of the tube.>  Would one of you be able to enlighten :) me, so I can pass the info on to other inquiring minds.  <Hey! We don't appreciate bad puns around here. That comment wasn't very BRIGHT of you.... Oh never mind.>  Thanks so much as always, Leslie  <Glad to. I hope I helped clarify this muddy issue. Adam>

T-5's... yes - seeing the light 4/28/04 Hey guys, <Hiya> I currently run power compacts on my 100 gal tank. My question is are the t-5 light setups worth the money for my reef? <they are a much better quality and value IMO... yes> Lighting now is 260 watts the t-5 I want are 440. Erik Lobe <yes... likely to make a tremendous difference. Even with the 440 watts of t-5, you are just beginning to approach the average light needed for most inverts (4-5 watts per gallon). Your 260 watts at present is modest/too low for most corals. Anthony> - VHO vs. PC Lighting - Hello knowledgeable person answering questions today, <Hello, not so sure about the knowledgeable part, but I'll do my best.> I have a lighting question pertaining to the setup of a new 55-gallon marine tank.  The tank will start off as a LR only tank for 1-2 months after cycling to let everything grow without too much nibbling by fish, then fish will be added, followed by some hardy inverts.  Ultimately, I'd like to graduate to some sponges, macroalgae and soft corals, but initially I will focus on growing nice coralline algae on the live rock, etc. <Sounds like a good plan.> My lighting concern regards the choice of a VHO system or a PC system. My plan is to build a DIY 48" lighting hood, and I would ultimately like to arrive at 220W of lighting.  Logical choices seem to be either two 2x55W PC retro kits from AH supply, or a 2x110W VHO from either IceCap or PFO.  Also, cost is something of a factor.  With the power compacts, I could start with a single 2x55W set, and then add a second one when the animals require it and budget permits.  However, if this is ultimately going to prove more expensive (four lamps to replace instead of two) or less good in terms of quality than going with VHO's, I'd rather just spend the money and get the right product. As it stands now, here are my thoughts about pros/cons of the two systems: Power compacts: good things might be flexibility in terms of cost, four lamps means I can mix and match spectra with more flexibility, plus I am essentially assured two separate circuits so that I can achieve dawn/dusk lighting to some degree.  Bad things may be that I end up paying more money for more replacement lamps in the long run. <Perhaps.> Also, a number of discussions both on WWM and the WWM forums suggest that the PC's have a less pleasing color rendition than some VHO's. <Is highly subjective - try to get out and see both, see which pleases your eye more.> VHO's: good things are fewer lamps to replace, although they seem to be a bit more expensive per lamp than PC's. <Hmm... just quickly checked an online retailer - $20/bulb for VHO, $24/bulb for PC.> Color rendition is (purportedly) better, although I have no first-hand experience with this. <All the more reason to get out there and try to see these.> Possible downsides are a higher startup cost (although identical in cost to the final 4x55W PC system I have in mind), less flexibility with spectra since I only have two lamps to play with.  Also, I'm leaning more toward the PFO retro units than the IceCap due to the PFO unit having two switches. I guess what I need here is the benefit of your considerable experience in terms of quality of lighting, maintenance costs, heat generation (DIY hood will have at least one ball-bearing muffin fan installed), and which is likely to lead to greater overall happiness on my part. <Not much to say here - is really a bit of a coin toss in benefit. Also, as you've noted, color produced by the bulbs is different, but you need to determine for yourself which is best for you - beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say. Do own and use both systems... think the PC bulb design was not originally for use around saltwater so I find that they don't last as long, although there is much debate about the 'when' of decline in output spectrum in the VHO bulbs. Think for the better or for ill both these lighting choices come out even in the pro/con analysis and again would suggest you get out there and look at both running to form your opinion.> Thanks so much in advance, Andrew <Cheers, J -- >

PC/VHO lighting Hello, I am currently setting up a reef tank and looking into what type of lights to put on it. I have a 55G tank right now with about 20 lbs of live rock and about 20 lbs of CaribSea base rock, one 50/50 NO lights (as of now), 2 Yellow tail damsels, 1 Yellow Tang, 1 Percula Clown, 1 Scooter Blenny and several Blue legged Hermit Crabs, can not keep snails alive?, <The hermits are most likely killing them.> 29G sump (DIY) with Macro algae 10lbs live rock and sand (hoping to turn into live sand. I plan on putting a few Anemones and Coral in the tank in the near future. <Anemones and corals aren't always good together (anemones may wander and sting corals).> I (or my wife) is not prepared to spend the money on MH yet!! <Do consider that you will spend money on one system now (which will be nearly worthless later) and then start over. It is cheaper in the long run to get what you want up front.> So I am looking at either getting VHO or PC. I was told by a LFS in VA not to get PC because they are not a true Actinic light and that I would be better off getting VHO. Is this true? <This is not true. True actinic PC's are now available. You will have to research what brands offer these and be sure to get a compatible fixture.> If it is, why are PC still so popular <It's not, but I am still at a loss as to why PC's are so popular. They offer a cheap initial investment, but multiple lamp standards and a market full of cheaply made lamps make PC's quite a hassle.> what is the damage done to inverts? <None. The difference is aesthetic. As long as they get enough total light, inverts don't need actinic light, it just looks nice to us.> One more question, while looking for some lights I say on EBay some one selling a 48" 4X65 PC hood. He said he had a 55G tank and the lights were too much for him and was downgrading to 2X65 in stead. Which should I get? a 4X65 or 2X65 for my 55G tank? <If you do go with PC's, I would go with 4x65. I really can't think of any corals that this would be too much light for.> You have a great site and I have learned a lot from it. Thanks a lot. Geoff <Good to hear! Best Regards, Adam> 

PC or VHO 5/10/04 Hello Bob and Crew! <cheers> Currently running 2 ea -  2x96w (384w total ) PC's on a 125 reef.     Looking to add either 2 - 160w VHO's (URI) or another set of 2 ea 2x96w PC's.     Total PC   8x96 = 768w      or     (4) PC's + (2) VHO's  = 704w. <either way... go more white/daylight than blue actinic for optimal coral growth>     I've got Coralife pc bulbs now <sorry to hear it <G>> (4 pin square) and in 4 months, two of the actinics are failing which leads to some concern of costly bulb replacement.  Who makes good pc bulbs?   <a matter of some (consumer) perspective in the absence of watchdog data in our industry. Do visit the big message boards and post a query for a consensus here> or any links to research on the PC bulbs or manufacturers?  I've seen a lot of praise for URI VHO bulbs but little on PC bulbs. <correct and agreed... URI is outstanding> Space wise, I'm leaning to the VHO's, but bulb replacement would be spendy at 2 bulbs every 4-6 months.  Is this an accurate assumption.   <10 months on URI bulbs IMO> Either addition would be a retro kit.   To summarize:    1)   Any information on PC bulb ratings or manufacturers? <nope> 2)   Sure would appreciate ANY recommendations ;  PC or VHO.    RJShudes,  Redding, California. <halides will be the best value long term re: lamp life (2-4 years) and value (amount of light produced per watt consumed). Between fluorescent choices here I favor VHO, and suggest that you research the better option of T5 fluorescents. Anthony>

Adding one more strip light.... Even after reading until my eyes glaze over, I'm not quite sure I can answer my question:  I have a 65 gal, 24" deep tank, w/2x96 watt 50/50 and actinic PC.  I have a handful of mostly soft and a few SPS corals which all seem to be doing alright, but I realize my lighting may be marginal.  Because it's an in-the-wall installation, I only have about 4" of width over tank for another light. A friend gave me his 36", single bulb strip, which just fits the 4" space, and it has a 30 watt T8 Aqua Ray bulb.  I want to at least get a new bulb, not sure what would work best.  Actinic, white, 6500K or 10000K? << Well I would go with 10k just because I don't think any other bulb will really "look bright" to you. >>  Or am I wasting my time with this limited strip fluorescent?? << I wouldn't say wasting time.  However, in a little space like that a HQI metal halide fixture would do wonders.  They are only 5 inches long, and about 1.5 inches in diameter.  I love my halides, and on a 65 gal tank, I think it would really help you out. >>  Thanks again for your always informed responses......Barry <<  Adam Blundell  >>

VHO vs. PC lights hi, << Hi. >> First wanted to thank you for organizing such a nice website, lots of great info. I recently decided to frag a tan colored gorgonian by simply cutting off a branch with scissors and then attaching the branch to a rock with a rubber band.  Originally this branch was touching a group of mushrooms and the polyps had been retracted for awhile.  It actually seems quite happy so far with it's new location and all it's polyps have extended.  I was curious if the fragment will eventually attach itself to the rock (the site of the cut is not touching the rock) or this is a temporary solution and I should attach it more permanently using superglue.  << It takes a long time with gorgonians.  I'd try superglue, but even that won't really work.  The key is just finding any way to hold it there until it does grow over. >> Also, I had a lighting question.  I have 2 x 96 W power compacts lighting a 30 g reef tank (one 03 actinic and one 6700).  When I got the 03 actinic it was intensely blue for the first week and all the corals were very fluorescent, but after the first week the intensity of the 03 actinic dropped considerably (the blue hue in the tank was gone).  The tank looks nice now but certainly not as nice as that one week when the bulbs were new.  All the corals have been growing. I've used VHOs in the past and it seemed like there was more of a blue tint to the light and the corals were more fluorescent. << Yes I'd consider getting a new bulb fast.  Also, VHO actinic is much more intense than the actinic from pc's. >> For overall coral growth and fluorescence is there a big difference in VHOs versus power compacts? << In the actinic range yes, in the whites I don't see noticeable differences between tanks. >> I was debating switching back over (I guess it would be 4 x 24" bulbs, 2x 50/50's and 2x actinics  - the tank's 36" long). << That sounds much better. >> Or perhaps you could recommend a different PC lighting combination that may give me more of the actinic effect I was looking for?  Is there a big difference in PC brands?  the ones I've been buying are from premium aquatics. << I buy my lights there as well.  I'd probably switch to URI VHO tubes. >> Again, appreciate all your help. << I eventually switched to halides in my tank, and you may want to consider that. >> Thanks, Ben <<  Blundell  >>

VHO vs. PC lights hello there crew! << Hello Chris. >>         Thank you guys in advance for the response.  Its about  time for me to upgrade my bulbs on my tank.  Currently there are 4 VHOs powered by an icecap 660 ballast.  They're 3ft long over a 70g tall tank.  I've been reading up on different types of bulbs and their spectral outputs and I'm thinking of changing from my 2daylight 2actinic setup to an all daylight bulb setup. << I wouldn't do that.  I think the spectrum you have is great. >>  Considering the actinics don't do too much in the way of usable light for corals compared to a daylight colored bulb(6700\10000k). << I don't know if I would say they do much.  That light is what causes your corals to have their colors. >> Now my dilemma is that I have found that PC lights run a wider color gamut than the VHOs.  If I were to go VHO Id buy URI bulbs and the most daylight geared bulb they make is a 10000k bulb, however,  for PC lighting I've found 6700k bulbs as well as 10000k.  Id like to know if VHOs are any brighter or offer any advantage over PCs or vise versa.  << I tell people with pc's to go with VHO.  If you already have VHO then don't go to pc.  Your light set up is great.  If you are thinking of changing then consider the metal halide set ups.  Otherwise don't go with a 6500 or 6700k when you can go with a much better looking (in my opinion) 10000k. >>  Since the PCs offer a 6700 and a 10000k Id probably use one of each in a 4 bulb setup.  Where as with VHOs Id use 4 10000k's. << I'd use two 10000k and two actinics. >> I think the PCs would give me a better spectrum of light than just the VHOs.  Although I don't want to short myself by switching to the PCs if they actually put out less light than the VHOs. << With white light there isn't much difference.  But with blue light the VHO is considerably brighter and more affective. >> I plan on keeping light hungry corals that are found in shallow waters which would be perfect for with the spectrum of light of the PCs.  Eventually I want to upgrade to MH lights of the same spectrums (6500k Iwasakis\10000k Ushios) when I get a bigger tank.  So in essence the corals will be used to this spectrum of lighting as well when I switch over.  Sorry for all the info but I want to do  this right.  SOOO basically I'm asking are VHOs better than PCs and so on so forth.  Both will have and aluminum reflector over all four lights. << Stick with your VHO over the pc's.  However, if you want light hungry corals (as you said you do) then I would consider running halides instead or in addition to VHO. >> Thanks again Chris aka -fishtank- <<  Blundell  >>

Lighting Bob,  I need to switch gears here for a minute. I know, don't add anything until my "problems are solved" but this has been bothering me. All my mushrooms look great, as do my colt, anchors, crystal, and umbrella. I have attempted to keep a cat's paw, a bird's nest and a breadcrumb sponge. All met the same fate. They became covered in algae and perished. Heck, even the Caulerpa I have in my tank has algae growing on it. After reading your WetWebMedia article on lighting, I wonder if this is my problem. My 75 has 4x96 PC that my wife turns on around 8:30am, and they stay on until 10:30 pm. This is the Hamilton fixture where one switch controls the left side, and the other switch controls the right side. I have a 6700, and 7100 on each side.  Should I rewire so that I can turn on one left and one right bulb with each switch?  If I do rewire, which ones 6700/7100 go on first, go off last? How many hours a day do you think I should run these lamps? Thanks, Marty >> I would rewire these fixtures... the lower Kelvin rated lamps should come on first, go off last, and twelve hours of these a day max. please... if you want them on late at night have a hiatus mid-day... via timers... Bob Fenner

Reef Lighting Hi Bob, I have a 125 gallon tank that I'm currently setting up into a reef tank (later adding certain reef friendly fish). The dimensions are: Length - 5ft, Width - 18in, Height - 2ft. I have been looking at different light fixtures and have decided to go with power compacts, mostly because of financial matters and heat build up with the halides. I was told that 2 daylights and 2 blue actinics at 55watts each would be sufficient, but that I could also step up to a 96 watt. What do you think?????  <Hmm, two feet deep... and what sorts of light-needing life do you intend to keep... Well, whatever mode of lighting, this is way too little intensity... you should plan on at least the 96 watters... maybe even more lamps...> Also I was browsing websites on lights and came across an article about Slim Line Lighting. This is how the article read: The latest state of the art type lighting using tubes about the same diameter as a pencil. Very powerful lights said to be equal to metal halides with no heat.......full depth 24" penetration and very low running costs. Bulbs give an average 8,000 hours use and the ballasts are guaranteed for three years. Unfortunately, the website gave no contact info what-so-ever :( Do you know anything about these lights available wattages, lengths, where to get them, etc)??????? Any info about this would be a great help because I am very curious about them. <Me too... have heard of the technology... yet to see it in use... or results shall I state... I would go with the CF T-8's in the here and now> You don't have to place this in on your web page or anything like that, but I would appreciate an answer as thorough as possible (Slim Line Lighting). Thank you so much for your time!!!!!! James >> <Do get around to previewing, then moving around the Q and A's of perceived interest on the WWM site... Bob Fenner>

Reef Lighting Choices I have a 110 gallon reef tank with two 175 watt 10,000K metal halides and two 7,100K blue actinic power compacts. I have both fish and the following corals: finger leather, mushrooms, xenia, frogspawn, Montipora digitata and a pink Stylophora. I have seen new power compact light bulbs advertised that are rated at 10,000K. Would there be any benefit to swapping the 7,100K actinics for these new bulbs? >> In my opinion, not enough to warrant the change, functionally or for looks. The mix of spectra you have now is fine on both counts. What is remarkable (so I'll mention it) is the effects of "other" influences on light transmission, absorption in your system that you can influence, notably "color" and dissolved organic compounds, and the depth/placement of your corals. These factors can exert a very large effect on the quality and quantity of light reaching your photosynthetic livestock...  Color and DOCs are best dealt with by way of a regular regimen of partial (half let's say per period) gravel vacuuming in concert with partial water changes, efficient protein skimming, and the use of activated carbon (once a month let's say) in your filter flow path. Placement is a huge subject, but basically concerns the raising/lowering of livestock nearer the surface and proximity of your light source to provide more red-end and higher intensity light. Individual specimens and species are seen to do better at different placement... and can be moved, but not too frequently (once again, let's say once a month maximum) in attempts to find their best positioning in a system. To sum up, I would consider the above factors and engage in efforts to maximize your success via their manipulation, but wouldn't change the lamps out (to something bluer) if it were me. Bob Fenner

Re: Lighting 2 hi, Do you recommend this set up I got it from www.garf.org To light my tank I know the hobby is very expensive I just want to save money:) This set up uses regular shop ballast to light VHO bulbs.................... ....From a standard, two bulb, non-electronic, P class, shop-light ballast there are 4 pairs of wires. One pair of wires (white and black) go to the outlet, another pair (yellow) go to one pair of end caps, and the other two pairs (one red pair and one blue pair) go to the other two end caps (blue to one, red to the other) in the standard setup. When using the standard setup with the standard ballast it is possible to run most if not all normal output (NO) 48" 40 watt bulbs; it will be difficult if not impossible to run two VHOs in this setup unless the ballast is no longer functioning properly. However if the end caps attached to the yellow wires are not used and the red end-cap is put on one end of a VHO and the blue on the other a VHO will operate as will a NO bulb, but it will look as intense as a VHO. Crossing the end caps of different ballasts (particularly single bulb 40 watt ballasts) can allow for a mixture of VHO and NO bulbs with fewer wires being left unused.  please let me know thanks again...you are very helpful. >> This arrangement may, repeat may apparently "work" for now... but is an example of "false economy" in my view... By using electronic ballasts designated for VHO lamps you will get more light, and your lamps will last longer... a better arrangement in the true cost for what you're getting... I would definitely NOT re-wire a shop lite ballast as per the above description. Save up and buy electronic ballasting... this is the route to go. Bob Fenner

Bob, Looking into CF lighting. Is there a hard and fast rule for how many watts you need? <Some, a couple/three watts per gallon on up... to several depending on depth of tank, types of livestock (SPS, Clams for more for instance), and desire (boosting metabolism say vs. maintenance) and pairing other gear, activities (supplying sufficient biomineral, alkalinity...)> I have a 225 gallon tank that is 6foot long X 2foot wide X 2 1/2 foot deep. <More for you... 3,4 w/g...> Thanks, Derek P.S. Still working on cooling issues!! Installed some fans today that I think helped. >> <Hotay! Bob Fenner>

Lights< Smart, Dura... Bob I have been reading all of your posts on the subject of lighting and learning a lot. But I have a few questions that I most likely have read about but I am not understanding. I am new to salt water, I have had fresh for over 3 years and wanted a new challenge(?) or new fish not sure which? <There are many...> But I/we have switched our 55 gal tank to salt water. Right now we are going with a fish tank but my helpers are informing me that they like the anemones and I think some of the soft corals. So what ever I buy to upgrade my system I want to make sure I meet those future needs. Which leads me to lights. Like I said I have been reading your articles and FAQ on different web pages and I think I understand what I need. But I was wanting to know about the new smart lamps that have both blue and white lights in one. Is this a good package or should I get a system that I can put 4 bulbs in 3 white and 1 blue or 2/2 or ....  <One blue out of four is best> The smart lamps look like a nice match and are reasonably priced. If you don't think this is a good product. What do you recommend.  <These are very worthy products> I read one article that you stated that you liked Dura-Light. But I have been unable to find these on the web or locally. <Yes... older technology...> At least I don't think I can, I found the bulbs at a store do they also carry the fixture?  <The Dura-Light products (Vitalites, etc.) are/were Normal Output fluorescents... regular fixtures fit them... But do go with the Smart Lites, other power/compact fluorescent technology.> The store I found the bulbs at didn't have a fixture. I also keep reading that you like the 4 bulb systems does this mean you run two fixtures or do they make a 4 bulb fixture?  <Mainly two doubles...> I also have a canopy so I am using glass below my existing lights is this ok?  <Should be... do add washing, wiping them down weekly to your task list> My boss/wife like the canopy so :-):-) any advise would be great.  <I understand> Thanks for all of the great articles and time you seem to spend on this topic. Lou Feagans <Thank you for your kind words, and intelligent involvement in our hobby. Bob Fenner>

Marine Aquarium Lighting... help greetings to the aquarium guru!! (that's you) hahaha. I was hoping that you might be able to give me some suggestions as to how I can improve on my tank, and what changes im going to need, or if im heading in the right direction for my reef tank... (Perhaps) I currently have a 37Gal tank 30"Lx12.5Wx23"T. I have an eclipse hood on it and I have a 55W power compact retrofit on it for the moment. my sandbed is about 3-4" deep and I only have about 15lbs of LR in it will soon have 40lbs more). I have a tiny air-driven protein skimmer in it at the moment, but I just bought a red sea Berlin hang on, I just built a new hood for my tank and will add a 175W 14K MH bulb, w 2 fans to cool it down, and add 2 standard 24" florescent actinic bulbs.  (Yikes... a shame to have not started with a larger tank...) I have a small maroon clown and a tiny yellow tang at the moment in my tank. I had some green button polyps in my tank & a coral frag (which I believe might be some purple xenia?) (Hmm, likely not... Xeniids are soft corals... typically 'pulsing'... and not purple...) both seem to be doing somewhat okay, at the moment, but the polyps aren't as good as when I bought them(2 weeks ago).. do you think the MH lighting setup im going to do is good enough? too much? could do better?  (You will soon see... need to ?grade into this{ amount of lighting... screen part with aluminum foil... to avoid burning your livestock... the type-amount will work out eventually... in a few weeks to a couple of months) what do you recommend I do? please help me, I came across your website and it seems you can help me a lot more than a lot of other places.. all the stores just want to make money off of me, but I haven't fallen into that trap at least not yet) any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. thanks!! (I will gladly help you... Please do read-reread the sections on light, lighting on the Marine Index on the www.WetWebMedia.com site. Bob Fenner)

Lighting Fixture Question I recently bought myself a little gift a 46 gallon Bow Front. The problem I am having is working with lighting. The tank came with 2 light fixtures that have 2 Fluorescent bulbs in each unit I think there 18 inch bulbs. The question I have is that these fixtures are long enough to house a 96w PC and since it came with 2 of them I was thinking of installing 1 PC in each one (1 White/1 Actinic). What do you think? Do you think that the fixture would hold these as far as heat? The light fixtures are oak colored and are made by Perfecto. Thanks, John <Perfecto even provides CF lighting in these fixtures... you may have to modify the end caps to vent some heat with the 96 watt sizes though, but yes, a good plan otherwise. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Hello Bob! I hope you are enjoying Hawaii Mr. Laptop, sand and surf. I do not know if you are aware of this or not but Dura is out of business. No more Vitalites. <Yes, I do know, thanks... it's a shame... their gear supposedly is still sitting in their closed factories in NJ...><<Actually, they're baaaaack!!>> On to my questions. I am going to make my 55 into a full blown reef tank. I am going to get 4-65watt PC's in a custom hood with fan. My concern is that from all I have read on these type lights are that none really are true full spectrum lights. <This is so... but with use of some actinic, not much of a problem> I have looked at the spectral curves from most every manufacturer of these lamps and all seem completely deficient in the red spectrum or just a smidgen at best. Don't many species of corals need some red spectrum to thrive? <Hmm, not really... what is considered "red" gets filtered out very quickly (almost all gone in top four inches of water)> If there are some could you give us salties out here a heads up? You recommend putting the lights as close to the surface as possible with nothing in between the water and the lights. How do you keep those occasional jumpers (fish) in the tank? <Ideally a lip arrangement of some sort... a surrounding mini-wall of glass or acrylic... over and around any openings> I want some Actinic lighting in the tank to give off that pretty blue coloration and the glow that some corals and fish give off but I don't want it too blue if you know what I mean. I was thinking two smart lamps and two 6700K daylight types. I have never seen these lights burn in person so I am unsure of the look. <They're very nice> I will keep mostly species of coral that are hardy and fairly easily propagated. I will sell off extra's to a LFS dealer in town and some friends upon occasion and share my experiences with them. Soft corals Large polyp stony etc.. Will this light be sufficient? <Yes, good choices> Zimmy P.S. Jason Kim at Aqua C is one heck of a nice man and has helped me out tremendously! I love spray injection skimmers. Plug it in a let it do its job. Great product and great company. <Yes, a fine person. I will relate your comments to him. Bob Fenner>

VHO compared with CF lighting hey Bob. I have a few questions...I have a 55 gallon reef tank (standard size 55 gal.) right now, I have 2 - 55 watt power compacts on the right side of the tank and 2 - 35 watt power compacts on the left...is this sufficient lighting??? <For? What sorts of organisms, desired results?> ..it is a homemade hanging hood, so I was considering putting all of the power compacts on one side and getting one metal halide for the other, does this sound better?? <Perhaps, with the MH lighting over more light-needy/using life> ... also, I have a Acropora coral that completed lost, or should I say, shed its color of green and is now completed white...did it die??, <Possibly. Or has just lost all its zooxanthellae... should have algae growing over its skeleton if gone> why would this happen??? <A few possibilities... could be the lack of adequate lighting, lack of biomineral, lack of alkalinity, infectious or parasitic disease...> will this process have any effect on the other corals??? <Depends on the cause/s> I have a calcium reactor and add strontium and iodine on a weekly basis, I do weekly 5 gallon water changes (with ro/di water), all other parameters are fine...thanks, Jeff <Time to re-read (leisurely) through your reef aquarium reference books, the gamut of material on marine set-up and maintenance posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com in search for "things that click" here. Bob Fenner>  

Lighting dear rob, I have another question. I have just read your lighting articles and so I checked the lighting on my eclipse1 FOWLR tank and it only has one florescent tube. good thing I read the articles because I would have never worried about it. I am wondering if I could just order the twin lamp base assembly or is there another way to provide more lighting? <There are retrofit kits sold (compact fluorescent) that will fit this hood. Contact the various manufacturers, resellers (a bunch are listed on the WWM Links Pages) and state what you have. They will tell you what your options are... or go to the fine folks on our Chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ and ask them what they use. I would definitely add more light. Bob Fenner> thanks, dear rob thanks for the quick reply I didn't think I would get one so soon. you have the most informative site. ill be asking more about the sump design once I know what I want. since I found this site I don't even ask questions at the LFS because it seems like they are just trying to make a sale. <Ah, glad to be of help, but do always gather information, insight from other, diverse sources. Understanding baseline motivations in this world is highly desirable... but data is more so. Bob Fenner>

Best Mix for Daylight/Actinic Fluorescents Bob, <<Not Bob, but JasonC filling while Bob is away diving.>> Enjoy your site, book and everything that you do. You been a great reference source for me. Without getting to gushy, I have a couple questions on lighting reef tanks. <<He will be happy to read/hear this...>> First, I have a 125 gal reef tank loaded with corals both hard and soft with 384 watt power compact lights two 96 watt daylight and two 96 watt actinic. Would it be beneficial or create more light to run the two daylight bulbs and two 50/50 daylight/actinic bulbs instead of my current setup. Just want to maximize the brightness for the corals to help them thrive. Would that make any difference at all? <<No, best with fluorescents to go half and half actinic/daylight.>> Similar setup in my 40 gallon tank. I have 4 32 watts bulbs split between daylight and actinic. Would 3 daylight and 1 actinic help anything? <<same as before.>> Or don't mess with it. <<I guess that's a yes.>> Lastly, I'm considering setting up a small 20 gallon hex tank for Sea Horses. What kind of lighting requirements would they need if I stayed away from most corals except maybe low light varieties like mushrooms? <<Not much, you could get away with perhaps small dual 9 watt PC tubes, same deal 50/50 actinic/daylight.>> I appreciate your help. <<No problem.>> Dan Hutchings <<Cheers, J -- >>

(Marine Lighting Fixturization) questions Hi Bob, <<JasonC here, filling in for Bob while he is away diving.>> I need your advice on power compact lighting. I intend to replace all 4 of my fluorescent tube lighting (2 Daylight and 2 Actinic Blue) that sit on top of my 75 gallon tank (contain fishes and corals) to a retrofit fixture which contains four power compact. My question is how many Actinic Blue and Daylight should I go for the retrofit fixture? Can the combination be four power compact Daylight (each is 36W 10000K) and use back the 2 Actinic Blue fluorescent? Kindly advice. Thanks. <<Best when using any type of fluorescent lamp to mix them 50/50, actinic and daylight. You can read up some more at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lighting1MAR.htm  Cheers, J -- >> Re: questions Hi Bob, <<Hello, JasonC here filling while Bob returns from his diving trip.>> I need your advice on power compact lighting. <<Ok>> I intend to replace all 4 of my fluorescent tube lighting (2 Daylight and 2 Actinic Blue) that sit on top of my 75 gallon tank (contain fishes and corals) to a retrofit fixture which contains four power compact. My question is how many Actinic Blue and Daylight should I go for the retrofit fixture? Can the combination be four power compact Daylight (each is 36W 10000K) and use back the 2 Actinic Blue fluorescent? Kindly advice. Thanks. <<Best when using any type of fluorescent bulbs to mix the bulbs 50/50 with actinic and daylight lamps. For you - three of each, daylight and actinic. Cheers, J -- >>

Re: questions <<JasonC here...>> Thanks for the reply. <<my pleasure.>> Forgive me for not understanding your reply. <<Please forgive me for not explaining well, I will try again...>> Can the combination be four power compact Daylight (each is 36W 10000K) and use back the 2 Actinic Blue fluorescent? <<No, you want three of each, (3) daylight and (3) actinic.>> Will it "burn out" the corals? <<no, not the issue here.>> Mine is a 75 gallon tank and the dimensions are 2 feet X 2 feet X 2 feet. <<Should be fine.>> Kindly advice. <<Thank you.>> Thanks. <<You are welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Re: questions (Marine Lighting Fixturization) Thanks for the reply, Jason. Due to wrong information given to me by the retailer, I need to re-ask the following question. My apology to you. Are 2 power compact Daylight (2 X 27W 10,000k) + 2 power compact Blue Actinic (2 X 27w) + 1 fluorescent Daylight (25W 9,000K) and 1 fluorescent Blue actinic (25W) enough for my 75 gallon reef tank? (24 inch deep) <Mmm, not in my opinion. The types of lamps, temperatures are fine, but the wattages too low for such a depth system for many types of life commonly kept by aquarists. Please read through the Marine Lighting, Fixtures sections: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lighting. tm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lighting1MAR.htm and many associated FAQs for background, direction here. Bob Fenner>

Re: questions (on marine lighting... seemingly infinite choices on under-illumination) Hi Bob ! Yes........I have read though the WWM website regarding lighting.........but I still can't find the answers that I want. So.....here comes the questions again. Can I use 2 sets of retrofit fixture for my 24 inch deep 75 gallon tank? (one set consists of 2 X 37W 10,000K Daylight power compact + 2 X 37W Actinic Blue) Will it cause my corals to "burn out" ? Kindly advise? Thank you. <You can... but the system will be vastly under-illuminated... this is not enough watts of compact fluorescent lighting for this size/depth of system... this IS covered on the WWM site... Bob Fenner>

Re: questions (ongoing... re marine lighting) Hi Bob ! Thanks for the reply. Sorry to bother you again. As mentioned by you earlier that the wattages are too low, how about increasing the wattages to the following combinations : 2 X 37 Watt 10,000K Daylight for the power compact + 2 X 37 Watt Actinic Blue + 1 X 25W 9,000K Daylight fluorescent + 1 X 25W Actinic Blue ? Lastly, how should the placement of 4 X power compact and 2 X fluorescent be?  Can it be (starting from the top to the front viewing portion) 1 X Daylight fluorescent + 1 X Actinic Blue fluorescent + 2 X power compact Daylight (placed in a straight line) + 2 X power compact Actinic Blue (in a straight line also) ? <Mmm, yes... But... have you read through the WWM site re marine lighting? I would install larger CF lighting altogether... for a 75 gallon system. Bob Fenner>

Scottish marine tank Hello Robert, I have had a Copperband butterfly for 4 months, are these easy fish to keep long term. <Mmm, most die within a week of capture. Ones that live a month or more can/do sometimes live for years...> Mine is feeding great and getting larger. The tank also houses 2 damsels 1 coral beauty 1 watchman goby 1 pajama cardinal. The tank is 50 gallon with 17 various soft corals, mushroom corals, tube anemones. I am thinking about getting metal halide lamps, for optimum coral growth, and hopefully get rid of hair algae. The tubes I have at present are 2 lifeglo,s 1 triton 1 marine Glo 1 marine white. I have had the tank running 1year , all occupants came out of a similar tank I had running for 3 years ,same type of lights etc . <Mmm, do take care in "grading in" the new lighting...> the filtration is external, with 1 internal with carbon and 3 powerheads for water movement. 1 external protein skimmer. tank conditions are 0 nitrate 0 phosphates 8.4 ph 1. 22 SG temp 82.but I still have to manually remove the algae every couple of days as well as cleaning the glass front, is it the tubes I have they are on for 11 hours.  <Seems like a "small price" to pay for such overall success> the corals are all doing fine with the exception of one or two, witch I feel don't open as good as they should, but are still okay bearing in mind they are all over 3 years of age. Should I replace my tubes with different tubes, or go for the metal halide. any help would be much appreciated, <I would switch your lighting on a regular schedule, replacing the "white lights" the Triton product and an actinic... If I were to invest money in new fixturing I would upgrade to compact fluorescents of about the same mix of white/03. Bob Fenner>

Lighting a 50 Gallon Hi Bob-   My father & I have just set up a 50 gal tank in his home office (Boy, is his productivity going to drop!).  The dimensions are 36"w x 18"d x 18"h.  He has purchased two single fluorescent fixtures (made by AGA - incl. a NO 30w 9300deg.K bulb each).  There is nothing in the tank yet except salt water, soon to be LR as well.   My question has to do with lighting the live rock.  My feeling is that this one-watt-per-gallon might not be enough to keep the LR healthy (?).  He could add a 2x96w CF fixture (he had planned to do this eventually...is now the time?) which then, added to the pair he has now, would net 5w/gal. Does he need to do this soon, or can he wait until he wants higher-Lux needing inhabitants?  In other words, will the LR benefit greatly from higher intensity lighting? <Yes, your growths of coralline algae and any macroalgae with definitely benefit by the increase in lighting.  But, if you really want to see the live part of you liverock take off, hold off on putting fish in for a couple of months.  I know it will probably kill you to wait, but you will see worms, copepods, amphipods, and a myriad of other life forms populating your tank.  This allows these small creature's populations to get a jump start before the predators (fish) are added.> With this additional fixture, what is your opinion as to the ideal color combinations of these bulbs?  My thought is to replace the two NO 9300K's w/ actinics, and use daylight spectrums in the CF's.  Will 60w of NO actinic be sufficient for this tank?  Or would you include a 50/50 CF as well? <I agree with your initial idea, two 30 watt Actinic 03 normal output lamps and two 55 watt full spectrum compact fluorescent lamps.> Thank you very much!  Erik Nelson <You are welcome.  -Steven Pro>

PC's or T-5's Hello Crew, I have a 55 gal.  tank with a pair of  false Perculas, a pair of Firefish and some basic corals (mush, polyps leathers). The  tank is currently lit with 4 - 55 Watt PC's.  The lights will need replacing soon and I would like to get a bubble tip anemone for the clowns.  I do not want to get into MH's for various reasons and have seen conflicting info about the feasibility of keeping anemone's without them. Question is  as I need to replace the bulbs soon anyway (cost about 100$) would it be worthwhile to convert to T5 lighting? << Only if you can fit more bulbs in there.  Otherwise, I don't really see an advantage to this. >> Cost for retrofit kit w/ 4 54 watt bulbs is 329$ I looked for Q & A onT5's earlier and could not find anything.   << Well if not halides, you may consider VHO.  But since you already have ballasts and a fixture, I'd go with replacing the pc's. >> Thanks again - Kevin H. <<  Blundell  >> Replacing Bulbs 3/12/08 Hi, I'm looking for replacement bulbs for (2) 36" Corallife Deluxe Lunar Aqualights (53404) 10,000K Daylight LED's and (2) of the same in 10,000K blues. I checked your website but could not find them. Thanks in advance! Monica <These units use compact fluorescents. We are not a retail site, you can find the bulbs at many Etailers, check the links page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/general_links_pg.htm or many of the sponsor links for the bulbs. Welcome, Scott V.> Re: PC to Halide Upgrade 2/12/08 Hey Scott, <Hello Carl.> I really appreciate your quick response since I was in such a hurry to find the best option. I was able to rule out the outer orbit fixture fairly easily after you solidified some doubts I had about it. It was what I wanted but just not practical for my set up. I thought about a 4x 96 watt fixture but ultimately didn't want to spend roughly $150 every six months on bulbs, so I decide to go with the SunPod. I've been wanting to try metal halides for quite some time. <Halides are my personal favorite.> I think it should work well and I do like the idea of having that many LED lights as well. I figure that if I really am not happy after 6 months or so, I can take a small hit and revert back to a 4 x 96 watt PC fixture. As far as the extra heat, I'm hoping it shouldn't be too much of a problem since I plan to have it much further off the water and it's not too warm out nowadays. Its torment to see all the extra chillers and other expensive equipment just lying in a storage closet at work that will probably never be used....Aaaah! <I used to think the same thing, now that is my closet, give this addiction time!> Anyway, thanks again for the prompt advice. Carl <Welcome, have fun, Scott V.>

Compact Lighting 1/4/08 Hello, <Hello Kevin.> I'm new to reef tanks and have a question about lighting requirements. I have a 150 gal tank and was hoping to use power compact lighting but I'm unsure how much I need. <OK> My neighbor has two 72" light set ups with four 96 watt bulbs each. He says he will give me a deal. I guess my question is, if I use these lights, what category of lighting would this be? Low or moderate? <Actually, with eight 96W bulbs, towards the high end.> I'm sure it would support mushrooms and other softies but would it support LPS or maybe even SPS? <Yes, I believe it will.> I want to stay away from MH because of the heat. I've looked all over and everyone seems to contradict each other. Maybe you could shed some light? Thanks! Kevin <You will be able to keep SPS with these, especially in the upper parts of the tank. Do find out how old the bulbs in the fixture are and replace if needed. Also consider the amount of "usable" light. These fixtures are typically one daylight per each actinic. With eight bulbs you will likely be better off with two actinics and six daylights. Welcome, have fun with your new setup, Scott V.>

PC Bulb Replacement 1/2/08 Hi guys and gals, <Hello Scott.> It's time to replace the bulbs over my 38-gal (36" long, 20" deep) marine tank. This is the first time I've had to do this, and I'm all confused. The fixture has a 96-watt 10K and a 96-watt actinic. I have 4 Euphyllia specimens growing nicely, a trach, and a Sinularia (I know, I know -- LFS said mixing LPS and leathers was not a problem. That was before I started reading here). Anyway, I'm wondering about light spectrum -- 10000K, 6500K, dual daylight, dual actinic -- what do I want for this mix? <Exactly what you have, maybe the 50/50 bulb you mention instead of the straight actinic for the reasons you listed.> Also, I get the impression that actinic lighting is largely for aesthetics, <Yes> so should I replace that bulb with a 50/50 to increase the amount of "daylight" I have? Thanks, Scott <Welcome, have fun, Scott V.>

Household CF lighting?  12/28/07 Happy holidays, <Thanks Dan> I've begun to notice the proliferation of the household lamp-type 6,500K "daylight" Compact Fluorescent bulbs in the stores. These bulbs use a quarter of the power used by comparable incandescents. A 100W equivalent uses roughly 23W, puts out an initial and mean of 1,600/1,300 lumens over its projected 7-year lifespan, runs a lot cooler than the incandescent it replaces, and only costs a buck or two per bulb. <Yes... Alleleujah> It's common knowledge that corals grow best under 6,500K lighting--I even used a 6,500K outdoor CFL spotlight in my refugium with decent results. Has anyone done any kind of analysis of the spectrum or PAR on the indoor 6,500K CFL bulbs, or experimentation with an array of these bulbs on reef tanks? Thanks, Dan <Mmm, time to refer you... do a search with the above descriptive lighting terms and the names: Sanjay Joshi, and Dana Riddle... If they have not tested these lamps, perhaps others have. Do write back with your findings for posting/sharing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Household CF lighting?  12/28/07 Funny you should mention Sanjay. I'm waiting for a response to a similar email sent yesterday, but I have a feeling his focus has been more on MH instead of fluorescents. I'll let you know what I find. Dan <I thank you for this. BobF>

Re: Household CF lighting? 12/29/07 Not to drag the correspondence out, but I've also asked GE and Sylvania for spectral plots for their 23W (100W incandescent equivalent) "full spectrum" 6500K CFLs. If they don't come through, perhaps Sanjay or Dana can help. Dan <Ah, good... am sure they can. The gear for doing such testing is rather simple, and they've built out the bench apparatus for doing so. BobF>

Re: Household CF lighting?  12/29/07 Bob, An update from Dana (below) with promising news, with more data forthcoming. She still needs to test for PAR. <Mmm, Dana's a fellow> I'll send you a copy of any of her updates. She refers to one of your Conscientious Aquarist editions where she examined T-5s. Can you provide the link or year/month for the article please? <I see you later found this> Thanks again, Dan "Aloha Dan, The 6500K CFL lamps are suitable for reef aquaria if you've got enough of them. And you are correct about the energy savings (I've often wondered why some manufacturer hasn't offered a Luminaire housing a number of CFLs....). I haven't checked PAR values from these lamps but it seems like a good idea and I'll put it on my 'to do' list. I think I can help you with spectral qualities however. See one of Bob's early 'Conscientious Aquarist' issues - I examined a number of T5 lamps for spectral quality. Since there are generally only a few phosphors available, one of those signatures should come close to a CFL. I think a 6500K will likely be called a 'tri-phosphor' lamp. Let me know if you need further assistance. Dana" <I'll be back out in Kona 1/15 to 2/19 Dana... see you then/there. BobF> Re: Household CF lighting?  12/29/07 Bob, Disregard previous request for Dana's T5 article. Found it here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i4/fluorescent_lamps/fluorescent_lamps.htm <http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i4/fluorescent_lamps/fluorescent_lamps.htm> Dan <Real good>

PC lighting 12/24/07 I have a 54 gallon corner reef tank. The lighting is a 24" Current fixture with 2 x 65 Watt bulbs (1 dual daylight & 1 dual actinic) as well as a 20" dual T5 (2 x 14 watt). I was wondering if changing the dual actinic bulb in the PC to another dual daylight would be better lighting for the corals. <This will give them more usable light, but will change the look of the tank. Perhaps consider changing it to a 50/50 daylight/actinic bulb.> I have a mix of yellow stars, leather, frogspawn, zoanthids, bubble, & tongue coral. I was thinking of adding a small crocea clam. <This clam will need more light.> I'd appreciate your comments. Mitch <Welcome, happy reefing, Scott V.>

Re: PC lighting 12/24/07 I was considering replacing the PC with a SunPod 250 Watt Metal Halide. Would that lighting be good. <Yes, perfect. Just realize there will be an increased amount of heat produced. Scott V.> PC Lighting Fixture Problem...Repairable? - 09/13/07 I have a Custom Sea Life Smart Lamp fixture, 72 inches, holding two 96-watt bulbs. The light on one half is noticeably brighter than the other half. If I swap the bulbs from one side to the other, results are the same so I know the bulbs are fine. <<Okay>> I assume there's something wrong with either the socket or ballast on the darker side. <<Mmm, yes...possibly a loose or corroded connection causing a voltage drop. Usually when one of these fluorescent ballasts goes bad it does so very quickly (i.e.- it just "quits"), in my experience...but this is not a certainty>> Is that a replaceable part? <<Most any part of the fixture would be "replaceable"...assuming you can obtain the part>> Easy to do? <<A simple procedure, yes...if you have a basic understanding of electricity and are a little bit "handy"...otherwise, obtain help from a qualified individual as improperly wiring the fixture can prove disastrous>> Where can I find the part and instructions? <<Before replacing anything I would first disassemble the unit (do be sure to unplug it first) and check/clean/tighten the connections and then give the unit another test to confirm this is not the issue. If you decide you need to replace components, a keyword search of the NET for the parts should give ample leads. If you determine you need a new ballast, you may even be able to find a suitable replacement at a home center or hardware store. As for instructions...a new ballast should come with such...if replacing a lamp socket, well, this is fairly intuitive... And once again...if any of this is bewildering in the least, do seek out a qualified individual to assist you. Regards, EricR>>

Lighting... Small wattage CFs repackaged for aquarium use    8/9/07 Good Morning, <And to you> I have a (hopefully) quick question. After reading many FAQ's and articles, I have yet to find an answer about this. What are your feelings in regard to the "Mini-Compact" lighting, shown in the following pictures: http://www.petsmart.com/global/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524441809765&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302030061&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=2534374302023693&bmUID=1186575121740&itemNo=32&Nao=24&In=Fish&N=2030061&Ne=2 <Mmm, such small wattage CFs can work in tiny volumes... given they're of sufficient color temperature, CRI... and intensity for the setting> My idea is to utilize a (free) incandescent fixture to hold 2 of these for a 30 gal (or a 20gal high) FOWLR (for now) tank. If I used them on my 30, I could also use a 20watt 10,000k bulb, and have both going, if necessary. The box at the store says they're OK for "upgrading your incandescent lighting" but it almost sounds too good to be true. Will this be sufficient for zoo's and polyps eventually? <Not really> I don't want any high light or "difficult" corals, just the few that I mentioned. Thank you in advance. Eric <This will not be enough light for your enjoyment even... too dim. I'd keep investigating. Bob Fenner>

Re: Quick Lighting Question 8/10/07 Good Morning, <Trying...> I have a (hopefully) quick question. After reading many FAQ's and articles, I have yet to find an answer about this. What are your feelings in regard to the "Mini-Compact" lighting, shown in the following pictures: http://www.petsmart.com/global/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524441809765&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302030061&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=2534374302023693&bmUID=1186575121740&itemNo=32&Nao=24&In=Fish&N=2030061&Ne=2 <I responded to this... yesterday> My idea is to utilize a (free) incandescent fixture to hold 2 of these for a 30 gal (or a 20gal high) FOWLR (for now) tank. If I used them on my 30, I could also use a 20watt 10,000k bulb, and have both going, if necessary. The box at the store says they're OK for "upgrading your incandescent lighting" but it almost sounds too good to be true. Will this be sufficient for zoo's and polyps eventually? I don't want any high light or "difficult" corals, just the few that I mentioned. <Not sufficient... see WWM re lighting for such life> Also, will these lights improve the aesthetics of my tank if I decide to keep it fish only? Thank you in advance. Eric <Will be too dim for FO as well. BobF>

Re: Quick Lighting Question 8/10/07 Sorry Bob, The other email wasn't going through, so I assumed it wasn't being sent, so I tried this email address hoping it would work. I sent this email before your response was received. You know what they say about "assume".. it makes an... Thanks for all the help! Eric <Ahh, thank you for clearing up this mystery... Bob, passing in the night, Fenner> Some Light Conversation! - 07/22/07 How's it going? <Goin' well! Scott F. in tonight!> Quick question. I have a 75 gallon tank I want to convert into a reef tank. I am looking at 2 36'' Coralife Aqualight 2x96W w/10,000K and True Actinic 03 Blue. First off what types of corals can I successfully keep with this lighting and should I center both lights or off set them so at least one light reaches each end? Thanks for your help, Jared <Well, Jared, PC lighting is good for many types of less demanding corals, such as Anthelia, Xenia, perhaps some Montipora, etc. In reality, you can keep just about any coral in an aquarium with PC lighting, as long as other factors, such as flow and feeding are addressed. Sure, in a deep aquarium, you'd really have to compensate for the lower intensity lighting by feeding more, but in theory it could work. BTW, I'd forgo the actinics, because most of your corals will not need them for growth. They are really best for their aesthetics, IMO. Personally, I'd use all 10,000ks for their useful spectrum and nice appearance. As far as placement of the lighting, I like it centered, myself, but as long as it's reaching the corals and providing useful light where it's needed, it's your call! Best of luck! Regards, Scott F.

CF Lighting, RBTA and the mini-reef   7/10/07 Hello, <Saludo> Thanks to you all for such a resource as you offer, it is a credit to the hobby! My question deals with very specific "in's and out's" of lighting a mini reef. I apologize to the poor soul who answers these questions, but perhaps it would help clear up confusion to many other people. <Well, okay!> I find the 3 to 5 watts per gallon rule to be terribly out-dated as that is too little light for very tall tanks, and a needless expense for very shallow tanks. My last lighting fixture just blew, and I'm in the market for a new one ASAP. Before I buy, I wanted to ask a few questions... 1) Has a system been developed that uses the measurement of inches of water depth to the amount of watts required? <Mmm, no... too many other factors involved... e.g. the distance of lamps from the water surface, the use of useful reflectors, reflecting material in the hood... These alone can negate the utility...> Loosely running the numbers, it seems that 8 to 10 watts per inch of water depth would be a better measurement of wattage needed( but then again, I'm the one asking for advice, so please don't take mine!) These are numbers I've derived by reading the suggestions on this site and others. <Okay> 2) I have a 30g long tank with a DSB which means I have a water depth of 12 inches. I have a tank of soft corals right now, but I have the opportunity to have an RBTA <... problematical to mix with other Classes, Orders of Cnidarians...> ( my tank is very stable, has been running for 4 years, has a 10g refugium with a 6 inch DSB, a good skimmer and this would be the only anemone I keep. All test parameters have been excellent for a year or two without incident). Would 6 watts per gallon of CF lighting at a maximum depth of 12 inches be enough for the RBTA? (back in 1987 I had a large long tentacle anemone I kept alive over a year until I had to move, not a small feat with the lighting of the time) <... let's finish this right here... Your system is too small, the mix of present livestock trouble...> 3) (Most Important question) Does Kelvin rating play a huge role in the care of RBTAs/Soft Corals husbandry? <Can, yes> I've seen varying suggestions from 6500K all the way up to 20,000K for the RBTA, while many agree that soft corals adjust and thrive under most lighting situations. <I agree> 4) And finally, please correct me if my thinking is in error, but higher wattage Compact Fluorescent Lighting doesn't mean more light intensity, it only means it's a longer bulb. <Uhh, no. Get a PAR or other light measuring meter and see for yourself> Roughly, I see that CF lighting provides 3 watts per linear inch per bulb (34 inch bulbs are 96 watt, 21 inch bulbs are 65 watts and 18 inch bulbs are 55 watts) Given that the light would be positioned directly above the coral/anemone in any scenario, a 192 watt, double bulb fixture and a 130 watt double bulb fixture would provide the animal with virtually the same light intensity? <No> Sorry for that question, it's splitting hairs I realize, but I see people offer advice on 23 inch high tanks with 220 watts of CF and call it good, where as 130 watts of CF on a tank of 13 inches in height is seen as lacking. If you crunch the numbers you see that the 130 watt, 13 inch high tank is actually slightly better illuminated. Just an observation from a guy on his day off with nothing better to do.... I would kind of understand if you chose not to answer these questions, but I hope you will. I searched the site and couldn't find the answers. Thank you so much for your time! Mike <Mmm, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/bubbletipanemones.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

75 Gallon Reef, Cfluor. lamp sel.    3/14/07 Hello Crew: I hope this email finds everyone doing well.  I have a question regarding P/C lighting on my 75 Gallon Reef.  I currently have 260 Watts of P/C lighting.  I am love Leathers and Soft coral so I am pretty sure that this is enough light.  It is the time of year that I need to replace the bulbs and wanted to know what you think the best type bulbs to get would be for my tank with 4 65 watt bulbs?  They are currently 4 50/50 (10k,460actinic).  Would you suggest the best possible configuration for various Leathers, Mushrooms, Zoanthids, and one pulsing Xenia?  I was thinking 3 Actinic and 1 10K based on some reading of prior post but am not sure if this would be the best bet. Thank you so much for the help, <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i4/fluorescent_lamps/fluorescent_lamps.htm and the linked files at the bottom... I would go with all "white" lamps... Bob Fenner>

Coralife PC bulbs vs. Current PC Bulbs  3/10/07 I am having a big debate on what to replace the bulbs in my Current orbit with. I have heard from various sources and need info. I have a 46g bow front with 2 96w pc's running. So this measures at about 4.17 watts per gallon. I am trying to decide whether the CoraLife or the current bulbs are better? I have heard from different people that each is better. One says that Coralife is better and that is why it is more expensive, another says that Current is actually better and still a third says that it is all personal preference and for aesthetics. <I am more amenable to this statement... And am leery of siding on/with one company/brand over the other... as neither actually makes their lamps/bulbs... and the source may well change, switch to some other product... in time. For now, both will work... and I slightly prefer the Orbit> I do currently only have softies etc but do want one or 2 LPSs way up high. I am just trying to decide between the bulbs, mainly the actinic since that is where the biggest debate comes in with the blue vs. purple spectrum. Thanks in advance for your excellent guidance! <I would be directing this question to either of the "lighting gurus" in our interest currently: Sanjay Joshi, Dana Riddle... or availing yourself of test gear (some clubs have this to loan)... PAR meters, other means of measuring CRI, Intensity... to make your own comparisons, between and within these lines. Bob Fenner>

Coralline Algae 2/9/07 Hi Crew, <Hi Sam> I have a 10 gallon with fish, mushrooms and candy cane with a 65w Power compact 50/50. I have some rock with very little coralline algae on but some of my glass had a thick cover that you could not see through and I had to scrape the front glass to keep it clean. Over the past month the algae on the glass has thinned out by around 60% or more. Does this mean my bulbs need replacing. I can not remember when I bought these lights but I think it was May. Should I replace it with the same bulb or would I be better off with 65w 12,000k. <Effective bulb life is usually a year with PC lamps depending on the photo period. The higher Kelvin temperature lamps are more favorable for growing coralline.  Your reduction in coralline growth may be due to a lack of calcium and/or other elements naturally found in sea water.  Also read FAQ's here on this subject.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corlinepropfaqs.htm> Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

PC Lighting 12/29/06 I have just a quick question. I have been looking for a pc fixture that holds 6 96 watt pc lights... I love soft corals and that's what i intend to keep in my 75 gallon tank... thanks <I suggest a Google search, same as I would have to do.  Try www.premiumaquatics.com for starters.  James (Salty Dog)> Fish tank shocking me   12/1/06 <Hi Kevin, Mich here tonight.>  I'm sorry to bother you two times in one month, but I have a problem. I'm getting shocked when I touch the tank lamps.  <Ahh Houston, yes, you do have a problem, and a dangerous one at that!>  It's hard to explain, but I have a 48" current Satellite power compact lighting fixture.  If I touch the black casing or even the legs on my fixture, I get shocked.  Or if I touch the fixture with one hand and  hit the glass canopy  or even the top of the tank where the top border goes around I get zapped.  <Uhh, stop touching it.>  I totally took my light apart tonight to see if I found any loose wires, but nothing.  I believe the one ballast is bad, and that was the reason for my prior email, but that's been blown for months, and I just got this shocking problem today.  Its definitely the light cause when I unplug it I don't get shocked.  As of right now its going to stay unplugged until I hear back from you.  <Good, remove it from your system before you are seriously injured.>   First of all are my fish in danger or are they getting shocked?  <You and your fish are in danger.>  Everyone seems pretty much normal, with the exception of my maroon clown hiding out behind the rocks lately, but he's still feeding.  Second what could be wrong with the lighting fixture?  <I honestly do not know, but it is not worth risking you life!>  Honestly I'm ready to throw the whole thing in the garbage, so hopefully you can help.  <Please do not use this fixture.>  Thank you so much for your time. It's greatly appreciated.  <You are welcome, also, in the future please use proper capitalization.>   Kevin

PC bulb replacement suggestion  11/20/06 Dear WWM crew, <Craig> I have a situation where I have a  260Wattt PC light system.  It has 2 65W 10K's and  2 65W Actinic.  The other day, one of my Actinic shorted out.  I am asking for your opinion on a replacement bulb.  I am thinking about replacing the burned out actinic along with the other actinic (still functioning one!) with a 65W 50/50 bulb (half 10K half Actinic). <A good choice> Therefore, I would now have more 10K output and less actinic.  Does this sound like a good plan, or am I better off just replacing it with an actinic or perhaps go the other way and replace them with another set of 10K's. <Is definitely a better choice... for function and, IMO, looks> I have a 75G tank with some mushrooms, Xenia, star polyps, and I have a Hammer coral place very high up on the live rock.  I do not plan on getting light hungry animals in the near future and I plan to upgrade to Metal Halide in the next 6 mos. Thank you for any thoughts you may have, an outstanding web site! Thanks, Craig <I think you'll be pleased with this change. Bob Fenner>

Replacing Ballast In A Current (TM) Fixture 11/20/06 Good evening. <Hello Kevin> First of all I'd <I'd> like to thank you for having such an excellent and informative <informative> site.  Im <I'm>  on it all the time, always learning something new.  My problem is, I have Current Orbit Power Compact Lighting Fixture.    48 in.  4 65 watt bulbs.  I had the fixture for about six months and then my actinic bulbs wouldn't turn on.  I switched the bulbs around and I assumed it was my ballast. <Did the actinics work plugged in to the other sockets?> I lost my receipt so the store wouldn't help me (keep those receipts).  Is it possible to replace an internal ballast for it, and if so, how do I go about finding one.  I've tried Current's website and left an email, but no response.  I hope I don't have to totally replace it.  Thank you for your time.   <Yes, they can be replaced, they did have to put one in there, correct?  I've had good luck getting responses from Current.  I suggest you email them again, they may even give you another ballast.  I would also ask them for information on replacing this.  Keep those fan intakes clean, they do collect dust/lint that will cause a partial blockage of the air flow which can cause premature failure of the system due to excessive heat.   If you are using this fixture on a tank that is covered with a wood canopy, I'm quite sure then, that the failure was caused by excessive heat.  There is not much room between the fan intake and the side of the wood canopy to properly ventilate the light fixture.  If this is your case, you will have to install an exhaust fan into the side of the canopy to draw out the warm air coming out of the light fixture.  This exhaust fan should be placed directly in front of the exhaust of the light fixture.  James (Salty Dog)>     Kevin

Lighting troubles   10/27/06 I've sincerely love your web site, <?> I've learned more here in the last couple of weeks then anywhere else.  That being said, I am a newbie to saltwater aquarium.  I basically went to LFS and told them to set me up.  I wanted some fish, live rock, and some corals. <Some?> They set me up with an 70 gallon tall (24 inches deep) oceanic reef ready with a 20 gallon sump.  However, because this was going to be in my living room, my other half required a canopy.  Because of that, they said they had to go with a smaller light to fit and me not knowing any better, I just told them to do whatever they needed to do . I ended up with a Coralife lunar deluxe with 2 x 96 PC with 10k and actinic with moonlight.  After going through this site, it seems I am way underpowered to do most corals.   <You are correct> I currently have mushrooms, and polyps that are doing great and spreading. <These should be fine> Can I do any of the LPS coral's, most seem to say moderate light, whatever that may mean? <Mmm, not likely... Some species can be placed more toward your shallow water, brighter lighted surface... but...>   Are they any other corals I might be able to do?  Or do you have another suggestion for fitting lights under a canopy to keep my wife happy.  Any help would be appreciative. <Best for you to keep researching, reading here on WWM... under various "coral" group Selection, System FAQs files, articles. BobF> Thank you, Brian Feagley Safely Lighting a System With PC's  - 10/22/06 Hello WWM Crew! <Scott F. at your service today!> I would like to thank you and your site in advance for all the wonderful information and advise you provide.  I found you while searching to identify life on my Liverock .  I will endeavor to keep this short. <Okay...> Facts:  55 gallon tank- 48"x13"x22 appx., FOWLR- 50 pounds of LR (this stuff is better than TV!).1 clown, 2 Peppermint Shrimp, 1 Firefish. I have purchased and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my upgraded lighting system (260 wt) to support some corals and an anemone down the road. I also purchased a glass cover as the description on the installation instructions suggested (Coralife Lunar Aqualights Compact Fluorescent Strip Lights) Instructions advise to use over covered aquariums only. Alk local 'hobbyist owned' store representative said to NOT use any glass or plastic between the lights and the water due to light loss.  Based on what I have read in many of the FAQ's on your site I am inclined to agree with you and the store rep. and not use the glass cover. Do you think this is a general disclaimer to keep the lights away from open water or is there a real hazard potential here?   <There is a potential hazard with saltwater splashing on the bulbs and/or the end caps. If they are not the waterproof variety, it is a potential safety hazard. Although I ran my PC lights for years without the protective covers without incident, I cannot really recommend that. Also, you mentioned using egg-crate things to (help) keep jumpers in on an open top.  Could you elaborate on this? How it is installed and what is used to secure it?   <With eggcrate, you simply cut it slightly oversized for the opening that you want to cover and place it right on top of the tank...That's about all there is to it.> Thanks again for all your information and help.  This lighting stuff is tricky! Adele <It can be, Adele- but it sounds like you have a nice system and a stocking plan built around the light you can provide...A formidable approach! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Playing With PC's!  - 10/22/06 Hi - great website!  Was hoping you can clarify something for me.... <Will try!> I have a 55 gal tank with canopy, looking to have both fish and some basic soft corals..... Interested in upgrading to the Coralife 48" Aqualight Retrofit kit or the Current SunPaq Retrofit kit.  Do you have any experience with either brand, any recommendations? <I do...They are both fine lighting systems, IME.> In addition, my canopy is open in the back.  Do you think it is necessary to add cooling fans? <I still would add fans- these lights do burn pretty hot. You might also want to look into some of the nice T5 fixtures and retrofits that are out there on the market now. Lots of light, lower heat and energy consumption...> Thanks in advance for your help. Dave <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F.> PC Lighting Question 10/22/06 Hello Crew: <Hello> I have a quick easy question that I was hoping you could help me with. <Will do> I have a friend that is leaving the hobby and gave me his light.  It is a Single Satellite Compact Fluorescent Fixture with two 65 Watt bulbs.  If I use it on my current FOWLR system, would I be able to add mushrooms and polyps? <Definitely!> I thought that would be a good place to start my adventure in Reef keeping and my LFS said that I should be fine.  Thank you for your advice.  You have saved me from making major mistakes in the past and I appreciate all that you do. <No problem.  Cheers! - Dr. J>

Current-USA Light Fixture 9/23/06 Hello. <Hi Chris> Once again I want to thank you all for such a great web site.  My girlfriend purchased a 55 gallon tank with all the goodies (wet/dry, protein   skimmer, lighting, etc...) at a garage sale. I set the tank up and so far  all is well, lost very little in the six months it has been set up. Now on  to my question. The lighting is by a company called Current. I looked on  their web site (Current-usa.com) and it appears as though the bulbs that were  included are 10,000k daylight / 460nm Actinic (two of each). I noticed while  researching on your web site you often mention watts per gallon, though I am  unsure how many watts I am currently running. I am hoping to eventually  start adding corals to my tank, I was wondering if this lighting would suffice,  as I have no idea what the wattage is. I apologize  if you have  answered this 1,000 times, I just don't want to end up senselessly killing any  coral. Any help would be greatly appreciated. <Chris, the Current-USA fixture you have, came with four 65 watt PC tubes.  The wattage of this fixture relates to 4.7 watts per gallon, which will allow you to keep most corals. The Montipora/Acropora corals will be borderline here, but may do well providing they are kept at the upper third level of the tank.  Depending on the age/run time of the fixture, the bulbs may have to be replaced as the color temperature of the tubes can/will change after a year of usage.  Wattage per gallon will depend on the length and depth of the tank along with the type of lighting you are using.  MH and HQI can be used in lower wattage ratings due to the intensity of the light. Read here and linked files for more info.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm> Once again in your debt, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Chris

Re:  Current-USA Lighting Fixture Wow, I was on your web site when you replied. Freaky. Thank you for the information on the lighting. I'm doing some research now and I'm thinking about   slowly starting off with some mushrooms. Thanks again for the speedy  reply! <You're welcome, and a good choice to start with.  In future queries/replies, please reply to original query.  It speeds things up for posting/placing, and it also refreshes our memory as to what was talked about.  James (Salty Dog)> Chris

PC or MH? - 09/05/06 Hi, <<Hello>> I am confused about what type of lighting system I should go with. <<Whichever best suits the species of animals you plan to keep>> I have looked around your site and I'm still a little confused... <<Did you look here? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm    and here? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/index.htm >>   I plan on having soft coral in my 75, tree corals, and some zoos and possibly a brain coral....  I'm not entirely sure if I should go with power compact or metal halide with VHO... Thanks. Adam <<Either choice will suffice.  The power compacts would likely be cheaper to purchase, but the metal halides give more bang for the buck in my opinion.  A pair of 150w or 175w MH fixtures with bulbs in the 10000K-14000k range should do nicely.  EricR>>

Re: PC or MH? - 09/07/06 Thank you for your advice... <<My pleasure to share>> I have one last question...  If I went with 2 150w HQI bulbs at the 14k range, would I be able to leave those on for 8 hrs? <<Mmm, I recommend you leave them on for 12-13 hours per day as this more closely replicates the daytime photo-period in the tropics where your tank inhabitants are/will be collected>> Thanks again, Adam Dusza <<Always happy to assist.  Eric Russell>>

Lighting/Bulb Selection   7/18/06 Hey guys, <And gals.> I have a question regarding replacing my old dual actinic bulbs for a Coralife deluxe power compact florescent lighting fixture. This fixture has  two 10000k bulbs for 130 watts and two dual blue (royal blue <Never heard the term "Royal Blue".> and 03 actinic) 130watts totaling 230 watts on a mixed reef ( LPS and soft corals). These bulbs  are manufactured by Coralife. I wanted to go back to strictly the 10000k and  true 03 actinic manufactured by Coralife.  Is there an advantage  to replacing the same type of bulbs which are on the system, as far as proper  spectral ratios to promote the best photosynthetic opportunities or is just  aesthetics?  Are dual actinic better than true 03 actinic bulbs? Any  recommendations are greatly appreciated, thanks. <I like the true actinic myself, believe it is a little better for coralline growth.  The only advantage I can see with dual actinic is a little more visible light output in exchange for a higher nanometer range.  Read FAQ's here and related links above.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/actinicfaqs.htm James (Salty Dog)>

Switching out PC bulbs   7/6/06 Hi!!! <HEY!> I have a question regarding lights and acclimating. <Okay.>   Here is my story: <Your whole life…..or never mind….>   I have a light fixture that accommodates 2 PC bulbs of 18 watts each giving me a total of 36 watts.  The 2 bulbs in the fixture as of right now are 7100 k white/1200k blue.  They have only been running for a week.  I also have in stock 2 more PC bulbs at Kelvin 10000k and actinic 03 blue.  All of these bulbs are the same wattage but just different Kelvin rating. <Understood.> I want to take out the 2 bulbs that are in the fixture now and replace with the new bulbs.   <Okay.> Since the Kelvin ratings are different, do I need to acclimate my corals to this change? <Well since the current bulbs are only a week old, a change of this magnitude is relatively small…changing them out should not be a big deal really.> I figured they are still the same wattage going into the same fixture therefore, no need to acclimate them.   <At times this is not always true, as bulbs of different Kelvins/Brands have varying output……especially on high wattage lighting...thinking of MH here though….you should be fine in this case.> What is your opinion on this? <Just the above….Adam J.> Lighting/Selection...Glass Top Interference  6/5/06 Hi WWM crew, <Hello> Thank you for the enormous help your collection of articles & FAQ's have given me and others!  This has saved us a lot of needless trial & error I sure :). <You're welcome.> I have a 46 gallon bow-front tank with the following fixture: a 36" Current-USA Dual Satellite w/ LED Lunar light, a 96W 6700K/1000K dual daylight and 96W dual actinic 460/420.  The tank is 20 inches deep with a 3 inch sandbed.  My plan for the indefinite future is to stick with soft corals, leathers, mushrooms & a few LPS.  Currently, my tank is lightly stocked with only one mushroom/umbrella leather, one pulsing xenia and 7 red-leg hermit crabs.  My first question concerns the choice of PC bulbs.   The fixture set came with the aforementioned bulbs, but I was wondering if I could improve coral growth and health if I replaced the dual actinic with a 10,000K or a 6700K? <Have tried this on a 30 mini reef and did not see any improvement in coral growth.>   Current-USA makes my choice a bit more complicated since they provide a PC bulb with either actinic 420, actinic 460, daylight 6700K and daylight 10000K and any dual combination of the four.  What combination of these light bulbs would be best for my current and intended livestock? Or is my current set of PC bulbs sufficient? <Either combo works well, twin 10K's will give you more light intensity.> My second question concerns the glass cover of the tank.  Along the line where the glass canopy folds for opening is a black rubber lining that holds the two pieces of glass together.  It is about 1.75 inches wide and runs all the way across the glass canopy.  My concern is that one of the PC bulbs is above this black rubber lining--not directly but such that only 4/7 of the width of the bulb is directly exposed to the water below it.  Now because of the other bulb and the light reflector, no shadow is cast and the entire tank is still lit. But does this limit/reduce the light entering the tank in some detrimental way? Especially for corals placed directly beneath this rubber lining? <Will reduce light slightly.  I removed the hinge on mine, still plenty of access at rear of tank for feeding and such.> Best Regards, <And to you.  James (Salty Dog)> T.J. Rexton Bulb Replacement Schedule for Marine Tanks  5/29/06 Hello, I use the compact fluorescent bulbs (a 96w dual 10K & a 96w dual actinic) on my 46 gal. marine reef tank.  Recommendations for changing bulbs vary anywhere from 6 to 14 months.  Mostly these recommendations are accompanied by comments about frequency shift in the daylight bulbs without mention of the actinic bulbs. <These are "about the same" in terms of useful lifetimes> Should the actinic bulbs be changed on the same schedule as the daylight whites?  If not, then how often? <The same... but staggered for all... That is, not changing all at once, but over weeks time> I have some mushrooms, star polyps, button polyps, pulsing xenia, a cabbage coral, a finger coral, and a Rusty Gorgonian.  Am guessing that a 9 month replacement interval for the lamps would be sufficient, am a little past that right now.  What are your thoughts on replacing the dual 10K with a "Dual Daylight" (1 6700 tube & 1 10K tube) . Thank you. Jim <I like the mixed temperatures m'self. Bob Fenner> PC Bulb Question  - 03/11/2006 Hi,  I'm currently setting up a 25 gal. (24x12x20)  live rock  tank that will have about 30-35 lbs. of premium Florida rock with live  sand and the rocks will have everything from coralline and sponges to  Christmas Tree worms and many, many other critters, etc. I will  be using the Coralife Lunar Aqualight 2x65 PC fixture that came with one  10000k bulb and one 03 actinic bulb.  I also have a few extra PC bulbs  including a SunPaq 6700k/10000k combo bulb, a SunPaq 420/460 combo actinic bulb,  and a Coralife 50/50 bulb which will all fit that fixture. Given those 5  choices of bulbs, which would be the best two to use for my application  please?   <Mmm, actually all are suitable> Also,  this tank is in a brightly lit room and will also get  about 1-2 hrs. per day of nearly direct sunlight hitting the tank. Thanks  guys! Regards,  Howard W. <Mmm, sunlight can be of use... and can be problematical... like the "greenhouse" effect experience in cars, the natural light passing through media (glass) is "changed", made less useful. Bob Fenner> Lighting/PC/To PC or not to PC...  - 02/20/06 Hi WWC person! <James is the person.> Here's the scenario...I recently upgraded from a 55gallon reef tank to a 100 gallon tank. The lighting that is installed in the canopy is:  URI VHO 2x 110w 12k 50/50 + URI VHO 2x 110w actinics. I do want to keep softies and LPS, so do I need to retrofit more light in the canopy? The tank itself is 24"D and I have a Jebo PC canopy from my old setup. It contains 2x 55w 10k daylights and 2x 65w 50/50 actinics. I have an idea I will need to wire in the 10k 55s, but do I need the extra 65w 50/50s also?  Remember, there is a good chance of electrocution involved here. ;-) <With that deep a tank you need to be looking at MH or HQI in keeping LPS/SPS.  Read here. http://search.isp.netscape.com/nsisp/boomframe.jsp?query=coral+system+lighting&page=1&offset=0&result_url=redir%3Fsrc%3Dwebsearch%26requestId%3D704879f5ada710e7%26clickedItemRank%3D1%26userQuery%3Dcoral%2Bsystem%2Blighting%26clickedItemURN%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.wetwebmedia.com%252Fcorllgtg.htm%26invocationType%3D-%26fromPage%3DNSISPBoom%26amp%3BampTest%3D1&remove_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wetwebmedia.com%2Fcorllgtg.htm Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>> Allegra Garrett

Power compacts   1/30/06 Hi, <Hello Dave>       I would like to thank you for all of your help.  If this is Scott F., then you know who I am gonna call when I have a question (i.e. if this is not him, you guys are like the Ghostbusters to me).  My tank is a 135 gallon tank and the dimensions are (72''x18''x24'') (L,W,H) and I am interested in using either power compacts or T5's to turn my FOWLR to a reef because they come in a canopy style set up and not the individual pendants of the Metal halides.  I was wondering how many bulbs and what tints (I am not sure what the lights are distinguished by)?  Also, I would like to know what brands have the most quality products?  Finally, I am interested in a rose anemone, I have a protein skimmer, UV, a sump and a canister filter, two custom made jets coming out of the bottom of the tank at 45 degree angles for additional circulation to the overflow, two custom make overflows I guess you could call them (they are two sifters two and a half inches above the substrate that empty into the sump) I was wondering if this lighting would be enough to house the anemone as well as the corals that would be off limits so I can make a stocking list? Sorry that the dynamics of my filter system are so complicated, this tends to happen when things are custom made.  I appreciate any help that you can give me.  Thanks again. <Dave, do search the Wet Web Media first.  Most if not all of your questions are answered here.  James (Salty Dog)> Regards, Dave Power Compact lighting Hello and thank you for your time, <You're welcome.> I just got this canopy which holds 4 bulbs, from my friend for my 55 gallon aquarium.  Originally, he had 96 watt 7100k(I'm not so sure about what the 7100k means so could you please also explain that)<The K rating is the color temperature of the bulb which is measured in Kelvin.  <The Kelvin temperature at high noon is approximately 5500 which is considered "daylight".  Anything lower is more red, anything higher is more blue.  The bulbs you have now will be fine.> bulbs in it and to save money, I was thought that I might be able to get 55 watt bulbs instead of the 96 watt bulbs.  This would give me 4 watts per gallon and as for now I am not interested in corals.  Do you know if it would cause any problems if I put in 55 watt bulbs? <You do not want to do this. You cannot mix and match bulbs/ballasts.> Thank you, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Akbar Sayed

MH vs. PC  - 01/24/06 Hey WWM crew <Hello.> Quick summary.... 55gal high (36w X 20h X 18d).  A friend of mine has to lights he wants to sell, just curious which one would suite my needs better.  I have about 60lbs live rock and about 1.5" sand (still cycling). I do plan on having 1 anemone and 1 or 2 soft corals with about 4-6 fish. The light specs are as follows: 280w Metal Halide 1- 155w HQI 20k <Are you sure it isn't a 150 watt or 175 watt bulb? Furthermore I would use a 10,000K bulb rather than a 20,000K bulb.> 2- 65w Actinic and 192w Power Compact 1- 96w Dual Daylight 10k & 6700k 1- 96w Dual Actinic 460nm & 420nm <Since you plan to attempt an anemone (and I urge you to be patient in trying such a sensitive animal) I would go with the more intense MH for your set-up.> I've heard stories of to much heat and light from a Metal Halide on a tank my size.   <If you suspend it at least 8 inches above the water, and have a small fan or two you should be just fine. Also look into a auto-top off system.> Both are same price, which do you think I should go with? <Given just these two choices I would opt for the MH, Adam J.> PC lighting   1/4/06 I have a 29 gallon saltwater aquarium that I want to add more light to.  My plans are to add two 24" 130 watt Coralife AquaLight retrofit kits.  My question is about an idea I had to buy a 48" system and cut the reflector in half and mount the two pieces side by side.  It would save me a good amount of money and leave me with one ballast rather than two, and only two power chords rather than four.  Just wanted your advice and any input would be great. <Kavon, is this going to go into a canopy or lay on a glass top?  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for your help.

Re: PC lighting  - 1/6/06 This is going into a  canopy. <I guess there is no reason why this wouldn't work.  Will be difficult cutting this with the average tools around the house.  The reflector material is best cut on a metal shear.  I'm sure a local machine shop could trim this for you for a couple of bucks. James (Salty Dog)>

Compact fluorescent fire hazard and algae killer?  1/1/06 Dear WWW crew, <Michael> Recently getting back into salt water after a 13 year hiatus and many things have changed (like spec. gravity going from .019-.023 to now .021-.025). One change for the better as far as I can see now is compact fluorescent lighting. Purchased a lower end four bulb fixture with two 12000k and two true actinics at 65w each. This came in a box ready to go except for removing the packing and plugging it in. The bulbs were held by metal clips and what appeared to be elastic bands as an apparent extra measure of safety. Well, these bands should not be there! <Yikes... need to be removed before firing up...> I have a bulb that nearly caught fire at the base because of one of these bands. Another potentially serious problem (or maybe a blessing) is that one tube cracked (probably prevented the fire). Well, the next day, all of the algae in the tank was completely gone! The two anemones (one Condy and one pink tip) are still doing great as are the turbo snails (the only inhabitants) The anemones will be going to another tank as I set this tank up with live rock and hopefully a pair of Solomon island true perculas along with a "cleaning crew". But will I have to empty the tank and start over because of the broken light? <Mmm, no> What is the stuff that killed the algae so thoroughly but not the anemones or snails and will it hurt fish? Maybe a bold new product? <Just the lighting likely... different... dynamics... organisms (like the anemones) favored over the algae... their removing nutrient/s...> Thank you in advance for any assistance. M Tabor <Bob Fenner> Powerhead Choices and Power Compact Lighting -- all of it legal  12/5/05 Hello WWM! <Hello.> My head is swimming in powerhead confusion. I have a 46G bowfront I'm converting into a reef. <Ooh sounds like fun.> I've been reading all about powerheads here on WWM and comparing my setup to other 46G owners who've written WWM. Basically, I have the 2X96 Current USA Orbit PCs and I'm slowly changing out the large CC substrate and adding a 1" bed of CaribSea Fiji Pink sand. <Sounds good.> I'm not exactly sure how many pounds of live rock I have in the tank because I ended up moving rock to my other system. I would guess at about 50 pounds, though. I'm leaning toward corals that need either a low or medium water flow. I don't think there are any on my list that require a high flow but don't want to limit myself either. <I understand. Though in my opinion, short of slamming your animals against the wall, I prefer to have LOTS of flow. Not only do the animals enjoy it but this also keeps detritus from accumulating. Remember as much water flow as you think you may have, it's nothing compared to the tides of the ocean.> I'm looking at the Maxi-Jets <Great pumps, reliable.> but, of course, the range is between 106 gph and 295. Thoughts on which ones would work best for my system and how many I should purchase are --greatly-- appreciated. <A trio of Maxijet 1200s (the ones with 295) gph, would be nice, positioned at different levels and aimed at each other to create some turbulent water movement is ideal. You could also put this trio on a wavemaker, I find them to be aesthetically pleasing in smaller tanks, though not necessary by any means.> Do you also think corals that require moderate lighting will be safe with these lights? <You won't be able to keep those that demand a shallow water biotope (high light situations) such as Acroporas, Montiporas and clams. However this does not mean you can't create a beautiful display. Though this lighting is sufficient for many other photosynthetic animals, such as zoanthids, mushrooms, and leathers (such as Sarcophyton and Sinularia). You can even keep some stonies such as those in the Euphyllia family with this lighting. In fact I prefer Leathers and softies in general to the popular SPS, though they (the softies) may lack somewhat in color in comparison to the SPS, I think the softies more than make up for it with their shapes and the way the move in the current. > The lights are new and they already look like we're growing something illegal <That's funny, when I got my Metal Halides delivered the UPS man asked what I was growing with a suspicious insinuation to his sentence.> because they're so bright so I would prefer not to return them to upgrade to the 4x96 system if possible. <As mentioned above these lights can work for many animals, replace them every 6 to 9 months for best results.> Thank you all so much! <You are welcome, Adam J.>

Old PC's to T5 lighting 11-25-05 Hello, <Hi> I have asked many questions on this site, and have always received a helpful answer.   <Great to hear.> Now I need you guys more than ever.  I recently discovered that I need to buy knew reef lighting due to the dying of my old lights.  I use to have 2 Aqua Medic 250W on my 72g bowfront, and was never able to keep anything alive, so I got rid of them and went with a 4x96W fixture from Current USA, and loved them.   <I bet.> Everything I bought after that was kept alive and flourished, but never seemed to grow much, and the light color was always an ugly yellowish color, instead of the blue hue I like.   <Hmmm You might want to switch bulb companies or styles.> I was thinking of just getting the same one, but they have released these new T5 bulbs, and everyone I talk to say they are brighter, and smaller.   <True> I'm afraid that might be too much light for my tank, and will I have to set the timers for a shorter day so as not to shock my corals. <In my opinion you can have too much light. Ever looked at the sun on a reef?> If they are brighter than the power compacts now on the tank, I really don't know if I should just stick with what works or if I should bump it up to 432W on a 72g? <A bit of a tough call. If you ballast still works I would just keep the PC's and change to new spectrum bulbs. There are a few companies out there and you should be able to make you tank look more blue. If the ballast is dead then it is up to you if you want to pay to play with a new light set-up. The T-5's look promising, but expensive. You will be fine either way, so go with your gut and good luck. Travis> Thank you

PC Lighting...Can't Decide - 11/23/04 Would you go with Sunpaq or Aqualight for Power Compact Lighting? I need a retro kit and those are the two I have narrowed it down to... Thanks, David <<I think either will serve you fine.  If I had to choose...probably would go with the Sunpaq.  EricR>>

Re: baffled by lights  11/13/05 Thanks for the detailed reply James; however it seems one thing I didn't make clear was that the AquaLine actually requires 4x55 watt compacts. I don't know why they have called it a double fluorescent. (?) The tubes aren't included and they cost $40 each. The advertisement claims that these tubes give you almost 6 times the light of conventional fluorescents of the same length. Sound good? How would that one go for corals and inverts? Soft corals would be all I would keep.  <Matthew, your tank of 120 gallons is too large for this lighting system. Seeing that your tank is two feet wide, and two feet high, most, if not all the corals would have to be centralized. I'm thinking the light dispersion wouldn't be enough on the outer perimeters of your tank even if the required wattage per gallon was there. With the depth of your tank I'd be more inclined to go with an HQI/Compact Fluorescent combo. As it stands your lighting is equal to one watt per gallon, give it two if indeed the T5's put out twice as much light. This still leaves you about two watts shy per gallon. I realize in the previous email I mentioned that the light would be OK for softies, but now realizing the depth and width of your tank, This isn't going to work. Sorry, but this was an oversight on my part. James (Salty Dog)> 

Power Compact Lighting, Brands 10/27/05 Hello all, <Hi whit.> I looked, and could find nothing relevant regarding the quality of Odyssea brand PC bulbs. They seem really inexpensive, I was just wondering if they tend to suffer from incorrect spectrum, decreased lifespan, etc- or, is there be nothing wrong with them at all? <The product is not as reliable long term as other brands such as Hamilton or Coralife, the ballasts are not as reliable long term and I have heard the end-caps seem a bit "iffy." Having said that these experiences (second hand) are from their older products (about 2 years ago) and they seem to be an "improving company." I would rather use a fixture from the brands listed above but if the price is right I might be inclined to give them a try. As with all PC bulbs replacement should occur every 6 to 9 months for best results.> Thanks, Whit** <Welcome, Adam J.> 

PC light question - Can I Change the Ballast? - 10/24/05 Heyas  <Hello Rich> I have a Coralife 36" PC 192 watt fixture for my 46 gallon tank. One of the bulbs has gone out, but it's not the bulb that's bad. Is it the ballast, and if so can just the ballast be replaced or do I chuck the whole fixture for a new one?  The light has one 10,000K and one Actinic each 96 watts. So if I can replace just the ballast are there 2 ballasts in the light or just one 192 watt?  <Fixtures such as yours generally have two switches to turn on the individual bulbs, and that requires two separate ballasts. I'd contact the manufacturer as to the cost of a new ballast. I'm sure it would be cheaper than buying a whole new fixture. James (Salty Dog)> 

Power compact retrofit 10/13/05 I have a 30" AGA twin tube fluorescent fixture. I'm looking for a 2 x 55 watt power compact retrofit kit to use in it. The AGA fixture is about 5.25" wide. Does anyone know of any kit that will fit in it? Most of the ones I see are too wide. <Don't know of any off hand. I'd go to www.drsfostersmith.com and look through their on-line catalog. They have a good selection. Also try www.premiumaquatics.com James (Salty Dog)>

PC light replacement  9/23/05 Good morning guy's <Good morning Nick> I have a question regarding when to replace the power compact fluorescent bulbs in my 48" Coralife Lunar Light Deluxe fixture for my reef system.  The system, 55 gal, contains 50 lbs live rock and 40 lbs of live sand  with about 15 corals, softies (Sinularia's, Sarcophyton, Colt) numerous LPS, Zoo's, Poly's, Shrooms, and a sweet green bubble  tip. The bulbs are two 65w 10,000k and two 65w 03 Actinic.  They  are on timers with the 10,000 k on for 10 hrs a day and the Actinic 12  hrs.  All corals are growing and are healthy with good polyp  extension.  I also have an explosion of coralline growth.  Calcium 420-440, ( liquid supplements ( Bionic) and Kalk to top off water), DKH  8-10, pH. 8.0-8.2.  I have had the same bulbs since March of this year when I purchased the fixture.  I read that they should be replaced in six months, but with the  amount of time they are on could they last for a year?  I was told this by my friends and fellow reefers.  I don't want to spend money that is unnecessary since the bulbs are expensive, so any clarity will be appreciated.  Thanks. Nick from Hoboken. <Well Nick, it seems that you're at about the seven to eight month point so it is good that you've started thinking about it now.  While ten to twelve months is not an unreasonable life span, remember that the lights get weaker with age (not that you would probably notice "visually").  If it were me, I would start planning to begin replacing half now/half later, and try to achieve the full replacement within the total twelve months.  Remember also, that you will have to acclimate your animals to the new light so the longer you wait the more chance of "light shock" you will have.  The choice is really yours, just don't replace all at once.  Hope that helps - Josh> Lighting  9/20/05 I have a Custom Sea Life SmartLamp PC fixture, 6 feet long holding two (one on each end) 96W SmartLamp bulbs.  These bulbs are twin tubes (one 10000K and one actinic) with a square pin at the end.  First question, since CSL is out of business, will any (or every) brand of square pin PC bulbs work? <Yes, provided they are of the same wattage.>  Second, do I need to replace with another 50/50 bulb or will a full spectrum "daylight" bulb be ok? <Whatever you desire>  It's a FOWLR tank, no corals, with the following occupants: Yellow tang Blue angel Chalk bass Purple firefish Percula clown Sixline wrasse Lawnmower blenny Royal Gramma The current 50/50 bulb gives a very blue look to the tank.  Will an 8800K bulb "brighten" the look without affecting the fish/rock/coralline?  Your opinions are always welcome. <I'd go with 10K bulbs for the look I think you want.  James (Salty Dog)> Lighting (AdamJ's go) 9/20/05 <Hi, Adam J here with you.> I have a Custom Sea Life SmartLamp PC fixture, 6 feet long holding two (one on each end) 96W SmartLamp bulbs.  These bulbs are twin tubes (one 10000K and one actinic) with a square pin at the end.  First question, since CSL is out of business, will any (or every) brand of square pin PC bulbs work? <Yes, there are may other brands which make compatible bulbs just be sure to choose the correct wattage to match your current ballast.>   Second, do I need to replace with another 50/50 bulb or will a full spectrum "daylight" bulb be ok?  It's a FOWLR tank, no corals, with the following occupants: <Being a FOWLR and not built for photosynthetic animals, the Kelvin rating of your lighting is not necessarily a priority.  As long as your livestock is subjected to a regular lighting cycle (on a timer) the rest is up to the owner.  In other words it is mostly for aesthetics.> Yellow tang Blue angel Chalk bass Purple firefish Percula clown Sixline wrasse Lawnmower blenny Royal Gramma <Sounds like a nice set-up.> The current 50/50 bulb gives a very blue look to the tank.  Will an 8800K bulb "brighten" the look without affecting the fish/rock/coralline? <If you choose to switch to the 8800K I would not expect any drastic change, as for the coralline just be sure to maintain proper calcium and alkalinity levels and don't forget about those water changes>   Your opinions are always welcome. <Thank You, Adam J> Compact Fluorescents Best? - 09/10/05 Hi, I currently have a 55 with a JBJ Formosa 260w compact fluorescent set up. <<ok>> I am going to move my growing babies into a 150 gallon in a few weeks. <<Neat!>> Problem is, I CANNOT find the 150 x 4.5 watts per gallon lighting system without selling my right arm! <<Okay...I'm guessing this is/is going to be a reef tank?  Lighting is one of the more expensive aspects of this hobby...sometimes a bit overrated in my opinion...but still very important and need be properly applied.  Don't get too hung-up on the "watts per gallon" rules you read/hear bandied about, more than one factor applies to determining wattage requirements.  Must consider such things as species of livestock kept, water depth, light source (MH/PC/VHO), etc..>> Then I was told that the COMPACT fluorescents actually give off 3x the wattage of a regular florescent bulb <<?>>.  Does that mean my 260 watt c/f is actually equal to a 780 watt set up? <<Nope...a watt is a watt...may have been referring to the difference in PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation).>> If so, that would explain why I cannot find that kind of wattage in a 72" light fixture or 2 36" fixtures of over 240 to 300 watts. I did a LOT of research on lighting before starting my reef, and c/f seem to be the best bang for the buck and do not get as hot as the M/H. <<Mmm...sounds like you did your research on the PC manufacturer's websites.  Metal Halide will give you more/best "bang for the buck" (better PAR, penetration at depth).  And the issue of heat is minimal/of little consequence overall.>> I do not have a chiller, and my built in fans on my JBJ seem to do the trick except when it is hot out, and then I turn on a floor fan and that keeps the tank about 78/80. <<This too will work for MH lighting...and/or adding a small fan to blow across the water surface for evaporative cooling.>> MH seem very expensive and hot.......sounds like a Las Vegas showgirl! <<Not as bad as you think, by comparison.  A couple 150w HQI metal halide pendants would likely suffice (again, don't get hung up on watts per gallon) and wouldn't require the loss of your "right arm" to acquire.  EricR>> PC Lighting Q & A  9/5/05 Hello, <Off the surfboard and on the keyboard...Scott F. here tonight!> Got a quick question. I have a 90 gallon setup with 130 lbs live rock, a  few fish and assorted corals. Flower Pot, Pulsing Xenia, Open Brain, etc. I do not believe I have sufficient lighting....2- 65 watt Coralife 22 inch pc's and 2-40 watt Coralife 48" actinics...my local dealer was trying to sell me a  metal halide setup HQI's for $800.00 (that I do not have at this time), but he did sell me a Sunpaq retrofit system, my hood is 48 inches long but he sold me  2-36 inch retrofit Sunpaq systems to install overlapping each other side by side. <Not a bad setup at all, IMO.> Each bulb is a 96 watt 50/50 10,000k daylight and a 460nm actinic. Will this be sufficient? <Well, for many soft corals and LPS, you may be okay. I like the bulb combination you're talking about.> He gave me the choice between the 2- 96 watt retrofits or 1 48"  retrofit with 4 65 watt pc's (22 inch bulbs)...he told me I would be better off  with the 2 96 watt bulbs...is this ok? <I agree.> I need to know kind of quick I have not installed them yet and I might return them if this will not work for my system  so right now I have no light. Thanks! Paul <Although I am not using them for the main lighting source on my current system, I love PC's, and have used them with great success in the past. Like any lighting system, pay attention to the needs of the specific animals that you are keeping, and match the lighting to their needs. For many animals, PC's are an excellent light source; I've seen many beautiful tanks lit with just PC's. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

PC bulb broke.. parts in tank 8/14/05 Hi Crew, <<Hi - Ted here>>     Sorry... I don't feel like I have time to search the FAQs on this one.  I just had a SunPaq 6700/10000K dual daylight bulb break over my 125 reef tank.  It appears that tube was filled with Argon  and some of the bulb shards fell into my tank. I'm concerned about the phosphor, et. al., leaching into the tank. I removed the shards ASAP but there a few small pieces I haven't been able to get out yet.  I also posted to the 911 board but it looks like it's a little slow.  I'm stressing out because I don't know the composition of the phosphor, or it's toxicity.   Fortunately the tank was mostly covered (the shards fell  in through a hole in the top). Please pardon my brevity (between checking the board and writing this I've been cleaning all the tiny shards of the top of the tank and mixing some water).  Any  suggestions? Anyone know the probability of and/or toxicity of Argon and Phosphor in a reef tank? Right now the tank is only a FOWLR w/light bio load. <<I would not be overly concerned. I would remove the shards as best you can and run carbon to remove the chemicals introduced.>> Thanks Tom <<You're welcome and good luck - Ted>>

Compact Fluorescent Retrofit 8/12/05 Hi, <Hello there! Scott F. here today!> I recently set up a 44 gal Pentagon tank (FOWLR) which comes standard with a plastic cover.  Right now, I have two fluorescent fixtures.  Each fixture sits over a clear plastic strip - one is a daylight bulb (15w, 9325k), the other is a blue bulb(15w, 10,000k). I would like to keep some beginner corals like mushrooms and leathers and was wondering if a CF retrofit kit would work for me.  I was planning on purchasing two of them; each comes with a 96 watt 50/50 4-tube (quad) square pin lamp. If this would be appropriate, would I have to get a different cover because of the heat? Could I just take out the plastic strips or possibly drill holes in them? Thanks for your help. Wendy <Well, Wendy, I believe that the CF's would be just fine for the corals that you are contemplating. I really like compact fluorescents, as they offer surprising versatility at a nice price. These bulbs do give off a surprising amount of heat, however, so proper ventilation and protection from water splashing is important. Do consider these and consult the manufacturer/retailer concerning protecting the bulbs. Best of luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Compact Fluorescent Lighting 8/9/05 Hi Crew! I have scoured the site looking for the answer to my question, but cannot find it - but would like your input. I currently have a Coralife Compact Florescent Aqualight lighting system with 4 - 65 watt dual tube bulbs (2-10K? and 2-Blue Actinic) and 4 - 3/4 watt lunar lights. <OK.> Now it's time to replace my bulbs for the first time.  I saw that there is a 65 watt 'Dual Blue' bulb available.  It is described as "50% True Actinic 03 Blue 420nm, 50% Royal Blue 470nm".   Can you tell me the benefits/shortfalls of using two of these along with two 10K? bulbs in this set up, vs. using two actinic and two 10K?.  This is for a 72 bow front tank, with LR, a few mushrooms and a few inverts, with no plans for clams or high-light requiring corals. You thoughts on this matter would be appreciated. Wendy <Given the lighting needs of the animals that you do or plan to keep, this is purely a question of aesthetics.  I would choose the combination that you think will look the best.  Any combination will provide adequate light for your animals.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Compact Fluorescent Lighting part 2 8/12/05 Adam, Thank you for the quick response.  I guess my question is/was, what is the visual difference between the Dual Blue and True Actinic 03 Blue lights?  I have never seen the "Dual Blue", so I do not know what to compare them to.  Although it is good to know that either will work with our set up. Also, would the Dual Blue slow up the growth of the purple Coralline algae, which is now starting to grow at a good rate?  Thanks in advance. Wendy  <These are difficult questions to answer.  Many "blue" PC lamps are normal lamps that have been tinted blue as opposed to actinics which actually emit blue light.  These tinted lamp often have a nice appearance but dismal intensity.  I would lean toward the actinics for this reason.  As for the effect on the coralline, I would suspect that good husbandry (especially calcium and alkalinity maintenance) is much more important than subtle changes in light.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Throwing Some Light On A Small Tank 7/13/05 Hi Mr. Bob <Actually, Scott F. here today!> I currently have a 15 gallon nano saltwater tank. Will it be possible to keep SPS and clams (Crocea or Maxima) under power compact fluorescent lamps? <If the proximity of the lamps is close enough to the animals, and you are providing nutritional supplementation to the animals, it is certainly possible. However, I would hesitate to recommend a clam for this sized tank. They will simply outgrow the tank if provided with proper conditions.> I've read that they should be kept under MH. <In most cases, yes- but in a small, shallow tank, it might be possible to be successful with them.> My current lighting is composed of 6 26watts power compact/compact fluorescent lamps making it 10 watts per gallon over a 24"x1"x1 tank. These are 6500k screw-in lamps that can be found at hardware shops (I'm experimenting with these lamps). My tank inhabitants include 2 colonies of red and Blue Mushrooms and 1 Frogspawn coral , a bit shaded by live rocks. They seem happy with the current lighting though, no bleaching or closing up. <I'd be careful about this combination of animals for the long run. Frogspawn are very aggressive corals.> And also, do you know of any site which discusses about power compacts for reef lighting? I've been searching the net but found none so far. Thanks in advance. <I honestly don't know any specific sites dedicated to compact fluorescent lighting exclusively, but you might want to check out sites of manufacturers of compact fluorescent lighting for more information. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Lights for a 55 gal reef tank (pc bulbs?) 7/6/05 Hi, I have a question about PC replacement bulbs. It seems the more I read the more unsure I am about what would be best (many brands, choices). < Tell me about it.  I've been thinking that for years. >  I have a 55g tank with a Coralife 260w PC setup, 2 bulbs Actinic and 2 bulbs 10,000K. Now it seems intensity is more important than color range first and foremost. < No, I'd say they are really equal. > but I have been thinking it may be better to change the Actinic to 50/50. thus giving me 75% 10K and 25% Actinic.  Would this help out my wide variety of soft/LPS corals? < Well here is what will happen.  Your corals will grow faster, but won't have as nice of color.  Personally I wouldn't change. >  I have also seen bulbs from Sunpaq that are 6700K/10000K and Actinic/7100K.  Now I can't find much info on the use of these, but they do seem to cover all bases and seem to make sense as well. Is this just marketing or will this be any benefit.  I realize the overall aquarium look can change and all in all, I should probably just replace the bulbs with what is in there, but in my opinion there is 'always' room for improvement, so any insight on this would be greatly appreciated. < I don't know much about those bulbs.  Really I wouldn't waste extra money.  I'd buy whatever pc bulbs you can get a deal on.  If you are serious about keeping corals and having them grow and look good, I'd put the money into a metal halide set up and not into more pc bulbs. > Thanks this site is the best! < Good luck. > -Brian <  Blundell  >

DIY PC lighting for corals Hey crew, I am interested in buying coral specifically         s and those with lower lighting needs that could thrive of power compact bulbs (2x55 or 65 watt bulbs) for my 29 gallon system.  I have come across the idea of building your own fixture.  I would be interested most in this because it would be a good summer project and I am intimidated into spending over $100 on a manufacturers fixture.  I also came across a website that sells the components for a fixture excluding lights and the housing/frame.  I provided a link to the site so you could look at for yourself.      http://www.ahsupply.com/ I am unsure about purchasing the fixtures components from here. <Others have reported good success with these folks> Would it be cheaper/better if I did some research and bought all the components myself and put them together all on my own? <Yes... some savings to be realized. Bob Fenner>   Any thoughts about this project will be most appreciated. <Much posted on WWM re lights, lighting for aquariums posted on WWM... not much on DIY though... you might want to check out OzReef.org re> Thanks much, Aaron Loboda

Mixing And Matching Supplemental Lighting Sources Hey, brief question regarding light set-up. <Okay! Scott F. here today!> I'm upgrading my 50 gallon 36"X15"X20" reef tank to a  100 gallon 60"X18"x20" reef tank with 50 gallon sump. On the 50 gallon tank I utilized the 192 watt ( 2 96 watt power compact bulbs), 3 foot unit sold by Coralife and was very impressed. <They make some nice PC units, IMO> I've already bought a 250 watt metal halide (14K) pendant/ballast/bulb for the new tank. Both of these light units will be centered on the tank, MH pendant 10 inches above tank and the power compacts 3 inches above. I also plan on buying a 5 foot long 38 watt T5 bulb to span the length of the tank (also 3 inches above tank), to evenly spread color over the tank.  The MH pendant will tower over the T5 bulb, but will only be next to the power compact unit (PC is 7.5" wide, MH pendant also 7.5" wide)  Oh, LOL... yes I do plan on keeping my corals in the middle of the tank =).  My question....will the T5 bulb and the power compact unit be okay considering the MH pendant will be above and next to them?  I wouldn't want any fireworks in the living room if you get my drift.  Sorry if my question is confusing, and thank a lot for your help and time!!!  -Mark <Well, Mark, with proper consideration for spacing, electrical load, and heat issues, you should be able to mix these bulbs. However, I'd keep things simple and stick with either pc's or T5's as your supplemental lighting source. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

18 watt straight pin CF Lamps Greetings... I have been unable to locate some compact fluorescent , 18 watt lamps w/ straight pins ( Euro ). I have spent hours searching the web... with no luck. The fixture and lamps came from Foster & Smith as their own brand last July 04. I think there might have been issues with other Mfr.. There pricing was quite a deal, Within the same month I attempted a reorder and was informed they were no longer available. But someone must still be making the lamp ??? Can you please help me "shed some light" ? I'll thank you now for any assistance. ...GREAT Web site...  suntasa..55 over 30g and a few mini reefs <10g <I would try one of the large online lamp etailers: http://www.lightbulbsdirect.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?qts=google&qtk=fluorescent and http://www.1000bulbs.com/  If they don't have them... they'll know who to look for next. Good hunting. Bob Fenner> 

Lighting question part 2 5/6/05 Thanks for the quick response to my lighting question. A few follow-up questions:  <AdamC jumping in here> 1. For my 120 gallon system with Lionfish (and possible anemone), you mention 2-3 watts/gallon would be good. Would a hood with two 130 watts (260w total) CF lights or four 96w (384w total) or CF lights work?  <Both options sound fine. Do shop around for prices on replacement lamps for each fixture before making a decision. Replacing two lamps instead of four will save a lot of money in the long run! Also, although intense lighting can damage fishes eyesight, blindness in predatory fish is far more often a result of poor nutrition. Diets that are low in variety, and especially those that are high in krill have been linked to blindness.> Also, for the Orbit light fixtures, the four 96w CF light fixture is $200 more expensive than the two 130 watt CF light fixture. Is this because of the higher total wattage and the increased number of options available with 4 lights? Have you found this increased versatility to be worth the increased cost over 2-light systems? Do you have any preferences for CF hood manufacturers? (I know URI bulbs have a good reputation)  <The increased cost is probably brand differences, but also because of the greater number of lamps. There are enough lamp options out there to give you plenty of flexibility even with a two lamp system. There are a lot of decent fixtures out there, but a lot of junk PC and CF lamps. URI is the premier manufacturer of VHO lamps, but I don't think they make CF's. This amount of light is marginal at best for anemones, and is on the high end for fish-only. Spotlighting the anemone as Bob said, is an option, but there are other challenges in keeping sensitive animals like anemones with large messy fishes.> 2. Stocking question: Would a Humu Trigger (I like the intelligence level and personality) work in my 120 gallon tank with a snowflake eel, lionfish, and 2 clownfish? I read that the Humu grows very slowly, isn't as aggressive as other triggers, and is a good tank mate for the snowflake. Thanks for your great web site and giving us salt water beginners such knowledge. KC  <This is the reason that I jumped in! The trigger, lion and eel are all good choices and would all make great tankmates, but clownfish are natural and irresistible prey to lionfish, and if the lion didn't get them the trigger or eel might. Ultimately, you must make a fundamental choice between fish that are predators and those that are prey as well as keeping photosynthetic animals or not. These choices are somewhat limiting, but you will be much happier in the long run if your fish aren't eating each other and your animals are in comfortable surroundings! Best Regards. AdamC.>

Power Compact Lighting for Stony/Soft Coral and anemone's Bob, <Frank> Greetings from Southern California (SoCal). <Am back in San Diego now> Let me first tell you how much I have appreciated your FAQ's and articles on WWM! I have learned much and am trying to assimilate as much as possible. When reviewing your FAQ's and Articles I have come upon much debate as to what type of lighting (as of 2005') to use for a tank that contains stony and soft coral (I know...you shouldn't mix them) and anemone's (I know...I shouldn't have them! The Maroon Clowns enjoy them so much though! I know, they will/can be happy without them.) <Good> Most everyone I talk to in a reef store is shocked that I do not have MH's and subsequently try and talk me into buying them! <I suspect they have stock in SCE, SDGE or both!> Web pages, and your articles/FAQ's fight over PC's vs. MH's for stony coral use. The question is: Is it possible to have a tank that will sustain and grow both stony and soft corals (+ the occasional anemone) with Power Compacts alone (that is less than 21" deep)? Would a 4-5 Watt/Gallon range PC unit(s) do the trick? <Yes> My current reef tank: 80 Gallons (48"x 24" x 18"(H)) 4x 65W Power Compacts (1/2 10K, 1/2 Actinic) <I'd switch out some or all of the actinics> 100 lb live Fiji Rock 3-4" live sand bed 3x anemone's Coral: 1 brain coral, 3 leathers, 1 flowerpot, 1 bubble coral Inverts:1 clam, 1 scallop Clean-up crew: 1 sea hare, 16 blue legged hermits (red legged ate my coralline algae!!!), 2 scarlet hermits, 20 Cerith snails, 4 margarita snails, 4 cleaner shrimp Fishes: Coral Beauty, 5 Damsels, Purple Tang, 2 Maroon Clowns Due to tank location and space limitations I dare not install a MH 2"-4" from the top of the tank (under cabinets) for fear of burning the coral or the cabinets and either evaporating my water away or heating my tank to the point of having to use a chiller (that and the fact that I would like to use PC's since I believe there are less costly (up front and to maintain (power + replacement bulbs). If I used 4W/gal of PC would you think that the following would support the growth of stony/soft coral or am I doomed to try and fit in a MH?: <Not doomed... the PC's can work fine> 4x 65W 10k Power Compacts + 2x 65W Actinic Compacts Based on initial purchase price up front (bulbs + ballast + fixture), operational costs (electricity bill), and maintenance (replacement bulbs/ballast) it would appear to this newbie that the choice would be PC's for any tank shallower than say 21". Am I missing some huge benefit from MH lights that would outweigh the cost/heat/ventilation issues? <No... I doubt if you misunderstand the basic premises, trade-offs> I have many more questions but don't need to monopolize your time...will sift through the web! Thanks in advance Bob. Frank <I would go with PC's given what you have, list as wanting... their growth may not be as fast, colors not as spectacular as with MH's, but the system will be less trouble to maintain, keep stable and your power bills appreciably less. Cheers, Bob Fenner>  CF Retro Comparison  Hey James, <Hello Ryan> You've always been good to me and I am hoping to pick your brain at least one more time (for now). I'm telling you I poured over the site and couldn't find my answer or one that relates.  I have a 90 Gallon tank 48x18x24 and am looking to add some lighting to hopefully house an Anemone someday and some SPS corals. Which pc retro would be better? a) 36" 5x96Watt  <This would be my choice> b) 48" 4x96 Watt  I would add.. C) two MH's but I have less than 6" clearance in my canopy.  <You can also go with HQI and a cooling fan, Ryan> What should I do? More power but not as long, or less power but full length? Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks Ryan (RDUB) in NOCAL  <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> 

Changing Power Compacts Sorry one more question I forgot to ask. I plan on changing the bulbs about every 10 months on the daylight bulbs and 12 months on the Actinics bulbs. Does this sound ok or do I need to change more often? <I like to change out Power Compacts every 6 months, at least the daylight bulbs. 10 months seems a stretch. As a general rule, PCs should be changed out every 6-8 months. PCs tend to dim noticeably after about 6-8 months, and the spectral shift is also noticeable, especially when compared to a fresh bulb.> Thanks again for your time and Information. <No problem. Glad I could assist. Mike G>

SunPaq 2X65w PC Howdy WWM crew: <Hey, Mike G with you tonight> I have been planning a soft coral tank for the last 7 months and have yet to purchase anything. <Good job! Planning is something that is rarely done in depth, but always necessary.> The tank is a 29 gallon 30X12X18 and plan on a 3" sand bed. My question is will 2X65w Dual Sunlight (6500k/10,000k) and dual actinic(420nm/460nm) be enough of the spectrum for soft corals to grow and thrive in this tank. <Sounds perfectly adequate for softies and maybe even a digitata or two.> I know lighting is not all the puzzle but the one that I am seeking answers for. I appreciate everyone's time and information. I have looked at T5 technology but at those prices I could get a MH but not what I want on this small tank. <Your current plans sound fine. Good luck, and enjoy your tank: your patience and diligence in planning will most certainly pay off.>

Which pc bulbs to use? Dear Adam, < Hey Narayan > How are you?  < Great thanks, just getting ready to head out to speak to a club. >  Hope all is well in Utah! My 384 watts orbit fixture has been running for 9+ months and I'm changing the bulbs. Currently I have 96 watts of 6700K, 96W of 10,000K, 96 watts of 420nm actinic and 96 watts of 460nm blue. So far my Kenya tree is growing and my one xenia split in to 6, each larger than the original colony... in just 4 months  < This all sounds good. >  This is being replaced by 288 watts of 10,000K and 96W of 03 actinic -at the rate of one bulb change per week. Is this a positive change or at least a neutral change?  < I would think maybe more blue. But not a bad change. Do it and see how it looks to you. >  What do you think of Iridius H2O bulbs?  < Never had them, sorry. >  Do you know how they compare to Coralife or SunPaq PC bulbs in quality, output and life?  < I would think just about all pc bulbs would be the same in terms of intensity and life. I think I'd buy for price if it were me. > Thank You very much,  < No problem. > Narayan < Blundell >

55W vs. 65W PC Bulbs (2/2/05) Hello all, Great site, a true wealth of knowledge.  <Thanks. It's a pleasure to play a small part. Steve Allen with you tonight.>  After reading for several hours I still can't locate the answer to my question. I was told (after being shipped 55watt bulbs instead of the 65's I ordered) that because I have a 65watt ballast, actually I have a CSL 4x65 hood, that the 55's they sent would burn at 65 watts and that the bulbs are actually interchangeable. Can you confirm this? I can't seem to find any info that states this. If it is true, will running them in a hood designed for 65 watt lamps shorten there useful life or possibly create more unwanted heat? Thanks again for a great site. Mike Balzanelli  <Interesting questions, Mike. I was told the same thing by my LFS when they sold me 55W to replace 65W. They claim they are equivalent. I have noticed no change in heat and no change in the health of my photosynthetic organisms. I can't say much about bulb life. Here is what bulb manufacturer Helios has to say: http://www.hellolights.com/55watblu22ja.html --I hope this helps.>

Broken PC's Hi guys! I've been having some trouble with my lighting system .. hope you guys can help. I've got a 4x96W PC retrofit kit from PFO running 2 actinics and 2 10,000k lamps. Since I bought this setup (~6 months ago) both 10,000k lamps broke/cracked and had to be replaced twice. I haven't had any trouble with the actinics at all. The lamps are placed about 7 inches above an open tank and I have a cooling fan blowing lengthwise along the lamps. In this arrangement there is absolutely no salt creep on the lamps (which is what I thought first caused the breakage). To the touch these lamps are very hot (I can't keep my finger on them).  Personally, I'm kind of pissed/frustrated to be having this problem after spending all this money. Any advice would be REALLY appreciated.  Marc  < Marc, I'm thinking your not getting enough air around those lights. When I look at PC fixtures they are completely enclosed (acrylic lens covering bulbs) and the built in fan has to draw all the air through the enclosure. Most manufacturers do not want these fixtures placed inside a hood or canopy since the fan would be drawing only warm air. That is not the case with you though. I would email the place where you bought these and tell them about your problem or better yet, the manufacturer. James (Salty Dog)> Lighting 1/6/05 What's up crew! <my spirits, thanks in small part to those stellar 15-1 Pittsburgh Steelers> I have a couple of questions. I have a 90 gallon w/ about 100 pounds of live rock. My filter is a 30 gallon refugium. My corals consist of 1 Acro, 1 Toadstool, 2 xenia, 1 Ricordea mushroom, 1 trumpet, 1 frogspawn, a Blastomussa, and a torch coral. <please go easy/resist such unnatural mixes of corals my friend. Focus instead on species with more similar needs. Instead here you have shallow water stonies, mid water LPS and deep water corallimorphs, etc. Its not a recipe for long term success to keep cnidarians that live separated on the reef by more than 60 feet at times under the same standardized lighting/water flow etc> My current light is the ( 2 x 10000K and 2x Blue Actinic)260 watt Coralife lunar light. I had no intentions on buying more light until ran across a deal for a Jebo 4x55 watt power compact for $75. Now for my questions: 1) The blue actinic in the Jebo is much, much, much more blue than the Coralife (about 3 months old). Is this because the bulbs are different brands? <different color perhaps... or rather, different wavelength. Not all actinics are 420 nm> 2) What types of bulbs would you run with this setup? <focus on daylight always if you want the best coral growth. Overall... 6500K to 10k K> What type (brand) of power compact bulbs are the best on the market? <none are much good for corals after 10 months of use... change them often> 3) What would be the best way to add this lighting to my system? Should I take 1 of each type of bulb out and run the fixture for a month then add the bulbs? <add them all at once but shade the tank en toto with a couple sheets of fiberglass fly screen. Remove a sheet after a week or two... and then other sheets a week or two later. Leave the photoperiod and lamp distance alone though> Thanks for all of your help, Greg <always welcome mete. Anthony> Marine lighting This hood will house four 96 watt power compact bulbs and dual actinic  witch will be a total of  396 watt. Would you be a able to recommend a hood  that will be better than this hood to give me more lighting if this will not be   adequate I will to try to house mostly soft corals and maybe a few stonies with   a few clams. <Mmm, you didn't send the previous correspondence... so I don't know what depth... but many, if not most folks are bigger fans of metal halides...> Also if I may ask how many hours of lighting should the tank get   total when should actinics comes on and daylights on and of  . Your site is very helpful and you guys do a great job with help  thank you for you time . <Mmm, then you will likely enjoy reading your answers. Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm skip on down to lights, lighting... and read the articles and FAQs archived on WWM re these issues. Bob Fenner> PC Lighting Decisions I use power compact lighting on all my reef tanks...I can't afford metal halide.  What is the best power compact bulb on the market for reef lighting? <I like a combination of the 10,000k daylights and true actinics. They look great and will benefit your animals as well.> Also, which spectrum of light would best suit corals and coralline algae (6700 vs. 10000 daylight, blue vs. actinic, combinations or others that I'm not aware of)? <Well, the 10,000k would probably be the most beneficial, as it is a "full spectrum" type of bulb. The actinics are more for aesthetics.> If it makes a difference, I have Coralife hoods and one JBL hood...all straight pins except the Corallife using 96 watt bulbs which is square. <No real difference that I'm aware of, with the exception of availability. Most of the PC bulbs on the market are of pretty high quality. Compact fluorescents are a great light source, IMO.> Thanks and Happy Holidays Bobby Williamson <And the very best to you and yours! Regards, Scott F.>

Compact Lighting I have a well established, 70g bow front that has been used for marine fish only, with 40lbs live rock.  Currently have 48", standard fluorescent, 80w hood.  My live rock has quit producing for some time now, however, recently I changed the bulbs and have seen some renewal of growth.  Also, I recently purchased a green polyp specimen and would like to pursue other corals to liven up the tank.  I have seen a Power Compact by Jebo with 4 55w bulbs for $100. <A bargain>   I haven't seen any information on this brand of pc and wondered if it could be recommended. <To my experience, the company has a "mixed" reputation. The best path to take here is to query a broader audience through the various BB's: ReefCentral, Reefs.org, http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/... to get a larger take on this particular gear from folks who are, have actually used it> Also wondered if I went this route, if I would have to remove the top lid which my light hood sits on now.  If I kept the glass clean, maybe I could keep it in place.  Any advice would be grateful. Chad <If you can discount splash and spray, it is best to have as little between your light/lamps and the water surface... if your fixture has no exposed metal in the area under the canopy, the end caps of the tubes are covered against water intrusion, I would remove the cover glass. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Question 10\23\04 Dear crew of WWM, well first I would just like to thank you for all of your help. <Glad to play a small part>  I just want to know how long power compacts last, and how much wattage I need for my tank. <PC's keep their spectrum 3-10 months for the most part.  As for wattage, it depends on what animals you're trying to keep>  I currently have a 10 gal tank, it is the R338 JEBO model(15"x10"x15") with about 8-9 lbs. of live rock.  I've only had my power compacts for a little over 3 months now, so when should I change them? <I'd change them every 6> Corals: star polyps, frog spawn, green Ricordea, light green mushrooms, waving xenias, and orange and gray zoos and a small finger leather on a fragment rock. <Mostly rather undemanding soft corals, they should all be fine under 50 watts or so of PC> Inverts: scarlet cleaner shrimp, 2 pom pom crabs, 3 dwarf tipped hermit crabs, feather duster, Crocea clam, rose anemone, and 2 very small unidentified anemones <Make sure they're not Aiptasia!> Fish if it matters: six line wrasse, maroon clown, and a reef chromis <All in a 10 gallon?  A little overstocked IMO, that clownfish will outgrow the 10 gallon, and the six line could use more swimming room> Thanks again     -Randy <Anytime.  Please use correct spelling and grammar in the future, as these Q&A's are archived.  M. Maddox>

PC lighting q hello, <Hi Chris, MacL here with you tonight> Quick question.  Are there any 36" bulbs that come in 110w or higher?  Currently it seems that the standard is 96w.  Although I have heard there are 110w 36"  but I'm not sure of the merit of the brand. <I do believe there are, some of those lovely T'5s should do it.>  Ill keep looking. Thanks Chris aka fishtank

Heartfelt Thanks and PC lighting Dear Mr. Fenner: <Howdy Bill!> After several years away from the saltwater hobby, I recently purchased a 80 gallon bowfront tank.  Of course, the first thing I did was look for the most up-to-date books - the technology changes so quickly that I felt my old Martin Moe books were probably hopelessly outdated with regard to the latest filtration and lighting technologies.   <Martin's works are remarkably "dateless"> Imagine my dismay when I discovered that Mr. Moe has not updated his books since the early '90s!!!  So, at the recommendation of the my LFS, I purchased your book and upon reading the first few chapters, was struck by your sensible, nondogmatic approach to the hobby as well as your clear, highly readable prose.  After finishing your book, I decided to try a reef tank with easy soft corals and mushroom anemones, but I felt that the section on lighting was a bit out of date.  That's when I discovered your website.  Hallelujah!!!!  Conscientious hobbyists and captive marine organisms everywhere owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude. <Thank goodness for the Net, and so many good friends, fellow aquarists here>   By the way, the 80 gallon now houses a small majestic angelfish (3"), which will probably have to be moved at some point, 4 small damsels - the kind that stay small - a cleaner shrimp (Lysmata sp.) a feather duster, two small brittle stars (the good kind!), a colt coral, green star polyps, and finger leather coral all growing nicely along with some beautiful lush Caulerpa that is confined to 1/5 of the tank.  (BTW, I know you discourage keeping majestics, but I have kept them and blue-faces in the past with no problems - frankly I have found them easier to keep than imperators (too LLS-prone) or queens (too evil).  I find that the secret is (1) getting a healthy specimen that's been in the dealers tank for at least 60 days and (2) keeping them in a sparsely populated tank with live rock.  So far, the little angel is leaving the invertebrates alone, but I am keeping my eye on him.   <Sounds good> So after all that introduction, here is my question.  My PC lighting consists of 1 96 watt 1/2 daylight 1/2 actinic and 2 65 watts with the same bulb mix.  With everything in the tank doing well, I am reluctant to change anything, but I wonder if this is enough light.  BTW, my system has a wet-dry with sump (I know W/Ds are considered pass? but I it makes me feel safe), one large in-sump protein skimmer with ozonizer with ORP monitor/controller, a H.O.T. skimmer with a small 4 watt UV sterilizer and a large canister filter.  I don't want to add anything else to the tank.  That said, should I upgrade to a 4 bulb 96 watt fixture or leave well-enough alone? <I would leave well enough alone as you state. You could add more light, lighting... and yes, this would boost the rate of growth, the apparent vitality of your photosynthetic life... but at a concurrent cost in terms of electrical consumption, maintenance, need to monitor and likely adjust water quality... I wouldn't change> No worries if you don't have time to answer the question.  The primary reason for the email was to convey my thanks for your work in support of the hobby. Best regards, Bill Moore <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

6500k or 10000k in a nano reef? WWM Crew, << Hi. >> Hope everything is going good.  I have just a few questions for you today.  I have a 10 gal Nano reef tank, with 1 small Montipora digita, 1 small Montipora capricornis, 1 bulb tip anemone, and 1 pipe organ coral, 15lbs of live rock, 2 x 36watt 6500k pc's. Is the 6500 sufficient for what I have? << That sounds okay. >> Should I get one 10k and one actinic, what is your suggestion? << I think a 10k looks nicer, but the 10k may not be as fast of growing light.  Debatable, but the 6500 is probably a faster growing light. >> I am also planning on getting a clam, probably a derasa or crocea. Which one stays smaller? << I wouldn't do this in a 10 gal tank.  They require lots of food and lots of light. >>  The second question is I have a 29g sump in my larger 55g tank with approx 3.5 in of sand and lots of macro algae. Should I put anything in there like snails or crabs to help move it around and keep it clean, still the sand? << Nah, no reason to.  The worms and pods will take care of that. >> Last question. What are some good low light corals that I could put in a fish only tank. I have 2 yellow tail damsels, 1 yellow tang and a maroon clown in the 55g tank now.  Something that will grow fairly large with lots of color. << Well xenia and Anthelia are probably the best choices.  Also some mushrooms. >> Or is there anything that would do well. <<  Blundell  >> Mini Reef PC lighting choices - 8/11/04 Hi Crew, I am in the process of setting up a 15 gallon mini / micro / nano / pico reef tank (choose your buzzword here).  I already have a 125, but you can never have enough toys. <Too true>  Anyhow, I am looking at different lighting options and would like your opinion.  The tank is a 15 gallon high with the same footprint as a 10 gallon.  I have a 5 inch sand bed and 15lbs of new live rock cycling away in it now.  That leaves me with about 10 gallons and 12 inches of depth.  I am surprised at the number of lighting options available for such a small tank. <Well, this all depends on what you plan to place inside you mini reef> I plan on using power compacts. <OK> I want to make sure I have enough but not too much light. <What is this justification based on. Depends on the animals and their environmental distribution.>  Here are the 20 inch lighting options that I found: 28W single bulb 36W single bulb 40W single bulb 2 x 36W double bulb <OK choice for budget conscious> 2 x 40W double bulb <Good choice> 96W single bulb <Good choice> Double bulbs are nice, since one actinics and daylights can be controlled separately.  Is this really important? <Not really. As a matter of fact you don't really even need actinic lighting. This is for the human aesthetic> I don't plan on any SPS corals or clams. <Then what animals do you plan?>  How much and how many? <Light? I like the 2x40. Seems to be great for small aquariums gives you some options for bulb types as well. For example - 1 bulb at 10k and another at 20k or the standard 10k and the Actinic. You get the idea. Otherwise the 96w is a fine choice as well I use the 2x40s and have various fish and soft corals. All seem to adjust and grow well with good color. The difference between the three I remarked on above will come down to inhabitant choices, and funds available.>  I can't decide.  Any opinion on this? <You got it. You will have to make the decision from here. I gave you the knowledge and opinion, you must now use the power to your advantage to make the decision that best fits your needs.> By the way, I upgraded the skimmer on my 125G to an AquaC EV180 (per your recommendations) and it kicks butt. <You KNOW!!!> Lots of foul scum coming out of that one. <Great product. Have fun. ~Paul> Thanks again, Larry

-Coralife Mini Compact Lamps- Hi Kevin, long time no talk. things are plugging along pretty well here in Edmonton. <Good to hear!> Got a question to pick your brain about. Mini compact fluorescent lamps such as the ones I am attaching for your reference. I have read everything that WetWeb has to offer regarding lighting and I am not sure how these fit into everything I have read. But four of these fit into my light fixture of my canopy incredibly well. would it be sufficient to have four of these on my FOWLR aquarium. <Sure, so long as you have no photosynthetic inverts.> I may in the future get some low light critters but some time in the future I would like to get one Magnifica anemone for my clown fish. <Eh, these anemones are challenging at best and would not be a good candidate to test these lights out on. I have yet to hear of anyone using these for the purpose of maintaining anything, and would like to see a spectral analysis and lux readings before making any judgments.> What's your thoughts? <My thoughts: Pick up one of Coralife's standard PC retro kits, they've gotten really cheap. It is especially important to have a tried and true lighting scheme when you plan on keeping a critter that is already challenging, like the anemone you mentioned.> I should remind you that my tank is a 35 gallon . <<Mini compact fluorescent lamps.doc>> <Enjoy! -Kevin> Thanks Mike

Power Compact Lights WWM Crew, Hope all is well. << It is indeed. >> After many hours of research (much of it on this site) I have decided to go with power compact florescent lighting for my All-glass 72 BF. I currently have mushrooms, and large polyps, but plan on obtaining some elegance, frogspawn, or bubble coral (or similar) in the next few months. Before I pull the trigger on the PC hood I have picked out, I would like you input on two points. The fist is the color mix of the bulbs, and the second is a confirmation that I will have enough light for the above mentioned corals to thrive (not just live).<< I'm impressed, and very pleased to see you researching this first.  You'll be happy you did later. >> As a disclaimer, I have ruled out MH light mostly for heat reasons. A pendant is not approved by my better half, and one of my goals for this reef is not o run a chiller. I am at 79F today with 3 48" NO bulbs sitting on the glass top and a fan on the sump. Replacement fixture is a 48" Ultra Reef 6x64w PC hood with polished aluminum reflector and one 4" fan to be placed directly on the glass top. << That is good.  I think you will be happy with that.  Of course six 96 watt bulbs would be even better. >> My bulb mix plan is for same color on both halves of the tanks, so all bulbs will be in pairs. That leaves me with three rows of bulbs. Option 1: o3 actinic in center row, 6500k on front row, and 10000k back row Option 2: o3 actinic in center row, front and back rows 10000k Option 3: o3 actinic in center row, front and back rows 6500k << I like the options, and I'd probably go with option 2.  I don't like the 6500k and would lean away from them. >> With a total watt of 390 in a 20" deep tank will I be okay for spectrum, mentioned corals, heat, and intensity for maybe an anemone some day? Or should I lobby for a 2x 150x HQI MH pendant over the glass top by 12"? << Don't go with two 150 HQIs.  Although I love that light, I have two 150 HQIs on my 30 gal tank right now.  It isn't enough light, and I wish I had more.  These compacts will really spread your light out more, and you'll be pleased. >> Thanks for all of your insight and feedback, you run a very amazing resource there at wetwebmedia.com << However, some compact actinics with the two 150 HQI would be even better.  Pricey and hot, but better. >> Thanks, Eddie <<  Blundell  >>

POWER COMPACTS HOW MUCH LIGHT Gentlemen, I want to start by saying that I enjoy your website as my evening (and usually all day) dessert.  Whenever I have questions, they usually get answered by your site.  Also love the books.  Can't wait for the second one in the "essential guide" series!  That being said, here is my question.  I have set up a 30 gal salt system.  Started being FOWLR, but I have now introduced 1 green tree coral.  Other inhabitants include 2 humbug damsels, 1 coral beauty angel, 1 serpent sea star, 1 peppermint shrimp and 1 emerald crab.  I had a long clawed hermit crab, but I think someone had a taste for crab legs as I found his empty shell and no sign of him.  Also about 30+ lbs live rock and 30 lbs live sand.  I am running a Tetratec power filter off the back with the heater built in to it.  I have a CPR backpack II skimmer that I empty every couple days. Also have another powerhead inside for circulation.  My lighting is a Custom Sea Life 1x96 50/50 Smartlite that is on about 9 hrs/day.  Have a 1 watt Moonlite that is on the remainder. << Sounds very underlit in my opinion.  I too have a 30 gal, but I have two 150 watt halides on my tank.  Prior to that, I had four 55 watt compacts. >> All looks well in the tank.  No real territory problems or fighting that I have seen.  I was interested in getting other types of corals (not too many, just a few) possibly some SPS or LPS.  I have read that my lighting is not enough for anything but softies.  Is this true? << Wow, just what I was thinking.  Yes, I would definitely upgrade your lighting before trying other corals, especially SPS and LPS. >>  Last night I ordered a Coralife 2X96 with moonlights.  Will that be better? << It is certainly better, it would double your lighting.  I would think that is okay for most soft corals, but not enough for stonies. >> I guess I want to make sure it isn't too much.  The tank dimensions are 36 x 12 x 16.  I would like to use the mounting stands for the Coralife. Would this be appropriate for my tank? << Not a problem. >> Thanks for all your knowledge and wisdom! << I have neither, just experience. >> Donna << Adam B. >>

Replacing PC Bulbs Hi all!  Thanks, as always, for a great site. <Hi Patrick, Mac Lewis here.> I have a quick question about replacing my power compact bulbs.  I'm doing my yearly (actually 11 months) <great> replacing of my PC bulbs, and I was wondering how quickly I could replace them.  I have 4 96-watt bulbs in a CustomSeaLife fixture. <You don't mention the size of the tank and whether this top is suspended or not so I'm assuming its sitting on the tank?>   Last year, I replaced one every week to give my corals/clams time to acclimate to the newer light.  Is it really necessary for me to wait that long? <You need to give your corals time to adjust to the change in spectrum.  As your old bulbs age the spectrum changes as well.  By replacing one bulb at a time you lower the shock to the bulbs, but there are other ways to do this.  You could replace them all and raise the light gradually lowering it back down over the period of a couple of weeks.>  I just came up with one week off the top of my head.  I didn't want to shock my corals if the newer bulbs were more intense than the older ones.  <After a years time they would definitely be more intense, so doing it that way was very smart.> Thanks again.

PC Bulb Change Hello Crew! <Hi! Ryan Bowen with you today> I've been thinking (you smell something burning?) and I am wondering if I would gain much if I did a lighting switch to my 55gal minireef.  I currently have 4x55W PC lighting with 2x10,000K and 2xActinic.  What if I switched the 2 actinics with 50/50 10,000K bulbs?  I tried it with 3 and 4 10,000K's and decided I like the look of actinics.  <Each animal on your reef will react differently!  Some animals will benefit almost instantly, some will need some time to adapt.> I have a few corals and an anemone (Yea I know your opinion on mixing sessile and motile inverts, so far my tankmates are living happily together).  They are all doing fine now (good color, lots of growth) but I am always looking to make their little world a little better. <There's no real harm in changing the spectrum of light to get it to where you want, just realize that it's stressful to photosynthetic animals.  Make a change and leave it, give them time to adapt.  Good luck, Ryan> Thanks again for all your help. Ray Pryor

PC lighting, Smurfs and Drug abuse 4/25/04  Hello friends! (*friends you say?*.... I realize we do not know each other, but I have enough of your site to feel I know at least a little of a few of you....I always enjoy your humor when answering questions.)  <howdy!>  Anyway, I have what I think will be a fairly simple question for any of you to answer. I was lucky enough (I hope lucky) to purchase a new 23" JBJ 110w Versailles lighting system for $70 from my LFS. link: http://www.jbjlighting.com/sys_versailles.html  It seems to be a nicer unit than my Coralife 96w quad system and possibly cheaper to operate long-term due to bulb cost.  <agreed... a better lighting system IMO, although still limited as most fluorescents are to being installed no more than 3" off the water surface to be effective... needing lamps changed every 6-10 months over corals and anemones... and really only effective for the first 10" of water or so from the top for higher light reef organisms>  My concern is that it does not have any cooling fans installed to increase bulb life.  <hmmm... its always handy to have good ventilation, although too cool also effects the color of running lamps (they have an ideal operating temperature as per mfg specs you can see/find). Frankly, all such fluorescents are so very short lived that the point is likely moot>  Do you feel this will pose any problem?  <not likely>  Thanks, and may the force be with you...  <thank you , it is... I had Mexican food for lunch and am wearing tighter boxer shorts now to try to finish the day's work>  Sincerely, Erich  <rock on my salty brother>  Just in case (even though my question is about the bulbs):  <"I'm not dead yet" as the Monty Python skit goes....>  30g tank  <"I'm feeling much better now..."  20g sump (added just to make Bob happy....actually very glad I took the advice.)  <"'tis but a scratch">  2" live sand  <"come a little closer and I'll bite your leg off">  40-45 lbs. live rock  <"It's the most ill-tempered bunny rabbit you've ever seen">  hang on overflow  <somebody get me the holy hand-grenade...>  Berlin 60 skimmer  <whoa... got my attention here, since I'm a skimmer nazi. Let me state that if you can get this/any skimmer to work consistently, then its a good skimmer for you. This model is characteristically... ah... challenging... to many aquarists however. If you cannot get dark and consistent (near daily) skimmate, then let me suggest you get another/better skimmer. Do consult the daily FAQS for extensive feedback here>  CAP 1800 return pump  light sits elevated 1" above glass top  <excellent>  1 coral banded shrimp  5 snails  4 red legged hermits  1 percula clown  various mushrooms and polyps  no hamsters or smurfs yet...having trouble finding them at my LFS.  <smoke your mushrooms and you will see the smurfs>  p.s. -whenever I read "kind regards," as you guys often use....I makes me think of being at a Grateful Dead concert... like the song goes.."oh-o what I want to know-o is are you kind?"  <interesting...>  maybe I'm weird.  <perhaps. Now go light some incense, turn on a Grateful Dead album... and stare at the palm of your hand catatonically until the record skips. Kindly, Anthony>

PC lighting Hi there, <Happy Friday> Hope that you guys are doing fine. I need your help again here. Currently I have a 36 watts PC fluorescent over my 15 gallons (24"x12"x14"), that would be about 2.4 W/G. I'd like to switch to a 32 gallons (24"x18"x18") and have some simple soft corals or anemone. I'd also employ DSB to raise the floor level to about 4-5 inches, which would result in about the same tank depth as my current system. Can I use the current lighting for the new system by placing the corals or anemone on the narrow strips just under the light strip? As I am illuminating the same depth and surface area as my previous system? I am really tight on budget. <I know your pain, and yes, this should work fine, I would probably wait on the anemone though, they can be more demanding.  Maybe some lower light soft corals and some shrooms.> I have a friend of mine lighting 2 x 55 watts PC, and his tubes thinner than mine and is about the same length as mine which is a 36 watts. By mere visual comparing, I feel that his light is as just bright as mine (110W total compare to 36W), and at most I would say it is not any much brighter than mine even it is  brighter. Is it because of that kind of PC is not energy efficient as mine? Or is it due to the different color of tubes? I am running an actinic/10000K tube and his probably is around 6500K tubes. <I'd say the visual difference is probably in the color of the 10,000k versus the 6,500k.  Best Regards, Gage> Thanks. Wid

Lighting - 1/25/04 Hello gang. <How do you do?> I have two questions on lighting. <OK> First I have a 55 FOWLR that has a 2 x 55 PC 10,000K lights. <OK> They are a year old today. Do you have a link or know how many hours they are good for before they start shifting in color? <Usually no more than 10- 14 months is the standard> Is this a concern in a FOWLR? <Not in my opinion except for the algae that sometimes starts to grow as it were. Does happen as lighting levels decline over time> They seem as bright as always but I am worried they are shifting in spectrum.<Lights are always shifting spectrum over time> They are on 11 hours a day. <Perfect> I am getting a lot of red coloration (Algae) on the rocks. <Cyano or coralline?> A year is kind of what I remember for PC's so I am planning on replacing soon. <Excellent> Secondly I am planning on new lights for a 10 gallon mini reef. <Good> Right now it is just live rock. It was a mini for a long time than a disaster happened. If I had known then what I have learned from your site I may have averted this problem. Anyhow it has been running with LR, and a few critters for a year now. I am thinking of the 2 x 40 W PC with moon light. <I use the same from Custom Sea Life ordered from Marine Depot. I have three minis with this 40x40 w/ moon configuration> I have read many of the daily FAQ's and agree with the theory of putting only corals that require similar lighting together (among other similarities). After doing some research I believe most of my favorite corals will fit together. <Good to hear and very lucky> The corals I like are Mushrooms, zoos, xenia, starbursts, open brains, elegance and plate corals. <Well, technically those corals are not always a good grouping but, I feel, will work have seen it done =)> I know that without specific species it may be hard to answer but will most of the varieties thrive under this lighting? <Absolutely!!> If not would you recommend a better lighting system. <I think you are fine with your lighting choice. Check out Marine Depot as I have found no better price with free shipping as of yet!!> Thanks I love the site not only for the factual knowledge but also the conscientious way of thinking. <Me too! ~Paulo> Walt

- Lighting - Hello again, For the low to medium corals/mushrooms etc. which pc light would you recommend of the these two if money was not a factor? 1.  a 36" 2x96 watt custom SeaLife fixture; or  2.  a 48 inch Power Compact with Moonlight fixture from Custom SeaLife. Comes with two 65 watt 10,000K bulb, two 65 watt Ultra-Actinic bulb, and four MoonLites. <I'd go for the fixture that offers the highest, total wattage - so, option #2.> Thanks again for answering my newbie questions. <Cheers, J -- >

Everlasting Gobstoppers ... er, PC Bulbs (1/9/2004) Hi <Hello, Steve Allen tonight>, I have been an avid reader of your site for some time, and with basically reading here.  I have successfully kept a reef tank up and going for over a year now.  The time has come for me to think about replacing my power compact lighting bulbs.  I have a 48" Coralife 4x65w setup, so replacing the bulbs shouldn't be a big deal.  The funny thing is, I was at my LFS checking out. and one of the sales clerk is holding the Coralife box of the exact same unit I have.  He continues to tell the customer that this would be his best bet and better yet, the bulbs will last for 5 years. <In his dreams.> I became very interested and wanted to speak up, but they both walked away, I figured I would catch him another time. Well later I thought, even if he does tell me the same thing, I will not believe him. Is he lying or is there any type of power compact bulb that will last for 5 years?? <Ahh, if only ... Could be it might still glow, but no useful output. I believe Coralife recommends every 12-14 months. "Lie" is such a strong word. More likely misinformed.> I doubt it, but I figure I will ask the experts. thanks!! -Brian <You're welcome Brian. Too bad there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.>

- 55-65w PC upgrade? - I have the older version of the JBJ Formosa, the one with two fans. When i got it off ebay, it came with 4 55 watts PC, for a total of 210 watts. I was wondering if i can replace the 55  with the 65, them being the same length and pin style. <Yep, they're interchangeable.> What would happen if i do and will the 65 be brighter then the 55 on that ballast. <Unfortunately, nope.> thanks <Good luck with the new light! -Kevin>

PC Fluorescent Lighting Hello, <howdy> I have a question regarding compact fluorescent lighting.  I've searched the WWM site but I can't find an answer to my specific question.  (But, I have managed to become confused!)   <really... have you read these: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marcanopies.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/growingcorals.htm I'm putting together a marine setup.  I have a 36L x 18W x 26H glass tank that I am going to use for a refugium.  It will have an 8 inch DSB, macro algae and plankton. <sounds nice> I have a canopy for the tank that has an inside width of 36 7/8 inches.  It is 7 inches tall, open in the back and the top lifts up for access. I am looking at the Custom SeaLife PC lighting, 2x96w. However, at 36.5 inches wide the canopy version won't give me enough room on the sides between the light canopy and the tank canopy for ventilation.  The retro kit is only 35 inches wide.  Can this kit be laid on the top of the tank as it comes out of the box or does it need to be mounted to something? <no idea... I suspect it needs to be screwed into a lid/canopy> Is there a better option to providing the 2/96w PC lighting I'd like while staying within the confines of my hood?  <the retrofit is likely the ticket> I'd rather not build a light canopy to place inside of my tank canopy if it can be avoided. Thank you very much,  Eric <what of just placing the regular custom sealife strips atop the tank without any canopy (they are really problematic). Those strips are nicely priced and ready to go. Anthony>

-Lights out!- Quick question....  <yeah...sure> <HEY! I did not write that! Those brackets are sole property of WWM, and not for casual use! ;) >   Came home and my retrofit 2-96W Power Compacts are out, ballast is cold. Heading out on vacation soon, so a quick "financially responsible" resolution is a must, meaning do I need new bulbs or new ballast. <Likely the ballast.> I think my bulbs are okay, but not sure. How can I verify my ballast is still good? Should I see a certain voltage across certain wires? Generic black ballast - one end with 2 red wires and 2 blue wires - other end with one red, one blue, and one yellow. <Well, since I'm only half-way through my engineering circuit analysis class right now, I don't feel comfortable giving you electrical advice! I can however tell you that it would be an incredible coincidence if both lights went out at the same time. When PC lamps go, there will usually be a slight blackening on the insides of the lamps on the pin side of the tube. I would wager that it's your ballast, and if it were my lights that just went out and I was going on vacation, I would not only buy a replacement ballast, but pick up 2 new lamps (you're going to need to replace them anyways every 8-10 months) just to be sure. If it's not the ballast, make sure whoever you're getting it from will accept returns. I hope this helps! -Kevin> I need to verify if the ballast or the bulbs are bad, so I can order new. Suggestions? Eric

PC Bulb Boo-Boo! Evenin' folks :)  Quick question....I have ventured into unfamiliar territory and purchased a 12,000K PC bulb (by mistake), and I am pondering a couple of things. It appears to be rather blue, as blue in appearance as the actinic "03" bulbs I have, but not as deep a shade....more of a blue sky color. Very aesthetically appealing, I must say. <I have seen these bulbs, and I'm inclined to agree with you! They are really attractive!> This is my question.  I have a custom built hood housing 3 55W CF bulbs for my 20 gallon nano.  Right now I have one 10,00K bulb and this 12,000K bulb, and I'm wondering what to use for the 3rd  bulb.  I was going to use 2 10,000K bulbs and one actinic "03" bulb (peak 420 nm.. yadda yadda), as I figured this would serve both functionally and aesthetically.  Will this 12,000K temperature of blue bring out the "fluorescence" as the "03" bulb does?  Can I use it in place of this bulb? <You certainly can use the 12,000k bulb, but I don't believe that it will have the same benefits as the actinic 03 in terms of its photosynthetic peak...> The reason I ask is I am more concerned with a proper lighting scheme than I am aesthetics, and I wonder if this bulb is the wrong shade of blue to really bring out the color in my corals.  Any thoughts you have would be much appreciated guys....I am ready to set-up tomorrow after weeks of preparation and I want everything exactly as  it must be.  Thanks in advance! Yours truly, David Conners <Well, David, I agree with you that aesthetics should be secondary...in a perfect world! Since we do not live in a perfect world, I'd try to utilize what you have...Why not utilize the 10000k, the 12000k, and an actinic...? You can always change out bulbs if your animals are not benefiting...Regards, Scott F>

-PC retro- I have a 29 gallon aquarium and I use the SmartLite Retrofit Kit with Smart Lamp (online it says 65 watts / my unit says 55 watts).  I have about 34 pounds of LR right now.  I have a fixture I built that houses two florescent bulbs.  Right now it has a "marine-glo 20 watt actinic" bulb and a "Eclipse Natural Daylight" bulb in it.  My question is this, I don't plan on adding corals, should I just stay with the SmartLite Retrofit, or should I also use my other fixture.  If you think I should use both, would it be better to run one more than the other? <It is totally up to you. I personally would rather look at a brightly lit tank than a dimmer one.> I can change bulbs out for a different configuration if you think that would be better.  Any input would be great. <Since you don't have any coral in there, you're pretty much just growing algae, and either light should suffice. Running them both will make the tank look brighter, but if you don't care either way, don't waste the extra electricity of running the NO fluorescents.> Thanks, and keep up the good work on the website! <Good luck! -Kevin> Steve

-PC recommendations for a 180 FOWLR- Hello, I am fitting up a 180 FOWLR (72x24x24) and have decided to go with CF lighting, can you make a suggestion for the number of 36" CF's, type and suggested manufacturer? <Four 96w PC's would do the trick, but the more the merrier. I'd go with Custom Sea Life or Hamilton Tech. fixtures. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks for your help, D'Wayne

Which bulb produces the most fluorescence? 7/23/03 Hello, <cheers> I would like to buy a pair of 65W power compact that would produce the highest fluorescence. <I'm not sure what info is it that you seek specifically: UV emission, or ability to make your corals "fluoresce prettiest". If the latter... URI brand make a variety of bulbs that are most popular in this regard. Their VHO actinic blues are stunning. Radium 20 K metal halides do the same. I do not have any strong fav among pc.s for this purpose though> Has anyone ever done a test or would you know from experience which brand of light would give me that? <Dana Riddle of Riddle Laboratories in Hawaii has done some such work... Perhaps Sanjay Yoshi of Penn State too> Coralife, Custom Sealife, HelloLights, any other brand? <I'm not endeared to any of the above mentioned brands. At least one of them I find to be quite inadequate.> I know most lights are comparable but is there a proven winner from someone's experience or test results? <Most lights are not that comparable... some significant differences between them... particularly on longevity and useful lifespan> Thank you very much, Thai <best regards, Anthony>

Over lighting w/ PC's? Hi is 10 watts per gallon too much lighting for my 75 gallon reef tank? i have 6 96 watt PC.s plus 4 55 watt PC.s? <Nope, you'd be hard pressed to over light a tank w/ fluorescents. You should be good for tridacnid clams and sps corals, but be aware that many corals are going to need a slow acclimation to your lighting (ie starting them at the bottom of the tank. -Kevin> thanks JM

Lighting a 75 w/ powercompacts. Hey guys i just had a quick question for you-i have a 75 reef that needs a lighting system. Its a standard 48" 75 and my two options are 4 55 watt bulbs or 6 55 watt bulbs (power compacts). I am deciding between having 3 actinic and 3 daylight or just 6 50/50. <The 50/50 "smart" lamps actually put out less light than using all white and all actinic lamps. Go with 3 daylight and 3 actinic, you'll be able to do the whole dawn dusk thing too.> I figured that i could have the flexibility of doing more lower light coral if i had two actinic on one side with only one daylight, but i could be completely wrong in that thinking. <IMO, powercompacts are still low light. You'd be hard pressed to burn something under that set-up.> As for corals i am gonna be sticking mostly to soft and maybe a few stony corals. I want maximum coralline growth as well. <Compacts are perfect for the coralline goal> Any direction you could point me would be great. <Enjoy! -Kevin>Thanks so much.

- Lighting Question Follow-up - Sorry I forgot. <No worries.> Which you prefer the 48" 4x65W Coralife Aqualight CF hood. to The JBJ 48" FORMOSA DX (65W*4) <I have no preference - do check on the forums.> Dennis Vigliotte <Cheers, J -- >

Mini Compact Fluorescent Hi!   >Greetings! I wrote a couple of times before, about filtration. I have been reading a lot from your site and keep learning new things on every visit. >Good to know. We now have set up and cycling an 18 tall tank; I think it is 18 gallons but it might be 20, it measures 18 inches from top to bottom, same base/top size as a ten gallon. >The method to figure total gallons of any rectilinear vessel is to multiply the three dimensions: width x depth x height.  Then divide by 231 (the number of cubic inches in a gallon) and you'll have your number.  Anyway!  Let's see what we can do for you here. We purchased some Fiji live rock to start things off. I soon found there were some lovely bright green coloured green star polyps growing on one of the bits of live rock, which was very exciting for me because I am a newbie. Right next to it on the same rock is one of those brownish, clear pest anemones, but right now it is cute and new and tiny so I like it. >Cute for now, but you'll want the Aiptasia gone soon enough.  We'll tackle that when you're ready, yeah? For lighting I decided to try out the mini compact fluorescent bulbs. These are little things that screw right into a regular incandescent style hood; this one has two sockets for bulbs. The kind of bulb is Coralife 50/50, which says it is equal to 50 watts of incandescent light. It is half 10k daylight, and half actinic 03 blue. I read about them and learned that they supposedly don't get as hot as a regular fluorescent tube, but give more light. >Not that normal output gets all that hot in the first place, maybe you meant incandescent?  The ballasts are what gets hot with fluorescents, including normal output, high output (HO), very high output (VHO), and power compacts (PC).   No one at the aquarium store seems to know much about these mini compact fluorescent bulbs. My question is, with 2 of these is that 100 watts of light then? Will the star polyps be happy with that amount of light? >Ok, it's not so much the wattage that's important as it is the lumens (light intensity) and Kelvin rating.  This is a rating by which we measure the quality of light against that perfect source--the sun.  This information should be easily available from the manufacturer.  Also, the star polyps *should* be happy, but if you're worried then simply observe, and if you do move them, move them only small bits.  I think they should be fine, myself. Should I prop them up higher closer to the light? I would really like them to grow. Right now they are about 15 inches from the light, being on top of a rock near the bottom. >Just watch for extension, and I think that your water quality is going to be more important in the long (and short) run.  How exciting, yeah?   Thanks, -Laura >You're very welcome, I hope this has helped you a bit, and good luck!  Marina

Throwing A Little More Light On Things! Hey crew! <Hi there! Scott F. with you> I have a 65gal reef tank set up w/ 60#'s of liverock and w/ a 96w PC SmartLight as lighting. It seems to be doing great becuase I'm starting a nice coralline algae growth on my tank walls after only a month of having the lighting.  I'm looking to get more lighting for my tank but between the range of 100-$150.  It's 24" tall, so it is a fairly deep tank. I'm confused on what type of lighting i want.  I saw a 110w PC light for a little over $100 at a LFS but its a daylight bulb.  I want something that's gonna really bring the beauty of my fish and coral out.  Would you suggest a VHO blue color light? <Well, if you like what the pc's are doing (I like pc's, myself)-why not go for a couple more retrofit pc's, like 2- 96 watt lights, maybe 1 10000k and 1 actinic...That could be a nice effect, and helpful for some corals, too! Check it out! Good luck!> thanks, Jason <And thank you for stopping by!>

PC Problems I got two power compact lights from ebay.  One is a 2x55 watt light and one is a 2x 96 watt light.  They are Jalli brand lights with a 4 pin connection. I think they are the German version. <German versions usually have the "straight pin configuration", and the Japanese versions generally have the "square pin" configuration> I just got lights today and the bulbs are difficult to connect.  I was only able to get one bulb connected.   <You have to carefully slot them into the holders- I know- I've broken a few myself!> The others would not fit.  I am new to the hobby and have never had this type of light. Are the lights defective and should I get replacements from  the seller.  I would really appreciate your help. Thanks, Brian <Well, if they don't fit , they might be the wrong type, or perhaps you need to make sure that there are no obstructions in the sockets. With most PC bulbs, you kind of position them vertically before lowering them into the holders in a horizontal position. It sometimes takes a few attempts to get it right. If you simply cannot get it to work, you may want to contact the seller to get the whole story, or perhaps you could go to a local shop and ask them to give you a hand. PC's are fine lights for many applications, so it's worth a bit of effort, IMO! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Power Compacts! Hey guys hope all is well today. I want to buy some new lights for my 75 gallon plant tank. There are 3 options I am looking at.   1.) Helios Power Compact fixture, includes 4-55 watt bulbs, features a remote ballast, and 4" stands so it sits above the aquarium higher then normal (4" above). The bottom of this fixture is not open to the edges, looks more like windows, though they take up most of the fixture bottom they don't take it all up. This unit appears to have no fans, but does have the remove ballast 2.) JBJ Power Compact Fixture, includes 4-65 watt bulbs, and has fans, but the ballast is in the fixture. Ouch! The stands are available to raise it off the tank, but they are $20 extra, not included as they are with the Helios. The bottom is all see through, no 'window' look to it at all 3.) The last option is a 175 watt MH retro with 2 MH bulbs, ballast, reflector and socket (forget the right name) Here's the problem, the tank is in a closet with the doors taken off, and has a sheet hanging from the top of the closet flush with the front of the tank, so you cannot see all the junk amassed in the closet :) That's what concerns me most, I think the MH's are out, the heat they would generate inside a closet would be insane I think, even though the ballast could sit outside the closet the lights would still be in there with little to no circulation.    <Heat is easy enough to deal with. Just use a common fan, one of those ones made to sit in a window would probably work just great.> The Helios is 40 watts total less the JBJ, but has a remote ballast that could be outside the closet, but the fact that the bottom isn't totally see through bothers me, as well as the fact that I lose 40 watts to the JBJ, however this fixture is about $50 cheaper then the JBJ 260 watt. No fans is kind of rough, but the ballast sits outside. Also the fixture is 7" wide. The tank is 18" wide, albeit the fixture would be 4" above the aquarium, between the narrow width and windowed bottom I am concerned about getting even light to the front and back of the tank. The JBJ fixture is almost the best. It's a bit more pricey, the stands to set it above an open top aquarium are an extra $20, but I will gain 40 watts, and a fixture that is 12" wide with a fully transparent bottom, and fans in the fixture, this sounds like the winner, right? <Yep> Well, almost, but the ballasts are in the fixture! UGH, I can only imagine the heat this would give off inside a closet with almost no air flow.   <That does not concern me to much. I would rather have the ballast hidden inside the closet and use a fan to vent the heat than to have a big ugly ballast out in full view.> All said and done I think the Helios will be roughly $200, the JBJ would be about $280 once you add in the $20 stands. The 2 bulb 175 watt MH Retro setup is probably about $150. <A tough call, but I would rule out the MH's unless you are going with truly light loving plants and a CO2 system.> Really I'm just looking for someone's honest opinion on the options, you guys are the best at giving your honest opinions, and you know what you are doing!   <As we tell so many aquarists, you have to determine what you want to keep and then pick the lighting. Which type of plants and CO2 or not will help to determine your lighting needs. I really think any of the technologies (PC or MH over even something else) could work for you.> On another note, why does my RO/DI water test very high ammonia? Its fine the first week, tests 0. I tested it last night after sitting with a RIO 2100 going since I made it and heater, and the ammonia was like 3.0. Any ideas there? <Strange, I would think your RO/DI unit would remove the chloramines or at the very least you would see them right away. Is the water holding vessel covered? Are you sure no household cleaners could have gotten inside? Overspray from window cleaner or anything else containing ammonia is possible. Also, you may want to double check you test kit with another. Perhaps your local fish store would test a sample for you to confirm.> Thanks as always, Mark <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Powercompacts & Books Hello Crew, I had a question regarding power compact bulbs. I normally buy 55 watt power compact bulbs @ $22 dollars each but I saw a deal for four 55 watt power compact bulbs for $35 total, that have no brand name and are 6400K. Will these 6400K bulbs work for a Reef or should I just stick to the 6700 - 10000K brand name bulbs? <I would be concerned that they would not fit your socket. PC lamps come in two varieties, four pins in a line and four pins in a square arrangement. If they fit, I would still be concerned with how they look, but the best indicator would be actually using them and their spectral analysis. Color temperature is borderline useless and many times incorrect or driven by marketing versus reality.> BTW: I purchased some 10K bulbs then read somewhere that corals will benefit more from a 6700K bulb is this correct? <Again, it really depends more on the spectral analysis versus color temperature. I much prefer to see the graph showing the light distribution.> One last thing do you know where I can purchase Anthony's book on Corals? <Yes, you can buy it from his website, http://www.readingtrees.com or from any number of online vendors.> Thanks for your help. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

PC Lighting Crew, A little confused about a question I saw answered in the marine lighting FAQ's pertaining to 55 vs. 65 watt bulbs. I have a CSL ABS hood w/ 4 55 watt bulbs that is a year old and am searching the web for replacement bulbs.  2 7100 actinic blue and 2 6700 daylight.  I was researching on the FAQ's to try and get an opinion on whether to go with 6700, 8800, or 10,000 for the daylight bulbs when I noticed someone answering a question stating that you can not replace 55 watt bulbs with 65 watt bulbs. That seems to be the only thing out there for replacing these 55 watt bulbs and I had been informed by a few sales people that you could. Could you please confirm whether or not this is true and if not do you know where one can still purchase 55 watt PC bulbs. <Hi Kevin.  David D. answering this evening. Check the e-tailer links at wetwebmedia to find 55 watt bulbs. The issue of whether 65 watt bulbs can replace 55 watt bulbs is quite easily solved. The ballast should state the maximum wattage allowed. Look either on the ends of the ballast or behind the lights. The writing is normally in small print.  I do not suggest exceeding the maximum wattage. It can quite easily create a fire hazard. If you aren't able to find the maximum wattage, I suggest using the manufacturer links at WWM. If memory serves me correct, there is a listing for Custom Sea Life. Email them directly.>  Thanks - Kevin <Glad to be of service.  David D.>

PC Lights for 6 gallon Nano Hello. I have a Jalli dual-bulb hood. I believe it is the 10 3/4" hood that holds two 13 watt bulbs. It came with a Phillips white bulb that puts out yellowish light and a blue bulb. I am running it over a 6 gallon nano-reef. I notice that you carry several types of bulbs for this hood. I would like to know which two bulbs would be best to put in this hood for anemones and good light requiring corals. <If you are currently getting good growth from your lamps, I would get the same thing as you have, a full-spectrum lamp and an actinic.> I cannot get the bulbs you carry locally and would like to order some from you if you tell me I can do better than what I already have. Thanks <You are welcome. -Steven Pro of www.WetWebMedia.com>

Re: PC Lights for 6 gallon Nano Thanks for the information. Is the white bulb (yellowish output) a full spectrum bulb? <Probably> Do the 13 watt bulbs listed for Hamilton fit the Jalli hood as well? <I do not know. Look at the pin arrangement of your lamps and compare to the listed pin arrangements for lamps available.> I saw a bulb that was half red and half daylight is this a good bulb? <Is does not sound like it is a fish lamp to me.> Is it better to run two 1/2 actinic and 1/2 daylight bulbs, rather than running one bulb of each? Scott <Probably little difference unless you have separate switches for each lamp. -Steven Pro>

PC lighting Greetings. <Hello> I have decided to build my own canopy to house my new lights:<Me Too!> JBJ 4x65W retro. I have a 90 gal with LR, inverts, and fish only: no corals. I just finished the canopy, and realized if I mount the lights on the roof, I will have about 8-9 inches of space between the lights and the surface of the water. Will this be OK? Or should I mount wooden blocks to the roof and then mount the lights to the blocks to make them closer to the water? Thanks, John Michael Woodward <As far as the fish are concerned in will not make too much of a difference, it will only affect your viewing. Your live rock will do better with the lights closer to the water, about 3in from the surface. You will find lots of good lighting information from the links below. -Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm>

Compact Fluorescents? I have a question on a lighting set-up. I currently have a 75 gallon with 4 65W Compacts. I am not into a full blown reef, just have some softies, mushrooms, star polyp. I also have some things growing out of the liverock and some nice coralline algae. Anyways, I am looking to upgrade my tank size to a 120. It will basically just get wider and 3" deeper. Will my current lighting situation still work, or will I have to upgrade.  <fluorescents of all kinds work well for the top 10-12 inches of water... too weak beyond that for many corals> I guess I go from 3.4 watts per gallon to 2.15, but I have only gone 3" deeper. Your thoughts? <watts per gallon is a terrible rule of thumb... read here for more, my friend: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm > <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Compact Fluorescents? Sorry to follow up, but red the article and wanted to clarify.  <no worries :) > Should I assume that everything that is doing well in my 75 system now should continue to do well in a 120 with my current lighting system? <yes, my friend... if you keep your corals in the top of the new tank (10-12" of surface) and feed them weekly if not daily where appropriate... then you will likely be quite fine. Else... in deeper water or with less food they may starve very slowly (1-2 years) and die "mysteriously". See here for feeding tips: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fdreefinverts.htm best regards, Anthony>

PC lighting Hi again, First question, as a generality, can a 65 watt bulb be used in the same light strip as a 55 watt? <No> Aside from the heating differences and the need for a good fan to keep it cool, wouldn't this be okay? <No, the ballast in the fixture is designed for a 55 watt lamp and will not properly drive a 65 watt lamp.> We routinely use different wattage incandescent bulbs, so wouldn't that line of thinking apply here? <An appropriate comparison would be to use a 100 watt incandescent bulb in a fixture that says not to use more than a 75 watt bulb. It could be dangerous.> Secondly, I have a carpet (Haddon's) anemone which has been living quite well under 2-55 watt 10K and 2-55 watt actinic in a 72-gallon. Is this strength sufficient, or should I upgrade to more watts (i.e. the 65 watts). <Your current lighting seems rather moderate to me. I would consider another 2-55 watt full spectrum lamps.> From what I have been reading it seems I am almost borderline. Or is there a better combo of lights then what I have it living under? <All four lamps in a full spectrum would be better, but I still think you will need additional lamps.> Your advise would be grateful. Thanks, Kim
<You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

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