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FAQs about Fluorescent Light and Lighting for Marine Systems 2

Related FAQs: Fluorescent Light 1, Fluorescent Light 3, Normal Output (NO), High Output (HO), Very High Output (VHO), Compact Fluorescents (CFs, PCs)Compact Fluorescents 2T5, TN Fluorescent Lighting, & FAQs on Fluorescent: Fixture Selection, End Caps, Ballasts, Regular and High-Output Lamp Selection, PC Lamp Selection, T-5 Lamp Selection, Lamp Life-Span Issues, Power Consumption Issues, Installation-Wiring, Troubleshooting/Repairing, By Make/Model/Manufacturer: & Metal Halide Lighting, Lighting Marine Invertebrates LR LightingTridacnid LightingSmall System Lighting,

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Brad in Basalt pic of mysterious Cnidarian... worm?

Coralife Contact Information – 12/12/07 Hello Crew, <Hello Rich, Brenda here> Please help. <Will try!> I have a 72" Coralife fluorescent fixture for my 180 with a broken Plexiglas cover. I have tried everywhere to get a replacement. It is 1/16" thick. I can only find 1/8" thick replacements. Is there a way to contact Coralife themselves to talk to them and get help? Or does anyone know where to get 1/16" thick Plexiglas in a 71 1/2" length? I tried my local aquarium store and they gave me the brush-off. Thanks. <Do you mean Coralife? I am not familiar with Coralife. I have contacted Coralife myself for replacement parts. The contact information I used is: jimc@central-aquatics.com 309-851-8999. If this doesn’t work, you may want to contact a place that sells this product and see if they can provide you with the contact information. Rich <Brenda>

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  Originally this branch was touching a group of mushrooms and the polyps had been retracted for awhile.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  >>

72 radium bulb hi guys, just wanted to know if anyone makes a 20k radium VHO  bulb...preferably 72 inch...do you know where I could buy them if so?? thanks, << I don't know if anyone makes them, but I'm sure www.hellolights.com would be a good place to check. >> Rick <<  Blundell  >> VHO Reef lighting 10/14/04 Hi Anthony, this is Genaro again. I have a question about VHO  lighting. will two 110w: one actinic 03 and one AquaSun? or one actinic03  and one 50-50? <actually... for the corals, more daylight (white) is better... so one AquaSun plus one 50/50 is better IMO> Be sufficient for soft corals, mushrooms, leather  Sarcophyton, hammer. <yes... as per above> and how high  from the water. or a three bulb system. <no higher than 3" (75 mm)> one  actinic03,one AquaSun and one  50-50. <ah... very nice. Yes, more AquaSun and 50/50> my tank is 48x15x18 I thank you  again

NO and VHO bulb differences Hello,   Now I'm more confused. I have Coralife 50/ 50 and 10,000 k but the wattage is only 40. << As in 40 watt normal output fluorescent lights?  I'll assume so. >> I was under the impression that these were VHO, at least that's what I've been told. << Are they 4 feet long?  If so, they are not VHO but are NO. Four foot VHO bulbs are 110 watt. >> I do not think I've seen wattage higher than 40 watts in this area. Can you the recommend somewhere to find higher wattage, maybe on the internet.  << Oh boy lots of areas.  If those lights are like 18 inches long and are 40 watt, then they are VHO, but not if they are four feet long.  I hate to recommend an online store, but I guess you asked me to.  I'll recommend Hello Lights because they have supported my work and online articles. Know that you will need new ballasts and end caps and everything if you switch bulbs.  You can't just take out NO bulbs and replace them with VHO bulbs. >> thanks Jennifer. <<  Blundell  >>

Marine Lighting dear Mr.. Fenner,                        saw your article re: marine lighting. some questions here; a 6200K, 2600Lumens 36W at 48"L (Philips) but no idea if it's full spectrum or what and the CRI rating does not indicated at the label. what's written was only daylight and a sort of  "Fluotone", what I understood about your article was that bulb is close enough to natural daylight. is it good enough as a light source for a reef tank? my tank is 72"Lx18"Dx19"H,please elaborate... thanks! -Arnold <I would seek this information from the manufacturer. Believe me, they have tested for these values. I strongly suspect however that the lamp is full-spectrum due to the Kelvin rating (6,200). Look on the Internet for Philips site, and if not posted, write them via their contact information re. Bob Fenner> VHO brand preferences? Hello,         Thanks before hand for the quick response and great advising.  I just was wondering if you guys over there have a preference for a VHO bulb brand? << I do like the URI bulbs because they have those built in reflectors, and I think that is awesome. >> I'm replacing my old bulbs soon and was wondering if there is any type you'd recommend over what I was using with is URI bulbs.  In CMA Bob gives a recommendation for Vita-Lux tubes and from what I've found online they make some VHO tubes.  If you guys have any preference let me know :)  << Nope, I think you're fine. >>Thanks again Chris AKA "fishtank" <<  Blundell  >>

How many T-5's for my 40 gal? Bob, << Blundell this morning. >> I heard you were somewhat up to speed on the newest T5 HO bulbs. << I have had a few of them. >> I am trying to decide on a 4x39W unit or to spend the extra dough on a 6x39. My objective is to add a little more light than I have with my 2x96W pc and change up the spectrum a bit with the 4 or 6 bulbs. My tank is 36x18x16 and from the top of the water to the top of the sandbed is only 12" or 13" to top of edge. I only have soft, LPS and rose anemones in there now. However, would like to put in some moderate light SPS too. Would the 4x39W be enough light for my 40 gallon? Hard to judge with the lower wattage bulbs. I am afraid that the 6 bulb fixture being too big considering my tank is only 18" wide. << Well here is what I would do.  I would go with four.  You can always squeeze more in later if you want to.  With that being said, you can't have too much light, so adding six is fine.  But even if you add six, I would add four first, then add two more later.  That size tank (similar to what I have) is difficult to light.  You're correct that the small width of the tank will make it challenging, but I think adding four bulbs is a good idea. >> What is your opinion on the 4 or 6 bulb. Also, do you believe that the lumen output of the 39W T5 bulb is in fact more than a 96W PC as rumors say? << No, I don't.  But, you can fit lots of T-5's in a small space, so that makes up for it. >> Thanks, Rob Charlotte, NC << Blundell, in the lab >> VHO, T5, PC Lumen Comparison Rob, Do you know where I can find a lumen output comparison of VHO, T5 & Power Compact? Can't seem to find one anywhere. I was told the new T5 lamps actually have more lumen output than even Power Compact bulbs. Would love to see some stats on this.  Thanks, Rob <I am not sure that such a comparison exists, and if it does only a few brands/models are probably compared.  The bottom line is that the differences in efficiency between types of florescent lamps in terms of lumens/watt is probably trivial.  PC's and especially T-5's are brighter because they pack the watts into a smaller package which also allows more lamps to be placed in the same amount of space and permits more efficient reflector designs.  Smaller lamps also cast a smaller shadow (this is not a trivial consideration), and double ended lamps (as opposed to the "horse shoe" design of PC's) allows light exiting the sides of the lamp to be reflected downward as opposed to shining onto the adjacent tube.  I hope this helps.  Adam>

T-5 Lighting Dear Crew, Firstly, love your site. After keeping freshwater tanks for over 30 years I've finally taken the plunge and have just set up a marine tank. Marine systems are so much more confusing than freshwater (i.e. there are so many different opinions as to how to set up a marine system), and your site has provided lots of information to help me understand what the alternatives are. << You're right, they are far more complicated. >> (Deciding which alternative to go with however was still confusing, but your help was wonderful!) In the end I decided to go with a set up suggested by a LFS as I have been frequently admiring their marine display tank for the last 16 years. (Many of the LFSs in my area have only been carrying marines for a few years, and so I took comfort in a shop that has such a successful decade and a half old display tank!) I have a 48x14x24 inch (length, width, depth) tank with live rock which accounts for about 15-20% of the volume of the tank. My filtration is a trickle filter with bio-balls and a protein skimmer. (I considered a DSB, but my wife freaked out at the thought of having a quarter of the tank taken up by sand. I'll see how things go, and may in the future get a much larger sump into which I can put a DSB or plenum filter if the current set-up doesn't keep the tank chemistry satisfactorily.) << I really like this idea. >> I plan on making a 5% water change every week (or 10% a fortnight). I also use RO water for evaporation replacement. Anyway...after nearly a month of cycling I have just added my first fish 2 days ago, a coupled pair of clownfish (Perculas). The LFS suggested that I add an anemone as, although it is not essential, in their experience these fish are happiest (and healthier and more colourful) if they have one to play in. << I'm still not really buying that argument. >> I don't remember the name of the anemone (I know, I should have written it down!) but its pink/purplish with bright purple ends to the tentacles which are themselves about one inch or more long. The anemone itself is about 10 inches wide. The clownfish seem very happy with it and don't stray very far or long from it. The anemone quickly moved itself to the side of the tank (half anchored to the bottom glass, half anchored to the side glass) where it has stayed. Finally, onto my question. Lighting is the one thing that I haven't finalized yet. I currently have a single T8 Fluoro tube which is only a very short term stop-gap measure until I decide what lighting to get. (I hadn't bothered finalizing this issue as I wasn't originally planning on getting any invertebrates until several months later.) After a bit of research I thought I should get some MH lighting, but wifey is again adding her aesthetic 2 cents worth and does not like the idea of large lights suspended or lofted above the tank. << She needs to see halides on a tank and beautiful the tank will look. >> After reading up more about them, the need to add a chiller and the probability of much higher evaporation has also given me a few concerns (although I do love the light ripple effect that they give off!). After more research, I came across T-5 lighting and have been wondering if this is the compromise that will keep both my wife and anemone happy. << T-5 lights are fine, but you need a ton of them. >> I live in Australia and currently we only have NO fluors and MH in common supply. T5 lighting is just starting to become available here and should be more common in the coming months. I was thinking of getting 4x55w T5 lights. I have been doing as much research on these as I can but most of the available info is from manufacturers. The only WWM references I could find were a couple of forum opinions, one stating T5 life is much shorter than claimed, and another stating that they are useless beyond 18 inches. In a question to WWM about a year ago, Andrew (or was it Anthony - I couldn't refind the question) stated that T5s should be fine up to a depth of 60cm. As that reply was a year ago when the lights were very new, has any further information/views/opinions been formed on this lighting? Will 4x55w T5s keep << You can do just fine with T-5's but you need to fill your canopy with them.  I would recommend like 8 of them at 48 inches long on your tank.  When you add that up, you may be better (and I would advise you) to get 4 VHO tubes.  I really think you will enjoy them more than the T-5's. >> my anemone happy in a 24 inch deep tank? Thanks very much for your thoughts. << Good luck. >> Craig <<  Blundell  >>


How Many T-5 Lights Thanks for the quick feedback. Unfortunately we don't have VHO down here, only NO fluors and MH, with T5s just starting off. You suggested that if I use T5s I should have 8 of them. Again unfortunately I don't think I can fit any more than 4 T5s (with reflectors) under my hood. Would 4 T5s keep my  anemone (a radiatus I've been told) alive, or do I really need to go for MH. << You don't need metal halide.  Four t-5's is fine, but I would still try to get as many bulbs in there as you can. >> Thanks again. << Good Luck >> Craig <<  Blundell  >>

T-5 Lighting on a 72 gal WWM Crew: << Blundell here. >> Hope all is well. As I hunt for my lighting answer my LRS explained that PC actinic bulbs loose useful blue spectrum very fast, and that VHO or HO would be a better choice for my goals (Hammer, Frogspawn, elegance). I am wondering what your opinion would be on the sunlight supply t5 fixtures over these corals in 20" deep 72 gallon tank. << I think they are excellent additional lights.  I would go with VHO for actinic, or even a 20k halide.  A 72 gal tank is big enough to warrant larger lighting systems in my mind. I do like T-5's, but would recommend you have 8 of them over a tank that size. >> Will the corals thrive on 4 of these HO bulbs? << I wouldn't say thrive.  They may live, but to thrive I would definitely up the lighting. >> Thanks, Eddie <<  Blundell  >>

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  >>

LUMINAIRE T-5 LIGHTING 6/14/04 Hi what do you know about the a/m. Is this comparable to metal halide or VHO? Is it suitable for a marine reef system?  Brent D. Johnston <I am not sure what you are specifically asking about, so I will answer very generally.  As long as the spectrum is acceptable (mostly an aesthetic choice, in my opinion) T-5's are excellent reef tank lighting.  Do keep in mind that the lamps are not yet widely available and I would suggest that you compare the replacement cost to that of VHO before choosing. All fluorescent technologies get about the same amount of light per watt.  T-5's simply emit that light from a thinner lamp.  This makes them look more intense to the eye.  A thinner lamp also casts less of a shadow on it's own reflected light and allows for more efficient reflector designs.  More lamps can also be placed in the same amount of space.  If you choose T-5, look for an enclosure that is designed to capitalize on these advantages. By using enough lamps, you can match the intensity of Metal Halides with any light source, but some T-5 fixture more accurately duplicate the "point source" nature of halides by packing a lot of lamps into a small area.  Hope this helps!  Adam>

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>

Will VHO cut it? Hello, <Hi! Ryan with you today> First, let me thank you your all the help that you/your site provides. A little background:  My tank is a standard all-glass 55 gallon with a 5-6 inch DSB and refugium, I do frequent water changes, use very few additives (B-Ionic, occasionally Iodine and strontium/magnesium), feed the few small reef fish sparingly and feed the corals frozen Cyclop-eeze. <Sounds like you're doing well- A nice, tight schedule> I am contemplating trying to use 440W URI AquaSun (3) and URI Super Actinic (1) VHO lighting for a SPS coral reef.  I have looked through the FAQs and have read the pros/cons of the different type of lighting. <Truly, all types have great features> I also looked at the GARF site and looked at tanks that they have set up.  Do you think that this would doom the Acros?  Some people say they have great luck with the VHO (growing, nicely colored corals), others say you would be wrong to use VHO, only MH will work well. <I believe that VHO lacks one key element to the health of Acros- The shimmer lines.  When you see a nice metal halide bulb functioning properly, you will see the light reflect down, shimmering and reflecting into the depths.  These emulate the natural sunlight effect, which reaches the zooxanthellae deep inside the SPS.  This naturally magnifies the light, and some think this is key to the great colors you see.  Others believe that VHO is every bit as good- But I'll never keep SPS without natural sunlight or metal halides.  Now, if you're interested in growing frags, VHO is every bit as good-The calming light actually seems to spark growth rates.  I know we have come full circle, but the bottom line is that every system creates it's own "preferred" list.>  This is my dilemma, and I wanted to ask the experts! Thanks again for all your help. <I hope this helps! See ya, Ryan> Cheri

- 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 -- >

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> Lighting opinion - T5s for aquaria 3/26/04 Anthony, Thank you for your response. So it sounds like you are saying that T5's would provide better quality ( more intense ? )  light than the VHO's? Matt <I feel that T5 lighting is the best fluorescent choice presently. Anthony>

Marine Set-up Questions Thanks for the advice on drilling my tank. I got my wet dry set up and running. I got a few questions that I couldn't find in the FAQs. My first question, are there any advantages/disadvantages to placing the heater in the tank or in the sump? <The tank provides more steady, evenly dispersed heating... and is a real bonus location should the pump/circulation mechanism to/through the sump fail... But heater/s in the sump are far less conspicuous and less-easily broken> Second, I want to use diatomaceous earth in my aquarium. Should I buy the swimming pool or food grade? <Mmm, you don't want to "add" DE to your tank... perhaps for use in a designated filter... either source will work for this> And finally, I probably need to replace my compact fluorescents (it's been about 6 months).  Are there any differences between the various brands for the bulbs?  <Some... best to chat over this issue with folks on the various marine aquarium BB's> I noticed some people selling no brand name bulbs on eBay which are even cheaper than www.thatfishplace.com or any of the LFS. Thanks for your help. Thomas <Yes... worth investigating here. Lamps are actually made by very few companies on this planet... and relabeled by many others. Bob Fenner>

Lighting questions - 1/29/04 Dear all, Just a quick question for you on full spectrum fluorescent tubes. <I will do my best> I am thinking of purchasing the following tube for my 40 gallon FOWLR tank to try and get a good spread of coralline algae mainly (still looks a bit to bare on on the rocks, with only a bit spread of coralline colouration). <Well, coralline seems to do well in muted light with stable calcium levels. Also a good way to "kick start" coralline growth is to get as much as you can from various sources. Some online dealers sell these "coralline packs> Do I need to have bright lighting to encourage this growth as I was led to believe by my LFS that this algae can grow in caves, so lighting is not that important. <Lighting is not "THE" key but plays an important role. I wouldn't go bright, but it will grow regardless. I think coralline sources and saturated stable calcium levels play a more important role in the formation of coralline than lighting> Tanks inhabitants are a Shrimp Goby and Pistol shrimp buddy, Six line Wrasse and a Firefish, along with a few Cerith snails and hermits. <Not coralline eaters so you should be fine here> I'm pretty new to the hobby (getting on for a year with the tank). The tube I had in mind is an Activa 172 made by a company named Sylvania. <Sylvania is a fine company but I am not familiar with their aquarium tubes> The description is as follows: Activa 172 Full Spectrum Tube 2ft 18W Daylight 6500?K full spectrum lamp with near perfect colour rendering index Ra) of 98%. The Activa 172 range are ideal for use in design, print and publishing where excellent light quality and supreme colour rendering are paramount. <Sounds like this bulb is not an aquarium specific bulb. So the problem may be the spectrum is more orange, red and yellow which are used fairly quickly within the water, usually as heat. Go with a 50/50  tube (manufacturer is not as important with N/O florescent per se) See if you can't find a bulb made for aquariums> Also emitting a tiny amount of UV light, these lamps are the closest available alternative to natural daylight and ideal for counteracting the effects of SAD. Specifications 18 Watts Fitting: 2-pins 13mm apart (G13) Length: 600mm Diameter: 25mm Finish: Full spectrum Colour Temperature: 6500?K The tank currently has one 10000K and one blue moon actinic, and I wish to add a third bulb (on another ballast I have) and thought a full spectrum would help the growth. <Likely will> My question is really, would it help or am I wasting my time with the lighting? <See initial response. The answer is.....well....maintain calcium levels and add more coralline algae from another source. Lighting is the last thing I would add to the scenario. ~Paul> Many thanks, M. Wright

- Fluorescent Ballast Life - WWM Crew, I am trying to decide whether or not I should replace my bulbs or possibly need to replace my whole light fixture. The unit I'm confused about is a CSL 4 x 55 watt ABS hood( 2 8800 daylight + 2 actinic).  I bought it about 2 years ago and it was a used unit in good condition, so I really don't know exactly how old it is. I had been using it on a 90 gal reef tank that I just had a custom oak canopy made for with 4 x 110 watt VHO lighting, so I was now using this light on my 55 gal tank. Well I  realized my bulbs were due to be replaced. And as I was looking at the tank (55 gal mini-reef) it appeared that the left half of the tank seemed to be just a little bit brighter than the right side. I thought well that's because the bulbs just went past a year old and they need to be changed. Just to be sure it was a bulb problem, I decided to swap the bulbs on the left to the right and vice-versa. I was sure that now the right side would appear to be brighter. However that was not the case, the left side still appeared to be brighter. Then I thought it must be because the overflow box is on the left side or the LR is at an angle that reflects different, so I picked up the whole hood and swung it around 180 degrees and now the right side was indeed brighter. Also just to be sure this was not being caused by a dirty piece of plastic, I slid the plastic lens from the bottom of the hood.  Still no change the left half of the light is definitely a little brighter than the right. So my dilemma now is whether or not it's worth spending 100 dollars on new bulbs when there must be a problem with the ballast on the right half of the unit. I know bulbs are always in need of replacing but I've never heard of people replacing ballasts, nor do I know if that is even possible in a pre-manufactured ABS hood. <It is, you just need to disassemble it.> I would greatly appreciate any thought you might have on this matter. <Well... my thinking is in line with yours, that typically ballasts have a lifetime of at least ten years or better. Most modern ballasts are solid state so there's really not much that can/will age, but will instead just crap out. I'd at the very least pop some email to Custom SeaLife to see what they think about the whole thing.> Thanks again for your help,  Kevin <Cheers, J -- >

Re: Stacking fluorescent lighting 12/20/03 Crew, First off, a big thanks: WWM and TCMA have been indispensable sources of  information.   <Glad to hear you have benefited!> I'm researching possible lighting solutions for a 120 gal reef tank.  I'd like to keep tridacnid clams (derasa, gigas or Squamosa) and compatible soft corals. <The clams that you listed are the least light demanding, so read on for what will probably be a pleasantly surprising solution to your dilemma.> Is it possible to stack fluorescent lamps within a canopy?  (provided I solve ventilation and lamp support issues)  I am assuming this isn't  advisable since I've only seen canopies that feature lamps flat on a single plane parallel to the water's surface. <Stacking the lamps will lead to almost no additional light reaching the animals in the tank.  An unlit lamp is nearly opaque, and although it isn't intuitive, so is a lit one.  The lower set of lights will essentially shade the tank from the lamps above them.  But on to the good part....  If you get four full length lamps over the tank, you can keep any of the three listed species of clams if you keep them in the upper half of the tank.  If you can jam six lamps in (shouldn't be too hard), you can keep them anywhere in the tank (assuming all of their other needs are met).  Don't expect outrageous growth rates, but they should remain quite healthy.> Thanks in advance, <always a pleasure!  Adam>
Jon (drawing attached)

Doing the Fluoro Salsa.. or Was It a Rumba? >Good afternoon! For Bob Fenner and other marvelous WWM FAQ crew. >>Good day to yourself as well.  How goes it? >Recently, my full-spectrum (daylight) fluorescent tube had been out-aged and cannot be used for more. After that, I ask my assistant to buy a daylight tube (I know this is seems to be not wise, because handling an knowledgeable task without supervising can make a wrong choice and creates one more problem) but I haven't much choice, I'm too busy for my stacking homework. >>Understood. >So, when he go home and I see what type of lighting he bought, I see it's a little bit different from the previous one. The light wasn't white-colored, but rather violet hued and seems not too strong to support autotrophic organisms in my aquarium. For example, my two Tridacna derasa clam (sorry -- it's not Tridacna maxima, I realized the species shortly after sending you the email) still exposes their broad mantles, but I'm not sure if the zooxanthellae can tolerate another type of lighting. >>I like T. derasa myself, my friend. >Do you know the type of lighting and is it good for my clams? >>I'm afraid not, my friend.  What you would need is to look for the manufacturer's specifications on the bulb.  I am guessing that you may have what is called a "warm white" bulb, in which case it will be too high in the red end of the spectrum.  You should be better getting a "cool white" bulb, or better yet, possibly calling the shop where your assistant bought the bulb, tell them what you HAD, and ask if they have that same bulb. >And also for my intertidal urchin, Colobocentrus atratus who seems to love the atmosphere and always tries to creeps out of water. I'm afraid if they will develop air bubbles in their test cavity, and slowly dies. >>No, I doubt they would harm themselves in that way. >Should I constantly replace the urchin back to water or just leave it alone? >>As long as it cannot escape from the display completely (and get lost?), leave it alone.  They know where the water is (DOWN!), and will go back when they feel the need. >Thank you very much for previous helpful emails !!  Sincerely, Anargha. >>Alas, I, Marina, cannot take credit for those, but will offer that you are welcome all the same.  Marina

- Looking for that Special Bulb - I have a 55 gallon marine aquarium with about 7# of live rock, an anemone, several types of small polyps, and a handful of live plants.  It's obvious that with my current fluorescent lighting and natural sunlight (72 sq ft of skylights providing mostly indirect light) are adequate, but the coloring of the reef and inhabitants seems drab. <Then the lighting is likely not adequate.> My fluorescent fixture only holds one bulb.  I would like a bulb that provides the best spectrum for coralline and invertebrate (polyps, etc.) health and growth, while also bringing out the vivid colors that I see in the aquarium shop, such as glowing tentacles on the anemone, etc.  Does such an all-around bulb exist? <Perhaps one of the 50/50 bulbs - combined white and actinic light.> Thanks, Dan <Cheers, J -- >

VHO Good Morning, <hello> I am wondering what to buy as far as lighting. Let me 1st say that I can't have MH. I know you guys are big on it but it will be in a future tank(3 or 4 years). My current tank is going to be 100 gallon standard. 60h X 18d and I think is 20 tall maybe 19). I am about to purchase Ice Cap ballasts. I was going to purchase 2 430's and I would be able to run 4 60" bulbs. But I got to looking at prices and for $20 more per ballast I could get 660's. Would this be a good move money wise? <if some day you plan on going to a bigger tank yes> I would then be able to run 6 X 60's. Is that over kill? I would like to keep some SPS's. <then I would say no> I've heard lots of success stories on VHO but wanted your opinion. Also, I've heard of people keeping T. Maxima and T. Crocea under entirely VHO lighting for years with success as well. < this is true I have a friend how has been keeping a crocea under power compact for over 2 years now> What I don't know is the depth they were kept, but I would consider my tank to be shallow(< 24"). <his is kept in a 90 gallon tank about half way down> I would love to hear your opinion or several opinions) on if I should fork out the dough for the ballasts or just give up for about 3 or 4 years until I build my house? <do it now you can always use these ballast on your new tank> One more question totally unrelated. Do you guys ever give seminars or hold conferences on the Gulf Coast? Biloxi, Gulfport, Mobile, or Pensacola? I wish you guys would!! I'd Pay to listen to any of you all day and night! <not sure will get back to you. good luck MikeH> Kind Regards, Jason

Lighting across the pond: T5 technology 8/7/03 Hi Team, <cheers my friend> Graham from Scotland here, I have been reading all your fantastic items on fw-sw conversions and have now changed my tank over and cycling at present, <excellent to hear, mate!> Tank is 42"x22"x20" with Fluval 404 filter, I will be purchasing an Aqua -c Remora in Orlando in September (holiday), <ahh... very nice> 300w Visitherm, single 36" Aqua Glo tube, Substrate is coral sand and tufa rock, I will be adding LR as soon as I sort out my lighting which I am totally confused after reading so many articles, I fancy the Power compact route but we don't have such a thing here in U.K as far as I know, <actually... it is my least favorite technology of the modern choices. While PC does produce very good quality light... it has very poor penetration of water at depth... and lamps are a poor value (lifespan). MH are a very good bang for your buck... but those brilliant T5s you have in the UK may be best of all!> I don't want to go into MH system as I don't intend to go into sps corals, but I do fancy a couple of anemones for percula clowns which will be my first purchase when ready, We have over here ' T5' lighting which im not too clued up on, Do you know much about this,? <yes... quite excellent by all measures. You would only need to use MH for a deeper tank (say 70 cm or deeper) and especially so with clams and sps corals> would it be suffice or can I just buy another Twin starter for Actinicx1 & Marine white x1 (ordinary fluorescents), my tank is built into a wall in my living room with access to tank via a cupboard in hall, so I can make up my own method of hanging lights when I decide what to use. Many thanks in advance, Graham Easton <alas... the standard output fluorescents really are dreadful for even the least demanding marines. Do consider those delightful T5s. With kind regards, Anthony>

Black light Hi, I have a 135 gallon tank that I want to make as a fish only tank but, my question is about illumination. I have four 48 inch fluorescent fixtures and I wanted to know if it were possible to use a one black light to three daylight's. you know those lights that they sale in local hardware stores. They do however give out a sort of blue radiation. I thought they would simulate very deep ocean water therefore supporting this side of the color spectrum. Well anyways, is it possible to use this light and should it be in this sort of ratio of three to one. <Have not heard of doing this. I would think a true Actinic bulb would be a better choice. Don>

- More Info on Lighting - Hi: I'd like to know where I can find more info about the power compacts and the t-5 lightning <T-5 lighting is rather new... Best to look at the manufacturer's web sites, many can be found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/general_links_pg.htm Cheers, J -- >

DIY VHO 7/16/03 Hey ya'll, I was at Home Depot and saw a ballast with this rating 120v, 60hz, 1.39amps.Also, it is for 2xF96HOT12/SS, 2xF96HOT12, 2x72HOT12. Can this run a VHO light on my reef tank? I have NO right now.   Thanks for your time, Kevin <regrettably I have no idea and no-one handy tonight has been able to chime in on the subject. You may want to take this to the message boards... but then again, if you are not handily enough to recognize the ballast as compatible or not (as I am not) then you are not a likely candidate for DIY wiring. Home/safety/life concerns here for such a small savings over a professionally wired unit. Do reconsider. Anthony>

VHO Lighting for Reef 7/11/03 Hi, I have a 135 gallon that's about 24 inches deep and planning to make it into sort of a coral reef tank. What I mean is putty a couple corals that are easy to maintain and don't need the very critical special attention that other reef tanks need. Well I was wondering if I could use 4-160 watt VHO bulbs for this application. <likely so, yes. 3 white (6000-10K) to 1 actinic blue ratio> But, I have not a clue in what types of bulbs should I use. Should I use 2 daylight 1 actinic and 1 AquaSun (URI brand of VHO) Please help me make the correct blend that will be able to support this application. <50/50 or 3:1 depends on your coral choice and/or aesthetic preference> I also wondered if I should go with the Coralife Brand of VHO or the URI brand which one would be better. <I find the URI brand to be significantly better. I cannot name any of the former company's products at large that I admire/use... they do have good marketing and packaging though> Also I wanted to know what kind of  corals, fish and or invertebrates would you recommend for a beginner like me. <for invertebrates... stay with soft corals only... Corallimorphs and common leather corals are best bets. For fishes... some peaceful Chromis damsels and small wrasse(s) would be a fine start... perhaps hardy coral beauty angel in time> Thanks for your time   <best regards... and do consider Bob's Conscientious Marine Aquarist book for an outstanding book on this subject (selection and care for beginners). Anthony>

- Vita-Lites? - Hi: <Hello, JasonC here...> I bought Mr. Fenner's book, he recommends the Duro-Test lights, I can't find them where I live, he also recommends General electric, Phillips and Verilux, I'd like to know which models of these brands (actinic and full spectrum) are good for a marine aquarium. <Unfortunately the company that made the Vita-lite is no longer in business. As for the other bulbs, I don't have any model/brand specifics available that I could share other than the phrase 'full-spectrum' which is the one used in the book. Is the way of things in book publishing, is a snapshot in time, and since then many things in lighting have changed... power compacts, T-5 lighting are both other options that are available to you that weren't mentioned in the book. If you know what it is exactly that you want to keep in your tank, that will necessitate your lighting choices.> thanks atte Rene <Cheers, J -- >

Fluorescent bulb Hello, I have a low energy fluorescent bulb in my tank lid.  It seems to emit a funny smell. Has any one else noticed anything similar and will it harm the fish. Please advise. Thank you <Sometimes new ballasts emit a funny smell at first, but I'm not sure what's causing your odor. I wouldn't worry about it unless it smelled like something was burning. -Kevin>

Smart Lite- A Smart Choice? I have been searching the web (and this site) for days to get opinions on the "new" (as of Feb, 2003) CSL SmartLite (I've learned lots, but not what I was looking for). Does it really put out 250% of the comparable wattage? Is the color good for both people and aquatics? Would the 48" (130 watt at $125, which they claim would be the equivalent of 130wats x2.5 or 330 watts) be a good choice for at 55 gal (48" x 13 x 20) saltwater moving from all-fish towards reef (nothing really exotic)? Peter <I haven't read any independent reviews of this light system, but I have used Custom C Life products many times in the last several years, and am very confident with the company and its products. Their customer service and technical support has been truly fantastic, honest, and helpful in my experience, and I would hope that this carries over into their marketing, too. I'd direct any questions on the technical aspects of their products directly to them, or perhaps, you could post on the WWM user forum and get some opinions on this system from other Smart Lite users. As far as the usefulness of the product for your application, I would think that it would be a good start...However, at a later stage, you may want to investigate more intense lighting systems, should your needs change... Good luck! Regards, Scott F>  

Replacement Fluorescent Ballast Ahhhh!!! Ok, I've written a bunch of times now, and have always been helped- now I really need it. After 2 years of successful reef keeping with many successes and valuable failures, my biggest problem is finding a new ballast. My old tankmate maker bought a compact fluorescent ready made kit from our LFS. It came soon, and worked great. It's a four bulb, 2 at 10000k, an actinic and a half and half, which I've heard is a mutant in the trade...ok, the big issue is that we thought a bulb had blown, but it turns out to be a bad ballast. I had our college electrician pull the kit apart to find no markings, serial #'s or name brands anywhere-except the bulbs we buy. The bulbs are a straight pin assembly and are 55 watts each, for a total of 220 watts. I have spent probably a week straight trying to find replacements in online searches, and the original supplier for some reason won't tell my very reputable LFS. Due to the kit, it looks like it would be about 6" long, about 2" wide and maybe an inch tall.- and I know that AHSupply.com  won't do it- any ideas? Thanks and let's end the misery, mike Barrett <Hi Mike, skip the misery and go with an Ice Cap 660 to drive those 4 CF tubes. BTW, the bulbs are available in various colors, including actinic blue, 10K and 50/50. Shop most of our on-line sponsors for Ice Cap ballasts. They will drive anything from NO (normal output) HO, VHO, Compact Fluorescent, T-5, etc. These are nice ballasts, I have two.  Enjoy.  Craig> 

Shedding A Little Light ON T5 Fluorescents Hi folks, <Hello! Scott F. with you today!> Thanks for your excellent website ... it's become daily reading and I'm in serious danger of 'late arrival' if I treat myself to a quick (ha!) look before leaving for work in the morning. <I can relate!> Can I ask a very basic question? In the near future (I hope) I'm going to treat myself to a 5' x 2' x 2' tank to replace my Rio 180. This will be for soft corals and fish... <Sounds like my kind of tank!> and so I'm going for T5 fluorescent lighting, built into the hood. My LFS makes excellent tanks, and they come complete with sliding cover glasses. Providing I keep these algae free is their impact on lighting quality (e.g. filtering out UV) to be ignored. Thanks, Brian <Good question, Bryan. I have not personally used T5's yet, but if we use some of the common "wisdom" applied to the use of VHO fluorescents, I'd venture to say that you might lose some qualities of the light (perhaps some spectral characteristics or intensity) if it is filtered by a cover glass. May be a better route to use water proof end caps and go sans cover glass. You may want to post on the WWM Forum to see what other T5 users are doing...Be sure to share your findings on this! Regards, Scott F

Maximum wire length between ballast and bulb Howdy, I have a retro kit for Halides & VHO's and the cabling that came with the kit has approx 10' ea between the bulb assy and the ballasts.  I have two separate ballasts, one for the halides & one for the VHO's.  They are just a standard Advance transformer w/cap ballasts.  I wanted to lengthen the distance between the ballast and the bulbs by an additional 10'.  I have the appropriate cable to do this and the wiring is simple enough.  The question really is, is there a maximum distance one should not exceed in length from ballast to bulb for either Halide or VHO?  Overall the length would be about 20' from ballast to bulb when I'm done. p.s. I've already wired it up...I just was wondering if the minimal extra capacitance in the line would cause a problem down the road with startup or voltage loss. Thanks <Yes, this could be a problem, depending on wire size for this length run, voltage, amperage, etc.  The manufacturers of these ballasts provide the maximum length and recommended wire size for these applications, please refer directly to the manufacturer (or vendor) for their requirements.  Craig>

Too Blue? Hey guys, <Scott F. your guy today!> Got a lighting question. I have a 65 gallon tank with LPS and soft corals. I have 3 96 watt pc's, 1-actinic, 1-10000k, and I was wondering what the third should be... 6700k? 7100k?20000k? Thanks, Justin Barstows <Well, Justin...it all depends on the specific species you intend to keep, as well as your aesthetic preferences! Even amongst the various LPS and soft corals we keep, light requirements (both spectrum and intensity) are highly variable. I, personally favor another actinic-but a lot of people find that "too blue", regardless of what the corals like! If that's your feeling, too, then I'd go with another 10,000K...Either should work fine. Your call here! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

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 Lighting Yet another ??? I am building a soft coral prop tank and I will be using NO fluorescents about 2-3 inches above the corals (Shrooms ,colts ,leathers)...do I need a specific spectrum or can I just use regular white cheapies? tanks again <If you are going to be using NO fluorescents I would go with full spectrum bulbs.  Anthony has a great article on lighting Marine Invertebrates located at the link below. -Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm >

A Little Light Conversation Crew, I have purchased some lighting for my 75 gallon aquarium, but to find out what I really just purchased, I decided to once again make the climb up the mountain to ask the fish gurus for advice. <Not a very steep mountain that I'm on! Scott F. firmly on the ground with you tonight> Let's just say that I'm reasonably satisfied with my purchases; however, my girlfriend thinks it might have been wiser to spend it on more important things (she mentioned food or something...).   <Sheesh... Food is highly overrated...just keep fishes...yep...> Without further ado, I shall present the meager specs of my little light show (all 48"): 1 standard 40 W fluorescent bulb 1 20,000 K 40 W Coralife bulb 1 50% 6000 K daylight, 50% actinic 03 blue 40W Coralife bulb There you have it.  I don't know if the combination of these is any good. I'm just interested in getting maybe a few anemones, or perhaps some damn hardy coral.  Will this lighting be sufficient, or should it be amplified. <Well, quite frankly, I like this color combination... fairly blue- which I like. As far as intensity, I'd say that you'd best stick to some of the lower-light-favoring Corallimorphs, such as Mushroom corals, Cynarina, etc. You can create a cool display with those mushrooms, believe me> If not use one of the bulbs without losing any efficiency, that'd be nice (my tops getting crowded).  Or, if you could recommend different bulbs for about the same price, I'd be much obliged. <I'd add another actinic in place of the standard fluorescent, myself..> Thanks in advance (all this assumes you'll give some sort of intelligent answer....but I'm sure you have it in ya). David <Yep- after the crack I made about just buying fish instead of food, ya gotta wonder about that, huh? Take Care! Regards, Scott F>

SKU's for replacement fluorescent lamps Bob, I am trying to order replacement bulbs but I am not sure which ones.  I am looking on flying fish express.  I have a power compact smart light, 48 x 6x4, currently using 2 65 watt 50/50 straight pin bulbs.  When I go to customsealife.com the order number for my bulbs is 51007.  The number on my current light is 05142.  When I look at the replacement bulbs at flying fish express I think that I need the ACT00-csl  32,  compact 65 w "smart" bulb, 1/2 10,000k- 1/2 actinic pc bulb.  I am not sure if this is the right one, please let me know if these are the ones I need to order.  This lighting system will not hold any more wattage, right?   Thanks, Natalie <Gosh Natalie... don't know what part numbers you need here, but do know that CSL does use their own system of cataloging... Do call/contact the folks at FFE and ask them your question here. Am very sure they will know. Bob Fenner>

- Bulb Life - Quick question? <OK.> I have 4 URI 95 Watt bulbs running on my tank 12 hours a day. How long can i use them before i have to replace them. <I think the average is about six to eight months before their intensity begins to fade.> Also when replacing the bulbs should i replace one every week. <Yeah, that's pretty smart... a swap of all four at once would cause some stress to anything that depends on the light and photosynthesis for their survival.> Thanks <Cheers, J -- >

Re: canopy and light design a bit more help, if you will.  I went through the FAQs and didn't find any recommendation as to how high above the tank (or waterline) the VHOs should be.  I did, however, find the recommendation on MH (namely 6"-9").  Thanks in advance. <Ideally as close to the water's surface as possible... and if possible no more than 3 inches above. Bob Fenner>

Re: canopy and light design thanks.   Do you have an opinion as to whether the VHOs should hang lower than the metal halides? <Yes... they should. Our various opinions are posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/fluoltgfaqs.htm and the linked files beyond. Bob Fenner>

Fluorescent Ballast Question Hello WWM Crew, Over my 55 gal tank, I have a 2 light 4 ft fluorescent shoplight.  I have a few plants, a few fish, and it's doing ok.  It's running on an ancient magnetic ballast.  Never had a problem with the ballast until I started using some of the newer T12 bulbs. In the past the ballast would hum when the lights first turned on but would eventually settle down. With the bulbs I'm using now, the ballast hums as long as the lights are on.  The hum isn't too bad, can't hear it over the TV.  My problem is I've discovered the lights aren't as bright as they could/should be. I have a 24 inch fixture that's using a 2 foot version of the same bulb in the shoplight and it's much brighter.  I'd like to put a T8 ballast into the shoplight, but I still have at least a couple year's worth of T12 tube's.  It's also easier for me to find 5000K and 6500K bulbs in T12 version at my local hardware stores. Until T8's become a little more common, I'd like to be able to make use both world's.  Have you had any experience with the combo ballasts that claim to run T8's and T12's?  None of the light shops I've spoken to sell them, but they've heard of them. Thanks for your help, Lewis <Sure, you are talking about Ice Cap 660's. They will drive anything from compact fluorescent to VHO and also NO T-12's. I imagine T-8's could be wired in as well. Check out the lighting section of any of the wetwebmedia.com sponsors that carry hard goods. Champion lighting has the most info on driving regular NO T-12's on Ice Cap ballasts. championlighting.com  Craig>

- Fluorescent RFI - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I just received a new JBJ Formosa 48" fixture. The electrical feedback that I am getting on my TV. is far from acceptable. <Yeah, there's a name for this - Radio Frequency Interference - although it pretty much can/will affect anything.> Do you know of any kind of a electrical filter that I could use? <Not really, it's a function of shielding around the ballast.> I had a Helios (I know, a piece of junk, but it did not interfere with my TV.) It had died, and the dealer that sold it to me gave me credit towards this fixture. If I ship it back, I could lose out on the $200 credit. <Perhaps try an exchange, just to see if it's an anomaly with this one particular unit. Could just be a bad ballast.> Jeff <Cheers, J -- >

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>

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>

Coralife VHO  ballast kit Hey Gang, How ya doin'?   <Good... "how you doin" <insert Brooklyn accent here>> Alrighty then, what is the opinion of the crew concerning the Coralife 4 lamp VHO ballast kit ?(comes complete, minus the lamps). Thanks from Denver.....Scott <my very biased opinion is that ESU/Coralife has had a long standing reputation for sexy advertising and marketing/packaging that exceeds comparative standards of quality. To their credit... they make a short and sweet product for aquarists with modest demands. Best regards, Anthony>

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>

VHO Ballast Hello, I am shopping for VHO lighting for my 125 gallon salt tank. I've arrived at having to decide between Icecap from Champion Lighting & Supply or for about $70 to $100 cheaper Hello Lights brand from hellolights.com. I've seen the many posts citing Icecap as reliable. Also, I've seen www.WetWebMedia.com staff praise the customer service (not necessarily the product). I can find nothing about the Hello Lights. Are electronic ballasts pretty much equal, or would I be taking a sizable risk with the off-brand ballast? Do you know anything about these Hello Lights ballasts? <I have no experience with Hello Lights. I would ask your fellow hobbyists on the message boards for opinions/feedback.>: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/index.jsp http://www.reefcentral.com/ http://www.reefs.org/ Cheers, Byron <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

What kind of VHO works best? Hi my fellows from WWM. <HEEEELLO> Is always a pleasure to navigate into your site! <I hope you're learning a lot!> I'm going to change my lighting to VHO system. My tank is  15 3/4" deep (40 cm) my option is an ICE-CAP 660. I'm intending to set 3 110w lamps (URI) my intention is keep some SPS + Zoanthids.  URI promotes 3 different kind of lamps (at list I know). Actinic White lamp (50/50), Aqua sun (just say sun day light temperature), Actinic 03 (phosphor, 420 Nm) In your opinion or expertise (if you have ever used this brand/kind lamps) what would be the best combination? <These are the lamps that I use. I would go with one of each. You don't say how many gallons your tank is but with the 660 you could use 140 watt bulbs. One word of warning re Icecap: NEVER get even the tiniest bit of water in or on the ballast. It will short out. I've had it happen twice. Mount the ballast away from the water.> Best regards, Carlos D?z <Have a good evening. David>

Lighting Upgrade Hello Guys, <Greetings!> I have a successful 75 gal. fish only tank that has utilized a lighting system that uses only two 40 watt fluorescent bulbs. The bulbs are 10,000k and actinic. The actinic comes on earlier and shuts off later than the 10,000k bulb. The fish tank has been operating this way for three years and the fish have been accustomed to this system. However I am starting to have problems with the lighting unit and must replace/repair the unit. I would like to upgrade my lighting to 4X65 w power compact lighting. Even though I only have a fish only tank, would this be O.K. to do? <I would probably skip the upgrade. Why? The added light combined with the high nutrient levels of a fish only may or may not bring unwanted algae to your tank.> Would this be too much wattage? <Not too much...just not necessary. That much light could have undetermined consequences. But it certainly wouldn't "hurt" anything.> Eventually I would like to start a reef tank so I figured I would need to upgrade the lighting anyway. If I do upgrade, how would I go about gradually getting the fish used to this lighting? <Turn on two bulbs for a couple of weeks and then add the other pair. The fish will adjust.> The new system also has independent controls for dawn/dusk but basically I'd be going from 40w to 130 w for each lighting upgrade.  <Use that dusk/dawn feature. The tank will be beautiful.> Thank You, Rob <You're certainly welcome Rob. Keep reading and learning! David D.>    

Corals Under NO Fluorescents Hi to you guys there at www.WetWebMedia.com. I hope you all are well. Two months ago, I started my saltwater fish tank and I'm very interested in putting corals in, but I have 5 fluorescent tubes (2 Sylvania coral star blues, 3 normal daylight tubes) all are 36 watts measuring 180 watts of light over my 55 gallon tank. <Ok> I have been told I can put in mushrooms, Zoanthids, Sinularia, Sarcophyton, Lobophytum and some other soft corals. Is this correct? <Yes> Some other websites say that you can also put in brains, candy, torch coral and tongue corals with my levels of light (somehow I don't believe this). <It will depend on exactly what you mean by these common names. Take brain corals for example. I house a Trachyphyllia under 160 watts of NO fluorescent in a 55, but I would not attempt a Favia or Favites (also referred to as brain corals). The Caulastrea (Candy Cane coral) and many of the Euphyllias (Torch, Hammer, and Frogspawn) would also be ok. Let me suggest you get a copy of Eric Bornemann's "Aquarium Corals" as a reference. It is excellent.> So, guys could you please give me a few species of corals that would live under my lighting levels. I wish you every fish keeping success. Cheers, Brendan <Have a nice weekend! -Steven Pro>

GE Starcoat T5 VHO Tubes Hi there. Do you have you had any experience with the above mentioned fluorescent tubes in marine aquaria? <No, I do not. I understand this newer format fluorescent technology will be coming out soon in the US.> I have seen information from LFS's stating that these are comparable if not better than metal halides, <I find this blanket statement hard to believe. There is no fluorescent lighting I am aware of that can get the same kind of penetration that MH's can.> when used in smaller tanks and tanks less than 400mm in depth. <You are going to have to excuse me. I am American, so it is going to take me a moment. 400 mm = 40 cm, 1 inch = 2.54 cm, so 400 mm = ~15.75 inches. Ok, there are many available fluorescent lighting schemes that would be appropriate on such a shallow tank.> They are available in 6500k ratings and 20000k actinic. These might be the only VHO tubes that I can obtain. Metal halides are very expensive so not really an option. <Really? Many times MH's compared to VHO or PC of the same intensity are very comparable and cheaper over the long run when factoring in the cost of replacement lamps and electricity.> It would seem that the T5 offers me a solution. <Perhaps, but I would continue to shop around and look at alternatives.> Your advice will be appreciated, Hilton <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

GE Starcoat T5 VHO Tubes II Hello Steven. <Good morning Hilton!> The life expectancy of the T5 tubes are stated as 20,000 hours without a loss of quality or intensity  <I find that statement highly suspect. That is over four and a half years using a 12 hour photoperiod. There is not a single lighting technology (NO, HO, VHO, PC, or MH) that has not been proven to lose intensity and/or change spectrum over time.> A breakdown of the cost could be given as follows : I live in South Africa and our currency is very weak at present - below is a conversion from Rand to dollar - so this makes it even a better argument for the T5. <Ok> Cost of 80 Watt 6500 k T5 tube - approx $10 Cost of electronic ballast able to run two tubes approx $50 Cost of end caps - approx $4 <These numbers are cheaper than we get for VHO supplies.> Thus total cost for 160 Watts - less than $80. If you were to shop around for ballasts this cost would come down considerably. This should also provide usable light intensity for a minimum of 2 years and as much as 4 years working on a 14 hour per day cycle. <My math came out differently, but lets use your figures. 20,000 hours at 14 hour days is 1428.57 days or 3.9 years. I find that incredibly hard to believe that this lamp does not lose any intensity or spectrum shift in that time.> Compare this to metal halide where a 175 Watt bulb alone could cost as much as $80. To this you still need to add the cost of the fitting and ballast and also consider that the bulb has to be replaced every 12 months (at least) <No, most can last over a year up to about a year and a half.> A trade-off is also the fact that metal halides give of intense heat - our high summer temp (above 30 degrees C) means that with halides a chiller becomes essential. <I have never bought the argument that MH's give off any more heat than any other lighting technology when the light intensity is the same.> I include a link to data sheets on the T5, http://www.gelighting.com/eu/litlib/starcoat_t5_oem.html, for anyone who might be interested. <Something was wrong with the GE site because I could not download the PDF file with the specific information.> I do agree that the T5 will not have the punch to penetrate deep tanks but there seems to be many things counting in favor of using them. <Quite possible and for your shallow tank and with your prices they seem like a reasonable alternative. I would just get a Lux meter and track the intensity and be prepared to change the lamps in a year.> I was hoping that someone had previous experience but it looks like I might be the first to try it. <Perhaps a reader of the daily page will weigh in with their experience.> Your comments would be welcome. <See above> Thanks, Hilton <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

GE Starcoat T5 VHO Tubes III Hello Steven. <Hello Hilton.> Thanks for the speedy reply. <You are quite welcome.> I have just a clarification of my statement that there is no loss of light quality and/or intensity over a 20,000 hour period. A more accurate statement would have been "little loss" as shown in the T5 data sheet - only 8% after 10000 hours of use. If they can be believed. <That is a much more believable statement, but I would still like to see some independent analysis before I believe completely.> Thanks for your input. It has aided me in making up my mind. <I am glad to have been of assistance.> Considering the very high cost of metal halides in my country and the fact that these are about the only VHO lights that I can get a hold of. I have decided to use them. <I would agree in this instance. It is amazing the difference in pricing around the world.> 4 x 54 Watt 6500k full spectrum 2 x 54 Watt 20000k Actinic For a total of 324 Watts over my 250 Liter tank. Should be good enough for most invertebrate requirements ? <This tank is less than 16 inches deep and about 65 gallons. That sounds pretty good for many corals.> Thanks again! Cheers, Hilton <Best of luck to you! -Steven Pro>

Lighting question Just a few "boring" lighting questions if you don't mind: <Hi Dave!> I have a 100 gallon tank with soft corals, mushrooms, Zoanthids, star polyps, and algae. I hope to add a bubble coral soon, and maybe a frogspawn. . .Maybe an LPS. That's all the hard corals I will ever add. It is time to replace the lighting bulbs and that is what prompts this email. Currently, I am using an Icecap 660 (420 watts). The bulbs are 1x50/50, 1xAquasun, and 1xsuper actinic, all URI brand. 1) Should I replace these bulbs with a different selection? Maybe. . .2xAquasun and 1xActinic, or 2xAqausun and 1x50/50? Leave as it currently is? <Your first mix seems good and your inhabitants have acclimated to that light. Most use and recommend a 50/50 mix of 50/50's and 03 actinic, but the 50/50 , AquaSun and actinic is likely a good mix, perhaps a bit whiter than an equal mix of 50/50 and actinic. Your LPS will do well. Make sure they are a little closer to the top if this tank is much over 20" deep (a certainty with a 100!)> 2) What about all Aquasuns? Would the 10000K bulbs be okay for this application or do I need a lesser K? <Would not advise. Your softies and mushrooms like that actinic light and will look better too.> 3) If I went with all Aquasuns of the 10000K variety, how blue would the bulbs make the water appear? I would not really want a stark white aquarium nor a flashback to "Jaws". . . <Then don't use all Aquasuns which will appear very white. The choice you made is pretty good.> 4) Assuming that you choose a mix of actinic and AquaSun, would I be better off with bulbs in the 5000-7500K range or would the 10000K bulbs that General Aquatics sells perform just as well for my particular situation? <URI are the best. I would stick with them. Do shop for good deals on URI VHO bulbs with the WetWebMedia sponsors!> Thanks for the help boyz!! Try getting these questions answered at a fish store!! Dave d. <One WARNING Dave....replace them one at a time over three or four weeks, don't shock your inhabitants with the new higher output and improved spectrum of new bulbs. I would start with the actinic and then the 50/50 adding the AquaSun last and most cautiously. Please read more excellent information on lighting at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm and jump down to the High Intensity Fluorescent Lighting chapter. You will be happy you did! Have fun! Craig>

VHO Lighting WetWebMedia Crew, I'm in the planning stage of my DIY light project. I've decided on the IceCap 660 ballast for my 120 gallon tank that is 24" deep. I am going to run four 48" bulbs for a total of 440w, do I need 4 end caps, or eight? <You need eight end caps, four pairs.> Does IceCap make a good end cap or are there better ones? <Most any hard end cap will work. I get whatever my vendor carries.> Does the stock wiring harness have the capabilities to run all four bulbs, or do I need to purchase a different one? <If the 660 is capable of running four lamps, the stock wiring will work.> Thank you. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

VHO Ballast Good morning WWM staff. Once again, I have a question that is burning a hole in my mouth. <Most of my questions revolve around burning a hole in my wallet.> I'm in the planning stage of a DIY lighting project. I have a 24" deep 120 gallon FOWLR that I would like to add some soft corals and anemones to. <By anemones, I am hoping you mean mushrooms anemones or colonial anemones/Zoanthids and not clownfish host anemones as these are extremely difficult and I, in good conscience, can only recommend them to individuals dedicated to unlocking the secrets to their success.> Would the IceCap 660 ballast work for this tank? <Yes, you would be able to grow some soft corals, mushrooms, and polyps.> I haven't found much information on it but it sounds like it should put out 96x4. <I think you are a bit confused with the terminology. Your subject was VHO ballasts but the wattage you described, 96 is typical for Power Compact/Compact Fluorescent lamps.> Assuming this will work, what type of bulbs would you suggest? <2-3 full spectrum lamps with 1-2 actinics.> How about two 20,000's and two 50/50's? <Ok, but I prefer to use the spectral analysis provided with some lamps to make my decision vs. color temperature or other more marketing directed terminology/descriptors.> I'm not a huge fan of the super blue tint but I know that it's necessary. <We have a tremendous number of FAQ's in regards to lighting issues on www.WetWebMedia.com I would advise you to continue on in your education and read some of them.> Thank you. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Advice Please Lighting Afternoon Robert hope you are having a fantastic day. <Steven Pro with the follow up.> Staying in South Africa we aren't yet as on the ball as we would like to be (especially with this hobby). Do you know where I can purchase Ice Cap VHO or Sea Life VHO? <I would first contact Icecap and Custom Sea Life for referrals to overseas dealers. If you strike out there, I would try several e-tailers and see if anyone is willing to ship overseas.> Thanks, Werner Schoeman <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: lighting 50/50 no Hi again. I suppose that last email was a bit badly worded (sorry). <No problem> I am looking at 6 x 36 watt NO fluorescents but was just after your ideas between the Philips Colortone 50 and the Philips advantage (e.g. would I need blue fluorescents as well with the advantage) or are they a 50/50 as well as the Colortone 50? <The Colortone 50 looks like a nice lamp from the information I got at the Philips website, http://www.lighting.philips.com/. The Advantage lamp was listed as a T-8 32 watt lamp, which may not work properly in standard aquarium fixtures. They did not provide a spectral analysis of the Advantage lamp.> It's just that the Philips advantage seems to be a lot brighter bulb that's all. <Lumens is not a good indicator. It is my understanding that the measurement lumens is skewed the light visible to the human eye and not a good determination of light required for photosynthesis. I would use 3-4 Colortone 50's and 2-3 Actinics. -Steven Pro>

Lighting, PC vs. VHO I have a 60 Gallon reef tank that was using a JBJ 220W Power Compact Lighting system. Unfortunately one of the ballasts no longer works. If I end up purchasing a new system, I am deciding between a 330 Watt Ice Cap VHO system and a Custom Sea Life 260W Power Compact system. Can you recommend one over the other? <The CSL 260 watt fixture is closer to what you currently have and will be easier for your corals to adapt to.> The prices are identical. Also, would a 220W Ice Cap VHO system be a step down from what I had? <A 220 watt VHO unit may be a little less intense than a 220 watt PC system, but above you mentioned a 330 watt fixture. You are trying to decide between two identical prices units, one a 220 watt VHO and the other a 260 watt PC, get the PC's.> Thank you. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Lighting Thanks for the quick response. The 330W VHO and the 260W PC's are the same price. The 220W VHO's are cheaper, but I do not want a decrease in intensity. Will the Ice Cap VHO's burn cooler than the PC's? <IME, all lighting systems are capable of throwing a good bit of heat with no large differences between NO, PC, VHO, or MH. It comes down to fans and installation that are the difference between a nice new light and one that is boiling your tank.> What about energy used? <330 watts seems like more energy than 260 watts to me. I am sure it is more complicated than that and some electrical-type will write in to correct me.> Will that be less with the Ice Cap VHO's? ~Eric Greathouse <I read a related study by Sanjay Joshi comparing supposedly efficient MH ballasts vs. regular units. The difference was very minor. I would search for his webpage for the complete article. -Steven Pro>

Lighting How the heck is everyone tonight?  <working hard :)> All is good over here but could be better if you would share with me a tiny morsel of lighting knowledge. What color does a VHO fluorescent light give off?  <every bulb has its own unique "color" and rating (CRI).> And can I use these bulbs in my regular ol' strip lights for my FOWLR tank?  <VHO bulbs are simply more intense (brighter/higher wattage) lamps... however, they do require a special fixture (ballast and end caps for heat produced) to operate them. They will not work in your regular light fixture. Look around at some of your options for getting a VHO fixture for your sized aquarium... it is a very attractive intensity when sized appropriately. I'd recommend lamp colors between 7,000 and 10,000K> By the way, your guys are great! I always come here with my big ol' dumb questions and you always reply to them with big ol' smart answers. Thanks.*********************Kyle******************* <best regards, Anthony>

Lighting  Mr. Fenner, I have a 120 gal. FOWLR tank that is 24" deep and I only have the capabilities for two 24" fluorescent bulbs. I was thinking two 20 watt 10,000K bulbs, two 75 watt 10,000k VHO bulbs or two 20 watt 20,000k bulbs. Which one would work best with FOWLR? Thank you in advance. Kyle. <by all means the VHO bulbs... even they may not be bright enough to illuminate the tank for enjoyable viewing or photography. The 20K bulbs are WAY too blue at any wattage alone for this tank, and the 20 watt bulbs will greatly disappoint you. Best regards, Anthony>

LIGHTING??? I wanted to know your opinion on Ice Cap VHO lighting? <A nice product and lighting format.> I am setting up a 55 gallon reef tank. I also wanted to know why do they sell lights that are 46.5 and lights that are 48 in length? <48" is pretty standard, but sometimes will not fit inside of a canopy for a 48" tank.> Which ones do I get? <The larger ones if they will fit.> It seems that the 46.5 would be fine and so would the 48's? Also, if I use this type of lighting what is the minimum and the maximum wattage I can use? <Depends on what you want to keep.> I would like to fill my tank with mushrooms, polyps, soft and hard corals! <Hard corals is a rather large and diverse group. If you stick with what you mentioned and LPS hard corals, two 110 watt VHO's should be fine.> I want enough light to start out with to get what ever I would like in the future. <Impossible> Is there such thing as too much light? <Yes> One more? Again with the VHO there are three kinds of lights: URI Actinic white URI AquaSun URI Actinic 03 What is the difference and what would you recommend for my 55 gallon reef tank? <The AquaSun is a full spectrum lamp, actinic 03 is a blue lamp, and white actinic is a combination of the two. One AquaSun and one Actinic 03 should be good.> Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, Nattalie <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Question Hi all- Hope you are all well. You've been very helpful in the past, so I thought I'd ask another question. I have a 55 gallon FOWLR aquarium, and am planning on switching from a standard fluorescent bulb (the basic came with the aquarium light) to a 4x55W PC hood. I would like to add some hardy corals and finally get some decent algae growth for my tang and angelfish. Most PC hoods come with 2 daylight and 2 actinic bulbs, which I assume would be what I would go with. <Correct assumption, IMO.> My question is this...from reading your great website and others, I know I can't put on a new light and use it "full-strength" right away. How do I go about acclimating my fish to a brighter PC set-up? <Just use the two daylight lamps for four weeks for a normal photoperiod. After that you can add the other two lamps, but only for two hours. Every week, length the amount of time you have the actinic lamps on by two hours until those too have a full photoperiod.> I am currently using the standard fluorescent light for about 13 hours daily; what would you recommend as far as the amount of time I would use each type of light and for how long? <I would not use the PC lamps for more than 12 hours.> I've never seen anything written about this, and I hope you can help. Thank you in advance for your help. All good wishes, Daryl Klopp <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Hello. I'm trying to figure out what to purchase for bulbs. I have a 30 breeder 36 (long) x 18(width) x 12 (height). My son and myself have made a stand AND hood that can be seen here: www.lamepage.com/lame_page/EmptyTanken.jpg We installed three 36" FL fixtures (6 bulbs total) and attached a 3" cooling fan on the back. They are approximately 6" from the surface of the water. My question is this: Since we are going to attempt a shallow water reef, what bulbs should I use? <This is not enough light for shallow water corals, SPS.> I have been thinking about 4 * 10000K Corallife and 2 * 7100K actinic. Will that work? <I much prefer URI to Corallife.> I can't seem to find the Lumens per bulb for the Coralife AND I would sure love to know! I expect @ a required minimum of 10,000 lumens per sq meter, My tank requires 5000-6000, so each bulb I buy should output 2500 to give me 15000 total lumens, cut that in about half, and I have what may be required to sustain the reef. Any info on Lumen outputs for the Corallife bulbs would be much appreciated. <Please look through our extensive lighting section beginning here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/index.htm and following on through the linked files.> Best Regards, Jon <Have a nice day. -Steven Pro>

Questions on Lighting Recommendations Bob, <Steven Pro answering a few questions before heading out to dinner with the family and Antoine.> I was just about to pull the trigger on purchasing an Icecap VHO retro kit when I saw your article recommending Duro Vita-Lites RO fluorescents. <A great lamp! Shame they are not made anymore. I wonder why no one has purchased the name and lamp to remarket, similar to Corallife now selling Tetra's Luft air pump.> I plan to use the 48" length (T10?). I have a couple of questions: 1. Can you tell me who makes a good electronic ballast for RO bulbs? <I believe Icecaps will light Normal Output (NO) lamps, too.> 2. Are there any water-tight end caps available for these size bulbs? <Hard end caps are required for VHO, while you can get away with the soft variety for NO.> 3. What is a good source to purchase these components and bulbs? <Champion, Ahsupply.com, Marine Depot, and many more I am forgetting. Take a look at the links page on WWM for the various e-tailers.> 4. Will these bulbs be available long-term since Duro-Test is gone? <I do not believe they are available now. URI is my brand of choice.> Thanks, Darrell Heflin <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Full spectrum fluorescents and electronic ballasts Dear Bob, <Howdy> Greetings from Central Indiana (land of pig farms and redneck sports). I have been thinking of using a normal output, full spectrum, fluorescent lamp to simulate morning and evening lighting periods over my aquarium. In reading your lighting article, you greatly recommended the vita-lite ( among some other, more commercial brands ). <Need to modify the article, thanks for reminding me. The manufacturer, Dura Corporation, is out of business> I happened to stop by Menards on the way home to see if I could find some of these more commercial brands that you listed. I found a Westinghouse ReaLite model 36516 with a CRI of 98 and 6500k. It is used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  <Neat! I use such lamps on my photographic light tables when away from the tropics too long (or spelunkering). Really cheers me up> Anyway the lamp was 8 bucks. Do you know of any who have experimented with this lamp and if so, do they keep their color and intensity? <Should be fine for the intended use> Also you mentioned the ability to use H.O. and VHO ballast formats with N.O. Tubes. I have had my eye on the Ice Cap 440 and 660 electronic ballasts but their kinda salty (no pun intended...) Do you know of a lower cost, true electronic ballast that will match the Ice Cap's performance? <Unfortunately no... Bear and grin with Perry.T at Champion is my advice.> Thank You Greatly, in Advance. jS <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Bulb Placement Hi Bob,  <Anthony Calfo in your service, my friend> do you think it matters if you place the actinic or daylight bulb in front or back? I have a PC. <actinic lights in the front will help reduce the amount of diatoms that grow on the front glass (shallow water alga favor the warm end of the spectrum to grow) Kindly, Anthony> Bulb placement II But I think the reflector I have, which came with the CSL makes it so that the actinic bulb shines to the back of the aquarium when it is placed in the front, well at least it shines blue on the front part of the substrate anyway. So do you still think the actinic in the front? <yes... it is really a minor benefit and of little significance in a tank with good husbandry... but just the shared opinion you asked for. Even with a focused reflector (not always a good thing), by virtue of proximity and dispersion, it will serve you better if more actinic light shines of the front pane given to choose. Besides, that would centralize the daylight bulb over the tank where symbiotic invertebrates will benefit greater unless you have a tank of low light or no light needed animals (in which case the point is moot). Anthony>  

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