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FAQs about Fluorescent Light and Lighting for Marine Systems 3

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Related Articles: Fluorescent Light& LightingSpectral Quality of Various Fluorescent Lamps by Dana Riddle, T5 Fluorescent Lighting, Coral System Lighting

Short tentacle plate coral pic by Bryan.

Lighting Bulb Diameter Question....     5/19/14
Hello. I have a 29 gallon glass aquarium. My lighting system is a 30"
Single Fluorescent Aqueon Aquarium Strip-Light. The system takes t-5 bulbs.
My new question is:
Can I replace the standard 24" fluorescent t-5 bulb (which I assume is 1" in diameter) that comes with the lighting system, with a 5/8 inch diameter 24" T5 High Output 6700k Bulb?
<Hello Cam9
Your existing ballast must state that it is compatible with T5 Lamps. If
it does not, then a new compatible electronic ballast will be needed. The lamp holders are another story, the T5 lamp will not fit in a T12 lamp holder. James (Salty Dog)>

vita-Lite    7/13/12
Hello- Referring to Bob Fenner’s ”Conscientious Marine Aquarist” page 53 I have been searching for the Vita-Lite mentioned; however, it appears the company has been sold
and some models are no longer available. NaturalLighting.com offers many models but none with exact specs Mr. Fenner recommends. The highest lumens are a choice between 1100 and 3000, with all of the other specs in line with his book. Suggestions? I am not growing corals; small anemones and seahorses.
<There are many good fluorescent lamps in the several formats (HO, VHO, T-5 and more) that are fine for home hobbyist and commercial use... Do you want to discuss your particular situation? The depth of water, species intended, your desired wishes... that this light/ing is to be applied to? It may be that other photonic energy sources (e.g. MH, LED...) are better choices. Bob Fenner>
Nick Dukellis

Supplemental Lighting/Selection 9/30/09
Good afternoon,
<Hello Matt>
I have a quick question. I cannot really afford more lighting for my 55gal. I currently am running a 130W PC fixture over my 4ft setup. I wanted to change both PC bulbs in that fixture to daylight bulbs and maybe
supplement these with a single T5 (not HO) fixture to simulate dusk and dawn. These fixtures are only rated at about 28W. would this be beneficial at all, or just a complete waste of 50 bucks?
<No waste, would give you about 2900 more lumens.>
Are T5 bulbs any stronger than NO fluorescents or are they pretty much the same thing?
<Are much more intense, close to 30% brighter than a T12 of comparable size.>
By the way, I do have some Shrooms in there. Thanks a lot for your help on this.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Supplemental Lighting/Selection 9/30/09
Hello Crew,
<Hi Matt>
I know I just sent in a question, but it was not worded very well.....let's try again.
<Seemed good enough for me, have answered it.>
I have a 55gal tank with some low light corals (mushrooms) which is 4ft long. My lighting is a 130W PC fixture with two 65W 50/50 bulbs in it.
What I wanted to do was change both of those bulbs out for two 10000K daylight bulbs
<A good move here.>
and purchase a Coralife Aqualight Dual Linear Strip T5 NO which is 2x28W that I will put two true Actinic T5 NO bulbs in to run for a dusk dawn cycle for the tank. Is there any problems that you see in this setup at
The only thing I can think of is that the PC lighting will drown out the NO T5's.
<You will definitely see the actinic effect, will not drown it out.>
I also don't want it to be too blue. Any thought would be appreciated.
<If it were my set-up, I'd just go with one actinic and one 10K in the new fixture and use LED lighting for the dusk/dawn effect.
The LED's can be left on all night allowing you to view nocturnal critters that may be out and about.
See here.
Thanks for your time.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

2/19/2009 UV for tank lighting - Bad Idea Hello, <Hi Andrew> I tried to find some information on using ultraviolet light in the tank for viewing coral at night for aesthetics all i could find is information on using actinic . The light that I was wondering about is an ultraviolet light running at 385 NM. My question is do you think this will be harmful to the coral? I know most actinic runs 420-460 NM. I have mostly a SPS and LPS tank with fish. <Yes,. this would be harmful to anything living in your tank. Metal Halide lights come with UV filters because they produce enough UV light to be dangerous to life in your tank. Please stick to the actinics.> Thank you for your help <My pleasure> Andrew <Mike>

Re: Power Filters ATTN Minh, plus now fluorescent tubes, circ. for cnidarians    1/14/09 Minh, <Hello John.> So now you are fairly familiar with my system and you had asked about my fluorescent tubes. Well lets just suffice it to say that once before I had a reef tank and decided to upgrade the lighting already. I purchased a 260 watt PC fixture. It comes with the usual arrangement of 2 10K Kelvin lamps and 2 Actinic lamps. Thinking of replacing the actinics with 10K Kelvin lamps. <Congratulations on the purchase.> I know this is not enough light for SPS or clams or many anemones but I would like to keep some soft coral like the toadstool. Perhaps an LPS like a frogspawn. <Although some Acroporids may actually need higher intensity illumination, Power Compacts may be sufficient for Montiporas and LPS if creative aquascaping and coral placement is utilized.> I realize that keeping a shrimp with a frogspawn is dangerous so I would not do it. <Shrimps in the Lysmata family such as Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (L. amboinensis), Peppermint Shrimp (L. wurdemanni) and Blood Red Fire Shrimp (L. debelius) are opportunistic scavengers and may damage coral flesh when going after uneaten food in the coral's oral disc. Likewise, hermit crabs in the Calcinus <sic> family or crabs in the Mithrax <sic> family can also do similar damage. Coral Banded Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) and "Yellow" or "Dwarf" version (Stenopus scutellatus) have less of a tendency to do so. Although all of these species have been housed in many tanks with Euphyllia without issues, keep in mind of the possibility of damage.> Also to let you know I purchased an Eheim 2026 and that should be here next week. So much for FOWLR. Once you cross over into a reef tanks there is no going back I guess! <It is an excellent filter, I suspect you will be happy with it.> My only concern now is will 2 Koralia 1's provide enough circulation for corals that may require I higher flow. I am sure they are fine for most leathers, the mushroom, polyps, etc. I just have no experience with Koralias. < The Hydor Koralia is from the new generation of low-cost propeller driven pumps that is quite different to the powerheads and pumps you've used in the past. Instead of generating a forceful jet of water flow, its large prop and shroud design allows for a gentle wave pattern that is much more efficient at moving water than a traditional impeller driven pump. The two Koralia 1's and the flow from the Eheim 2026 should be sufficient for most of the corals you intend to keep. Gorgonians are the exception as these requite more flow but with creative aquascaping and placing the specimen closer to the powerheads, you can work around the issue. For an excellent read on efficient flow design in a reef tank, take a look at this article: "Water Flow is More Important for Corals Than Light" (http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2006/6/aafeature2).> Thanks again Minh. I have really enjoyed communicating with you. John <You're welcome. Cheers, Minh Huynh.>

Fluorescent tube breaks in my reef tank 11/13/08 Robert, I got your email address from Ninong from Reefland.com. He mentioned that I should contact you on my problem. A fluorescent tube broke into my reef tank. I removed as much of the glass as I could. I am worried about any issues I may have with this down the road. My tank is 300 gal with 90 gal sump. The tube was a VHO tube that was 6' long. Thanks in advance for any help you may be able to provide. Ed <Mmm, there shouldn't be any real issues... other than those which may have occurred already... Some lamps do have a bit of mercury to them... but this and what other little chemical residue there might have been is likely of little further consequence. Do take care when having your hands in and about the substrate, lest there be bits of glass still thereabouts. I would siphon the area a few times during your normal maintenance. Bob Fenner> Re: fluorescent tube breaks in my reef tank Thanks for the input. I was really worried. <Ahh! Glad to help ease your mind. Cheers, BobF> 

Is My Normal Output Fluorescent Lighting Suitable for Anemone and Corals? (The Short Answer Is'¦No) -- 02/12/08 Hello, <<Hiya, Joan!>> I read and then reread your article on lighting. <<And?...>> I have used Vita-Lites for many many years and thought they would be fine for my introduction of inverts, an anemone to start with, and maybe a coral or two. <<Mmm, you will need to be more specific than 'a coral or two''¦and some specifics about your tank would be a big help too...oh, and do read up on our site re anemone systems/mixing with sessile inverts (not recommended). As for the Vita-Lites'¦these are a great 'daylight' spectrum fluorescent bulb, but being a NO (Normal Output) bulb you need a fair number of them over the tank, with actual 'numbers' depending on the light-requirements of the organisms you plan to keep. And while it is possible to keep some coral species under NO fluorescent lighting (I did so back in the late-eighties and early-nineties), I don't recommend this for keeping Anemones>> The Fish Store says No, I need MORE. <<Without more information/detail re your system and its proposed inhabitants, I must agree'¦and I certainly do where the Anemone is concerned>> I.e. 10K etc and recommend the Coralife compacts. <<You don't 'need' 10K bulbs; these are usually suggested because they provide a 'balance' between what is suitable for/useable to the photosynthetic organisms and what is pleasing to the human eye. In fact, if you like or prefer a lower Kelvin temperature (e.g. -- 5500K -- 6500K), these will generally provide a better output/PAR rating watt-for-watt than the higher Kelvin temperature bulbs. A mix of 10K and 6.5K bulbs provides far more intensity, as well as light in the more 'useful' wavelengths, than a mix of 10K and Actinic bulbs>> I am sure they are great, but do I really need that much light? <<The answer here likely is, yes'¦I am doubtful your NO fluorescent bulbs will support an anemone>> Especially when a retrofit is $200+ on sale. <<Unfortunately, the price of lighting suitable for keeping many/most of the reef-associated photosynthetic organisms often proves to be as much as one-third the cost of the entire reef system. If you do decide to upgrade, I would like to recommend T5 fluorescent lighting over the PC fluorescent lighting. Not that the PCs can't work, but the T5 is better technology in my opinion, and has greater bulb selection/allows more flexibility over the PCs. The smaller size of the T5s will also allow more bulbs to be fitted/placed over any given tank size>> Please drop me a short note with your ideas. <<You have my thoughts'¦do write me back if you wish to discuss further>> Joan in Seattle <<Regards, EricR in Columbia>>

Lighting Dilemma. fluor. lamp choices  12/6/07 Hello, <Hello, Scott V. with you.> I have been a long time reader of WWM. I recently registered as a user and am sincerely grateful for this resource. <Great!> I have a 110 gal display tank with a 20 gal refugium. I originally set this up as a GARF bulletproof tank so it has a plenum, deep sand bed, and lots of circulation. My lighting cycle is 12 on 12 off. Current inhabitants include: Coral -Frogspawn -Toadstool -Cool orange sponge -Lots of star polyp -Bright yellow gorgonian -Many assorted mushrooms Other -2 Perc clowns -1 Sailfin <Tang? If so it will need a larger tank in the future.> -2 peppermint shrimp -Reproducing Cerith snails -Reproducing Nerite snails -Large brown brittle star -100+ lbs live rock (nice and purple) I would like to start to branch into SPS. <OK.> My question is what combo of bulbs will suit me best I have a home made fixture consisting of 8 48" bulbs with water proof end caps powered by two icecap 660's. I have read until blue, and still think I am confused. I had been running 4 URI super actinic & 4 URI Actinic white. I just read some thing about vita lights that seemed good but they only come standard wattage (not VHO). <VHO would be recommended here.> I would love if the almighty Bob or someone of similar caliber would just say, "JUST GET THIS". Since I have the luxury of multiple bulbs I want a crazy combo that does everything as far as spectrum. Jacob MR Adkins <I would simply replace six of the bulbs with VHO 'daylight' (10K) and keep two of the super actinics. You have the lighting, you will just need more usable light. I would probably keep the SPS to the upper 2/3 of the tank (considering 110 gallon tanks tend to have deep configurations.) Happy reefing, Scott V, not near the caliber of Bob.> <<Keep eating and drinking Scotter... You'll get there! Heeeeee! RMF>>

VHO Lighting For Reef Tank...? -- 11/27/07 Hey Crew, <<Hey Holland!>> I love what you guys/gals do! <<Many thanks>> I just picked up a used 125 gallon tank with IceCap 660 ballast and 4-sets of end caps that will house 48" bulbs. <<Neat!>> I was wondering, what type of bulbs would be best to get; <<Daylight (6500K) bulbs will give you the best output, though for aesthetic appeal many hobbyists find 10000K bulbs more to their liking>> and more importantly, what type of corals can this system actually support? <<Mmm...you could 'support' just about anything with careful placement, feeding, water flow...but whether or not all would 'flourish' is another matter. Though not my fave, I have seen some beautiful reef tanks under fluorescent lighting. Spreading four 48' fluorescent bulbs over a 6-foot tank doesn't provide the best conditions for high-intensity-light requiring organisms. For simplicity/best chance for success I recommend low-moderate to moderate light requiring organisms. Perhaps a collection of 'green-colored' Euphyllia species; adequately spaced to prevent physical aggression from sweeper tentacles, placed in the top to middle tier of the water column...with some Fungiid species and 'red-colored' Trachyphyllia species on/near the bottom (If something proves to need more light, moving it towards the center of the tank where the bulbs overlap and thus provide greater intensity may prove adequate). Other species and themes are possible and will require some research on your part prior to species/specimen selection. I suggest you start by gaining a better understanding of marine lighting by reading here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm), and following/reading among the associated links in blue to help with species selection and placement>> Thanks, Holland <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

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

Issues with Lighting Fixture, fluo.    9/11/07  <hello> I had a hard time finding the information I am looking for. I apologize if this question is similar in content to others you have answered. I have a 55 gallon reef tank that has been up and running successfully for two years. All parameters are normal. Fish and corals thriving. I have a current satellite fixture that has been an excellent choice. However within the past six months the lamps (bulbs) on one of the ballasts began to flicker. At first the flickering was temporary, then it became constant. I bought new lamps and this did not solve the problem. Then my boyfriend (an electrician) disassembled and reassembled the unit. It did not flicker again for about two weeks. Now it flickers randomly once or twice a week, maybe more and I am not there to notice. Several opinions have me confused. One source told me that it was probably a loose wire, not to worry. Another told me that a new ballast was needed. Before I spend the money on a new ballast, is the, now, temporary flickering, harmful and or indicative of a larger issue? If it is, or was, a loose wire would a new ballast be of any benefit? I tend to be a hypochondriac but it seems that my Anemone may be "reaching" for light more than is usual. Could the lamps be producing less light, without giving any visual indication? Is there any way to measure the light that the tank is receiving? Any input would be most appreciated. Thank-you. <The best action is to replace the ballast. While you are at it see if there are fans on the end of the fixture. If there are make sure they are working. If there isn't check into purchasing some and installing them. The fans will keep the fixture cooler and make the ballast and bulbs last longer.> <Rich aka Mr. Firemouth>

Home Center Fluorescent Bulbs Not 'Safe' for Aquarium Use?...Not So! -- 09/04/07 Greetings! <<Hello!>> While buying some fluorescent lights at Home Depot, another customer told me that "you have to buy aquarium lights at the pet shop because these regular lights make a fire hazard since they're sealed differently." <<Hah! No...but they sure are 'priced' differently [grin]>> I've been buying 'regular' fluorescent bulbs for many years now and have never heard of this before. <<Indeed, I will submit that this other 'customer' is misinformed (or has maybe been intentionally misled)...the manufacturing process is the same. If you get them wet...whether intended for the pet trade or the workshop...they ALL pose a hazard. The home center bulbs are no more hazardous than any other>> I'm having some trouble finding some info on this- maybe because this person was hopefully wrong? <<They were>> Please lend me your wisdom!! <<If the bulbs from the home center/hardware store serve your purpose, then by all means use them>> Thanks!! Kay <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

Re: ick & ramblings... Mmmm, lamp repl.    8/24/07 Hi Crew, Well, my fish are back home over a week and no sign of ick. I have 3 keyhole limpets over a year now and just saw a baby one. <Neat> During the year I lost a number of snails. So what is good for one type may not be good for others. <Oh yes> My population of mini stars seems to have gone down. I used to see them all over the place at night but now there are very few. Maybe I am keeping the place too clean for them. <Possibly... cleanliness is NOT sterility in the biological world> My mini snails, it takes 3 to equal one grain of rice, seem to be multiplying. They come out only at night. I think I found a way to determine when my bulbs need replacing. When the coralline algae on the glass starts to diminish it is a good sign that my bulbs are not producing enough. Thanks for being there. <Welcome! BobF>

VHO End-Cap Meltdown...A Case For A Splashguard?...Or Just The Wrong Type Of End-Cap? -- 08/15/07 Good evening crew! <<Hiya Goldie! [flashbacks of 'Sin City' going through my mind... Uh-oh, I think I've caught Marv's attention...time to run!...]>> My VHO lights went out last weekend, and I first thought it was the harness shorting out. <<Oh?>> So I ordered a new one and took the lights down to prepare for the repair job ahead. Once I got them down, I noticed that one of the bulbs was nearly black, and the cap was melted! <<Yikes!>> My guess is water got in the cap, the cap overheated, and eventually it all shorted out. <<Actually, the short caused the overheating/melting...and one can only guess the cause here, but if these were not three-piece 'hard' plastic end-caps then the heat from the VHO bulbs themselves may have softened/melted the end-cap leading to the short>> Good thing I ordered new caps with the harness... <<But what kind?>> So my question is this: what kind of splash shield can I use? Can I just put an aluminum shield around the ends to protect the caps? <<Mmm, I think a clear Plexiglas shield along the length of the light fixture would be better than a 'partial' shield that will likely not prove effective. But the best option is to use the correct type/style of moisture-proof end-caps such as these (http://www.aquacave.com/detail.aspx?ID=737)>> Or should I do something bigger, like a Plexiglas or glass shield on the tank itself? <<This too is an option...though be aware 'any' type of splash shield is going to reduce the efficacy of the lighting>> I am concerned that if this happens again, it won't just be caps I am replacing -- it will be the whole kitchen or house as the result of a VHO-triggered fire!! (That would probably top the list of expensive mistakes I have made with this aquarium...) <<A valid and serious concern. You must do what makes you comfortable, but in my experience the three-piece moisture-proof caps have always proven safe/effective>> Thanks! Goldie <<Hope this helps. EricR>>

Re: VHO End-Cap Meltdown...A Case For A Splashguard?...Or Just The Wrong Type Of End-Cap? -- 08/16/07 Thanks for such a quick reply! <<Quite welcome>> These caps WERE the three-piece waterproof caps-- they were ARO brand, meant for use with the ARO ballast that they connected to. <<Hmm, too bad...these end-caps generally perform quite well. Perhaps this one was defective/faulty...or maybe even the problem was with the bulb. Or...maybe the nose of the cap wasn't tightened/had worked loose allowing moisture to enter. Admittedly, all speculation on my part>> Maybe one just worked its way loose and water got in that way. <<Oh! Yes... (should read ahead I suppose)>> Not sure. <<Nor am I>> Anyway, would Plexiglas overheat? <<I have used this for splashguards on DIY fixtures myself...should be fine. Just make sure your fixture has adequate gaps/vents to allow trapped heat to escape>> I may put a splash guard on even though the light efficiency would be reduced. <<Okay>> The life I have in my tank (or had, before the lights went out...) doesn't require extremely high light levels; it's mostly live rock, some random inverts like mystery clams and worms (most of whom either live in crevices or caves anyway) and a lone piece of coral whose name right now eludes me. <<I see>> I should get my new caps tomorrow (and then I'll see how many bulbs I need to order...). Hopefully that will take care of it! <<My fingers are crossed...!>> Thanks again! Goldie <<A pleasure to assist. EricR>> PS I wish I could look like the Goldie in Sin City -- but with more clothes on... :) <<Hmm, I may have to watch that movie again... ER>>

Lighting... lamp repl. gen.   7/13/07 Hey Crew, How often should I renew the light tubes under my aquarium cover ? I hear once per year, once every six months - couldn't find an answer on forums. Many thanks. Steve. <Hello Steve. It depends on the situation. In a fish-only freshwater or marine system, you change the lights when they burn out. Fish couldn't care less. But if you have a system with photosynthetic organisms -- plants, corals, anemones, etc. -- then you need to replace the lights before the output drops below some critical value. Plants, being more advanced photosynthesisers than the algae in corals, are generally better able at adapting to the "wrong" amount/wavelength of light, though even in a planted freshwater tank it is usually obvious that plant growth has slowed down. Even so, whether you're keeping plants or corals you will need to change the tubes periodically. Again, this depends. Some tubes work well for about 1 year (e.g. Triton fluorescent) others for longer, up to 2 years (e.g., Vita-Lite fluorescent). Metal-halides need to be replaced after about a year. Changing tubes every 6 months sounds a bit extreme to me, though I'm sure it wouldn't do any harm even if it is a waste of money. If in doubt, consult the manufacturer of the lighting system you're using. Cheers, Neale.> Coralife Contact Information -- 7/11/07 Hello Bob and Crew, <Hello Dave, Brenda here> A quick question...does the crew have current contact information for representatives at Coralife products? Their website is not currently up and running as it is "under development." Nor can I locate a phone number or address. Specifically, I am having hardware problems with their Coralife Aqualight 48" 260w straight pin system. The connectors have apparently melted, including the pins, and I need to contact them concerning the next advisable step. <I have had to get replacement parts myself. Try contacting Central Aquatics at 310-851-8999.> Thanks for all your help. David <You're Welcome! Brenda>  

Something for Bob F <Yucky Algae Scenery>(& Achilles Tang Question)   4/19/07 Hey Bob, <Jeremy> Here is something that I found out in the field a little while back (see attached photo).  I guess the small amount of Cyanobacteria that used to be in my tank isn't so bad after all. <More persistent through space and time than civil servants!> The only thing about it that bothered me is that there wasn't anything I could do about it because it is referred to as "a natural occurrence" and not a result of an illicit discharge. <And so it goes...> That outfall was flowing directly into the San Jacinto River just north of Houston.  I am involved in a big job where I have to track all of the outfalls and storm sewer lines and their collection sources (storm inlets and manholes) for Harris County (Houston) anywhere it crosses a stream, river and/or bayou and then go out and take/collect the point with the latest and greatest GPS software. <Neat...> These new toys are really something.  TxDOT wants to know where their water is going and where it is coming from so they can track illicit discharges when and where they happen.  I am glad our team has two years for this job.   Also, I saw in the news that these new twisty-looking light bulbs that are so good for energy conservation and all that stuff are contributing to a mercury level spike in the storm drains that outfall into the major water bodies. <Mmm, the Dura ones are no longer manufactured... haven't been for years... likely old stock... But most all fluorescents have some Hg... http://www.google.com/search?q=do+fluorescent+lamps+have+mercury+in+them%3F&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-US&ie=utf8&oe=utf8> People are simply throwing them away instead of following the protocol for recycling them. <Likely less toxic than the oil et al. burned, released into the environment... This is not a "Zero sum" game we're playing... E.g., who pays your wages? What else might the public do with its money?> This trash method is in turn releasing mercury into the storm drains.  It is something I will look for when sampling.  Have you heard anything about this? <... oh yes. Besides being a vociferous reader of "common science" and citizen of this planet (in good standing) for five and a half decades, I am qualified to teach H.S. level chemistry and physics... and "do my best to keep up"> I saw an Achilles tang at the LFS which happened to look very healthy and not only ate, but attacked the food that they used to feed him. (Live Brine Shrimp)  Since getting him home (about a week ago), I have been using Hikari Spirulina (sp?) Brine Shrimp soaked in Selcon and Vitamin C.  He loves it.  Is this good enough for now? <Mmm, I'd switch to Spectrum pelleted foods... even more nutritious and palatable>   Most Achilles tangs I see in the LFS usually are malnourished and die because they won't eat. <Mmm, have gots to (as usual) toss in my dos centavos here (esp. since "the drop" for this Acanthurus this year (am out in HI) has been large... am seeing many juveniles... that will likely translate into more in hobbyists' grips... This species is just not "well-suited" for captive use... Too "high strung"... and soft-bodied (really... give yours a squeeze when it's netted... Freaks out, damages easily...>   I am trying to wean him off the brine shrimp as his main source of food, yet I don't want him to stop eating since they can be so particular.  I will put up a sheet of seaweed for him to see if he goes for that.  I tried Mysis Shrimp and Angel Formula but he turned his nose at it although the emperor angel was more than happy to get all of it. Should I just continue this route?  I have some frozen LifeLine Spirulina as well as more kinds of Algae sources to try as well. Thanks, Jeremy <The Spectrum. No jive or mis-placed praise... Really is that good and appealing... Have seen Pablo's (Tepoot's, the maker of the food) Achilles, reared on this solely... Bob F> Here is the previous message.
<Thank you for this. Cheers>

Lighting Choices, N.O. VS. T-5  -- 04/16/07 Hello to all the crew! <Hello.> While reading some of the articles I noticed that Bob states that NO Fluorescent Full Spectrum Daylight/Sunlight in the 5000 to 6000 K range are the best light systems to use. <Mmm...this is very dependant on the size and type of the system. And if there will be photosynthetic animals in the system, what type?> Metal Halide and Actinic do not seem to impress him much. <I haven't seen that myself in his writings, but I do think he tends to warn people against over lighting aquariums.> I was wondering if this is still Bob's view? <See my first comment...> And if possible can you tell me what he thinks of T-5 lighting? > what I have seen of his comments on these systems, I would surmise he finds them favorable.  I think T-5 HO systems are great personally.  The bulb life makes them economical, they don't produce much heat, and their low profile allows them to be paired with "awesome" reflectors.> I am building a 24"L x 24"W x 22"H plywood system and the lights are the next thing to buy. If NO will work this will save some cash on the fixture I need. The option I am considering now is a T-5 retrofit kit from Nova Extreme using four bulbs. > the height of the tank, and the proposed photosynthetic livestock you mentioned I would not go with the NO, go with the VHO or T-5 HO lighting..> The Livestock, which are currently in a 55 gallon non-drilled system with no sump, will be Zoanthid and Mushroom Coral, fish will be a mated pair of Clarkii Clowns and a Bicolor Blenny. <See above.> Thank you in advance. <Welcome.> John. <Adam J.>

Aesthetic Fluorescent Supplementation, Marine Tank   03/23/07 Howdy Crew, quick one for you. <Hello.> I am running 2, 250 HQI 14.5K bulbs on my reef tank, but I don't get the "pop" colorwise without running actinics. <They are "neat" looking....and yes neat is a scientific term....maybe.> Could I get away with adding 2 standard 40W actinics with a reflector? <It's just for color/aesthetics so yes...won't hurt anything.> Will they make a difference visually, even though they only total 80 watts?   <Visually yes, but as you know they won't make a difference par rating wise.> I do have VHO's but I really don't want to use them since its wastes more electricity and generates extra heat, not good. <I understand.> What are you opinions. <N.O. fluorescents are fine, but you can also look into T-5's, and not just the high output versions either but the normal output as well...they are low wattage, don't impart much heat onto the water.>   Thank you for your time.   <Of course.> Paul <Adam J.>

Overdriven fluorescents and anemones -- 03/17/07 Hello. <Hello Mark, Brandon here tonight.> I have a long tentacle anemone, probably a Macrodactyla doreensis, but possibly a Heteractis crispa in a 30 gallon tank with two small maroon clowns and a couple of torch corals. <For either of these species of Anemone this is too small a volume.  Please consider an upgrade.> Water quality is good, except for 2-4 ppm nitrates.  I've had the anemone for six weeks, and after staying put in the first month it's now  taken up wandering aimlessly. I fear for the corals and worry about the anemone's well-being. <This is common with all anemones.  It is recommended to never place an Anemone with other Cnidarians.> Might the lighting be a problem? <This is always a good possibility.> I have four 20 watt NO, two 10000K and two actinic, all of them 2X overdriven.  I haven't been able to find anything definitive about light output from overdriven NO vs. compact fluorescents. <I will be honest with you, I would not keep an Anemone of any sort under PC or overdriven NO.  The minimum I would use would be four, four foot 110 watt VHO lights.  Two Actinic 03, two Full Spectrum 10000k.  Better still, (and what I currently use) would be HQI double ended 10k MH.  All of this is rather dependant on the size of your tank.  I will assume that you have a normal 100 gallon (by this I mean rectangular.)  In this instance I would use one 150 watt HQI MH fixture.> Just from eyeballing, it looks like I get the same light output per watt from both, so I'm guessing my 80 watts 2X overdriven is about the same as 140-160 watts from compact fluorescents. Is that adequate, do you think? <You can't guess by eyeballing.  Light levels can be deceiving from outside the tank.  The only sure way to tell is with a Lux Meter.  But at a guess, no it is not the same, and I would not think with the Anemone moving like this, that the light is adequate.  Additionally with the overdriven NO's you will have a very short bulb life, say one - four months, as opposed to six - a year with the PC's or MH.  Please do some reading here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm.> On the assumption that its a doreensis, I've had it on the sand bed, 3-4 inches deep, with live rock surrounding a bare area 2-3 inches in diameter. According to the usually reliable LFS,  it will dig its base into the sand and probably attach itself to a buried rock. Is that true? <It should dig into the sand yes.  It would help if you could send a picture, as this will lend to a positive ID.> It doesn't seem inclined to attach itself to a rock anywhere. There is a nook currently occupied by a torch at the top of the aquarium. Might it be worth a try moving the coral and putting the anemone there? <I would not move it.  It will go where it wants to.  Right now it is looking for an area that suits it's needs and is not finding one.  I would seriously look at upgrading my lighting in the next few days or so.  If you decide to go higher in output do try to slowly acclimate your critters using a piece of screen over the top of the glass or a shortened light period.  Much more on this on WWM.> How likely is a doreensis or a crispa to attach itself to rock, as opposed to substrate? <See above Re: picture.> Thanks so much. Without  forums like WetWebMedia, I don't think reef aquaria would exist, even with the hardware and technology of the last decade. <Thank you for the kind words.  I am proud to be a part of an organization that allows this much free exchange of ideas and information like this.> It means an awful lot to me that at the end of the day I can leave the rat race and chill for a bit with a hundred gallons of Nature and beauty. Sort of gets me centered again. <Agreed.  Good luck with this.  Please try to send an image.  Brandon.> Mark

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

VHO end-cap and bulb question   2/20/07 Will a regular t12 end cap for a hardware store work with VHO bulbs?  Moisture isn't a problem as I have been running CF for over 3 years without moisture proof end caps. Thanks <Hey Shaun, JustinN with you this morning. Yes, regular T12 end caps will fire VHO bulbs, however, I cannot condone the use of non-moisture resistant end caps in an aquatic setting -- there is a LOT of juice running through those end caps! -JustinN>

Lighting upgrade   12/14/06 I love your web site I check it often and is my first place to look for advice! A Ballast burnt out on my JBJ CF 4x36 light. The second ballast is the same age and who knows how long it will last, maybe it is time to replace/upgrade the fixture. <Perhaps> My tank is an 58gal oceanic reef-ready, dimensions are 36.5x18.5x21.5. I have a few soft corals and would possibly like a bubble tip anemone. <Read about this mix... on WWM... elsewhere> I do not know if MH is in my budget, what size do I need, would a 175 MH work? <Yes> Can you recommend a retro kit that I can build into a hood? <Mmm, don't know much re such... would, as with nearly all  such "gear" choice questions, suggest you posit this on a few of the larger, specialized hobby BB's... e.g. Aquarium Frontiers, Reefs.org...> If that doesn't work for me then does it make sense to buy a cheap CF or T5 fixture similar to what I have. (I then may not be able to keep an anemone.) <Mmm... I would not buy, use any "cheap" lighting... gear period. Too dangerous> The cost of 2 new Ballasts + 4 bulbs is close to the price of a new fixture, so why not get a new fixture? I believe T5 would be the better choice here. If I choose MH, I would need to build a hood. Do you have any good references on building a hood? <Yes... see OzReef.org re and Antoine's article here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marcanopies.htm and the linked files above.> I can build the case, I am more concerned with extras (paint, fans etc.) needed to make it work in the Saltwater tank environment. <Can be done... a worthy project. Bob Fenner>

SW fluor. lambda, lamps placement  11/01/06 Bob, One last question for you, I promise!   I've been doing a lot of research on your website regarding lighting.  I have decided on the Tek 4 lamp T5 fixture, as noted below.  Many posts on your website recommend going with URI: 2 actinic, 1 actinic white, and one AquaSun.  What I cannot find is the order the bulbs should be placed into the fixture (front to back or vice versa).  Suggestions? Thanks for your time. Regards, Kim in Boston <Doesn't really matter functionally... If using actinic, I'd put them in the middle... B>

Normal Output Lighting Question 10/26/06 Hey there, <Hey? Hello there.> I must be doing something wrong'¦. I have tried to change a few NO bulbs but when I put in the newer bulb, it just flickered, never stayed on'¦ It is probably important to note that the older bulbs are T12, the newer ones are T8, same wattage and length obviously..'¦ I 'assume' that they are interchangeable as the two little prongs are the same width apart'¦.. I put the old bulb back in and it still works.  Is it just that the ballast in the light strip cannot run a T8 or something?  What am I doing wrong, do I have to replace a T12 with a T12, a T8 with a T8, do I need different ballasts'¦. Please explain. <Ahh, should ask before doing such.  The T8 tubes require a higher starting voltage than the T12's.  Not enough punch in your T12 ballast to light them.> Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Denise Re:  NO Lighting Question 10/30/06 <Bingo!  James (Salty Dog)> Point understood :) Does not make much sense to mess with the ballast when all I need to do is to get the right size bulb...Regards Denise Which Lighting? 10/22 Hello Crew: I am looking for some advice on lighting a 55 Gallon tank. I am trying to decide the better of the following two products and was hoping for your advice.  The fist possible fixture is the Coralife Aqualight double strip PC, the second is the Nova T5. The Coralife is 260 Watts and the Nova is 216 Watts.   <Personally I would go with the Nova - better product, but opinions vary.> I am just looking to house some polyps, mushrooms, and "easy" coral.  Do you think one of the above is a better product?  Do you happen to know if one is more energy efficient?  Do lunar lights have any benefit to the coral?  The Coralife does not have them however the T5 does. Thank you so much for answering my beginner questions everything you do is very appreciated. <I like lunar Lites - the advantages and the way they look.  But its all up to you - either will do.  Jen S.> Icecast dimmer I recently purchased a used reef system out of the classifieds.  With all the equipment the individual was giving me was an Icecast dimmer.  The lights on the tank are VHO's with an Ice Cap 660 ballast.  Unfortunately, there are no instructions with the dimmer.  I have tried to hook it up, and it shut the lights off, and turns them on, but doesn't really dim the lights at all.  I have searched the internet, and have not found the company, "Digital Oceans".  Can you help?  << I can not, but will pass this query on to another. >> Thanks in advance.   <<  Blundell  >> Mike

Lighting Confusion  9/9/06 Dear Bob et al., <Jim> I have read most of the articles on WWM media re: lighting many times over the years, and have appreciated the improved understanding I have gained.  But I am increasingly one thing.  Bob, in your article Marine Lighting: Quality, Quantity and Duration, you encourage the use of fluorescents, even normal output fluorescents, in reefkeeping. <Mmm, yes... in part these are "old" (more than a decade) statements/articles... and in part I am a big/ger fan of this technology for most folks... as we'll discuss further here>   You list HO, VHO and PC as higher cost, and in some ways less desirable solutions, and you put MH's under the category of 'losing' technologies, because of their high cost, the massive heat problems, and the fact that they are actually too intense for many life forms. <Mmmm... thank you for this... opportunity, prompting... I would not label MH as "losing technology" per se... but inferior for many settings (tanks shallower than a foot and a half in actual water depth, most organism mixes... but/and most importantly ones/systems that don't have matched capacities for providing adequate biomineral, other rate-limiting aspects... boosted light/intensity alone is not a panacea> Based on this and much other reading and input, I chose to go with 4x110W VHO's for my 72G reef, which by your article exceeds the 1-2w/gallon you recommend, and it has worked great for the few soft corals and several LPS corals I have kept: Euphyllids, Caulastrea, Turbinaria, Favites, Trachyphyllia, and Lobophyllia (not sure I spelled those right). <Close enough. Will fix before posting> In fact, I had to move the Favites DOWN after it started to bleach and pull in when I put it high on the rock wall.  Last year, I wanted to purchase a crocea clam, but was angrily told by several reefkeepers I would just be killing a helpless animal by trying to keep it under these woefully inadequate lighting conditions.  I wrote in to WWM, and was reassuringly told "not to believe the hype" and that, given the correct water parameters, a crocea could live quite happily under VHO's, if kept within one foot of the surface.  My first clam died shortly after purchase (too quickly to be lighting, I believe) but my second crocea has been alive and doing well for six months.  It has grown, albeit slowly, putting on about a quarter inch of new shell in those 6 months.  Okay, now to the question: My 72G reef recently blew out a seam, and I am quickly upgrading to a 150XH.  I chose the 150XH, despite the fact that some have expressed concern about the undesirability of deep reef tanks, for two reasons: space limitations within the house (six feet long just won't fit), and the fact that my lighting is all set up for a four foot tank.  But the concern has been raised that my 440W of VHO will truly not get the job done on a tank that deep.  So I started reading again, and I noticed that, despite everything your article said about MH being a 'losing' technology, you seem to recommend them fairly often in your FAQ's.  For example, a recent post: Dear Bob, My present tank is 60"L x 24" W x 30" H housing only softies due to angels and BF's lit by 6 x 40W NO fluorescents. <Okay> I have two options of light upgrade, 2 x 150W MH or 8 x 55W PC. Taking into consideration that I do not plan to have SPS, which would be a better option. <A tough one here... both could be made to work. I will opt for the metal halides here though... due to the size, shape of tank, my personal "looks" preferences. Will be spectacular. Bob Fenner> Regards. This seems like a complete turnaround from your earlier position! <Mmm... perhaps... is mostly a change due to tank sizes (getting larger, deeper) and improved "other" technology, and its popularity> (I am not trying to be accusatory, I am trying to understand.)  Is this recommendation because of the deeper than "normal" tank listed by the author of the question, or has you opinion on the usefulness/value of MH changed considerably since you wrote the article I mentioned, or is there some other consideration I am missing? <Is mostly the former, a bit the latter>   I have zero desire to spend lots of unnecessary money on lighting, or worse yet, a chiller.  But I also don't want to do my animals a disservice.  I don't mind relatively slow growth (in fact, I prefer it.  I have had to frag my Euphylliids and sell/trade the pieces about eight times in the last four years because they got too big and started stinging each other, and that was only under VHO's).  But I don't want to starve them for light. <Mmm, let me try to make a point this way. Your Euphylliids are receiving much more photonic energy than they would in the wild... can/could be metabolically boosted further still with more light and concurrent other conditions... is this "worth it?"... to frag more often? The added risk should the power fail once your animals are "boosted lighting" photo-adapted, the cost of energy consumption? Not an easy "yes/no" question...> In my new 150XH, I am willing to keep most of the corals relatively higher up on the rock structure, though a few, like my very large (8-9" dia), seven year old bright pink rose Trach will still need to go on the bottom.  I have no intention of beginning to keep SPS anytime soon.  Will the VHO's serve? <Could... but to proffer a more "complete" response, if this were your starting tank, and you were/are of the apparent level of sophistication as you appear... I would likely start with MH... two 250w pendants likely> Would they serve if I added a few more VHO's/PC's?  Or, given the depth of the tank, had I better consider MH's? <This last> If so, what wattage?  I am really not excited about the idea of two 400W MH's in my living room. <Me neither... would need a chiller and a basket of sunglasses to issue to visitors and family> Would two 150W DE's fit the bill, or do I need to go with 250W's?  A little clarification please! <The 150's would "get you" about what your present fluorescents do (though look a bit nicer)... IF you're switching to MH... I'd go with two 250's> Very confused, but sincerely grateful for your help, Jim Jensen <Thank you for the opportunity to make myself clearer. BobF, visiting in Jamaica> Coralife 50/50 or just white? The latter   8/24/06 Hello crew, <Mike> I have a quick question I don't seem to find a direct answer on. I have a 10 gallon Nano-reef with green star polyps, frogspawn, Ricordea mushroom, a small purple mushroom, green Zoanthids, <... trouble...> and a tree looking soft coral that had no name to it but it was $5 and it looks really cool. I have two Aquaclear 200 filters with no media just for water flow and 10-15 lbs. of live rock. I have a Coralife 96 watt 20" light fixture on the tank that seems to be working well for the coral but I was wondering if it is better to have the 50/50 actinic bulb in the Coralife fixture I have or would it be better to put the 10,000k all white bulbs in? <The latter> I can get either bulb for the same price and the fixture came with 50/50 bulbs but I was just wondering if my coral may need more of just all white light? Thanks for all the wonderful help you provide. Mike <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/actinicfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Overdriving NO Fluorescent Lamps - 06/11/06 Greetings and felicitations to the Crew! <<Mmm thanks, but congratulations for...?>>    I am upgrading an existing tank to VHO using an IceCap 660. <<Great ballast>> I was planning on using NO lamps based on the reprint of the FAMA article by Sandy Cohen on the Ice Cap site: http://www.icecapinc.com/rev1.htm <<Interesting article>>    Doing my best at "due diligence" by searching the FAQs I found a comment by Bob in FAQs about Fluorescent Light and Lighting for Marine Systems 1 ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/fluoltgfaqs.htm ) that seems to indicate that there is a difference in PAR value when using NO lamps in place of VHO lamps with a VHO ballast: <<Yes, I would agree>>    <snip> Another topic on S.O. tubes. A few years ago in FAMA a gent hooked up S.O tubes to Ice Cap ballast and had a much higher output coming from them. <Yes> If I remember correctly, almost a high as the VHO tubes. <Not of PAR> <snip> <<Perceived intensity and PAR are not the same.  Though the IceCap ballast will successfully "overdrive" the NO tubes, they still won't produce the PAR of a VHO tube.  But...that's not to say Sandy's experiment/findings don't have merit...is wholly worth trying in my opinion.  Perhaps you don't "need" the output of a VHO bulb>> I can't see the graphs in the reprint well enough to see a significant difference.  Any idea what the reduction in PAR value is? <<Would be due to the design/initial wattage of the bulb.  Sandy seems to be overdriving the NO bulbs by 100%, yet this is still well below the wattage, and assumably PAR, of a VHO bulb of the same size>> Thanks, Mark Hein <<Regards, EricR>>

BlueMax ... fluor. lamps    6/4/06 hello there, I found this site, for light bulbs, http://www.fullspectrumsolutions.com/full_spectrum_fluorescent_bulbs_33_ctg.htm Do you have any info on these bulbs? <Nope> They make a 70W compact fluorescent with a CRI of 96 and a 5900K rating. I thought this bulb would be great for the refugium, however, the bulb can only be used in the manufacturers fixture. <Will/would likely work>     I am looking at this bulb for the refugium. http://www.fullspectrumsolutions.com/65w_power_compact_69_prd1.htm I currently have a 28W 6700k fixture that does not seem to promote good macro algae growth. I would like to try my hand at growing some Gracilaria, do you think this bulb would be a wise choice? <Yes> The refugium dimensions are 20X15X15 with a 6" DSB.  I am undecided between the compact fluorescents or running two F20t12 bulbs, check these bulbs out http://www.fullspectrumsolutions.com/f20_t12_mb_93_prd1.htm   Are these bulbs to good to be true? check out the  T5 bulbs as well.   What would you recommend for lighting a refugium?   <Either, actually all these lamps are of sufficient quality to suit me... anything in the nineties in the way of Color Rendering Index, 5k plus in temperature... Bob Fenner>   thanks for your time Peter

Lighting...In The Dark ... CPR lamps in the UK  - 05/19/2006 Hi guys - a quick question!  Do any of you guys, know of a UK based distributor (or US distributor able to post overseas) for replacement CPR Aquafuge bulbs and starters? <Off hand I know of none.  Have you contacted CPR by email in regards to this?>  My fuge lighting has given up the ghost after only 2 weeks use and of course taking it back to the shop (in the US) is out of the question!  Secondly, any idea if UK spec bulbs and starters would be compatible (bearing in mind the voltage difference)?   <Another question for CPR.  I'm guessing their most cost effective way to market these products in the UK would be by incorporating a step-down transformer into the lighting unit.  Check the bulb to see if there is a part number on it and see if a local dealer can get this for you.  Do contact CPR re this at www.cprusa.com> Many thanks in anticipation <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> <<And CPR is distributed in the UK by TMC/Chorleyside. RMF>> - Steve Morse.

Re: Bulkhead Misery, And fluorescent lambda - 05/07/06 Hey Bob, <<EricR here...Bob's off at another "fishy" event>> Took the tank back in today after talking with him on the phone. He's just going to redrill and fit a new 2" bulkhead on there. <<Great to hear>> He was really apologetic about the whole fiasco.  I'm just glad it was so easy. <<Indeed... As Bob stated, sometimes best to "cool down" and present in a calm manner>> On another topic, I am trying to determine what type of lighting would be better for my setup.  I was going to go with 4 x 110watt VHO's with 3 being 10k and one being Actinic, but I've also had reefers suggest T5 HO's. <<The current "fad"...the VHOs will be just fine>> The cost for T5's is quite a bit higher from what I've seen and it seems I would also need more like 6-8 T5 bulbs. <<Agreed...VHO gets my vote/is what I use/have used for years>> As far as what these will be lighting, I plan on keeping mostly softies and maybe eventually some LPS or SPS and a Tridacna derasa.  Which would be more appropriate for this? <<Not saying the T5s wouldn't work as well, but I have a good friend who keeps all the critters you mentioned under VHO lighting with great success>> Thanks again, Joel F. <<Regards, Eric Russell>> Overdriving fluorescent lighting  - 5/2/2006 I've searched and searched and I know i read about this and i think i read it on your site. converting a N.O. shop light to make the lights brighter or to handle H.O. lights. <you are referring to overdriving your lighting.  While it is fairly easy to do, it is not always the easiest these days to get the right ballast.> i have 2 M.H.'s and  a 50/50 over my 220gal reef tank. I've been through 3 shop lights and 1 side of the 2lamps always burns out within a week or so. <That sounds like a serious corrosion or shorting issue.  Have you checked the wires in the fixture and seen if there is any salt creep or eaten through wires?> do you think  that would be from it being over the water? Or, that doing this rewiring that i am in search of would be worth doing. Or, should I just break down and buy VHO's or power compact's. <If you can find a good electronic ballast that is made for 4 bulbs, you want to wire it so that the power leads for the 4 bulbs are connected to the two.  two sets of wires for each.  I highly recommend searching for overdriving lighting on the internet and get a very good grasp of the risks and benefits.  I have overdriven a few fixtures, but the cost of finding the right ballast was not worth the upgrading to a new fixture in the long run.  If i was you id look into a Corallife t5 fixture, a 2 bulb unit at 48 inches is usually 50-60 dollars or less and is ready to go.> thanks George <Justin (Jager)>

Lights Again...But For What?  - 04/19/06 Hello Mr. Fenner, <Actually Adam J with you tonight.> I have a 55g FOWLR tank with a single bulb in each hood. <2, N.O. florescent bulbs I surmise.> To promote growth on the live rock <What type of growth? Coralline?> ,do you recommend the 50/50 or 10000k bulbs? <If this is for photosynthetic animals, 10,000K, put the par rating may not be enough? What LR critters are you referring too.>   Also, I was wondering if you had a preference between Coralife and ZooMed bulbs.   <Aesthetically ZooMed in my opinion.> Thank you, <Sure.> Kiet <Adam J.>

VHO Bulb Proximity to Acrylic? - 04/18/06 Hello, <<Howdy!>> I've been reading a bunch on your site, (great stuff by the way!!) <<Thank you>> I'm bumping up from a 55glass to a 125 acrylic gal tank for my reef. <<Cool!>> My question is how much clearance do I need to allow between the VHO bulbs and the top of the tank?  I know the MH gives off a lot of heat, the VHO not as much, what is a safe distance? (I'm planning on using 6- 48" bulbs across the top (2' wide) <<You'll want to get the bulbs as close to the water as possible for maximum effect/efficiency.  A standoff height of about 1/2" or so above the acrylic will provide sufficient airflow around the bulbs.  I have known folks to lay the bulbs right on top of the tank...but I prefer not to do so>> Take care, Mike <<Cheers, EricR>>

VHO Bulb Proximity to Acrylic? II - 04/18/06 Thanks a bunch! <<Very Welcome>> What's a good mix of color for the bulbs?  3 actinic and 3 50/50 or some other combination?  I have a mix of corals - mushrooms, toadstool leathers, hammer coral, frogspawn, colonial polyps, Kenya tree, misc. others I have no idea what they are! <<Mmm, a heterogeneous mix indeed.  My vote would be 10,000K for all six bulbs...but...if you want to have some Actinic as many folks do (would be for you...plenty of "blue" light in the 10K spectrum for the corals), then "no more" than two of these.  And do learn what else you have in the tank...else how do you expect to research and provide for their care?  Regards, EricR>>

VHO Bulb Proximity to Acrylic? III - 04/18/06 OK thanks... Will look into the couple things I don't know what they are... Thanks! <<Quite welcome my friend, EricR>> Mystery bulb - 8/2/05 Greetings....Does anybody know the verdict on this 50/50 bulb from Coralife. I have purchased and installed one into my nano cube and have not had such great results with it. The folks at the local aquarium store are saying it does not provide enough intensity and are suggesting I purchase the "mini AquaLight" from Coralife to support soft corals. Does this sound legitimate? Or may it be a different problem opposed to inadequate lighting that I am most likely experiencing? Thanks for the advice. <Hi Gary... I can't advise without knowing the wattage of this bulb, the size/depth of your tank, and the specific corals you are having trouble keeping. Do search through the lighting FAQs as most likely the information you see is archived there. Best regards, John>

Lighting   1/27/06 Could you please tell me what the end part of a ballast is called? <They are called end caps/sockets.> I bought new Coralife bulbs, and when I was taking off the old bulbs, the end part broke!! The part that the pins go into. What a drag! They were so fused on to the bulbs, it was ridiculous! <Should coat the pins of the lamps with a silicone lubricant to prevent this.> I bought Coralife 65 watt 21 inch straight pin compact bulbs. Now, my tank is in the dark thanks to this ridiculous design!! So, now that I've vented a bit, can you tell me what the heck they are called so I can order some? I had to cut the wires that lead from the ballasts also, because they were frayed. Do you think it is safe for me to re-wire onto these caps?? <I've never saw PC end caps for sale in any of the on-line stores.  I'd contact the manufacturer for their advice. <James (Salty Dog)> Thank you! <You're welcome> Pam

Vague questions/answers re lighting, refugium substrates  1/16/06 Hello, I was wondering what is the best combination of bulbs for my 440 watt VHO setup. I know it is a bit inadequate but I would like to keep an SPS toward the top. It is 4 bulbs and I can choose URI's day sun, actinic white and actinic blue. Whatever combo will provide the most useable light for the corals. <Likely the whites in the 10-15k range> Also, I was just making sure... as for the sandbed in my fuge, all I need to do is have a sandbed with no plenum or anything like that right? <Please see WWM re... there are many design options, alternatives. Most folks avoid plenums as unnecessary, but some leave out substrates as well. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help, Dan

Need help with lighting Greetings - I love your site and the incredible files of helpful information! <I'm very partial to it> We have a 3-month-old 75 gal. (48" wide) set-up: ammonia/nitrites = 0; nitrates = max. 20; water changes about every 2 weeks.   Inhabitants include:  30# of live rock, 5 green Chromis, 2 ocellaris clowns, and a scooter blenny.  Our future hopefuls include a yellow tang (got him this week, currently in our quarantine tank), a couple of cleaner shrimp, a flame angel, a starfish, and an anemone.  We still have much research and preparation to do before we acquire any of these other species (we are planning to "do the time" with the easy guys first), but we would like to go ahead and upgrade our lighting with our ideal tank in mind. <Okay... likely need to with whatever species of anemone this is> After reading your archives, my head is spinning. <How'd you like to write, correct, sort them?>   I am trying to compare costs of different fixtures plus their replacement bulbs. <Ah, good that you consider the last... as well as operational costs> From initial research, I guess I'm leaning toward a 48" compact fluorescent fixture with 4 96-watt bulbs OR one with eight 54-watt T5 bulbs.  How often do the T5 bulbs need to be changed?  Would these options be enough light to support an anemone (what kind, yet TBD - suggestions, please)? <Likely about every eight months, depending on how many hours per day you run them> Bob, I have read your article plugging Vita-Lite, but all I can find are 40-watt bulbs.  Could you give me some guidance here? Thank you! <Yes... Dura is no more... and neither obviously are their fabulous Vita line of lamps. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

FO Lighting - 01/04/2006 I was just wondering if a UV light would be OK to use to illuminate my fish only aquarium. <Not photosynthetic so if that's all that's in there yeah, sure.> Thanks <Welcome. - Josh>

PC pin corrosion   1/4/06 How are you guys? <Great> I have quick question about pin configuration on the Coralife power compact fixture. Is there any type of substance that you can put on the pins of a bulb when you change them to prevent the pins from corroding(?) inside the end caps? <I spray a small amount of WD40 on mine and wipe off excess.  James (Salty Dog)> <<Mmm, this is a local co... the product is diesel fuel, kerosene and a perfuming agent... I would NOT spray this around aquariums. RMF>> Thanks, Greg <<I use a smear of Silastic (100% Silicone Sealant)... wipes away enough for initial contact, allows easy removal. Bob Fenner>> VHO vs. PC lumens 12/13/05 Hello, A couple simple questions...I have heard that pc's put out twice as many lumens as VHO. Is this true? <There is some variation between brands of lamps and lamps of different color temperatures, but on average all fluorescent lamps will put out about the same amount of light on a per watt basis.  That said, there can be huge differences in how much light gets delivered to your tank, mostly depending on the type of reflector, but also lamp geometry.  Smaller diameter lamps (like PC and T-5) appear brighter because the same number of lumens are being emitted from a smaller lamp.  Also, PC's are usually folded over, so the light is being emitted from an even smaller area.  The downside to PC's being folded over is that some of the light from each tube shines on the adjacent tube and not downward.> I have heard that an ice cap 660 ballast that is using 440 watts of VHO will only actually consume around 220 watts of electricity. Is this true? <I am not sure of the exact figure, but it is true that Icecap ballasts under drive VHO lamps and overdrive normal output lamps.  Icecap ballasts will also under drive PC's if they are loaded to near their maximum capacity.  Icecap claims that their high efficiency electronics result in comparable light to lamps driven at full wattage on conventional ballasts, and this seems to be true.> When it comes down to light output and more useable light for my corals, which is better, 440 VHO watts or 265 pc watts? <In terms of light delivery only, these will be comparable (if you are using icecap ballasts, compare based on lamp rating).  I personally am a much bigger fan of VHO because PC's can be a pain to replace (different wattages, pin configuration, etc.) and there are too many cheap lamps on the market.  VHO's by URI are cheap, widely available and high quality.> Should I buy a reflector for my canopy for URI VHO bulbs with built in reflectors? <I would.  The internal reflectors are nice, but additional external reflectors will result in additional light being reflected into your tank.> Lastly, every time I use your search feature for a question, I usually find the link with the question I have. When I click on it, it brings me to a page with what seems like 100 different questions, and I never find the question from the link that I clicked on. Is that just the way it works? I guess I could use the extra reading anyways... Happy Holidays Thanks a lot.  <This is a common problem.  The link you get when you search brings you to a page that covers a broad category.  A good tip:  Once you reach that page with the 100's of Q&A's, click on "Edit" at the top left of your browser window and select "Find on this page" from the pull down menu.  You can then use keywords to hopefully find more specific info.  For example, if you search for "Berlin skimmer clogged venturi" gets you 100's of entries about skimmers, use the find function to find the word "Berlin" or "venturi" within the page.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> Lighting VHO vs. PC, anemone feeding, color, Clownfish eggs 12/13/05 Hello, I have a 4x65 watt Corallife power compact fixture on my 75 gallon aquarium. I am keeping some SPS's, including a 6 month old Acropora frag that is brown and fuzzy with purple tips. It is toward the top and doing ok, but obviously due to the lack of light it is growing slowly. I am building a canopy soon and I have the opportunity to upgrade to 440 watts of VHO for pretty cheap. Is this worth it? I hear that they don't put out as much light as pc's, even though there will be a big difference in wattage. <The PC's are brighter watt for watt, have a lower operating cost than other tubes and a much better bulb selection.> Also what if I put my pc bulbs and the VHO bulbs all into my canopy... can this be done...why have I never heard of this? <Because it isn't cost efficient.  Next to MH, PC's is the way to go.> If I did end up going with the VHO's will I be able to keep any corals that I couldn't keep with the PCs? I have always liked the look of the light put off by VHO way better hopefully it will be a better choice for my corals too. <The best lighting for Acropora and most other SPS corals is MH or HQI but if a MH/HQI upgrade is not in your budget I would rather see you add another 4x65 fixture than the 440 watt VHO.> Lastly, I have a Sebae anemone that I have had for about 8 months. The base is a very bright fluorescent green, and it has pink tentacles with purple tips. I was curious and looked at as many photos of them as I could find. I found a few that slightly resembled mine, but none that have had color even half as vibrant. Is this a rare find? also what foods can be used to get the best color possible? Right now I use silversides and squid alternating once a week and frozen prime reef cubes about 3 times a week. <The Prime Reef cubes is what I'd stay with and you don't need to feed the anemone three times a week.  Once or twice is plenty. It is also being hosted by a black ocellaris and an orange percula is it possible for them to produce fertile eggs? <I guess it could be possible but unlikely.> Thanks for any help that you could give me. <You're welcome and Happy Holidays to you. In future queries please do a spelling/grammar check.  It sure saves us plenty of time if we don't have to edit these.  James (Salty Dog)>

Fluorescent Reef Tank Lighting  12/10/05 Dear Sir, <Hello, Adam J with you.> I have been reading your article on marine lighting with great interest. <I assume you mean Bob's article, he's not in right now, so I'll be filling in for him.> I am a beginner in marines and have found the whole hobby very expensive if our U.K. shops are to be believed, In the U.K. no LFS will entertain anything less than 200litres as a minimum with equipment <Yes, smaller volumes of water can be made to work but generally the larger tanks are better for beginners due to their stability.> that looks more like Frankenstein's laboratory than a pleasurable pastime! <Oh...you should see my wet room...and wet attic.> Through careful reading on the internet, I have managed to keep a pair of clowns (the captive bred small variety) in a 35l tank- with live rock and a skimmer. However I digress, I like to think of myself as a conscientious keeper, and to this end have been constructing my own 100l tank with sump.  <Good move.> I have been struggling with the issue of lighting the general thrust of marine keeping seems to be 'you will have no success without MH lamps, and actinics are a must' <This is not true at all, depending on the size of your tank and what animals you want to keep there are many other viable lighting options other than MH. As for the actinics these aren't necessary at all, they are really for aesthetics.> these lamps are far too costly for me to buy or run so have found your article giving great hope, I have managed to source a reasonable priced T5 over tank Luminaire, it has 3x20wx14000 Kelvin lamps, sourcing full spectrum lamps has proved difficult, would it be possible to have three different temperature lamps that would make up the full spectrum? <Actually most photosynthetic animals prefer light in the 6500K to 10000K spectrum, so I would replace at least 2 of your 14K bulbs with this type for best results. This lighting can be made to work but are these normal output T-5's or high output? This makes a big difference.> (as soon as aquarium is mentioned a cost multiplier seems to automatically become involved £18 for a 2ft actinic!) My tank is a 2ft cube with a 4in DSB and besides the clowns I would like to keep feather dusters and mushrooms of some sort or something a bit more exotic if possible-suggestions would be most appreciated. <Yes this lighting even if it is normal output should be sufficient for the animals mentioned as well as some duller specimens like brown/green star polyps or darker Zoanthids.> Is it possible to have success with this set-up? <I believe so.> Yours, Colin. <Adam J.>

VHO Question Bob,  <James today> I am at my wits end here in my decision making process. I currently have a blue carpet anemone and a nice large Squamosa, sorry for my grammar, that I will be moving into a 150 XH (48x24x30). I am going to have about 6 inch DSB (I want a Jawfish) and I also want to move the anemone and clam over. In the future I also want to have some various colonies of Acropora sp. and other SPS corals. So my question is this.  Would I be better to go with 8 110Watt VHO's or just 2-250 watt halides with 2 VHO actinics.  <With the depth of your tank I would go with the MH's and VHO actinics. Much more cost effective. Replacing 8 VHO's is pricey.>  I have been reading on the PAR of each type of lighting and I have found many conflicting opinions. The only reason that I am so torn is that it is a couple of hundred dollars difference that I could roll over into a Tunze Stream. However, if you think it would be wise for the halides please just say so! :) I have always thought that halides were the greatest but there are a lot of educated people out there that say if you over-drive VHO's or t-5's that there is a higher PAR....I don't know what to think but this tank is over a year of planning already so I DO NOT want to waste money at this point. The reason I am trying to stay away from the halides is that I do not want to purchase a chiller at this point so a couple of 4" fans and 8 VHO's sound great.  <Andrew, the VHO's are going to generate 880 watts. The total wattage of the MH system will be 720. The fans should keep your temp at a reasonable level. If the lights are going to be mounted in the hood, its best to blow the air across the lamps rather than suck the air across.> Thanks a lot in advance!!  <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> 

Dimmer for 430 Icecap ballast 10/11/05 I have a FOWLR 180 gal. The tank is acrylic with combination of actinic and 50/50 lighting ( t5 t12 ) I decided to simplify things and placed an icecap 430 with 2 x 72 " bulbs VHO URI 50/50. Two bulbs have replaced 8 standard output. I have 3 questions VHOs get hot ( I can touch them but cannot hold on too long ) are they safe mounted in an acrylic hood with acrylic standoffs ? My hood does not have a fan but is open to the air along the back 6 feet. H2O temp does not go up with lighting on.  <It would be safe mounted as you describe though use of a fan is recommended. It will increase bulb life>. Icecap says that the 430 is dimmable. Is this true ? I have heard otherwise from the sellers of this ballast.  <My understanding is that dimmers can only be used for a maximum of a one hour period, and then only with a microprocessor based controller. I'd send an email to Ice Cap to confirm.> Is 320 watts of 50/50 VHO lighting too much or adequate for a FOWLR ( 180 gallon, 3/8 inch acrylic piece is between lighting and water, bulbs are mounted 3" above tank in hood ) <Excess light isn't going to hurt anything, will allow more beneficial algae growth than nuisance algae providing your nitrate/phosphate levels are low. James (Salty Dog)>

Dimmer for 430 10/11/05 Salty Dog, Thanks for your prompt reply.  <You're welcome>  For a 180 FOWLR would I be better off with 160 watts of standard output 50/50 's ( will this be sufficient ? for coralline algae ) or would 320 VHO 50/50 be best ?  <I would go with the 320, that's only 1.7 watts per gallon which should be sufficient enough for coralline growth as coralline generally prospers in the lower levels of the reef. I'd make sure one of the tubes was true actinic rather than 50/50.>  Phosphate 0.1 PPM Nitrate 10 PPM. 160 watts of standard watts run cooler than the VHO. <Yes, obviously> If this were your tank would you go for the 320 w VHO or 160 watt SO 50/ 50 light.  <As stated above my friend. James (Salty Dog)>  Thanks, Jimmy 

Large System - 08/16/05 I recently acquired a 600 gallon tank that I am planning some upgrades  for.   <<cool>> The tank came with 2 - 6' VHO's.  It's a 4' tall tank, and I just want it to look REALLY nice, not necessarily try to grow anything in it (aside from healthy fish). <<ok>> I haven't gotten it filled yet, or the lights hooked up so I'm not sure how bright it's going to be, but I'm curious if VHOs can hack it or would it be recommended to bump it up to halides even though its a FOWLR. <<The VHOs will work fine for the fish (may want to add a couple more tubes), but I wouldn't expect any life to "flourish" on the live rock in the bottom third of the tank.  I prefer the look of a single-point light source myself...and considering the depth of this tank, would likely opt for the halides.>>   I want to mount my 125 above the 600 if that is possible and use it as a refugium/invert display to complement my FOWLR, so it  would be nice if I could avoid the heating issues that would inevitably arise with halides. <<A valid concern...but don't be fooled in to believing VHOs won't be hot.  The use of cooling/exhaust fans will likely be required for either application.>> That leads to my next question and that is...are there any nifty tricks aside from drilling (glass tank), and overflow boxes (the  devil) to getting a top mounted tank to overflow to a tank below? <<Not that I'm aware/would trust.  Drilling really is you're best option.>>   Third question - The tank came with two Oceanclear canisters (which I am scraping for this project), and two 1200 gph external pumps.  There are four drilled holes and bulkheads in the bottom of the tank from this, and two pumps I have no great use for.  Would it be hazardous at all to just run two small closed-loops right out the bottom - provided that I elevated the drains above the substrate? <<Employ "true" closed-loops and you have no worries.>> And would that be worthwhile? <<Absolutely!>> I'm going to plumb a Dolphin AquaSea in for a closed loop on the back so if I had to plumb them any other way it probably wouldn't be worth the hassle. <<More flow the better...whether a reef or a FOWLR.>>   Lastly - just before my dreams get out of control - assuming I have top notch water quality, and 600+ lbs of live rock how many "stocking rules" can I break in a tank this size? <<Every tank has it's own set of rules...>> Can I keep a school of Yellow or Blue  Tangs...or multiple Pomacanthus angels...or keep a Sohal with other types of   tangs...or....you get the picture :) <<Unfortunately yes, I do <G>... You don't give the tank dimensions, but at 4 feet in height I'm guessing it's no longer than 8 feet (96"x48"x30" ?).  The Sohal gets too big even for this tank to be happy/well adjusted for its lifetime...the blue tangs (Hippo?), though not quite as large as the Sohal at maturity, are so robust, active, and high strung/twitchy as to (in my opinion) require more swimming room, more flow, and more "hidey holes", than most casual hobbyist can provide...especially if more than one.  As for the yellow tangs, I might be tempted to try a trio (all same size introduced together) in this tank.  Careful selection of a Pomacanthus might prove interesting as well (two might be trouble)...though be warned, these can/will become bruisers at maturity...choose tank mates well.  At least research your selections (fishbase.org provides good info on adult size, gut content (food), etc.) and seriously consider their requirements/needs before purchase.>>   Muchas Gracias, I always appreciate your input. Scott <<Happy to be here to assist/give opinion.  Regards, EricR>> Lighting 8/9/05 Hi Crew     I was wondering which of these fluorescent bulbs are visually brighter the Coralife RO 10,000K or the 20,000K? Thanks <The perception of most folks is that higher incandescence (K rating) appears brighter. Bob Fenner> SW System light/ing Hey Guys and Gals, < Hello >       Someone just posted on one of the lists I subscribe to asking for input about these lights...... http://www.lenslights.com/aqualights/innerpages/faq.html#5 .       Marine and Reef lighting is not my area of expertise. They seem interesting but are only compared to metal halides. Would these be considered VHOs? How would these compare to PCs or T5s? < Not as good as pc's nor halides. A great idea, and a way to make a cheap light okay, but not ideal. > As long as I am asking .... a friend of mine got a great deal on Coral Life T5s  at the Aquarium Warehouse in San Diego and I am thinking of switching.  I am  currently  using 2 65w  PCs on my 50g seahorse corral and 4 65w PCs on my 75 FOWLR. I know I do not actually need that much light for the inhabitants but anything less seems to puts a damper on my photography, which was the reason for the PCs in the first place.  < No kidding, I'd say those tanks are way underlit, even without the need for light. >       I am wondering how the T5s compare to the PCs in terms of heat, electrical costs and mostly appearance. Would the T5s appear brighter? < T5's have a couple advantages.  First off they give off more light per watt than pc's and they are more energy efficient.  However, they are not high powered to begin with.  So you need more of them.  If switching out 65 watt pc's you are okay, but if you were switching 96 watt pc's you would need two T5's for every pc bulb you take out.  Other point of interest.  T5's are a lot more money to buy initially.  However, the bulbs last twice as long.  So in the end you would be cheaper with T5's but not to begin with.  One more item- with T5's you really do need the individual reflectors for each bulb.  That cost adds up as well. > Hoping everyone is well. < I am doin' great. > Thanks, Leslie <  Blundell  >

Lighting Hi Bob, <Mohamed> I have read about the Vita-Lite by Duro-Test as been the best full spectrum on the market. While searching for them I came across a company that sells them but unfortunately not in T5's but they do have a make that closely matches the Vita-Lite. http://www.naturallighting.com/pdf_files/aquarium_lighting_t5bulbs.pdf.  I have attached the spec of the T5. The 3 full spectrums are: 28w, 46", lumen 2650, color temp 5500, CRI 91 39w, 46", lumen 3300, color temp 5000, CRI 85 54w, 46", lumen 4700, color temp 5500, CRI 91 I do understand that watts do not contribute to the brightness of the fluorescent tube but rather your electricity consumption. <Yes> I want the best I can afford for my tank inhabitants. Bob, taking my tank size in consideration, low watts is better for the bill and considering that I will keep coral requiring low to moderate lighting. I will have 3 or maybe 4 T5 florescent tubes on either side of my tank. Bob, the question is what combination you will use on either side looking at the specs? <The last are best> I will appreciate your input. Thanks Mohamed. <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: T5 lighting Hi, On http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fluolgtfaq2.htm article GE Starcoat T5 VHO Tubes Hilton speaks of adding T5's to his tank. If it is possible can this e-mail be forwarded to Hilton, I like to know where in South Africa his buying the T5's, the make, are the T5's as good as he says etc? Thanks Mohamed. <Unfortunately we don't archive folks' email addresses. Will post your message in the hopes he'll see and respond. Bob Fenner> 

Kalk and Lighting Hi! its me again, I would just like to know if the effect of a 1 tsp and a 1/4 tsp of calcium hydroxide on a 1 gallon of RO water will have the same effect on the pH? <Ah! Worth trying to see, eh?> For example, both will increase my pH by .1 - .2 . My pH is at 8.1-8.2 , and I want to increase the pH to 8.3-8.5 but at the same time minimize the amount of calcium introduced to the tank because I only have 4 stony LPS corals at the moment namely Elegance, Hammer, Open Brain and Pineapple brain and some Zoanthids. I'm keeping my calcium at 350 mg/L.  My lighting is 3 40W 6500K daylight and 3 Marine Glo blue fluorescent lamp which says that it simulates deep sea light and it does a great job in bringing out the fluorescent pigments of the corals. What are your comments in regards to the Marine Glo fluorescent lamp? <They are puny in the intensity, quality of light produced> Because initially I was thinking of buying an Actinic 03 lamp but I ended up buying Marine Glo but no regrets so far. Which is better? And as always, thank you very much. <Keep reading my friend. And take care not to elevate the water's pH more than about a tenth of a point a week... using pre-mixed, adjusted water. Bob Fenner>

NO Fluorescent wattage output I have four NO fixtures over my 50 gallon reef tank. Each bulb uses 65 watts of power, but the manufacture claims each bulb puts out 500 watts of light. So - when figuring watts of light per gallons of water, which statement is true: 65+65+65+65 = 260 watts? 500+500+500+500 = 2,000 watts? Thanks for the enlightenment. <Watts is *not* a measure of light output! Watts is energy consumption (watts=amps x volts). Your bulbs are consuming 65 watts of power, and since you have 4, you are consuming 260 watts of power. Hope this helps - M. Maddox>

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

Do new Fluorescents have to be 'Broken In' Before Used in Overdrive? Hello. <Hi there> Thanks in advance for all your help in the past on a hundred questions (not all mine!). <Welcome> I have a two bulb hood (Perfecto), 18 watt bulbs, which I finally decided to (successfully) overdrive. The ballast gets a little warm, and the bulbs are a bit on the hot side, but after two or three months, no problems. <Okay...> At that point in time I decided to replace all the bulbs, since they were a couple years old, and I could tell they were going downhill. The new bulbs were 10,000K and 8500K, ZooMed, 18 watts, same as I'd used before. On one tank, everything's gone fine with the new bulbs.  On the other, things were OK for a few days, but then after about 15 minutes, when things presumably had heated up, one bulb would go completely out, and the other would produce just a little light, a couple of watts, perhaps. I decided to put in all new wiring, on the theory that there was a bad connection which got worse with high temperatures.  As a rule of thumb resistance increases with temperature, and with a bad connection perhaps the ballast couldn't handle the load. <Mmm, more likely the lamps> I ran two new bulbs, and it crapped out in about 15 minutes. Now I'm running one old and one new bulb, which has been OK for a couple days now. So, my guess is that the electronic ballast is OK. <Likely so> The instructions with the bulbs say they'll take about 5 minutes to start the first few times, with the length of time gradually decreasing.  <Yes> I'm wondering if the bulbs sort of have to be broken in by being used in a normal fixture before being overdriven. I've never read such a thing, but I was wondering if anyone else had a similar experience. Also, has it been the experience of anyone that the new non-broken-in bulbs are fried, or will a break in using normal fixtures do any good?  <I suspect these lamps are just not compatible with your ballast, desire to "overdrive"> Thanks a lot, Mark <Bob Fenner>

Lighting 4/4/05 I have a 125 gal FOWLR with a 6 foot Custom SeaLife fixture. There are two 96W 50/50 SmartLite bulbs. My lights are on for 11 hours daily. Fish are well and rocks are loaded with coralline, though I do get some brown growth on the sand a few days after cleaning. First question, is this the appropriate duration of light per day, or would more/less be better? Second, how often should those bulbs be replaced? Both at once or separately?  <Rich, nothing wrong with the duration of light you have. The bulbs should be replaced every 10-12 months. James (Salty Dog)> 

NO-Fluors: No-Go? and no more HTML! Hello Crew, <Hey, Mike G here. Before I answer your question, can I ask that you (or anyone else asking a question to the crew, for that matter) PLEASE do not include HTML formatting in your email. Yes, it was very pretty with all of the (very many) colors, and bolding, and underlining, but when I opened it to respond, the message was like a train wreck. It took me around 15 minutes to sort everything out, which was time taken away from other people with queries as well as delayed my response a bit.>  I have a little bit of a dilemma. I was thinking of buying a 10gal tank from a person, because it sounded like a good deal. I just wanted the fish, but the tank includes a powerhead, a filter, a mature male Ocellaris Clown fish, a Kenya Tree, a Xenia, and possibly one other soft coral. The issue that I have is that I do not have anything besides regular fluorescent lighting. <Sounds like a problem indeed!> I read Anthony's article and he states: Standard Output Fluorescent lighting (SO or NO)? "The same general attributes as per above for high intensity fluorescent tubes with the limitation of its potential to support symbiotic invertebrates at depth. Recommended only for the least demanding animals in shallow aquaria 40 cm or less in depth." Is it possible that Standard Fluorescent lighting will support these corals due to the very small size and depth of this tank or will I need something more powerful like a 20" pc light? <I would recommend purchasing the PC light. Everything would be SO much better off. With the NO Fluors, I'll bet the creatures could survive, but certainly not thrive. The advantages of getting a PC light to replace the NO Fluors are staggering.> Thank you in advance for sharing your knowledge. Thank you. <You're welcome. Hope this helps you out.>

Re: Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate Oh My! And Dura back in biz Thanks for the quick response. Moved the damsels last night, they seem to be ok with their new tank mates. Nobody seems to be arguing anyway. <Okay> I think that I will forego the substrate exchange between the tanks. The 29 has crushed coral and I've used reef sand in the 55. They won't look very good mixed. I could get a mesh bag and use it inside the Wet/Dry with some of the crush coral, couldn't I? Before my first e-mail, I did take one of the filter pads out of the power filter on the established tank and put it in with the filter pad on the wet/dry. I don't know how much help that was. <Should> Does the AragAlive reef sand fall under the same category as most other products that claim to cycle the tank faster, or is there really a benefit to using it?  <Not much> I thought that the bacteria needed a bio-load to keep it alive; otherwise I never would have added the fish so soon. <Bingo> On another topic, I read the WWM article about lighting that discusses the use of a product called Vita-Lite by Duro-Test. I would like to try these, but the company went out of business for a while and the bulbs are not available at retail stores. I've called the manufacturer, Duro-Test and they have a min order of $85.00. Ouch. I found a website http://www.naturallighting.com/ that sells them... <Ah! Glad to find the co. is back> ... but I'm not sure that I can get enough wattage over a 55 gal tank to do as well as compact fluorescents, or maybe the newer T5 bulbs. The 55 is deep enough that I'm concerned standard fluorescents are not going to be enough, full spectrum or not. Do you have any thoughts on this subject?   Again, great site, and nice chatting with you Mark <If you want/need more intense lighting, I would go with CF's, T-8's, T-5's... in low to higher order. Bob Fenner>

Sump construction Bob, <Jay> Thanks for recent reply regarding material for sump/refugium .( seems you like acrylic over glass or Rubbermaid). <Yes... unless the system/s are quite large... several hundred to thousands of gallons... then I REALLY like the Rubbermaid products> New questions please- <Okay, how do I get a date with Heather Locklear? What's the meaning of life anywho? Oh, wait, you want to ask them> 1)I was planning on upgrading my lighting from 40 w 48" actinics x4 on regular ballast to an icecap 660 with VHOs.  Then I read an article on internet about using this same ballast with just regular 40 watt GE Daylight ultrafluorescent bulbs (putting 80 watts into each 40 wt bulb). Big cost savings, but different spectrum I assume. <Yes> The writer say everything in fish/invert tank is doing well 2 yrs out (may 2000 FAMA) 2) with my current 160 watts of light (2 URI actinic whites, 2 super (blue) actinics) all my live rock is covered with gorgeous purple calcific something -or-other. What will happen to this as I upgrade to the new ballast and perhaps VHO lights? <Change here will alter the mix, preponderance of species> Your thoughts on these?  <I would not be overly concerned regarding this abrupt change... w/o specifics, I would keep a close eye on your livestock, alter (extend or delete) illumination hours per their apparent behavior... (unless, you have interest, access to a PAR meter, light testing gear... want to guesstimate how much different... adjust for these two light regimes/set-ups. Bob Fenner> 

New Fluorescents from Lights of America, a shot and a miss Bob, et al, <Dan> Your web site (live) rocks! <Is this another live rock question?!> I was at my local large box DIY store and noticed Lights of America has a new outdoor fluorescent floodlight.  Normally this wouldn't thrill me, but I noticed the single fluorescent bulb puts out 4550 lumens using only 65 watts at 6,500K and 82 CRI, and a life expectancy of 10,000 hours. <Yeah... they do make some fixtures, have lamps of use... not this one though... the Color Rendering Index is too low at 82... you want/need 90 plus> The complete weather-sealed fixture/ballast/bulb is about 7 x 9 inches and costs about $40 without a wiring harness.  At those dimensions, I was thinking about trying one or two of them over my 120 gallon marine tank (2 x 2 x 4).  If I use two fixtures, that's the equivalent of 8.3 incandescent watts per gallon (76 lumens per gallon)!  I was thinking about supplementing with two 10,000K or higher actinics, improving the spectrum for use by my SPS, and increasing the watts-per-gallon equivalent to around 10. What's your opinion on the use of one or more of these lights, assuming I add actinics?  Would there be sufficient light of the right temperatures to support SPS or less demanding corals?  Any other recommendations? Thanks in advance, Dan K <Not of much practical value due to the quality of the light energy. Bob Fenner>

Re: New Fluorescents from Lights of America You say they have lamps of use--which lamps, and what uses? Dan <... please read over aspects of light, lighting... for whatever type aquatic system/s you have in mind... on www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Triton lighting 12/14/04 hi, I want to know if 4x30watt triton fluorescent bulbs would be sufficient for my standard 55 gallon with 2 Radianthus anemones and some fish. thanks a lot <they are a fine color for your fishes, but not at all likely to keep the anemone alive. Anemones need about 5 watts per gallon of tank to get close to having enough light. And if using NO bulbs like this, the lamps need to be changed every 6-10 months faithfully. Metal halide bulbs are recommended instead for light demanding anemones. Anthony> T5 Lighting Hi crew, <David> I have quickie to ask regarding T5 lighting. <Okay> I am looking to purchase shortly when funds allow a 145 USG tank (60x24x24) and was thinking of buying a T5 light unit but not sure how much wattage I need to allow me to keep BTA, mushrooms? <Not much for the Shrooms, but the anemone...> Can you (if you pardon the expression) shed any light ;) on the wattage required and also suggest any other SPS I could keep with this lighting. <At five or more watts or so per gallon... for this depth, shape tank, you should be satisfied with the growth, appearance of the anemone and SPS corals. You could have more (even a bit less), but with more, there will be other rate-limiting factors come into play (e.g. a lack of biomineral...), that will likely present more headaches in maintenance than the extra light effects are worth> Mass respect to you all. Thanks in advance and ever learning. Dave G (UK) Respect to you all <Welcome and I as well. Bob Fenner>  

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