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FAQs about Fluorescent Light and Lighting for Marine Systems, Normal Output (NO) Fluorescents

Related FAQs: Fluorescent Light 1, Fluorescent Light 2, Fluorescent Light 3, High Output (HO), Very High Output (VHO), Compact Fluorescents (CFs, PCs)Compact Fluorescents 2T5, TN Fluorescent Lighting, & FAQs on Fluorescent: Fixture Selection, End Caps, Ballasts, Regular and High-Output Lamp Selection, PC Lamp Selection, T-5 Lamp Selection, Lamp Life-Span Issues, Power Consumption Issues, Installation-Wiring, Troubleshooting/Repairing, By Make/Model/Manufacturer: & Metal Halide Lighting, Lighting Marine Invertebrates LR LightingTridacnid LightingSmall System Lighting,

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


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>>

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 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.>

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>>

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

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

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

Light Output of Power Compacts VS NO Fluorescents 4/13/04  Good Morning WWW Crew.... Happy Easter! Hope the Easter Bunny was good to you!!  <Indeed he was! Season three of "The Family Guy" on DVD. Much sweeter than any chocolate!>  I had a question posted on one of the boards I moderate, to date there have been no replies that actually answer the question. I did do a good bit of research, including searching through your articles and FAQs, before bothering you guys with the question but have been unable to find anything that actually provides the information requested. I was hoping one of you could help me out.  <Hmmm... I will do my best.>  Their question was..... Why do PC bulbs the same wattage and length of NO fluorescent bulbs have a higher light output? Many of the internet sources & LFS simply state PCs provide much more light for the same # of watts as NO fluorescents do. I cannot find an explanation of how and why this is, just lists of the many advantages of PCs.  <This is not really true. Watt for Watt, no widely used light source significantly outperforms another. PC, VHO and T-5 pack more wattage into the same or smaller package, so the look brighter, and can produce more intense lighting over the same space, but watt for watt they produce very close to the same quantity of light. More intense light in a smaller area does penetrate better through water, but at the expense of even distribution. Another way to look at it is in terms of the energy efficiency. All light sources turn some of the electricity into heat and some into light. A regular incandescent light bulb converts less than 10% of it's wattage to light, with the rest going to heat. All florescent technologies convert about 30% of their wattage to light, and Metal halide can convert up to about 60% of it's wattage to light.  FWIW, I am not a big PC fan. The lamps are expensive to replace and the fact that their are several standard bases makes choosing the correct lamp quite confounding. Also, because the lamps are always "folded over", a large amount of the light is lost by simply shining onto the adjacent part of the tube.>  Would one of you be able to enlighten :) me, so I can pass the info on to other inquiring minds.  <Hey! We don't appreciate bad puns around here. That comment wasn't very BRIGHT of you.... Oh never mind.>  Thanks so much as always, Leslie  <Glad to. I hope I helped clarify this muddy issue. Adam>

Lighting Question Hi Bob: Hope all is well. I recently had one of my ballasts go out in my Oceanic strip lights (2 30" fluorescent, using 2 'NO' 24" bulbs each). I was thinking of buying the oceanic replacement that uses the HO single bulb compact lighting. I currently have a fish only tank with about 5-6 2-4 lbs pieces of live rock. The question is do I spend double the money for these new lights (around $140 for both) or do I go the cheap way and just replace the with regular dual 'NO' fluorescent lights (probably $60-80)? Is it worth the upgrade? (e.g. brighter, better for the live rock etc...) <A good question... comes down to a consideration of really cost now vs. costs in the longer run and function/looks... The better lighting is better... and seemingly more costly... but will save you money in not so much time... in real electrical costs (versus useful light production) and replacement lamps/fixtures... Looks-wise and function wise the upgrade is definitely worth the small initial investment difference... I would upgrade> As always thanks for your advice. Chris Goldenstein <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>  

Lighting question for 55g reef Hello Bob. I have a question about lighting for a reef. I plan to get four NO bulbs for my 55g, and other than the lighting, the tank is reef ready. My question is, should I go with the normal 2 10,000k and 2 actinics, or a different combo? <I would use three of the 10K lamps and just one actinic... more of the wavelength, photons you want> I was thinking maybe the two actinics, and two sunshine bulbs, from GE that are 5000k 90cri. Would this make the tank look ugly and too yellow? What do you recommend? <These should be fine... for all but high-intensity light organisms (like tridacnid clams, many SPS corals)... otherwise, I'd be saving up for compact fluorescents. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: lighting question for 55g reef Thanks Bob. One more thing. What company would you recommend for the bulbs, like Coralife, zoomed, Hagen, or INTERPET? <Any of these company's lamps are fine (none of them actually make them)> Also, if I did the two actinics and two 5000k's, would the tank look yellow? <Not "that yellow" to me, but would look for 6,700K temperature or higher. Bob Fenner>

Going From NO to VHO Hello Steven, or Anthony??? I would like to ask you a lighting question today. Brief tank setup is as follows. 5'L x 30"H x 16"W. The tank is a see through from both sides, and overflow is on 1 end ( not in a corner). My rock is setup in a 2 level formation, and runs the whole length. I did this so I have more play with positions for my corals. I keep mainly soft, and LPS corals. I like that blowing in the wind look.. heh, heh. The lights are about 28" from the sandbed, and between 15", and 18" from the upper level of rockwork ( depending where you measure from, it varies). I currently have a Icecap 660 running 2 actinics, and 2 white fluorescents all from Coralife. They are presently NO lights. ( I am pretty sure this is not enough. I would like to go to VHOs. My question is this. I currently have all 4' long lamps that don't light about 6" on either end, and I want to change them to 5'. Will it be o.k. if the light will also shine directly down my overflow ( I have a standpipe in it that silences the noise), I am thinking if algae starts to grow down the overflow, it will make kind of a refugium ( I already have a refugium with Miracle Mud, LR, and Caulerpa as my filter system in my basement). Will going from 4' to 5' lamps increase the intensity also, even if I did put back the same types of lights, only longer ones. The fact that I want to upgrade to VHOs will increase the intensity already, and what concerns me is I cannot just turn them all on at once since the corals, and fish are currently not used to this brightness ( they are not even used to VHOs!!) Yet I have to move the end caps to add the longer ones. If I change all 4 NOs for 4 VHOs at the same time, but only turn on 1 of each at first for a week, or 2, should this be o.k. Or what is your opinion of how to go about the change, keeping in mind that the distance for all 4 end caps have to be adjusted at the same time. Also what do you think of the URI brand, or do you know of another brand that makes 5' long fluorescents? I do not want MH, as I think I don't need it, and the electricity, and heat problems! <Do change your lamps to four 4' or 5' VHO's. For the first week, run only two of the VHO's for your normal photoperiod and the other two for two hours in the middle of the day. Gradually increase the other two lamps two hours per week until they match your regular photoperiod. URI makes great lamps, my personal favorite. I would recommend two actinic 03's, one white actinic (50/50), and one AquaSun. -Steven Pro> Thank a bunch in advance, Greg N.( Montreal, Canada)

55g NO lighting q's once again :) Hello Bob, or if you are not back yet, whomever is answering this. I think I will go with the four NO bulbs on this tank. 4 x 40w, 3 9325k and 1 actinic. Mr. Fenner, could you give me a link to Steve pro's NO 55g? OR if this is Steve, could you give me that link again? I would like to have another look at the tank to get some ideas. Thanks. <I am going to give you the link to the first page as the webmaster was going to be moving a few things around http://www.masm.org/ I have been successful keeping a variety of LPS, soft corals, mushrooms, and Zoanthids under NO, but I have been careful to avoid high light animals like SPS. A good book, like either of Eric Bornemann's or Anthony Calfo's, would be extremely helpful. -Steven Pro>

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

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