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FAQs about Power/Compact Fluorescent (PC, CF) Lights and Lighting for Marine Systems 1

Related FAQs: Compact Fluorescents 2, Regular Fluorescents, Metal Halide Lighting, Lighting Marine Invertebrates, LR LightingTridacnid LightingSmall System Lighting,

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

Antennarius hispidus pic in N. Sulawesi by DianaF.

Another PC Vs. T-5 Question/Reef Lighting 1/9/11
Dear Crew,
<Hello Joe>
Again, thank you for your awesome dedication to the hobby as well as the commitment to answer and post questions on a daily basis. I always look forward to reading the dailies- what a treat!
<We are glad you enjoy, and thank you for the compliment.>
This topic has been covered over and over but I thought that I would ask for your opinion on my particular situation.
I have a 54 gallon corner reef tank (mainly LPS) with a 150 watt 10K HQI, as well as a 65 watt 10K PC retro-fitted into the stock fluorescent fixture.
Although the retrofit is working fine, I've had it for some 7 or 8 years and it will eventually need to be replaced.
The replacements that I'm looking at are either the 2x24 watt or the 2x31 watt T-5 (only Coralife makes that latter). The length must be 30" to fit the pie shaped tank. I've also learned that the greater the width of the fluorescent unit, the more the HQI light is blocked (no canopy), limiting the number of bulbs to essentially 2.
<Mmm, without knowing your tank dimensions, I'm thinking the HQI lamp should be all that you need for your system. If you are looking for color accent, consider a LED Stunner Strip.>
I'm assuming that 1 PC bulb will be brighter then 1 T-5 bulb of a similar length and spectrum due to the PC's twin design, as well as higher wattage. In your expert opinion, would either of these units be a cost efficient way to improve my lighting or will the intensity increase be minimal?
<Watt for watt, T5 lighting has more lumens per watt, runs cooler, more cost efficient, and penetration is much better than PCs. Depending on your tank depth, you may also want to consider the LED retro modules which provide a stunning color accent and are extremely energy efficient. Take a peek here for a few examples.
Again, due to the aquarium shape, I'm somewhat limited in terms of choices (aside from upgrading to a 250 Watt HQI). I don't need to replace this fixture now but would like to if the benefits out weight <weigh> the cost.
Thanks so much!
<You're welcome and do write back if you have more questions. James (Salty Dog)>

Actinics and 10000K CF vs. Coralline and Hair Algae 2/12/09 Hola WWM Crew. <Hi John> Thanks again for all you do. <You're welcome.> Now that we got the poetry out of the way, I would like to ask a variant on the old "should I take out my actinics and replace them with high K CF bulbs" question. I have a 75 gallon with good parameters (not essential here) . Some nitrogen and phosphate evidenced by a little hair algae but I am getting this under control with diligence. I have a 48" Coralife Aqualight Pro 2X150HQI 2X96CF actinic. It is getting to be time to change the actinics. I don't really like the actinic color that much, and the coral doesn't care. I was thinking about putting in 10000K CF bulbs. Two questions: Will the 192 watts of CF 10000K provide a material marginal benefit to my SPS relative to the 300 watts of HQI? <Will help some, but I wouldn't base my decision on it.> Will the move to 10000K hinder my coralline more than it hinders my GHA or do GHA and Coralline like the same spectrum? <Coralline seems to do better under actinic.> I was thinking about 6000-7000 but really don't like the color. <The lower Kelvin temps are more prone to growing hair algae than 10K and higher, but excess nutrients are going to be the main cause of nuisance algae in your tank. You didn't state what the Kelvin temperature is on your HQI lamps, but I do know the fixture comes with 10K lamps. So, if you haven't yet replaced them, I'll assume that is what you are using now. If plating coralline is desired, I'd stick with one actinic and replace the other CF lamp with a 10K. This will reduce the blue effect you are not fond of and should give you a nice overall color balance.> Thanks <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> John / Fishnut

Reef Lighting  Aloha, <Greetings.> I have a 75 Gallon tank. I am not wanting to take a shortcut on lighting. I want to keep some SPS and clams. I keep my house cool (about 70 degrees) I will have 4 - 4" fans in my custom enclosed canopy over the tank (hanging pendant- style out of the question unfortunately). My canopy will be about 8 to 12 inches over the tank. I plan to purchase a sheet of polished aluminum and line the entire inside with it. <I'd get it at least coated with something... aluminum and saltwater don't mix well.> On to the lighting... I would like to retrofit 2 - 175watt 10,000K metal halides.  Complementing that, I can either buy an Icecap 430 and run 2 110watt actinics, OR I can purchase a 660 and run 2 110watt actinics PLUS 2 110watt 10,000K bulbs along with the halides. Is this overkill? <Hard to discern... you probably don't 'need' the extra 10K fluorescents.> Again, I would like a T. maxima or T. crocea in the near future. But I don't want to burn the SPS corals. <Make shady areas with the rock work OR drop one of the metal halides and light with the other on one side of the tank only, and then perhaps use the 10K VHOs on the side that doesn't have the MH lighting.> OK, if you're still with me, back to the MH. I have heard about UV rays, so I assume I will have to build some sort of UV lens for my MH. <That is correct.> Is this a special type of material or could I use a piece of acrylic? <I would use glass - acrylic will likely melt being that close to a lamp. Glass is available with a UV-filtering coating.> I could build a " box" over each bulb with it. Not sure if the bulb would melt it though. <It would.> I really don't want a piece of glass or acrylic over my entire water surface. I want evaporation for Kalk top-offs and cooling factor (with the fans blowing across the top of the water). <You might need to rethink this, with fans sucking hot air out of the canopy.> I am trying to come up with a plan to where I do not have to use a chiller, but get sufficient lighting. <I'd skip the canopy and instead light from above with adequate space for more fans. You will soon see that the canopy becomes a trap for heat, and you largest problem will be getting the heat out of the collector.> I have so many ideas in my head so if you could blindfold me, spin me around 15 times and point me in the right direction, that would be super cool groovyrific!! <Again... if SPS is part of your goals, then skip the second MH. Light that side with only fluorescents. You will still have issues with heat... you may need more fans or you may even need a chiller. Time will tell.>  Mahalo, Jason <Cheers, J -- >

Short & Sweet Power Compact Question Mr. Fenner (or Steven Pro), Quick question: I am setting up a 75-gallon reef tank that will contain Goniopora, colt, galaxy, frogspawn, torch, leather, and sun coral (all being transplanted from a smaller tank). I have decided (based on your recommendation to me several months ago) to utilize power compact lighting (300 to 350 watts, 4+ watts per gallon). With that said, as you are well aware, most 75-gallon tanks have a plastic "divider" that holds the middle of the tank together (at the top). It basically creates two areas to place glass covers with lights. So, is it considered dangerous if I place a 48" power compact across the entire tank? <No, it is the norm.> If so, how do people get adequate wattage? Please help! Thanks! <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

Lighting Question Hello there, <How are YOU doing?> I have a question about lighting that I would like answered, please. I am wondering if the lights sold at "Home Depot" or similar stores called Compact Fluorescents are the same as what I've been told are to be a great lighting alternative called Power Compact lights. I've asked the workers at the home improvement stores and they were not familiar with the aquatic versions.  <many variations on compact fluorescents. You only need to ascertain the color of the bulb to determine its usefulness in part. Look for 6500K to 10,000K. Many bulbs to choose from. Research the brand (call the mfg, look up on their website, etc) to discover bulb temp if necessary. More often than not, these people bulbs are too warm colored for marine aquarium use ("people/daylight" bulbs often being under 6500K> I've asked my four local fish suppliers and the workers from all stores gave answers ranging from "I've never heard of them," to "Sure, they might be." Please help clarify.  <sure, they might be<G>. We cannot say for certain without any more bulb specs> I'd like to build a system myself if I could. If these are not the same bulbs, could I buy and use the ones from the home improvement store anyway? The displays seem really bright. Thank you, have a good weekend. <bright is good, but may mean nothing if the bulb temperature is off. My friend, you haven't even mentioned in this message what it is you are keeping: Freshwater, Saltwater, plants, fish only, live rock...full blown reef...etc. All may need/tolerate different lighting. Do research your targeted species lighting needs and then find a bulb color that will support it> Randy M. Yniguez, MA <best regards, Anthony>

Life Expectancy of Power Compact Lamp Great, and thank you so much for your time! <You are welcome.> How often should one change out a CF run 24/7 on a refugium? <Most Compact Fluorescent lamps will last at least a year before needing replaced, but that is based on a normal photoperiod. For 24/7 use, I would replace every six months.> Take care, Paul <And you do the same. -Steven Pro>

Power Compacts & "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" Dear Mr. Fenner, <Steven Pro in today.> First of all let me say thank you for writing such an informative book. I have been reading your "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" for about a week now and am thoroughly enjoying it. But one thing puzzles me. In the lighting section you don't cover Power Compacts as a lighting source. You do mention them in one sentence but never elaborate on them. Is there a reason for this? <Yes, it has to do when Bob wrote the book, PC lights were not all that popular. They had just came out on the market. It is a testament to Bob and his book that it is still selling strong after about 4 years. Also, the reason for the webpage, instant update. No need to wait for your work to go through editing and publishing house politics/marketing strategy, while aquarium technology and breakthrough occur daily.> I have just purchased one from CSL and like the brightness of them. If you don't mind could you elaborate on pros and cons of these. <Take a look here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/index.htm And at the linked pages for more in-depth answers.> My system, that I am currently setting up, will have live rock and sand. I plan on mainly fish with some worms, snails and crabs. I would very much appreciate any information you can offer to help me clear up some questions on lighting. Thank you in advance for any help that you provide, Sincerely, James Peachee <Have a nice day. -Steven Pro>

PC Lamps Hey, <hmmmm... kinda brusque. Where are you from.. hehe> I just read through a few of the Q's sent to you and think you may be just the man I need to talk to. I am new to aquaria, and will attempt to set up a 75G saltwater over the next few months. I know little about aquaria, but have worked in chemistry labs for years and have experience with maintaining chemical levels. Hopefully this experience will give me a head-start.  <agreed... good discipline> I want to go with PC bulbs for various reasons (lower E cost, cooler temp., and high lumen output),  <I disagree with all of those reasons based on the unbiased, unpaid research of many fine academics including Yoshi. The facts don't lie... if a $10K instrument that reads PAR tells me that I'm getting more bang for my buck with halides... I'm inclined to believe it... especially when the study is replicated> and I would like to eventually incorporate coral into the aquarium. I think that a 3x96W (10K) setup is what I should go with (advice on this is welcome).  <for PCs a fine color and wattage for beginner corals> The trouble I am running into is finding 96W bulbs that are short (<17"). The only ones I have found are 36+" long. Are these bulbs made at a shorter length? Also, are fans needed with these bulbs? Thanks, Parrish <a thermostatic fan is recommended with all high intensity lighting canopies. Inexpensive and easily controlled. Kind regards, Anthony>

PC Lamps II Thanks for the reply Anthony, I am not sure I understood everything that you said though. Would metal halides be better for the system I am looking to set up?  <if your criteria are cost efficiency, getting the most intensely useful light for reef invertebrates for dollar spent (PAR rating) and bulb life... yes, MH is the way to go. Do an internet search of Author Sanjay Yoshi and Dana Riddle and review some of their work. Sanjay's recent work is very interesting> Also, the color? <6500K Iwasaki or 10K Ushio or AB brands specifically (based on performance in tests)> Is there a specific color you would suggest for coral.  <you have to pick the coral before you can pick the lights, my friend. Daylight shallow/SPS or heavier actinic for LPS, Zoantharians?> All of the distributors seem to say whichever color they are trying to sell is the best. BTW, I am from South Dakota. I am a grad student studying behavior and neurobiology. I am taking an invertebrate diversity course which has sparked my interest in Cnidaria, and would like to check out my abilities to build an ecosystem that incorporates these animals. Thanks, Parrish <excellent... best regards in your endeavors. Anthony>

Power-Compact Lighting Questions Hello Reef Master, may the force be with you...... <<Hello, not Bob, but JasonC filling in for Bob.>> So, I just spent a while reading the FAQ on PC lighting and I think I'm going to have to see an optometrist to get my eyes uncrossed. WOW there's a lot of info posted there! <<there is indeed.>> I think I've got this stuff figured out (at least as clear as mud) so just a few questions for clarification. <<fair enough...>> I've got a JBJ 4X55watt fixture that I am very happy with. The bulbs are about 8+/- months old (forgot to note date on bulb). This is over a 50 gal flat-back hex with 60lb LR and 3 1/2" DSB. Current coral livestock is 1-colt (growing nicely) 1-frogspawn (dying @ LFS, now doing well) 1-Bubble (same as frogspawn) 1 hairy mushroom rock (not doing so well) and some other assorted 'shrooms. I wanted to know, how accurate (trustworthy) is the manufacturer's lifetime rating for bulb life? Is 12,000 hours really accurate, or should that be halved?? <<Hmm, interesting question. If you figure they're only on 12 hours a day [give or take, but good for even math], then they should last 1,000 days which is nearly three years - something doesn't sound right about that, in fact neither does one and a half years... I'd say a year would be great/fine for a PC tube.>> Also, I currently have four SmartLamp bulbs (10k and actinic in 1 bulb). I'm thinking about replacing these for conventional PC bulbs. I have read various opinions regarding color temp and suitability, and would like some clarification. I see bulbs ranging from 5000K up to 10000K. What would be recommended ideally? Also, in a 4 bulb setup, is it ok to have 3 white and 1 actinic, or better to have 2 white, 2 actinic? Is there a benefit to the livestock to have a period (i.e: 30-60 minutes morning/evening) with actinic lighting only? Will I be losing much in aesthetic appearance with only 1 actinic bulb? <<50/50 blue to day-light [10k], best way to fly with fluorescents methinks... even better when your lighting fixture supports dawn/dusk split lighting. I think you might loose some coral health if you were to drop to one actinic tube - if it were a fish-only, they wouldn't care, it would all be about what you want to see.>> Also, what K temp is actinic considered? I'm sure this is in the FAQ but I didn't see it. <<did a quick survey with Google and the phrase "actinic spectrum" and found 7100k a couple of times. Of course, Actinic Lamps are specific-spectrum lamps in the range of 400 - 480nm So... the temperature [Kelvin)] of an actinic bulb is less important than the spectrum range [they are different units of measure is the take home on that one]. Is that any clearer than mud?>> Thanks for the help, I wish for once I could contribute....... <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>


PC lighting Hi to all!  <greetings, friend. Anthony Calfo in the house> Thanks for all the great help that you provide.  <our pleasure> Just a question regarding lighting. I have read numerous articles discussing the use of NO flour. bulbs with VHO ballasts with good results.  <eh...> Do you know if the same can be done with power compacts, i.e. using a 55W or 65W bulb with a 96W ballast. If so, then I can buy a 96W ballast kit and use the length bulb that I need, making upgrading tank size more economical. <a potential fire hazard is not economical at all. Postpone the system until you can afford to do it safely, bud> Also what types of corals/anemones would you recommend in a 29gal (18"H) tank with 2 - 55W PC's (1-10,000K & 1-50/50)? Thank you very much for your help. Nathan:) <as much as I enjoy coral propagation, I would suggest slow growing species for smaller tanks. With hundreds of species and tens of genera available, it would be hard to give you a shopping list without knowing your preferences. My advice is to simply not mix LPS, SPS and soft coral together. Pick one group and stick with it. A 29 gall reef will be hard enough to run without extra and unnatural coral aggression. Kindly, Anthony>

Lighting Hello Bob, <Steven Pro this morning.> I currently have a CustomSeaLife 4x96w retro-fit system on my 80 gallon reef. The daylites are 67K. I have been reading that one company has released a 10000K white bulb, and another has a 88K bulb. I have an assortment of different corals from sps to leathers to mushrooms in the reef. How would changing, to say the 10000K light affect all the inhabitants? I have also been thinking about trying a metal halide system with 2 175w 10K bulbs and a couple of 71K pc actinics. Of the two choices which would be the better way to go? Thanx, I always appreciate the advice. -Charlie. P.S. The tank is 4ft. long and 22" deep. <Well Charlie, I would ask you, how do your corals look? Are you getting good growth, color, polyp extension, etc.? If things look good, don't change anything. Your current lighting seems adequate. I generally mix half full-spectrum lamps with actinic lamps. 6700 K is probably full-spectrum, but many times these color temperature values are not accurate and are more a marketing ploy than anything else. You have an interesting mix of corals. Watch out for chemical warfare and encroachment. -Steven Pro>

Power compacts I have a CSL 130(65+65) SmartLamp. I was wondering if the ballast inside the lamp will run 2 96 watt SmartLamps? I need to upgrade my lights w/o losing space. Thanks, Jeremy <Probably not, but you may want to contact customer service to be sure. http://www.customsealife.com/ -Steven Pro>

Quick PC Question <Anthony Calfo in your service> I just wanted to start out by saying that I really enjoy your website and I have recommended it to several people who have saltwater tanks. <truly the ultimate compliment> I currently have a 50g tank (48W x 18H x 13D) and I know that my current lighting isn't adequate. I was looking into getting a PC system. I was wondering if 4-65W (2 - 6700K Ultra Daylight and 2 - 7100K Blue) setup would be adequate for a tank my size. I currently don't have any corals but I am planning on them in the future. I am not looking for anything exotic when it comes to corals. Thanks for any information you could supply me. < an attractive colored lighting scheme, but moderate in intensity indeed. You can keep many LPS corals and Zoantharians... but need to resist SPS corals, clams and nice/fancy colored soft corals to generalize. Do make a wish list of corals first and determine their needs before you commit to lighting... otherwise you have the process bass ackwards. kindly, Anthony> Frank

at your leisure, CF Lighting I already asked a question this week, so whenever you guys get to this is fine. <This is an easy one, so you get an answer on the same day.> I am trying to research "power compact" lighting. Suspect the page I am looking for is one out at the publisher as part of Bob's next book... <g> I have read most of the lighting sections and some of the FAQs, but still can't find what I want (did I miss something?) <I too do not see a section on PC lighting only.> Here is why I want this info.... I have a 55 g fo(wlr shortly) system w very basic lighting at the moment -- 2 15 w fluorescents that came w the system when I acquired all the equipment used. <The standard stuff that comes with tank/hood combos.> In this system is a purple tang and a fu Manchu lion fish. I was visiting a friend over the weekend and went to her LFS (which is more like a LRS -- the guy specializes in inverts and has very little in the was of fish). He had some of the most beautiful, fat, colorful purple tangs I've ever seen, grazing on ogu algae (what they call it, not sure of the proper name -- looks like an "air fern" kind of). So I bought some. I asked about what type of lighting they would recommend to keep it healthy and was told to use PC lighting 65w with 10K lamps minimum. Now.. is what is good for the tang/algae too bright for the lion fish??? Did I miss a page where I can find this info for myself (I have no problem doing this... ) <It sounds like you found all the pages that are currently available. The lionfish does not care what kind of light you have, he just wants fed. If you want to grow a lot of algae for a natural food source, you will have to upgrade your lighting and PC is a good choice. I think four 55 watt lamps with a mix of actinic and full-spectrum will fit nicely and give you your desired growth.> Thanks as always. -Rebecca <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: at your leisure, Marine Light/Lighting > I think four 55 watt lamps with a mix of actinic and full-spectrum will fit nicely and give you your desired growth.> The LFS offers one that is in my price range that has 2x65 with the above mix you mention (each bulb is a "double" tube -- 1/2 actinic half full-spectrum). That gives me 2.36 watts per gallon. Good enough?? From what I have read, 2 is the minimum required for photosynthesis. <The type of lamps should be fine. Depending on what type of organisms you have/intend, their depth in the system, whether you're boosting their metabolism otherwise, more watts, like 5,6... 7,8 per gallon are warranted. Two is a small value for low-light intensity life from tropical reefs. Please read over the light, lighting materials posted on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Re: at your leisure nothing fancy/involved at this point. Just want to be able to keep the algae for my tang alive. <Oh, this should do then. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Thanks again!

Daylight compacts dear Mr Fenner, I have sourced a supplier in the U.K of compact fluorescents, they say the highest spectrum of lamp they can supply is 6000k, and that it is a daylight tube. I have asked for full spectrum but they claim that they only produce daylight 6000k lamps in compacts. they can supply 6000k and above in normal out put fluorescents in full spectrum. would these day light compact lamps be suitable to illuminate a refugium?????  <Yes> the refugium is 24"x12"x18" and how much light would you recommend??????  <2,3 Watts per gallon... for alternating light/dark cycle with your main tank, or on continuously> the refugium is to house mangroves, macro algae and other critters as you so highly praised in my bible "conscientious marine aquarist". <Mmm, with the Mangrove present, do make this an alternating light/dark cycle... the "tree" needs the dark phase of photosynthesis> I told my better half that she has you to blame bob for my hours of research, I've been planning to set up this tank (60"x24"x18") for almost 2 years, <Yikes, maybe I better not visit thereabouts...> I thank you immensely for your great wealth of wisdom and your eagerness to share it with others, I'm sure there are hundreds of people out there that have got into the salt water hobby because of the "that flaming book" as my g/f says. keep up the good work................ thanks again Brent Keenan. (U.K) <Will endeavour to do so my friend. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Fan needed? (re CF lighting) Hi Bob! <Howdy> With much reading I have come to the conclusion that Power Compact lighting is a wonderful and beneficial new adaptation of fluorescent technology.  <Not so new, but amongst the best available, most appropriate technology for aquarium use> I have heard almost no complaints about their usage for reef lights. So after considerable deliberation I have decided to buy it and try it. I do have a few questions for you though that I hope you can help me with. I have a standard 55 gallon tank. That means I have a very limited space for any lighting hood. I saw a Sunspot PC hood at a fish store and they pack 4 55 watt tubes into a 6 inch wide space. Ideal for a 55 tank. My concern with this unit lies in two areas. One is that it does not house a cooling fan and the other is that I haven't read anything about this light unit at all. <Please read over... oh I see you mention Custom Sea Life below> The CSL hood houses 4 65 watt tubes and indeed contains a fan, yet it has a considerably wider profile. I would have to either fabricate my own glass lid or do without a lid entirely. ( have had trouble with jumpers in the past) <Can be left off/out... you can make your own hood of non-corrosive materials and fit the fixture/s yourself> Lastly, the JBJ hoods are made of aluminum to allow for greater heat dissipation and also contains a fan cooling unit. They also have available, stands that you can use to elevate the light off the tank a few inches. Seems to me this would be the best choice of the three lights. Your advice is as always, highly regarded. Thanks again <Thank you for your well-written note... Please check with our chatforum (and others, hobbyists, numbers of actual end-users here... Ours: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/)re brand name, manufacturers... the last one you mention has had some grave troubles according to friends of mine in the trade. Bob Fenner> zimmy Hope the new year brings you many more adventures. <Yes my friend. Will be doing a better job of relating their pertinent parts here I hope this year>

Need your opinion on my "Lighting Options" Hi Bob, First, I'd like to say thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge with all of us. You've been so extremely helpful with my success in this hobby. <A pleasure, and honor my friend> My question is regarding the best lighting options. Now - I've read through every post in the lighting section of your site and I think I'm beginning to understand the various lighting options for my system needs - well almost. I'm setting up a 72 Gal All Glass Bowfront Aquarium (48" long x 20" deep) that I plan to stock with 100+ lbs of live rock deep live sand bed, fish, anemones, mushrooms, and am looking for some versatility with respect to keeping hardy corals and clams. <Okay> I plan to install a retro-fit unit in a custom canopy I made that will keep the lights about 6" from the water surface with two 4" fans (one pulling in and the other pulling out). The kits that will fit are the following: 1) 8 - 55w PC's ( what configuration would you recommend with respect to # of actinics, and degrees Kelvin of this set up) <One actinic four 6,500 K. "whites"> 2) 4 - 65w PC's (also, what configuration would you recommend with respect to # of actinics, and degrees Kelvin of this set up?) <the same as above> 3) 4 - 96w PC's (also, what configuration would you recommend with respect to # of actinics, and degrees Kelvin of this set up?) <the same but changing one of the 6,500 K's for a 10,000> 4) 2 - 175w Halide's and 2- 96w or 65w or 55w actinic PC's ( what degrees Kelvin of the halide's do you recommend) <For this size/shape tank... in the 7,500 range> All of these are within my budget and will fit in my canopy. I'm also trying to create the most pleasing to-the-eye look of the aquarium. I've read that halide's produce this much sought after look with this rippling affect, but I'm concerned about maintaining the proper water temp without a chiller. <or catching the canopy on fire> I'm not looking to invest in a chiller, but I clearly want to make the right investment in a lighting system only once, that I will be satisfied with functionally and will produce a stunning visual natural affect. Will PC's provide this? <IMO yes> Thanks so much. Ed <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: Need your opinion on my "Lighting Options" Hi Bob, Thanks for your quick response. It's a great pleasure to get these answers so quickly. <Yes> I was hoping that you would have given me a recommendation of which fixture, of the four I listed, would be the best application for my shape and size tank. - IYO of course, or if it were you which would be your choice? <The higher/est wattage of compact fluorescents is what I would go with> I was a little confused with your answer on the first set up I listed (it was 8 - 55w PC's) How would you configure this with # of actinics # of daylight's and degrees of Kelvin of each daylight bulb? <Oh, sorry, as recalled was only four lamps of CF in each choice category... Would use two 03/actinics, four 6,500 K and two 10,000 K rated "whites"> Also, am I correct in understanding that only one actinic is required in a four-bulb fixture? <About right in my experience, and for my "tastes" (no jokes here!)> However, I was a little surprised on your comment regarding the MH/PC fixture that this would get hot enough to torch my canopy. Obviously I need to strike this from my list of options. <If memory serves (let's not start here) you had mentioned only a six inch clearance... this does worry me, even using fans, metal shielding... Bob Fenner> Thanks always - Ed

PC and coralline algae Dear Bob, We are trying out a VHO Power compact lighting setup (full spectrum and actinic) after having 2 full spectrum and 2 actinics standard fluorescents for the past year. With a fan, we're able to keep the temp stable. Over the course of 3 hours, some beautiful purple coralline algae that was growing on the side glass is becoming patchy and is breaking up. Chemistry has not changed. Searched a few list servers and people are saying that coralline doesn't like lots of light. Is there a compromise?  <Always> Is there a range of intensities that coralline likes? <Mmm, yes> Will other species take over? Or do we have to choose? <There may be succession here... other species, groups taking the place, niches of the encrusting red algae in your system... this happens with overt changes in predisposing factors, environmental changes...> Did a search of your FAQ's and lighting topics and I don't see this specifically addressed. I quote the following from a list-serve... " The coralline algae on my live rock has been bleached by my power compacts. 288 watts on my 55gal with half of those watts being 7100k actinic, the other half 6500 or 6700k. I now have 500 watts of 12000k MH on the 55gal. I have heard that this Kelvin color temp in MH may not bleach the coralline algae like the compacts did. Is that just wishful thinking? What measures if any can be taken to avoid the bleaching and still allow the big horsepower for the lighting?" <The intensity and spectral make-up of light, among other factors involving light and not, all play into what organisms, groups are favored, disfavored. I would just "wait, see" for a few weeks at this point. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Allyson

Re: PC and coralline algae Wow! Quick response! Should we start by reducing the number of hours our lights are on and slowly increase the hours, thus adapting the system. Or should we just switch and maintain our regular light cycle? <Don't know enough about the rest of your biota... likely not a bad idea... something total lumens about what things were, grading to what they will be over a months time or so. Bob Fenner> Allyson

Lighting Bob, Read your article on lighting in the latest FAMA. Nice article. Obviously you've done some research before writing the article. My question is, watt for watt are Power Compacts brighter than VHO's? <Yes, they're apparently and actually brighter (i.e. more lumens produced per watt...> Thank you, PS: I looked on wetweb, couldn't find no info. I know you receive a lot of questions that are answered on the wet web media. <Thank you. This will be another one. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

PC Color Temp Preferences Good Day.... <Indeed my friend> I have been reviewing the FAQ on PC Lighting and would just like a little clarification before I place the order (as it were). Is there a benefit to my corals regarding color temp of my PC bulbs, or is the difference mainly aesthetic? <A bit of both within the current availability of products> I was thinking of 2 actinic and 2 6400K in my 4X55watt PC setup. I currently have 4 SmartLamp (1/2 actinic, 1/2 10K). Would it be better to have 2 actinic and 1 6400K/1 10K? <Mmm, nomin/minimally> I noticed that there is a sale on the 6400K bulbs at AH Supply, and thought that may be worth a try. If I understand things correctly, the 6400K bulbs will give a whiter light than 10K. <Actually less "white" to human perception> Thanks for your time. Jason <And for your query. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: Compact lighting Dear Mr. Fenner, Thanks for the input. I think I will go with the Custom Sea Life lighting unit. I have noticed that they make a bulb in the 8800K Ultra-Daylight spectrum and will purchase this bulb. Due to the nature of the filter and skimmer, I will have to mount the light strip a few inches above the tank to reduce salt water splash. Do you know if this lighting unit has a lens? <No lens that I know of, but I would contact Dennis/CSL directly. Their link can be found here: http://wetwebmedia.com/links.htm> From the various ads I have read, I can't tell if it does. I'll let you know how things progress. Sincerely, Jason <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Compact lighting Dear Mr. Fenner, I recently discovered your Wet Web Media website and find it very informative.  I also enjoy reading your articles in various fish magazines. <Ah, glad we have found each other> I have some questions regarding power compact fluorescent lighting for a small reef tank. The tank is a standard 15 gallon tank which has been set  up for about 2 months. It contains aragonite sand, about 10 pounds of live rock, and a pair of common clownfish which all came from an established 55 gallon live rock/fish only plenum equipped system I've had for a few years. The filtration on the 15 gallon consists of a small outside power filter for water movement and media bags, and a Sea Clone skimmer. I wish to make this into a reef tank that will contain soft corals, an anemone for the clowns, and maybe a clam some day. It seems that power compacts are the way to go for lighting. I am looking to purchase a lighting system and was wondering what you suggest. I have narrowed it down between the Red Sea Phazer II hood with a 55 watt bulb (in the 50 actinic/50 daylight), or the Custom Sealife 65 watt Smartlight strip light (also with a 50/50 bulb). Which lighting system would you suggest I purchase. <Both good units, that would do in this set of circumstances. I weigh Dennis/CSL in a bit higher> Also, what spectrum of bulb would be best for the type of invertebrates I would like to keep (50/50, 10,000k, 8500k, actinic)?  <Both in/near the 8,500, 7,200 range> I want to start out with a small reef tank with the idea of upgrading to a larger system in the future.  <Good idea... the larger system will be more stable, less prone to having quick/deadly problems> Thank you for any advise you could give me. Sincerely, Jason Bartlett <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Lighting and others Hello Bob, In this time of national tragedy it's nice to know that you are around to speak with! <Very important that I, and for that matter the U.S. public and world's citizenry remain, indeed increase their productivity. Notice where whoever struck at? Their desire was to mentally impair the economic well-being (along with mass murdering thousands) of the world's people.> My question is in regards to info on your site about PC lighting. It is stated that PC lites are better off without having any cover on the aquarium. My 4x96 watt retro-fits (2 actinic and 2 daylite) sit about 6" off the top of the water. Is this enuf distance off the surface to permit the proper spectrum to get to my inhabitants? <Yes, should be fine> I'm not to worried about splashing as I have not had that problem in the past. Good news! My euphyllia glab. has produced what looks like a start of a new little "bud" on a piece of LR that was next to it in the tank. Is this a common occurrence?  <Yes, in healthy settings> I immediately hit the books to find out and all I could find was some info saying that this budding will occur on the skeleton of the coral itself, nothing about on adjacent rocks. I'm pretty excited about this, I needed some good news! Will wait for your helpful response. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!!! <Peace to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Question Hello Robert, Your dedication and knowledge of Marine aquariums is to be commended. I have learned so much from reading the information on your site. Thank you so much for all of your help! <Ah, thank you for your kind, encouraging words> I have just started to get into Marine aquariums about six months ago and I am fascinated and excited by it. I have been sharing my experiences with my son and he is equally interested and excited. It seems the more I read about it, the more I want to learn. <This "condition" does not change... have been "filled with wonder" for many years myself, and likewise compelled to "share this interest"> I have had somewhat good results with fish only tanks and now I would like to try a reef system. From the beginning, I have seen beautiful reef systems teaming with life and I knew right away that one day I would have a reef tank. Well I have taken the first step in building my reef tank. I picked up a used 150 gallon Perfecto glass tank. The tank is 48x24x30. I have a few questions about setting up this large tank. <Okay> 1) The tank came with CustomSeaLife compact fluorescents. It is a 48" all in one ABS unit with four 96 watt compact fluorescent bulbs. The bulbs are staggered: Full Spectrum/Actinic/Full Spectrum/Actinic. Is this lighting setup sufficient for a reef setup?? <Yes... some higher-light using organisms you might want to place higher up in the water column.> Also, I have seen on your web site that there should be no barriers between the lights and the water. The CustomSeaLife unit has a thin piece of clear Plexiglas/plastic that slides into the bottom of the unit (presumably to protect the bulbs). Should I use this or should I remove it so that there is nothing between the bulbs and water? <I would remove it if splash (onto the fixture more than the lamps) can be minimized> 2) Along with the tank came about 150 Lbs. rock/coral. This is what was in the former owners reef tank. The rock and coral were "live" when it was in his tank but when he took the tank down he put the live rock/coral on his deck and it dried out in the sun. Can I/should I use this in my tank setup? <I would, yes> Is there any way to make this stuff come "alive" again?  <Definitely. Add some new pieces atop this old... you will be amazed (both of you), how much life of so many types "comes out"...> I would hate for all of it to go to waste as there are some really beautiful pieces. 3) I was thinking of using a EcoSytem filtration system( The one with the Miracle Mud). What do you think of this type of filtration? It sounds great on the web site http://www.ecosystemaquarium.com but I always take manufacturers claims with a grain of salt. <I understand. This technology is "the real thing"... it works. Worthwhile investigating, trying.> Thanks again for all of your help :) <A pleasure my friend. Bob Fenner> Mike

CF Lighting Hey Bob I am going to buy a hood from custom Sea Life with the 4 96 watt setup. Their article said you could set the lights right on the aquarium. Is this true? <Hmm, yes. "The lights right on"... there is no barrier in-between the lamps and water surface. Bob Fenner> thanks Jason

PC lighting I am setting up a 180 (72x24x24) tank and would like your opinion on lighting. After all of your posts I have read I am assuming you are a big supporter of power compact lighting. <Yes, in general, for most hobby set-ups, livestock mixes, ability-levels and desires... CF is the best available, most appropriate technology> How do you think 6 96 watt pc's would be for the lighting for this system? I would like to stay away from MH if possible.  <You can... even for twenty some inches depth of water...> I want the lighting to be sufficient enough for adding corals all types) and possibly a clam or anemone. Will the blue pc bulb give the electric appearance that VHO does.  <Yes> I have read that new pc bulbs are coming out that are close to the true actinic bulbs. Thanks for your help. <The trade offs here are worthwhile. You can/could place more high-light-intensity species higher up in the water column. I would go with the CFs. Bob Fenner>

Power Compact Lighting for a 55 Gallon Saltwater Setup Hello Robert, I have a few questions regarding power compact lighting. !st of all I am ruling out the Metal Halides and VHO's because the cost to run them can sometimes be fairly expensive for 12 hrs a day. Could you suggest a brand and type of power compact lighting that would be suitable for some soft corals, live rock and fish and maybe later a few compatible anenomes?  <A good question... in that it's not easily answered... Know that there are actually few makers of such gear... and many re-labelers, re-packagers, re-sellers... > I have around $160.00 to spend at this time so I understand that I am somewhat limited. Do I need (2) 50/50's and (2) actinic bulbs or (1) 50/50 & (1) actinic or......? You opinion would be greatly appreciated. <Please read, re-read all the "Marine Lighting" FAQs posted on our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/marindind2.htm Bob Fenner> Thank You, Jim Stawiarski

Re: Power Compact Recommendation/Information Bob, Thanks for the quick response. Would it be beneficial in any way in the long run to keep one 6700K white in the mix (quick recap - I have 4x96watt PC on 90 gal) or should I rotate all 6700K out and go w/ all higher temps for white? <Better to have the lamp, temperature mix> Also, if it's better to go all high temps, should I mix one 8800K w/ one 10000K or go for both 10,000K? <See above> (or is the difference mainly aesthetic.) Mainly I'm wondering if there is any need for some lower temp lamps in the mix. Finally, Is there a possibility of "burning" the anemone (bubble probably, or maybe sebae or long tentacle) with too high color temp?  <Yes, as well as with too-quick increase in intensity> I've heard that you can "over-light" anemones. (I have a 24" tall tank w/ 4"-5" sand bed and decent amount of live rock.) Thanks, Neal <More a matter of rate of change than absolute over lighting. Bob Fenner

Power Compact Recommendation/Information Bob, First, I'd like to say thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge to the rest of us. <A pleasure> Now for my question: I have a 4 x 96watt Custom Sea Life PC setup on a 90gal Berlin style reef tank w/ 40 gal sump (w/ refugium). It's time to change my bulbs and I see that there are many new choices now. Currently I have been using 2x7100K actinics (the "old school" type that are not true 03 actinic) and 2x6700K whites. I don't have many high light animals yet. About the only thing I have to tell me about my light is an organ pipe coral that has done extremely well (over 4x in total mass in 1.5 years) <Ah, great> Now that it's time to change bulbs, I'm not sure what to do with all the new choices. I would like to add more high light inverts. I was planning to use 2 of the new actinic types that have the true actinic 03 phosphors, rather than the "old school" PC actinics that don't (comments?), <A good choice. One lamp at a time, two week interval> but as far as the 2 whites go, I'm not sure what color temp. I should use. I would like to be able to keep more high light inverts. such as clams, sps corals, etc, but most specifically, I have a pair of maroon clowns and would really like to keep an anemone w/ them. I was wondering what the advantages/disadvantages are with the different white temps - 6700, 8800, or 10,000. Also, what would your overall recommendation be for my situation w/ 4x96 watt PC? <Advantages? Mainly a bit better light penetration with higher temperature rating, and more blue appearing light... I would get two of the 6,700K and two of your choice of the higher (either) lamps... rotate them in as stated for the O3's. Bob Fenner> Thank you for your help & time, Neal Parker

Reef Lighting I am currently setting up a 30 gallon reef tank which measures 16" high also, this tank will incorporate a plenum system with a thick substrate. My question is will a 2x55 power compact setup be sufficient enough light to keep sps and clams in this system?  <Yes, a good choice of type, strength of lighting for this size, shape system> Also I have heard that PC's lose their colored spectral output quite quickly, is this so?  <Hmm, no... actually less lumen depreciation and spectral drift than other formats. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your time. Nino

Light height! Hi Bob! Just getting started setting up a 55 gal. reef tank. Only have the tank so far, but planning on using the Berlin System with fish and corals. I've frequently seen mention of 4.5 watts/gal, so I'm shooting for about 250 watts total using compacts. Two questions... 1.)How high should I place the lights above the water???  <A few inches... enough to give you good splash/spray distance and diffusion of light into the system... but not any further for functions sake> I'm going to build the hood so I can be pretty flexible. 2.)How much wattage would be too much?  <Depends on what you're keeping, what you want to do with it... id est, if you're boosting to the max. a type of high intensity life, you will need to match other aspects other than light... like biomineral content, alkalinity, carbon dioxide, foods/feeding... A few watts per gallon is fine... ten or more is excessive. Bob Fenner> i.e.: 4x96 setup? Thanks for you time! Kent Greimel

Re: Light height! Thanks for the quick response! Your help is greatly appreciated, I'll keep you filled in on my quest! <Delightful. Bob Fenner> Kent Greimel

Power Compact Retrofit Question Hi Bob, I've been inquiring about retrofitting an existing fluorescent hood with PC's. However, I'm getting conflicting information and I'm sure you can clear this issue up. Below is the question I asked and the two conflicting responses. <Okay> Question - I have an existing 48" All Glass twin-tube florescent hood. Can I retrofit this hood with your Electro-Lite Ballast and 96w Twin Tube Ultra-Daylight and 96wTwin Tube Ultra Actinic lamps? Also, is there a problem with excess heat from the Power Compact's. <Should fit, and I would drill a few "chimney" holes in the top for venting the hood... but waste heat should not be an overall problem here> Answer # 1 - I think the Eltro-Lite ballast with the PC96W67K Twin Tube Day and PC96W71K Twin Tube Ultra Actinic will work fine for your application. You will not need to purchase anything else to run it. It is very simple to install. They actually run cooler than standard fluorescents. So, you should be fine. Andy <Oh, guess I should read the whole item ahead of tossing in my dos centavos> Answer # 2 - Unfortunately you cannot retro fit a power compact fixture into a plastic All Glass strip because of the heat factor generated by the power compact. It will melt your fixture. Those retro fit kits are designed to be mounted in a wood canopy. Bob - Please help, what is the true answer? <Hmm, melt the fixture? Don't think so. We have many such "retrofits" about here... and only passive cooling of same... in various wood, plastic tops... I am concerned with the second response per the possibility of a wood canopy catching on fire... if said lighting gets hot enough to "melt" the hood/fixture. Bob Fenner> Always a pleasure. Ed

Lighting Have you heard anything good or bad about PFO Power Compact Retro Fits? <Mainly good> Do you know if their 2x96w is for 36" aquariums? <Can be> Is there anywhere reputable that I can buy used aquarium equipment (I'm especially looking to buy lighting and skimmers inexpensively)? <Hmm, a tough one... I like to "look and feel" such gear up front and personal ahead of buying/committing funds... would place a "wanted" ad in the local papers, Net, fish shops, hobby groups bulletins and visit the items, make sure they're what you want, that they work, myself...> Thanks again for all of your help, Kevin <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Lighting for corals <Hi Eric. Sorry it took so long to get back to you... Bob's mailbox is just crazy!> Hey Lorenzo I'm a 17 year old coral lover. I've been interested in corals and fish ever since I was 14 and I've spent lots of money on my studies I want to have a job that deals with coral reefs and their inhabitants). Anyway I've got two questions for you that I've been debating with myself. I have a 10 gallon tank that is about 16 inches across and I'm currently using a 24 inch double fluorescent across it. I do need to replace the bulbs but my question for this is will 40 watts be enough even for a Xenia, mushroom, and Hairy Leather (Paralemnalia I think) propagation tank?  <If you use good tubes, this is likely adequate. Certainly for the Xenia, they're not real sensitive, and most common mushrooms prefer this sort of lighting anyway. I'd probably recommend reflectorized Trichromatics from Coralife.> Or should I get a 16 inch SmartLite 32 watts a 50/50 bulb? <That definitely would be quite a bit better, far more efficient (more usable light per watt consumed)> Also my second question deals with a 29 gallon tank which I'll be using 2 55watt power compacts to light. Would this be enough for Acropora Montipora and other SPS corals.  <In a 29, yes, I do think so, but the stonies will need to be nearer the surface. I think I'd go with a 7200 and a 10k, with killer reflectors. But beware, that small system will keep you on your toes, with pH/alkalinity and calcium dosing/testing necessary for the SPS. Still, you could also do a Derasa or Squamosa, if the corals do well...> BTW you're doing a great job of keeping up. I love corals, fish, and everything found on reefs and hopefully I can keep with studying and have a job that deals with my love. Thanks for the help and I'll keep studying. <Thanks for the kudos, though I can't wait for Bob to get back online! Talk to you again soon. In the meantime, check out www.ahsupply.com for ideas on affordable PC lighting, and www.tropicorium.com for killer mail-order coral. -Lorenzo> Eric

PC Lighting Bob, Just wanted to let you know that I have learned a lot from your site. <Ah, very good to hear/read> I am new to this hobby and have found that I can not read enough.  <I am old, still same condition...> My question here is what to do with lighting. Currently I have and am in the process of starting my second marine tank (the first one was about 7 years ago). When I purchased the tank, a 46 bow front, whom my girlfriend decided upon. It came with a single fluorescent light. At the time I knew this would not be sufficient because there is always something bigger and better to get. I have purchased an ICE CAP 660 ballast, I figured this will allow for future growth in the hobby. I am not sure what configuration to go with, 2-96w or 2-55w?  <I'd use the two 96 watts> The ballast will power 4 lights, but until I set the tank up for a reef I think this would be too much, but maybe not. I have built a custom canopy for the tank that should be large enough for the lights and they will sit about 7in from the water. If anyone wants the plans I would be willing to e-mail them.  <Thank you.> Sorry this is so long for such a short question, what would be an appropriate setup for Fish and a few Anemones, the 96's or the 55's? <The larger wattage lamps for sure> Also should I go with 2, 3, or 4 lights?  <Three would be ideal... one actinic> I know more is usually better but not always. <Well put. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Jason

Re: PC Lighting Thanks for your quick response, one other question since you mention to go with 3 lights and the actinic. What range would you recommend for the other two? <Perhaps one at about 5,500K or 7,200K and one at about 10,000K... whites. Bob Fenner> Thanks Again. Jason

Power Compact Lighting Hello Mr. Fenner: Well, I'm getting ready to add some live rock to my tank. However, before I add any live rock or corals, I need to purchase the proper lighting. <Good idea> Originally, I had intended on getting Full-Spectrum fluorescents for my tank (55 gallon long). However, on my last trip to an aquarium supply store, I was told that the lighting that I should get is Power Compact lighting. <Yes, this is better> I've done some research and found that they are very well reviewed and I've yet to find any cons to their use. <There really aren't any... some more waste heat production... increased initial cost to acquire... better, newer technology...> My long-term goal for this tank is to house live rock, some anemones, and some hard and soft corals. The tank is completely Indo-Pacific. <Ah, good> However, since I value your opinion so greatly, I wanted to get your feedback before making this investment. So, my questions are: What do you think of power compact lighting? Is it a worthwhile investment? <Indeed yes... please read over the many FAQs posted on "Marine Lighting" on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for a firming up/confirmation of my stance here> What is your opinion of the Venice styled power compact lighting (less expensive) as opposed to the Formosa Deluxe (2x the price) styled power compact lighting? These are the only types that I've found. <There are many more "makes, models"... both these are fine> I've read your page and found that I should gradually introduce the higher density light to my tank. As I've already got a timer setup on the tank, I'll probably shorten the daylight period initially, then gradually take it back out to where it is now (1:30pm to 12:00am). Does this seem like a sound approach? <Yes... if the current intensity is no more than about half of the new... otherwise, I would shield part of the lighting in addition... for a period of 3,4 weeks...> Any input that you could give would, as always, be greatly appreciated. Deborah H. Colella <Please do read over the cited FAQs. Bob Fenner>

Light casing Bob, I purchased two lighting units by Custom SeaLife last March and set-up my tank in April. The metal casing has signs of rust, which I have tried to wipe away with my weekly cleanings. The units are approximately 5 inches above the water. I know that salt water is corrosive, but I didn't expect them to rust so soon. My question is what type of paint do you recommend for the units that won't be harmful to my fish? <Latex or epoxies... Bob Fenner, who encourages you to write Dennis at CSL... their link on the WWM site's links pages... and tell him I sent you.> Nick

Eclipse Lighting I am I the market for a PC retro fit kit that is made for the Eclipse Filter....this all sounded good until someone at another salt water store told me that I needed to somehow vent the heat out. I didn't think of all the heat that will be generated by the high output bulbs. I figured that the people who are making the retro kit for the Eclipse took that into account. Or maybe Im giving them too much credit. Do I have anything to worry about if I put this kit in? If so, is there an easy solution? <Can't answer specifically, w/o knowing more about the particular components... If it were me I'd check with whoever is selling/trying to sell you this gear... and other folks who have actually done this install. It is likely that if the total wattage increased output, consumption is much (like twice or more) you will have to do something with the extra waste-heat produced... this might be as simple as drilling some vent holes on the side and tops of the enclosure/canopy... or you may have to fashion an outgoing fan to one of those openings and tie it together with either a thermostat, timer or the live wiring to the lighting... Some DIY input to be had from "Oz' Reef", the link to which is posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com site. Bob Fenner> Mike 37 Gal reef tank, looking for more light at the depths of the tank.

Lighting question Hello Bob, I am in the process of setting up a 40 gallon reef tank. Much to my dismay, there seems to be no way to cheaply provide light for it. I already have 110 watt PCs on my 15 gallon, which is outstanding. I would like to use the 110s on the 40 along with some other PCs. I was thinking along the lines of 2x96. Would this be work? <Yes> I don't have any real bright acroporas, but I would like to have a couple eventually. I would use MH, but I don't really want MH in my living room (UV radiation, the heat, etc). It is not quite the 4x96 I imagined, but is a lot cheaper. Thanx. -Josh <Do some looking on the Net for retrofit kits for CFs in this size, wattage, temp.... There are less expensive sources at times. Take a look at the companies' links on the WWM Links pages... Bob Fenner>

Lighting question Hello Bob, I am in the process of setting up a 40 gallon reef tank. Much to my dismay, there seems to be no way to cheaply provide light for it. I already have 110 watt PCs on my 15 gallon, which is outstanding. I would like to use the 110s on the 40 along with some other PCs. I was thinking along the lines of 2x96. Would this be work? <Yes> I don't have any real bright acroporas, but I would like to have a couple eventually. I would use MH, but I don't really want MH in my living room (UV radiation, the heat, etc). It is not quite the 4x96 I imagined, but is a lot cheaper. Thanx. -Josh <Do some looking on the Net for retrofit kits for CFs in this size, wattage, temp.... There are less expensive sources at times. Take a look at the companies' links on the WWM Links pages... Bob Fenner

General Formulas do not apply Hi Robert, A lot of text states that we need to get a pump that will turn the water approximately 4X/hr. (i.e. 100g = 400ghp pump). But we are neglecting the fact that for people with 100lbs of live rock in a 100g tank will significantly reduce the number of actual gallons of liquid in the tank to be overturned. So instead of a 100g tank, it might as well be a 50g tank. So isn't it true, based on that fact, we only really need to get a 200gph pump for this type of scenario? <Ah, I agree with your subject title to this message... about general formulas generally not applying. More flow is almost always better with the types of life, components utilized in our captive systems... Think about this next time you're in the sea... how much of the water around you moves, let's say in a minute? One or more volumes likely... that would be... sixty or more times the volume of your system every hour, eh?> Isn't it also true for lighting, you'll need about 110watts for a 24" deep tank regardless of the length because if you had 48" 110w PC centered in a 60" tank, a hobbyist can surely just position their corals such that it's towards the center without exceeding the length of these PC's? <You're thinking here. I like it. Yes to the depth being more important in considering "wattage" of lighting than width, length, volume of the system... Ah, the Maxwell/B light extinction coefficient...> I hope perhaps these are some questions which can help many beginners like myself understand the needs of the aquatic environment. <You are well on your way my friend. Perhaps you might pen an article, or even series, explaining "common misperceptions" in the hobby?> Thanks in advance for your time, Jackson <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

MH Lighting & PC Lighting Hi Robert, For a glass tank w/glass top measuring 72x18x24, will (2) 175watt MH spaced equidistant (1.5') from the ends be sufficient for most hard corals? <Three would be better...> Or is it better to go with (6) 36"-55W PC? <Of these two choices this one is hands-down better> People have said that you can actually get away with a lot and all it depends on is the depth.  <This is beyond us! A profound statement my friend!> So for 24" depth, wouldn't (4) 36"-55W PC be sufficient? <Yes for most all species possible... more light-intensive kinds can easily be situated higher up in the water column> With the energy bill and crisis this year, it's an important dilemma for us all. <And more so going forward...> Thank you for your advice, Jack <And you for yours. Bob Fenner>

PC Lighting Bob Finally, one more question: <Really?> I'm going with a 2x96W over my 65 gallon. I will probably add a 2x55W in the future if I go reef crazy. How high should I mount the lights over the tank? Thanks, Paul <Just high enough off the water to keep the gear from getting wet... really... and without anything in-between. Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia.com>

PC Lighting Bob I'm in the process of building a custom oak stand and canopy for a 65 gallon tank(36x18x25). I'm going to start out with a few fish and some live rock and see where the hobby takes me. So just in case I decide to go crazy, I'm trying to plan everything so I don't need to scrap anything I've done and make costly changes in the future. So my question has to do with lighting: <Okay> I'm going to put a two bulb fixture in the back half of the hood. And If I decided to go crazy and go all out reef, I can put an identical fixture in the front half. So knowing the tank is 25" deep and I only want to start with some fish and some live rock and may go reef crazy in the future, should I start with a 2 x 55W or a 2 x 96W. Keep in mind that this would be doubled if I dive further into the hobby with the addition of another 2 x something fixture. <If it were mine, the two 96 watters... due to depth... and possibly two 55's next if you go reef (as actinics likely)> Since I know you are going to say go 2 x 96 and double that later, can you tell me exactly how long a Custom Sealife 36" PC bulb with end cap attached is? The reason I ask is because I have only planned 35" inside my canopy. I know that their 24" with end cap is only 22" and the reflector is 23" (my LFS had one of these). I'm hoping for the same in the 36". Thanks for the info. Paul <Really? Hmm, please see Dennis/Custom Sea Life directly (or not so, on their website... the link is on the www.WetWebMedia.com sites Links Pages. Bob Fenner>

Re: PC Lighting Bob While I have your attention, would two 36" dual bulb PC fixtures (4 x 96W total) be too much for 65 gallon tank? Would two 24" dual bulb PC fixtures (4 x 55W total) be too little for 65 gallon tank <Both possibilities have merit... but unless you have all the "need" species mix wise, and the accompanying gear (CO2 infusion), dosimeters, automated equipment for maintaining water quality, nutrient availability, I would go with the 4 X 55's> Also, what kind of heat should I expect from one fixture? And two fixtures? <Varies by manufacturer... but not much waste heat with the 55's... cut-outs on the top of your hood/canopy, or one small fan on the side with a cut out on the other should do it... the larger light units... I'd place two fans... on a timer at least, if not a thermostatic switch... Do develop, adhere to a system of "topping off" for keeping specific gravity about constant.> I ask because I need to know if I should make provisions to add a fan on one or both ends of my canopy. <Hmm, great pet-fish minds cogitate alike... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Paul

Re: Fwd: books, Marine Lights/ing hi bob, feeling much better about things since following your advice. changed about 40% of the water so far, replaced my activated carbon (embarrass to admit I never knew it had to be replaced), moved my live rock around while vacuuming which resulted in significantly more waste being removed. I did jump the gun a little bit by adding two Chromis. I know this is a hardy fish but it's good to see some vibrant new livestock, swimming and feeding well. so far so good. <I understand> on the lighting I'm looking at a CustomSeaLife model: combination metal halide/pc with 464 watts, fan, and independent timers. the pc lights are 32w actinic so there is some room to maneuver. know its not ideal but its the best off the shelf system I can find given my space constraints. thanks again bob. very reassuring talking to you. <And you my friend. These are very good lights, including for this application. Bob Fenner>

Hi oh wise one (Moving Welsophyllia (sic), upgrading skimmer?, Replacing lamps) Hi Bob, How's things out in S.D.? I still have those beers cold in Dallas... <And I'm still thirsty> I have a few questions. First a refresher on my system. 75 gal with 4x96 PC, 100+- lbs. mostly Fiji rock. Lots of mushrooms, Zoanthid Polyps, Wellsophyllia, Bubble Coral, Bubble Anemones, Colt, (not doing so well after I split it in two) Orange Tree Sponge, Toadstool, Green star polyps (growing like crazy), Ultra Crocea, Ocellaris, Purple Tang, Fridmani, Flame Angel, Banggai, Banded Goby. If I ever find a used 150 reasonably priced I'll upgrade, so keep this in mind for question 1. I have a Top Fathom 110 skimmer running off a RIO 2500. Do you think I should upgrade? If yes, would you recommend a Turboflotor 1000 or something else? <Not necessarily... is it/does it still remove material... but not at a constant basis? I doubt if it is inadequate on your established system> I am using an Amiracle SL150 (no media) for a sump, and tried to put Caulerpa in it with a 32w PC over it. The Caulerpa did not do well possibly because of the water pouring on its' "head". Would you suggest putting a fitting in the side of the Amiracle for inbound water? <A worthy suggestion... maybe with a baffle piece of acrylic or glass to diffuse the current...> I purchased the Wellsophyllia about a week ago from FFE, and have it on the live sand bed under a rock shelf so as not to burn him. Shall I move him higher? Does it like more or less water flow? <Hmm,,, well, the Faviids sold in the trade as this genus can require bright light (the gray to brownish ones not so much...) but am inclined to suggest leaving this one where it is if it's opening, doing fine... and offering it meaty foods two, three times a week... Stony corals should not be moved unnecessarily... especially when new to a system> It's almost time to replace my PC bulbs. I currently have two 6700k and two 7100k. Shall I buy the same, or go with the new SmartLamps? <Whichever, I'd upgrade... and replace one now, another a month from now> As always, THANK YOU for your guidance, Marty <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Hi oh wise one Bob, Thanks for the speedy reply. Your last answer left me a bit confused... Do I understand a) Upgrade to the SmartLamps <A personal choice... but your lamps do need replacing> b) Upgrade the lighting in general? <Yes, replace your lamps.> Being as how there are four bulbs 96 watts each, is it okay to replace two this month, and the other two next month? <Yes, one every half month> Or would you really rather see one a month for four months? Also, I am saying it's time to replace them based upon age. I put these bulbs in last February & March and run them on timers for about 11 hours a day. That's about 4000 hours a year. But I've read conflicting statements that they are good from 6 months to 8,000 hours. What do you think? How many hours should I expect to get from these Japanese Power Compacts? <Depends on manufacturer, fixturization... only real way is to measure with PAR meter... Bob Fenner>

Re: Hi oh wise one Geez, I'm sorry for not thinking this all the way though in the first place. Right now I have my Actinics going on a half hour before, off a half hour after my "white" bulbs. If I go to the SmartLamps I can't have the same effect. Is it therefore better to stay with two actinic and two "white", or am I okay to maintain a half hour between each pair coming on/going off if I go with the SmartLamps. I guess I like the idea of a more even distribution with the SmartLamps. Thanks again! Marty <For my money and cost of lamps, electricity, I'd go with one actinic and three whites, have the mixed pair come on/go off an hour before/after the other two whites. Bob Fenner>

Placement of PC lighting over REEF Bob, Your advice is beckoned on how I should place my CSL fixture. I read on the package insert that you shouldn't place the fixture directly over water, which was my intent so I wouldn't lose any light quality. What is your take on this, do you have any suggestions on how to go about this? Salt creep will get on whatever is closest to the water, which means I'll have to clean "something" regularly. Thanks for your time, Dave <Hmm, well, I agree with your suggestion of placing the lighting directly over the water... as long as the contacts are prevented from splash/spray the question of corrosion shouldn't be of consequence... Placing something/anything in-between is going to reduce intensity and shift wavelength... Place the lighting to optimize spread throughout your tank otherwise. And periodically wipe the lamps down with a damp (freshwater) cloth. Bob Fenner>

Power Compact Lighting Hello, I'm interested in setting up a display of lights that my customers may view and decide upon.  I want to display fluorescents, metal halides, and power compacts (as from Hamilton, Custom Sea Life, and Advanced Reef Lighting.)  My dilemma is that I have not been able to locate any factual information about the later power compacts.  Have you written any articles, have any opinions, or can you direct me to any source of information regarding this subject? Thank you, John Call The Painted fish as an LFS in Orem, UT <Hmm, thanks for asking... have posted general opinions on the WWM site:  Home Page on marine lighting... but specifics? This will take a bit of surfing... and one place I'd ask is Dennis at Custom Sealife: www.customsealife.com Bob Fenner, who thinks your display idea is great>

lighting question Dear Mr. Fenner, I recently wrote in a question to the Flying Fish Express information resource regarding lighting for a 120 g glass tank. The answer I received conflicted with information that I read in your book. I had purchased a CSL pc 4 x 96wts 48" fixture for my 75 g tank, since then I decided to increase my tank to a 48x24x24. My question was, would this fixture, which provides 384 wts total or 3.2 watts/gallon for 120 g tank be enough light for reef applications corals, inverts, anemones)?  <For most of these possible animals... for this depth tank, type of light production, the intensity, PAR (useful components of light) would be barely sufficient for some of the large photosynthetic anemones (placed on the bottom), Tridacnid clams, SPS corals...> In your book, I read that you need 3-5 watts/gallon for tanks with macroalgae and hardy inverts, and 7-10 watts/gallon for tanks with synthetic corals.  <Not synthetic... and the stated values are at the upper end of systems with driven photosynthesis, high-light using organisms... and folks with plenty of time on their hands to invest into keeping their system "balanced"... You would do well to read over the more involved articles and FAQs on light, lighting for marine systems posted on our site: Home Page > The answer that FFE gave me stated that 3-4 watts/gal were all that most corals required and that 5w/g was almost overkill.  <A good statement as well... though, as you will soon agree... statements re "watts per gallon" (consumed or equivalent produced) are/can be misleading... and that as time has gone by, lighting systems have become much more efficient (in other words, producing more light, PAR for the "watt" (as in kilowatt per hour electrical consumption charge)... Other considerations... depth, dissolved color, suspended particulates, reflectorization, disruption of the water surface are significant factors...> The fixture I have cost a lot of money and hasn't been opened yet, so I could exchange it for higher lighting needs if necessary. The other fixture at FFE that I considered was a CSL MH/PC with 2-175watt bulbs and 2-65watt ultra actinics; this setup would give 4 watts per gallon, but might, I'm told require the use of a chiller which I want to avoid expense). <I would definitely stick with the fixture you already have... even in such a deep system, you will be satisfied with the results... if you'd like you can add a metal halide (even two) later... but I doubt you will want to drive the system this much... do you understand this?>  I have been planning this aquarium for some time and won't be setting it up until February or March, I just want to make sure I get the equipment purchases right the first time. By the way, I appreciate your answers on FFE and your book is awesome. There is much conflicting information on the internet, so I wanted to get your expert opinion if this is ok. Thank you very much,  David L. Bayne St. Louis, MO >> <I very much appreciate what you're getting at... and don't want to appear, or definitely be unclear... The type (CF) of light fixture is fine for your size, shape system... Yes, you could add more "watts" of lighting, and yes, this would boost photosynthetic rates (and temperatures, shorten life spans, increase your utility bills...), but I would not do this... What you have is fine... the best choice of currently available technology functionally... If you like the looks of the MH's this is another issue... and, yes you would likely have to avail yourself of a chiller... and keep a much closer eye on your livestock and system with MH use... their very elevated metabolisms would change the water make-up so much so fast that the likelihood of problems would be greatly increased... Please read over the materials on the WWM site and contact me if this isn't clear enough. Bob Fenner>

Re: lighting question Bob, Thank you for your insight into my lighting questions. I decided to keep the CSO PC 4 x 96 watters. I do understand what you are telling me regarding the increased rate of metabolism, increased heat, etc.; due to reading a lot in your site.  <Ah, very good to hear.> I didn't know about your site until your letter, it is an invaluable resource that I have spent many hours on already. I have been reading and soaking up everything I can about reef systems, I'm starting to feel like I'm in school more and more. I suppose the test will come when I eventually setup my system, this won't be for a few more months due to money issues, school, etc.  <I understand, and am sure you agree that the "anticipation" of your system is of tremendous enjoyment and a necessary series of steps to its unfolding> The system I am setting up is going to be a fish/invert tank initially with macroalgae and some of the easier sponges. My eventual goal with this setup, I think, is more towards a full blown reef. In which case, I don't think the pc's will provide enough light for the animals I want to thrive.  <I understand... and/but you can add more light/lighting when that time comes> I calculate about 21,160 lumens for my CSL fixture on a 48x24x24 tank, which is 8 sq ft (correct me if I am wrong). This gives me about 2645 lumens per sq ft, which according to my reading, probably wouldn't be enough for light dependent LPS, soft corals; and definitely not enough light for SPS corals, clams. I don't know for sure what I am going to keep in the future, but I would like to know how to get there if I want to.  <You're well on your way> You said in your letter that I could always add a MH or two in the future if I wanted to, I am curious how I would do this with the fixture I currently own. Would I be able to hang pendants behind the pc's? or would this be too much heat next to my pc's?  <Better to move them (the PC's) to the sides, shield them with Mylar or even some aluminum foil from the direct heating effects (if much) of the MH's... easy enough to experiment and retrofit> I probably should have addressed this on your website, and I apologize for all of my NEEDS for info. A couple of other questions, I am considering buying my sump, skimmer and calcium reactor from Jeff Turcheck at Lifereef in Colorado, do you have any knowledge of his product line/quality? <Yes, some. Nice people, good products> I saw his website in your book and it sounds like quality merchandise. Do you have any recommendations about particular equipment lines for the items I have listed?  <Not really> I really had a good feeling about Lifereef after talking to Jeff on the phone for a while. Well enough said, hope you're in good health and spirits, thanks for your time. Dave Bayne >> <Don't let fears, doubts or confusion stay your progress. And thank you for sharing your experiences thus far. Bob Fenner>

PC vs. MH Lighting Another couple of questions for you... In my painted rock tank I am getting red, dark red (purple), and some green algae growing on some shells. Is this coralline algae? <Likely, yes.... there are encrusting browns and greens as well...> Secondly, MH vs. PC: advantages and disadvantages? <Depth of penetration of PAR, looks... savings, ease of use, safety... Please read over the site: Home Page re these issues/questions.> Thanks in advance, Derek >> <Bob Fenner>

Lighting Question Bob, Read through the site and I think I am going with the PCs. Seems like the most logical choice. I do have one question....What depth do PC's stop becoming effective? I think I read about 24'' but is that from the source or is that in terms of water depth. So if they are 6 inches above the water do they reach 18" down or 24'' in terms of effectiveness? Thanks, Derek >> <Effective? Hmm... about two feet is a good guess... not instantaneous or linear curve (as in E to the power of I r)... so, some "useful" radiation... to all depths (practically)... and other factors quite important (e.g. dissolved color, other factors affecting light transmission.... hence calls for periodic use of activated carbon, regular water changes...) Bob Fenner>

Re: Lighting Question I measured my actual water depth and it is about 26'' because of substrate and not being filled to the top. I think I can get away with the PCs. Now I have to figure how I can fit ten bulbs in the canopy (may go with 6 96W instead...not sure) and still be able to lift the hood and fee everything. Love this hobby!!! Derek >> The six ninety six watters will be fine. Bob Fenner

hi bob, I'm finally giving in and spending a good chunk of money on some good equipment for my soon to be reef tank, just a couple of quick questions...I have a 55 gallon high tank (its about 20'' high), I currently have 2 55 watt pc, is it worth it to double this for lighting the corals? <Hmm, well, it depends on what types... like most of the SPS/Acroporids? Maybe... but not for me... Please understand this... unless you want to boost growth of high light demanding species, are willing to monitor, augment their physiology otherwise, more light isn't better... I would put the investment (initial and ongoing) into a sump, refugium addition... some other more long-term beneficial addition> will they thrive/be healthy without me doubling it? also, I am getting a R.O. unit, is one that makes only 10 gallons per day a pain in the you know what to deal with? <Ten gallons a day is plenty... store it in a large container... we could fill the oceans with this production... given sufficient time... no worries> , is the R.O./D.I. worth it as well? <No, IMO> ...finally I am getting the Knop calcium reactor, I heard good things about them and I will keep you posted on its results...all in all, I'm probably going to spend $800 on all of this stuff (2 55 watt pc, calcium reactor, R.O. unit), is my money being well spent?, if not, any further suggestions?...thanks again...Jeff <IMO, yes. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Lighting question hi bob...is 4 55 watt power compacts enough lighting for a standard 55 gallon "reef" tank?...will this be good lighting for most corals, clams, etc.?..I plan I replacing my 2 48" fluorescents for my new reef set up with these power compacts, will this lighting make that much of a difference with the health of the corals?...thanks, Jeff >> Good question, and good direction... IMO, yes, the four fifty five watt CFs will be fine to great for even Tridacnid clams and the SPS types of corals that can utilize (note my terminology) high intensity light/EMR.... Yes, also to folks who can/do supply eight and more watts per gallon of this and other mechanisms of light production... but if it were me, I'd go your route... much more "natural", functional, and stable/disaster-proof to not over-boost photosynthesis... You and your intended livestock will do fine in such a size/shape (48 by 13 by 22" if memory serves) system. Be chatting, Bob Fenner

Marine lighting. Hello again, my dad is wondering if you could use the new power compacts at stores like home depot that screw in to a regular light bulb base. Would corals survive under this lighting? he wants to consider them because of their low price. thanks, Johnny  >> There are some CF lamps and fixtures that are suitable for aquarium use from "other" sources. Make sure they are of about the right "color temperature" (the degrees Kelvin... a relative measure of black body radiation), and luminosity for your use. Bob Fenner

Bob, is their much difference on the 10000k halide vs.6500k for what I need? which am I better off with ?price wise there is a big difference.  >> Sorry... can't recall even where I generally lay my keys... For what purpose? For deeper tanks, intense-light needing organisms like SPS corals and Giant Clams, the higher Kelvin (bluer) lamps are worthwhile... Bob Fenner

Compact fluorescents as fixtures can be fitted into existing hoods of most sorts is what I think we were chatting about...  >>not to fond of this idea (cost of fixtures), but as a last resort, I don't see how this could be accomplished, by removal of present fluorescent tube and putting the CF fixture in its place? <Yes> ...there was a misuse of words in the previous e-mail, what I was intending was the question: "Is there a method of using the existing fixture as a whole (standard end cap) in the eclipse and making it a CF fixture?" I'm not sure I understood the reply...I can retrofit the end caps, but need a CF remote ballast? Sorry for my lack of comprehension...` Chris  <Understood... the present pin-configuration nor the ballasting will work on the CFs... there are some possibilities of retrofitting lamps, wiring and connectors... with other CF ballasting... but most folks find it more expedient to buy the whole kit from a dealer... hence the folks at ffexpress selling retrofit kits. Bob Fenner>

Britelight PC light fixture  Hi Bob, I have been investigating into upgrading my light. I was looking around and I came across the Britelight PC fixture by Custom Sealife. I am wondering whether you could tell me more about this light. It comes with ultra-daylight 8800 K lamps. Are these good lamps?  <Yes, very good lamps... imported... not made by them> The next question might sound dumb to you, but I have been unable to find any similar replacement lamps for the fixture. So, when it comes to lamp replacement, will any similar watt PC lamps by Custom Sealife do? <Yes, they're the distributor... ffexpress is a reseller...> Thank you in advance. I had asked you several questions in the past and you had been most helpful. Boon >> Glad to be of service. Bob Fenner

180 salt fish tank setup Thanks for the lighting info. I think what we are going to use is 2 - 4 bulb 36" compacts made by JBJ Lighting. I was able to find them for $440.00 for the whole setup including blue bulbs. You mentioned live rock and I was wondering why it is used in fish only tanks. I understand it's use in reef tanks but am not sure why you would want it in the fish only tank. I was also wondering why you would put it in before you place fish in the tank and not at the same time of after. I am sure I am missing something. I appreciate your expertise and your free advice, both are very hard to find these days. Thanks, Katherin Morris >> And I appreciate the opportunity to help you be a successful aquarist. The live rock in fish-only systems (if you like acronyms, FOWLR systems), are better than w/o for a few reasons... The sum total of what live rock "does" improves and stabilizes water quality (chemical, physical and biological)... producing oxygen, increasing Redox, making food, ridding a system of undesirable metabolites... giving your livestock physical habitat, somewhere to get out of sight view of each other... and you! And it looks nice to boot. It's generally placed ahead of other livestock to lessen the stress due to "curing", a settling in, multiple cycling process that takes a few to several weeks. Bob Fenner

Re: Power Compact Lighting Dear Mr. Fenner: Thank you for your initial response. I now have a follow-up question. I have now decided to stick with 4-96w power compacts. In your letter you mentioned that a reliable source was Philips however, someone just informed me that only Panasonic makes the 96w power compacts, is this true? If not, who is a reliable source for the Philips brand product. Best Regards, Patrick Brown >> Please don't get hung up on specifics... and do read this passage carefully... there are very few manufacturers of these lamps... many labelers... Get them from whomever sells them for a reasonable price (Philips, Osram... labeled as whatever...). Ffexpress sells these... as well. Bob Fenner

Dear Bob, I value your opinion and would like to know if it is possible to grow SPS corals with power compacts. I have a 20 g long aquarium with 2- 55w PC's. One person said no, another said in the top six inches, and another said if I add a 150w halogen bulb long type) from Home Depot they will flourish. Would a halogen bulb help out? Also, there is a lot of gray powdery stuff that settles on the live rock and corals, I blow it off but it always returns. Is it detritus and is there anything I can do? Thanks >> >> I say yes, all photosynthetic life can be grown, maintained with compact fluorescent lighting (up to a reasonable depth system)... CFs produce full spectrum light of sufficient intensity, temperature to penetrate this and greater depth systems. (For a twenty?). This is going to be a very bright system... Halogens from Home Depot are a very poor idea... not the right mix of spectra, way too hot... Bob Fenner

Which brand of power compacts would you recommend? Need a full hood 2x55watt...24 inch with separate control on each light. Setting up a NNR Cellpore base) 39 gallon tank to house my clowns and anemones (they are too disruptive in my 100 gallon reef tank. Also would you choose the Knop (new) hang on protein skimmer or the new CPR 2R hang on with surface skimmer? Thank you, Ed Pollock >> Don't really have a fave "brand" of CFs per se (almost all on the planet are made by two companies... ultimately). Ffexpress sells some and even retrofit kits, Dennis at Custom SeaLife has nice units... the folks at Champion Lighting know what they're doing... as do Hamilton Lighting... Bob Fenner

New Highbred PC bulb.. Bob: I have seen a new bulb for the power compacts.. It is half Actinic, half daylight.. One side of the bulb is blue, and the other is white. They must have some conductor between the two.. Do you know of this type of PC bulb, and have any opinion of it? Any idea as to where to pick these up? CH >> Am familiar with these lamps, and they do work (produce both mixes of spectra)... but am a bigger fan of "separate" types of lamps as they are more efficient, and generally less expensive... per lamp-lumen per kilowatts of energy consumed. Oh, and just checked their pages and petstore.com sells these... as I'm sure others, including LFS (livestock fish stores) do. Bob Fenner

Power Compact Lighting Dear Mr. Fenner: I recently purchased a 90 gallon standard show tank and built my own stand and hood. I am now in the process of choosing the correct lighting for the tank and I am considering a Power Compact / Metal Halide combination. I initially thought there was only one manufacturer or brand (i.e.: Custom Sealife). However, I recently found that there are several types or brands of Power Compacts (i.e.: European bulbs, Japanese bulbs, custom Sealife, etc..) Due to the fact that the pricing is different for each, should I ben concerned with where the bulbs come from or who makes them or are all of them basically the same? Best Regards, Patrick C. Brown >> Good question... and have had some experience, first hand and by referral, with lamp and fixture problems from "B" sources... And naming names in these cases is hard to do... it's not certain line, countries that are trouble...  Anyhow, what I would do (what I actually do, Bob) is deal with larger, local (at least U.S. represented) sources, of known manufacture (I personally like the Phillips products... often relabeled, but always stamp-id.ed)... that have demonstrated accountability (a history of customer service)... and fair pricing... and leave it at that...  Do consider retrofits/kits... as this gear IS identical to factory installs... Bob Fenner

I have a 20 gallon saltwater tank that I just started. My lighting is a 15 watt Trichromatic light. But I want to and have to add another light for my live rock and such .So I saw your special on lighting (free shipping) and wanted to ask your prof. opinion on what I should add. And all I really want to spend is a 100 or less. So if possible could you give some advice to a beginning hobbyist that just wants to improve my conditions in my tank ADAM >> Hmm, this could be a twenty high (the 15w lamp would likely be fitted to this), but maybe a twenty long (30 inches long instead of the high's twenty four). In either case, I would shop for a Perfecto (tm) Sho Lite for your tank... these are sturdy, inexpensive compact fluorescents... and your best choice for size, type of tank and budget. Bob Fenner

I'm looking at buying compact fluorescent lighting for my 29 gallon. The unit I have picked out has 2-55watt bulbs. Price is a factor and I would like to introduce corals to the tank. No corals are present yet because of my lack of lighting. I am also a little confused as to what comes in the kits I see advertised as apposed to the ready to use systems. If I could save a little money by putting the unit together myself I would. Any information would be greatly appreciated. >> Retrofit kits generally come with most everything (fixtures, wiring, ballasts, lamps) that you might need: except for the hood/top, maybe some fittings to attach the unit to the top, and materials to coat, seal the top material... including reflectorizing material. Most all large hardware stores sell these "other" items... and it is easy to "make it yourself".  

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