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FAQs about Fluorescent Light and Lighting for Marine Systems, Standard/Regular (SO, NO) and High-Output (HO), and Very High Output (VHO) Lamp Selection

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

AHSupply.com www.hellolights.com Vitalite

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

Lamp Question, Fluorescent sel., actinics, the lack of value in using bb input  12/5/09
Dear WWM,
I have a several question regarding lamp, I need a clarification here (hopefully Mr. Fenner will answer my question)
1. What is the benefit of ATI PRO,
<Not familiar with this>
it is a purplish color lamp that will enhance the red color of the fish and coral, beside that, is there any other benefit?
<Not likely much, no>
If not, then to increase the color of fish and coral, can I use HO that usually for fresh water tank?
<If these lamps have the qualities (high CRI, Kelvin rating) needed. Read here:
and the linked files above>
It cost very cheap compare to ATI PRO (4 fresh water HO lamp equal to 1 pcs ATI PRO), if that so, is that mean even ATI PRO is as crappy as freshwater red lamp is used in marine tank.
2. What is the difference between Blue Plus and Actinic? Both of them are giving blue light although actinic maybe more blue/violet, but is this only to give a better look to coral but none to the growth of coral?
<Actually, don't have much to do with either IMO. Please read here:
What is the type that benefit for coral growth between Blue+ and Actinic? Assuming I use all full spectrum for my lamp so it will be 4x80 watt HO ATI Blue Special plus 2x54 HO ATI Blue Special, what will happen to my coral?
<It will appear blue>
Will it be bleaching because to bright, of on the other hand, it will more flourish and giving excellent growth?
<Not likely either... but I'd be looking to more "white" light for function>
Is there any other drawback using all full spectrum light?
<? No; is like being under our star/Sol>
I'm very confuse because explanation in WWM are very different with aquarist from reef central, because I've read on their thread, that most of them are suggesting a more bluish color for the tank so most of their combination is : blue plus, actinic, AquaBlue special, actinic and blue plus.
<Read the science behind these statements; not that all hobbyists are ignorant, but bb's are a waste of time by and large. The blue light is largely non-functional>
This is more or less like that, so on brief they use less full spectrum light compare to blue light, according to them ATI blue plus will encourage coral growth, but in WWM said blue light what ever it is, it just for aesthetic for the coral and if aquarist want to growth coral he/she must put more full spectrum compare to blue light. So please give me explanation  about this.
<Read where you were referred>
FYI : Now for my light I use 4x80 watt HO, 1 Aquasonic (its not Aquatinics) 12000 kelvin, 2 actinic and 1 ATI Blue Special plus 2x54 watt Aquasonic 12000 kelvin (but I doubt the Aquasonic 12000 kelvin, because it looks more yellow compare to 11000 kelvin ATI blue special).
But now my coral : zoas, GSP, Euphyllia spp, mushroom, brain coral and macro algae on top of my LR are flourish.
With this combination my tank looks bright but the coral are not shine in color, I mean like the red and blue color are not so brilliant since there are more white lamp. Then I look at the thread about lamp, most of their combination for a better look is sometimes :
<You may be a candidate for T-5, VHO, or even metal halide lighting>
Blue plus, actinic, blue plus, blue special, actinic and blue plus. In general, they put more blue light rather than white light. I know this combination will give a good look to the coral but what as far as I know, coral need a full spectrum light for their photosynthesis, and with only 1 white I don't think it is enough that's why I put 4 full spectrum compare to 2 actinic.
<I myself would skip on the actinic/s altogether, or just have one... to come on before and after the others for an hour or so daily>
I also want to growth a lust macroalgae in my sump, now I using a NO 2x20watt 1 is white and 1 is red lamp that use for fresh water aquaria,
<I would change out the red lamp here>
the growth are not so amazing, so I want to upgrade to 2x24 watt HO, what is the combination that will encourage an amazing growth for my macroalgae, is it 1 white 10.000 kelvin with 1 red color lamp, using 2 red color lamp or using 2 white 10.000 kelvin lamp?
<Again, ditch the red>
I light the sump 12/12, not 24 hours.
<Fine. I'd do this in reverse of the daylight period on your main display.
Bob Fenner>
Thank you very much.

Actinic VHO bulbs 3/18/09
Hello everyone.
<Hello Jon.>
I have had a reef tank up close to 20 yrs and have a question regarding 110wt VHO actinic bulbs. I used to always get Hamilton but have been trying URI and went back to try Hamilton again because URI actinic white was pink to me I have noticed that both the companies actinic bulbs are now more blue then they used to be. (At least Hamilton's were). I remember having more of a purple tint to them.
Am I crazy or what bulb would give me that nice purple back?
<Not that I am aware of, but I find it hard to believe the manufacturing has not changed at all through the years....this could effect the look of the bulb.
If you are not liking the looks of these (the URIs are my personal faves BTW), give these a shot:
I tried them a while back and found them too purple for my taste...may just fit your bill.>
The Hamilton's I have are Super Actinic Blue and URI's are Super Actinic.
Are actinic 03 different?
<Actinic 03 is a reference of a spectral peak at 420 nm. Different actinic 03s can look very, very different.>
Thanks for any help.
Jon Olson in California
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Reef Lighting, incl. fluor. lamp sel.  2/19/09 Dear WWM Crew, <Rusty> I having trouble determining if the fixture I have will work for my reef tank. I plan to get a 6'x2'x2' 180 gal aquarium that I will be making into a reef tank containing moderate light corals. The light fixture I have is a 72" T-5 HO fixture with 8x80watt bulbs. The bulbs are the Giesemann brand and I have four blue actinic and four 50/50 daylight bulbs. I recently bought a LUX meter to test the intensity of my lamp. I placed the meter on the floor and held my lamp 2 ft. above the sensor and I only got a rating of 3,200 LUX. I fear this may be too low since natural sunlight produces about 10,000 to 20,000 LUX and even the low to moderate light corals have a saturation rate of 5,000 to 6,000 LUX. Are there any other 60" T-5 bulbs that have a higher output than the brand I mentioned. <Not that I'm aware of, but your lamp configuration is what is giving you low LUX values, four actinics and four 50/50's aren't going to do it. You can greatly increase the LUX value by going with 10K 80 watt lamps. If it were me, I'd go with seven 10K's and one actinic.> I know this sounds like a stupid question, but do VHO bulbs have a much higher output than T-5 bulbs in terms of intensity? <T5's boast the highest lumens per watt output of any fluorescent lamp on the market. Keep in mind though, "per watt". Six foot VHO lamps are 160 watts versus the 80 watt T5 lamp. Your fixture would be the equivalent of a four lamp VHO fixture in terms of intensity with all lamps being equal in Kelvin temperature.> Would I need a chiller if I use VHO's <Would depend on where you live, the temperature you maintain in your home, central air, etc.> or could I just turn my heater very low? <How would you maintain water temperature when the lamps are off during the nighttime hours? For keeping moderate light loving corals, the eight lamp fixture you have is fine. You just need to reconfigure the lamps. James (Salty Dog)> <<In other words... heaters are thermostatic... they won't run if the water is warmer than what they're set at. RMF>>

Please Help with lighting, SW, reef  8/13/08 Please help me determine which 4- URI VHO bulbs to purchase. I have a 75-gallon tank which is over a year old now. I made the mistake a year ago and purchased VHO lighting and not T5HO or MH. Until I upgrade to a bigger tank I am going to keep the VHO lighting. <VHO can work very well.> I have actually had some success keeping some SPS including, Montipora Capricornis, Digitata and even some species of Acropora. I think my growth rate may be a little slow, but I have not lost any coloration. I like to keep a mixed reef, but of course I am getting more into the SPS and again kicking myself for going with VHO. It is past due for me to get new bulbs for my tank. I currently have 4 x 110watt bulbs. 2x URI Super Actinic 1x URI White Actinic = 50% 12,000k and 50/5 actinic 03 1x URI Aquasun 10,000k (I also use a 39 watt T5HO super blue for my dusk/dawn feature) My question is, should I get the same exact mixture of 4 bulbs? I was debating whether I should switch out the Aquasun for another White Actinic. But I wasn't sure because maybe having the 10,000k in there would be better....I don't know??? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. <For my tank I would just swap one of the actinics for another 10000K bulb. The remaining actinic and the actinic white should still leave you with a satisfactory blue hue and a 10000K bulb will give you more usable light for your corals.> Thank you, Ryan <Welcome, Scott V. >

Re: Please Help with lighting 8/13/08   8/16/08 Thanks for the quick response. <Welcome.> When I replace the 4-VHO bulbs do I need to do it slowly to avoid photo shock? Should I change out 1-bulb a day for 4-consecutive days? Or one bulb every other day for 8-days? What do you recommend? <Honestly, I myself would replace them all at once, but waiting a day or two between each bulb replacement certainly won't hurt and is a good idea. A little bit more work, but the safe route.> Thanks again. <Welcome, Scott V.>

Coralife 50/50 or just white? The latter   8/24/06 Hello crew, <Mike> I have a quick question I don't seem to find a direct answer on. I have a 10 gallon Nano-reef with green star polyps, frogspawn, Ricordea mushroom, a small purple mushroom, green Zoanthids, <... trouble...> and a tree looking soft coral that had no name to it but it was $5 and it looks really cool. I have two Aquaclear 200 filters with no media just for water flow and 10-15 lbs. of live rock. I have a Coralife 96 watt 20" light fixture on the tank that seems to be working well for the coral but I was wondering if it is better to have the 50/50 actinic bulb in the Coralife fixture I have or would it be better to put the 10,000k all white bulbs in? <The latter> I can get either bulb for the same price and the fixture came with 50/50 bulbs but I was just wondering if my coral may need more of just all white light? Thanks for all the wonderful help you provide. Mike <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/actinicfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

72 radium bulb hi guys, just wanted to know if anyone makes a 20k radium VHO  bulb...preferably 72 inch...do you know where I could buy them if so?? thanks, << I don't know if anyone makes them, but I'm sure www.hellolights.com would be a good place to check. >> Rick <<  Blundell  >> I have a 55gal fish/soon to be reef. I have 2 24" strip lights that hold 18" bulbs. Id like to know what type of lighting/bulbs I should get just to be able to keep a few small corals. Such as a brain or two and a torch or two.  I'd also like to be able to keep a derasa clam. I want the most inexpensive I can get. The bulbs in there now are 15w fluorescents. I was told that I could use a 50/50 in each strip light and one large blue bulb, is this true? I don't want to buy PC lights, too much $$ for my budget right now. Any info is  appreciated!! >> Hmm, well as big a penny pincher as I am (I've made tears come to a buffalo's, Bison bison, eyes by squeezing old nickels), I must remark that this isn't an inexpensive hobby... and that the tridacnid clams need lots (intense), full spectrum light of high Kelvin rating, high CRI... that generally can only be rendered (in a tank of the depth of a 55, 22") via VHO fluorescents, CF's and/or Metal Halides... The lighting you have now is, as you know/suspect, entirely under-powered... The least (initial) cost that can get you near what you want support (not much growth) wise is a couple of double 4 foot shop lights (very cha-heep) with full spectrum, RO (Regular Output) lamps... like 3 Dura Vita-Lites... and one Actinic... your choice of manufacturer... However, do/should point out the "false economy" of this approach... in the long haul (a couple of years)... you would/will be better off... cost of power, looks, function, replacement of fixtures... "just" saving up, investing in Compact Fluorescents... Bob Fenner

Light Reports - GE & Sylvania? Recently GE and Sylvania have been advertising lights "10,000 k saltwater fluorescents". The prices are so low ($10 - $13.00 for 48", 40 watts) they raise suspicions - either these are cheap & useless, or we have been ripped off by the other "premium" suppliers. Has anyone seen any tests on these lights? Charlie >> Actually, these lamps have been "with us" for decades for other purposes... and the same companies (and two others) make the "premium" (i.e. relabeled/otherwise labeled) lamps... and the cost differences are mainly due to added layers of distribution.  The actual cost of production of fluorescent lamps is... quite low, the gear to make them, a few million dollars U.S.... just like oil/petroleum products, they're "free", until you go through the costs and mark-ups of production, packaging/labeling, marketing/sales and distribution. Bob Fenner, who begged Dura Corp. to allow marketing of their products in the industry for many years (the Vita Lite debuted in 1967).

Standard Fluorescent lights Hi Bob. I have been reading on the GARF web site about the bullet proof reef system. <What makes these "bullet proof"?> There are many links on there that show absolutely beautiful reefs grown with standard fluorescent tubes. They even show gorgeous 55ga. tanks ran on as little as three tubes. Highly recommended are the Triton and Blue Moon tubes. 2 Tritons to 1 Blue Moon. As the tanks mature they add one or two more tubes. <Yes, all possible> How plausible is this? Does it really work? One lady has over 40 tanks running by this method that she used to propagate corals for sales. It would sure be nice if it were true and it really prospers as they say on GARF. <Matching other factors and taking more time are all part of these formulae> Another topic on S.O. tubes. A few years ago in FAMA a gent hooked up S.O tubes to Ice Cap ballast and had a much higher output coming from them. <Yes> If I remember correctly, almost as high as the VHO tubes. <Not of PAR> He was blown away by the results. Do you remember reading that? Did he ever do a follow up report and put it in FAMA? <Why not investigate on your own?> Your thoughts on this Mr. (World Traveler) Fenner. Zimmy <Start saving and come out with us. Plenty of room. Bob Fenner>

Vitalites, Dura Corp.  >They're Back!< I have been looking long and hard for the Vita-Lite locally. I called the 800 number and left a message. No response yet. <The manufacturer (Dura of NJ) is no more... you might find some old stock about though> What I finally found from a local lighting shop is the General Electric Chromoline 50 .... F30 T12 C50RS  I read over all of the lighting information you have on the web site and you do list this as an OK light source.  <Great product> I hope that my reading comprehension is working for me. My tank is 65 gallons and slightly tall. I have room for 4 of these in a 36 inch length. Should I add a blue light as well? What brand/type should I pursue. <I would make one of the four an actinic 003 lamp> Someone bought the monstrous sea slug at the local store. I noticed when I went in to look at lighting.  <Mmm, it might have perished> No one there can really help me, they know as much as I do...nil to nada. For all your help if you ever get to Southwest Missouri I will have to feed you (own a restaurant). Thanks Bob, Trisha <Yum. Bob Fenner>

SO Bulb Color Dear Robert, <Sorry, but you got Steven Pro. Bob is out of town for a while and he asked Anthony Calfo and I to fill in for the weekend.> Can you tell me if the G.E. Aqua Rays Aquarium Tube that comes with the Oceanic Systems Nature View Deluxe Strip Light is a full spectrum bulb? I have checked with That Fish Place and others, but have not been able to get a definitive answer. Hopefully you have the resources to find the answer. <I have used the GE bulbs. They are good for a fish only tank, but I would not recommend them for photosynthetic plants and animals.> Thank you for your time, Mike  

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

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

Fluorescent Lites Robert and colleagues, What is your opinion of the Ott full spectrum fluorescent bulb. It is 5000K and a CRI of 96. Any good for marine applications (zooxanthellae, etc.)? <Don't have personal experience with these folks lighting (their lamps are very likely OEM'ed), but the values stated for temperature and CRI are very good... and full spectrum... likely of good aquarium use. Please read over the articles on light, lighting and related FAQs files for the type of application (freshwater, marine...) posted on WetWebMedia.com  Bob Fenner> Dave B

Lighting Question Hi Bob or Anthony, <tweedle-dum here...> Another quick question: (I got such great advice the first time I figured I'd pester you folks again). <we make half of the stuff up, but it's convincing> If I was going to upgrade from standard fluorescents to HO or VHO bulbs <no HO...a dying technology. VHO or Power compacts please> would it be possible to get a strip light fixture from a place like the Home Depot to operate them in? <a reflector yes, but nothing else. Need specialized end caps and ballast> And would I still need to invest in a good ballast too? <yes... and Icecaps have good customer service> I figure the brighter light would not only be great for the fishes but also for casting some cheer during the gray winter (Feb.'s the worst on the east coast). Thanks guys. "Warm" regards, Adam <alas, an expensive but worthwhile investment. Cheers from "sunny" Pittsburgh PA. Anthony>

Lighting Hello Bob, Tony, Steve My question concerns lighting for my 180 reef tank. Currently I'm using 2 VHO 160 watt actinics plus 2 VHO 50-50 bulbs to light the tank. What I'm wondering is if there is a combination of bulbs that would give me a deeper blue hue to the tank? I know that they make 1000k and 2000k bulbs in VHO now, and wonder if they wouldn't be better than the 50-50's? Probably the highest light demanding animal in my tank is either xenia sp. or a Squamosa clam. I get really great coral growth now, but would like a deeper blue look to the tank. As always your help is greatly appreciated. <The easiest thing to do is change to three actinic and one full spectrum if that is your desired look. One word of caution, what you desire to see may not be the best lighting for your animal. Also, I will give you a tip. I love URI lamps and in particular the combination of two actinics, one white actinic, and one AquaSun (full spectrum) lamp. This has a nice blue tint and has also demonstrated healthy growth.> Be talking, Joe G <Talk to you later. -Steven Pro>

VHO replacement question Hello Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Long time no talk, how have you been?  <so busy that he has had to graciously solicit friends to help out with the uber-site that we all know and love as WWM <smile>> I am getting ready to order and replace my VHO bulbs on my reef. I have always been using URI VHO bulbs, 2 actinic white 50/50, and 1 super actinic blue.  <a most excellent combination...and I love the brand. Before my coral greenhouse, I had gone through tens of bulbs indoors and settled quite happily on the URI products (I especially love the blues)> Although I notice that there is one called an AquaSun daylight 10,000k also made by URI. Should I keep the combination I have been using for my 30 gallon mixed reef, (hard and soft corals, clams anemones and live rock) or change it up a bit?  <you definitely have the best combination for a mixed garden display...I would not recommend a change> Also 8-10 months still good on replacement time of bulbs? <exactly for VHO lamps> As in the past, I really respect and appreciate any and all advice you share with me. <Bob is truly a great guy and one heck of a team player... he is a jewel in the aquarium industry. With kind regards, Anthony Calfo> Take care, Rob

Lighting WWM Crew, What comments do you have about Full Spectrum Solutions' full spectrum bulbs? Spectra 5900: CRI 93, 5900K, 2500-3100 lumens Maxum 5000: CRI 91, 5000K, 3600 lumens http://www.fullspectrumsolutions.com/Fluorescent.htm I know Bob loves the Vita-Lites and was curious as to whether or not anyone knows anything about these. Thanks again. ~Rob <Sorry, but I have never heard of them. URI is my brand/company of choice. -Steven Pro>

Lighting A quick couple of questions. I am purchasing some new URI VHO 36" 95W lighting for my 55gal fish/invert. This is a three bulb system. The question is which bulb combination do you suggest. The available bulbs are Actinic White 50/50, Actinic 03 and Aqua Sun. <I would use one of each. All are great lamps for a good company.> Also note that I may add a 4th in the future as my IceCap ballast can support this. These bulbs have an internal reflector, do you think I need to add a reflector? <Not absolutely necessary, but will increase the amount of light into the tank somewhat.> Thanks, Dennis Vigliotte <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

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