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FAQs about Small Marine System Lighting 1

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Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1:
Invertebrates, Algae
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2:

New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
Book 3:

New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Proper Lighting for a 33 Gallon - 2/20/04 Hey guys. First off I want to commend you on a GREAT website! <Well thank you for being part of it all> I just discovered it a couple of days ago and cannot believe all the information you have covered on it. <And growing> Best and most thorough site I have seen so far dealing with fish, heck anything for that matter. <That is what we strive for. Our modus operandi so to speak> I am a new saltwater tank owner who has no experience with saltwater tanks whatsoever (though I have been reading up on them and asking the LFS a lot of questions the last couple of  months.) <Remember fish stores are trying to sell you something. Always look for truth all that hear> I have 3 freshwater tanks in my home and have had them successfully up and running for more than 8 years, <Sound like me> so am not totally new to aquariums & keeping fish. <Always helpful> I have a few questions on my new saltwater setup that I was hoping you could help me with, but will not throw them at you all at once (I will space them out over the week if it is easier.) My first question has to do with the lighting in my 33g setup. I have sent along a picture to show my tank setup. I have had it up and running for 5 weeks now and have a false Lemonpeel angelfish, <Too soon for this fish in my opinion> 1 turbo snail, and 8 blue hermit crabs in it, along with a Featherduster, 2 polyps, and 2 mushrooms that the LPS girl gave me to throw in as well. <That was nice of her> My water and salt tests have been perfect for the last 4 weeks and my temperature is a constant 79 F. <That is what they should be> My problem is that I have no green algae growth, other than on the glass, and quite a bit of brown algae growth on my LR and the substrate as evident in this photo taken this morning. <Remember that this is still a new tank, and for all intents and purposes, it will be a new tank for about year which is about how long it takes for a tank to fully mature and minimize die off of live rock and stabilize the nitrifying bacteria colonies> I know this is normal the first few months but was wondering if my lighting isn't strong enough to support green algae growth, <If you have some on the glass then I wouldn't worry much> not to mention my polyps, mushrooms and Featherduster. I have two 36 inch Actinic Spectrum bulbs sitting in my cover that came with the setup, a blue 30 watt (80 LUX) marine-Glo bulb near the back of the aquarium and a white 30 watt (135 LUX) power-Glo bulb near the front. <That isn't much lighting> I have them on a timer and they come on for 12 hours a day. <Good> Is this enough lighting for this size of aquarium? <Depends on what you plan to keep Corals and fish or more coral than fish or coral only or fish only?> I know we will be adding some more LR in the next couple of weeks (it does look like we need some more, doesn't it?) <Dunno? You didn't mention how much you have> and probably a couple of more fish so want to get the lighting issued solved by then. <If it is a fish only tank or mostly fish then don't worry about lighting unless the corals you plan to keep are more light reliant. I think mushrooms and Zoanthids will struggle, but for the most part likely be fine in you setup as it is, over time> Also, I was told by the LFS that the mushrooms and polyps would spread like wildfire in time but haven't. <Well, still need time. Wildfire doesn't mean overnight. It will take some time and remember you stated this is a new tank and it takes time to mature. You barely meet the lighting requirements for these corals. Research your animals, know their needs before purchasing or receiving, for that matter. Also, give them time to acclimate. This can take weeks or months in some cases.> Could this be a lighting issue also? <Truthfully, with these corals, you barely meet their required lighting levels. In my opinion, you could use an extra white colored bulb (50/50) if you want to stay with the NO Florescent bulbs. You could also upgrade to T5 or Power Compact or even halides if you plan to keep more light reliant coral. Otherwise, I would just give them some time and be patient> The Featherduster is always opening up and seems to be doing okay under these same lighting conditions. <Alas, the feather duster is not photosynthetic. It really could care less about the type of lights you have on the tank. Be sure to feed the feather duster. That is where it gets its sustenance from.> We hope to have a nice balance of invertebrate and fish down the road if this helps. <Depends on what type of invertebrates. Please read through our site on all the above questions for expansion. The information is out there for the taking> Thanks in advance and keep up the excellent work, <Thanks to you for being part of it all ~Paulo> Mike

15 Gallon Salt Tank Lighting >Hi guys, >>Hello, Marina here.  (Sorry for the delay, we've been swamped!) >You have the best, most comprehensive site on the web for marine aquarists.  I have a question regarding a 15 gallon FOWLR system.  I currently have only a single fluorescent bulb, a Rio powerhead, and an Aquaclear 150 running on my tank.  I'm thinking about moving up to power compact lighting of some sort and possibly a Prizm skimmer.   >>Not familiar with the performance of the Prizms, but also consider AquaC or CPR BakPak. >I have a pair of ocellaris clowns, Jawfish, a royal Gramma, a star fish, one cleaner shrimp and a few snails.  Do you have any suggestions as to what types of lighting would be good?  I am thinking about the new custom Sealife PC/Moonlite systems (are they worth the $$$?) or a Coralife PC (or anything you suggest, hehe).   >>The Coralife PC units are quite popular, though I'm curious as to why you wish to upgrade the lighting.  The "whys" of the upgrade should first be addressed, and then I would steer you towards an outfit with an excellent reputation, http://www.hellolights.com (I *think* that's the URL!).. not only for great prices, but for their customer service. >Also would it be OK to add some corals or should I get some kind of sump going before I do that?  THANKS!!!  Mike Chang >>If you wish to upgrade the lighting in order to get some corals, first decide what types you wish to keep.  This will help greatly in deciding lighting.  Right now I'll steer you away from anemones, difficult, move about, small tank, bad combo (unless it's dedicated to one anemone).  Then, consider a small refugium, search our site as we have MUCH information on 'fuge setups.  A ten gallon tank or H.O.T. 'fuge would be great for you.  The 'fuge can act as refugium filtration and as a sump, and with this in place you can keep your water quality very high.  Thus, your only limitation would be lighting (heh...).  With what you're thinking of, I think you could keep MANY different types of soft corals, polyps, Zoanthids, and LPS corals.  If you're interested in clams, I suggest Tridacna derasa.  Marina

Reef Lighting    6/14/06 Hi Bob, <James with you today.> I have a question on lighting for a small reef setup. When I look on line it seems I get 100 different answers. I was wondering if my lighting is adequate for what I have. my lighting is 6.5 watts per gallon. 65x2=130 divided by 20 gallons. 1  24 inch 2 X 65 watt power compact aquarium hood, with 1 65 watt 10k white and 1 65 watt  actinic blue PC bulb 20 gallon glass aquarium 25lb live sand about 8+ 1bs of live rock 1 button polyp coral medium in size 1 yellow polyp coral small in size 1 rock coral green, small in size 3 clown fish 1 pygmy angel 1 blue/green fish that is related to the Damsel, but with a lighter temperament. <Your lighting will be fine, may be borderline for SPS corals though if your tank is a 20 tall.  James (Salty Dog)>

Nano Reefs, SPS and Lighting   2/8/06 Hi Crew! <Hello Sheen, thanks for the well formatted and grammatically correct query, makes answering a lot easy.>     I currently run a 20 gallon tank (16" high) and am considering to upgrade from my 96 watt Teklight T-5 HO (24W x 4) to a metal halide system, in hopes to get better growth in my Acropora. <T-5 ho of that wattage on this size tank should be more than plenty for nearly any animal hosting zooxanthellae. How old are your bulbs and what Kelvin temp. are they?> My questions as follows: 1) Will the Current USA SunPod 24" 150W HQI fixture be good enough for my Acropora? <Yup, but watch out for the heat!> My high light-loving Acroporas are all at the top (A. clathrata, A. hyacinthus), A. yongei, A. tenuis, A. micropthalma are in the middle, while A. millepora and some Montipora are at the bottom.    <Lot of specimens for that size tank, watch the growth.> 2) Is the 14,000 K bulb supplied with this unit sufficient to provide adequate PAR for these SPS, as well as significant growth? <I would rather see 10,000K bulbs.> They are coming from 2x6500K Sun bulbs and 2xActinic Blue bulbs (pretty weak PAR).    <Yeah I think if you use less actinic you could get away with the T-5 HO's.> 3) As for future bulbs, would a 10,000 K be a better choice? <Yup.> 4)  I am not too picky of how the tank looks as long as corals grow! (6500 K would work as well for me). What's the best choice?    <6,500K is even better (closer to spectrum of natural sunlight) if you don't mind the color.> 5) What have you heard, and if you have any experience with this fixture, how does it perform? <To put it nicely there are some brands I would rather utilize.> What about heating issues as the fixture is only 3" above the surface of the water?    <3" above the surface is fine for your T-5 unit, you need to suspend the MH fixture at least 8" more like 12" though.>   Thanks so much, <Anytime.>   Sheen <Adam J.>

150watt metal halide. too much light?/Sunglasses for Corals  - 01/24/06 Question for you guys. Thinking of upgrading my lighting system for a 16 gal. nano reef. running for 3 years now) As of the moment using a 64 watt pc set up. Freakish amount of Zoanthids, they are growing like crazy, dropping new little colonies all over and spreading over everything. totally cool!) <Great!> I have a few areas on the live rock that has Porites doing nicely, growing and spreading out also. Also about a 4 inch wide area  of Montipora covered by a slight overhang. The Montipora is starting to lighten up in colour in the area that is under the overhang <Move it?>(duh!). Adjusting the rock to allow more light creates a very unstable rock formation. <Can use underwater epoxy cement.> My now long winded question is. would a 150 watt MH set up (aqua-medic mini pendant) be over the top in the light or would bumping up my pc set up to 128 watts be a safer direction. i.e.: little less heat,<Yes> less intense for the other inhabitants.<I'd opt for the 128 idea giving you eight watts per gallon, more than enough to keep most anything.> Would rather not blind myself/family if pendant needs to be a lot higher from water surface to avoid the heat build up, and end up wasting light. Any blunt/ honest info would be a huge help.( eyes are buggy from reading and talking to suppliers about this. some are all for it others are nuar.geo the pc route..)<James (Salty Dog)> POG

Lighting for a 5 gallon mini reef and 46 gallon bowfront   1/4/06 I have a 5 gallon mini-reef setup (11 inches deep) with assorted mushrooms, star polyps, and assorted Zoanthids.  I have an 18 watt power compact with a 50/50 bulb over this setup and have another 18 watt power compact on the way.  With these corals, would 18 watts be sufficient? <Borderline> Could I get away with 36 total watts over this tank? <Yes> If I can get away with 36 watts, then should I use another 50/50 bulb  or go with a different Kelvin rating on the second 18 watt unit? <I'd get another 50/50>  What other categories of corals (soft/SPS/LPSs) can I keep with these corals that I already have? <If it were me I'd stay with soft corals.  Most SPS/LPSs have sweeper tentacles that can sting/kill other corals.  Your mini reef isn't large enough to safely space the corals apart. A variety of soft corals is very attractive.>   BTW I am building a 2 gallon sump/wet dry for this system and a counter current skimmer that will be 3" in diameter and 28 inches tall (not sure if this will change your answer on the types of corals that I can keep in here).  Also, would a clown goby and a gumdrop goby be ok in this setup? <Yes> In my 46 bowfront I have a 4.5" flasher scorpion, 3"  fuzzy dwarf, 8" Chainlink moray eel, a 5" maroon clown, and his buddy, a BTA.  I have a 175 watt metal halide over this tank that is 14K.  I also have 20K and 10K - 175 watt metal halides laying around.  I would like to know what the best compromise in Kelvin rating is, in order to make my BTA happy and not make my scorps and eel hate me. <Using what you have on hand, I'd go with the 20K> BTW I have plenty of rock with caves and crevices for the fish that prefer a dimmer atmosphere. Thank you sooooo much for the time that you all put into this website, you guys are a great help to aquarists everywhere! <Thank you.  James (Salty Dog)> Garen Wright

Nano Lighting and Alk/Calcium Levels 10/28/05 Hello Crew Member, <Hi Don.> I was thinking of upgrading my lighting system... <Okay.> I currently am running a retrofitted Eclipse hood 1 - 15W Coralife MarineGlo fluorescent (runs from 9:15am-9:30pm) 2 - 13W 50/50 pc's (running from 10:30am-6:30pm) I was thinking of replacing it w/ 1 - 96W 50/50 Aqualight and having it run from 9:30-9:30 <Well it would help to know what the targeted photosynthetic specimens are to give you the best answer as to how this lighting system relates to your system. I will say that this lighting system will dramatically increase the heat in your system, so look into fans and top-off systems.> My Aquarium specs are: 15 Gal. Tall 1 - 15W Coralife MarineGlo fluorescent (runs from 9:15am-9:30pm) 2 - 13W 50/50 pc's (running from 10:30am-6:30pm) eclipse 1 filtration system (120 gal/hr pump w/ carbon filtration and BioWheel) <Carbon is rather has quite a short half/life and after 24 hours of usage is rather inert, after that its really just a breeding ground for bacteria, really its not necessary in a mature system. As far as the bio-wheel, it's a quality filter but in a marine tank, especially one of this size I would rather see a protein skimmer.> 1 Rio 200 w/ a hydro Flo diverter 2-3" LS bed <Your in "No Mans land" with your sand bed, should be 1" or less for aesthetics or 4" or more for the effects of a Deep Sand Bed.> 18Lbs. LR 2 Reef Hermits 1 Left handed Hermit 2 Margarita snails 1 Rainford's Goby <How is he eating? This species often starves in smaller/un-mature aquaria as it is mostly a filamentous algae eater.> pH 8.2 (even w/ high Alk stays consistent) Ca 500ppm (this is a drop from 800ppm) <I imagine you had a snowstorm, (calcium precipitation during this 800 ppm period.> NH3/NH4 0 NO2 0.00 NO3 0  Alk (off the charts) (no change recently) <Should be between 7 and 12 dKH.> temp 80 F Gravity 1.025 Water changes are being preformed weekly (4-5 gals) Ro/Di water low amounts of salt mix added as I am attempting to lower both Alk and Calcium. <Well you still need to keep the S.G. levels up with inverts in the tank, you need some sort of Alk/ph buffering product. Though the stable pH is a bit odd, maybe bad test kit? I would try to confirm you readings with a local store.> <<Brand, age, storage are all contributing factors to the efficacy and reliability of any test.  MH>> Thanks for your time Don <Welcome, Adam J.>

Mini compact fluorescent bulbs  9/21/05 Hello, <Hi, Adam J with you.> I have been looking into a nano aquarium lately, <Fun but unstable at times…the nanos that is, not me.> and have a question about the lighting... Would there be anything wrong with building a canopy for a 10-gallon aquarium using 4 of the mini compact fluorescent self ballasted 10-watt bulbs? <I see no problem with this lighting but it will generate some heat so you will want to make sure you can keep the temperature at the proper position as well as monitor evaporation. A small fan blowing across the top of the water can help with both of these issues.> Is this a good lighting choice for a 10 gallon aquarium? <Depends on what the targeted livestock is.> Thanks, Dan <You are very welcome, Adam.>

Light Conversation  9/12/05 Hello, Joe here <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!>   First off thank you for the informative site. <You're quite welcome...We're glad to bring it to you every day!> I an running a 30gal hex for 5 months now with a 20gal refugium for 3 and I know hex's are bad for reefs but mine has had no problems (yet. <To be quite honesty, I've seen some stunning reefs in hex aquariums...It's all about the husbandry and equipment, really.> The water parameters are in good order and everything is healthy. The tank is stocked with 50 lbs live rock 30 pound live sand(2-3 inches) 1 Candy Hog 1 Coral Beauty 1 Sixline Wrasse 2 True Percula Clowns 1 Diamond Watchman Goby about 20 mixed snails and 15 mixed hermits corals are 3 branches of Hammers a large Bubble large Frogspawn a few heads of Candycane small Colt a large population of Zoos (around 100) through out the tank and a Blue Maxima clam= 1.5 inch Lighting is the question of the hour in my sump\refugium. I am running a 18 watts NO aquarium florescent above the 10 gal section with the four inch sand bed and the Chaetomorpha\Caulerpa I don't believe this is enough I an looking into more light. <Good thought...I'd kick the lighting up a bit!> I have read that actinics are for looks and don't help photosynthesis is this true, should I stay away from the so-called 50\50 bulbs and when using the rule of thumb of 3 watts per gal should I count actinics or blues. <I have never liked the "watt per gallon" guidelines, but yes- you'd count all lighting in such a total.> I have 152 watts of pc lighting above the display and 96 are 10,000k and they are all condensed into a 20"x20" area 3 inches above the water and 20 inches above the sand. <That sounds just fine for the animals that you are working with. Just make sure that the clam is getting its fair share of lighting.> Should I convert the 56 watts of actinics in to 50\50 or maybe one 28 watt to 10,000k? <It's really dependent upon the needs of your animals, and also a question of aesthetics. If it were me, I'd be inclined to go for the 50/50's for the look.> I have all lights on timers so I don't shock the live stock with all the lights at once. Any help you can offer will be appreciated. Joe <Well, Joe, it sounds like you've got the right idea. If your animals seem to be healthy and growing, I'd stick with your current lighting. If you are not satisfied, it's a simple matter of just popping a new bulb in to see what results you get...Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

& Tank Lighting 8/7/05 I forgot to ask this in my previous e-mail, but it has a different subject.  My tank, a 30 gallon hex tank, has the 'stock' light on it. The fixture is only 13" long.  What can I use that will penetrate deep enough for me to use? <Likely a small/er Metal Halide> Also where can I get something like this? <Mmm, stores, mail-order, e-tailers...> I plan on having some a lot of corals, and anemones etc.  Anything helps! Thanks again, Trey Smith <Again, enjoy the process of informing yourself, read the hobby magazines, current books, join a marine club in your area... Bob Fenner>

Lights for a 24" cube tank 8/6/05 I am setting up a 24x23x25-supposed to be a 60 gallon reef tank. I  want to keep a leather coral, bubble coral, a couple clownfish, some mushrooms  and a couple cleaner shrimp. I plan to keep the stocking very low as I am into low maintenance. What would you recommend for lighting? < Maybe just one 400 watt 14K halide.  Or maybe two 250 watt 14K halides.  I've seen both and like both set ups on 24" cube tanks. > I want to be economical but I want the right lights. I currently use PC's. I've never used halide, but   am not opposed to it. It is and acrylic tank. < That is a very common acrylic tank size.  You may search Google and find several tanks just like it.  The advantage of a two bulb halide system is that you really reduce your shadowing in the tank.  One bulb is great because you can get a lot of light and only have to buy one fixture.  I think I'd lean towards two 250 watt bulbs.  As for pc and VHO, they work but I don't use them in tanks that short. > <  Blundell  >

Cube? MH, heat concern 7/16/05 I'm planning a  26"X26"X23"  tank.  My wish is for single 150 watt HQI  to support a FOWLR  system.  The internal overflow box spans the back, has three 1" bulkheads,  and  two pairs of  3/4" , on the bottom of the tank.  (Two for return, and two for a possible future closed loop.) <The return/lines you may well want to raise up to prevent back-siphoning in the event of a power/pump failure> The Iwaki MD-40RX, for a SCWD only return,  The sump's water depth will be below  9" to accommodate a Aqua-C EV-120,  and incorporates a  25 gallon refugium.   I would appreciate any advice, or to know if I'm on the right track, here in Taiwan.  Thank you, for your invaluable service.  I apologize if I have been unclear. -Ryan <You may have heat issues with the size, shape of the main tank, volume of water. Bob Fenner>

Throwing Some Light On A Small Tank 7/13/05 Hi Mr. Bob <Actually, Scott F. here today!> I currently have a 15 gallon nano saltwater tank. Will it be possible to keep SPS and clams (Crocea or Maxima) under power compact fluorescent lamps? <If the proximity of the lamps is close enough to the animals, and you are providing nutritional supplementation to the animals, it is certainly possible. However, I would hesitate to recommend a clam for this sized tank. They will simply outgrow the tank if provided with proper conditions.> I've read that they should be kept under MH. <In most cases, yes- but in a small, shallow tank, it might be possible to be successful with them.> My current lighting is composed of 6 26watts power compact/compact fluorescent lamps making it 10 watts per gallon over a 24"x1"x1 tank. These are 6500k screw-in lamps that can be found at hardware shops (I'm experimenting with these lamps). My tank inhabitants include 2 colonies of red and Blue Mushrooms and 1 Frogspawn coral , a bit shaded by live rocks. They seem happy with the current lighting though, no bleaching or closing up. <I'd be careful about this combination of animals for the long run. Frogspawn are very aggressive corals.> And also, do you know of any site which discusses about power compacts for reef lighting? I've been searching the net but found none so far. Thanks in advance. <I honestly don't know any specific sites dedicated to compact fluorescent lighting exclusively, but you might want to check out sites of manufacturers of compact fluorescent lighting for more information. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Lights for a new  55 gal reef tank? 7/11/05 Hello WWM crew! Your site has proven to be very informative as I am just started to get into the world of reef keeping. <  Good to hear. > I have a question regarding the type of corals that should be grouped together. I am looking to start a reef tank, 55g, and am unsure what types of corals should be kept together as each may have an individual preference. < Indeed they do and this is something well worth investigating before purchase. > Should I purchase corals only from a specific region of the world or based on their individual preferences? < More on preference, not on world location. I'd grab a copy of Julian's book Corals, or Bornemann's book as well.  Both will be very useful in telling you what requirement different corals have. > I also have a question for lighting (only piece of equipment I have yet to purchase, and the most expensive!) Would you recommend metal halides (thinking of two 150w, 10,000K) or PC(2-65w 10,000K, 2-65w true actinic o3 blue), I may possibly want to keep some clams & LPS and mix with certain moderate light loving SPS. < Well then the choice is clear.  You definitely want metal halides with some actinic supplements.  I'd go with two 250 watt HQI halides, and four bulbs (either pc, VHO, T-5) that are actinic. > My LFS also stated T5's are the next lighting to replace PC's, that true? < Maybe.  They are about the same, a little better but not a big difference. > Thank you for taking your time to read this! < No problem, that is why we are here. > James <  Blundell  >

Lights for a small semi-reef tank? Howdy, I currently have a rio180 (Size: 101 x 50 x 41 cm) set up as a marine aquarium, with red sea protein skimmer, external Fluval 304, 3 x power heads, and of course the Juwel internal filter which has had a more powerful powerhead to support the stocking capacity. This has been running happily for months now with the standard 2 x no fluorescent tubes, at the moment it is fish only: 1 yellow tang 1 powder blue tang 3 x Green Chromis 2 x ocellaris clowns 1 x carpenter flasher wrasse 1 x Sixline wrasse 1 x cleaner wrasse 1 x scooter dragonet 1 x citron goby I do however want to eventually turn to a few corals and am looking at a series 3 pendant from arcadia. 70cm long 1 x 150w MH and 2x 18w Blue ac. Would this be sufficient for the tank to sustain a mini reef? < Yes. It may be easier to go with something like T-5's. That seems a little low on light, especially only having two 18 watt actinic bulbs. I'd try adding two 96 watt actinics if it were me. > If not what wattage would you suggest and where could i get the right spec lighting system from?  < I think just about every local fish store sells compact fluorescent lights. That isn't a bad option for actinics. Otherwise one halide and a couple T-5's for actinic light is the way to go. Best of luck. > Many Thanks, A Young Marine Enthusiast, Wes Knights < Blundell > 

Lighting the 29 gallon hi bob I've asked Lorenzo about lighting a 29 gallon long tank for the SPS corals. I asked if I could keep them in there by using 2 55 watt power compacts. He said that I could if I kept them close to the surface. He recommended using a 7200 and a 10k, with killer reflectors. Well I've been looking for the 7200 but I can't find some so I was wondering if the 6700K or a 8800K would work on the tank.  <Yes, the higher temp. lamp will be better> Well thanks and I've been in Australia and I got the chance to see the Great Barrier Reef. Just a few words to describe it: Wow and Wow. The Acropora were just beautiful and I just want to have some like them in my house. Well take care and I'll keep in studying and learning. Thanks. <I as well. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Lighting for 20 gal Flatback Octagon Hi Bob, <<Hi, it' not Bob though, it's JasonC this time.>> First I would like to thank you for a great site with a world of information. <<I'm glad you find it useful.>> I have a 20 gallon flatback octagon (30" long 12" wide 16" deep) and I'm going to set up the aquarium with live sand, some live rock, a few fish and some inverts. My question is do I need to buy a special light (currently have the standard fluorescent fixture that came with the aquarium) for the live rock (I really want the coralline algae to have beautiful color and growth) and inverts? <<Well, for coralline specifically, it's not really picky when it comes to lighting... any will do, it's more concerned with calcium availability.>> What about a either a compact fluorescent a 24" 1x55 watt 50/50 (BLUE/10K WHITE) or 24" SmartLite with 1x65 watt Lamp. What inverts do you recommend with standard lighting? <<By Inverts I assume you mean corals - not that they aren't invertebrates, but if you were talking about shrimp let's say, they wouldn't care about lighting type at all.>> Which inverts do you recommend with the compact fluorescents I listed? <<Most of the soft corals do well under fluorescent lighting, and some of the large-polyp stony corals as well. I'd advise you to pick up a copy of Eric Bornemann's book, Aquarium Corals - it is a great guide to the various requirements of captive corals, and will also be more than useful for continued care.>> Thanks, Jeff <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Lighting for 20 gal Flatback Octagon Thanks for your help.. <<My pleasure.>> I was told I needed special lighting for the live rock and inverts. <<And they need the sale ;-) >> You saved me about $100-$150. One more question I just thought about. I am going to use a "hang on the back" power filter and I'm thinking about the Penguin Bio-Wheel Filter 330 (330 gph). Is this too much filter and too water turbulence for this 20 gallon tank. <<Well, I am a big fan of "over filtering" and have numerous times that there is no practical way to have too much circulation in a tank. In this case, due to the small size, you may find this filter blows your substrate all over the place. I would recommend that you try it, with the proviso that you may need to throttle it back a notch or two to make sure you can still see through the water.>> Thanks, Jeff <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Lighting for 20 gal Flatback Octagon So you don't recommend any special lighting for live rock with coralline algae? <<Nope.>> I have only a 40 watt fluorescent. <<My bet is that this will work fine.>> By inverts I am talking about crabs, snails, shrimp, etc. Any special lighting for these inverts -- no coral. <<Nope, they will be perfectly fine.>> Thanks, Jeff <<Cheers, J -- >>

Lighting Hi! I own a Eclipse System 12 tank. I Have 3 Damsels and some live sand in it. I plan on getting some live rock soon. My question is, how much live rock should I get?  <A few pounds... perhaps ten or so if you can secure same in good, clean, cured condition> I changed the light to a 13 watt A blue/White bulb, so I don't think there will be a problem keeping the rock alive. Another question, How long should I keep the light on per day? <Twelve or so hours per day... best done with a timer... can be "punctuated"... i.e. set to be on when you are likely home, around to enjoy your system. Bob Fenner> Thanks for the information! John

Proper lighting and filtration for a small mis-stocked marine system Hello there. I am a little confused as to which type of lighting and filtration would be best for my tank. It is a 30 gallon,  30" wide, 12.5" deep and 20" high. I have 30 pounds live sand and 23 pounds live rock. I have two domino damsels, two clowns, <Trouble a' brewing with these fishes mixed here> a  Christmas tree coral and a bubble tipped anemone that is shown much attention by one of the clowns and one of the dominos. The tank came with an Eclipse hood which is lacking in all regards. I am considering a Orbit power compact 2x65 for lighting and a Fluval 204 canister filter along with a SeaClone 100 skimmer. <A good switch for the lighting... the skimmer? Puny, but serviceable here... though not worthy of putting on a larger system> I would like to eventually include a rose bubble tipped and blue carpet anemones. Your opinion and recommendations greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. <A very poor idea... anemones are not easily kept period... I would NOT mix them, especially in such a small volume. Please do yourself and your livestock the great aid of reading on WWM re their care, selection, systems. Bob Fenner>

Re: lighting for 2 gallon pico again Hello, I sent an e-mail, this was it: Hello I have a 2 gallon acrylic aquarium that I found in my garage and I want to fill it with corals, no fish. I looked in a magazine and saw  the current satellite PowerCompact lunar and the measurements fit the aquarium perfectly. Would this be good lighting. it has 2 18 watt bulbs and lunar lights. If I get it, could I switch the bulbs to 1 420/460 actinic bulb and 1 10000k/460 actinic bulb. I want to switch because I like reefs that have lots of blue lights, it adds enhancement and makes it look more relaxing. will this work. Would there be too little 10000k lighting. Thanks I got my new issue of Dr.s foster foster smith a week ago and found the Coralife 12 inch fixture, then went to my LFS, and they had it. Which fixture should I get? I know Coralife is dependable for lighting, I have the 20 inch 96 watt on my 10 gallon and it's great. But, the satellite has lunar lights and good choices of bulbs. The Coralife has 2 18 watt 50/50 bulbs. Also, I think the Coralife fixture looks better, plus it's cheaper but if I have to spend more for quality I'll do it. Please help me make up my mind!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Todd <Of the two, I'd go with the first... for the reasons you list. Bob Fenner>

Marine Light/ing hi sir Fenner, this site is great.. my question is lighting duration and intensity. I have a mini 8 gallon tank running one 32 watt 10000k daylight and one 32 watt actinic. My friend say to have the actinic come on for about a hour prior and then switch to daylight for about 8 hrs and then finish off with the actinic for another hour.. Is this correct.. <Mmm, the use of actinic is about right... overlap the actinic with the white, and I would extend the time frames... to 12 to 14 hours per day> My local fish store told me to have both of them at the same time.. Which is correct.. I have switched to having both at the same time but the Acropora started bleaching.. is there any way to save the Acropora?? <It should "photo-adapt" to the bright, mixed light in time> is the lighting too strong for Acropora?? <Possibly... try fewer hours or shielding part of the light if you can't dim it electronically (like with aluminum foil over part of the lamps) for a few weeks. Bob Fenner> thank you for you time sir.. <You are welcome my friend.>

Cube lighting Mornin' ya'll,  <Hi Rob, MacL here with you today.>  I'm hoping to start up my first reef tank and was hoping you could give me some advice on lighting. The tank will be 30g, 20.5"L x18.5"W x20.5"H. The lighting fixture I'm leaning towards is a Coralife Advanced Aquatic Hang-On, 150watt 10,000k.  <Those are pretty interesting and very new. I've not personally had much experience with them but I have seen their regular fixtures. The only thing that concerns me about this light is that you are going to have to do some serious acclimation with it and usually that's done by hanging the light up high then lowering it. With it attached to the tank your only recourse is to cut back on the time you use it for acclimation. You also might want to think about using caves and overhangs to help with this.>  Do you think this would be over-kill for zoo's, xenia, etc. ?  <I think you are going to be okay with a very careful acclimation.>  If not, would a clam be out of the question?  <The wattage and light should work for you to have a clam but its definitely going to outgrow your tank.>  Your advice is greatly appreciated, Thanks.  <Good luck, MacL>

Pico lighting Hello I have a 2 gallon acrylic aquarium that I found in my garage and I want to fill it with corals, no fish. I looked in a magazine and saw the current satellite power compact lunar and the measurements fit the aquarium perfectly. Would this be good lighting. it has 2 18 watt bulbs and lunar lights. If I get it, could I switch the bulbs to 1 420/460 actinic bulb and 1 10000k/460 actinic bulb? I want to switch because I like reefs that have lots of blue lights, it adds enhancement and makes it look more relaxing. Will this work? Would there be too little 10000k lighting? Thanks <Could work... some of the 10k light would be better to have than both actinics... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm.  Scroll down to the sections on Small Marine and Reef set-up areas... particularly lighting... and read. Bob Fenner>

Metal Halide On A 12 Gallon Eclipse? Yowzaa! Hello. <Hi there! Scott F. in today!> First off, I would like to compliment your website. It is truly invaluable for finding information on the diverse hobby that I am addicted too...reef-keeping. Let me acquaint you with my aquarium. It is a 12 gallon Eclipse which has been running for 13 months. 12 pounds of Gulf of Mexico live sand, 7 pounds of Fiji live rock, and 14 pounds of Tonga Branch live rock. Livestock consists of 1 Ocellaris, 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Emerald Crab, 1 Blood Shrimp, 1 Serpent Sea Star, 3 Hermit Crabs, 1 Candy Anemone, Nephthea Coral, Frogspawn Coral, Blue Ricordea coral, Toadstool coral, and pulsing Xenia coral. <Wow! That tank is stocked to the max with some fairly aggressive corals...I know that it's working so far, but that's a mix of some pretty noxious soft corals and stinging cnidarians in a small amount of water. For real long term success, you may have to reduce the bioload somewhat. I'm not trying to be negative, but this is something that you need to be aware of....>  I retrofitted the light fixture to a 36 watt PC 50/50 fluorescent. That was completed in summer of 2004. Now, I am starting to get the itch for MH lighting. Although small, this is a show tank; meaning it is positioned so that it is viewed from all angles, therefore I do not want any components hanging off the back or above the aquarium. If I choose to go with MH, the original Eclipse hood would have to be retrofitted again to accommodate the new light fixture. <I agree...But I'm not so sure about running a metal halide fixture on such a small tank. Not only is this a LOT of light for a relatively small area, but the possible heat issue cannot be overstated enough! If you're up to the challenge, I suppose it can work if venting is very carefully managed...But the proximity of the animals to the intense light is another huge issue to be faced.> I recently found and purchased a great bargain which consisted of two CPU fans for $10. So, I cut a 1.5 inch by 2 inch hole in the side of the hood, and installed one fan so that it blows air into the hood. There is a small opening in the rear of the hood which for wiring and cords leaving the hood. This hole also allows heated air to escape. There is a substantial breeze from the air exiting this hole. Since installing the fan last week, I have witnessed my operating temperature drop from a maximum of 88 degrees (if you can believe that!!!), to a more respectable 78 degrees. I made the mistake of letting the fan run all through the first night, only to find the tank a chilly 74 degrees the next morning. <Pretty astounding cooling from two fans, but I guess if you take into account the size of the tank, it is understandable. Halides, on the other hand, are in a class by themselves as far as heat production is concerned.> My Xenia was really irritated. After a few hours of the lights being on, and the tank warming up slightly, the xenia recovered completely. Fortunately, what could have been a disaster, was nothing more than a bump in the road. <Good to hear.> If I go forward with the MH retrofit, the only wattage bulb I would buy is 70 watts. I feel that is more than adequate wattage for a 12 gallon aquarium. <I'll say...>  Plus, it's the lowest wattage MH bulb I have come across. I would prefer a 10000K color temperature. If possible, I would ideally like to keep the PC light under the hood as well. <Wow!> As mentioned earlier, it is a 36 watt 50/50 (Half daylight / half actinic). Assuming the MH is in place, and the PC is still feasible, I was considering changing the bulb to a full actinic when the bulb is ready to be replaced; currently, it is only three months old. Do you think MH is feasible in my setup (in terms of heat dissipation, amount of light, etc.)?  <To be quite honest, I'd be very hesitant to use MH over this tank. Better to work in some more PC, or- gulp invest in a larger tank for better long-term viability and stability.> Would you recommend using the PC in addition to the MH? If so, should I keep the 50/50, or eventually go to a full actinic? <Using actinic with metal halides is purely an aesthetic preference. I don't see any real benefit to the animals from it, in many situations.> Thanks in advance for your knowledge and experience. I look forward to reading any opinions and suggestions! <Again, my thinking would be to go with more PC lighting, or a larger tank. Or, if you are dead-set on halides, perhaps you could remove the canopy completely and hang the light over the tank, like you see on larger tanks...Whatever you do, please be very careful in planning ventilation and acclimation of the animals to the new lighting regime. Keep us posted! Regards, Scott F.>

Lighting a Nano Hi Crew, <Good Morning> I have a 10 gallon with some fish (18 months) and mushrooms (over the past 5 months) and just got some Caulastrea. It has a standard fluorescent cover 18 watts. I am upgrading to a PC 50/50 96 watt. I have read about acclimating to new light and it seems to me that some kind of screen would be the best way. Should I also decrease the number of hours the lights are on? Right now I have them on 12.5 hours a day. <No screen needed, start with a hour and increase by two hours daily.> I am also curing some live rock. Once it gets to the point of zero ammonia and nitrites is it better to put it in my tank or can I continue using the same process and letting things continue to develop as it is. I know my tank will be better off with the rock but right now I am more interested in bringing the most out of the rock. <Yes, you can do that, but the rock will still develop in your tank. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks <You're welcome> 

Lighting for 120 Gal Reef Greetings from the seas of Colorado!  <Greetings from the ice floes of Michigan> I have a 120 gallon (2 x 2 x 4) reef tank with about 150-200# of LR stacked to within 3" of the surface. The current lighting is fine for my xenia, Kenya, Ricordea, Discosoma, and Rhodactis, all of which are thriving and multiplying. I'm currently using two 48" T-12 6500K's, and two 48" 10,000K T8's, with 1-2 hours of direct sun exposure. I know my current lighting is inadequate for other inverts, and I'd like to extend to more colorful inverts, such as corals. I recently bought two 175W M47 MH fixtures to allow other options for the reef. Can I go with just the 2 175W MH using 10,000K bulbs, is it necessary to supplement with the fluorescents?  <It isn't necessary to use fluorescents if you are using the 10K's. You should get enough color out of those. If you want more or like to see your corals fluoresce, then add an actinic tube.>  If I go with the MH's alone, are there any colorful options?  <I'm thinking by options you meant bulbs that bring out the color. Answered in above line. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks...Dan. <You're welcome> 

Lighting/Reef Hi, I want to thank you guys for such a great site, being new to this hobby, I find this site extremely helpful. Keep up the good work.  <Thank you>  Now my question is, I have a 29g tank with 220 watts of compact lighting consisting of 110 watts of 10000K white light and 110 watts of Bright Blue Actinic. I was considering changing the Bright Blues to 03 Actinics. Which type is better for the tank inhabitants? Is it easier to obtain a dawn/dusk effect using the deep blue actinics?  <Larry, I don't think the dusk to dawn effect is necessary. I look at the overall light quality for the entire day. I would replace the bright blue with another 10K.  <James (Salty Dog)>

Lighting/Reef - Follow-up James My overall lighting consists of 4 55w bulbs, should I then change out one of the bright blues (7100K I believe) to another 10000K and leave one the bright blue. I could bring that half on with 1 timer and the other half with a second timer. I also have a moon light setup that I made using LED's at 472nm. I'll forgo the dawn/dusk in favor of what's better for the inhabitants.  <Larry, if you have four bulbs, then I would go with three 10K and one true actinic. I'll post a link to FAQ's regarding your lighting. Please read.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/fluoltgfaqs.htm Thanks <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

-Perplexing Hex, A lighting conundrum Hello, <Hi Justin here> I'm in the process of setting up a 29g Hex Reef tank with a tank depth of ~24". The tank is currently cycling with 60lb of fine sand and 20lb of live rock. My long time goal is to have some soft corals and anemones. I'm current looking at the 20" Current Orbit PC with 1 40W 10k bulb and 1 50/50 40W bulb, because of my limited hood space. <I understand, but that light is not enough to sustain most anemones and high light corals as its only around 3ish watts a gallon (horrible rule that watts per gallon, but the real rule is very complex ) >  I understand I'm pretty low on the light requirements BUT I was wondering what are my limitations in keeping soft corals or anemones. Thanks in Advance. <Well you have two things working against you; the depth of the tank, and the hood requirements. So to keep corals with the lighting you have they would need to be 12" or less from the top to get enough light. And most medium light or low light corals would be fine. As for anemones, or highlight corals I would look into a MH pendant to hang on the ceiling or retrofit to go in the hood with wattage around 150 or 175 watts. This will penetrate the 24" depth and ensure your overcoming the saturation point of photosynthesis in the corals and anemones so they grow and thrive. With a MH you can keep most any coral you want though the low light ones need to be shaded so they do not bleach out.> <Justin (Jager) > 

Lighting for nano tank What is the best type of light for a small hob refugium to grow my macro algae? I need the smallest light possible.  Its for a nano tank. Are those red sea aqua vase lights any good...? <Anthony, I don't know what size your reef is but there is one available from Drs. Foster & Smith for $29.95.  It's a PC fixture with one 9 watt true actinic and one 9 watt 10K.  I think this would be ideal for this.  As far as the Red Sea Aqua Vase, I'm not familiar with them.  You may want to do a post on the Wet Web Chat Forum for more info on it. James (Salty Dog)> Anthony

Lighting rule and Coral stocking 2/11/05 I have a 10 gallon setup with a standard fluorescent cover. I would like to increase the lighting so that I could handle more than just mushrooms. There are 20" PC's available (from 32 to 96 watts) but I am not sure how much wattage I should try for. <at least 5 watts per gallon of tank size> I do have cardinals and gobies. Is there a point the fish would find uncomfortable? <varies by fish... but do keep under 10 watts per gallon> Also, how significant is the bio load of coral in a small tank? <minor... they are light burdens> There are guesstimate of inches of fish per gallon but I have not seen anything relating to corals. Is it just a matter of space? <exactly... needing 6-10" between each coral for 1-2 year buffer. Anthony> 

Lighting  Hi. <Hello Jon> I am looking at VHO's to light a new, small tank. Would it be easy to drop a VHO retrofit kit (from drsfosterandsmith) into an old All-Glass twin tube strip (the ballast doesn't work a anymore, so all that remains is the hood and reflector. Or is there a better solution?<Jon, I'm afraid the retro won't fit in the All Glass hood. Retros usually come with a reflector that improves the intensity of the lighting and there is just no room. Look at the Orbits and the Satellite fixtures complete with hood. I really prefer PC's over VHO's. They are both on sale at Foster & Smith right now. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Jon 

29 Gallon - 2x65 Watt Orbit PC Hey~ <How goes it?> I am trying to figure out if I should remove the actinic lighting from my fixture and install another 8,800 K bulb -- its seems from what I am reading that the actinic doesn't offer much. <Actinic doesn't provide much PAR (photosynthetically active radiation), it's used mostly for aesthetics.  However, it all depends on what you're looking to keep.  Can't give you much advice without more info> Thanks Rob <M. Maddox>
Re: 29 Gallon - 2x65 Watt Orbit PC
Thanks  M. Maddox <Glad to be of service> I have some mushrooms, polyps, zoos -- no SPS or LPS (figured I would need to upgrade my lighting to keep those). <Quite so> Have about 35lbs of live rock, 2in. SB - BAKPAK skimmer and 2 powerheads. <Sounds good> Is that the info you need? <Yep, all low light creatures.  If you'd like more\faster growth, swap out an actinic for a daylight> Thanks again <No problem> Rob <M. Maddox>

Lighting a nano for Acroporas - 11/23/04 Hey guys, I have a 10 gall nano reef tank and I'm running it with 8 watts per gal. (PC). Do you think I have enough light for Acroporas and clams. <Well, to be honest there is a lot more to lighting SPS and clams than watts per gallon, for sure. This is a much debated issue. First and foremost, you need a very stable marine environment. (unfortunately in my opinion, a 10 gallon is awfully hard to stabilize) Also, there is the debate regarding useful PAR from Power Compact lighting. I believe there are some PC bulbs out there that do produce useful PAR ranges for light loving Acropora and high light loving clams but I have yet to find any with long term success. I personally have not had a great amount of success with most SPS (Montipora capricornis and Hydnophora are one exception) but you might have some luck with some of the lower light loving clams like Derasa and Squamosa. I am not guaranteeing success but something that might work. Again stability, food, lighting, environment (i.e. water chemistry and flow dynamics) and water maintenance. A very had task but I do think it can and is being done. Do a little research and see what you can come with. Check www.nano-reef.com. Thanks for asking this important question here at WetWebMedia.Com. ~Paul> Thanks for your time

Lighting options for a 30 gallon reef? - 11/17/04 Hey Guys I am planning to set up a Coral Tank. The tank is approximately 30 gallons and is 20 inches deep (about 50 cm.s). Would I need to have metal halides for these? <Wallace, this is entirely based on what type of animals and corals one keeps. More specifically the corals. For corals I like metal halide (PFO is great brand that I highly recommend. We use them at the Monterey Bay Aquarium on a few tanks and I personally use them as well).> Or are 4 fluoros enough ? (e.g.. 2xactinic, 2xwhites). What if I hold Clams? <For clam keeping and SPS corals I would recommend at least one 250 metal halide (best bet) or 400 metal halide (a little overkill but wouldn't hurt if you can keep the tank cool). More than likely the 250 HQI PFO pendant or retrofit will work for you again, depends on what else you will keep but if you want to keep any species of clam available then this would be your best bet. If you don't have the money then a good amount of power compacts would probably suffice.> Thanks <Thank you for being part of it all. ~Paul>

Lighting Solution For A Small Tank Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I have been reading many of the articles on your site, and have found them extremely helpful in learning more about keeping and maintaining a healthy marine aquarium.  You have also helped me to test the merchants around me to find a good one.  Thank you!  And my fish thank you for keeping them alive! <Awesome! Glad to hear it!> If you bare with me, I have a few questions with regard to my lighting.   <Sure!> I have an aquarium that was custom built by my father-in-law.  It is very unique, and I won't go into too many details, but I have both fresh and salt water capabilities with the aquarium.  They are separate of course, but the way the tank is built only gives me 15 gallons for the salt water. The dimensions of the salt environment are 25" ht x 16" depth x 9" width. I currently have 2 Percula Clowns, a Sergeant Major, various snails, and live rock with some small clams and sponges on it.  I would like to add an anemone, and encourage good algae growth, but am unsure of what lighting I can use.  I assume that any lighting I get for the salt water will not harm the fresh water fish (they will be sharing the same lighting). <Well, lighting will not "harm" fish; obviously, some fishes like brighter light than others, of course....> I figure that the salt water environment is more demanding and reactive to the type of lighting I have.  Right now I only have a 14watt bulb in a 16" hood and need to find something else. <Agreed, if you are attempting to keep more demanding invertebrates. To be honest, I'd discourage the keeping of an anemone in such as small water volume. They demand high water quality, environmental stability, and intense lighting- something very hard to accomplish in a 15 gallon system.> The light sits over the salt water environment, and the fresh water fish and plants receive light coming from there (just off to the side).  The problem that I have is that I can't place a 3 or 4 foot light on the top of the tank, due to its' dimensions. Actually, a 4 foot light box would be larger than the width of the entire aquarium.  So, I will have to hang the lights somehow, unless you know of any 15" fluorescent lights that could actually work effectively?! <There are a number of compact fluorescent retrofit, pendant, and hood systems that can work. Do check some e-tailers for these systems. PC, in my opinion, will give you the most "bang for the buck".> Also, it is a tall tank, so I am unsure if I should use full-spectrum fluorescents, or metal halides. <I would pass on halide in such a small system. The potential heat buildup can be disastrous for a small system> The aquarium is made of Plexiglas, and I am not sure if the halides would have an effect on that?  I know you recommended some full-spectrum fluorescents in a previous article, but I am wondering if you could give me a few more suggestions.  I was told that I should be looking for at least 10,000K, but I can't find a light that has that much Kelvin and is not 4 feet long.  So, I guess my first question would be do you know of any 15" full-spectrum fluorescent light bulbs that would be of high enough quality to work with my aquarium?  Or, could you point me in the right direction on purchasing a new lighting system that will be sure to have the light penetrate to 25" and encourage my salt water environment to thrive, as well as not harm the fresh water fish? <Again- PC's would do the trick...10,000k's are readily available in PC's.> I'm also curious to know if you know of any full-spectrum fluorescents that are not in a "long tube" form that I could place directly above the salt water part of my aquarium.  It would be optimal to have one light specific to the salt water, and then another similar light above the fresh water. <PC's, again....> Thanks, Jon <My pleasure, Jon> New to Saltwater + Coral - Part 2 Very good. I will go with the 65w retrofit or maybe more (if Eclipse can take it? Not sure). Which fluorescent tubes would you suggest as a constant in the Eclipse 3 hood with a 65w or higher retrofit? I would like to keep the easier reef species (mushroom coral, star polyps, etc.) that have been recommended. Also, what shrimp or hermit crabs would flourish in the same environment:? As always, advice and ideas are sincerely appreciated before I go spending money! >>>Hell again, I don't know of any specific kits or fixtures for that hood, you may have to ditch it and use a pendant, not sure there. I recommend www.hellolights.com. Give them a call or drop them an email, they can help you out. As far as hermits go, scarlets are good, as are bluelegs (although a bit more predatory) I'd stick with a single scarlet in a tank that size, maybe two at the most. Cleaner shrimp do well, so consider one, or small group. Cheers Jim<<<

29 gallon Lighting I'm currently reading John Tullock's "Natural Reef Aquariums", fantastic info. However, as I have had nothing but success with the Wet Web Crew's ideas and advice on my freshwater tanks, so I have a couple quick questions/comments y'all may help me with about possible reef ideas. 1) I understand it can be possible to light a reef with only fluorescent tubes (deep Indo Pacific reef?). 2) I would like to start with corals that may do well with minimum requirements (can any exist in this environment (2 x 18w T8 tubes, 29 gallon)?) 3) Any corals (and required fluorescent tubes) recommended for a 29 gallon Eclipse 3 hood? If any of this sounds like a ridiculous idea, maybe a suggestion as to how I can step it up before I start spending money on this project? Or a better idea to wait until I can set-up a larger system? I have read of success with 3 gallon reef aquariums, I see no reason I cannot learn on a 29. Also, I have read the various articles on the dilemma with protein skimmers and Eclipse hoods. That is something I will worry about after the lighting. One can always make something else fit, I just need to know if it will be worth the surgery on the hood. Thanks y'all! -LH >>>Greetings, I recommend you spend a bit more on the lighting, and at least put a 65 watt PC fixture on that tank. At that point you can keep any number of mushroom corals, Zoanthids, star polyps and some softies. There may be a PC retrofit kit available for that hood, but you'll have to do a search to find out. 32 watts is enough on smaller tanks, but given your water depth, I'd go with 65 watts at least. Even then, you're limited to low light inverts. Good luck Jim<<<

Lights for an Eclipse 3 hood Bob, << Blundell tonight. >> For the 2 fluorescent lights on an Eclipse 3 hood, what combination of lighting would you recommend for a coral reef? << Two blue and one white. >> I will be retrofitting the hood with compacts, but as a standard, are there any specific bulbs you recommend that fit the T8 18 watt that fit the Eclipse? I have been considering a deep reef. I am not sure retrofitting would even be necessary. Your thoughts are appreciated. Thanks, << It may be a good idea to replace the hood with a retro hood with more lights.  It just depends on what you want to keep.  That lighting system is fine for soft corals, but not stony corals. >> WL Huiskamp <<  Blundell  >>

Lighting for a 20 gal Greetings, crew- << Hi there. >> Will a Coralife Aqualight (24" 2x65W Compact Hood with 1x Actinic and 1x 10,000K) be enough to sustain a small reef tank with photosynthetic corals in a 20 gallon "high" (24w x 16h x 12d)? << Soft corals yes, but not enough for stony corals. >>  I have browsed lighting questions on your site extensively, but there is not much information on smaller systems such as the one I am considering. Thank you! << I have a 29 gal.  I use to have four 65 watt bulbs, but now have 300 watts of halides. >> Tom <<  Blundell  >>

Clarification on lighting in a minireef Hello, <Hi! Ryan with you today> I've been searching thru the archives a bit (excellent resource) about lighting in a reef tank and how "watts per gallon" is not an all to accurate a measure of lighting requirements due to differences in lighting types (PC, VHO, MH, etc.) <Yes, lighting should be carefully considered, with inhabitants in mind> I've had a 5g minireef running now for almost a year with no problems, and a newer 75g.  On my 5g I am in the process of bringing it up to a 10g (going from the horrible 10w 50/50 to hopefully a bit better 96w quad 50/50 PC.)  From what a read, the power compacts don't have quite the light penetration that a MH does, so symbiotic corals/anemones/etc requiring higher lighting may not survive or need to be placed towards the top. <Correct> Now that this is all said (assuming I've digested all the information correctly) I have two questions; one, I've had a small bubble tip anemone in the small 5g with a Percula clown, and due to the poor lighting, it's obviously diminished a little bit over the last 6mos.  It's still alive, but I have noticed the tips haven't "bubbled" in awhile.  If moved to the tank with 10g tank with the 96w, could it possibly recover or is it too far gone due to low light for too long? <Symbiotic algae will recolonize the anemone...But please acclimate him to the new light!  Search the FAQs for instructions> I tried moving it to the large tank with stronger lighting, but learned the hard way that sometimes peppermint shrimp will attack other anemones, so promptly removed it. <OK> My second question is that while I save up to upgrade the lighting on the 75g to include MH, I was thinking of getting some of the corals such a Porites coral and growing it in the smaller tank until the larger tank has the light strong enough in the next few months.  Since the PC lighting doesn't penetrate thru as well as a MH would, would I'd be wasting my time on the Porites for now? <I don't think you'd be able to get enough current in such a small space for a Porites...In my past I've had Porites come to their full potential at 15-20X per hour turnover!  I'd wait and do it correctly.  Good luck, Ryan> Thank you, -Mike

Lights for a small office tank Hello wet friends, << Hello >> I'm setting up a 14 gallon nano reef on my table in the office. Dimensions: 24x12x12 inches. I modified the hood to contain 6 18W NO tubes. (total 108 watts) I'll use Philips Tld965 tubes (6500K, CRI=98, 870 lumens) or Tld950 (5300K, CRI=98, 900+lumens ) I also have some Philips 03 actinics. I'd like to know which corals this light setup would support. Should I install 3 daylight 3 actinics or 4 daylight 2 actinics, or would this matter at all? << I would install probably 4 daylight and 2 actinic.  Now if the tank is by a window, then go with at least 3 actinic. >> Thanks, Husnu <<  Blundell  >>

6500k or 10000k in a nano reef? WWM Crew, << Hi. >> Hope everything is going good.  I have just a few questions for you today.  I have a 10 gal Nano reef tank, with 1 small Montipora digitata, 1 small Montipora capricornis, 1 bulb tip anemone, and 1 pipe organ coral, 15lbs of live rock, 2 x 36watt 6500k pc's. Is the 6500 sufficient for what I have? << That sounds okay. >> Should I get one 10k and one actinic, what is your suggestion? << I think a 10k looks nicer, but the 10k may not be as fast of growing light.  Debatable, but the 6500 is probably a faster growing light. >> I am also planning on getting a clam, probably a derasa or crocea. Which one stays smaller? << I wouldn't do this in a 10 gal tank.  They require lots of food and lots of light. >>  The second question is I have a 29g sump in my larger 55g tank with approx 3.5 in of sand and lots of macro algae. Should I put anything in there like snails or crabs to help move it around and keep it clean, still the sand? << Nah, no reason to.  The worms and pods will take care of that. >> Last question. What are some good low light corals that I could put in a fish only tank. I have 2 yellow tail damsels, 1 yellow tang and a maroon clown in the 55g tank now.  Something that will grow fairly large with lots of color. << Well xenia and Anthelia are probably the best choices.  Also some mushrooms. >> Or is there anything that would do well. <<  Blundell  >>

Lights for a 20 gal Hello once again.  I've done some searching around on the net & on your site but I can't seem to find what I'm looking for.  I'm looking at buying the 24" Coralife Lunar Aqualight with 2x65w 10k & true Actinic, as well as 2 3/4w LEDs.  I can't find a review for them anywhere.  It's for a 20 gal tank and I'm not looking to be able to sustain anything, just some basic "beginner" corals. << I'd say this is fine light.  But for what you said, beginner corals, nothing fancy. >> Any bit of knowledge you have with this product would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks a bunch. << Sounds like the lights I had on my 30 gal at first, so you should be fine. >> Dean <<  Blundell  >>

Lights for a 29 gal Thanks for the advice.  What should I get for lighting?  Anything else? << Well I too have a 29 gal.  I started with four 65 watt pc's.  Now I'm running two 150 watt HQI halides.  I certainly think this is better and would probably recommend the same. >> Appreciate it, Blundell. Mark <<  Blundell  >>

Nano lighting for corals I am about to setup a new nano reef aquarium and I am not sure if I understand the reasons for using actinics and daylights.  I was hoping to use a 2x36 watt retrofit over a 16 gallon cube with 1 bulb being actinic and the other being a 50/50.  I am wondering if this would be a bad idea as some people are saying that actinics don't help with corals?  I would like to keep hard, soft, and LPS as well.  I had an older tank with half and half and it just looked to yellow to me so any help would be useful thank you. >>>Greetings First of all I think you're being a bit over optimistic thinking you'll be keeping SPS corals under such lights. Most of those corals need *AT LEAST* 150 watt metal halides, some need PAR values much higher, up in the range of what 400watt bulbs provide. Some Montipora species, M. digitata for instance, may do OK under your lights, but don't count on it. Softies, as well as LPS such as the various Euphyllia species should do just fine. Mushrooms and Zoanthids will do very well. Stick with the low light corals. Anyway, no the corals do not need actinic lighting. It DOES however bring out the colors much better. I recommend using one 10K bulb, and one actinic. You'll like the looks of the tank much better that way. Peace Jim<<<

Nano Lighting Hello, I just started a 10 gall nano tank today (reef nano)!!! And I was wondering what is the correct amount of watts for such a small tank??? My L.F.S. said 34 watts should be plenty to keep a lot soft corals in a nano. What do you guys think??? I got an 18 right now so I don't know if I should buy another 18 watter. Thank so for your time >>>Hey Alex, There is no 'correct' wattage, but anything above 24 watts seems to enable the keeping of a wide variety of low light inverts. I would definitely get another 18 watt fixture, or even a 24 or 32 watter to add to you 18 watt unit. Regards Jim<<<

Small Tank With Big Lights! I have a 26 gallon bowfront mini reef set up. The tank is 24 inches wide 15 inches front to back and 24 INCHES DEEP!! <Sounds pretty cool! Lots of aquascaping possibilities!> Currently I have one Custom Sea Life 24 inch 65 watt smart lamp/ half 10,000k daylight and half actinic bulb. Is this enough light to reach the bottom of the tank? <Probably pushing the capabilities to the limit for this light...> The light doesn't seem all too powerful. The LFS sold me this light and said it would be fine for a mini reef. <It is, but not ideal for a deeper tank> The space I have left if I were to keep the smart light is 10 inches by 5 inches and I was wondering if I could fit a metal halide there. <Possibly a retrofit halide, or maybe one of the smaller pendants, like a PFO Mini or a Sunlight Supply Reef Optix III. On the other hand, you need to be concerned about properly ventilating the lights. They can impart a lot of heat into the tank and into your hood. I'd check some of the online carriers for exact specifications> Or should I do away with the Smart Light and go with something else... Please, any help would be greatly appreciated. Also what size metal halide would I even use ? Thank You. Anthony Pastorelli <Well, Anthony, if you are inclined to use halide, you may want to limit your choice to a 150 watt bulb. It also depends upon the animals that you intend to keep. You could very easily "fry" many light sensitive animals with these lights, although they should work well in a 24 inch deep tank. Hope this helps. Regards, Scott F.> NYC Fireman

Small Tank With Big Lights! (Cont'd.) Hi again, sorry to bother you again but wanted to put all the info and questions into one email. <No problem..> Here goes. I have a 26 gallon bow front, 24 inches wide 15 inches front to back and about 23 inches tall. I have one aqua-medic starlight 150 watt 10,000 K Aqualine. Is this Brand of bulb and size of fixture Blue enough to support coralline algae growth and to support the lives of possibly any type of coral or clam? <Well, it would be irresponsible of me to say that any bulb can grow every coral out there, but the Aqualine 10K is an outstanding bulb, quite capable of growing many corals, and coralline algae as well.> And how far should it be for optimal performance? I do not have room for any other lamp or fixture , are actinics needed for such life support? (e.g.. coralline-clams-etc.) and because that I want to only keep the light on for about 6- 8 hours a day is this sufficient? <Personally, I like to keep the bulb about 6 inches off the water surface. Actinics are not needed; they do add an interesting appearance to the aquarium, however...BTW- I like a 10-12 hour photoperiod...> Should I install a mini moonlight? Do the corals and such NEED a 10 to 14 hour photo period? Or will they do just fine with only the MH coming on and going off? <You don't need a moonlight, but they are pretty cool to see!> Thank you so much....I'd be lost without you guys...LFS is C%$P!!! <Well, we're glad to be here for you...Do support your LFS whenever possible, however. Regards, Scott F.>

More Light? More Skimming! I have just recently got a 15 gallon tank started two weeks ago, this is what I have setup: 24" 55 Watt CP 24 lbs. Jakarta LR Glass top canopy Zoo-med PS-30 powerhead (190Lph rated) 2" Aragamax sandbed 13 hermit crabs 1 Emerald crab 1 pink something starfish 2 true Clownfishes Anyway, my problem with the tank is lighting, because the light is heating up my tank, so I had to buy legs for it, and after that it cured the problem, but now I feel like there's not enough light in there, never really was satisfied with the light, so I am planning to return the light and get a new one, these are the two that I am looking at, either a double tube 1-65Watt True Actinic 03 Blue and 1-65Watt 10,000K CFs, or same fixture 2-36Watts, both by Coralife. Is there such a thing as too much light? <Well, some of my SPS-geek friends would say a resounding "No!", but it is certainly possible to over-light some organisms> Would I be better off going for 72 Watts total? <I'd get the 65 watters, myself- or even 96 watters, if your system can accommodate 'em> I am planning to add quite a few corals in there later too, and if any room, anemones but not a must. <Best to keep anemones in a dedicated system designed for their specific needs> Coralline algae is starting to appear, but not too quick. Please let me know about your thoughts... :) <I'd go for the higher lighting, myself, especially if corals are in your future. Better to have too much light (and you probably will not) and dim it then to not have enough> Other than that, I am pretty unsure about the need for a protein skimmer? Does it prolong water changes only, or does it improve the general appearance of the water (weekly water changes now), coloration, and water quality? <Well, water changes should be a regular part of your maintenance routine, regardless of whether or not you have a skimmer. Skimmers are your "first line of defense" against declining water quality. They help remove organics from the water before they have a chance to accumulate and degrade the water conditions. I think that a skimmer is an essentially part of any marine system!> (ammonia 0, nitrate 5ppm, nitrite 0, pH 8.3 now) Thanks for your time and attention... Cheers!! Jagryes <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F>

Micro reef refugium lighting 4/8/04  I am setting up a 10 gallon micro reef, which I plan on housing some Acropora with probably 15lbs of LR, and a ? inch sand bed. For lighting I am going to try the Coralife quad tube 50/50 - I think this should be enough for my Acropora - I hope.  <unless the Acropora you select is brown colored and deep water, I strongly suspect this will not be enough light>  I have the 10gal drilled for a ? inch bulkhead and standpipe for surface skimming. 1st question - Will ? inch plumbing be enough for a 200-250 gph flow?  <yes, easily>  I plan on augmenting my flow with an external HO filter I have laying around with no media in it - this will also give me an easy place for carbon if I ever need it.  <its always recommended IMO. Please run carbon full time to ensure optimal water clarity and penetration of light in the tanks water>  I want to keep the bioload low, so I will probably only keep some hermits and snails for cleanup - but I know me, I may end up with one small fish or shrimp in there, but I am going to try to resist the temptation.  <resist the crabs to o while you are at it, more harm than good to other beneficial life forms... particularly in a small tank>  I have ordered a custom sump to fit within the stand - dimensions are 17L" x 8"W x 14" H with a 7"L x 8"W partition in that sump for my skimmer and heater. The rest of the sump will be a refugium. I plan on keeping a 4-6 inch fine sand bed - a couple extra lbs of LR and macro here. I will light this area with 18 watts of pc - unless you think this is not enough. I will run the lights on the reverse cycle of the display tank.  <do consider Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria for your macro... resist Caulerpa in small tanks in particular>  I am a bit confused as to what type or macro should be kept here. I have been told a lot from the LFS but it seems everything they have told me is on the noxious side according to your site - any recommendations?  <not everything, my friend... Caulerpa is though (far and away).>  Last question... should my raw water empty into the refugium or the skimmer side of the sump?  <directly into the skimmer or a catch basin that feeds the skimmer>  Thanks, John MacKay  <best regards, Anthony>
Micro reef refugium lighting 4/8/04 
Thank you so much for your quick reply and all of the wonderful information you guys have put together for us enthusiasts!!!  <always welcome my friend>  In my last post I think I have all my questions answered, except one. What recommendations would you have to light a 10gal SPS tank?  <for lamp color, we'd need to chat about the exact species you want to keep. But to generalize, a 6500-8k K lamp would be best... you may go as blue as a 10k K.>  I was thinking about a 96 watt 50/50 PC system - I forgot to mention the wattage in my last post.  <the wattage is excellent... but the color is possibly too blue for some species. The 50% actinic here is mostly for aesthetics and is delivered at the expense of more usable/useful daylight. DO focus on warmer daylight for most corals>  Thanks again John  <best regards, Anthony>

Small tank lighting 3/22/04 In such a small tank, (10 gallons) what would you recommend for sand sifting? <good water circulation and occasional hand stirring alone may be enough> I don't mind doing it myself but I would much rather have some help naturally. <Hmm... the concern here is that not many things can survive on so little sand> Sand sifting star, <Yikes! Some of these starve to death in time in 100 gallon aquariums with deep sand beds. Not a prayer in a 10 gallon> some kind of snail, sea cucumber (yellow), or something else all together? (I prefer not to have fish) <no sea cucumbers for the same reason(s) as the sand star. How about a simple brittle or serpent starfish instead. They'll eat prepared foods too if the sand is not enough> Is it bad to NOT have fish in a ten gallon reef tank? <no... not if you can provide your corals an alternate source of nitrogen/food sans fish feces> Also for SPS I'm going with a power compact 32w 10,000K, normal flor.15w  10,000K, and a power compact 32w actinic, ok? ( I haven't bought any bulbs for an existing fixture...yet) <all fine here> One last question... Is it harmful/ helpful to use a normal fluor. 15w Blue Moon bulb all night long? <no harm... and little to no help either. Only has an impact on sighted animals (modestly even then) and since you don't have/want any fishes... that really limits the impressed crowd> (They claim the bulb is great for night viewing, is it bad for SPS growth?) <no harm that I am aware of> (Thought)....Can I use 2-power compact 32w 10,000K (for 8-10 hrs) and a blue  moon 15w bulb all day/ night <agreed> Sorry about the jumbled up questions just want the lighting to be correct, thanks in advance...again. <no worries... best of luck. Anthony>

Nano Lighting Hello!!<Hi! Ryan here> I have a quick question regarding lights. <Quick eh?> I have a 11 gallon via aqua tank: Dimensions are 17 inches tall x 15 inches long x 10 inches wide.  I am using the lights that came with it (18 watts x 2, one is 7100k white and the other is 12000k blue). Are my lights in the good spectrum range. <Yes, very run of the mill.> Are they sufficient for LPS stony corals and soft corals. <In 11 gallons, I would do a species specific tank. But yes, the lower light LPS/softies will be ok. If you plan on doing more that one or two corals, add a sump and skimmer.> Are my Kelvin ratings good for such corals?? <Yes, be fine> I am not going for SPS corals. <Good decision> I have no idea how Kelvin ratings and watt ratings work, if you can shed some light on this. I will be grateful. <Just couldn't avoid that pun, huh? I understand. Here you are: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/fixtures.htm > Thanks 

How Much Light do I Need for a 30 gal? Hello WWM Crew, << Blundell again. >> In response to your advice I have been looking at a lighting upgrades for my 30- gallon reef tank.    I was looking at a 36" setup that could hold 8 HO output T-5 bulbs. << Sounds good.  I like that. >> This would give me 312 watts total but the cost is very steep (474.99)and the hood comes without the bulbs.  Whereas there is another hood that holds two 96 watt bulbs (192watts) for about half that price and comes with the bulbs. << This is okay for most soft corals, but it is pushing it for most stony corals. >>  Could you advise me as to what the best product are and where I could get them?  Also, as I am not the richest person just having graduated from college, what the best deal would be for my money? << The best deal is probably HO T-5's.  I like halides much more, but the bulb cost and replacement costs are a problem. >> I understand that this is a difficult question to answer but I am hoping from your vaster knowledge I can get an answer.   Originally I was not supposed to end up keeping the tank, as it was a project for my aquatic biology class.  Now though, as I ended up not selling everything, I would like to provide the best possible care I can for my reef. << I would also recommend looking at other similar sized aquariums.  See what you like, and what you want to have. >> Thank you Blundell for answering my last question, I would appreciate any help the Crew can provide on my problem. Regards Jess <<  Blundell  >>

Nano-Lighting Just Right A question about lighting. <Not a problem.  Ryan with you today> I have had this 20 gal long reef running for about 10 years. I originally set it up with three NO fluorescents and had little problems keeping most coral. I have recently changed light to one PC fluorescent and two NO bulbs. The CP is half actinic and half 10000K. One NO bulb is actinic and the other is 10000K. My question is do you think that this is too much lighting or not the right spectrum for a shallow tank? <I would only run one actinic, from the PC.  The other NO may be more beneficial as 20000k, creating a more complete look.> My live stock includes mushrooms, leather coral, xenia, Briareum, yellow polyps and an open brain. My setup includes about 30 lbs of rock, less than one inch of sand, a skimmer and power heads. The reason I ask is that my mushrooms are not open as much as they use to be and the Briareum has stopped growing. <I'd switch the bulb, and see if things improve.> Everything else seems to be fine. I have had all of these corals for at least 8 years. Any help would be appreciated. PS, This is a question from one of Anthony's coworkers form the Elmer's days. <Ah! Anthony's out at LMAS, or I'm quite sure he'd respond personally.  I shall send along your good wishes, Ryan> Thanks, TC
Nano-Lighting Just Right Follow-Up
Ryan, <TC> Thanks for the help. Just so I'm clear on your advice. Do you mean to use a straight actinic PC instead of the "smart bulb". Or are you saying to switch the NO 10,000K for a NO actinic and keep the PC as a "smart bulb". <I'd do the latter.  Good luck, Ryan> Thanks again. TC

Eclipse: lighting a 2 gallon tank My daughter has the 2 gallon Explorer from Marineland.  It houses 2 platies.  A light does not come with the system and I was wondering if this is an important component to have? <Well, everything likes having light, but it doesn't really have to be there.  As long as it gets enough ambient light from the room it should be okay.  Your fish aren't solar powered, and you don't have any plants in there that require the added light for photosynthesis.  In some Fish only tanks the lights are just to show off the color of the fish to the people watching.  It's true that some of the beneficial bacteria needs the light, but it shouldn't be a problem.> The tank is situated in a place that receives moderate natural light.  Will the lack of light harm the fish? <Nope.> If you do suggest purchasing a light please recommend one that is suitable for my system. <I would check the website for the Marineland company, they probably have a suggestion as to what would work.> Thank you for your help. Rob Harbour <No problem, glad I could help. -Magnus>

Mini Compact Fluorescent Hi!   >Greetings! I wrote a couple of times before, about filtration. I have been reading a lot from your site and keep learning new things on every visit. >Good to know. We now have set up and cycling an 18 tall tank; I think it is 18 gallons but it might be 20, it measures 18 inches from top to bottom, same base/top size as a ten gallon. >The method to figure total gallons of any rectilinear vessel is to multiply the three dimensions: width x depth x height.  Then divide by 231 (the number of cubic inches in a gallon) and you'll have your number.  Anyway!  Let's see what we can do for you here. We purchased some Fiji live rock to start things off. I soon found there were some lovely bright green coloured green star polyps growing on one of the bits of live rock, which was very exciting for me because I am a newbie. Right next to it on the same rock is one of those brownish, clear pest anemones, but right now it is cute and new and tiny so I like it. >Cute for now, but you'll want the Aiptasia gone soon enough.  We'll tackle that when you're ready, yeah? For lighting I decided to try out the mini compact fluorescent bulbs. These are little things that screw right into a regular incandescent style hood; this one has two sockets for bulbs. The kind of bulb is Coralife 50/50, which says it is equal to 50 watts of incandescent light. It is half 10k daylight, and half actinic 03 blue. I read about them and learned that they supposedly don't get as hot as a regular fluorescent tube, but give more light. >Not that normal output gets all that hot in the first place, maybe you meant incandescent?  The ballasts are what gets hot with fluorescents, including normal output, high output (HO), very high output (VHO), and power compacts (PC).   No one at the aquarium store seems to know much about these mini compact fluorescent bulbs. My question is, with 2 of these is that 100 watts of light then? Will the star polyps be happy with that amount of light? >Ok, it's not so much the wattage that's important as it is the lumens (light intensity) and Kelvin rating.  This is a rating by which we measure the quality of light against that perfect source--the sun.  This information should be easily available from the manufacturer.  Also, the star polyps *should* be happy, but if you're worried then simply observe, and if you do move them, move them only small bits.  I think they should be fine, myself. Should I prop them up higher closer to the light? I would really like them to grow. Right now they are about 15 inches from the light, being on top of a rock near the bottom. >Just watch for extension, and I think that your water quality is going to be more important in the long (and short) run.  How exciting, yeah?   Thanks, -Laura >You're very welcome, I hope this has helped you a bit, and good luck!  Marina

Nano reef power heads and Caulerpa I have a 10g nano-reef with 10lbs liverock and 15lbs live sand and is stocked with various corals. I was wondering what powerheads would provide sufficient water movement and not take up to much space. I was thinking about getting mini jet pumps from aquarium systems. <personally, I like these; nice sizes, good output, and they seem to last quite a while> I also have a large growth of Caulerpa prolifera which is also taking up to much space. The Caulerpa is an essential part of my tank by absorbing nitrates. <yeah, I hear ya on that.  Have you considered doing a small refugium?  That'd keep the Caulerpa in the system, but not taking up space in the tank.  I've even heard of folks using a power filter with no media in it for the purpose - just a bit of rock for the Caulerpa to hold on to> I was wondering if I could take the Caulerpa out and in its place do more frequent water changes. <you could, conceivably, but it really is nice to have something for nutrient export.  Perhaps try Chaetomorpha macroalgae instead?> Sorry for any inconvenience. <Don't be, that's what we're here for!> Kevin        <Sabrina>
Re: Nanos 'n' Caulerpa
I was thinking about putting in a refugium. but I think I will just try a different type of macro algae. Thanks a lot <sounds good, hope all goes well for you> Kevin <Sabrina>

Nano Propagation Tank? If I had a spare 5 1/2 gallon tank, do you think that would make a good propagation tank. I would use the MiniMight as a light, but I would have the frags on a stand so that they would be very close to the light. Thanks-Mike <Well, Mike, it is possible to compensate for lower light levels with more feeding and closer proximity to the available light...I'd go for it, with this in mind. Good luck with your little experiment! Regards, Scott F>

Lighting a 10 gallon and a grave for a Copper - 7/28/03 hey. <Hey. Sorry for the delay. Paul here> I just set up my first reef tank, a 10 gallon a couple of weeks ago. <A 10 gallon eh? Can be done, but not a good idea for the casual reefer, that's for sure> so far I have 2 mushrooms, 2 Zoanthids, and a Copperband butterfly fish. <Me thinks the Copperband needs to go. First off, let me say that the Copperband is hard to sustain for a long period of time. Even with reefers with a bit of experience. Do look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chelmonfaqs.htm Add to the scenario that your tank is gravely small even for a baby Copperband and you have the recipe for disaster. See, these fish are sometimes hard to feed, shipping survivability is a question mark, and in a small tank you could magnify the problem. The animal can't grow, is stressed by its confinements etc. etc. Please it would be wise to research all purchases as it will make it easier on yourself, your pocketbook, and the ocean and research your future inhabitants and needs before placing or even starting that next tank. This works out the best for all involved. This is not to say a small tank can't be worthwhile and beautiful it just takes extra work. Either way, though, the Copperband has to have a 55 gallon minimum for survival to 100 gallon tank to be in an ideal environment. Don't mean to discourage you but just to inform =)> my lighting is a MiniMight. It has 2 nine watt lamps--  one is a daylight 5000k(600 lumens) and an actinic blue 7100k.   Is this lighting powerful enough to keep all types of Zoanthids, button polyps, and sea mats? <Mmmmmm.......I am thinking this is doubtful. I believe the MiniMight is way under powered even for these hardy low light corals. I would expect that the PAR output to be nil (at least not even penetrate the first few inches of the water layer in a standard 10 gallon. I would upgrade at least to a power compact (the spectrum and PAR output is good and seems to provide enough of both for quite a few soft corals (Zoanthids and leathers alike.) Maybe even double that if you can afford to. Check out offerings at Marine Depot. I saw a deal on there for a Custom SeaLife hood with fan and two 40 watt PC bulbs 1 Actinic and the other a 10K (also comes with their Moonlite LED) for 121.00 bucks with shipping. I also like offerings from Dr. Foster and Smith, Champion Lighting Supply and ReefGeek>   also, what is the best way to make the zoos grow as fast as possible. I dose 5 drops of iodine per week, and that's it. <No need to dose anything unless you test for it. Proper lighting, flow, and foodstuffs (detritus, floc, bacteria, and probably very tiny small meaty pieces and algal matter) would suit them best. Don't buy miracle foodstuffs, or even DTs as there is no proof that it actually supports growth in Zoanthids and leather corals. I wouldn't buy another supplement of any type (unless you test for it), but the best way to maintain animals and proper mineral constituents is to do water changes 2-3 times weekly. Be sure to have 2 smallish powerheads, do more research on your inhabitants, ;-) and enjoy! You are on your way to becoming a Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Keep the questions coming and exploit our site to its fullest and your fullest potential -Paul> thanks

Lighting a 20 gallon - 10/17//003 I currently have a 20 gallon tank that is about to become a reef tank <Welcome to the wonderful world of reefing...heheh>....it has one of those ecosystems on the back with miracle mud and Caulerpa....<Cool> I bought the tank a few years ago, it was a typical 20 gallon tank from a pet shop with a top and a light....<Oh yeah. Here is what I have on my 20 gallon Plexi: 2x65 watt CustomSeaLife Power Compact hood. Here is where I got it from: http://www.marinedepot.com/a_lt_pc_csl.asp?CartId=#pcml I have only soft corals. No LPS and a Pocillopora and a Montipora Cap. No other SPS. I believe this lighting will grow most anything> I need to know what kind of lighting system you would recommend, and the best place to get it.<Well, this all depends on what types of corals you plan to keep> I am going to have a basic reef tank, nothing too high tech, it will be my first reef tank. <I believe tanks don't have to be high tech to be functional>  I have seen some setups at the LFS that run about 250 dollars....<Well, they can be costly, but again, the first step is to map out your inhabitants and their requirements> just wondered if you new any good sites where I could see the current products out there, and what to look for. <Uh....no offense, but.....uh.....there are lots of sites out there with lighting examples and information on VHO, Metal Halide, Power Compact.....are you not capable of typing in "reef lighting" into a Google search tool? Any online marine retailer will have a list of a great many manufacturers and lighting types. Try it. Give it a shot. Better yet, try the link for etailers on our site. Thanks for the question -Paul> Thanks, Keith Hundley

15 Gallon Salt Tank Lighting >Hi guys, >>Hello, Marina here.  (Sorry for the delay, we've been swamped!) >You have the best, most comprehensive site on the web for marine aquarists.  I have a question regarding a 15 gallon FOWLR system.  I currently have only a single fluorescent bulb, a Rio powerhead, and an Aquaclear 150 running on my tank.  I'm thinking about moving up to power compact lighting of some sort and possibly a Prizm skimmer.   >>Not familiar with the performance of the Prizms, but also consider AquaC or CPR BakPak. >I have a pair of ocellaris clowns, Jawfish, a royal Gramma, a star fish, one cleaner shrimp and a few snails.  Do you have any suggestions as to what types of lighting would be good?  I am thinking about the new custom Sealife PC/Moonlite systems (are they worth the $$$?) or a Coralife PC (or anything you suggest, hehe).   >>The Coralife PC units are quite popular, though I'm curious as to why you wish to upgrade the lighting.  The "whys" of the upgrade should first be addressed, and then I would steer you towards an outfit with an excellent reputation, http://www.hellolights.com (I *think* that's the URL!).. not only for great prices, but for their customer service. >Also would it be OK to add some corals or should I get some kind of sump going before I do that?  THANKS!!!  Mike Chang >>If you wish to upgrade the lighting in order to get some corals, first decide what types you wish to keep.  This will help greatly in deciding lighting.  Right now I'll steer you away from anemones, difficult, move about, small tank, bad combo (unless it's dedicated to one anemone).  Then, consider a small refugium, search our site as we have MUCH information on 'fuge setups.  A ten gallon tank or H.O.T. 'fuge would be great for you.  The 'fuge can act as refugium filtration and as a sump, and with this in place you can keep your water quality very high.  Thus, your only limitation would be lighting (heh...).  With what you're thinking of, I think you could keep MANY different types of soft corals, polyps, Zoanthids, and LPS corals.  If you're interested in clams, I suggest Tridacna derasa.  Marina

Lighting for a 10 gallon reef - 12/4/03 Dear Mr. Fenner, I have had a 10 gal. reef tank for 9 months now and can't seem to find adequate lighting to suit the hardiest of invertebrates (mushrooms & anemones). <Mushrooms yes but most if not all anemones are not exactly hardy and require much aquarist interaction> I have tried using a 15W actinic03 tube with a 19W Daylight "spiral" PC (socket bulb) combo but it doesn't seem to maintain anything but the coralline and green algae that continuously grows in the tank. <The 19w is likely too orange or yellow and most of the light spectrum and energy are probably used up as heat.>  I want to upgrade to two PC bulbs what lighting option would you recommend? <Ahh, glad you asked. I really like the CSL 2x40w enclosed PC lighting system even comes with the Moonlite LED. I got mine from Marine Depot and enjoyed their service very much. Should run about 120 smackers including shipping. This is the lighting of choice for me and my two ten gallon nano reefs> Do you think the CustomSeaLife 15 - 2 x 32 W Power Compact Retrofit would be adequate? <That will work as that is what is on my ten gallon refugium, but again if you can get more light for your tank (and about the same price if not just a teensy bit more) then why not go for it?? Here is a link to the lights I am referring to: http://www.marinedepot.com/a_lt_pc_csl.asp?CartId=#pcml> I am also currently experiencing a rapid outgrow of these little weird creatures that are growing in the tank and attaching themselves on the live rock and sand. <Look kind of like some type of hydroid. Maybe even a larval stage in jellyfish. Hard to say from your sketch, but that is what it looks like.> They look like fat oval Featherdusters but do not retract and are about 3mm-5mm long and growing. (see attachment for sketch) Do you know what this is? Is it bad? <Not likely bad, but keep an eye on 'em once you start getting corals> What can I do? <Likely nothing. They will probably wax and wane with you water changes and the ever changing tank parameters. Happy holidays ~Paul> Sincerely, Henry Milian

Lighting on an 20Gal Extra High >Mr. Fenner, > I've recently set up a 20 gallon extra high tank (20x12x24) and was wondering what your recommendation on lighting for it would be. I currently have a DIY hood with 4 15watt T8 NO fluorescents that consist of 1 blue actinic, 1 50/50, and 2 10ks. I've been told that this won't be enough for the types of corals that I want to keep (Torches, Hammers, etc.) and need to go the MH route. > I've been doing some research and from what I've gathered, I could go the PC route and cram 2 36watt bulbs with a reflector over my tank for a total of 72watts to achieve 12 watts more than my current setup. Or I could go with a 175watt or 250watt MH and get WAY more light. Do I need the extra lighting? If so, what route would you suggest? >Many Thanks >Jay Longacre <Well written, and obviously investigated... and if it were me, I'd stick with the lighting rig you have for the Euphyllias (family Caryophylliidae) you've listed and for many other not-so-high-intensity light species... even in your twenty high, these will do fine. So, you could boost metabolism and growth rates with other lighting? I'd rather put my time, efforts and safety margin into other endeavors. Bob Fenner>

VHO or CF? Hi Bob, I am planning a 29 gallon tank for sp corals. I am especially enchanted with Acropora sp. I have a canopy and must make a decision on the best lighting to install. I am very tempted to go with 3 24" VHO tubes by URI. I would definitely use an electronic ballast (probably IceCap). But, in reading through many of your letters/responses, it seems that you might recommend going with CF's. The bottom line is that I want the sp corals to flourish. Please give me your thoughts as specifically as possible with regard to type, wattage, and spectrum of bulbs. Thanks, Trace <Actually (this adverb tossed in here to preface what may seem like contradictory information, instruction sets, but am not paid by the word...) I would like to suggest a 175 Watt Metal Halide for your 29 gallon... this size/shape system, being quite deep and more "square" in top profile than many tank models and your apparent desire to culture SPS corals like the Acroporids... that do best with intense lighting... causes me to make this my number one choice. I know some folks who would even undergo the electric bills and induced waste heat problems/solutions and place a 400 W MH on top of this tank...  And yes to my next choice being a Compact Fluorescent system... not as spectacular to view or as pretty as the MH possibility, but more light for less money (useful) than the VHO's... The MH can be most any temperature from 5,500 Kelvin on up, but wouldn't spend my money on any above 10k.... and do investigate whose lamps are currently longer lasting, and record the inception, replacement dates for same in your calendar/date book.... Guess that's about it. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Quandary... Good morning guys!  I have a couple quick questions for you, in regards to my 20G nano.  First off, I have a question about the lighting that I can't seem to answer in spite of a lengthy search on here.  When I upgraded the lighting in my tank, I built a custom hood with 2 55W PC ballasts, with a 50/50 mix of 03/10,000K.  My livestock in regards to corals is as follows-Pulsing Xenia, Anthelia colony, yellow polyp rock, various mushrooms and a lime green Sarcophyton.  After all the time I spent building the hood, I am wondering if this is too much light for my particular set-up.  The toadstool loves the light, as do the yellow polyps both are placed near the surface, in front of the return  lines), but the mushrooms and the Xeniid/anthelia colonies just don't seem to be opening as well as they used to.  The mushrooms are a bit shrunken/pale in appearance, and although the xenia is growing, it no longer fully extends it's stalks as it used to.  I know that leathers appreciate brighter light and stronger current, as well as the polyps, but I am unsure of the particular lighting requirements of the xenia.  It is in an area of rather swift current, and I'm wondering if this may be the culprit.  Should I worry this to death, or keep as is? <Well, I agree that the mushrooms will generally not appreciate high light intensities. Personally, I would remove these animals to a separate tank which is better suited for their needs. As far as the xenia is concerned, I have seen and kept them under a variety of lighting schemes. Personally, if they are carefully acclimated to higher light intensities, I do not believe that lighting is a factor as much as water parameters, such as pH, etc. There are dozens of theories out there on what makes xenia "tick", but it's probably a combination of a number of factors, the majority of them being water-chemistry related. Sure, you could experiment with backing down the light over the xenia and gradually re-acclimating them to the brighter light...> I love the look of the strong light, but it seems as though the mushrooms and the Xeni/Anth were happier when I had a single 55 W PC fixture.  I  know this is not an ideal selection of livestock in terms of lighting, but I figured I could pull it off if I placed the light lovers close to the surface. <Well, this can work in theory- but these animals inhabit different niches in the wild, and really do best in systems dedicated to their specific needs.> As far as chemical aggression goes, am I correct in thinking these corals with the exception of the mushrooms) are fairly "peaceful" when it comes to battling with other corals? <Well, the Sarcophyton species produce literally dozens of potentially toxic (to other corals) compounds. They can be quite aggressive, so sufficient space between the Sarcophyton and other corals is imperative> I know the yellow polyps will sting other corals, but are they also guilty of releasing compounds into the water, as the Corallimorphs? <Yes they are. Parazoanthus species (the genus that these animals belong to) are capable of releasing compounds into the water that are toxic even to fishes.> I have a 10 gallon refugium/DSB and I run a small bit of high grade carbon weekly( to battle the chemical releases), along with a 2 gallon weekly water change. <Good methods to help alleviate the buildup of allelopathic compounds> I would love to hear your opinions in regards to the lighting of this particular set-up, as I feel a bit unsure here.  All I want is what is best for my livestock, as we all do.  Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and give me your valuable two cents :) <My pleasure! I would either relocate the mushrooms to a dedicated tank, or I'd set up a "shady" area in the tank for these animals. In general, I have never been a fan of mixing these guys with other corals> P.S.-I have a green, almost yellow macro growing on my LR, and it appears to be untouched by all my grazers, including my emerald crab.  My best description is as follows-"twisty"/branching fronds, very thick/sturdy in appearance, with what appears to me as white "fuzz" on the leaf surface (rhizoids/roots?).  I also has scattered brown dots/pigment throughout the leaves, with no discernable pattern.  It is growing fast now, and spreading to other areas as we speak.  Hardly a nuisance, but nothing I want to leave unchecked.  Any thoughts would be welcomed! <I'd love to see a picture of this stuff...I could probably make a pretty accurate ID with a picture. I love many species of algae, but when it starts spreading to different areas of the tank, it's time to start thinking about what it is and how to control it...Please try to get a  pic and we can re-evaluate!> Ohhhh, and I ALMOST forgot.  One last hitchhiker ID for you reefer maniacs.  On one of my LR pieces from PA, there is a mat like encrusting coral that has sprung back to life, and although I am psyched, I would like to know what it is.  When I first received the rock, it appeared as an encrusting greenish stony color, with a honeycomb appearance to it.  It now is re-growing it's polyps, which resemble star polyps in shape, although far smaller in size(1/16 inch across).  I'm assuming it's some sort of encrusting stony coral, but I have no clue what it is.  Neat looking though, and I'm excited to see this and many other life forms coming out of my rock. <It is cool to see these kinds of animals emerge from rock! Without seeing a good picture, I can guess that it may be a form of Porites, which is a coral that is commonly found in live rock. Other possibilities include Montastrea, Goniastrea, and a few others. A good coral ID book, like Bornemann's "aquarium Corals" would help you make a positive ID on this coral.> Anyways, thanks again guys...this site has helped me tremendously.  Happy holidays to you and yours... -David Conners <Glad to be of service, David! And a happy Holiday season to you! Regards, Scott F>

PC Lights for 6 gallon Nano Hello. I have a Jalli dual-bulb hood. I believe it is the 10 3/4" hood that holds two 13 watt bulbs. It came with a Phillips white bulb that puts out yellowish light and a blue bulb. I am running it over a 6 gallon nano-reef. I notice that you carry several types of bulbs for this hood. I would like to know which two bulbs would be best to put in this hood for anemones and good light requiring corals. <If you are currently getting good growth from your lamps, I would get the same thing as you have, a full-spectrum lamp and an actinic.> I cannot get the bulbs you carry locally and would like to order some from you if you tell me I can do better than what I already have. Thanks <You are welcome. -Steven Pro of www.WetWebMedia.com>
Re: PC Lights for 6 gallon Nano
Thanks for the information. Is the white bulb (yellowish output) a full spectrum bulb? <Probably> Do the 13 watt bulbs listed for Hamilton fit the Jalli hood as well? <I do not know. Look at the pin arrangement of your lamps and compare to the listed pin arrangements for lamps available.> I saw a bulb that was half red and half daylight is this a good bulb? <Is does not sound like it is a fish lamp to me.> Is it better to run two 1/2 actinic and 1/2 daylight bulbs, rather than running one bulb of each? Scott <Probably little difference unless you have separate switches for each lamp. -Steven Pro>

Jalli Lighting for a Nano-Reef Anthony/Bob, <Steven Pro in this afternoon.> How are things? I hope all is well. <Not too bad, and you?> You both have helped me in the past regarding my 75 gallon reef and the advice has been excellent. Thank you. However, I have decided to start a 15 gallon (24x12x12) nano-reef. I would really like to keep some SPS stags and others. In the current set-up I have 25# of sand, 25# of Fiji live rock, 2x Hagen 201's in the corners for circulation and a Hagen 150 box filter for carbon and other chemical media. I also have a 200 watt heater to keep the temperature more stable. The problem is lighting. There really are not a lot of choices out there for nano's especially if one wants to explore SPS in this type of system. I have been looking at PC's since they seem to make more sense on a Nano than Metal Halide based on cost and heat. <MH's would be just plain overkill.> The most wattage I have found is either Jalli or JBJ PC fixtures that are suspended over the tank via legs that sit on the rim of the tank. My question is will 110 watts of light be enough to grow SPS corals at a reasonable rate, as well as, for the most part, maintain their color? <That should be just fine.> I am also concerned about protein skimming. I really would like something that doesn't take up too much space, but is actually efficient. Water changes could work but I feel more comfortable with the skimmer "safety-net". Any suggestions? <I would look for a small hang-on, counter current, air-driven model. I have used Aqua-Link ones before and been very happy. They need both a small water pump to feed the skimmer and a good air pump. I like the Luft pumps.> Happy Holidays! -Keith Broadbent <You too! -Steven Pro>

Lighting question follow up.. Anthony, In browsing the link you send and checking out what's available, would a 14 watt, 9325K GE Aqua Rays Full spectrum bulb be too much light for my 20 gal hex?  I am having a lot of trouble finding a 15 inch bulb in 50/50.  The only 15 inch bulb I was able to locate was the one listed above.  Thanks bunches. Maureen <the spectrum would be fine, but the intensity is too weak for most invertebrates. Anthony>

Metal Halides for Nano Reef I have a 12 gallon reef tank that has a water depth (from surface of water to top of sand bed) of about 15".  The dimensions of the water surface area are about 9.5" by 14.5".  Right now, I only have a Power Compact fixture putting out 36 watts (18 watts daylight, 18 watts actinic).  I read Anthony's article, "Lighting Your Marine Invertebrates:  Reef Lighting Without Controversy!", so I won't get caught up in the watts-per-gallon talk.  However, I do realize that my setup is somewhat underpowered.  This is evidenced by my faded and washed out looking squamosa clam.  Its colors used to be very distinct and bright, but now they have faded.  Also, nothing in the tank looks as if it is really thriving...just existing.  I really would like to upgrade my lighting, and I really want to replace my existing fixture with a metal halide setup.  I'd rather be limited by space rather than lighting issues as I want to be able to add just about any coral to my tank (especially those requiring high-intensity light).  Problem is, I don't know exactly what wattage bulb I would need and how high to place it given my water depth.  What are your recommendations?  If it makes any difference, I actually have a total of about 17 gallons since I incorporated a 5 gallon sump to hide the bulk of the machinery (heater, skimmer, etc.).  Initially, I was looking into getting a garden grow light, ballast built into the pendant ( http://dansgardenshop.com/sunsysiv100w1.html), that puts out 100 watts. Your thoughts?  Also, if MH isn't the way I should go, would it be advisable for me to double my wattage by putting another 36 watt PC fixture adjacent to the one I already have?  I was looking at a JBJ clamp on unit (http://www.jbjlighting.com/sys_clamp_on.html).  Will that improve my situation?  The tank I have is more tall than wide so it kind of puts me at a disadvantage in terms of finding a high PC wattage bulb that will fit over the tank and w/n my custom-built stand.  Any advice would be much appreciated.   <Hmm, I think the MH would be too much. Although I have seen some 70W MH and that would be more appropriate. If you do decide to go with the pendant you reference, then make sure the bulb is the proper temperature. MH would be mounted 8-12" from the surface of the water. I think the additional 36W of daylight (rather than half/half) is the way to go. The clam may take to being further up in the tank (closer to light source) and that will help. I would not recommend mixing corals with different needs in any tank. Stick to a group that has like habitat needs. They (and you) will be much happier> Hope this helps. Don> Sandy

Coralline Algae Growth in my Nano Reef Thanks for the reply, Ananda.   <Anthony Calfo with the follow-up> In response to your inquiry concerning my lighting, I have 72 watts (54 watts 10k, 18 watts actinic) of PC lighting.  The light is on a 12 hour cycle.  So far so good?   <indeed... and curiously, when water changes are done... are the lights off? If not... a common cause of impedance or bleaching in corallines (bright light in air exposure)> I'm eventually planning on stocking the tank with SPS corals, and since the tank is only about 15" deep, I thought this would be adequate.   <agreed... although many SPS will quickly outgrow the tank and require frequent pruning> I actually did give MH some thought but I really didn't want to deal with the heat and possibly bleaching of my existing corals. <MH over a 12 gall aquarium is rather obscene unless you scavenge the lower watt lamps (under 100)> I've been reading over the FAQs and it seems as if I should be good to go in terms of producing coralline algae.   <coralline growth is less dependant on lighting and more dependent on very consistent mineral content in the water (CA, ALK, Mg) via consistent water changers and supplements. Seachem's Reef Calcium (liquid calcium gluconate) is also quite helpful for accelerating growth of corallines> I do occasionally notice a golden/yellowish brown film (sometimes with sparse small strands of yellow "grass-like" fibers) developing on the small sections of the aquarium glass.  I'm assuming it is probably just diatoms.  I've been being extra careful to not overfeed as a result, and I always use RO water for top-off with twice a month 15% water changes.   <excellent> Would I be correct in assuming this is a just a diatom bloom which will eventually go away as silicates are removed?   <not only depends on silicates... but nutrient control in general> Just to be safe, I've been checking phosphate levels to be sure they are in check...they were/are very near to, if not, zero.  Oh and btw, spg really is 1.022...sorry for the scare there.  Thanks again. Sandy <all good... and perhaps consider weekly water changes to be less dependent on supplements. Anthony>

CF Lighting for a 20gal I have a 20gal. L(24") deep FO tank and would like to start to add LR and inverts. I don't have much space for light due to the tank is mounted in the wall. Is one 55w CF combo 10k/dk. Blue light efficient enough? <It all depends on what inverts in particular you want to keep. They all have very different niches in the reef and very different lighting requirements. -Steven Pro> Shaun Nelson

Quick Lighting Question for a 20 Hey, guys! <Hello Paul, Steven this evening.> Thanks for the unbelievable website and the greatest content on the Worldwide Web. I find myself perusing the site everyday to see what will be asked and answered next. Just a quick question on lighting a 20 gallon (16 inches tall) I was using a PC system that just gave up the ghost after 6 months. (I won't mention the manufacturer but I think everyone out there will know which PC company I am talking about) <I don't, but respect your wishes not to bash anyone.> so I have decided to re-evaluate my lighting needs for this aquarium. I currently employ the services of various algae eating critters, 2 SPS (2 Acros. Loripes, Pociillopora Dam., and 2 Capricornis) a host of various self propagated leathers (Sarcophytons, Finger, Cabbage, Shrooms, Capnella, Nephtheids, Zoanthids of all colors, Protopalythoa, Clavularia, Briareum, and Xenias) and some other propagated Gorgonians of various types. Oh yeah, 2 clams. <Wow! It has got to be more than a little crowded in there.> So with my entire tank spelled out for you, I did have a 2x55watt PC lighting system, if this were your tank, what would you choose: 1.) 2x65watt Custom Sea Life SmartLamp system 2.) 2X65watt Custom Sea Life Britelight system (1 Actinic and the other an 8800K or 10K bulb) 3.) or maybe a 4x55 Custom Sea Life Britelight system (2 Actinic, 1 8800K, and 1 10K) <If you were getting good results with the old lights, I would use either two 55watt lamps or two 65watt lamps. I prefer separate lamps, one actinic and one 8,800K. I like the aesthetics of simulating dawn/dusk with the actinic only.> Lastly, I was told I really should go with a Custom Sea Life Metal Halide 175w with 2x28w PC Prism Pendant. I feel that a MH lighting system would burn my inhabitants as well as my acrylic tank to a crisp unless I had it 15 inches off the tank. <Yes, truly overkill. Wait for the halides for your next, larger tank.> But all that aside, which would you choose if it were your tank? Also, which spectrum for the PC white light bulbs? 8800K or 10K? SmartLamp I don't think applies. Paul <See above notes for last two questions. Have a nice night. -Steven Pro>
Quick Lighting Question for a 20 Follow-up
Thanks Steven. Sounds crowded but in all actuality, they are all very small (frags if you will) many will be given away or traded. I definitely understand that as they grow bigger they will not stand for other corals infringing on their respective territory (Allelopathy). Truly understand that it sounds crowded but in reality these are very small corals. The plan is for another coral tank in the next 6 months to a year or two. I totally appreciate your comment though. I truly understand where you were coming from "<Wow! It has got to be more than a little crowded in there.>" All of these animals have either been grown and fragged by me (Marine Biology class) or from my friends at GARF. The exception is the clams. They were tank born and raised in the Solomon Island clam farms. They are just 1 inch or so. Nothing outrageous. Again I don't have one coral older than a 4 months in there. I would hate for a beginner (or anyone for that matter) to think that my tank's livestock level is a normal stocking preference or a highly acceptable practice for reefkeepers. These beautiful and fascinating animals don't need my help in their destruction, they need our help. We reefkeepers may one day hold the key to restocking depleted and over harvested reefs where they once proliferated. <Yes, agree with you completely. We all make comments/suggestions as we read through the emails and certain things tend to stand out. Also, we post and archive all of the Q&A's, so many times we make comments for others to read, too.> Anyhow, Thanks for your very valuable time. The PC company was JBJ. Lesson learned. <Will file away that bit of info in my head and on WWM. Thank you, Steven Pro>

Mandarins, Lighting, and Figuring Volume Hello there, I really enjoy your site...very informative. I've told the only other friend that I have that's into fish about you guys (and gals?). Hopefully he'll find it as rewarding as I have so far. You've answered questions regarding my 55 gallon tank, thank you. I have a ten gallon tank with about 7 lbs of live rock, 4 flower anemones, 3 purple mushrooms, 1 white mushroom, a peppermint shrimp, and some snails and blue legged hermits. I have a mandarin (I know the tank is too small, not enough rock) that's been eating live brine for a few months and I will move him to the 55g when I have enough rock in there...hopefully 50-70lbs. Is that enough rock? <Please search WWM regarding brine shrimp and Mandarins to find the answers to your questions. I will give you a hint, you won't like the answers.> My main question is in regards to the lighting of the 10g. I've read that 3-5 watts per gallon is advisable. <All depends on what you are lighting. If I wished to keep red mushrooms in a ten gallon tank versus yellow Porites.> But one of the staff recently suggested about 60 watts for someone with a 10g tank. I've got 41 watts...2- 13watt 50/50 PCs and a 15 watt Coralife 50/50. Is this enough for photosynthesis in the anemones? <Seems ok, but you would know better than I. Are they growing? Do they appear healthy? You will be the best judge.> Also, does the wattage in a PC bulb equal the wattage and intensity of a NO florescent bulb or an incandescent bulb? (e.g., 55wPC=55wNO) <No not really. PC lamps are more efficient than NO and produce more lumens per wattage.> I know that it's in your archive somewhere, but this just popped into my head...so here's the other half of the "plus two" question: If I decide to build my own tank, how do I figure out the number of gallons the tank will hold? I know that length x width x height = volume, right? But the volume would be in square inches, or something like that. I have a Master's degree, but it's been years since I've used that stuff. <L x W x H (all in inches) = V (in cubic inches) V in cubic inches / 231 = V in gallons> Thanks, Randy M. Yniguez, MA <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lighting <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> I had a question concerning lighting in my aquarium. It is a 2 gallon tank, about 9 1/2 inches from top to bottom. The hood that it came with has a socket for an incandescent tube bulb, but I wanted a fluorescent light to benefit the live plants that are in the tank. At the hardware store I found some compact fluorescent lamps, the smallest wattage of which was 13W. On the package it says that the light output is comparable to a 60W incandescent bulb, about 800 lumens. With the incandescent bulb the water temp. got up to about 85 degrees F, I installed the CFL and now the water temp. is constant at about 1 degree above room temp., about 79 to 81. I was wondering if you thought this lighting would have any adverse effects. <<No, I think you will find the PC light will work out well for you.>> thanks, Peter Wetterauer <<Cheers, J -- >>

Lighting? A small hexagon tank Robert, I read your book and it was very informative, however I was wondering--I am about setup a 28gal. hexagon tank (18x20) and it will be setup as a reef tank and I am wondering how much light in general I will need? <Hmm, depends of course on a few things... like what sorts of life you intend to keep (some need bright/intense full spectrum illumination to drive photosynthesis, others like the Lionfishes can be blinded by too much light... And your desires: do you want to culture macro-algae? Keep brilliant colors in Small Polyped Stony Corals? For your size, shape tank, I'd investigate either some of the small "foot-stamp" compact fluorescents or at the upper end, a small metal halide. Bob Fenner, who encourages you to peruse the sections on light, lighting for marine systems and the associated files and FAQs posted at www.wetwebmedia.com>

Too much light? Dear Bob,  You advise on my problems with a purple tipped Sebae and a false Percula on my 10 gallon reef was very helpful. Unfortunately the Sebae has passed on, but it has made room for a few other things in the tank. Mainly mushrooms and a variety of polyps, as well as a unknown variety of SPS coral. It was bought from a store that didn't know exactly what it was since it grew on a piece of live rock in their live rock vat. Later I found out that it was actually a hard coral (they thought it was soft). It's a light brown color with a slight green fluorescence and grows in a wavy plate fashion, positioned about 8" from the light source, and seems to be flourishing, since it's spread so well since I've had it and it stays fuzzy looking.  <Sounds good> I would like to upgrade the lighting in my tank (time to change the bulbs anyway). And would like to keep another SPS coral that would brighten the tank up. Right now I have 2-18"/15w fluorescent lights in the tank (1 actinic, 1 daylight) and plan on replacing that with one 32w Custom Sea Life SmartLamp.  <Good choice> Should I go with more lighting if I want to keep other SPS corals or stick with about the same wattage since the SPS coral I have does so well.  <If it were my small tank... I'd stick with about the same wattage... Real easy to have "things" slip away control-wise in such little volumes... and boosting the light too much is one simple way to have such "slips"> I'd thought about getting 2 of the 32w Smartlites. Would this be bad for my mushrooms and other polyps (positioned all over the tank) that don't require too much lighting? <Too much of a chance yes... as a matter of fact, I would shade part of the new lighting for a couple of weeks to reduce the likelihood of photoshock. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Todd

Metal Halide on a Mini-Reef Mr. Fenner, Hello, I hope this e-mail finds you in good health. <Yes my friend, thank you> I read The Conscientious Marine Aquarist over this last summer and was hooked into saltwater aquaria. I had experimented with freshwater for a little over a year to gain confidence, but your book pulled me in. Despite your warnings, my first marine tank was a 15 gallon reef tank with a 40 gallon sump (lighting costs and space constraints restricted size). Every piece of equipment with the exception of the lights, tank and powerheads is DIY, everything seems to work great, especially the skimmer. I met with great success the reef-keeping hobby and am currently running a full blown LPS coral tank. <Wow, progress!> My question is in reference to an upgrade I am undertaking, I am changing from a 15 gallon to a 20 long with 15 gallon sump, everything of course is DIY. I want to try my hand at more light demanding organisms such as SPS corals and maxima clams and was investigating a 150-watt Metal Halide system. Would that big of a MH system be advisable/possible without the purchase of a chiller? <You could try suspending it high/er from the ceiling...> If not, than would a smaller wattage MH be acceptable? <If you can find such> What other alternatives are there? <Compact fluorescents. Have you had occasion to be introduced to WetWebMedia.com? Please read through the marine lighting materials there... and on to DIY heaven at Home Depot...> Any and all suggestions and advice are welcomed and appreciated. Thanks in advance for any advice I might receive. Sincerely, Alfonso <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Eclipse 12 lighting Robert, I just set up an eclipse 12 tank with saltwater. Right now I am conditioning it with damsels, but eventually I would like to put some inverts and what not in there. However the stock bulb I got isn't up to snuff. How do I get more intensity and the blue, without totally rigging a Power Compact, is there a bulb that I can put in there to replace the stock one. The only suggestion I got was a bulb made by Helios, but I can't find anyone anywhere that sells Helios bulbs. Any help would be great thanks. mike <The fixture really needs replacing if you intend to keep much of the more light-intense species in such a system. There are companies that offer such retrofits (Champion, Custom Sea Life...) or you can rig one yourself (e.g. Home Depot CF's)... I would check with/through the various bulletin boards, chatforums (reefs.org, reefcentral, WetWebFotos...) for recent actual hobbyist/end-user input here. Bob Fenner>

Lighting and coral selection for newbies  Hi All, Your web page is part of my daily routine now. Thanks a lot. <You are quite welcome. We are glad that it helps others.> Here is some background. I have a 20 gallon FOWLR. I have an Eclipse 2 hood on it, just this weekend one side of the lights broke. The socket part of it. So I am upgrading the lighting system a little earlier, to 2 36 watt PC's, 1 6700k and 1 blue. The question I have is this, I have been looking all over this and other websites about the light requirement for specific corals. The problem is that I can only find that x coral is a low, medium, or high light coral. I realize that the light getting to the coral is dependent on what type of light, water depth, particles in the water column, wattage, and so forth. I have been trying to find a general statement to determine what lighting I have low, medium, or high. Something like x watts in a y size tank is about z intensity. <It is hard to make such generalization with all the different lighting systems, manufacturers of lamps, depth of tanks, etc.> I think something like this would help us newbies in giving us a general idea of what coral we can or plan to keep. I hope this e-mail makes sense to you guys. It does in my head. <It does make sense, but cannot be done. I can evaluate on a case by case basis. Your lighting plan seems like medium to high because of the choice of lighting (PC), wattage, and small, shallow tank.> Thanks, Jon <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

25g Lighting   Bob, I've read through the articles on lighting on WWM but still am not clear on which way I want to go with lighting. I have a 25 gallon (20" deep) standard tank currently FOWLR. I may eventually add some corals, etc. My existing light strip only accommodates one 18" fluorescent bulb, pretty weak. I am adding more light but was hoping you could offer some advice. Should I go with a twin fluorescent strip light or opt for a 55 watt PC retrofit as offered by AH Supply? <Before I can possibly offer you an opinion on lighting, you must first determine what you want to keep. Corals are a large and incredibly diverse group of animals with various lighting requirements. Please try to pin down what particular species or even genus's interest you.> The 55 watt PC offers more light but the two fluorescents may provide greater flexibility in mixing light temps. Is this enough light for a future upgrade to corals, etc? Also what temp range would be best? <Same thing as applies to intensity applies to color temperature to a lesser extent; deep water vs. shallow water corals vs. somewhere in between.> Your help is greatly appreciated. Dan <When you have a better idea of what you want, we will be more than happy to help you. Just to reiterate, there is no one perfect/acceptable lighting for all corals. -Steven Pro>

Eclipse dilemma Dear Bob, I haven't asked a question for a while so I think I'm due. I have a 29 gallon long reef tank in my office. It is an Eclipse setup, a mistake I would not repeat. I am not in a position to buy a whole new set up and I really don't want to break down a two year old successful reef tank. My challenge is to improve the lighting. The Eclipse top does not lend itself to proper retro-fitting. <I know there are several people on the Forum that have made this retrofit. You should first inquire with them before you scrap the hood. The Forum is here http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/.> 1.) I am going to install a retro lighting kit...any suggestions. <A lot of people use www.AHSupply.com.> I would like two 55 watt power compacts. I don't want to fight the heat from VHO lighting. 2. Would you make a recommendation for a good hang on filter as the new lid will eliminate the Eclipse bio wheel and filter pad. <I would just use some powerheads.> P.S. Currently have tons of live rock, DSB with particle size you recommend....small weekly water changes. No current water quality issues because of water changes, low bio load, proper feeding. I just need better lighting. You all are the best...thanks in advance. William Snyder Stuart, FL <Good luck. -Steven Pro>

PCs vs. MH for 29gal Hello! <Hey Stephen!> I've been researching, asking questions and getting a wide variety of answers as you can imagine. My head is swimming (no pun intended) and I hope you can help. <There are many different ways to achieve success in this hobby, and everyone has their own opinions on how to get there.> I have a 29gal, 30x12x18, FOWLR that I'm converting to a reef. I don't want to be too limited on the types of corals I can keep and I do have a 46gal I can move up to if I can make it through the 29gal transition. <Heck, switch to the 46gal, this is a great excuse to go bigger.>   I'm really interested in the Custom SeaLife PowerCompact - 2x65W with 2 Moon Lites. Is 130w of PC sufficient? <Depends on what you want to keep, this sounds like a good amount of light, you will have a lot of corals to choose from.> A couple of people have recommended a 250w MH but from reading your FAQs you don't advise it for a tank of this size (I hope that's the case anyway!). I'm afraid of setting my house on fire, frying my fish and making the room a big spotlight with the 250w MH. <Maybe on the 46gal, but I would not put a MH on a 29gal, too small.  The tank depth is not that deep so you do not have to worry about fluorescents not being able to penetrate down to the bottom, and halides give off a good amount of heat.  I would go with the PCs.> Your help is greatly appreciated. <No problem, I had to go through the same things setting up my 29gal, I ended up going with PCs, so my opinion may be a little biased.  I think they work well for this size tank.  On a larger tank I like the look of the halides.  The link below is a good article on lighting http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm  > Thank you for such a wonderful site for us rookies! Your FAQs have already answered so many of my questions. Stephen <Stumbling across this site for the first time was the best thing to happen to my tanks. -Gage>

Lighting a 29g reef tank - 2/21/03 Hello, <Good morning, Paul here, and ready for service> I'm trying to decide what lights to buy for my 29gal.(soon to be reef). Halides might be a little too expensive so i was thinking about buying a 3x55watt fixture. <A good choice, I think, in this case, based on what you want to keep.> I want to keep finger leather coral <Keep in the top 3/4 of your tank (based on the type of lighting you stated you plan to deploy)> .....toadstool leather<I would place this pretty close to the top if not the top, closest to the light> coral.....candy cane coral <half way should suffice. A little higher maybe>.....bubble coral <Midway as well. Keep a lot of space between this coral and others as it has "sweeper tentacles" used as a means of capturing food items and waging warfare against other corals>......green brain coral <In the substrate, period. Make sure to give enough room around live rock structures et al to ensure the coral has no chance of abrasion>......and allot of mushrooms.<Nice. Scatter them in the lower half of the tank Up the rock work or where ever except too close to the lights, in my experience. Now, Anthony Calfo would kill me if I did not say to you that you are intermixing coral species (LPS with Soft) and it is not recommended to do so. Corals from different species seem to more easily succumb to various chemical attacks from the other corals called allelopathy. Millions of tanks out there seem to mix a great many species together on a regular basis. So with that, do some extra research, purchase farmed corals (like the ones available from GARF), and keep strict water standards. Do a search on WetWebMedia and use the keyword allelopathy. Things might be OK, but can turn bad very quickly, so keep on top of it. > So my question is will this be enough light? <More than enough for the animals you are planning to keep.> if so would 2x55watt be enough? <For the size tank and the corals you are placing I would stick with the 3x55. You might be able to get away with less. The Toadstool (Sarcophyton) and Finger Leather (Sinularia) might need to be very close to the light. You could try it and add another additional light later I guess. Probably would be fine to have just the 2x55 if you were on a really tight budget. Knowledge is half the battle, my friend! Check the lighting links and see what others have done and our responses to them.> Thanks allot,    :) <No problem. Paul>

Lighting question.. Hello again guys, <and you as well!>I hope that everyone at WWM had a wonderful (and safe!) New Year!   I have a quick question for you guys.  I have a 20gal hex tank with a 15" standard fluorescent bulb.  I am interested in changing my lighting to better, more suited lighting for my FOWLR tank (with 1 soft coral, possible second one growing).  The only trouble is, I'm confused as to which type of light I should upgrade to, either a "full-spectrum" or a 50/50.  Or is there a >difference?  Or should I even upgrade at all?  My inhabitants are 1 false percula clown, cleaner shrimp, the dreaded domino damsel (who's days are numbered) and a royal Gramma.  And second, I cannot find a 15" 50/50 or full spectrum bulb.  Any help and suggestions where I could find a 15" are much appreciated.  Thanks again for saving the day! Maureen <you will want and need more daylight than actinic here. Use nothing bluer than a 50/50. Lamps in the 6500-8000K range would be ideal for this application. There is much information in the archives on this topic... do browse :) A article summarizing the topic can be found in a link on this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Latest%20Articles.htm best regards, Anthony>

Lighting question follow up.. Anthony, In browsing the link you send and checking out what's available, would a 14 watt, 9325K GE Aqua Rays Full spectrum bulb be too much light for my 20 gal hex?  I am having a lot of trouble finding a 15 inch bulb in 50/50.  The only 15 inch bulb I was able to locate was the one listed above.  Thanks bunches. Maureen <the spectrum would be fine, but the intensity is too weak for most invertebrates. Anthony>

Lighting Hello, Thanks for all your helpful information. I have a 7 gallon reef tank that the lighting system died on. It had a 27 watt PC bulb that was half daylight and half actinic. I replaced the unit to one that has 2 9-watt standard bulbs, 1 daylight and 1 actinic. The corals (frogspawn, Blastomussa, and star polyps) all of a sudden quit opening up as much, the pink Zoanthid quit opening up all together. I even increased the duration of the lighting, no change. I tested the water and all is well. The SG is 1.025. The temp is 79.5, however it raises a couple of degrees during the day which never seemed to bother anybody. At the same time I also added a poly-filter to the filter, as well as changed my carbon. I feed phytoplankton every 2 weeks. <Phytoplankton is useless for the corals listed.> Is the lighting to blame, or the SG? <Your SG seems fine, but the change in lighting could be your problem. You had 27 watts and then went down to 18. That is a 50% reduction. Also, depending on the time between the light breaking (no light) and the new lights, that could be another stressful factor.> Am I missing something else? <You chose not to give many specifics about your water quality, so I am only able to advise you so much. -Steven Pro>

Lighting a small hex reef system Hi Crew, I have a question concerning my lighting of an 8 gal. tall hex.  It's water column is about 15" deep.  Right now nothing is in there but LR (Caribbean from Tampa Bay Saltwater) and the stuff that came with it:     8 Arca zebra     1 Rose coral     2 clusters of  Siderastrea radians     A few nice size colonies of Tubastrea     About a dozen Solitary Cup Corals, perhaps Phyllangia The Rose is my pride and joy right now.  But I want to make everyone happy. I retrofitted the hood to accept a 4x9W PC Blue 7100K light.  It was sold with the retro (Champion). I didn't like the lighting so I bought a 4x9W 6700K lamp. I've been reading a lot that corals need the blue end of the spectrum.  So I put the blue bulb  back into the unit.  I hate the color, but if it's the best for the critters then so be it. Thoughts on these two lamps in my situation? Thanks so much for a fantastic site with truly responsible aquarists guiding the rest of us.  Mike <Hi Mike, Your Rose coral and Siderastrea are shallow water higher light corals as are some cup corals depending on variety. 4 X 9 watts (36 watts) over 15" of water is not a lot of light.  The volume (8 gallons) is not much, but the depth is more than the average 8.  I would at the least place the light demanding corals at or near the surface with this wattage or seriously think of upgrading.  While many corals need lighting containing the blue spectrum, they also need a balanced full range of light. Most hobbyists use 50% actinic white light (around 10000K) mixed with 50% actinic blue. All blue isn't what you want. 50% would be fine.  Much of this decision, once the needed spectrum is satisfied, is personal choice and taste in color rendition. Have Fun!  Craig>  

Lighting (Gage's turn) Hi Crew, <Hi Mike, I consulted with Anthony regarding your situation, I have included his responses in this message.> I have a question concerning my lighting of an 8 gal. tall hex.  It's water column is about 15" deep.  Right now nothing is in there but LR (Caribbean from Tampa Bay Saltwater) and the stuff that came with it:     8 Arca zebra     1 Rose coral     2 clusters of  Siderastrea radians     A few nice size colonies of Tubastrea     About a dozen Solitary Cup Corals, perhaps Phyllangia <The Siderastrea will adapt to any light but prefers bright. The solitary cup corals fare well in low light and need almost daily feedings to survive. The rose coral needs very bright light but must be kept on the sand bottom. There is some concern that it will not survive under these lights. All of the above listed coral are protected (illegal to collect wild harvested). The cup coral and Siderastrea commonly come in on cultured live rock and are exempt. The rose coral (Manicina) is a free-living coral and almost certainly was collected easily. A beautiful coral though.> The Rose is my pride and joy right now.  But I want to make everyone happy.  I retrofitted the hood to accept a 4x9W PC Blue 7100K light.   <Only the cup corals could live under this light.> It was sold with the retro (Champion). I didn't like the lighting so I bought a 4x9W 6700K lamp. I've been reading a lot that corals need the blue end of the spectrum. <Reading where? And what corals? Certainly not the rose coral which is collected in ankle deep water in the keys.  This coral needs to be flooded with intense daylight (6500-7200K).> So I put the blue bulb  back into the unit.  I hate the color, but if it's the best for the critters then so be it. Thoughts on these two lamps in my situation? <Yep... get the blue out as it will definitely not support these corals. Of course, 36 watts of daylight won't either. In the case of the Rose coral though... you can at least feed daily (be strict!) to compensate for the lack of light. The Siderastrea however cannot be fed easily and may dwindle under this modest light.> Thanks so much for a fantastic site with truly responsible aquarists guiding the rest of us. Mike <Thanks for saying so.  Best of luck.  You may also want to check out Anthony's article on lighting. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm -Gage>

Nano Reef Lighting I have a 20 gallon saltwater tank I am converting to a small reef tank. I have an eclipse hood with a Coralife actinic blue bulb and a Coralife 10,000K bulb. They are both 15 watt. I've been told, by another person with a reef tank, that this is insufficient light for invertebrates.  <no exactly... some low light inverts would do fine. Change the lamps to 2 daylights (6500-10K)...no blue actinic needed here. Mushroom anemones would be a good first choice> Would using a Coralife Magtinic bulb increase my lighting to an acceptable level? If not, could you suggest what would help. My tank is 24" long and the hood uses 18" bulbs (2). Thank you. Lyda <best regards, Anthony>

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