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FAQs about Coral et al. Cnidarians System Lighting, Designs, Fixturing

Related Articles: Coral Lighting: what we know and what we don't know (mostly the latter) by Sara Mavinkurve
Lighting Reef Systems: Considerations, Organisms, Goals and Costs by Bob Fenner, Light/Lighting For Marine Systems, Coral Feeding, LPS Corals, True or Stony Corals, Order Scleractinia, Propagation for Marine Aquarium Use

Related FAQs: Coral Lighting 1, Coral Lighting 2, Coral Lighting 3, Coral Lighting 4, & FAQs on Coral Lighting: Science/Application, Lamps/Bulbs, Quality, Duration & Intensity, Night-Time, Troubleshooting/Fixing, Makes/Models/Manufacturers, & Lighting Marine Inverts 1, Lighting Marine Inverts 2, Lighting Marine Inverts 3, Lighting Marine Inverts 4, Lighting Marine Inverts 5, Lighting Marine Inverts 6, & LR Lighting, Fluorescent Light 1, Actinic Lighting, Compact Fluorescents, Metal Halide Lighting, Lighting Marine Invertebrates Growing Reef CoralsStony Coral Identification Stony Coral Behavior,

Best to start with a plan, regarding which species, groups you intend to house... how they will be presented (high, low...) and then research your lighting options to match their needs, range, and your desires for growth, coloring, culture, maintenance... Do calculate the cost of operation... principally electricity... and to a smaller extent lamp and ultimately fixture replacement/depreciation.

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1: Invertebrates, Algae
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2: Fishes
New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums Book 3: Systems
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Your valued opinions, please, LED fixture choices for a 24" deep sys., mixed Cnid.s       6/15/12
Hello...I have used your site for several years; it has helped me through multiple concerns with my tanks.  My showpiece is a 180 Gallon, 24" deep marine environment, currently FOWLR.  It has been up and running for 3 years, and I want to make the leap into soft corals, leathers, Zoanthids, mushrooms - no super difficult species yet - start slow is my motto.
<A good one>
 So here is my question - my lighting right now is T5's - only around 360 watts worth. I would like to upgrade to LED's, since it seems they are the coming trend.  I have read multiple reviews of AquaBeam, Orphek, Radion, and AL - many conflicting opinions, especially concerning the newer full spectrum systems.  There is quite a price discrepancy between the AquaBeam and Radion  - the two which I am leaning towards.  What do you think?   I value your opinions.  Thanks!   Barbara
<Am going to refer, defer you to James Gasta, as he not only is a bonafide electrician, but also a study of such technologies. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Your valued opinions, please      6/16/12

Hello Barbra,
Bob has asked me to comment on your query.  Yes, there is a big difference  in price among different LED systems and it generally boils down to power output.
A full spectrum system is not what I would be looking for.  The full light spectrum is all light visible to the human eye.  This falls into a nanometer range between 400 to 700 which
is called PAR (Photosynthetic Available Radiation).
Corals do not require the full spectrum but do best at nanometer ranges from 400-550, and 620-700.  This is the range of which corals respond best to and is called PUR (Photosynthetic Useable Radiation).  Since power output is at a premium with LED systems, reputable companies will not waste the energy providing light in spectrums that are not required for photosynthetic growth. Some companies may also provide a little high range UV and some red for added color pop but very few LEDs are used here.  When shopping for LED fixtures look at their spectrograph of their LED pendant.  The closer it falls within the PUR range, the better the unit will be for growing corals provided the PAR level is good (See attachment).  I would not buy a LED system without looking at a spectrograph or PAR testing results. In your 24" deep tank, I would look for a PAR level of at least 100 at 24".  This will provide enough of an upward gradient to grow most corals with less light loving corals being placed on the bottom and the most light demanding corals will be placed near the surface.  A PAR reading of 100 in the PUR spectrum may sound low, but it is  effective for growing most Mushrooms, Ricordea, and some polyps.  Regardless of which brand or style of pendant you choose to light your 180, more than one will be required and expect to pay somewhere in the $2,000-2,400 range for an entire system.  There are a handful of LED fixtures available at very reasonable prices but they aren't of much use in deeper aquariums like yours, at least not for LPS/SPS corals.  You stated the coming trend, well it's been around a while and not so much a trend anymore, but a very efficient technology to grow our corals and clams.  Good LED systems will typically last 50,000 hours or more. 
That's about 17 years on a daily 8 hour cycle.  Not only will it save you money on energy costs, but also on lamp replacement.  If you have any more concerns/questions, just shoot us an email.
James (Salty Dog)>

Re LED Lighting/Reef Lighting 5/22/12
Hi James,
<Hello Braiden>
Thanks for your input on the lighting.
<You're welcome.>
I don't know if this changes anything, but the way my canopy opens is different from many other canopies.  I have attached a small picture.  It looks possible to mount a hanging fixture to this hood.  I don't know if there are any other downsides to hanging one in there, but the depth of the back half that never moves is 11.25 inches.  Total depth from the inside wall to inside wall is 16 inches.  I looked at the two recommended lights but was wondering if those were still the best options knowing that it may be possible to still hang something in the canopy.
<Is possible.>
Once I know the brand of fixture I want to go with, is it easy to figure out which model I need to buy based on my size of aquarium?
<This will all depend on the type of corals you will be keeping.  SPS corals generally require more light than LPS and soft corals.  Another factor is the depth of your tank.  Deeper tanks require more power to penetrate.>
The local store here recommended the EcoTech brand stating that it was top of the line and their company should stand behind any warranty or defects because they have been around a long time.
<Is a reputable brand but you will be paying for a lot of bells and whistles with their system that you likely do not need.>
They were saying some of the companies put out a crummy new light and say its great and then it turns out that it has many problems and then they go "out of business" so they don't have to cover any issues and then start up a new company under a new name and sell a slightly different model leaving the customer with a useless broken light fixture.
<There are a few companies that come and go.>
This was his big reason for the EcoTech brand light fixture.  Do some of the LEDs use the lunar phases to help with breeding and/or does that increase the price way too high to make it worth it.
<Most LED fixtures contain moonlights for night time effect and it really does not increase the price much.  What does increase the price are programmable dimmers and options to actually change the intensity of different color LEDs.  Programmable dimmers can easily add 100 bucks to a fixture.  I use a 6 dollar timer to turn my LEDs on and off and did this because dimmers are not available for my system.  I would prefer a dimmer but am not a bit interested in the ability to change colors and their intensity.  In the near future you can look for LED systems that can be programmed and controlled with a smart phone>
If that feature is only $100 more or so it may be worth it to me, but otherwise I may settle for less.
<You may want to read some recent articles on this subject found here.
and here along with FAQs.
  Thanks again for your
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re LED Lighting/Reef Lighting 5/22/12

Hi again,
 Sorry.  I forgot to give the height clearance in case it matters.  It is 8.25 inches from the top  to the plastic support running across the middle of the aquarium.
<Gotcha.  Should be enough room for a hanging fixture.  You may want to check out the Ecoxotic, AI, Vertex, and Orphek line too, all reputable companies. 
James (Salty Dog)>

LED for coral growth? 2/25/12
Dear WWM,
<Hello Scott>
I have a question that I can't seem to make sense of.  When I look up PAR per watt, or Lumens per watt, T5's, MH, and LED's all come out in a very similar range.  Older LED's were much lower, but the new ones are catching up.  The question I have is: when people switch from T5 or MH to LED, they use 3 or 4 times less watts of LED's than they used with T5 or MH.  It doesn't make sense to me if the Lumens per watt are the same, then they should use the same wattage of LED's.  I've come up with various answers, but none seem right to me.  Do any of you know the answer to this riddle?
<Because of the LEDs low wattage,  manufacturers do not waste energy producing spectrums that are of no use to corals.  Instead, the spectrum is focused on the nanometer range most beneficial to corals which is called PUR (Photosynthetically useable radiation).  PUR differs from PAR because the basic definition of PAR is any light in a specific frequency range which is 400nm-700nm.  PUR is the usable portion of PAR and falls between two ranges, 400nm-550nm, and 620nm-700nm. 
Different photosynthetic species will have a different PUR range to which they respond and this has much to do with the depth they are found at in nature.   Attached is a spectrograph of what a well designed LED fixture should look like.  It's a very good idea to view spectrographs of LED fixtures before buying to insure the least amount of wasted energy.  If a manufacturer cannot provide one then beware.
Thank you for your time,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Scott Tomko

initial setup; reef lighting for 180g    10/12/11
Hello Bob, Anthony, Steven and crew...
<Well, one of us is still here. What is up?>
I am in the beginning stages of setup for my 180g (6'x2'x2') that I am planning to make into a nice reef tank. A little info on gear; I will be using a large Berlin-style sump with a Reef Dynamics INS180 skimmer (Aqua C was 1" too tall to fit) connected to a dsb refugium. The refugium, initially, will only be 16 gallons (24"x18"x20").
<Mmm, better than naught>
However, I am looking into converting my spare 55 gal into a dsb refugium, as well. I will be using 3-4 Tunze Turbelle powerheads for circulation.
<Good products>
After doing some research on your site, frequenting some online reef forums, and reading books (just finished CMA and am halfway through Borneman's "Aquarium Coral") I am still unsure if T5, MH, or LED could be my best option based upon the type of coral I am interested in eventually keeping.
<Any could be... more depends on your initial and ongoing budget... the looks you enjoy...>
I would like to have sufficient light to keep some higher light-requiring SPS like Acropora and Montipora, along with moderate light-requiring LPS like from the Mussidae family and similar. Am I correct in thinking, that by specific placement in the water column, ie SPS near top and lower-light coral mid to bottom, I can allow for some coral diversity (SPS, LPS, soft, mushrooms, etc)?
<Yes you can>
My lighting predicament revolves around a lot of contradicting information from multiple sources.
<Oh yes>
This is only my 2nd saltwater setup and I just don't have enough experience with all three. My first tank used MH for a LR w/ anemone tank. I must admit I adore the shimmering effect of MH, they can be very beautiful, but I know first hand the issue with heat and tremendous energy consumption.
<Mmm, well, there are LEDs w/ similar properties nowayears. See Kessil for instance>
Love the
look, wary of the drawbacks. Still, considering this....
<I do like these Marineland fixtures... but would do a bit more looking>
Any opinions here? I like the individual control of the HQI, T5, and LED. However, I am worried about heat and the need for a chiller.
Maybe fans would be enough?
<Mmm, maybe... w/ metal halide/HQI use it's best to have a plan to leave these off in very hot weather>
My LFS is recommending T5. Claims I would be able to keep most corals successfully with this lighting.
<I do agree>
I hear others say for a tank 24" or deeper it lacks sufficient PAR and is a poor option.
<With gravel... your system will be 20-22" deep max.>
However, they
use only T5's on their 400g display reef tank (octagon ~ 3 feet deep), and their variety of corals look great after 3 yrs under them.
I've heard mixed reviews on LED.
<Some are much better than others. Please read the scant reviews and FAQs
files here: http://wetwebmedia.com/LEDLtgArtJamesG.htm
and the linked LED files above>
There are many qualities I really like here; low temp, shimmering effect like MH, lower energy consumption, etc, but the biggest drawback is the steep price.
<Will be dropping soon...>
I am assuming the lower running cost could offset this over time.
<Mmm, yes>
I just think the prices may drop quite a bit over the next year or two and would like to wait...
I know some of this is personal preference, but I would like to ask if you were setting up my tank, wanted to keep a variety of high-light requiring SPS and moderate-light requiring LPS, is there one of the three you would consider the best option?
<In order... MH w/ some T-5 as you list, LED>
I worry that, even after doing a good bit of research, and draining my wallet, that I may make a poor choice with my lighting and regret it later.
<No reason for regrets... invest the time investigating, making comparisons and go forward... the universe is not static/arithmetic, but more like calculus... becoming more/less. Our perceptions are flavoured w/ values... reflavor yours>
Honestly, after the last few weeks of frequent research my brain is turning to mush.
<Heeee! Join the club!>
I really appreciate the help, guys!
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Lighting/Reef Lighting 5/10/2011
<Hello John>
Guys, Girls I hate to bother you with questions but I'm being pretty specific and I really can't narrow it down. I'll be quick.4, 48x48x8 inch coral prop tanks. 2 LPS, 1 SPS and one soft (Xenia). I need light brand, watts and type advice. I figure T5 HO for pls and soft. MH for Acro.
I am trying to be frugal but not cheep <chicken cheep or cheap?>.
If I end up with greenhouse I know things change but my guess is it's going to be in basement (association
rules). The rest I'll figure out. What is your suggestion?
<With 8" deep tanks you could use all T5HO and limit the amount of lamps used on the less light loving corals. Since these are propagation tanks, I'd likely go with DIY components rather than buy fixtures. Sunlight Supply is one good source for these components and T5 fixtures/shop lights can be had for pretty reasonable prices at Home Depot. As far as lamp choice, there are several good brands available, but I'd likely opt for UVL lamps. I'll attach UVL's T5 chart for you to
browse through.>
Thanks for advice
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
as always.:-) John

LED or Metal Halide with T5's/LED Reef Lighting 5/4/2011
<Hello Nancy>
I currently have a 150 gallon, 48"x24"x30" reef and community fish tank. It has been set up for a little over a year.
I have tons of live rock, fish are 1 Yellow Tang, 1 Mandarin Gobie <Goby>, 2 Clowns, 4 anemones (they keep splitting), 1 Velvet Wrasse
1 Coral Beauty and 1 Flame Angel, and a Powder Blue and Tennant Tang.
1 Cleaner Wrasse, 1 Blood Shrimp, and believe it or not,
1 Marine Betta.
<Marine Bettas prefer dimly lit systems and will soon grow large enough to eat small fishes.>
Now I get to the LPS corals. 1 large green brain, 1 white cup coral (I think) 1 trumpet coral, 1 torch coral, 1 elegance coral, a coco worm, a finger leather coral, and a favia.
<Please capitalize names of corals and fishes in future queries.>
My lighting has been an 8, T5 lighting system with moon lights.
Everyone has done well until recently.(corals and anemone's looking bad) Possibly bulbs dimming. I have been looking into a different lighting system because I would like to add SPS corals.
<Tank is really too deep for T5 lighting. Will require strategic placement of light loving animals.>
I'm sure 2, 250 watt metal halides would do the trick, but do <due> to high energy use and heat output, I was thinking of trying an LED system.
<Will be very expensive for your depth of tank, likely in the $2000.00-$2500.00 USD range.>
I do have a good skimmer, UV sterilizer and a chiller. My tank was custom built and has a removable hood.
What is your opinion on LED systems?
<In time, LED lighting will be the norm for reef systems. At present, they are still a little unaffordable
for most folks with deep reef systems such as yours.>
I have seen some that have timers for the different types of lighting throughout the day as well as moons.
<Yes, the Orphek system has one of the best timers I've seen and had the pleasure to work with. See my review on the Orphek system in our on-line digital magazine.
Some have external drivers so system does not have fans and some have internal drivers with fans.
<The drivers are generally built into the LED module itself. The power supply provides the power to the drivers.
I liked the Orphek system because it provided cooling fans for both the drivers and the power supply. Heat is an enemy for electronics and cooler operating temperatures provide longer life of the unit.>
The ones I am particularly looking at are from Acan Lighting. Do you have or know of anyone who has experience with these? My main concern is the depth of my tank. 30".
<I have no personal experience with the Acan systems but I'm sure you could find plenty of info by Googling.
Have you been to their site? http://www.acanlighting.com/
For your depth of tank, an Acan system is likely to run in the same price range as mentioned above. Do be aware that many LED units such as the Orphek provide reflector options of different degrees. The choice will depend on the depth of tank. Too narrow of a reflector may not spread the light out enough to cover a particular tank size. Do your homework with the vendor before purchasing.
I was very close to updating my MH lighting with Orphek LED lighting but felt in due time the cost will come down dramatically so I decided to wait it out. The Orphek system actually went north in this regard. At the time of my review, the Orphek PR 156 was priced at around 650.00 and shortly after, increased to 850.00 per unit. Whoever bought these units at 650.00 got a bargain. And yes, there is definitely a savings with LED systems both in energy and lamp replacement cost, but it will take some time to recover your initial expense.>
I don't know the levels of magnesium, calcium, etc.,
<Should monitor these levels often/weekly.>
but I keep track of pH, and ammonia, nitrites, nitrates. I have a gentleman from
the local salt water aquarium store maintain my tank and does the water changes and chemical tests every other week.
<I see.>
Any advice would be appreciated!
Thank you,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re LED or Metal Halide with T5's/LED Reef Lighting 5/4/2011
Thank you James for all the information.
<You're welcome, Nancy.>
Yes, I know the Marine Betta
has to go, I just have not been able to catch him yet.
I am going to move forward to learn more about the Orphek systems.
I'll let you know what I do and how it works.
<Yes, and do keep us informed.>
Thanks again,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Another LED ??/Reef Lighting 3/22/2011
Hello to all at WWM,
<Hello Crazy>
I have a Reef aquarium with a lot of SPS . The tank size is 5' long x 20" x 20" I run 8 t5's HO over It, For <four> 5' and For <four> 4' all ATI's . I do get a lot of growth out of them. But my power bill is still too high. So now I'm going with LED's.
<Mmm, theT5s are rather energy efficient but not nearly as good as LEDs in that department.>
The only thing is the whole watt's. Some you talk to say that one watt of led's are more powerful then one watt of t5's or M/H is this true?
<There is more to it than that. The brand of LEDs used, reflectors, etc. will all play a part in quality LED lighting.>
The LED I went with is a fixture it will have a 2 =blue to 1=white ratio 120w and the blue is a 420 to 480. I will have 3 of these over my Reef Aquarium. The place I spoke with says that I'm crazy to put that much over my tank and that two would be just fine even running SPS coral. These are a 1 watt LED that put out as much as a 3 watt LED. Now I not talking with a store I was on the line with the place that test and makes the LED's.
<Cree perhaps?>
The worry I had with just going with two is because of my tank being 5 foot long.
<I'm not aware of any LED fixtures that are capable of covering five feet with enough intensity/PAR with just using two fixtures. You could start with two fixtures and buy/borrow a LUX meter and take measurements from various locations in your tank. This would readily show any loss of intensity in given areas. You could also get away with using two by strategic placement of your light loving corals.
Naming the brand of fixture you bought would have helped me some.
James (Salty Dog)>
Yet another lighting question/Being Impatient 3/22/2011

Hello WWM,
<Hello Reef Crazy. I believe I covered most of this in your last email about one hour ago.>
I have a reef aquarium 5' x 20" x 20" with most of it SPS. Right now I went from M/H two 250w and now I have 8 T5's for 5' 80watt and for 4' 54watt all ATI's 6 of the 8 are Blue plus and two are Aquablue Special. And my power bill is still to high so now I'm going with LED's. I have spoke, Called, Emailed, let me say I got deep into it. After 4 or 5 months I made the order and this is what I went with. When I spoke with the place that test and makes LED's for a lot of brands out there. They told me I can buy from them and they have there <their> own fixtures. I went with 3, 120w LED fixture. The LED I went with is a LED that will run at 1 watt but is more then <than> 2watt LED
<More in what way? Based on what you are telling me, this doesn't make sense. LEDs need to be driven at their recommended current rating. Anything less or more will cause a shift in Kelvin temperature. They also need to driven with a constant current/constant voltage power supply to provide the best results.
I'm guessing what you are trying to say is that the one watt LEDs put out the same intensity as a two watt LED.>
But the one big question that no one still understand is how much will a LED cover. Some say that a one watt LED is more powerful then one watt of M/H or T5's. What do you think?
<As I mentioned in the last email, will all depend on the LEDs, reflector used, drivers, etc. There are some LED fixtures out there that cannot match the power output of T5s. I would have asked for PAR values at your tank depth before purchasing. If none
can be given, I'd stay away from that company until I could reference this either from a given company or obtain elsewhere.>
The other thing is when I spoke with the place and I told them what I run (SPS) and the size of my tank they said I was crazy to put 3 of them over my tank I would not need that much to get every thing out of them like growth and color I should only put 2 of them. My worry is that my tank is 5 foot long and I would not get the spreed <spread>
to cover a 5 foot tank they said to put the fixture up higher. What do you think?
<Covered this in the last email.>
Any help would be nice Thanks
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Lighting 54W or 80W/Reef Lighting 3/20/2011
Dear WWM crew,
<Hello Nick>
I would like to ask you a short question regarding lighting and coverage for my new tank.
The Tank measures 145cm (length), 45 cm (water height) and 50cm (depth)
I am stuck between 80W or 54W lights. 80W lamps are 1449mm long and 54W are 1150mm.
If I place the fixture (ATI power module 8x54W) about 15cm above the water surface, would it spread more lengthwise or should I beter <should I> get the 80W?
I am planning to keep SPS and LPS.
<Go with the 80 watt lamps. James (Salty Dog)>
Kind regards,

T-5 lighting on a 30 gallon long  9/21/10
<Hello Cody>
I have been planning to upgrade my current lighting fixture (regular NO fluorescent) to a T-5 fixture because I would like to start keeping some corals.
I've been thinking about getting a ZooMed dual T-5 fixture that holds two 39-watt T-5 bulbs.
<This will do for some low-light loving corals, softies would be best>
Will I need an actinic/10000k combination or can I just go with all 10000k?
<It would be better to go all 10000K, you will be pushing it a bit with 50/50 here. Why not try a fixture with four bulbs instead? Probably not much price difference>
What corals could I keep under the actinic/10000k? What about all 10000k?
<Mmmm, you need to do your own research here really.. maybe some of Corallimorphs, Zoanthids>
Thanks for all your help!
<No problem, Simon>

Lighting Questions (Show me the way!) -- 08/04/10
Dear Sirs,
<<'Madams' here too--but no need to be so formal'¦ Greetings!>>
Your site has been very informative!
<<Good to know!>>
I have a 79x22x27 tank. What kind of MH should I use? How many pieces and watts?
I plan to have mostly LPS, soft corals. Maybe some SPS at the upper third of the tank.
<<For the best in flexibility, I would opt for three 250w bulbs (10K-14K) mounted individually in quality reflectors (e.g. -- LumenMax, Lumen Bright, or Lumenarc)--bulb style, single or double-ended, makes little difference>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
Re: Lighting Questions (Show me the way!) -- 08/05/10
Greetings Eric,
<<Greetings'¦um'¦unsigned querier>>
Have you heard of the brand ATM or Reef Octopus for Metal Halides?
<<I have not'¦ Reef Octopus makes what is looking to be a pretty good line of skimmers, but other than that I know not. As for ATM, there's a like-named company that makes acrylic aquariums (Acrylic Tank Manufacturing), but I find no reference to MH lighting systems.>>
Are they any good?
<<Reference my previous comment>>
And I can light up the tank for 6 hours only right?
<<'¦? I run my own MH lighting for 11-hours. Somewhere near a 'tropical' photoperiod (10-12 hrs) is best, in my opinion. Some will argue that the sun in the tropics is not at 'high noon' for that period like the lighting over a reef system, but I would argue that the lighting over most any reef system provides nowhere near the PAR value of the tropical sun even when not at its highest point--and that 'extending the photoperiod over your tank' can provide some measure of compensation for those photosynthetic organisms not able to achieve complete photosaturation. With that said, I feel merely 'knowing' photosynthetic organisms require light is not enough--reef hobbyists should research the topic and become familiar with such terms as photocompensation, photosaturation, and of course'¦photoinhibition>>
Thanks for the quick reply!
<<Happy to share'¦ Eric Russell>>

LED vs. Metal Halide Lighting/Reef Lighting   6/13/10
I couldn't find anything specific in your articles comparing these two light sources, and I'm looking to go LED.
<Because this innovative lighting is rather new, we do not have much information on this.>
Right now I am running a Hamilton 2x175 MH 10,000k / 2x110 VHO actinic over my 125 gal. with success, but would like to cut my power usage. I read in one place that LED has about the same lumens to watt ratio (about 90-93) with greater useful light energy, but cannot find more sources to verify.
<There are many systems out there ranging from simple LED strip lights to full blown modular systems capable of duplicating the light intensity of 400 watt MH systems.>
Can you guys help me? If LEDs are a practical alternative, what wattage should I have to replace my Hamilton?
<I wouldn't say that are a practical alternative at this point, as an LED system that would duplicate your MH system is rather pricey, but over time, the savings realized both in lamp replacement and power usage may well
justify their cost. I strongly believe that in the near future, prices will drop considerably on these systems.>
Also, my tank is 24" deep, so are LEDs going to penetrate deep enough to grow my corals? I have a large mix of soft corals, clams, polyps etc and would not like to harm them by cheaping out on elec. usage.
<AquaIllumination produces a modular system that would duplicate what you presently have in intensity/useful light. One 12" module consists of 24 LED lights and will draw about 75 watts from your wall. When you compare this to a 250 watt double ended HQI lamp, the light intensity is amazingly close, but the bad news is the 250 watt DE lamp, once warmed up, draws about 280 watts from your wall. Have a look here at pricing and detailed information.
Also read Dr. Sanjay Joshi's test review of this system and several others.
As you will see, the AquaIllumination system has by far the highest light output in terms of intensity.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Lighting Question'¦VHO or MH? Blue or White? -- 04/18/10
I currently have a 150 gallon FOWLR and a 75 gallon reef running through two connected sumps.
<<So these two differing systems are sharing water? Never a good idea in my opinion as the usually high nutrient levels associated with a FOWLR can make for big problems with the reef system>>
I am in the process of upgrading the 75 to a 265 gallon (84"Lx23"Wx30"H).
<<Neat'¦though 'flipping' the 'W' and 'H' dimensions would make this a much better 'reef' tank (just musing)>>
Currently I run (4) UVL 4' VHO (2-50/50, 2-super actinic) on the 75 gallon and like the color put into the tank.
<<Mmm, yes'¦seems to be the current trend (blue tanks). But unless you are keeping deep-water organisms this really is too much on the short-wavelength and not enough full-spectrum light>>
After reading the section on lighting it seemed a little dated as far as the metal halide section.
<<Oh? How so?>>
I plan on keeping mostly Acans and Zoanthids, a couple SPS high up on the rocks and hopefully a clam or two by the end of the year.
<<Then you really do need to consider adding more 'white' light (6500K -- 10000K) to the system>>
I was looking at doing (6) 6' VHO, or (3) 250W metal halide (10K or 14K) with (2) 6' super actinic, or (3) 400W metal halide (10K or 14K) with or without (2) 6' super actinic. What would you suggest for lighting as far matching the color I currently have on the tank and which lighting setup would you choose for lighting?
<<My fave lighting solution is metal halide for about any system'¦but especially for systems of depth as yours will be. There are many folks who will say you 'must' have 400w halides on a tank such as you describe, but if you choose your reflectors wisely you can certainly get by with 250w metal halides (the CoralVue Lumen Bright reflector would be a good choice here or maybe one of the more 'focused' LumenMax styles offered by Sunlight Supply). I would not go any 'bluer' than a 14K bulb if you must, and I feel 10K bulbs with the VHO Actinic supplementation (for day/night transitions as much as anything) are the best choice here as this Kelvin rating will give you the best 'penetration' of the two with a good balance across the color spectrum that will be more beneficial to your photosynthetic organisms>>
Thanks, Scott
<<Happy to share'¦ Eric Russell>>
Re: Lighting Question'¦VHO or MH? Blue or White? - 04/19/10
<<Hiya Scott>>
Thanks for the response.
<<Quite welcome>>
The metal halide section did not seem to mention the newer technology electronic ballasts as compared to the old type ballasts. As in running more efficient and extending useful lamp life as compared to other types of lighting.
<<Mmm, yes'¦most if not all the articles re are some years old. Even so, many folks do still run 'old style' ballasts'¦some will even swear by them. As for the debate over whether e-ballasts do or don't extend 'useful' bulb life, I feel any advantage re is marginal but simply prefer to go with an e-ballast for reasons of electrical efficiency, lighter weight, and cooler operation>>
When I said FOWLR, I only have Majestic Angel, a Naso Tang (moving to 265g), and two Percula Clowns in the 150g. The 75g has a Purple Tang and a Pygmy Cherub Angel. I run the systems together because I will not carry a big fish load in the 150g.
<<I see>>
I was intending to get (3) Icecap kits that would include the ballast and housings and was leaning towards the 250W metal halide with 10K lamps.
<<The IceCap ballast is a worthy acquisition; and it's up to you, but I do suggest you consider a better reflector like those I mentioned previously'¦you can spend the money now, or you can spend the money (again!) later>>
I know everybody has a favorite lamp, can you recommend a manufacturer?
<<Indeed'¦ Kelvin temperatures of the same 'rating' are variable among the differing manufacturers, with some seemingly just guessing at it. As with most things, price does tell a story. If money is not an option you could try Geissmann or Aqualine Buschke (the latter is a bit 'bluer' for a 10K bulb)'¦a good moderately priced bulb I've used is the Ushio line as well as those offered by Hamilton. I'm currently trying out ReefLux 10K bulbs. The 250w DE bulbs are working well and looking good (seeing good color increases in my SPS over that from the previously used Phoenix bulbs), but I've had issues since day-one with their 150w bulbs not wanting to 'light up'...maybe an isolated issue (bad lot) or a e-ballast compatibility problem...don't know>>
Thanks for the quick reply,
<<Always happy to share'¦ EricR>> 

Coral Lighting 4/16/10
<Hello Rusty>
What kind of lighting would I need to keep Favites spp. corals?
<These can be kept under quite a range of different lights>
I was told by my LFS guy that these corals need MH in order to survive,
<Not true. I am using T5 and have had a very nice example for some years now>
but all of the other coral sites, such as LiveAquaria and reef hot spot, said they require moderate lighting.
<Yes, I would agree with this>
My tank is a 6x2x2 180 gallon with 2x 160W 6' VHO bulbs (one 10,000K and one 420nm blue.) Would replacing the 420nm blue bulb with another 10,000K white bulb increase my light intensity, having 2 whites instead of a blue and a white?
<Yes it would>
I also use two 4' T-8 bulbs ( a white and a blue)set on timers for a dusk, dawn, and moonlight effect.
<I think you are on the low side here. Perhaps adding a couple of 80w T5's, in the 10,000K range, might put you where you want to be. This coral could also be placed higher up in the tank. Simon>

T5 Light Suggestion/Reef Lighting/Selection 12/8/09
<Hello Junaid>
Hope you are doing well.
<Yep, still above ground and walking.>
I currently have a 90 gallon saltwater tank with mostly LPS corals and looking into adding SPS corals in the future. I am running a Current Nova Extreme Lighting Fixture. I am going to be changing the light bulbs that came with the lights and looking into URI which seems like the best choice for price and from the forums I have read. I am still hazy in deciding which exact bulbs to get. My lighting fixture can hold 8 bulbs. This is what I am looking into:
54W T5 Actinic White Bulb (50% Actinic 03 & 50% tri-band phosphor adds color enhancements, 12,000k) x 4 54W T5 75.25 Fluorescent Bulb (75% Actinic 03 and 25% Tri-band phosphor, 14,000k) x 3 54W T5 454 Fluorescent Bulb x 1 (85% Tri-band ultra blue spectrum, 15% actinic spectrum) x 1
From previous posts I have read, Steve Pro has recommended getting two Actinic 03's, one white actinic 50/50 and one AuqaSun for lighting fixtures which can house 4 lights.
<Mmm, likely dated information. Too much actinic wastes light intensity of the other colors in the spectrum needed by most light loving invertebrates.
There will always be actinic (440-460nm) present in all lamps designed for our needs.
The lower Kelvin temperature lamps do not appear blue because the color is masked by the higher intensity of the other colors our shallow water corals also require. Spectral lighting charts will show this. Scroll down
on this link. http://www.ushio.com/products/petcare/aqualite.htm>
What would you recommend for my light fixture which houses 8 T5 bulbs?
Should I replace any of these choices with the AquaSun?
<If it were me, I'd go with seven 10 or 12K lamps and one actinic. This would still give you some nice color and still provide a high intensity output.
My choice in T5 lamps would be URI or Ice Cap.>
And what is the difference between T5 75.25 Fluorescent and T5 454 Fluorescent?
<The T5 75.25 is 75% Actinic 03 & 25% Tri-band phosphors. The T5 454 indicates the lamps
spectral output is 454nm.>
Thanks for your help in advance!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Kind Regards,
M. Junaid Shaikh 

T5 Light Suggestion/Reef Lighting/Selection 12/8/09
Thanks for your quick response Salty Dog! From what you have mentioned, would you then recommend the following:
URI 48" 54W T5 454 Fluorescent Bulb (85% Tri-band ultra blue spectrum, 15% actinic spectrum) x 1
URI 48" 54W Actinic White T5 Fluorescent Bulb<http://www.jlaquatics.com/product/lb-utaw4/URI+48%22+54W+Actinic+White+T5+Fluorescent+Bulb.html>
(50% Actinic 03 & 50% tri-band phosphor 12,000 K) x 7
<Those 12K lamps should work just fine.>
I am a still a little hazy on lighting so wanted to confirm with you before I go and buy the lighting. This is the website I am looking to buy the URI lighting from:
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Lost in the world of Lighting, corals   6/9/09
Greetings Crew!
<Hello Hans!>
I find myself returning once again to one of the few places of sanity on the internet, when it comes to the world of aquaria. I'm also a lost soul when it come to lighting, and have researched myself into total confusion and contradiction. I have read books which say I would need a minimum of dual 175w metal halides for mushrooms and Zoa's, and I see forum posts saying that I can keep SPS corals under any lights. I'm sure the truth is somewhere in the middle, but
<... quite a bit to take in... re this topic... If there is/were but time, an education re "light basics" (science, use...) and technology overall... then a delving into particular lines of manufacture to match your needs, desires>
I'm in the process of updating my 18 month old 90gal tank from a FOWLR to a reef tank, and am in need of advice in replacing the old twin tube lighting it originally came with. I thought I had made a solid choice in picking up a 4x55w PC retrofit set from AH supply. They come with high quality individual reflectors as well as decent electronic ballasts. I still have room to add another pair of lights, while still giving me water access for feeding and general maintenance. I could go with an 8x55w set as well, but then my canopy I think would end up too cramped.
<Likely so... if this is a "standard" 55... only some 13 inches wide...>
I went with the PC's partly because of the recommendations that Bob Fenner gave in the FAQ's ( Just in case this isn't Bob reading this.).
<He is, sleepily>
There was also the need to fit the lighting within my existing hood,
which ruled out MH's.
But the more research I do for the tank before going ahead to add the corals, the more I am getting frustrated with my lighting choice. And this frustration has kept me from adding a single coral, other than a sparse few Zoa's and mushrooms that hitchhiked along with my live rock. I just don't want to add a nice frogspawn, only to have it die from lack of lighting.
<Euphyllias can be kept with boosted fluorescents>
My primary intent right now is for a mostly LPS and soft coral tank, and going with a lower number of corals allowed to a grow large size. But I don't want to totally remove the ability to keep a minimum of SPS, and I have no problem with building up a structure to keep them high in the tank.
Would a 6x55w PC setup as described above be sufficient for this, if using the right bulbs?
Going by the numbers I've seen, it seems that PC's give up maybe 10% at most (likely a few points less than that) efficiency compared to a T-5HO with the same ballasts and equivalent reflectors. But, just because of the dimensions of the hood I can fit more PC's than T5's without overcrowding.
I'm partly convinced that much of the hatred for PC's comes from the cheap and poorly designed fixtures with poor reflectors and too-small openings for the bulbs, but then in the back of my head I think that maybe I'm just trying to justify a purchase I already made. Did I make a poor choice, and would I be better served by scrapping the existing lighting again to swap for T5HO's?
<If I had the PC's already, I'd use them. Other "more intense" lighting would get you more flexibility, faster growth, perhaps better "colour"... but, at what costs, trade-offs?>
And, if this IS Bob reading this, would you still suggesting going with PC bulbs? Or have more recent advances in lighting changed that opinion?
<T'were it "day one" and today the day... I would opt for the T-5s over the PCs, but you will be fine with what you have... I make a comparison (hopefully semi-apt) twixt "running after" later, perceived-greater computer technology (which I don't do) or camera gear (which I am guilty of at times). Cheers, Bob Fenner>

SPS ID/Lighting 5/25/09
Do any of you know of any 30" T5 light fixtures that would meet my Acropora's needs?
< I thought you'd never ask! >
I had to go and choose a tank size that's not the most common, so now I'm not having much luck finding 30" fixtures.
< 30" is not a popular T5 fixture size, but there are a few on the market.
The Current Sundial comes in a 30"
I run the 36" Sundial myself and have been keeping SPS with great results.  There are a few more out there. What you are looking for is a 4 bulb fixture with individual reflectors. The individual reflectors greatly improve the efficiency of each bulb and are a critical component to keeping higher light needing organisms. >
Thanks again.
< You are very welcome. GA Jenkins >

Coral Tank Lighting, & T5 fixt. f'  2/14/09 Dear WWM crew, <Hello Rusty, Minh at your service.> I plan to get a 6'x2'x2' 180 gallon rimless tank and I plan to make it a reef tank. I currently have a 6ft T5 HO fixture that is 640W with 4X 460nm Blue Antics and 4X 10,000k 50/50's. To be able to keep corals with moderate to high lighting needs, how much more T5 HO lighting will I need to get? I plan to hang the light above the tank since it is a topless, rimless tank. the tank will be 24" deep with a 12" tall pile of live rock in the center that stretches 4ft long . <This sounds like an excellent project. You've chosen fantastic dimensions for a reef tank. Rimless no less!> Could I hang this lamp 10"-18" above the surface? Could I get away with doing 4W per gallon or would I really need to get 6W per gallon? <The old "wattage per gallon" rule is a rubbish way to gauge lighting intensity for a modern reef tank. With increasingly efficient lighting methods, particularly T5 HO, a lot more intensity can be squeezed out of fewer watts so let's think about lighting in terms of intensity.> What if I do more than 6W per gallon, would that cause any damage? <The question of adequate intensity and possible over-saturation if you go with more lighting varies on two variables. First, what type of T5 HO do you have? There are many fixtures with various ballasts, reflectors and bulbs that all have varying intensity. Second, what type of corals do you wish to keep specifically? A mid-range set up like the Sunlight Supply Tek T5 HO fixture with 8 bulbs would be adequate for most moderate to high light corals if hung closer to the water surface, within the 6" range. More powerful and over-driven set ups, such as the Icecap/Aquactinics or ATI Powermodules can be hung higher and still be quite intense. The type of bulbs can also play a significant role in PAR production, you can review this page for more PAR data on various T5 HO bulbs: http://tfivetesting.googlepages.com/.> I also plan to stock the tank with 2 ocellaris clownfish, 4 green chromis, 3 Bartlett's anthias, a purple tang, and a yellow tang. Would these fish be okay if I add the 2 tangs last as 2"-3" specimens? <Purple Tangs are known as the most aggressive fish in your selection so care should be taken in the addition order. However, I suspect you should be fine in a tank of your size. Cheers, Minh Huynh.>

Metal Halide & T5's Reef Lighting/Selection 1/29/09 Hey guys, <Hiya Wayne> I'm looking at upgrading my lighting to Metal Halides with two 24W T5 Actinics. Having a corner tank this posses at lot of obstacles as you know. My tank is 87cm, 87cm by 123cm bow front and 60cm deep. <Nice size tank.> The options I currently have are 1 x 250W, 1 x 150W or 2 x 150W all with electronic Ballast and 2 x 24W T5 Actinics, I know lighting does have a lot to depend on the species kept. I do have a couple of soft and hard corals with a bubble tip anemone, tree polyps and some mushrooms, but would love to keep a clam at some point. <The tank is a little long (48") to go with one 250, would be much better with two 175 watt halides. If you went with 14K lamps, you really wouldn't need the actinics unless you like the effect. If actinics are used, then I would use 10K halide lamps. With the depth of your tank (24"), the 150 HQI's will be cutting it close.> Any advice will be of great help. Cheers <Good day my friend. James (Salty Dog)> Wayne

New Reef Tank Light Fixture  12/10/08 What do you think of this light? (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&item=180305898295) I have a 135 gal reef tank. I plan to keep clams and SPS. Thank you, Corey <<Hey Corey. I'm skeptical, to be honest. What are the odds you think, that those stamped-metal end pieces are powder-coated and not just painted black? Or that those screws are stainless steel? I'm always leery of such bargains, especially with electrical equipment/fixtures like this one. And the fact that the seller doesn't list a manufacturer (that I saw) is a red flag to me. As far as the type, number, and wattage of the lamps this would be fine for your system'¦ But were this me, I wouldn't spend the money on this particular fixture. As Anthony C. was/is so fond of saying'¦ Few good things are cheap, and few cheap things are good. So'¦ You pay your money and take your chances'¦ Cheers, EricR>>

Lighting Help'¦T5s On A Deep Tank? -- 10/16/08 Hello everyone. <<Greetings>> My question is, I have a 155 gallon saltwater tank 4 feet long by 2 feet wide by 2 ½ feet deep. Would I need metal halide to keep anything other than softies or could I get high output T-5 lighting? Thanks <<Though this tank is considered 'deep' at 30' for reef keeping, the T5s can work. By maximizing the number of bulbs over the tank (use as many as you can)'¦keeping 'blue' bulbs to a minimum (no more than 30% to maximize useful light penetration)'¦and utilizing careful placement of livestock in regards to their height within the water column (e.g. -- lower light demanding species toward the bottom and higher light demanding species toward the top)'¦I think you could keep just about anything you could otherwise with MH lighting. Regards, EricR>>

Lighting Upgrade, reef eventually  10/13/08 Hi guys, How are you going? <Fine for the most part.> After visiting my LFS, I have changed my mind about the path I want to take in creating my first marine tank. Originally, I was going to start with FOWLR and if all was successful I would start to add the various invertebrates, until I met the owner of my LFS. His advice was start with the invertebrates as adding them after the fish would cause stress to the fish. <This will work.> So, I come to you with questions about upgrading the lighting fixture (I've been told my lighting is not sufficient). Currently, I'm running a unit which supports two 54W T5 tubes at 10,000K. The tank is 75G/4 foot. I was considering upgrading to a larger unit which can support eight 39W T5 tubes also at 10,000K. If I upgrade to this unit and I would like blue actinic bulbs, is their a recommended ratio of blue to normal bulbs? <Typically 3 or 4 daylights to every on actinic.> Also, (I may have overlooked this during my search on your website) I'm trying to understand when the blues come on and go off and when the normal bulbs come on and go off. Is there a recommended schedule for this activity? <The typical photoperiod should be 10-12 hours. You can have the actinics come on/go off ½-1 hour prior/after if you wish to have a dawn/dusk effect.> I will include some of the animals that I'd like to have in this tank in the hopes that it will help you give me some advice on making the right choice when it comes to upgrading the light fixture. Various snails and crabs Mushrooms Polyps Pumping xenias Leather corals Tree corals <The light you mention will be fine for these.> Thanks for the help and time you guys put into the website. It really is a helpful tool. I look forward to your reply. Thanks again, Nick <Welcome, have fun setting up. Scott V.>

MH HQI replacing PC's? And Cnid. incomp. non-action  -- 10/02/08 Hello there! I have a real quick question on lighting that's pretty unique, hoping for your suggestions. It's that time again to change my MH HQI lamps and PC's (been 12 months). Currently the set up is two HQI 150 watts and two 96 PC actinics (Aqualight Pro) on a 90 gallon (48 x 18 x 24) that have recently been converted to a predominantly SPS tank mixed in with some LPS's. SPS's are in the middle to upper half of the tank and LPS dominates the lower portion of the tank with many Acans and Blastos. Now to my question, I have began noticing 70 watt HQI's in the market recently and I am wondering if I could replace my PC's with those to be used for supplemental lighting, I'd probably use a 20,000K bulb. Well first off, is my current set up sufficient for SPS corals? <Mmm... IF these were "elevated", placed "higher up" closer to the lights... likely perched on rocks or such, yes> Second, I think a 70 watt MH HQI will penetrate much deeper than a 96 watt actinic PC <Mmm, am not such a fan of actinics period... they don't do much functionally. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/actinicfaqs.htm> plus I save some money on the monthly electricity bills! What do you think? Would this be a realistic option, using a 70 watt 20,000K as SUPPLEMENTAL lighting? <Mmm, yes, or even principal...> Oh and one more, sorry, I know I said one quick question! My Micromussa accidentally came in contact with my Torch Coral recently (thanks to a very mobile Fighting Conch), and most of it has disintegrated within 8 hours. I checked it the morning and they were fine until I came home from work. There are maybe one or two heads they weren't affected, should I cut them off from the disintegrated meat or just leave it alone? <I'd leave as is (though re-separated of course),... it may well be that the "empty", "melted-off" heads will be repopulated in time> Thank you for any assistance you can provide! Jay <Welcome Jay. Bob Fenner>
Re: MH HQI replacing PC's? -- 10/02/08
Thanks for the quick reply! <... welcome> So would just the two HQI 150 watt 10,000K be sufficient for the SPS (perched on rocks from one foot below surface to near surface)? <Mmm, yes> My plan is to create a dusk to dawn effect by turning on the two 96 watt actinics and then turning then off when the MH come on. then midway through the day have another two 70 watt MH come on. What do you think? Is this light sufficient? <... Is, in terms of photonic strength> Thanks again! <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

T5 Lighting vs. Metal Halide - Question From Non-Electronical Housewife! :) -- 02/21/08 Thank you ahead of time for your expertise. <<Ah well, let's hope I prove worthy of your confidence [grin] >> I know you have the answers and your crew has been such a valuable asset to me while I fumble along with my aquariums. <<Bob and I/the rest of the Crew are pleased you find the site useful>> I have a soft coral tank, plus one Montipora. It is a 29 gallon aquarium, AGA, and it has inside of it, a large reef which is approximately 35 lbs of rock, with many corals. I have Ricordea, xenia, leather coral, pulsating xenia, Kenya, colt, Montipora, clove polyps, Zoas, red ball sponge, gorgonians, star polyps of two or 3 kinds, mini clove polyps, mushroom and Rhodactis and I'm forgetting something, but it's mostly soft stuff, except the Monti which has its own place. <<Mmm, quite a 'mix'>> I am running a UV filter head, a 1200 powerhead, a 2 sided biofilter unit <<I don't know what this is'¦do you mean a two-sided 'bio-wheel?'>> and a heater set to 78. I have an overflow and a built refugium and an Oceanic skimmer I could use or the Visi-Jet skimmer which will fit into the 10 gallon refugium better...and am deciding which way to go, but for now, this is running okay. <<Hmm'¦my advice would be to get a different/better skimmer altogether. Perhaps one of the offerings from AquaC'¦>> The rock is not new, just 2 pieces. I didn't intend to do the Monti but it was a gift. So...it's in there. First off, I don't have a clue how to tell if it's alive or not. << A valid point I reckon'¦if your only exposure thus far has been 'softies''¦ My wife, who is 'not' a hobbyist, tells me my SPS colonies look like nothing more than colored-sticks to her. I suggest you visit some store and/or friends tanks and start learning what to expect/see in a healthy specimen. At least do some perusing re on the NET>> It's kind of a pinkish, peachy brownish color and it's pretty. <<Most Montipora species have pronounced/easily seen polyps'¦do take a close look>> I have it on top of the reef about 8" beneath the lighting I just put in. <<Be cautious of harming this coral (all your corals) if the 'new' lighting is of greater intensity than previous. Please read here re light-acclimation of corals (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm)>> We have new lighting, which brings me to why I actually wrote. :) <<Okey-dokey>> I moved the contents of the 29 from an older Eclipse 2 conversion, and I wanted better lighting for my BTA . (oh, did I tell you that I had a BTA until yesterday when it sucked up into a powerhead?) I will be getting another one. <<Please reconsider'¦ The size of this system and the mix of animals within are not proper for an anemone. More reading here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemones.htm) and among the links in blue>> I bought T5 lighting for this tank to save money and to run cooler, because the tank is not large. <<Is likely quite suitable>> Just 30" across and not very tall, an average 29 gallon tank, and I worried that it may overheat with Halides. <<Is a concern, yes>> I got 4 bulbs, 10k each. 2 blue and 2 white. <<Mmm, not all 4 are 10K'¦the 'blue' will be a shorter (Actinic) wavelength and of less use/good to your photosynthetic animals>> 39 watts each in one fixture, and it's 36" long, so it has a bit of overhang, but the lights seem to stop just after the edge anyway, so there really isn't much light going over, if any at all. It has legs also. Then, I got a smaller 24" Corallife 14 watts x2 one blue and one white 10k bulbs. <<I wondered what that was in the photo>> So, the total wattage is 184 watts of T5 lighting on the aquarium. <<Quite adequate for the livestock you have (though I would be inclined to replace at least one of the 39w Actinic bulbs with another 10K bulb)'¦and sans any anemones.>> The aquarium is a 29 gallon aquarium and it comes out to about 6.34 watts per gallon. The questions are: 1.) Will the T5s support the Montipora, corals I listed, and a BTA? <<The sessile inverts will be fine, but again'¦please, no motile inverts for this tank>> 2.) What is the ratio for Halide lighting when compared to T5 lighting? Is it 1.85 watts of T5 to every 1 watt of Halide? <<A useless comparison/measurement in my opinion. The 'watts-per-gallon' rule doesn't take in to account the fact the differing lighting technologies/bulb manufacturers/Kelvin ratings don't compare 'equally' watt-for-watt. Don't get hung-up on watts-per-gallon>> I had seen an online chart where they said that 216 watts of T5 equaled 400 watts of halide and did the math and so the ratio from that equation was 1.85T/1H, however I do not know if this is accurate or not. <<Equal'¦? How so? The T5 lighting is more 'efficient' re energy consumed per Lumen of output (measured at 12' from the bulbs), but even at equal wattages, the fluorescent light source (T5) wouldn't equal the intensity/PAR value of the single-point light source (metal halide) when penetrating water. At least for the moment, metal halide gives more 'bang for the buck' re PAR values/water penetration than the other lighting options, although, the new LED systems claim differently'¦but at the higher Kelvin ratings (15000K). I'm not saying the T5s aren't good technology, and I'm not saying the T5s can't perform well for you/many hobbyists (I've seen pictures of some beautiful stony-coral tanks lit with nothing but T5s)'¦I'm just saying they don't 'equal' metal halides in a head-to-head test of practical 'reef aquarium' performance>> 3.) If this won't be sufficient, would a 150 watt MH be more sufficient in replacement of the T5s? <<If you heed my advice on the anemone, the T5s will be fine>> My T5s have one single plate per fixture. They are not individual reflectors, and I am concerned I didn't buy them correctly, as I didn't know. <<The function/presence of the reflector(s) is important'¦but each bulb does not have to have its 'own' reflector>> For what I bought, what do you think about them with my setup? <<As stated'¦the lighting fixtures you have should be just fine for your 'current' livestock>> Here is a photo of how it looks tonight. <<This is a very nice/attractive display. I see no reason to switch to metal halide lighting'¦and I certainly wouldn't upset the balance with the inappropriate addition on an anemone>> Thank you so much, in advance. Renee
<<Is a pleasure to share. Eric Russell>>

Lighting For Montipora digitata - 12/31/05 HI Bob, <<EricR here today...>> Hope this email finds you well. <<I am, thank you>> You may not remember, but we had discussed the proper housing of Anthias, in particular the squamipinnis with the purple eyes (lyre tail) and your suggestion of 1 per 50 gallons or 1 per 15 seems to be working well!  I have 3 females in a 150 and so far none have changed to male and are fed 2 to 3 times a day and seem to be doing well. <<Interesting that none have started to change.  I had two females in a 375 and the dominant female began to change in just a couple weeks...though this was quickly reversed with the introduction of two full-blown males...but enough about me <grin>.>> Thank you.  That was a little off the main reason to email you, but just wanted to thank you. <<That Bob is a pretty smart fella.>> Now here is the deal.  I purchased a couple Montipora digitata in green and purple.  Colors went to brown (though the green which was aquacultured kept the color to a certain degree)  when I moved to my 150, I know I need to upgrade my lighting to bring out the colors in these cool SPS.  Here is the confusing part.  I have CP that are 8 months old, with 2 10k and 2 actinic. <<Best to go all 10K here, though at 65w (read ahead) you'll need to keep the bulbs close to the water's surface, and the Montipora in the top third of the tank.>> I am going to be replacing them and use the sunscreen method of acclimation.  Now I read that you can just change the lights at night and in the morning they may all recoil, but adjust eventually. <<Mmm, no...you still need/is best to acclimate over several days.>> I thought the light shock would kill them, but I read they just look crappy for a short time and adjust......your thoughts? <I don't agree with this.  While many corals can/will make the adjustment, you are submitting them to unnecessary stress that can kill more sensitive species.>> Next, I wanted to add a spectrum to bring out the color (maybe new lights would do it) and I talked to and read a TON of things and the range of advice and suggestions are so different, I decided to email you. <<And with all that reading you should have found that more than lighting effects coral color...though an increase in intensity will likely help you with the Montipora you mention.>> One person said use a 20k with my 10k and actinic.  Another says do NOT use 20K just use a 3rd 03 actinic.  Then I read that 6500k is what they want for color.  WHO IS RIGHT????? <<Everybody...nobody...many times it comes down to the individuals own sense of aesthetics.>> I am going nuts here! lol! <<Understood>> I am going to order 2 96w to retrofit with my 2 65w 10k and 2 65w actinic.  I am just moving everything close to the surface (I do not want to get into MH, or HQI, sorry) <<ok>> What would your suggestion be to the color temps? <<10K...contains plenty (more than enough) light in the blue spectrum for the coral's use without making your tank look like Papa Smurf peed in it.>> One person said make the 2 96w actinic, one said make them 20K and another article says 6500K!  I have a 6500K 500 watt CF over my Heteractis magnifica and he seems pretty happy. <<Yes, the 6.5K bulbs generally produce more PAR per watt...are also considered the best spectrum for coral growth.>> Should I try and see if putting them under the 6500k would work? (only 84 CRI, so my anemone is at the surface right under) <<Up to you>>   NOW I did put a green zoanthid under the 6500k and it turned brown until I moved it away. (obviously the symbiotic zooxanthellae over producing) <<yes>> BUT it seems that does not apply to the Montipora........that turning brown/tan means not enough light? <<Is likely, yes>> I am very confused, please let me know soon, as I want to put an order in for the right lights. <<10K gets my vote...>> Take care! Carrie :) <<Regards, EricR>>
Re: Lighting For Montipora digitata - 01/01/06
Eric, <<Carrie>> Thanks for the reply!  Especially on a Saturday you devoted web media crew member, you! lol! <<Hee! That Bob is a real slave driver <JK> >> First about the Anthias.......which species do you have? <<Same as you...Pseudanthias squamipinnis>> Bob's web page, Saltcorner.com, or his contribution to it, was what made me make the decision to even try them.  Mine is Bob's favorite, Pseudanthias squamipinnis. <<Hmm, I wonder if you have your "Bobs" confused?  The "Bob" at Saltcorner.com is Bob Goemans...the "Bob" associated here (WWM) is Bob Fenner...>> Problem being, someone buying many females and one male and the male dying, next female changing to male, THEN dying, until all dead.  This is the case with many of the Anthias from what I read. <<But for a few species, most do seem to be inappropriate for the average home aquarist.  Either we just don't know enough about their nutritional requirements or they don't/can't tolerate the rigors of capture/transportation.>> That is why I emailed Bob. <<Ah, but which Bob? <grin> >> So my 3 girls were in a 60 gallon for 3 weeks (with all the LR it was like 15 gallons each!) then a 150 so far for 2 weeks.  None have changed and seem about the same size. <<Mmm...perhaps these are all juvenile fish?...possibly too small yet to change...>> Now I don't know if this way LETS one of the females change to a male on its own thus preventing deaths??  Not sure exactly the reason for the formula.....maybe Bob can enlighten both of us. <<I don't believe the "formula" has anything to do with sexing these fish.  I think Bob's intent was to provide a guideline to ensure a tank of proper size for the number of fish kept.  Regardless of tank size, the most dominant female will become male when mature enough.>> On to the lighting......thanks for adding to the confusion! lol!  Just kidding! <<Agreed <G>, much to consider (coral specie, depth of occurrence, etc.)...and no 'one' perspective can cover all.>> One article I read was that the TRUE actinic 03 was NEEDED for coral growth as it simulates dawn and dusk which is the optimum time for spawning/growth etc. <<The so called "dawn/dusk" cycle is more for the aquarist than the coral, though it can/does help with easing fishes to bed.  Bear in mind that very little we do/can do with our tanks truly simulates nature...luckily these animals we keep are very adaptable.  But saying that, the dawn/dusk cycle is fine if you wish to have one, but as an add-on, not as a partial replacement to existing lighting.>> This is why I got 2 10k and 2 actinic.   <<Too much actinic in my opinion.  Better to go 3 to 1 respectively.>> Now I have already ordered and got lamps for 8.50 each! <<Cheap!>> On line Innovativelights.com.  I know you cannot put that in your web page, <<Sure we can.>> but for you personally, and the rest of the crew...enjoy! <<Thanks!>> Okay now as for the 20k.......what is your thought on that? <<Thought I did in the previous email...too blue for my taste on a general scale...does not provide a true color rendering.  If you were keeping deep-water corals the 20K would be fine, but it has much more blue in the spectrum than your SPS need/require...and just maybe...not enough in the red/yellow spectrum for optimum health/vigor.>> Isn't the 20k so close to actinic anyhow? <<Not really, no.  Some good reading here, and among the indices in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/actinicfaqs.htm >> I do LOVE how my corals glow at dawn and dusk with the actinic! <<Many folks do!>> I would like to see that a little more, esp., if the digitata favored it. <<Mmm...sounds like you might be better of with deeper water LPS/Corallimorphs than SPS...>> I think Papa Smurf has magic pee if he can make corals glow! lol!!!! <<Ha!...not magic, but does give all a blue cast...>> I just want the light that is the most beneficial, <<Then you need move toward a natural daylight spectrum.>> so I had already bought 3 6500k  65w (gives off 500 watts, but only 84 CRI.....how deep would that penetrate the water? <<Depends <G>...water clarity/height of bulb above the water/age of bulbs...all things being optimum, should work fine for an 18" deep tank with higher light demanding species in the top half of the tank.>> I know I am moving the corals up) fixtures based on my research for optimum growth.  Here is the problem as I see it...... 6500k makes for more algae <<That should tell you something about spectrum and growth potential.>> and besides, are the Montis a shallow or deep coral? <<Is generally found in shallow reef environments/mud flats.  I have green, purple, and German blue M. digitata and orange M. foliosa under 250w 10K metal halides.  All express their best color and most vigorous growth under intense lighting.  The blue digitata in particular will "brown out" under the slightest bit of shading.>> If so, wouldn't the 6500k be the wrong spectrum? <<Is "perfect" actually.  Even the 6.5K contains plenty of "blue" light for the corals needs.>> I guess you are saying use 10k in all 4 65W and BOTH 96W? <<Would be "optimum" in my opinion, yes.>> I really would like the dawn/dusk for them.  Maybe 2 65W actinic, 2 65W 10k, and 2 96W 10K? <<This is a viable alternative.>> What is all the hype about the 20k???? <<s you have already noticed/stated...makes the corals glow/look more blue.>> My thoughts were to put 2 20k for the 96w. <<Not the best option for your SPS.>> Sorry to make you crazy, just paying you back! lol!  kidding, kidding........ <<Tee hee!  No worries mate, was/is an enjoyable exchange.>> Have a great weekend and if possible have Bob read this to see what his thoughts are. <<Don't trust me eh? (kidding you back <G>).  Bob (Fenner) may be able to CC Bob Goemans re.>> >Will gladly send her's to BobG if requested. RMF< Take Care! Carrie :) <<Regards, EricR>>

Deep Water Coral Lighting Dear WWM Crew, <whassup?> I have been reading through your archives and articles for the past few days trying to make a final decision on a new reef lighting system.  I have learned so much in this time, I am bordering on brain fry.  This has become the best informative online site for aquarium keeping by far.  I really do like how it has changed in the year and a half since I regularly visited your site.   <agreed... the evolution and progress, a pleasure to behold/experience for all> My reef is 36" by 18" by 18" with a 2-3 inch sandbed.  I used to have an extensive collection of Euphyllias, corallimorphs, deep water brains, gorgonians and various sp. of green finger leathers.  I did my best sticking to deep water corals and all was fine until I joined the local aquarium society.  Stupidly I followed a LOT of bad advice from them and over lighted my tank losing most of these corals. <the aquarium society was a good move, alas... the consensus from counsel may not have been> I've had it in my head that MH is the way to go for reef keeping-more bang for the buck-then I stumbled across Anthony's reef lighting for invertebrates article.  This one god sent article has cleared up so much misinformation I've learned, thank you so much Anthony for taking the time to write it and thank you WWM crew for putting it on your website. <a labor of love, but grateful to hear/offer it> But I am still confused.  I want to upgrade from my SO lights and several places on this site recommend low watt MH or HQIs and several places say these are still too high when it comes to deep water corals.   <depends, but I am inclined to disagree. Also depends on tank depth. For your shallow aquarium... 100 watt double-ended 10K HQIs would be excellent. A good balance between color, efficiency, longevity> It is the same with VHO, some places say these are great for supplemental lighting only, and others say these would be perfect for deep water corals.  I personally don't like PC's except as supplemental. <VHO combos are tried and true with many LPS. My fave for color, but not very economical regarding lamp replacement (every 6-10 months). FWIW, the last light system I just bought for a reef tank was a VHO system with split blue and daylight lamps. Keeping soft corals in it> I realize that this subject is tempered by opinion, but I would love to get my tank back to the deep water garden it used to be-the right way.  Please, please, please...can someone help me clear this confusion up? Thanks so much, Chris     <Either two 100-watt HQIS (10K) or 4 VHO lamps would do very nicely here. No worries. Best regards, Anthony>

Corals for Actinic Blue only lighting systems? 2/17/04 I ran across your web page during a search for corals that would be happy in my 26 gallon saltwater aquarium. My lighting system consists of two PC 65 watt actinic blues. Are there any corals I can keep in my tank with actinics only? Would the Elegance coral survive under actinic only? Thanks, Roel <there are very few if any photosynthetic corals that will survive under blue actinic light only. What you can do is find a hardy aposymbiotic species that is indifferent to light and will survive by your diligent daily/weekly feedings. Tubastrea is a fine choice if you will feed it well. Anthony>

Lighting upgrade for Soft and LPS coral - 2/13/04 Ok here we I have ninety gallon reef 4 inch DSB with 65 pounds of live rock so there's open substrate. <Cool. Sounds really nice> The critters are a large four head frogspawn a large yellow finger leather with various frags placed thru out the tank. <Excellent>  There's four med sized Toadstool mushrooms. <Love these corals>  Also different types of mushrooms,  there's a Candycane.  Various Ricordea at different levels in the tank. <Beautiful choices> For the most part our interest is in soft corals but we are leaning to few LPS here n there. <OK> Our objective is to be able to propagate softies and keep a few choice LPS here n there. So were stuck on lighting with these type of animals would a dual metal halide system be the best choice? <Might be overkill but a couple of 250s would probably be a good fit> Or what about a VHO Ice cap retrofit 4 bulb at 440 watts with dimmer. <Sure. Is there a problem with the lighting you have now? Sounds like things are growing well> I really want that extra growth I figure with my improving husbandry habits and every other day feeding with excellent lighting I can achieve our objectives. <A good plan, in my experience. Very good to hear that you are such a Conscientious Marine Aquarist!. Either one of the plans for lighting would be fine. Go with what fits your budget and space. Should be fine! ~Paul> Thanks. LCS

10 in depth of water 2/12/04 I have s quick question, If my tank is only 10in deep can I use SO fluorescents (of the appropriate temp), changed regularly, in conjunction with T5's to light Euphyllia, Sarcophyton, Heliofungia, Pachyclavularia, Plerogyra, Catalaphyllia, Trachyphyllia? Could I possibly go to 12 in depth. Also, I will have an 11 inch sand base under them, and of course live rock in the tank so some corals could be placed higher if needs be. All of the corals you listed will tolerate SO fluorescents with no problem, even if you increase the depth a bit.  I would recommend that you try to get four lamps per foot of tank width and cover the entire length (four lamps over a 55 or six over a 75, for example).> Is the sand bed to deep? In the main tank I don't want the sand dissolving under the coral and lowering them, could you recommend a sugar fine sand that doesn't dissolve. <I don't think 11" of sand is too deep, but after about 6" I don't think you will reap much additional benefit.  You also have to take into account the tradeoff of diminished water volume.  If the only goal is to get the corals closer to the light, then I wouldn't bother.  Any aragonite based sand will dissolve.  Silica sand will not dissolve, but it's use is controversial.> I will be using Aragamax in the sump to help with buffing as well as a calcium reactor. Finally, water changes are very important and I do them frequently but as many people know what ever you spend on your equipment initially pales in comparison to what you will ultimately spend in upkeep. I am trying to set up a system that meets all the animals needs but is cost effective over time. Since I do 25% water changes every week the expense of salt is killing me, any help in getting less expensive salt that will get the job done. <I too believe in the importance of water changes, but unless you have tremendous input, 25% per month should be more than OK.  I can often find IO brand salt for about $10 per bag and less than $40 per 200gal bucket.  Getting any brand for any less than that will be a challenge.> I know many people say just have better filtration, but I have an excellent protein skimmer etc., low contaminants, I have just found water changes help allot, maybe its diffusing all the things we can't test for like chemical warfare etc...I just don't want to stop using them as they have worked for me.  What do coral farmers do about the huge amount of salt they need for their systems? Thank you Greg <Again, you have my agreement about the benefit, but you may get 90% of the benefit with half of the water changes.  Small amounts of regularly changed carbon will help too.  Any business with large systems simply buys salt in large quantities.  Since a large part of the cost is freight, buying in pallet quantities saves cost.  Also, some large commercial facilities re-use water, sending "used" water from SPS systems to soft coral, fish only or live rock systems for example.  Hope this helps.  Adam>

Coral Propagation Lighting 2/27/04 Last week in Seattle I attended a lecture by Anthony Calfo on coral propagation/farming. Thanks Anthony, I found the discussion very interesting. I enjoyed your articulate and humorous delivery. It's obvious from listening to you that you have a real love for marine life and the reefs. <thanks kindly my friend... I truly had a fun time! :)> In your discussion about your experience of propagation in Pennsylvania you mentioned that you used a green house and natural lighting. <yes... natural lighting almost exclusively> I am preparing for starting a propagation program myself but had planned to use artificial lighting (T-5) . <yikes! Well... I think its great you can afford to establish a charity <G>> Do you feel that an artificially lit aquiculture facility would not be able to be profitable due to cost of lighting? <I am certain of it. Personal experience, the shared wisdom of others... and above all: the numbers/statistics. Calc your rates of growth at present and salability of corals against what it costs you to buy and operate lights... plus replace those fluorescent lamps every 6 months just to try to maintain growth. You can indeed grow corals under lamps... but very little profit to be made. If you need/want to make money... you need to harness natural sunlight, my friend. Anthony>

Lighting a tank of coral; MH or no? - 4/25/04  Hi, I love your site. I'm learning a lot. <So am I thanks ro being here> Converted to salt from fresh. <As did I>  I have a 110 gal corner tank 30" depth. Have about 60-70lbs of live rock and corallite base 1-1.5" thick. I have about 12 snails various sizes. 8 hermits 3blue leg 2 red legs and 1 cleaner shrimp. I have only 3 Chromis so far but I'm planning on adding 2 convict tangs (I still have a slight algae problem). <A very new tank I assume. I too, have a similar set up but with 2 cleaners and no convicts.>  I want to start adding coral, but I need to work out the lighting first. <No, I think it to be wise to decide what kind of coral first and foremost> I don't want to spend several hundred dollars (plus the cost of bulb replacement every 2000hrs) if I don't need to. <While I understand this, I feel it is something that should be somewhat expected based on the hobby and life at stake. Of course, there are some cheaper substitutions to be made for sure, but be prepared for some cost.>  I have a 500W compact fluorescent that works great for the fish only. <Can work for coral as well>  For corals I have heard that I need MH, then others say I don't; <Kind of depends on what corals you plan to have but I have seen many types of corals grow in many types of lighting environments>  .. that VHO's and compacts are just as good and cheaper to operate. Which is true? <Both. MH are excellent coral growing lights (depending on the corals to be grown) but again, I have seen and personally have had outstanding coral growth from PC and VHO. (plus there is a slight advantage in initial cost of setup pf PCs and VHO but I think that it becomes even if not more of an advantage (watt per watt) to the MH over the long haul of operation. I personally cannot back this statement scientifically, but there are some studies by Sanjay Joshi on coral growth and I think cost as well. Do a search or check out his page at: http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/s/b/sbj4/aquarium/aquarium.html >  If I do need MH, in order to save the bulb life and operating cost I was thinking of putting a single 150W MH on timer as a supplement with the compacts. <Seems a standard setup to me. Tried and true. I think you should read a bit on the lighting of reef invertebrates from our WetWeb perspective to gain what is needed when determining how to light invertebrates. Here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm  Check out our lighting section under that link>  I was going to set up the MH to come on 2 hours after the compacts and shut off 2 hours before to try kind of a sunrise/sunset simulation. <DO look at our section on lighting and then decide what corals you plan to keep. From there you decide the best cost effective setup for the needs and health of your inhabitants.>  Two 2 questions. Do I really need MH at all? <Depends on the coral, money you have to spend the short answer is no!>  Am I over engineering this? <Not really, but keep the choice of your animals, their needs, their health, and their sustainability, and growth rates you desire in mind when make your choice. Maybe look at the overall long term cost of operation, and your long term choices of animals to make the best decision possible>  Thanks, John    <Thanks ~Paul> 

Lighting over a 50g tank 7/9/04 Thanks in advance for your excellent advice as always.  I have a 36" 50G tank which has a mix of soft corals and xenia (been trouble free for 3yrs).  I'm currently running a DIY VHO/no (icecap) hood with 3x95wt and 1x30wt, 50/50 and 03 mix.  I have cooked 2 bulbs at the end caps in the last year, and I'm beginning to worry about the fire hazard aspect of my hood. <I have two guesses about your lighting... One, the NO's were the ones that fried, second, that you only have one of the two contacts in each end cap wired (or a couple are loose).  The electrodes in NO lamps will definitely burn up faster if overdrive (as they are on an Icecap).  Also, even with VHO lamps, if you run all of the current through one pin, it will overheat the electrode also.  These problems can create enough heat to melt waterproof end caps.> I'd like to switch to MH.  I've had good luck with MH on my other tank.  my question is about the fixture.  being an open top goofy (37.8") tank, I'd like to go with a pendant.  the 48" dual light pendants would space the lights out too far, I'd think.  I though about going with 2 bell shapes closer together, but I'd really like to only have 1 pendant.  Do you think I could get away with a single bulb? <PFO and Aquatic Technology will make custom length MH reflectors, so this may be an option.  You certainly could get away with one lamp as long as you were sensitive to the limitations of the low light at the ends of the tank.> 250wt would be enough?  I'm not sure if the horizontal regular or HQI would give better horizontal coverage.  I really don't have any high-light corals near the edges of my tank.  If I can go with one bulb, should I do 150 or 250? 10k or 20k?  thanks again for the advice. <Wattage should be based on tank depth, not coverage.  For such a shallow tank, 175W would be plenty.  As far as coverage, you may consider using a higher wattage lamp and hanging it higher above the tank or seeking out a fixture meant as a "flood light" which will give a wider beam spread.  It will be hard to find a fixture that will give you good coverage over the length of the tank without spilling/wasting light in front of and behind the tank.  I would just live with keeping lower light animals on the sides.  As for 10K vs. 20K, you will get more intensity watt for watt from the 10K, but beyond that, the choice is largely aesthetic.  Best Regards.  Adam>

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 Monitpora 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<<<

Anemone and Coral Lighting Hey Anthony... Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ <Buon Giorno, Eduardo!> I have been reading your Daily Q&A's for about a week now, and I even submitted my own question concerning my anemone and lighting. Today I noticed a little 'dig' in one of your responses concerning the 'Jersey Shore'. Something about needles in the sand, plastic and garbage. We may not have coral, but to our credit we do have Bruce Springsteen, Atlantic City, The Sopranos and about every 3rd male in our population who share the same name as you. LOL <Heheh...joke as I may about 'Jersey, you are correct... it is really a gem. Hey, and don't forget about Jon Bongiovi (punk took the stage name of Bob Jovi... like that is much different?!?) But indeed, The Boss was worth it alone. And... there's nothing better than picking up my grandparents and taking a drive down to Cape May and Atlantic City. Imagine my surprise each time, though, when I discover that we're not the only Lincoln with black windows full of Italians pulling into the Taj. Ha!>  On a more serious note, you recommended I go with a 175 W metal halide for my 60 hex (to replace my 2 15 watt fixtures) in order to keep my anemone happy (or happier). I am going to use a pendant and I was told to be concerned with the heat from the MH.  <truthfully not a good way at all to orient a halide. Vertical orientation of MH lamps focus (read: waste) light. This may be of little matter since our target is an anemone, but if it is/becomes a full reef... it is a very big deal. Horizontal lamp orientation is the ticket. The claim about heat dissipation is really moot too. Don't believe the marketing. Yes, MH lamps are hot. But so are VHO lamps at 2-3" over the water in a tight reflector like they should be. Basically, all bulbs will have some heat issue that needs to be assisted with ventilation. Just buy the best fixture for your specific needs. If you doubt that this tank will become a reef in there next five years, say, then I have no problem with the pendant especially if you like the mount better> Someone advised me to use no canopy at all in order to dissipate the heat. What are your thoughts on this?  <total bunk in a well made canopy> It is not a reef tank, but I would like to add some live rock and corals... <definitely a canopy with muffin fans on the same timer as the lights> do I need to be concerned with any fish jumping out??  <it does happen. Use egg crate if heat becomes and issue or a glass canopy (keep clean for light penetration... a big deal)> I currently have 2 Green Chromis, 1 Blue Dot Puffer, 1 Tomato Clown and 1 Coral Beauty. <overall reef safe... but watch that puffer in the long run. They have a reputation for nibbling on invertebrates eventually. They are particularly known for rasping the mucous off the base of anemones... although carpets are too aggressive for most fish to get near> Thanks and keep up the good work! Regards, Edward P. Kelly <thank you my friend for the compliment and being a good sport from Jersey <wink> Anthony>

Anemone and Coral Lighting II Re: Hey Anthony... Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ Hi Anthony;  Ahhh, the black Lincoln with black windows! Nothing says 'Welcome to the Garden State' better. <it brings a tear to the eye <smile>> Needless to say, I am really confused on what to do. I don't want to turn this into a full-fledged reef tank, but rather somewhere in between.  <really a very challenging place to be... harder than a fish only or reef only by far> Nonetheless, 30 watts of light is unacceptable in either case.  <agreed> What makes this difficult is that this tank is a hexagon. All of the fixtures I have seen are larger than the width of my tank.  <yes> My tank is about 20 inches across. I was led to believe that one MH at 175W would be acceptable, and I wasn't going to include any other fixtures (actinic, 50/50, etc.). <I agree completely, but resist the highest Kelvin bulbs...poor performance. There is more than enough blue in AB or Ushio 10K lamps (see Yoshi studies)> If this were a standard rectangle, I would just build/buy a nice canopy for it. But since it is a hex, I can't find a canopy on the net, nor can I handle all of the intricate cuts to construct my own canopy. I have also looked for DIY tutorials on a hexagon stand/canopy and I cannot find any. If you had this tank in your living room, how would you handle the lighting dilemma?? Thanks for your time! <a single Ushio 10K pendant over a tank with beautiful rock, fish (smart enough to avoid the anemone...hehe... it WILL eat a fish eventually) and a green carpet anemone that will fill the tank magnificently in 1-3 years. Forget about the corals for now. Kindly, Anthony>

Lighting a 180g Tank Guys, I wrote about a month ago about lighting my 180g tank. Bob encouraged me to look into halide lighting for hard corals and tridacnids. After much reading and talking with lighting guru's, most recommendations point to the use of double ended (HQI) bulbs powered by electronic ballasts. There were many claims that the double ended bulbs are much more intense per watt than traditional, single ended bulbs. I have not found any articles out there, that have done any technical test to prove that claim. <Take a look at the articles written by Sanjay Joshi, a professor Penn State. His website is here with links to several of his works http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/s/b/sbj4/aquarium/aquarium.html> If any, what are the benefits of double ended bulbs. Would you consider 3 250W @ 10000K (with actinics) be sufficient for the more demanding hard corals and tridacnids? <Sounds like more than enough.> It is also my understanding that double ended bulbs do not have a U.V filtering, outside envelope. <Correct> In a DIY project, how would one come by UV filters. <See if Sanjay mentions it in his piece. Most units I have seen come with the filter built in.> Thanks again for many answered questions. I'd give away my mom's Chitins 'n' Hot Sauce recipe to be able to get the reef lighting right the first time around...JS <Have a nice weekend. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Hello, I have a 48"L-18"W-28"H tank and would like to make it a reef tank. Right now, it has a 110 watt PC light. I need to know an economical way of getting the proper wattage to provide a healthy environment for both soft and hard coral. <Wow, there is not much more of a broad description than soft and hard coral. That covers just about anything and everything and as such I cannot honestly recommend a lighting solution for you. Any reef tank needs to be designed around the particular needs of the corals desired. You need to narrow your focus for me to be of any real assistance.> Thank you for your time, Kevin <Feel free to reply back once you settle on what you want to keep. -Steven Pro>

Xenia needs Guys I have a quick one ...what are the lighting requirements for pulsing xenia...will NO fluorescents be fine?? <depends on the species. If we are talking about common brown fast pulse... yes, with proper acclimation. If you have a white or pom pom species... very unlikely (requires bright light)> I have had them under MH for some time ,but they are growing like crazy and I would like to share with a friend with NO 50/50 only. <keep them within 6-10" of the surface and they will be fine> Thanks in advance. Joe <best regards, Anthony>

Lighting question Hi all (or Anthony again) <I'm not high, but delighted to answer just the same> When I setup the 75g I found that my PFO hood won't fit inside the new hood. So, instead of a 175w MH 10,000, 2x24" actinic VHO's, 2x 36" 6500K VHO, and 2x 36" HO (overdriven on the VHO ballast) 20,000K's, I have only the 6500K's and the 20,000K lights. This is primarily an "LPS" tank, with Fungia, a brain, and a bubble coral (and most likely a branching hammer or frogspawn in addition). No SPS's. Is this enough light or should I sweet talk the wife into letting me get either 2x96w PC's (50/50) or 2 175w MH's with the 20,000K Radium with the additional 2 VHO's now running 10,000K (or actinic) instead of the 20,000K HO's. Thanks all! PF <as much as I would like to give a fellow aquarist an excuse to buy a new toy... I must admit that the lighting is not only enough, but rather ideal in color balance IMO. Even if not, LPS are so hungry and food so easily compensates for inadequate light in corals... no worries here. Anthony>

Coral lighting hi there <Howdy partner>>I am setting my tank up for a reef.  its a 90 gallon tank.  what I would like to keep is mushrooms, zoos, soft corals, a bubble coral.  am unsure what I should do about lighting..... <low to moderate light animals... heavy feeders instead. Fluorescents will be fine> I currently have 2*55 watt Pc.s and 2*40 watt no actinics.   <more daylight color is needed here... not so much blue> I was thinking about adding another 2*55 watt pc retro....would this be enough for my tank???   <yep> or should I go with metal halide...... <good heavens no!> I was thinking the pc's because of the price.   <actually... metal halides are more economical when considering the lifespan of the bulbs and bang for the buck (usable light produced per watt consumed)> on the other hand I don't want to have to buy metal halides later down the road because my lights aren't adequate and feel like I wasted money on the Pc.s..... <then a fine compromise would be a 150 watt double ended HQI MH outfit> I do not want any clams, sps or anything that has real high light requirements.....what would u add if it was your tank?? <actually... if I had the money... the HQIs. More bang for the buck. Fluorescents have to be changed every 6-10 months. Some halides are good for over three years!> thanks for your time Matt <best regards, Anthony>

Re: coral lighting great I think I will just order another 2*55 watt pc.  so currently I have the 2 *40 watt actinics, 2*55 Pc.s (with a 6400K bulb) and am going to add an additional 2*55 watt pc.  what kind of bulb should I put in this.....the place am ordering from sells (6400, 10000, and 5300K) thanks again for all the help its really appreciated. Matt <The 6400K will likely serve you best. Strong daylight color though. If you prefer a blue hue, go for the 10K. The 5300 K are for shallow water species only and is a very yellow colored light. Anthony>

New with corals Hi Bob thanks for the link just one more question. <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a 100gallon tank with 2 x 150w MH and 2 Actinic Fluorescents. What would be the best coral to keep? <my advice would be to focus on one specific group of corals and not to mix from an array of groups. Mixing causes too many long term problems from silent chemical warfare in the aquarium. SO, decide if you like the octocorals best... or the Euphylliids, etc. And stay with the family members in that group. That lets you specialize with a more compatible group of organisms while still having a tremendous number of species to pick from> I mean I read about guys with 3x400w MH etc and my light seems to be nowhere as good ... or is it? <those aquarists are often running commonly excessive lighting and most corals in such shallow aquaria (less than 75 cm) will suffer for it in time. Your lighting is fine my friend. Even if you want to specialize in high light SPS corals and clams, I would still not suggest more than 250 watt halides for this particular tank.> Werner Schoeman <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Species Selection and Lighting needs Don, since I wrote my first question I have learned more on how important it is to research animals and their required environment prior to purchase. <Kinda fun too> With the amount of light I discussed, 175 w MH and 2x36 PC actinic, would that be considered sufficient light for an animal requiring <are we talking corals?>'High Light', 'Medium Light', 'Low Light'?  <By placing at different levels in the water column, I would think you could do most any appropriate species.>What species would you recommend raising with this amount of light?<Oh, My that is pretty wide open. As per above, Research and find what you like/feel you can provide for. A couple of books to consider would be Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals" or Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation". There are good discussion about appropriate corals on the WWM Forum at http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk>  Also, I am now investigating the difference between 5000k, 6500k, and 10k MH lamps. <The tendency now seems to be 10K MH and this is what I am planning, with actinic for the next tank. Although species will determine as well. Some of this can be personal as well as the different temperatures give very different looks. Try to see other tanks with different bulb, temperatures, etc> Would one of those be better with the two actinics? <Not necessarily> With your experience, what combo would you install personally <as above>? <<Go slow, research, understand needs and have fun! Don>

Natural sunlight really works! - 2/14/03 Hello crew & I hope Mr. Calfo- <cheers, my friend> I wrote some weeks ago about moving my tank near a window so that it will get about two hours of natural light. I did that three weeks ago and I just want to say it made all of the difference in the world. <excellent to hear> My softies are taking off. I am amazed at the difference. <it really is remarkable and algae growth will be no better or worse than without it> I don't know how it might have affected it but my pod population has exploded. Could the sunlight help them, if so how? <yep... some pods eat phytoplankton which is now growing better from the sunlight> One more question. My skimmer has slowed down some. I still get a lot of skimmate but I would say a 1/2cup less then before. <per day... per week?> Is that due to the new lighting? <not likely. And not a problem if that is per week. Else, there is a tuning problem> My specs are Alk 10dkh, Ca400, ph 8.3 No2 0 No3 0 Amm 0 Thanks Mr. Calfo, I enjoy your book and am looking forward to the new ones coming. <Thanks kindly!> Have a good Valentine's day. I had to send this letter out before I rush and get some flowers for my g-friend. Karl <cheers, Anthony>

Lighting a 65g for soft corals - 2/23/03 Good afternoon from rain soaked VA! <Good morning to you. Paul here.> I am trying to decide on a lighting upgrade for my aspiring reef tank. It is a 65 gal., 36Lx18Wx24H. I currently have one small Sarcophyton, one med. Sinularia, and a small frag of Sinularia dura. Also some Protopalythoa polyps. I intend to keep this tank limited to soft corals and mushrooms. <Very good> So here's the big question: I am looking at a few fixtures; one is a 3x96watt PC fixture, one is a MH + PC fixture - 150 or 175watt MH and 2 96watt PC's. <Well, the corals you have currently and based on your previous statement as to what kind of corals you plan to keep, they might do favorably (read OK) with the 3x96 watt. Now if you plan on going with different corals in the future.....more like clams and SPS, then maybe it wouldn't hurt to go with the MH fixture. If you acclimate your current livestock to the MH properly, I think all your corals will benefit from the stronger lighting. In any event, I would research the lighting needs of your corals you have now (I am sure you have) and for the ones you plan to keep, as related to their respective environment, and make the best decision. Either lighting system will do the job albeit, one will do it better.> Which one would be preferable, or would you suggest a different unit entirely? <I honestly like the 150w MHx2x96w PC as the best choice here. Definitely read through Anthony Calfo's awesome article on lighting invertebrates found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm> I appreciate the time you guys take to answer questions in this forum! You're a tremendous help! <Our pleasure. Thank you for coming to this forum to have your questions answered!> Thanks, Neil <Regards, Paul>

Coral Lighting needs Crew, <Hi David, Don today> Would a 48" 4x55W Helios compact fluorescent fixture be enough in a 75 gallon tank for most corals?  Or is more lighting needed? <Well David, 'most corals' is pretty ambiguous. I would say OK for corallimorphs, many polyps, and some soft corals. Most LPS and SPS would be out. What lighting is needed? As written before here, you need to know specifics about what you want to keep. It is difficult (but not impossible) to keep corals that have strong light needs with those that need lower light in the same tank. Use available references to find classes of corals that have the same needs and then progress from there. You will be less frustrated and the corals you choose will be less likely to die from environmental conditions.> Thanks,

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