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FAQs about Coral et al. Cnidarians System Lighting 2

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 FennerLight/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 3, Coral Lighting 4, & FAQs on Coral Lighting: Science/Application, Designs/Fixtures, 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 IdentificationStony Coral Behavior,

There are corals that require no light at all... like Tubastrea here.

Small Marine Aquariums
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ook 2: Fishes
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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<<<

Kelvin rating and coral colors If I used 1 10k and 1 65k will it change the color of my corals? << Yes your lighting plays a huge role in your coral color.  I never use to really believe this, until I started switching and trying bulbs.  I was amazed!  Typically lower Kelvin bulbs increase growth the fastest, but higher Kelvin provide more color. >> My Digita is orange or a bright brown color now. Or does the spectrum and wattage change the color of corals? << A lot.  You just have to see what works best for you. >> <<  Blundell  >>

LFS Opinions and Publication Truth 9/13/04 (MHs, light, corals) Good morning, guys! <cheers> Please push Ivan away from us here in South Louisiana and push it farther away from Florida! <heehee... if only I could> The last thing they need is more rain! I visited my LFS/LRS, probably the best one in South Louisiana, yesterday. I had intentions of purchasing a 6500?K bulb for a pendant I have, and probably a 175w 10,000K setup for my 58g. They freaked out when I asked for the 6500. <bizarre... I cannot fathom why> Now, every book I've read, new and old, has suggested that lower Kelvin can be advantageous and economically friendly to some corals. <exactly... it is THE best light for a majority of corals> Information gleaned from wetwebmedia.com, the best source, IMHO, suggests the same. The owner, normally a helpful guy, tried to tag team me with a scientific sounding employee into discovering that 6500 is the way of the dinosaurs and I should learn from their mistakes and buy the 20,000K. <wow... not only are they mistaken, but 20kK is actually not helpful for a majority of corals... that is to say - used alone, 20k K will suffer many photosynthetic corals because they lack adequate amounts of daylight in the spectrum to stimulate adequate photosynthesis.> I asked how PAR ratings compare to the "plain-ol'" 6500s and how 20,000 is better, other than just marketing and personal preference. Grunts and mumbles followed. <do a google search for "Sanjay Yoshi" to read some of his studies and results regarding PAR values> The scientific guy said he wouldn't hesitate adding a 400w 20,000K to his nanoreef tank, again going in the face of anything I've read. What's the opinion from anyone over there? <they have caught up in the hype... there is no basis for using heavy blue/20k K only... quite the contrary for garden reef displays> I think Mr. Calfo would have something to say. I would really like the experienced, non-sales driven opinion here. Once again, thanks! Ian <with kind regards, Anthony>

Too much light burning the corals? Thanks for all the time nice and great answers. I just love your website. I have few questions on HQI and T5 also calcium reactor. << I'll do my best. >> First here is my setup 55 gallon 48" long acrylic tank Filter sock 20 gallon sump with 7 mangroves (only about 10gallon waters all the time) 10 gallon above tank refugium or surge refugium with full of Chaetomorpha - Rio 692gph from right corner of tank to this surge tank and drop it to left corner of display tank CPR 1400gph overflow return pump Quiet One external 1140ghp to CSL 1/4 chiller and split to 2 1/2" Sea Swirl on each corner One SEIO 620 to add more water movement. 2 150 watt HQI - Icecap 10k bulb / 2 54 watt T5 ATI blue and actinic Knop-c calcium reactor AquaC EV-90 skimmer about 15 SPS and 7 clams and Ricordea and zoos - fully stocked. My question is I put my HQI about 6.5" from bulb (not pendent end) to water surface  and 4.5" from T5 bulb to water surface << Doesn't sound like a problem. >> When I had only HQI turned on (due to T5 ballast burned - accident) corals like brain open more bigger but after I put T5 again they are not open as big but small.  << I don't think it is too much light, since I have two 150 HQIs on my 30 gal. >> Originally I had HQI system with 20k bulb no T5 at the time corals opened much bigger (9" from HQI bulb to water surface) but due to SPS and Clam addition I changed to HQI to 10k and added T5 and lower HQI to water surface since than they are not open as big. << Hmm, that is a big change going from 20k to 10ks, but I like that change and will be doing the same myself shortly. >> Water condition is same.... Should I bring up HQI and T5 more from water surface?  << For a while.  I'll bet you are sunburning your corals.  I would slowly increase that light so they can adjust to it over the next few weeks. >> Is this too much light? << Impossible. >> I also turn HQI and T5 at the same time for 8 hours also sump and above tank refugium light when display tank light are off (From above tank refugium - located in back of display tank - some light goes in to display tank since my canopy is open back) Should I adjust T5 to turn early and off late than HQI? << I would just because I like the looks, but it isn't necessary. >> Last question... I think I am working on Knop-c calcium  reactor seems like it affect my ph little... I am work on 6.8 ph about 20dkh in reactor and 10dkh in display tank water... Is this just normal? Should I just add buffer or maybe Kalk? << That sounds fine to me, but I'd just keep testing and keep an eye on it.  Those reactors are fantastic. >> Thanks <<  Blundell  >> Chris Kim

Coral foods Hi Aaron again.  You said that I could keep certain corals with a P/C fixture.  Your said  << Mushrooms, leathers, Claudiella, zoanthids, star polyps. >>  {{ Sounds like something I would say. }} Do these need supplements like calcium or strontium? {{ Nope, and small water changes could handle any supplements that they may need. }} More specifically, does brain coral need supplements? {{ No, but I would directly feed it. }} Also, what foods should I use to feed these types?  Are Kent products or other brands made from zooplankton sufficient? {{ I like a variety of Cyclop-eeze, golden pearls and chopped up seafood.  There will be an article on this in the next Conscientious Aquarist magazine. }} I know that very little corals utilize phytoplankton, (I believe its on your site somewhere) do any of the ones you mentioned utilize these? {{ They all do indirectly.  Phytoplankton feeds your zooplankton, and that feeds your corals.  This is why phytoplankton is such a good thing to add to your tank. }}  I am also wondering if any types of the corals mentioned need to be target fed or will they all eat the same Zooplex foods? {{ I'd feed the brain. }} Lastly, what kind of coral foods do you recommend?  Do you recommend the liquid invertebrate foods like those made by Kent? {{ Nope, never used them.  They may be fine, but I just mix up my own in the blender. }} Thanks AGAIN for the help. A very grateful Aaron {{ No problem, hope it all helps. }} P.S.  I plan to get lights and start coral by December at the latest.  Wish me luck!!!  Also what good books/sources do you recommend for further reading on coral husbandry, propagation, and compatibility.  Thanks Again! {{ I really like Sprung's book Corals, and also Borneman's.  I'm assuming you have the Conscientious Marine Aquarist.  If not, that needs to be your first book, it is my favorite. Blundell }}

Choosing The Right Light Good morning! <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I'm setting up a 25 gallon reef tank. The eventual goal is a 75 gallon tank in the next 2 years. I am trying to buy equipment that will be suitable for use on either tank. The 25 gallon tank will be softies and LPS, including the higher light LPS. Here's what I'm thinking: 1x175 (or 150 watt) halide alone (I would add a second halide to the 75 gallon) or an Icecap 660. PCs are too expensive to run long term. On the 25, would a 175 halide + 2xNO bulbs work okay? Too hot? Too much light? (Yes...I know you can have too much light). If I used a 175 watt halide on the 25 or 75, could I keep a clam? There's nothing worse than buying expensive equipment and having to liquidate before or during an upgrade. That's what I would like to avoid! Thanks! Dave    <Well, Dave, the halide and NO combo would certainly be a lot of light for this sized system, but the long-term usefulness of the MH system for your future tank is a given. You may want to use a pendant-type HQI system, like PFO or Sunlight Supply make (they are available in 150 watt and 250 watt HQI units). Again- this is a lot of light for a small LPS/soft coral tank, so you may need to mount the halide quite high above the tank and acclimate livestock carefully to avoid problems. Yes, this would be quite adequate for most clams in this sized tank. but you'll have to choose livestock carefully, particularly LPS and soft coral selections, to make sure that they can acclimate to the intensity. Good luck! Scott F>

Lighting Requirements- LPS, Softies hi, <Hello! Ryan Bowen helping you today> my name is Steven. I have read several articles on MH and T5 in this website. However, I am unable to decide. I have a 120 gallon tank (48 x 24 x 24). Plan to keep, LPS, mushrooms and 1 BTA. <How wonderfully careful!  I love to see this level of planning.> Am considering 1) 4 x T5 (54 watts each) 2) 8 x T5 (as suggested in this website) 3) 2 x 150 watts + 2 x 30 watts (Arcadia MH) The cost is about RM1000 / RM1800 / RM3200 respectively, I am afraid with MH I would need to upgrade my chiller to 1/4 HP JBJ Arctica compared to now 1/10HP Resun (additional RM3100) <Not to mention the spike in electricity costs.> Please ease my heart that with T5s I am able to keep the following (LPS: hammers, Torch, Frogspawn, plate, Octopus) / Anemones - BTA / mushrooms. When I mean keep, create as natural lighting as possible for their growth and flourish, and not suffer in adequate lighting. <I find that T5 is quite good- As long as you keep the light-needy corals in the top of your aquascaping, they'll grow like weeds.  SPS, however, seems to need that deep penetration that only sunlight and MH can provide.  Steven, don't forget to tune your lights for the color you're attempting to reproduce!  Deep water corals prefer a cool, bluish light, as opposed to the white hue seen in a lagoon setting.> Thanks, great book on Conscientious Marine Aquarist. <I shall pass along your kind words to Bob!~  Thanks for writing in my friend, and we'd love to hear what you decide upon.  Ryan> Steven Low (Malaysia)
Lighting Requirements- LPS, Softies pt. 2
Thank you, Ryan. <Ah, yes.  Hello again, Steven> This is my decision: Arcadia 3 series MH (2x150watts 14000k + 2x30watts) After the bulb has depreciated through 1 year usage, planning to switch to 20000k. <Very nice decision!  Top-notch> Rationale: Despite the higher capital cost and running cost compared to T5, I chose it for the following reasons:- 1) It offers a wider range of corals that can be kept compared to T5s (general assumption), 2) If I were to get 4 x 54 T5 HO, eventually I would feel 4 isn't enough then would get another 4, may be later change to MH. This will cause additional RM2,000 more in the end. Two of  friends said I will eventually get Arcadia this was based on fact they know my characteristics. And I agree unfortunately. 3) I love those shimmering lines that MH create. <Yes, as do many corals.> I appreciate your motivating comment on my planning. I wish to share the following with You: General Plan Steven's Indo-Pacific Microhabitat 1) Type: Shallow, Inshore environment 2) Characteristics: a) Intense lighting, b) Moderate currents, c) Higher tolerance for elevated nutrient levels, 3) Structure of Shallow Inshore reef: a) Low vertical relief, b) Avoid building up a huge pile of LR from side to side, c) Light coloured sand for substrate, d) Small grouping of LR to suggest patch reef or outcrops with penalty of open space, e) Blue background to create vast area illusion, f) Bright uniform lighting of high intensity (MH) All these with the shimmering lights casting on the sandy substrate and yellow tangs swimming among the patch reefs where LPS move with the water current from various directions created by SCWD would make my aquarium a distinct character from the average aquarium (however, it requires careful and artistic hands to mimic such a reef or else it would break the whole scene). <Funny enough, I have a reef very similar to this in my home!  It's a wonderful biotope to recreate, and the diversity of the indo-pacific shallows is unmatched.> Proposed species 1) Disc anemones a) Striped mushrooms b) purple corallimorpharians <Yes, I also have a nice collection of Ricordea Yumas in mine...go well with the above listed.> 2) Sea mats a) Yellow polyp colony 3) soft corals a) flat leather (existing coral) 4) Stony corals (LPS) a) Plate b) Elegance c) Anchor d) Frogspawn e) Torch f) Galaxy g) Bubble Fish 1) Pajama cardinal x 6-8 2) Firefish x 2 3) Yellow tang x 1 (existing) 4) Baggie cardinal x 1 (existing) 5) Clown fish x 2 (existing) 6) Cleaner shrimp x 1 (existing) 7) algae bennies x 2 8) Turbo snails x 3 9) Mandarin x 1 (after tank has matured say > 1yr) 10) Flame angel x 1 (after tank has matured say > 1yr) Thanks. <Fantastic level of preparation- Many readers could save themselves time, money and energy if they pre-planned with your vigor.  Good luck my friend, and please, send in a few pictures once you're up and running.  Ryan>

Is 384 watts of pc enough for SPS? Adam,   I found a great deal on eBay on a Current USA orbit light fixture with 384 watts of PC lighting and I bought that. I don't think I'd ever try stony coral! So, based on last comment, this should be fine right? << It all depends on tank size.  384 watts on a 10 gal tank would be a lot of light.  384 watts on a 1000 gal tank is not enough.  But the basic answer to your question is that wattage is enough, as long as you have the right spectrum and keep the coral close to the bulbs. >> Thank You, Narayan <<  Blundell  >>

Button Polyp Lighting Hi <Hello, Kumarason, MacL here tonight> Your assistance is required once again :) I have a 50 gallon tank. I have several button polyps, yellow polyps, short tentacled Fungia, one open brain and some mushrooms. Initial lighting was 96 W of NO lamps. Changed to a 150 W MH (20K, Iwasaki) and did the acclimatizing process by dropping 4-6 inches (initially from 3 ft from water surface). The process took about 6 weeks. Now its 12 inches from the surface. This was completed about a month back. All my corals are doing fine except for the buttons. They seem to close all the time. I suspected the sudden filament algae bloom was the cause and probably an irritant to the polyps but I have since placed them into my second tank - 30 gallon with 36 W NO output and the polyps seem to open up fine with the algae still on it ( always harvesting). The water parameters of both tanks are as follows: Ammonia - 0 Nitrite -0 Nitrates - less than 20 ppm both tanks pH - 8.2-8.4 Salinity - 1.022-1.023 Calcium - between 400-440 both tanks dKH : 9 for 50 gallon and 11  for 30 gallon Phosphates : Non organic - not traceable. Organic - probably high I think as algae seems to be growing and growing. ( I think kits test non organic- am I right) <Depends on the kit> Could it be that the MH is too intense? I have place one of the buttons further away from the MH lamp to determine this. What is your opinion. <Its possible that that is the case. It could also be the current. Probably differs in both tanks.> Thanks for your time  and assistance. much appreciated.

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>

Lighting Question 4 July 2004 Dear Bob and crew, <Hi Aloke, MacL here with you tonight.> I've been going through the exhaustive FAQs on the WetWeb website and these have proved very helpful to me. <Good to hear.> I have a question regarding lighting and corals turning brown. I use five 40 w fluorescent tubes on my 90 gal tank, three full spectrum (supposedly) and two actinic. Earlier, for two months I just used the normal day to day tubes, and none of my corals died but I didn't necessarily see any growth. <I know that there are brands of bulbs out there with 6,500 spectrums. Something that makes a difference is the depth of penetration of the light. How deep is your tank, where are the corals placed.> Most people nowadays prefer stronger MH lighting, or PC lighting.. which I can't afford now, at least for the next four to five months. I've heard of European tanks that run only under fluorescent lighting successfully, and I would like to know what you think of these fluorescent tubes. My tank houses soft corals mostly, as I know my lighting really is not suitable for most hard corals. <Very wise> so I'm going with mushrooms and zoanthids. I do have a clam though (which has done quite well) and an SPS (Porites, I think) frag. as well as a green moonstone coral. <I would think eventually they will need more lighting. But if they are doing well just continue to watch them. Honesty to keep the clams and SPS most people recommend 4 watt per gallon of water.> I noticed some of my polyps and mushrooms turned brown in my tank. While in the LFS' tanks, they were under really bad lighting. Often a big tank had only a single NO tube for lighting. Wouldn't the new, better lighting mean better colours on the corals? Someone told me this had something to do with symbiotic zooxanthellae - could you explain why this happens? <Animals from intensely lit areas of a reef that are not supplied with similar lighting in captivity may appear to change color as they shed unnecessary U.V.. reflective pigments. At that point, such animals may appear to be darkening in color, often to a darker brown or golden color. The aquarist often associates this with a decline in health, although that is not necessarily the case. The color change may be attributable to an increase in the population of zooxanthellae algae, or simply the greater visibility of resident zooxanthellae now visible in the absence of the U.V. reflective pigments. Whether the change is intolerable or not depends on if the coral's fundamental needs are being met by the decreased illumination. Many corals can survive in captivity with less surface irradiance than the optimum levels received in the wild environment so long as the compensation point of photosynthesis is met. We call this photo adaptation. And even without it, supplemental feeding of the animal can be compensatory.  For more on this please look at this section of the WetWebMedia website, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm> By the way - I live in Laos, a small country bordering Thailand, in south east Asia. <Wonderful and so nice to meet you.> My tank has two false Percula clownfish, two hermit crabs, about 20 pounds of LR (so far) and I don't intend on buying any more fish... if I'm really tempted I might get a royal Gramma, but that'll be it. I also have a 3 to 4 inch sand bed. The tank is just over a month old, earlier everything was housed in a 30 gallon tank. Thanks, Aloke <Good luck Aloke>

Lighting for Catalaphyllia Elegant coral 6/9/04 I was wondering if you could help me with a question regarding elegance coral. I recently bought an elegance coral, and just found out from the web about how much harder it is to keep them than before (probably because of collection methods and location of collections). <seems to be some truth to this yes, but once you get any established, they can be quite hardy if well fed (weekly or better with very fine meats)> At the moment I have a fairly deep tank (about 30" deep). I'm have 4 light tubes. 2 blue, 2 white actinic 12000kelvin. <are these standard output tubes? If so, their light does not penetrate usefully for corals much below 8-10". Keep all coral at the top if possible excluding sand dwellers like your conical skeleton elegant perhaps> I have 2 powerheads and all my water parameters are good, however I just wanted to know the best location to put the coral. Currently I have it fairly high up, approx top 1/3 of the tank, but from my readings I have realized that this coral does not need strong lighting requirements and may die (?) . <halides can shock it... but not your fluorescents... not likely at all> Is it okay if I leave the coral where it is ? <depends... if this coral has a cone shaped skeleton (versus a cleaved wall), then it needs to be buried in the sand> or should I put it further down? in addition, is it okay if I put it on the bottom of my tank running the lights that I have? Thanks <no common fluorescents can really penetrate deep enough to keep any coral at the bottom of a 30" tank. We may have a compatibility problem here (elegant needs to be on the bottom but needs better/brighter light). Do feed well/extra in the meantime to compensate for light. Best regards, Anthony>

- Lighting For Corals - Hi! Just found your website a few days ago - Wow! I've never seen so much current and useful information on marine aquaria in one place. And the amount of time you guys spend answering questions and otherwise assisting fellow hobbyist is just incredible. You guys are terrific. About two years ago my daughters bought me a twelve gallon Eclipse tank, some marine salt, a little crushed coral and a yellow tail damsel for my birthday. Since then I've changed to a live sand bed, added lots live rock, a few fish and some low light (mushrooms, etc) corals. All are doing well. (oh, and I hear my daughters are okay too... I spend most of my time with my nose pressed against the glass of the aquarium...). I've got my eye on a 100 gallon acrylic tank and as soon as I can convince my wife we can't live without it (and I'm so close!!!), it's mine. Even though I'm still fairly new, I already know that water quality is number one. It's like the air we breathe. Can't go for long without good air and those guys can't make it for long without good water. But we're able to measure water quality right down to the millionth part per gal/ltr, so there's really no excuse for poor water quality. It seems another major issue and my concern/interest right now is lighting for the reef tank. All I ever see is "low, moderate and high". Just what the heck does that mean? <Pretty much exactly what it sounds like - depending on the animals you choose, the lighting will need to suit their needs. Of course, tank depth is also a variable, but for the most part low intensity lighting refers to normal output fluorescent lighting. Moderate intensity lighting refers to VHO or PC fluorescent lighting, and high intensity refers to metal halide lighting. Quantities and color temperatures will vary based on tank size and depth and also the age of your bulbs. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/index.htm > It all seems so ambiguous in such a scientific age! I know there are all kinds of sophisticated scientific gadgets to measure light that are not available to the average hobbyist, but surely we can do better than "low, moderate and high". <Read on, you will see...> In the things I have read, I have learned that at the surface of the water in the tropics, at noon on an average day, the sun provides about 100,000 lux of 5500K light. Within fifteen feet, the reds and oranges are absorbed and the lux are down to about 20,000. By thirty feet, the yellow light is gone and the lux have dropped to 10,000....etc. <Well... you realize that no amount of mechanical lighting will ever equal the output of the sun, and likewise very few people have 30 foot deep tanks.> Okay, finally, here's my question! Has anyone gone to the trouble of making up a simple chart for salt water aquarist that would show this progression of light reduction and Kelvin temperature change as the depth increases? <Not that I am aware of, but still... the amount of light you choose to use is dependent on the animals you choose to keep - Tridacnid clams for instance must have metal halide lighting or they will not thrive. Fish on the other hand, don't require this type of high-intensity lighting... so, is your budget for your electric bill unlimited? If so, light fish with any lighting you choose - for the rest of us, there are offsetting choices that must be balanced between the acquisition/operating costs of a particular type of lighting and the animals we want to keep.> I know there are variables such as water clarity, etc., but a general chart could be developed... and here's the payoff. By identifying the various corals at the depth in which they are usually found, it would be possible to much more clearly identify their light needs - or at least the range of lighting conditions in which they are most likely to flourish. <Essentially, this much has already been determined, and again low, moderate, and high does suit the bill.> Sure, it might mean I'd want to go buy a $100 light meter, but I'd rather do that than guess whether my corals are getting enough (or too much) light, or whether I need to move one of them to a healthier location in the tank. <Do you have a specific animal and tank size in mind here? That might help answer your questions - or as you mentioned, to satisfy your own curiosities, you might just want to track down and purchase a lux meter.> Maybe such a chart or publication already exists, or maybe - being new to this hobby - I've overlooked or over-simplified something that would not make this idea practical, but it just seems we can do better for our little critters than "low, moderate, high". <Not sure we'll agree on this, but it's been working well for a while now.> Your advise/comments would be appreciated. Thanks. Rick Venice, Fl <Cheers, J -- > 

Acclimating Corals To A Different Lighting Scheme Hi again  ! <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> Lighting question. I have replaced 3x250 10k HQI bulbs with 3x250 20k HQI bulbs. <I use and love 20ks, myself!> I have SPS and LPS in the tank. (mostly SPS). What is your recommended acclimation schedule? I have heard dozens of methods. <I can't think of a better article on the topic than this little gem from our own Anthony Calfo. A great technique which every reef hobbyist should learn and use! here is the link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm Enjoy! Regards, Scott F>

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> 

Lost in lighting!! 4/1/04 Hi guys, I have a question about lighting. I currently have a 100 gal (60 in long) that I run two 130 watt pc on. I have a few leathers and Shrooms in the tank but have been told that I don't have enough lighting for any of the SPS corals. <This is largely true, but plating Montiporas and Pocillopora are two good examples of SPS that could be kept under your lighting if they were kept in the top half of the tank.> I was told that t-5 lighting would be my best bet as I don't want halides due to life in the desert without a\c.  What is your opinion. Also would putting some of the more light hungry corals higher in the tank help with the pc.s or am I to low on light. <I am not convinced that T-5's have proven themselves yet.  The lamps are difficult to find and expensive.  I prefer VHO over PC or T-5 in most cases because they are easy to find, inexpensive (relatively) and reliable.  You will also have to consider if ANY increase in lighting will drive a need for a chiller.> Also if you recommend t-5 how much output do I need.  Or can I just get two more pc.s since I already have two and the corals I have love the pc.s. when I got  them from the dealers tank they had not opened for about a week under t-5 but two days under pc.s they opened up and seem to be growing pretty well. The leathers are finger leathers and some green and red Shrooms. <Since you are already running PC's, adding more may be the simplest solution.  I am guessing your tank is 24" or less deep, so you probably want to have in the range of double your current light to keep most SPS.  No florescent technology is much more efficient than another, so doubling the wattage is fine no matter which type you choose.> I also have a bubble tip that has taken up residence under a ledge on the live rock with a Clarkii in tow.  I also have a long tentacle plate that likes to move around the sand bed. Thanks for your wise insight.  Erik Lobe <Your bubble tip will not do well unless/until you upgrade your lighting.  The are very light demanding animals.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Metal Halides Hello crew, <Hello. Graham at your service.> I have read over the site for a good six months now and have learned so much that I am now ready to turn my 29gal tank over to my current 110gal freshwater tank. <Very nice!> My 29gal tank is doing great with the help of your site. It's amazing how the 29gal reef tank costs more than the whole 110gal setup. (stand, tank, canopy....) Anyways, my question is if I should go with MH because my depth is 30". I know it all depends on what I want to keep in the tank, but when I was reading Bob Fenner's book, it seemed that MH's have a few disadvantages such as heat issues, electricity usage, and dangerous wattage. <That is true. However, with the proper equipment and research you can avoid any problems you may have later on. As an example, I run 2x 400wt metal halides and 4x 65wt power compacts over my 80 gallon glass aquarium. For cooling, I have a canopy which has an "open back" and 2x Icecap fans. The heat is steady at 82 degrees F., even during the summer here in Los Angeles. Of course, this will vary depending on the average room temperature of your home. For such a deep aquarium, I would highly recommend metal halides.> Could 96x4 PC's do the trick for most corals? <Many corals should do fine for the first 10"-14" of depth. After that, you're going to be fairly limited to what you can sustain under the lower amounts of lighting. For a 30" deep tank, you may want to look into 400wt halides, although you will do fine with 250wt bulbs.> From the research I have done, I think I should go with 2-250watt MH's with two 110 VHO actinics as a retro on my canopy. <That should be fine.> Also is it OK to use a glass cover or will the light be penetrated too much and will the tank get to hot? <I wouldn't run a glass cover, mainly for heat-related issues. This glass cover will often capture heat which may warm up your tank (quite a bit, too).> Sorry for so many questions, this is one of my last steps in order to setup the 110gal. <No problem at all. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have.> Please respond at your convenience. Do you think these MH's would be a good deal http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2387458373&category=46314 < http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2387458373&category=4631 4> <That is a good deal (as far as cost comes), although you would be much better off using a higher wattage of bulb for such a deep tank.> Thank you <Take Care, Graham.> David M. Patterson

Metal Halides for SPS - 3/22/04 Dear Crew: Thanks again for the great website. <Thanks for being part of it all>  I have read your FAQ's and articles about MH lighting with great interest. <Glad to hear. Helped me too> Here is my situation:  I currently have a 55gal (48x13x20) tank w/130W PC's. <OK> I am going to get a bigger tank this year, probably a 125 (72x18x22).  I would like to keep some clams & SPS, so I am looking at MH. <I think a good choice> Also, I believe HQI DE bulbs and fixtures will give me the best for my money. <Many thoughts here but I use the HQI ballasts and DE bulbs> Now, according to Bob's response in one case, with "some" clams and SPS, I should be able to go with 175W lamps.  However, I have only seen HQI in 150W and 250W flavors. <Correct. Go with the 250>  The difference in price is about $20, so it would seem wise to get the 250W. <Exactly> However, I do not wish to have the extra light if I do not need it. <Yes you do>  I could probably go with 2-150W lamps for the 55 now, and get an extra one when I get the 150gal. <That will work>  I thought about 2-150's and then the one 250 later, but I am not sure how I would feel about the spotlight effect (I assume there will be one). <Not really. At the Monterey Bay Aquarium we have 400s and 1000s and notice very little difference>  Before I forget; I know some of you don't like to say, but which would you pick of the 2 choices I have for either 150W or 250W: 1) PFO HQI ballast, 10K DE HQI Bulb (brand not specified - email pending to vendor) and PFO HQI Mini Pendant <This is what I use and love it!!>*OR*   2) IceCap Electronic HQI Ballast, Ushio or Aqualine (AB) 10K DE HQI Bulb <Both great bulbs but I use the Aqualine HQI bulb> and Sunlight Supply Reef Optix III Plus Horizontal Reflector. <Good reflector but I am really happy with my PFO. We use PFO on occasion at the Aquarium as well. Quality and Value in my experience. Happy reefing! ~Paul> About choice #2, I have seen some vendors insist that the Sunlight Supply Reflector must run with Blue Wave Ballast.  If this is true, what makes the IceCap okay in this case?  Is there some sort of overdriving or trickery going on here?  Hey, thanks a million, Rich.

Lighting Hello, <Howdy!>hope everyone is doing good. I need some advice on lighting, I have a 180g reef. My current lighting consist of 3 175 w MH 10000k and 2 50/50 160w VHO. I have started placing some SPS corals in the tank high up on the live rock but the color is not the same as when I purchased. I am thinking of changing to 250w 10000k bulbs with the VHO's, would this be overkill? Seems like the Acroporas I have would benefit from more light but do not want to impact other inhabitants. As always thanks for your time. <This would be a good idea if you are going more into SPS.  If you have LPS and softies that are already used to your lighting you will have to acclimate them slowly.  You can do this by placing a few layers of screen over the tank and slowly remove them.  You can also just start with a 3 hour or so time period and slowly acclimate them by keeping the lights on longer and longer until you get up to your normal photoperiod.  Cody>

A Nice Follow-Up <Anthony, Ryan with you> Words cannot express my gratitude for your time and your knowledge <Kind words>.....I took your advice and ordered the book (aquarium corals) you suggested. Should arrive in a few days. <A great read.> I am also putting together a collage of photos for you to review and possibly post.<Would love to see it>..Learning from you and your colleagues' writings on this web page has enabled me to put together a dream tank, albeit its only 26 Gal. <As long as it's YOUR piece of the ocean!> Can't wait for you to see the photos....Was just wondering , I just read an article here on saturation point of light in or through tank water. (basically finding a common denominator) What would be the saturation point of my 150 watt DE MH fixture mounted 6 inches from surface in 24" of water(10K AB or 20 K Radium)<The saturation point, as I understand it, is the amount of light necessary for optimal photosynthetic production for a given Cnidarian.  This definition is aimed at your animal, not your lighting fixture.  Each coral's saturation point can be determined, although it's a difficult process.  Many advanced aquarists utilize a lux meter.  By taking a reading of different light variables in your tank, you can certify that you coral will be happy by putting them back under similar conditions from which it was taken.  This discourages zooxanthellae from adding or subtracting from their population to accommodate the available light.  For a much more knowledgeable source on this, The Book of Coral Propagation #1 by Anthony Calfo has a whole chapter.>  I guess I need the saturation point at the bottom of the tank ? <With MH lighting, there is usable light in almost the entire aquarium.  Even the amount left at the bottom is productive to lower light corals...after 20 inches, it's only really good for corallimorphs, lower light octocorals.>  Would it be good or bad? <Half full or empty?  Up to you whether you make something out of it, or waste the space.> I tried using a digital camera I have that utilizes a spot meter but I don't know what numbers to look for to interpret it. <Neither do I!  Lux meter is the only way I know how.  Sometimes nicer saltwater stores will have one you can rent/borrow.> Again thank you soooo much for your time....Hope you enjoy the photos ...should be able to send them in a week or so.. <Until then, Ryan>

LPS/Polyps Light Requirements I have a 26 Gal. Bowfront Reef.(24"Lx15"Dx24"H)(Well trying at least) It has an EcoSystem 100M Refugium (24Lx8Wx8H) mounted above with gravity fed return. <Hello! Ryan Bowen assisting you today> 2 MaxiJet 1200's (opposing of course) . About 30-40 LBS. of live rock, and a 4" sand bed. Turboflotor 1000 Multi H.O.T. Cool Works Ice Probe mounted in Refugium along with Hanna pH and Temp monitor, Pinpoint Sal/SG monitor, heater etc.) AquaSpacelight Mini 150 Watt MH with AB 10K Bulb---was thinking of switching to 20K Radium..1 strip of L.E.D.s bought at SuperBrightLEDs.com which peak in the 420 range (DIY) work Great!!!!! <Very nice product selection.> 3 rocks with Yellow Polyps,1 Green Star polyp section 4"x6", 1 Moon Coral with half the rock Purple mushrooms (bought in the store like this...so cool!!!) 1 Small Trachyphyllia, 1 frag of pulsing Xenia(white)3 Trees on it, 1 rock with white striped purple mushrooms, 1 frag of Yellow striped mushroom, One Percula Clown, 1 Six-line Wrasse, 10 Red leg hermits, 10 Blue leg hermits, 5 Margarita snails , 15 Turbo Snails, 5 Astrea Snails, 1 Red Star Fish, 1 Baby Brittle Star (came with moon Coral/mushroom rock) 2 Lg Feather dusters. My question is Utilizing the 150 Watt MH in a tank that is 24" High, what would be proper placement of these inhabitants ...where in the water column should they be ? <OK...Here goes: The Assorted polyps (yellow, GSP) are happiest in the top 12 inches of your tank.  The Xenia should be in the same range, and the mushrooms should be below, a few inches off the substrate.  If you see the mushrooms "trumpeting," you should elevate them a few inches.  Trachyphyllia needs an area with moderate light and light constant flow.  In nature, they always occur on a hard substrate.  If the sand bed is the only good place you can find for him, support the underside with a generous amount of rubble rock.>  Also if in the future I wanted to purchase a clam where should it be placed with this set up. <It has been my experience that clams don't do all that well in smaller systems...Often more susceptible to predation/disease.  Ensure that he'll thrive by waiting at least 6 months, and then tailor your setup to whichever of the tropical clams you choose.  Just like corals, they all require unique husbandry.> There isn't too much information out there that discusses where specimens should be placed in the water column utilizing different light. <Aquarium Corals, Borneman is good place to start.> I would also like to purchase a Wellsophyllia and perhaps a brain coral where would these be placed utilizing my lighting system in this depth of water. <Wellsophyllia is a stinger...may molest your other tenants.  I'm not sure which variety of brain coral you prefer, but the entire family is pretty hardy and adaptable.> Any information at all would be greatly appreciated.......I know your time is precious...Thanks a million......<Anytime!  Let's see some pictures> NYC Fireman....Anthony Pastorelli <Best of luck to you! Ryan>

Proper lighting for Scolymia 3/1/04 Sorry I didn't have more specific info--I should have known better. However, I am told I have a Scolymia Cynarina.  Does this compute?   <Sort of. It sounds like you/they are referring to one of two possible genera: Scolymia or Cynarina. Both need low light if red in color... high UV (although not necessarily bright light) if green. Feed 3-5 times weekly> Could use your input, if this is the correct species.  Thanks again........Barry <best of luck! Anthony>

Aquarium and Lighting 2/27/04 Hi There <cheers, mate> I am from Australia, I have a 125gal tank (4x2x2). I am running a 400W MH with a radium 20K globe. Is this to intense for this size tank? <nope... sounds to be close to par. Even a bit low for how blue the 20k K lamps are (at the expense of more useful daylight in the spectrum). Aspire to have around 5 watts per gallon of daylight over reef aquaria> I have 3 Heteractis Magnifica's, Maroon Clowns, Sailfin Tank, Regal Tang, and an assortment of smaller fish, No coral at the moment, but I intend on getting corals, and which sort of corals for this type of light? <hard to summarize in an e-mail, but many soft corals and LPS corals will fare well here. Most all corallimorphs and larger polyped zoanthids (Palythoa sp). Montiporas will be fine but most other SPS corals may not unless kept in the top 40 cm of the tank> I also have a spot in the hood for 2 Fluoro tubes, should I run 10K, 18K or Actinic in these? T <you already have too much blue to be useful. Its all aesthetic at this point. I'd skip the fluorescents entirely or be sure to use daylight (6,000-7500k K) instead> the light from the MH  is very blue as it is? <yes> Thanks, Lonnie <best regards, Anthony>

Proper lighting for small brain coral Hi--really enjoy all the very informed responses here......I am about to buy a small brain coral, my tank is a 65 gal (24" high) and I have 192 watts of lighting....two 96 watt 50/50, actinic.  Is this sufficient for this coral if I were to place it at least halfway up to the top??  Thanks.......Barry <I cannot say, my friend... we need a specific name for this animal. Is it s Goniastrea which needs extremely bright light and shallow placement? Is it a Trachyphyllia which needs to be buried in the sand bottom and fed 3-5 times weekly as light aloe will not sustain it? Is it a Favia or Favites which likely fall in between? Is it a red morph indicating collection at depth and low light/heavy feeding (daily) required? Many possibilities here my friend. Illuminating the need to avoid only using common names. Anthony>

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>

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>

Natural Sunlight/Coral Growth/Closed System 2/10/04 Hello Wet Web Media <cheers> I did find some indirect articles on the site regarding natural sunlight but had a couple of questions  With the cost of lighting I am always looking for alternatives --- I have a 75 gallon reef with hammer corals, bubbles, a cabbage leather, a xenia, a plate coral and a long tentacled anemone.  The tank is .75 percent filled with live rock and heavy skimming.  I run carbon a couple of weeks a month.  My parameters are in range Calcium, pH, dKH --- The temp is a consistent 78 degrees. The lighting includes 3 VHO lamps  95x3 = 285 and one Actinic 1x40 = 40+285=325 watts.  The tank receives a full day of sunlight from the back of the tank and so far for 10 months no real algae problems except for occasional small outbreak of diatom on the window which the Turbos usually keep in check.   <as it should be... its a lie/wives tale about sunlight causing algae. Excess nutrients with any light cause algae> My question is how much of that sunlight through glass is actually beneficial to the system?   <er... as much as possible mate. These organisms did come from the reef not too long ago ;)> The coral expand every day but I know corals can open and still be in a gradual decline.  Generally speaking (I understand you just know just the few things I told you about my system) Is this lighting adequate for the animals/corals mentioned?   <seems so> Is there any good success stories with coral growth and natural sunlight in a closed system??   <ahhh... there are perhaps tens of thousands of pages of success stories on the subject across the Internet! I made a living on corals under natural sunlight and wrote a book about it, my friend: "Book of Coral Propagation by Anthony Calfo". Greenhouse grown corals for a decade> Can natural sunlight substitute for some of the needs for additional wattage?? <it can replace all... book orders here ;) https://secure.wetwebfotos.com/order_form.jsp http://www.readingtrees.com/ best regards, Anthony>

Light Problem, Will the corals make it? 2/10/04 I just got a new light fixture today, a 4x65 CSL moon-lite.  I had a 2x65 Coralife Aqualight.  The new fixture came in with a dead 10,000K bulb, so on one side of my tank I have only the actinic bulb.  Will this light be enough to keep my corals healthy for a week until the replacement bulb shows up, or do I need to run out right away and buy a daylight bulb?  I have Xenia, Finger leather, star polyps, and Ricordea on that side of the tank.  Thanks!-Ken <your best bet is to temporarily prop the canopy up so that the daylight bulb is centered over the tank. Actinic blue alone will not support your corals and they may suffer light shock if suddenly exposed to a new daylight bulb after a week without. Anthony>

Lighting... silly question 1/30/04 In advance, thanks for the help. <very welcome> I have read in several books, including the Marine Reef Handbook, regarding lighting. According to the authors, blue light (actinic) is enough to keep symbiotic corals/false corals happy and alive, and that "white" light is just used to allow us humans to be able to view our specimens. <if the statement has been recited true, then it is incorrect. I have not read this passage that you cite, but can assure you that the opposite is true for most corals. Any look at studies on corals and symbiotic activity in the last 5 years has demonstrated that all commercial lamps 6500 K (yes... this daylight color) and higher have enough or too much blue light for our corals. It may be "too much" blue in the sense that it is produced by the lamp at the expense of producing more useful "white" light> If this is true, then why all the hoopla about requiring VHO's/PCs/Halides with white/yellow output....? <exactly... the statement is not true> Jess Bansal <Anthony>

Bring Up The Lights! (SPS Lighting Question) Once again thanks to all who spend their time helping with this great hobby.  I do have one question, is it possible to house and grow SPS in a 125 that is lit by two 175 W 5500k lamps and a 250 W 10000K?   <I would think so! It wasn't all that long ago that 5500k were the "state of the art" in halide bulbs, and lots of people grew nice coral using them. A 6500k bulb would be better, but I think you'll see a nice result with your scheme. You can always change it if you (or the corals) are not happy with it!> There are also two 160 W VHO URI's actinics on the tank.  Thanks in advance for any info.  Matt <Sounds like it's worth a shot, Matt! Regards, Scott F>
Bring Up The Lights! (Cont'd.)
Thank you for the quick reply, it was much appreciated.  I will upgrade the 55K to 65K (have to leave them at 175 Watts as this is the dual ballast I have).  I will also be going with a 400 Watt light for the center of the tank and am looking at the German 10000K bulb.  In your opinion will this be a better lighting scheme for SPS?  Thanks once again.  Matt <Well, Matt- from a purely performance-driven point of view, the popular opinion is that the 6500k is one of the best ways to go for PAR value and coral growth. Aesthetics are another issue! These bulbs tend to be a bit on the yellow side (okay- a lot on the yellow side), so supplementation with 10000k or actinic may help in this department. HTH! Regards, Scott F.>

Low lighting for Toadstool - 12/17/03 as far as lighting goes.. currently I have 2 watts per gallon.. and I have a open brain and a few Ricordea mushroom rocks.. <Seems like this may be an indicator but even if you had enough light, all animals need time to adjust to the environment. I would try to add a minimum of another 3 watts per. Happy Holidays ~P>

Re: Let there be light II 12/16/03 Oh my I read you nightly like I said just for my own education and oops I can not believe I did not list my corals. <ahhh... no worries> Well here goes 1.a lg Frogspawn way up on top blocked from other corals 2 Lg Palythoa 3 4 Mo old Flower pot coral 4  Toadstool leathers 5  Lg Yellow Finger Leather 6  LG Plate coral 7 misc Mushrooms  12 8  3  Capnella corals 9  Sm number of Zoanthids 10  very lg Fan worm 11 3 species Gorgonians 12 md Candycane Coral 13   4 inch Ricordea Can most of these be considered lower light animals generally speaking. Sorry for not mentioning before. <I would say that they are collectively moderate leaning to high light species (the Ricordea and Yellow leathers need to be in the top of this and most any tank - within 10" of surface. Only the corallimorphs (excluding Ricordea) can be fairly called lower light animals. Best regards, Anthony>

Lighting Upgrade for Corals (12/10/2003) Steve, Thanks. <You're welcome> I will check out Scott's water change regimen.  I will also do a water change to try to lower the dKH slowly. The tank is 75 gallons. I only plan on having hardy corals such as leathers, mushrooms, polyps and hardy LPS.  Nothing like Acropora or anything like that.  Will the 48" 4x65 CSL PC w/Moon-lite be adequate for my needs? <Should be. Always research the needs of any particular coral you wish to acquire before purchasing. Until Bob and Anthony finish NMA Corals (2005), Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals" is probably the best resource. I also like "Reef Secrets," by Nilsen & Foss?for a brief overview. Be sure to acclimate corals to the new lighting to avoid shocking them. Check here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm > Will the Moonlite help with corals/ coralline algae, or is it just for viewing pleasure? <Primarily the latter, but may have some physiologic benefits to the animals. The jury's still out.> Right now all I have for lighting is an All-Glass double tube NO fluorescent strip light with a 10,000k bulb and an actinic bulb.  I know its not much.  <Fine for FOWLR.> I have my toadstool leather right near the top middle of the tank and it looks gorgeous. <May need to move it down a bit with the new lights.> My mushrooms also extend nicely.  The polyps I have actually grew on the live rock.  They started as two separate polyps. <Do be aware of zoanthids potential toxicity to you if not handled properly. Search WWM for info.> Now one section has three polyps and the other section has two polyps and another small bud... all under NO lights! <Sounds nice!> One thing I don't have a lot of is coralline algae.  I do have large sections on my live rock, but I don't get new spots anywhere??? <Many people don't want spots on their glass or equipment anyway.> Will new lights help with this? <Probably, but do keep nutrients under control to avoid an ugly bloom of nuisance algae.> Thanks much, I really appreciate it. <my pleasure> Daryl Lighting Hi WWM Crew, I recently received my copy of "Reef Invertebrates" By far the best, most comprehensive (understandable) marine resource I have read! My question today is the ever controversial subject of lighting. I am setting up a 75 gal reef and would like to keep just about anything, including SPS and clams. I need help is deciding between a 4 x 96 PC system or a 2 x 175 MH  (10K) with 2 x 96 PC (03) Do I need the MH's? <if you want to keep colorful SPS, yes. clams also should be kept under halides. (really depends on what kind of corals you want.) > Are just the  4 PC's enough? <you will be able to keep some SPS and some clams under PC.s but they will be mostly be brown or turn brown, without intense lighting> In the long run is it worth the extra $300 for the MH combo? <yes>   I would like to do it right the first time, rather than should have, would of could of. <Spend the extra money now, you will thank me later MikeH> Your advice is much appreciated. Thank you.

Low Light Corals - 11/18/03 I have a 55 gallon tank that I have had running for about 2.5 months now. <Wow. Fairly new. Welcome to this exciting hobby!> Everything has been going great, and I am looking for some easy low light corals if possible. <Well some zoanthids and mushroom corals might do well but of course it depends on the intensity and PAR output of your lighting source as well as coral and coral placement (if you are not sure what any of the aforementioned items are, please read through our many lighting FAQS and articles on WetWebMedia>  If I don't have enough light for corals, can you recommend some other interesting life that I do have the proper conditions for? <What kind of lighting are we talking about here..?>  I don't want to get anything that I cannot keep successfully. <A very smart approach. Not good for the pocket book or your morale > I have a Coralife Aqualite PC light strip (two 65 watt 50/50 bulbs). <I believe the corals I mentioned above and maybe some Nephtheids possible>  I wanted to get some mushrooms, but the LFS says I need at least 180 watts of light for even mushrooms.  Is this true? <More light doesn't hurt but it could be possible to keep them with their placement high in your tank> Also, I have a coral beauty angel I just added. I have read that it's a gamble as far as whether they will be reef safe or not. <Well, I would read more about them and check through the various reef forums for others experience with them in reef tanks> I had a bunch of feather dusters coming out of my live rock, as well as some kind of coral.  The "coral" grew little tubes with a fan looking thing on top out of a white porous lumpy rock (Fiji live rock). <Sounds like some form of worm possibly, hard to say with this description>  Any idea what this could be (I know. very vague description but maybe this is common growth of Fiji LR)? <I believe common for Fijian live rock but not sure exactly by what you describe without some form of picture.> I have not seen any feather dusters come out, and the coral growths have been not been out (they pull into the rock sometimes) since I added the coral beauty. <Mmmmmm maybe because they are no longer there. Perhaps they have already been digested??> He does nip at the live rock, but I am not sure if he is just nipping at algae, or if he could have eaten all this life already (only been in there 3 days). <Doesn't take long in a captive system. Fish/invertebrates in a barrel....literally!!> What do you think? <I think more research on our site, through books, and discussion in forums will help you make a better informed decision. I wouldn't chance it myself. Good luck to you, mate. -Paul> Thanks for the great advice! -Ken

Lighting for LPS Tank  Hi!  I'm planning to set up a 55g (36x18x21) LPS tank. I plan on keeping mostly Euphyllias, but if possible would also like to have plate corals, and Faviidae. I'm going to DIY a 4x55watt PC retrofit. is this to much/little for the continued health of these animals?  < you will be good with what you are using use 2 white bulbs and 2 blue bulbs>  thanks, Zach  <welcome MikeH> 

Actinic lighting - 11/4/03 Hi, My tank lighting is fluorescent tubes, I have had 1/2 actinic, and 1/2 full spectrum. <What kind of fluorescent lighting are we talking here? Standard (NO), VHO, HO, or PC?> However, the person at my LFS has told me that it is the actinic that is needed by organisms containing zooxanthellae, so I have now gone to 3/4 actinics. <Mmmmmm. Well..... right to a degree....have you read through our article and FAQs on lighting?? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/fluolgtgmar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/index.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm In any event, I am not so sure I am sold on high actinic lighting, and here is some of my reasoning (warning: not scientific): I work in the husbandry department of a major public aquarium here in the Bay Area and all that we use is metal halide lights ranging in spectrum from 6700K and 10000K. (10000K being a more blue in the Kelvin scale) We have never employed the use of actinic on a single reef tank yet. The growth is very  prolific for all SPS, LPS and soft. I personally employ only 10000K lighting for various coral tanks as well (I use Power Compact). I personally don't think a tank without actinic lighting will affect corals one way or another. <I do like the balanced blue with a 6700K or 10000K but I feel the 10000K provide enough blue for PAR) Now, I have no scientific research or even a true test harness to correlate my feelings and impressions. (I am somewhat sure someone out there could give you true scientific data regarding the growth and mortality of corals with and without actinic lighting maybe Sanjay Joshi or Craig Bingman?) I can tell you, we haven't seen any side effects without actinic lighting for the past few years without it>  However the overall effect is a slightly darker looking tank, although things are fluorescing more,<normal and expected> so just wanted a second opinion. <Read the above> It is currently a softies only tank along with a Hydnophora and various polyps and mushrooms. <Should be fine, but I believe these coral choices with the exception of the Hydnophora, would be appropriate even for NO lighting, for the most part. Again, I don't believe you need to rely so heavily in actinic as you should go for a display that looks natural and appealing provided the inhabitants needs are being met first. Lighting output, spectrum, and intensity make a difference> However, in case I ever move up to SPS or whatever, I would also like to know what ratio of lighting I should use in this event. <Not a matter of ratio in my opinion as much as I believe that you have provided enough PAR for photosynthesis at the proper wattage output (intensity) and at the proper spectrum. Most high end aquarium lighting systems today, provide enough blue light at the 10000K spectrum for photosynthesis. Another important aspect to coral keeping is feeding. It is my belief that photosynthesis alone is not enough to keep corals alive. They are feeding at some level aside from photosynthesis.>  I cannot go MH as heat is an issue. <OK... Nothing can be made to mitigate the heat issue? Be sure you provide the proper environment before purchasing a particular animal or coral.> And, thanks for the great service you provide. <Thank you for your question. -Paul>  Cheers, Alastair

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>

-20k versus actinics- Hey everyone.. Just a quick question or two regarding lighting.  Well I hope it's quick anyway.  Has there been any coral growth difference noted when using 20K MH bulbs as opposed to VHO actinics?  Good or otherwise? <The corals seem to benefit by the increase in intensity, as well as from the added spectrum of the 20k lamp.> I know corals can thrive on the actinic spectrum when it is placed close enough to the water. <Only actinic?!> Could/Would we expect the same type of growth from 20K MH? <Many aquarists get incredible growth under 20k lamps. It's important to note that lighting is only one of the many variables that goes into how well a coral thrives (available calcium and alkalinity, and proper water movement are also critical). I get great growth, and use 10k 400w lamps. Basically, it's not just the bulb, you could have excellent growth under most lamps provided everything else is in check.> If I used a 20k in between two 10K bulbs, all with spider light reflectors in a 48" tank.. would I expect to see a "blue spotlight" in the center or would the reflector disperse the blue light evenly over most of the tank? <It would be noticeably bluer in the middle. It would be worth a shot, but you may not be happy with the results. Dig around the forums for pictures of tanks with this same setup.> I can't say enough what a God send this website is, not to mention the wonderful people who keep it running.  You are all an inspiration to aquarists everywhere. Thanks once again for everything and anxiously awaiting the next volume in "Natural Marine Aquarium" series. <I hope I've been of some help. -Kevin> Jeremy - Pineville, LA

Lighting and coral reaction - 9/3/03 Hi,   This is a sort of mixed bag question. <We can take it.>  The first is a question regarding the lifespan of PCs. <Always seems to depend on the brand of the lights and the fixture. (more about the component structure of the fixture and gas structure in the tubes>  I currently have a 55 gallon bowfront tank and I have 1x 96watt 10000 K daylight bulb and a 96 watt UltraActinic bulb both from Catalina products. <Not familiar with this brand per se.> I have had my lighting hood for a little under a year now, and have found that I have been having to change the light bulbs more and more frequently.  I just changed my actinic bulb about 2.5 months ago and have noticed that they are visibly dim again. <Not easily seem with the naked eye> I noticed this too with my ultradaylight bulb prior to this.  I know that it is difficult to gage the intensity of the light by human eyes, but this was visibly decreased in intensity. <Again, without familiarity with the brand you describe, you might be better served asking them about how often a bulb needs to be changed. For what it is worth, the rule of thumb can be from nine months to no longer than a year with typical usage (10-12 hours)>   I have read that PCs are generally changed every 6 months. <Could be> Sounds like there is something wrong with either the bulbs I'm getting or with the light fixture. <Very possible.>   In a related (or so I think), my star polyps have not been wanting to open up recently.  I know there are numerous factors that can contribute to this including sudden decreases/increases in light intensity or spectral shifts. Should I change the bulb and see what happens. <An easy experiment. I think it would be a viable option. Overall though, go through our FAQs on the subject of polyps and their behavior. Check this out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clavulariids.htm See if there is not something that can be gleaned to help your situation>  Please let me know.  Thanks for your time. <Good luck. -Paul> Fil

Light for Coral in Quarantine - 8/15/03 Thanks for the help in advance.  I have read with diligence the info concerning quarantining corals and invertebrates.  Great idea!   <yes... very necessary to prevent the introduction of pests, parasites, and diseases> Read about lighting, but have a concern.  Some distributors of corals make (SPS especially) make an effort to tell you about their lighting system and how the corals need specific intensity.  Some even go to the effort of suggesting locations in term of depth to light.   It is very helpful that they share the params under which they grew their product> How can you replicate this in the quarantine tank by normal florescent lighting? <easily my friend... do realize that the PAR of many fluorescent lights in 4-10" of a shallow QT tank (say 10 or 20 gall) can easily compare to that of a MH at depth (12-24"). Most MHs can only deliver 25% or less light read at the surface to the bottom third of the aquarium. And even in cases where you cannot meet the arbitrary high standards of the source, know that QT is not at all about matching these params. Cnidarians can easily be fed to compensate for a lack of lighting (as in QT)... interestingly, the reverse is not true. You cannot make up for a lack of food with extra lights (as some SPS maniacs with 400 and 1000 watt halides seem to think). Corals feed by absorption or organismally. Discover which yours responds to easier and simply kept it fed well under moderate lighting in QT. No worries about color changes... they will come back under bright light. Its just as well, since even bright light corals must suffer the darkness of extended transit for delivery. In some cases, resumed bright lights would be stressful. Great question... best regards, Anthony>

- Issues with Coral - Hi, I've had a 55 gallon reef tank set up for about 10 months with everything working great.  However, recently (in the past 2 weeks), the corals seem to be slowly fading.  Here's a list of what I have in the tank and its current health pulsing xenia--going limp over the past 4 days; fox coral--receding over the past 2 weeks; green bubble coral--seems to be fine; encrusting gorgonian--seems to be fine; Tubastrea--receding over the past 2 weeks  <Is this fed on a regular basis with a meaty seafood?> frogspawn--isn't coming out as fully; candy cane coral--receding; all of the fish (Firefish, 3 Chromis, Clownfish, Flame Angel, Royal Gramma and Mandarin) are looking and behaving normally.  I've checked the nitrates (5 ppm), calcium (400), pH (8.0), specific gravity (1.024), temperature (80).  I can't seem to figure out what the problem is. I've got a Seaclone 150 skimmer, an under gravel filter, a penguin BioWheel 350 and 60 lbs of live rock. <First off, I would suggest removing the under gravel filter and substrate in favor of a deep live sand bed. I would remove any mechanical or bio filtration from the penguin since you have ample live rock. You may also want to upgrade your protein skimmer as it is a bit undersized (regardless of what they recommend on the box).> The light is a 260 watt JBJ  (2 actinic bulbs and 2 daylight) which is on from 8 am to 10 pm with a 1/2 hour dawn dusk effect with just the actinic bulbs.  The manufacturer doesn't recommend changing the bulbs until 14-16 months so I don't think that could be the problem either. <Regardless of what JBJ says, all fluorescent lamps should be changed at a maximum of every twelve months. 8-10 would be much better. Even though the intensity will have dropped and the spectrum shifted, I doubt it would be causing the problems you have described.> I'm planning on adding a 20 gallon refugium in the next week or so which I thought might help, but I was wondering if you have any ideas of what could be causing this problem.  I can't think of anything else.  Please help!!  Thanks  --Kirra <There was a similar problem with another aquarist who, after several full range water tests, discovered that the cord to his heater  had disintegrated while submerged. Check all your wires, and do be careful. I would run a copper test to rule that out, then perform a large 50%+ water change. It is possible that a contaminate has gotten in there that does not effect the fish (like heavy metals). I would also pop in a poly-filter or two because they adsorb all sorts of nasties. Where is your top-off and water change water coming from? -Kevin>

Eclipse I Hood w/ SmartLite 32 Retro Kit Lighting II - 8/15/03 Thanks for the reply Anthony.  All my mates at fishprofiles.com are laughing their heads off too.... <you are a very good sport my friend <G>. Truly so. It allows us to answer queries while illuminating other/bigger issues to the masses at large that read our dailies> Hobbyist, but, yeah... I'm in an academic environment and mindset lately. <heehee... not a crime at all. Just do not forget to enjoy the organic aspects of the hobby in addition to your personal interests of hard science> Thanks for busting my balls a bit... I know I'm over analyzing... but it's hard to get a straight answer since everyone has different tank sizes, etc (and opinions on what will and will not grow).   <indeed... understood and agreed. And much of it is mitigated by the fact that most corals are so very adaptable to changes in light if conducted slowly. It's very important to know that deficiencies in light can be easily overcome with feeding... but the reverse is not true. Point being... err on the conservative side of lighting (no 1000W MH on a 55 gallon <G>) if you want more options for corals. And feeding is a very crucial but commonly overlooked aspect of husbandry> So I figured I would get objective.... Anyway... if so much will grow?  How about some colorful suggestions (ok....colorful language too) <depends on how frisky you are about cutting coral, or no. For the low maintenance gamut... Tridacna crocea and maxima clam babies are scary slow growers. Some handsome Porites spp. (yellow cylindricus, purple nigrescens or green lobata) tend to be relatively slow growing. Blastomussa for the lower light areas would be great. Most of the soft corals are to be avoided for their fast growth unless you want to play the other side of the coin (frequent propagation)> Will low light grow stuff grow on the substrate? <many many species, yes... in such a shallow tank> Would medium light stuff grow on the rocks that are piled higher? Or am I just getting too detailed again?   <a bit my friend. The tank is so very shallow that you can grow almost anything with proper feeding and adequate water changes> Just buy something and see what happens? <better still... find a group/niche and focus on it... shallow water SPS... low light LPS or polyps... medium light Octocorals (and frag away), etc> Thanks, Jeff <and sincere thank to you again, Jeff for being a great sport. Wishing you the very best of luck. Anthony>

Galaxea - Aggressive Coral - 8/12/03 Hello to All! Recently I purchased a Galaxea coral. It's a very beautiful coral and nice addition to my reef.  On the downside, it's tentacles are sweeping 4-5 inches reaching my xenia, which I have previously read about on your FAQs. <the tentacles in time can extend to 10-12". This is a beautiful but very aggressive coral indeed!> I thought I had put him far enough away from all of my corals atop my live rocks.  Tonight, I realize that I thought wrong.  I am now dumb-founded on where I should place it.  My tank is 65g, 85lbs LR with 384w PC lighting..  With the tank being 24" deep, would I offer him enough light to be placed on the substrate?   <PCs do not penetrate water adequately at depth (below 12-16" is weak IMO). Perhaps position the coral on one of the flanking sides of the tank (within 16" of surface) to minimize its battlefront> Thanks Jason -Surfs Up! <best regards, Anthony>

-Quick lighting question- One more question... My tank is a 12 gallon (24' L, 12' H and 12' W). <FYI a 24x12x12 holds 15g and is sold as such, should you ever need a replacement.> and I plan to move it to another 30 gallon tank (24' L, 18' H and 18' W).  Do you think my lighting is enough?  Currently, I use Power Compacts... a 10000k 36watts White Light and a 10000k 36watts Actinic Blue.  Will this suffice for the 30 gallon tank?  Please advise. <Is this in regards to the anemone? If so, metal halide would be optimal, but at least 2-4 full length pc's would do. Good luck! -Kevin> Cheers! Caleb

UV Hazard, Real for Cnidarians? 7/13/03 Seems as though the consensus among you all is that MH lighting requires some sort of UV filter. <not always... depends on the coral you keep. Some need UV to keep their natural color... others change or suffer due to excess exposure. Health and vigor issues too. I lean towards allowing UV into the tank... but not into the room (protect your eyes via a closed canopy)> However, I have read elsewhere that MH lighting does not produce nearly as much UV-A, B or C as the sun and in that context, shallow living reef creatures can handle it. <varies by lamp> I've got 3 X 175W over a 175 gallon, 24" deep tank (not sure of the brand, box was unmarked as to manufacturer but they are 10,000K with mogul base). <do inquire about bulb brand.. some are just terrible, others like Ushio/Aqualines and Iwasakis are very good> Is this a matter of debate or would you say there is no question regarding UV hazard? Regards. <depends entirely on the species being kept and from where upon the reef it was collected. Most corals are adaptable over time at any rate. Best regards, Anthony>

Lighting upgrade for SPS corals? 6/28/03 Anthony, I have about 7 frags and one white Acropora sp. Most are in the top 1/3 of the tank.  One is right below the surface.  Two are about in the middle (Montipora digitata and cap) Currently, my lights are 6" above the water.  Do you think they should be ok with my lights? Would it help to move them down to about 3-4? <no worries... fine and adaptable as they are... will need to be fragged more often to control growth though for their shallow placement. Place them lower if you'd like to see larger adult colonies> I was thinking about upgrading to 175W halides but want to wait a while to save some $ if not an urgent necessity. <understood.. no hurry on the upgrade, mate. Just be mindful of water clarity for best light penetration: wipe lamps and canopies down weekly... change carbon in small amounts weekly instead of monthly, etc.> Thanks for all your help. Andrew <best regards, Anthony>

Blinded by the light... (06/22/03) Hi, I have read facts and questions section and haven't find an answer to my problem. <Hi. Ananda here today, with an idea on this one...> I have a 34 gallon tank and was using 65 watt CSL Compact on it...I have Soft Coral which was doing fine. a week ago I upgraded to VHO Lighting, I now have 3-24" URI VHO ( 2- super actinic, 1-AquaSun)... <Oh my goodness... unless you *gradually* increase the lighting level over the corals, you can light-shock them. Imagine walking from a dark closet into the bright outdoors -- you tend to squint, don't you? Well, you have eyelids that can protect your eyes, but your corals do not have anything that can protect their bodies.> now the corals are not doing as good...two is dying...I went from 1.9 watt per gallon to 6.6 watts per gallon.... What's wrong...are the VHO Lighting too strong? <A sudden increase like that would cause problems, yes.> I wasn't home one time when the temperature went up to 87 degree in the tank... <Yikes! That undoubtedly compounded the problem. Not only too bright, but far too hot...> I am now buying a IceCap Fan.... <In the meantime, a small fan aimed across the top of the water will help.> What do u think is the problems the Light too strong or temperature of the water? <Both! The corals were not given time to adjust to the bright lighting, and that followed by the temperature spike stressed them further. I would put several layers of screening between the lights and the tank, until you get the lighting much closer to what it was with your CSL lighting. Then you can *gradually* remove layers of screening -- over the course of many days to allow them to acclimate to the extra light. Do look around on the WetWebMedia site and chat forums for more info about doing this.> would appreciate anything that can help thanks, Scott <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Lighting for 70 gallon Reef 6/17/03 Well, I just finished reading the article--good stuff.  The list of species I would like to keep includes frogspawn, xenia, Goniopora, elegance (maybe), leather, polyps, and zoanthids.  Since this is a fairly compatible group regarding light requirements (per a previous e-mail you sent me), would you recommend VHO, PC, or dual 175w MH (70gal)?  I like the fact that MH are quite cost effective.  I realize there is no "perfect" answer, but to be honest, I'd prefer to get MH if it will be best for the corals.  But, if there's a chance it's going to hurt them (since I won't be keeping SPS coral), I won't get it.  In your professional opinion, which lighting system would you get?  I value your opinion.  This will be the last question I ask regarding this situation...I promise!  Thanks again. Sam <IMO... I think a very nice/quality outfit for this tank would be two 150 watt double ended HQI lamps. Not scary bright lighting... but good penetration at depth and superb quality. 10K color ideally. Best regards, Anthony>

Reef Lighting 6/15/03 Hello there! <howdy!> FYI: Since I began two years ago, you all have been absolutely indispensable to me in my growth within this fantastic hobby.  I suppose that is how the hobby will flourish and advance--with the passing-on of information.   <agreed... good for fellowship, education and business> Anyhow, I have a MH question:  I have a 75-gallon tank (48x18x24) with 110lbs of live rock, some soft corals, polyps, etc. Essentially, you could call it a "reef" tank.  I have had considerable trouble with the power compacts I have currently (six 55w 10,000k bright white--two separate hoods), but I have always wanted the freedom MHs can provide if used correctly.  With that said, what wattage do you recommend for a setup such as mine?   <we cannot pick the wattage or lamp color before selecting the corals my friend. Available species have such varying needs> I have used the "four watts per gallon" formula in the past.  I found a MH canopy at "Cool Touch Lighting" that I am strongly considering.  It's a dual 175w MH canopy (it can be seen at: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2328948524&category=3212)Would this suffice?  Is it too much?  Too little?  As I mentioned, I'm looking to be able to keep some more "difficult" corals.  For sake of brevity, please assume my water quality is fine.  Thanks! Sam Minneapolis, MN <Sam, the needs of a red open brain coral, versus a blue-tipped Acropora versus a yellow Porites or pink Goniastrea could not be any more different/contrasting from each other. Make a list of intended corals you'd like to keep, then research their place/niche on a reef and only then can you select lighting for them. Heavier blues (14-20K) for many of the LPS and deeper water polyps... warm daylight for shallow corals and clams (6500K)... many other corals in between (7-10K). The wattage has as much to do about their placement in he tank at what depth. Still... unlikely to need more than two 250 watt halides here for even the most demanding corals. Best regards, Anthony>
Reef Lighting II 6/16/03
Thanks for the quick response!  I apologize for not being more detailed.   <no worries my friend... my apologies for the generalizations... a must at times around here when the mail is heavy and/or time is limited> Specifically, I would like to keep some torch coral, frogspawn, leather, polyps, zoanthids, xenia, and maybe Goniopora.   <a reasonably compatible group regarding light requirements... fairly moderate. Some zoanthids and Alcyoniid leathers would actually grow better with high light... yet, no worries - better in moderate light without their invasive growth and superlative expressions of noxious exudations (from high/heavy MH lighting)> Acropora, brains, and other similar stony corals, do not interest me at this point.   <good to hear, my friend... they are rather incompatible for several reasons as you know> So, with that said, will two 175w MHs do the job?   <absolutely. Do pick a tried and true lamp... Ushio or Aqualine B.s would get my vote at 10K color> I have a slanting live rock "wall" that rises from the front to the back.   <Hmmm... before you get too far along into the tank, please be sure this structure is not built against the back glass - crippling to water flow and tank health in the long. All rock structures should be kept at least 3-4" off any glass surface to allow water movement through and behind the reef> In other words, I have space to put something on the bottom of the tank, and plenty of space near the surface (a gradient, you could say).  Thanks in advance. Sam <indeed... very fine, Sam. The gradient will work nicely for variability when placing corals/needs. Best regards! Anthony>

Coral Lighting Kevin, I appreciate your help. Just so I understand you in order to keep a pearl bubble coral, an Open Brain, A green daisy Polyp and a Colt Coral I need more light. <For the open brain I would recommend more light, but I was referring mainly to the additions you were going to make> I have a Custom Sea Life 50/50 10000K bulbs. 2 65 watt bulbs. I know your not a big fan of watts per gallon but it's at 2.3 now. <I still don't like watts per gallon:)> This unit cost about 130 dollars. I could get a Jalli 4 bulb unit with 4 55 watt bulbs. That's 230 watts for 199.00. <Do a quick search of the reef message boards looking for problems w/ Jalli. Of the more inexpensive pc lines, Coralife's new ones don't usually crap out, but be wary of JBJ and Helios. CSL work great, but they are much more expensive.> It's 4 watts per gallon. <Ahhhh!> Is that enough for the torch coral? They claim at custom sea life their bulbs produce 250% more light than the average compact or something like that. <You would have a happy torch w/ that setup. Panasonic makes CSL's bulbs, not sure who makes everyone else's but they are very similar. I believe they're referring to NO's when they say 250% more.> Their (Custom sea Life) is 500.00 dollars. I was wondering what you think of the Jalli 4 bulbs 230 watts for only 199.00. Is that enough light for most soft corals. <Go for the Jalli if you cant find too many problems w/ them.> My budget can't justify 500.00 or more. Plus my tank can only fit about 8 inches wide. Is Jalli reliable or is it junk. <I suppose you'll find out!> I hope your enjoying your holiday...........Chet <I am! Good luck! -Kevin>

Coral coloration 4/30/03 Hey there (again)- One last thing... I was thinking that a lack of UV was part of my lack of coloration problem.   <for some corals yes, true... for others the opposite (too much UV... often indicated by many/any original colored coral turning green). Corals have iridescent pigments to both reflect and refract light (the latter in the case of lower light corals... needing to amplify weak light within tissue... hence pigments that make them colorful in this case)> Would adding VHOs either actinic or daylight provide UV?   <case by case basis... depends on the lamp: HQI vs. MH vs. Fluorescent> Would upgrading to 250 watters provide more UV as well?   <as per above... depends on the bulb. Although it would not be prudent/responsible to assume that the main problem is a lack of UV... especially when you have already likely been getting a lot of UV already since you do not have a glass or acrylic top yet you still don't have the coral coloration you seek.> From what it sounds like I do not need to have actinics in the back of the tank, <correct> so I can use the parabolic (PFO optimal) with halides and place all actinics in the front of the tank, correct?   <very much agreed... and depending on the coral species you are keeping (especially for LPS)... you may want to look at 20K Radiums to get some great iridescent colors in your corals (at the slight expense to color and growth for some others)> Thank you very much- you guys are great! Josh <thanks kindly, my friend... best of luck! Anthony>

More lighting reef animals hey Anthony- <whassup Josh> The underlying problem with the whole issue of adding more actinics and getting better reflectors is this:  I have been adding more and more SPS corals to my tank only to see them loose color, get browner, and exhibit little growth.   <likely has nothing to do with lack of actinics/fluorescents <G>. The lack of growth is most always misdiagnosed. Generally caused by lack of water flow or water flow misapplied (assuming your bio-mineral levels are VERY stable... not fluctuating from weekly or erratic dosing instead of proper daily). Seek closer to 20X tank turnover (no shared pumps/wave timers either... dreadful)... of full-time random turbulent flow... avoid laminar too as with powerheads. The browning up of the corals is more likely from excess organics fertilizing your zooxanthellae (need fairly low DOC. nitrate, etc levels).> After I upgraded my skimmer to an aqua-c ev240, many of the SPS have gotten less brown.   <consistent with my theory above... less fertilizer> However, they still lack a good amount of color. <could be UV too... try removing the lens between the halides and water over one side of the tank. Unless of course the lens had been neglected in the past (not cleaned frequently) and allowed dust/salt creep on bulb or lens to ruin coral color> I believe that I need more light intensity to maintain their color.   <unlikely IMO... but try one side of the tank only first if your must so as not to shock all corals> I would like to upgrade to 3-250 watt halides and if I do, are the reflectors that essential? <on the halides, yes> I am deciding between using Iwasaki 6500k or AquaLine 10k.  I know the Iwasaki have a higher par rating and more lumens but the AquaLine might be better for coloration.  What is your opinion? <agreed... do 10K for color... and use better water flow to pick up lost growth for not using 6500> Also, after viewing many SPS coral tank setups online, I see a trend towards VHO supplementation to the halides which seems to result in good coral coloration.  It seems the power compact actinics are not that great for coral fluorescing.  That is why I was considering adding VHO actinic to my setup(3-175 watt Aqualines w/ 4-96watt pc actinics) currently and adding the reflectors- to maximize the amount of light from my current setup. <do think you can "survive" without the halide upgrade> Also, I don't have a top on my tank and that was why I was concerned with having the VHOs too close b/c of salt spray.   <not a bulb problem here... but a bubble/return line problem. Should be able to avoid dangerous salt spray easily... and all bulbs really need wiped down weekly at any rate for max efficacy> Would a top block any light or UV? <yes... and not recommended here. Just keep the lamps wiped down> You said the VHOs are not needed for the corals- why is that? <they do not penetrate water at depth as well (certainly not from 4" plus) and have more blue than needed. Plenty of blue in all modern halides. Just cool for effect to have actinics <G>> Thank you so much for your help once again, I greatly appreciate it. Josh <best regards, Anthony>

- Lighting for a Goniastrea - Is 175 watt metal halide bulb enough lighting for a Goniastrea? <Should be fine. Cheers, J -- >

Lighting/Coral Question  4/27/03 How would I acclimate corals with different lighting needs to live in the same light? <Well... if the corals can be kept together in the same tank without any problems then you will need to place the corals on different "levels" of rock.  Corals that need more light will go higher up, corals that need less light go on the bottom.>  The corals are bubble, hammer and Goniastrea and I know they are very similar? <I'd pick up a copy of either Eric Borneman's coral book or Anthony Calfo's coral book... what the heck get both.  They are worth it!  Hope this helps!  Phil>

Different strokes for different corals! Lighting 4/25/03 I have a Goniastrea and a Bubble coral and a Hammer coral I know they require different lighting but if I get two separate canopies and put a 175 watt bulb on one side where the Goniastrea is and put a 150 or 125 watt bulb on the other where the bubble and hammer is would that be able to work out? <seems reasonable... but if slowly acclimated, any of these corals could all adapt to the same standardized lighting in time... especially given how very similar they are (the slight difference in wattage could be negated by placement of coral at depth). Best regards, Anthony>

MH, are they really that bad? hey guys am bidding on this MH 175w light on eBay that comes w/ a coral life 20k light. from what I've seen you guys do not like this light or color. am keeping SPS corals and guess what I want is your opinion on this purchase ( I do not want to buy a new bulb) thanks, Justin<This color of bulb can be used for some of the deeper water SPS and many LPS.  If you are wanting to keep the shallower water SPS like Acropora you will need a bulb color around 10,000k.  Cody>

Lighting on a 125 and SPS color 3/13/03 hello there- <Howdy!> I have a 125 gallon AGA aquarium.  The tank is filled with LPS and soft corals on the lower half of the tank and SPS corals towards the upper half of the tank. The lighting is 3-175 watt Aqualine 10K bulbs with 4-96 watt power compact actinics.  I currently have the bulbs oriented parallel to the tank with flat reflectors.  I am looking to get more light out of my bulbs and want to purchase PFO optimal reflectors (similar to the spider reflectors- parabolic spectral reflectors).  Do you recommend switching to these reflectors?  I have read good reports of them on the website.   <If they are similar to the spider reflectors, they will be very fine> The reflectors are designed to be mounted perpendicular to the tank.   <indeed... MH lamps should be this way... amazing but true> If I mount the halide bulbs perpendicular to the tank, because of my hood configuration (front 1/3 flips up) I would have to have all 4 power compact actinics in the front.  Would this be a problem? <I don't think the pc.s are contributing much beyond aesthetics here (lack of ability to penetrate water at depth)... no worries> I currently have 2 in front of the halides and 2 in back of the halides.  I am worried that if all the actinics are the front, my SPS, which are primarily at the back, will loose even more color than they have.  To my next question, what factors affect the coloration of SPS corals?   <coral pigmentation is not clearly understood and the factors that influence that we do know would take pages to recite to you. Just a few: water clarity (yellowing agents), food sources (nitrogen), proteins that reflect weak light into a coral... and proteins that refract bright/excess light away from a coral, water depth...> I have lost some color in my stonies since putting them in.   <frankly... we see this all the time with aquarists that mix LPS, SPS and softies in one tank. Most aquarists can run a tank like this for a year or two... but in time, the unnatural mix (different needs of corals from a wide range of reef niches plus unnatural chemical aggression) catches up and the problems begin. My advice is to focus on only one group of corals > A pink Acropora has turned more of a brown pink, the purple coloration is not as vibrant, and the yellows are not as vibrant.  Is this due to needing more actinics?   <not likely... high DOC or nitrate levels however are a common cause (organic fertilizer for the brown symbiotic algae)> Is this due to the Kelvin rating of the metal halides(10k)?   <if your bulbs are less than 2 years old, the lamps and lenses are clean (no dust/debris) and your water is clear (weekly carbon or use of ozone)... then I don't believe the lights are a problem here. AB brand 10K;s are excellent lamps> Is this due to calcium/alkalinity issues?   <not an issue, my friend. Do check water chemistry and clarity first> Thank you for your help and time. Josh <best regards, Anthony>

Follow up ad Favites lighting - 3/5/03 Thank you for your reply. <No problem> Gosh, you guys are attentive. <We aim to please>  I will wait patiently for Anthony's comments. <actually he stated to me that he agreed with my comments. So he and I feel there is no need for a second reply.>  While I have your attention, (last question I promise), what are the light requirements for a red Favites?  I know the requirements for a green/brown one, but how does a red specimen compare to a green/brown Favites brain. <Well, in my references, it is my understanding that the green versions usually require higher light and found in shallower water and red colorations are found in a bit deeper water with a bit less or moderate light. Being that these are Favites (which I have personally seen in habitat diving for research in the indo-pacific) I recall that the green and red were pretty much in the same areas in and around lagoons and near shore flats. The green were found closer to sloping walls at the leading edge near surface. In other words, they like a good amount to moderate light in my experience. They were shaded through the highest point of the sun, but you could try some experimentation. In my experience they are very adaptable. Although, sun, seven degrees off the equator, is very much different than aquarium lighting (or sun anywhere else for that matter). Look around various reef forums and do a search for "Favites care" and see what other aquarists are doing with their lighting schemes in relation to Favites sustainability. Later, Paul> Joey  

Reef Lighting 3/3/03 Hopefully my last lighting question.  So with the 10K 175W Halides running within the 6 to 9 inch distance from acrylic tank, within the top 8 inches of the 24 inch high tank (less with a DSB of 4 to 5 inches ) will the SPS corals that I place there maintain there purple, blue, or whatever other color they might have, or will they "brown" up a bit.   <neither or both... cannot say. That depends on the species. Some SPS need UV to maintain UV reflecting proteins/pigments... some shun them. It's really an unfair question when talking about foliaceous Montipora collected at 60 feet depth in a tank next to Porites or Acropora collected in less than 10 feet of water. Your ability to keep handsome coral colors will depend on how thorough you are about researching compatible species> If I place any SPS on the bottom of the tank, will they also display some nice color or will they be too far and brown up?   <I'm sure you can find SPS to place near the bottom that will color up very nicely> If you had your choice of lighting for a 90 gallon trying to house colorful SPS corals, would you use the 2 175W halides, or go with 2 250W halides, with the only option of one wattage over the other.   <175 watters for Montipora dominated tank... 250 watters over Acropora/Porites dominated display> I am debating whether I should keep the 2 175W or get the 2 250W instead.  I don't want to realize at a later date that I don't have enough light to provide for some nice coloration, and I don't want TOO much to damage anything or produce lava.  Thanks for the help. <best regards, Anthony> 

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