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FAQs about Large Marine System Lighting

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Related FAQs: Metal Halides for 40-200 gal. Systems, MH for 200 gal. Plus Systems, Metal Halides for Medium-Sized Systems 2, & Large marine Systems 1, Large Marine Systems 2, & FAQs on: Large System Design, Large Tanks, Large System Lighting, Large System Filtration, Large System Skimmers, Large System Stocking, Large System Maintenance, Shark Systems Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Marine System Plumbing Biotopic presentations

Ask yourself: "What am I trying to do, accomplish here?" Just trying to see the livestock/system? Boosting metabolism of light-needing livestock... going into the marine farming business?

LED Lighting (Ready to replace MH?) – 05/16/14
Hi Bruce here,
<<Hey Bruce…Eric here>>
I have found your website very helpful over the years.
<<Ah! A collaborative effort and redeeming to know>>
With my new tank setup I am debating on staying with MH 10,000K with T5 actinic and LED moon lights or switching over to all LED. Tank is 72” x 30” x 30” plan on mainly SPS.
<<I have an SPS dominated 96”x30”x30” tank that I switched from MH to LED about a year and a half ago>>
Current lighting is 3-250 watt double ended HQI 10,000K, 8-39 watts actinic T5 and 12 blue and 12 white moonlights. I have always had great growth and color with Acros under 10,000K MH with actinic supplement, but I am looking to reduce heat so I can reduce electric bill from lights and chiller here in SoCal.
<<Understandable… I was able to take my chiller completely off-line when I made the switch from MH to LED and I live in hot and steamy South Carolina>>
I know LED can grow SPS but LEDs are changing so fast.
<<Indeed…and though honestly I am still not convinced LED is currently “better” than MH in all instances…I think it will get there>>
I was wondering if you have any recommendations based on the height and depth of tank of 30”?
<<I have some thoughts on this, yes>>
From what I have been able to make sense of, if I was at 24 x 24 it would be 3--4 fixtures but at 30 x 30 is where I am not sure.
<<This will depend much on the quality, power/intensity, lens spread, and overall dimension of the units you choose to use. As stated my display tank is also 30” deep and 30” high…the units I am using (AppolloReefLED.Com) are “recommended” to be employed as one unit per two-feet of tank length…and though I don’t think it is stated I do think they assume maximum ‘spread’ front-to-back will be 24” or less. My units have 90-degree lenses, are suspended 8” above the water’s surface, and based on my observation/opinion provide sufficient ‘intensity’ to the bottom of the 30” depth for “most anything” that requires illumination for growth/vitality. I have five of these units mounted end-to-end down the centerline of the 8-foot tank and this is more than sufficient re light spread along the length of the display. Light intensity does seem to trail off significantly at the outer edges of the 30” depth (front-to-back), but my tank is an in-wall system viewable from two sides with coral growing on “bommies” located down the centerline so this is not an issue for me. Even so, I could likely raise the light fixtures a few more inches to mitigate this>>
If I were to go with many more LED fixtures the initial cost would cover a lot of bulb replacements and electrical cost.
<<Very true>>
At that point the savings would be the cost of running the chiller.
<<And perhaps not insignificant of itself…but aside from this, I also noticed a reduction in heat/increase in comfort in the rooms where my tank is located>>
I have reviewed your website and others there is good info out there but also much misinformation. T5 and MH are such proven performers it is hard to make the change to LED on a large scale without some good input.
<<I agree, and had the same reservations…but there are units out there that can/will serve you well here I think. While cost is a consideration, you will need to get units with enough intensity (my suggestion would be a “minimum” of 110-watts of LED output per two-feet of tank length for an SPS dominated system) and spread (or enough units overall) so take your time with your research. I also like units that have a good mix of both warm and cool white (along with the blue and UV) versus all cool white with some green and red…but that’s just my choice>>
Thanks, Bruce
<<Happy to share…Eric Russell>>

Pieter's 20 foot long reef tank <bent-glass, very nice SW>    9/12/13
Hi Bob,
<James (Salty)>
Do not know if you have ever viewed this before but thought you may be interested.  Pieter is using our Atlantiks to light this monster system.
<Did see some stills of this system that you sent along. Impressive. Am going to share on WWM. BobF>

270 gallon reef tank lighting 6/12/12
Hello. I have a 270 gallon reef tank with fish. The dimensions are 72"x36"x24". I was wondering what the best lighting configuration would be and how much lighting I need. Currently I have 3 metal halides and two 6' vho blue.
<Will depend on the wattage of the metal halides and height above the tank.
 Kelvin temperature of the lamps is also important and you did not state this. The killer is the width of your tank (36").  If this is a hood type fixture, I doubt you would have full coverage at either end of the short side.  An inexpensive lumen meter would be beneficial here.  You can measure the intensity in the center and see how much it drops at the ends of the tank width.>
Is this the right configuration or should I be using something else? This is my first saltwater tank and I am trying to make
it run as efficiently as possible as far as energy consumption.
Thanks for your help,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
 Patrick G. 

96x30x30 - LED Lighting 1/13/12
Hi James (aka Salty Dog),
<Hello Rick>
The 375 gallon tank and stand are built (wish I could say the same about the new house they're intended for - slow progress).
I was "so close" to purchasing 10 Aquabeam 1000 HD Ultra Reef White LED Tiles for the tank (Boxing Day - Hot Sale Pricing), but J&L actually asked me to ensure they are "what I wanted" with a 30" deep tank. So I've been researching other options - the Kessill A150W LED pendant and the Orphek (I've heard there are issue with this Brazilian company and may be "in trouble"), Ecoray 112, the EcoTech Radion and the list goes on.
My question would be (considering you did a review on them), what could I expect to "grow" with 10 of the Aquabeam 1000 HD Ultra Reef White LED Tiles in a 30" tank? If the answer is "almost nothing near the bottom of the tank", do you have any suggestions or recommendations.
<The PAR reading results were at 600mm in depth (23.4") and averaged around 120.
I would think with 6" added to the depth the PAR reading would be somewhere under 100.
Without actually knowing what the PAR level would be, I cannot state what would grow at that depth.
My recommendation for your tank would be the Orphek PR156.  PAR results and suggested placement of these fixtures on a 96"x30" tank can be found here. 
You may want to look at this recent PAR testing of several LED fixtures that was conducted by Sanjay
Joshi, Ph.D.  Be sure to read the conclusion.
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Lighting Question/Reef Lighting 2/3/11
<Hello Barry>
I have a 240g tank (8 x 2 x 2) that I eventually want to keep SPS in. I currently have 2, 250W MH pendants attached to the inside of the canopy.
It's got a 2 ft high canopy that keeps the light about a foot from the water surface.
I'd like to install some T5 retrofit fixtures into the canopy but due to the height of the canopy the lights would be 8 - 12 inches from the water surface.
Can you direct me to some instructions that might show me how to construct a pulley device of some kind where I could have the T5 lights a few inches above the water , and then when I need to put hands into the water they can be swung up somehow.
<Why would you want T5 lighting in this system? Would be much better adding two more 250 watt MH lamps. T5s aren't going to give you the same PAR/PUR that metal halides will provide in 24"+ deep tanks.>
Also how many T5 lights (bulbs) might I need for this. I want to keep both of the 250 MH lights and will prob. purchase either 2 more or maybe just 175 W MH for both ends. I actually just purchased 4 Coral Vue 2-light T5 48" fixtures that I'm thinking would be sufficient. Just to be safe I also purchased the TEK sunlight supply single bulb fixtures also (4 of them) just in case the Coral Vue lights are too much. I will return one of them. What is your opinion on these?
<Return both sets and get two more halides. Have you read here?
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Lighting Questions Part II/Reef Lighting 2/3/11
<Hi Barry. Believe most of this was covered in your first query.>
I've got a 240g (8 x 2 x 2) that I would like to grow SPS in. Currently I've got 2, 250W MH pendants down the center spline in the center with nothing on the outer edges of canopy. I want to add T5 retrofit kits to inside of canopy.
Canopy is 1.5 ft high. Should I go with four 2 bulb 48in. kits installed in canopy or can I get by with just four 1 bulb 48 in. kits? Also my 2 MH pendants have 14,000K phenix <Phoenix> bulbs. Do you think I should also add a 175 MH pendant on each side of canopy?
<Covered in first query.>
What combination of T5 bulbs would give a nice aesthetic appearance but also have the best photosynthetic capabilities? I want to save money on my electric bill also so I won't be running MH for more than a few hours per day.
<If saving money on energy is your goal, consider Orphek's LED systems capable of producing
enough PAR/PUR for your size tank. Pricey but worth considering.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Upgrading from VHO to Metal Halide 11/12/10
Hello Crew,
<Hi there Dave.>
I wanted to get some feedback from you in regards to upgrading my lighting on my 210 gallon reef tank. Currently I have 6 six foot bulbs 3 Aqua Suns and 3 454s staggered. I would like to upgrade to the BlueLine Spacelight EX 72" fixture consisting of 3 250w(14K) halides and 4 (454) T5 bulbs. I wanted to get your opinion on whether I should make the upgrade.
There are a few reasons that I would like to upgrade to the MH lighting, one of the being the depth of the tank. The tank dimensions are 72X24X29. I have three six inch clams on the bottom of the tank that don't appear to be getting the light that they need. They seemed to have more color when they were in my previous 125 gallon reef that was only 22" deep. I also have several different Acans and Zoanthids that are on the sand as well. The other reason is that the tank is mainly SPS and LPS and I have several SPS that aren't anywhere near what their true color should be under the VHO lighting. The SPS are mainly four inches from the top or a little lower in the tank. I also seem to have brown diatoms only on the sand that I haven't been able to get rid of. I am wondering if it is from the spectrum of light that is reaching the bottom of the tank being too weak.
<Too weak or shifted to the red end of the spectrum. For a keep whatever, wherever in this tank I think the upgrade is worth doing. Do consider T5 units also, many tanks this deep have great results with them.>
My tank is built into the wall and unfortunately I only have 9 inches of clearance from the top to the water. closer when accounting for the fixture itself.
<A concern, you will be tight in there.>
I am concerned about acclimating my corals to the new lighting. I have several older corals including a ten inch round Platygyra Brain that I have had for almost nine years. I don't want to sacrifice my LPS for the SPS.
<See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm.>
I just want to be able to keep the SPS at lower depths and get their true growth and color out of them. My plan was to mount the fixture as high as possible and cover the top of the tank with three layers of screen over the top of the tank and peel off one layer of screen per week with 5 hours of lighting and then adjusting from there. Does this sound reasonable to you?
<Oh yes.>
Do you have any other suggestions or tips that would be better or do you not recommend the upgrade at all?
<I would, but like I said, do consider T5s and possibly even some of the newer high power LEDs if you have the $$.>
About my tank. Lighting has been covered already, the Actinics come on an hour before/after the main lights. Total lighting period is 9 hours. Temp is between 78- 80 degrees. Water flow is handled by two main pumps 1800 and 1200 GPH. They are controlled via two SCWDs and four returns. I also have two other powerheads for dead spots, 800 GPH and 300 GPH. I have a 45 gallon ADHI refugium with some Chaeto and Caulerpa algae and a Red Mangrove plant. 40 gallon water changes are done weekly. I am using an Aqua FX RO/DI system for RO water and have a dedicated 30 gallon trash can for freshwater top offs and a 42 Gallon can for pre mixed saltwater. Salinity level is at 1.025; pH 8.1(at night); Alk 10dkh; Calcium 450ppm. I have a My Reef Creation dual chamber Calcium reactor that keeps my CA, ALK and PH where they need to be. Skimming is handled by an ETSS 600 XR skimmer. My tank is also located in my basement where it stays fairly cool and have avoided the need for a chiller thus far =))
<The cooling would be my biggest concern here. If you are already running around 80 the addition of MH in such a tight space could very well push you into a chiller. The usual ventilation fans to the extreme will likely be needed here!>
Thank You for your help in advance!
<Welcome, happy reefing, Scott V.>

Questions For Your WWM Experts...240 gal. lighting, sump questions... 6/1/10
Hello, Im called Buddy in most forum links im <I'm> a member in, but the issue or what is always mostly the problem is if you were to post any new thread on what if it be on lighting or otherwise, you most always receive a
difference in opinion on many ideas in which only adds to one being more confused then they were from the start.
<Yes, can happen on forums.>
The facts are, even that I been in this hobby ever sense the late 40`s I had never kept SPS corals.
<Yikes, someone in the hobby much older than I, but I'm guessing this is a typo. Let's see, if you were 15 years old when you started, that would make you 85 years old if the "late 40's" is not a typo. With that being said, salt water aquariums were not a reality until the early 60's.>
Yes, its strange somewhat that SPS corals be one type of system I never done, but that is to change sometime next year depending on cost and so far im looking at more then $14,000 to rebuild something that wasn't done right years ago when I paid one other at one lfs.
The question is for a 240 gal tank (8x2x2') and I am looking for complete specs for MH with T5`s, also what was suggested was LED.
<No need for T5's using a MH system.>
Now I been planning on four 250w MH and the other question here is, is <are> 14k bulbs good enough for a dominated SPS reef system? Or should it be of something greater then that?
<Plenty of light here, but I'd go with 10 or 12K lamps supplemented with two Ice Cap Blue LED strips for color accent which also fits in with your dusk to dawn which I see below.>
I am looking to have top of the line in this lighting equipment, im <I'm>
no wish to buy cheap, only to have to spend more later on in upgrades, so im <I'm> looking to do it right from the start.
Also, I like to have the total best in the ballast for what I will have, I was looking at one that was strongly suggested to me, but its been a discontinued item, and if I buy this one, the Sunlight Supply Blue Wave 7 250W HQI Dual Metal Halide Ballast, I would have to buy four of these right away so that I would have my backups for these ballast if one was to ever fail me.
<I would suggest looking at the Ice Cap line of MH lighting systems. I believe they are one of the better systems.>
I like to buy first the parts I will need to get this system started with and buy slowly the dry goods, equipment I will need for any equipment failure which includes all pumps and chillers, as well as cooling fans.
From any and all of the experts here, what specs suggestions can you suggest on my total lighting system? Also, I like to have a dusk and dawn effect. Total lighting that includes what if with T5`s or VHO`s, but know something there that I would do better to have T5`s, but what I not know of is the LED lighting.
<As above, no need for T5's and do check out the Ice Cap line. As to the LED's, here is a link to the LED blue strip lighting I mentioned above.
You will also find the Ice Cap line carried by this etailer.
http://premiumaquatics.com/store/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=PA&Product_Code=ICE-RLEDB48&Category_Code=IcecapLED >
Also, the sump I will have will be a 125 gal tank and im <I'm> looking to have a refugium and im <I'm> a bit lost there to what gph flow rate im <I'm> to have for the guy who will rebuild this for me is saying too strong a flow, will make it that I can not have a refugium. I not know if you can assist in this as well, but if any of you can, I will have two one main return pump, that will split of into two return lines, Im looking at now a 2000 gph external pump right now, a Iwaki (Japanese built) for I heard they like last forever. Now I will also be having Vortech pumps for my water currents, here too will be a question to have many I should have. If the pump isn't ideal in having a refugium, which would you suggest?
<I will provide you with an index to our articles/FAQ's and suggest you read on plumbing and refugiums. This should answer all if not most of your concerns. After reading/learning, do write back if there are areas that are unanswered.
I do however have other questions in this SPS system im <I'm> looking to finally build, I should also tell you if I not mentioned it as yet that this will be my first SPS tank, I done other reef tanks, soft corals however were extremely easy to keep and maintain. My QT for this reef tank will be a 40 gal breeder tank, im planning on T5`s for this QT.
<Articles on this subject can also be found in the above index.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
A personal request:
This isn't to be posted at WWM, I like to make a request if your staff can email me the link with your experts suggestions to XXXX so that I wouldn't have any problems in relocating it, Thanks
<All queries are posted for the benefit of others. An email is sent to each and every querior, the posting is done after the fact.>

Sufficient Light for a 300 Gallon Cube Shaped Reef Display -- 03/04/10
I was wondering if you could help me with a lighting question?
I have a 309 gallon reef tank with the following measurements: 45"x45"x35"(LxWxH).
<<Interesting dimensions'¦the depth of view must be fantastic>>
My current lighting setup consists of two 400 watt Hamilton DE metal halides power by Blueline electronic ballasts.
<<Metal halide is my fave lighting solution for most any marine setup>>
I have been looking to upgrade my lighting, and was looking at replacing the two 400 watt fixtures with one 1000 watt Hamilton mogul base bulb powered by a Lumatek ballast.
<<Mmm'¦knew a guy who tried this over a propagation tank that was a bit larger, though not quite as deep as your display tank. Aside from the enormous amount of heat this beast generated, the fellow nearly had a coronary when he got the $500.00 power bill. I don't think he was using an electronic ballast, but still'¦>>
My question is, with the depth of my tank, and current lighting scheme, would you recommend that I upgrade,
<<Nope'¦ The 400w halides should be plenty sufficient here. If the desire is to boost output/penetration, then I suggest maybe changes to the bulb maker or Kelvin temperature and/or the reflectors'¦or possibly steps to improve water clarity (e.g. -- ozone)>>
and if so, would the 200 watt jump be sufficient or should I be looking to provide more than a 200 watt jump in light over my reef.
<<I don't feel an increase in wattage is necessary here>>
Attached is a picture of my tank for reference.
<<Ah yes'¦and that depth of view is indeed very nice>>
I'm currently housing two fairly large Gigas clams, Duncan Corals, Dendrophyllia, Acans, Blastomussa, Favia, Montipora, War Coral and a few Acros. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
<<You don't mention why you think an upgrade is needed, but 400w metal halide lighting should be quite adequate for this tank's depth'¦especially considering the DSB I noticed in the photo>>
Kindest Regards,
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Question About Lighting Spectrum 4/19/09
Hi Crew,
I have a hopefully not too dumb of a question about lighting spectrum. I am building a 800 gallon (120" x 44" x 36") in wall reef tank and I'm weighing my options on lighting.
<Wow, big tank!>
The tank will be about 30 inches deep to the top of the sand. I am planning on 36 inches tall with a 6 inch deep sand bed.
The tank will have sps corals. I don't know if 2 48" 8 bulb T5HO fixtures will be enough for a tank this deep. What is your opinion?
<Well, it depends on where you intend to place the corals. If you want some on the bottom I would go with 10+ bulbs or MH.>
Of course, metal halide is an option, but worried about heat and power consumption. Would I need 250 watt MH or more?
<250s will do it.>
Now, the spectrum I want is 14,000K because of the corals and inverts. I was looking at the Lights of America Fluorex fixtures (the 100 watt fixture) but I don't want the 6500K bulb spectrum of these fixtures. First, would it be possible to make a diy filter (possibly blue tinted acrylic) to alter the spectrum, or would I still essentially have 6500K wavelengths that just look blue to the eye.
<Hmm, it effectively would change the spectrum by filtering out the red end of the spectrum.
You do end up with less usable light for your corals.>
I have had the best luck with coral coloration and algae control with 14,000K bulbs. With the cheaper fixture costs and operating expenses, I could use more of the Fluorex fixtures, possible supplemented with actinics. Please give me your opinion/advice on what is the best lighting route to go for this size tank.
<I am not much of an advocate for MH these days, but in this case I would go with four 250 metal halides.
There is little that will be frugal about running an 800 gallon reef!>
Thank you for all you do, I use your site often. Matt
<Thank you and welcome, Scott V.>

Lighting a Large Tank, Reef 8/9/08 Hello, <Hello.> I am researching and asking as many questions as I can about keeping a reef tank because in a few years I plan on starting a 400 gal. tank that is 96"Lx36"Wx30"H I am looking at light fixtures and my goal is that I would like to mainly have LPS, polyps and mushroom corals (of course as far apart as possible to prevent chemical warfare as well as other problems) as well as fish and a bubble tip anemone and maybe one other type of anemone (probably not though as I am too afraid of chemical warfare between two different species of anemone), but seriously I am going to do more research before I start adding different corals and fish. <Good.> The thing is I may want one or two SPS corals and I just want to have the right lighting in the beginning so I won't have to upgrade my lighting if I decide I want to do SPS instead, although I really am not big on SPS but I do like a few Acropora (http://www.liveaquaria.com/diversden/ItemDisplay.cfm?c=2733+5&ddid=45456) . I am looking at Photon Plus 4' 2 x 400W HQI-SE+6x 54W T5 and I was thinking of buying two of those for the tank but I have heard that MH's only cover a 2'x2' area in tank and with it being wide that would mean a foot of low light. <Pretty much, a light every two feet will give the most even coverage. Some like the look of uneven lighting.> I could buy 4 Photon Plus 4' 2 x 400W HQI-SE+6x 54W T5 but then that would be 11 watts per gallon and I am afraid it would be overkill for my tank. I could go with 2 Photon Plus 4' 2 x 400W HQI-SE+6x 54W T5 and 2 Photon Plus 4' 2 x 250W HQI-DE+6x 54W T5 which would give me about 9 watts per gallon, but I am just really confused on what is best in terms of lighting for my tank. I've looked through several of the articles on your site and I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. 30' tall tank you really do not need 400 watt halides for this, 250's will do fine. Do also consider the T5 lighting, something in the neighborhood of 800-900 watts should do. The T5 lights will impart less heat into your tank, saving you on power while offering flexibility in both bulb configuration and the ability to add and subtract bulbs as needed for your livestock.> Thanks for any input you have. ~*~Brat~*~ <Welcome, Scott V.>

Lighting for the big one 02/03/2008 Hello, <<Hi, Andrew today>> I am building a custom tank from scratch. So far I have the tank, sump, and skimmer done so now I'm to the point of choosing the lighting system. First of all the tank dimension are 83"W x 27" H x 27" D. roughly 270 gal. the sump is roughly 60 gal and the skimmer holds about 18 gal of water. The filtration has a 1800 gal meg drive pump to return water to the display and the skimmer is using an ocean runner 2500 with needle wheel to re-circulate the water within it. . The set up will start out as fish only and gradually going to reef plus fish and eventually adding corals. <<Sounds superb>> I have searched and asked questions on many sites and forums but the opinion seem to vary so much that I can't make an intelligent decision. <<One of the many issued posed by forum questions. Lots of answers>> I've been told that MH are only good for about 22" depth and compact fluorescent even less. <<A 400W metal halide lamp will be fine for over 22 - 24" deep tanks>> I've been suggested to use a 400W MH in the middle and 2 175W on either side with the addition of 2 compact fluorescent fixtures for the length of the tank to even out the lighting of the display. This was suggested by a site that sells lighting. <<Certainly agree with the 400W, however having the 175w's on each side of the 400w will give the tank darker areas and may not be suited to you taste or stocking plans>> Now it seems to me that that is an awful amount of light not to mention the expenses. Of course I'm thinking the heat generated will give me a big problem as well. So how would you set up the lighting for this huge tank? <<Due to the depth of the tank, 400w lamps are your new best friend. If you deem 3 400w to be too much lighting, then maybe a 400w in the middle and a 250w on each side of this and place light demanding corals per their lighting requirements>> Off the subject, what do you suggest as far as initial amount of live stock and species to get this tank started? <<That really only something that you can suggest, as its your system>> Searching for an answer to this riddle, I ran across this site so here I am with the question. Hope you guys can be of help on the lighting dilemma. Thanks in advance <<Thanks for the questions, hope it helps. A Nixon>>

T5 Lighting   7/7/06 I am in the process of upgrading my 55G tank to a 140G tank. The 140G is a 30" high tank which I know is less than ideal but was the largest one I could fit into my space. I plan to keep some clams, soft corals, and a few stony corals (high up only). My question relates to the lighting. I have a T5 set up that has 3 80W bulbs and another in front that has 2 54W bulbs. At the moment I have 11K Aqua Blues in the 3 bulb and actinic bulbs in the 2. The lighting seems rather intense but one of my corals at the bottom of the tank is losing its color. Is there a problem with my lighting? <With this depth of water... likely so> Do you have any suggestions on bulb setups? Thanks for all your help. <For water depths over two feet, many "corals" "need" metal halide... Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/T5fluorFAQs.htm and peruse the files linked above. Bob Fenner>

Supplemental HQI Lighting On A 900 Gallon Tank   8/6/06 Salutations! <Hello Tim> I'm currently in the process of setting up a rather large aquarium, a 10' x 4' x 3' monster (3 feet deep). The tank is acrylic, and has 3 large 30" square cutouts on the top. My setup is as follows: 1) I live in Arizona in a house with a flat roof. 2) I installed 3 24" Solar tubes in the ceiling directly over the tank.  The tubes extend down to about 18-24" off the top of the tank, and don't precisely line up with the cutouts.  The two on the ends are slightly to the outer edge of the tank, and all three are more towards the back of the tank. (Joist placement issues) 3) The tank is in a dedicated room, (front of the tank is picture-frame style into the living room) so aesthetics of the fixtures is unimportant. 4) I plan to dedicate this tank primarily to shallow water SPS and clams. I suspect that the three solar tubes, while providing a huge amount of light and hopefully offsetting my electric bill, will not be enough light for this tank.  I also think that for aesthetic reasons, I will need some blue or actinic lights to offset the natural sunlight coloring. Along those lines, my current thinking is to add three 20,000K 400W HQI MH fixtures to the tank.  However, because of where the tubes are, these would be centered more towards the front 1.5 feet of the tank.  I'm concerned that alot of my light will go directly onto the sandbed and the living room out the front face.  I was thinking perhaps I could angle the fixtures towards the rear of the tank, but I'm not sure if this will cause a high loss of light through reflection off the water surface.   The other option would be to put 2 halides over the braces between the solar tubes, but I am concerned about the effect of the high intensity light being directed directly at an acrylic panel. I suspect I will end up mounting a fan on the wall blowing crosswise across the entire tank to keep the heat down.  Also, the room is air-conditioned. So: What kind of supplemental lighting would you recommend for this setup? How would you position the lamps? Is a 400W HQI too much power? Maybe some other combination?  I can always also run them for only a few hours each day to simulate a mid-day-sun. Any other thoughts on lighting this monster? <Tim, a few questions before I can proceed.  First, is the tank currently set up and running?  If so, are any SPS corals or clams in the system at present, and, how are they looking with just the solar tubes?  James (Salty Dog)> Tim  

Big Tank- Big Plans (Pt. 2) Dear Scott, Thank you for your response. <You're quite welcome!> One last thought please. Will the live rock/sand in the sump and tank floor itself need special lighting ? What kind do you recommend? How long should the lights be left on if I put live rock in the sump? <The sand does not necessarily need to be lit. If you are going to keep macroalgae in the sump, lighting is, of course, mandatory. I'd use an inexpensive power compact fixture, run on a "reverse daylight" schedule (i.e. lights on when the display is dark, and vice-versa).> You guys have no idea how much I appreciate all you do and it is obvious so does everyone else!!! Chris Drialo <Thanks so much for the kind words! We certainly enjoy bringing WWM to you every day! Good luck with your system! Regards, Scott F.>

Lighting a Huge tank Lets say I built a aquarium 96" long by 48" wide by 48" tall. Is this even possible??) <Sure> out of plywood and glass according to the methods on www.garf.org. Would 8 96" VHO's be enough lighting to make this tank relatively bright and enough light for live rock and softies and polyps and shrooms? <Barely... metal halides are best for this size, depth of system> If I made a tank to these dimensions, would (2) Berlin XL's Protein Skimmers each rated for up to 500 gallons be enough skimming? <Should be close... but I'd look into EuroReef, ETS lines> How many GPH on an external pump would you recommend? <5-8kgph... look into Baldor-motored Sequence pumps... much cheaper to operate> And HOW would I heat a tank this big? With what type of heaters? This would sure require a lot of salt. Well, Thanks!, Adam M. <There are in-line resistant heaters of thousands of watts... You can find these on the Net. Bob Fenner> Tank Recommendations - 06/20/05 WWM Crew, How's it going? <<Well, thank you.>> I'm sure you get a lot of these types of "Is this right?" questions so I appreciate anyone who can take the time to reply. <<Just glad you're asking the questions now <G>.>> I'm currently planning (I over plan everything. From substrate to filtration to livestock to daily/monthly routines) a 375 gallon reef tank. <<SWEET!  That happens to be what I have too!>> It will be 96x30x30 with a sump of around 80 gallons. <<Hey man!...you been peekin' in my window?>> That is unless I can get it plumbed into the closet in which case I want to go bigger. <<There ya go!>> As well, it will have a 100 gallon refugium that will be on a stand next to it. <<Excellent!>> My goal is to actually make the refugium interesting and not something hidden away. <<Is just as fascinating as the main display, yes.>> With mainly Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria Parvispora for occasional tang feeding. <<Both great algae for a vegetable refugium...but I would recommend picking just one to go with.  Just like corals, the algae will compete for space/dominance in the refugium.>> The refugium will have a 6-8" sand bed, 150-175 pounds of Fiji live rock, and will be where I can finally put my 3-stripe damsel. <<Dude...I was right there with ya up to this point!  With the sand bed (which I applaud) and the live rock, you won't have much room for macroalgae growth.  I would suggest choosing one method or the other (rock 'fuge or veggie 'fuge).  And whatever you do...DON'T put that damsel in the refugium, it will quickly deplete your pod population (read: defeat the purpose of the refugium).>> As well, I'm planning on keeping a mated pair of coral banded shrimp, and a flame hawk in this tank as well. <<All good.  But do be aware hawk fish are neither peaceful nor particularly reef-safe.>> Moving on, the main display will have over 500 lbs of live rock (mainly Fiji, but some Tonga branch), a 3-4" sand bed. <<Way too much rock, in my opinion.  Think about going for a more "open" seascape.  Open space/rockwork looks fantastic in a large tank like this, gives corals/fish space to grow "big", not to mention the ease on the pocket book.  You really don't need to "fill" the tank with rock for effective bio-filtration, specially with the DSB (I'd bump that to 5-6 inches, by the way.) The skimming will be done with a Euro-Reef CS12-3 and I'll also be using a KNOP Calcium Reactor S-IV. This is the only brand that I've found for this size at a reasonable price. Any recommendations would be great. <<No problems here with either product.  I have the same skimmer on my 375, though I went with the PM-CR622 for my calcium reactor.>> As well as Maxi-jet's, Tunze Turbelle Streams, and such for water movement. <<Love those Streams!  I'm pushing around about 11,000 gph...would recommend same (or more) for you.>> My first question is about lighting. <<Uh oh...shoulda been pacing myself.>> My goal is to primarily keep LPS with some Zoanthids and a couple of Montipora SPS species.  Would you recommend 4 400W MH or 4 250w MH? <<Wouldn't recommend 400w even of you were keeping "high light" acros...go with the 250w... or better yet 150w (DE), considering what you want to keep.>> Also, do you think PC actinics or VHO actinics would work better? <<Moot point...use 10,000k halide bulbs and the actinics will be for your pleasure, not the corals.>> Would 1 watt blue LED's reach the bottom of the tank for moon lighting? <<Yes.  But again...this is for you.>> Also, what do you recommend for Kelvin rating? I've seen really good tanks with 10,000k and 14,000k, but have also heard recommendations for mixing different ratings. <<Maybe...tis up to you.  My recommendation is all 10K.>> I know much of this is opinion questions, but I really do like getting honest opinion. <<No prob!  Opinions I have in abundance <G>.>> As far as livestock, I'd like to know if you foresee any problems with this livestock list (attained over a very long period, 2+ years).  All quantities are 1 unless stated otherwise: Opistognathus aurifrons, <<Hold off on the mandarin for at least a year (good advice for all fish if you can do it!) until the refugium can provide a sustainable food supply.>> 6 Chromis viridis, Centropyge Aurantius, Centropyge Multispinis, Ecsenius Midas, Salarias Fasciatus, <<I don't really consider ANY blenny to be "reef-safe.">> 2 Amphiprion Ocellaris, 2 Black Amphiprion Percula, 2 Elacatinus Oceanops, 2 Pterapogon Kauderni, 1 Stonogobiops Nematodes, Gobiodon strangulatus, 1 Gobiodon Okinawae, 2 Nemateleotris Decora, <<The gobies will be great in this tank.>> Paracheilinus Filamentous, Wetmorella nigropinnata, Cirrhilabrus, Laboutei, Pseudanthias Dispar, Oxycirrhites Typus, <<Longnose hawks are fascinating, curious fish...but you'd be surprised at the size shrimp they can get in their mouths...you are forewarned.>> Centropyge Loriculus, Centropyge Bispinosus, Tank Bred Pseudochromis Fridmani, Tank Bred Pseudochromis Springeri, Acanthurus Achilles, <<I can't endorse the Achilles Tang...needs more flow/more space than even this tank can supply.>> Ctenochaetus Hawaiiensis, Paracanthurus hepatus , Zebrasoma Flavescens, <<Honestly...not a tang person when it comes to reef tanks...but these last three should be fine in this size system...if you must <G>.>> 2 Blue Synchiropus Splendidus. <<Again with the mandarins?  Please do wait on these.>> As well as various snails, hermits, and cleaner shrimp. <<Other than noted...a fine selection...do keep an eye on the pygmies though...can be risky to mix so many, even in a big tank, as well as a risk to corals.>>   Any feedback you have would be greatly appreciated. I'm just looking to make sure I have the best possible start that I can provide for my underwater friends. Also, one last question, I want to use a 55 gallon tank just for holding live rock to culture algae on it so I can put it into the main display for the tangs and angels and then remove it and continually replace it with other pieces in the algae tank about once a week. My question, what lighting would you recommend for growing algae on the rock and would I have to use any supplements on this tank as well to encourage growth? <<No supplements...and a couple or three 65w 6500K PC lights will serve you well.>> Thank you again for your help. Nick <<Is a pleasure, Eric R.>> Lighting For A Deep Tank - 08/12/05 Hello, <<Evening>> I have a large reef tank that is 3.5 feet deep with the lowest part of the tank being 3 feet from the (soon to be) halides. <<neat>> I was wondering if 250w HQI bulbs would be sufficient to keep various Montipora species alive at the lowest levels. <<Well...I'm one of those folks that believe lighting is a bit "overrated and overstated" when it comes to reef tanks.  Not saying it isn't necessary mind you, but rather than just throwing mega-watts of light at the corals I feel proper flow and adequate feeding can do much, with "light" serving as an adjunct to these rather then the other way around.  I would try this, especially if you keep the species with higher light needs in the upper two-thirds of the tank.  Do pay special attention to water clarity (ozone is wonderful for this!).>> Also how far apart should I space the lighting fixtures from one another. <<Maximum of two feet apart, but I like to go with 18" (or less) myself for a bit more "overlap."  EricR>> Large System - 08/16/05 I recently acquired a 600 gallon tank that I am planning some upgrades  for.   <<cool>> The tank came with 2 - 6' VHO's.  It's a 4' tall tank, and I just want it to look REALLY nice, not necessarily try to grow anything in it (aside from healthy fish). <<ok>> I haven't gotten it filled yet, or the lights hooked up so I'm not sure how bright it's going to be, but I'm curious if VHOs can hack it or would it be recommended to bump it up to halides even though its a FOWLR. <<The VHOs will work fine for the fish (may want to add a couple more tubes), but I wouldn't expect any life to "flourish" on the live rock in the bottom third of the tank.  I prefer the look of a single-point light source myself...and considering the depth of this tank, would likely opt for the halides.>>   I want to mount my 125 above the 600 if that is possible and use it as a refugium/invert display to complement my FOWLR, so it  would be nice if I could avoid the heating issues that would inevitably arise with halides. <<A valid concern...but don't be fooled in to believing VHOs won't be hot.  The use of cooling/exhaust fans will likely be required for either application.>> That leads to my next question and that is...are there any nifty tricks aside from drilling (glass tank), and overflow boxes (the  devil) to getting a top mounted tank to overflow to a tank below? <<Not that I'm aware/would trust.  Drilling really is you're best option.>>   Third question - The tank came with two Oceanclear canisters (which I am scraping for this project), and two 1200 gph external pumps.  There are four drilled holes and bulkheads in the bottom of the tank from this, and two pumps I have no great use for.  Would it be hazardous at all to just run two small closed-loops right out the bottom - provided that I elevated the drains above the substrate? <<Employ "true" closed-loops and you have no worries.>> And would that be worthwhile? <<Absolutely!>> I'm going to plumb a Dolphin AquaSea in for a closed loop on the back so if I had to plumb them any other way it probably wouldn't be worth the hassle. <<More flow the better...whether a reef or a FOWLR.>>   Lastly - just before my dreams get out of control - assuming I have top notch water quality, and 600+ lbs of live rock how many "stocking rules" can I break in a tank this size? <<Every tank has it's own set of rules...>> Can I keep a school of Yellow or Blue  Tangs...or multiple Pomacanthus angels...or keep a Sohal with other types of  tangs...or....you get the picture :) <<Unfortunately yes, I do <G>... You don't give the tank dimensions, but at 4 feet in height I'm guessing it's no longer than 8 feet (96"x48"x30" ?).  The Sohal gets too big even for this tank to be happy/well adjusted for its lifetime...the blue tangs (Hippo?), though not quite as large as the Sohal at maturity, are so robust, active, and high strung/twitchy as to (in my opinion) require more swimming room, more flow, and more "hidey holes", than most casual hobbyist can provide...especially if more than one.  As for the yellow tangs, I might be tempted to try a trio (all same size introduced together) in this tank.  Careful selection of a Pomacanthus might prove interesting as well (two might be trouble)...tho be warned, these can/will become bruisers at maturity...choose tank mates well.  At least research your selections (fishbase.org provides good info on adult size, gut content (food), etc.) and seriously consider their requirements/needs before purchase.>>   Muchas Gracias, I always appreciate your input. Scott <<Happy to be here to assist/give opinion.  Regards, EricR>>  

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