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FAQs Lighting for Marine Invertebrates 5

Related Articles: Lighting Marine Invertebrates, Coral Lighting: what we know and what we don't know (mostly the latter) by Sara Mavinkurve
Lighting Reef Systems: Considerations, Organisms, Goals and Costs by Bob Fenner, Acclimating Symbiotic Reef Invertebrates to Captive Lighting, Anemone Lighting, Marine Light, & Lighting, Feeding Reef Invertebrates,
Technology: Putting on the Brakes:  How much is too much? By Tommy Dornhoffer,

Related FAQs: Lighting Marine Inverts 1, Lighting Marine Inverts 2, Lighting Marine Inverts 3, Lighting Lighting Marine Inverts 4, Lighting Marine Inverts 6, & & FAQs on Coral Lighting: Science/Application, Designs/Fixtures, Lamps/Bulbs, Quality, Duration & Intensity, Night-Time, Troubleshooting/Fixing, Makes/Models/Manufacturers, & Small System Lighting, Acclimating Symbiotic Reef Invertebrates to Captive Lighting, LR Lighting, Marine System LightingFAQs 2, FAQs 3, FAQs 4, FAQs 5, Actinic Lighting, Metal Halide Lighting, Fluorescent Lighting, Compact Fluorescent LightingTridacnid ClamsLighting Tridacnid Clams Small System Lighting, Reef Systems 1, Reef Systems 2, Reef Set-Up 1, Reef Set-Up 2, Reef Set-Up 3, Reef Set-Up 4, Reef Set-Up 5, Reef Set-Up 6, Reef Filtration, & Reef LivestockingReef Livestocking 2, Reef Feeding, Reef Disease, Reef Maintenance,

Many marines don't like bright, continuous lighting... Provide habitat for all.

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

VHO Lighting For Reef Tank...? -- 11/27/07 Hey Crew, <<Hey Holland!>> I love what you guys/gals do! <<Many thanks>> I just picked up a used 125 gallon tank with IceCap 660 ballast and 4-sets of end caps that will house 48" bulbs. <<Neat!>> I was wondering, what type of bulbs would be best to get; <<Daylight (6500K) bulbs will give you the best output, though for aesthetic appeal many hobbyists find 10000K bulbs more to their liking>> and more importantly, what type of corals can this system actually support? <<Mmm...you could 'support' just about anything with careful placement, feeding, water flow...but whether or not all would 'flourish' is another matter. Though not my fave, I have seen some beautiful reef tanks under fluorescent lighting. Spreading four 48' fluorescent bulbs over a 6-foot tank doesn't provide the best conditions for high-intensity-light requiring organisms. For simplicity/best chance for success I recommend low-moderate to moderate light requiring organisms. Perhaps a collection of 'green-colored' Euphyllia species; adequately spaced to prevent physical aggression from sweeper tentacles, placed in the top to middle tier of the water column...with some Fungiid species and 'red-colored' Trachyphyllia species on/near the bottom (If something proves to need more light, moving it towards the center of the tank where the bulbs overlap and thus provide greater intensity may prove adequate). Other species and themes are possible and will require some research on your part prior to species/specimen selection. I suggest you start by gaining a better understanding of marine lighting by reading here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm), and following/reading among the associated links in blue to help with species selection and placement>> Thanks, Holland <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

Coral Lighting'¦No Simple Answers -- 11/25/07 Morning Crew, <<Morning Dan>> Just a quick question about lighting before I commit. <<Okay>> I have done much research, and I am about to buy a MH light. <<I see>> I have a 72 gallon Bow-front; I am looking at a fixture that has 2 150w MH's and 2 96w PC's. The MH's are 10,000K (which I plan to replace with 14,000K's in time) and the PC's are Actinic. Using the 4 watt's per gallon rule I should be ok for just about any reef coral right? <<Never a simple subject, but the 'simple' answer here is, yes'¦this fixture will be fine. But the lighting is only a small part of the overall equation for success, and if you've truly done your research then you should already be aware of two things- the 'watts per gallon rule' is a general guideline at best'¦and'¦intense lighting does not guarantee success with corals. Keeping a 'mix' of organisms with differing lighting needs will require careful research and consideration towards placement within the system. Do read this article on marine lighting by Anthony Calfo, and follow the links in blue for even more information re (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm)>> Thanks, Dan <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

Reef Lighting 11/3/07 Hi Mr. Fenner, Hope you're doing fine. <Hi, James with you today, and Bob is doing just fine.> My reef tank is getting great. It's now 2 1\2 years old. With all the questions I sent you since over two years I tought <Only Tweety Bird can say that word:)> I could send you a couple pictures of the tank just for the pleasure. Can I do that (that will be during x-mass vacations because I am dead busy right now)? <We'd love to see pics of your tank.> But today I am again seeking your precious advices: I am planning to upgrade from my 90 gal to a 220 gal (6 foot) tank. I would then switch from my G-mann to a custom made canopy/lighting system for more flexibility. I am thinking about 2X 250W HQI + 2X 150W +(maybe) 4X T5. The bulbs would be placed in «pairs»: each 150W would be placed close to a 250W. That's for better «blending» of different spectrum... The two pairs would of course be placed about 2 foot from each other. There will be a bit less light at the edges of the tank. <In a tank this large you would be much better off going with three 250's. If it is color you are looking for, add one actinic tube.> My question concerns the bulb spectrum combo. I have to mention my corals are almost all Montipora digitata and capricornis + Pocilloporidae (S. hystrix + P. pistillata + P. damicornis). No yellow corals, a lot of purple, blue, pink and orange. No Acroporas. And I am not a big fan of monochromatic blue looking tanks like those exclusively lighted by 20k Radium... <Don't like them myself for same reason.> What mix would you recommend? I was thinking: - 2X250W 6500k + 2X150W 50000k (+4 T5 Pure actinics ?) <The 65K's are a little to warm looking for my taste, why not go with 10K in it's place.> or -2X250W 10000k + 2X150W 20000k or other combination of that sort with or without (?) 4X T5 Pure actinics... I would very much like to have you opinion about it (a mix for both coloration, health and growth of the corals). <My choice would be three 250 watt 14K and one T5 actinic. This should give you great color and not too much blue. Since the T5's are not available in 72", you may want to go with two 36" lamps. You may want to wait with the actinic, you may like the looks of just the 14K halides. I'm running those myself and there is just a tinge of blue and the corals look good in this Kelvin temperature. Some 14K lamps may look pretty blue when you first start them, but after 100 hours or so of burn in, the color temperature of 14K is pretty close. I run Hamilton's and they exhibit this trait. If you decide on Ushio lamps or European lamps, be sure the ballast you buy will fire them. My PFO ballasts took anywhere from 30 minutes to three or four hours to fire them. I exchanged them for Hamilton's and all is well.> Many thanks! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Reef Lighting 11/6/07 Hi James, <Hello> Thanks for the reply. <You're welcome.> So you don't feel it's much of a benefit to be able to mix different HQI spectrum? I wonder if the result is really the same if you combine a 10k and a 20k bulb or if you simply use 14/15k (?). <I would rather have a beneficial Kelvin temperature over the entire tank. It's just my taste, I don't like mixed colors in a display. As for the 10K/20K combo being the same as a 14/15K, no, I don't believe so. The different K temps will only blend at the outer edges of the adjacent lamp's rays. If you like the look of multiple Kelvin temperatures, go for it as long as you use lamps ranging from 10K to 20K.> Just another question I forgot to ask in the last e-mail: I have Chaetomorpha growing in my Fuge since 2 years. It became very thick and dense with time. It's full of critters (pods, worms, etc.). Somebody warned me about the risk of having a tank crash on the long run because of this. I NEVER pruned it. I am told that I should not let it become too dense as water wont circulate within it and may cause problems and eventually a big die off of that macro-algae. That worried me and I did remove some of it yesterday (sadly many critters inevitably follow...). What do you think about it? <I think it is a good idea pruning the macro to allow new growth, and the critters lost will be replaced by the remaining stock in a short time. I would be very surprised if a tank crashed by not pruning the macro though.> Thanks! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Dominique

Lighting... reef  11/1/07 Greetings Guys, and thanks for reading my question. <Very welcome> I'm setting up a new reef system which will house mostly SPS corals with a few light tolerant LPS. The tank measures 48Lx18Wx25D. The mounting surface of the canopy is 18" above the acrylic tank. If I choose HQI metal halide which appears to be superior to mogul will 2x250W be excessive? <HQI vs. mogul largely depends on the bulb you wish to run. Each bulb has different intensity and spectrum. Either way I feel that 250 watt fixtures are a good choice for your tank and the inhabitants you want to keep. You can hang the fixtures from the inside of the canopy to give you some adjustability, mounting them at the top of an 18' canopy would be unnecessarily high.> At this wattage I can choose from retro reflectors or at three times the price I can use the Lumenmax mini. Is this reflector that good? <I like this reflector, but the retros that are out are very good also.> The retro reflectors are available in 150W but I don't think it would be sufficient, or would it? <Not on a tank that deep.> If I choose to go with mogul base I can go with 175W or 250W bulbs in a Lumenarc mini or use a parabolic retro reflector. Again, can you comment on the Lumenarc reflector? If you can offer some guidance I would appreciate it. <Good reflector also, but the parabolics can be and are used with great success.> Thanks. <You can find helpful data on different bulb types, ballasts as well as reflectors at http://Reeflightinginfo.com . The reflectors you are considering are good reflectors. Factor in fans and any actinics you plan to run to make sure you have room in your canopy, could make your decision for you. Have fun, Scott V.>
Re: Lighting 11/2/07
Hello again Scott and thanks for responding. <You're welcome, Mark> I have decided to use the Lumenmax or Lumenarc reflectors. Using either will likely make it impossible to use any actinics. My choice of bulb will be the Ushio 10000k. So then, is there any reason to choose one over the other? The HQI Lumenmax reflector is slightly more expensive then the Mogul Lumenarc but it is insignificant. I cannot find any information to help me decide so I would appreciate any enlightenment you can offer. Thanks again, Mark. <There is little difference with this bulb. If you want to run these reflectors and will not be able to use actinics then you may want to go with the HQI. Mainly, just because if you try this bulb and find it too yellow for your taste, then you have a wider selection of bluer bulbs than the Mogul. Really comes down to personal preference. Happy Reefing, Scott V.>

Lighting Question'¦Best Color Combo? -- 11/01/07 Good Evening, <<Hello>> I have a question about lighting. <<Okay>> I am getting ready to change out the bulbs on my Corallife fixture. I currently have (2) 65W Actinic, and (2) 65W 10,000k compact fluorescent bulbs. <<I see>> I'm thinking about changing it up because I understand the Actinic lighting may not be that beneficial. <<It 'is' beneficial'¦but these short wavelengths are already present in suitable quantity in most all aquarium lighting with a color temperature above 5000K>> Which of the following configurations would you recommend: (2) 10,000K and (2) 50/50 or (2) 10,000K and (2) 6700K? My corals consist of Torch, Frogspawn, Xenia, Candy Cane, and Starburst. Thanks, Jackie <<Either choice will be fine. I suggest you make your choice based on your sense of aesthetics (likely the first configuration will be more pleasing to the 'human' eye). Regards, EricR>>

Optimum MH Lighting Color? -- 10/22/07 Dear Crew, <<Hello Russell>> I have a two year old 75 gal tank with 2 X 250watt MH 20K lights (15 inches off the surface) stocked with a half dozen Acro corals and a Crocea clam (also have a pair of clowns, some zoo's, a shrimp and the usual cleaning critters). <<Okay>> My system was originally stocked with softies but I've totally switched over to hard corals. Water parameters are stable with my Geo calcium reactor (Ca=400, dKH=11.2, Nitrate=not detected). I do a RO/DI 10 gal water change with Red Sea salt about 3 times a month. There's ample water flow from multiple powerheads (about 700 gal per hour). I am looking to optimize my system to promote hard coral and clam growth. My LFS (who sold me the 20K light bulbs) says they will work great for my sps corals and I've seen slow to modest growth over a few months. <<Not surprising...too much blue/not enough 'useable' wavelength, in my opinion. 6500K lamps would optimize growth potential...but 10000K lamps are a good alternative that will likely be more aesthetically pleasing to your eye (will also likely have a higher PAR rating than the 20000K lamps)>> I don't have a light meter, but I suspect the cheap, generic Chinese-made lamps I was sold are not true 20K's; they just don't seem blue enough (I would guess somewhere in the 16K plus range). <<This would actually be better...but I suspect these cheap lamps are lacking elsewhere (PAR/CRI)>> Question: Since these hard corals and clams are shallow water animals, would not they be better off with 10K bulbs? <<Not all 'hard' corals have high light requirements...but yes, the stock you listed would do better under 10K lighting, in my opinion>> Or even 6K <<Yes>> (assuming I could stand the yellow glare)? <<Indeed>> I like the look of my pseudo-20K's, but I'd switch if it was worth it. <<As long as your corals are not malaffected by the bulbs you have now...determining the 'worth' is up to you>> Question: Do I have TOO MUCH light (6.6 watts per gallon)? <<Probably more than 'needed' on this tank, but can be managed. Do be cautious about acclimating your tank to the new brighter bulbs if you decide to make the switch>> I know my strongly lit MH's are harsh on my coralline algae growth, which is only growing in the deep rock shadows and almost none on the glass. <<This is typical>> One last question: I'm thinking about adding three blue Chromis fish to the pair of clowns I already have; do you think this would be too much of a bio load for a SPS system of my size? <<Should be fine...and as sparsely stocked (fish-wise) as your tank is, the additional Nitrogen/fish waste will probably be much appreciated by your corals>> Thanks, Russell <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

Re: Optimum MH Lighting Color? -- 10/22/07 Dear Eric, <<Hey Russell!>> Thanks for the fast response. <<Quite welcome>> You've convinced me it is time to switch to 10K lights. <<About the best 'all-round' color temperature>> My coral growth has been okay, but the blue lights are likely a limiting factor. <<Quite possibly>>>> You mentioned "acclimating" my tank to the brighter bulbs. <<Yes... When replacing lamps, and especially when changing to lamps with a lower Kelvin temperature/higher PAR value, you need to take action to prevent photo-shock of your corals before they have time to acclimate/adjust pigmentation to the increased light intensity>> How do I do this? <<Several layers of fiberglass window screen laid over a piece of plastic 'eggcrate' material on top of the tank will work nicely. Three or four layers, removing a layer every three or four days, should do nicely>> I assume by placing the lights further off the surface of the tank (currently about 15 inches... maybe go to 24 and then lower down over time)? <<Can do this as an alternative method...but raising the lights too high puts you/your family's eyes in jeopardy of looking in to the elevated fixtures>> Also, can you recommend some brands of MH light bulbs? <<Ushio and Aqualine-Buschke are my current faves..Hamilton has been a good performer for me as well>> Are the expensive German bulbs worth the price? <<They have proven so for me...seem more durable/less prone to premature failure, as well as more 'consistent' re color temperature when purchasing a number of bulbs at a time>> Thanks, Russell <<Regards, Eric Russell>>

T-5 Lighting and Button Polyps, sys.  -- 10/20/07 Hello, and thank you for taking my question. <Hello Anthony -- Brian here> I have a 72g AGA aquarium. I have a Coralife 48"T-5 lamp, double strip 28watt 10,000K, 28watt Actinic 03 bulb. My question is, will this fixture be good enough for the housing of Button Polyp (green), Blue Mushroom, and Striped Mushroom? <No way, you need more light than that with a 72g aquarium, unless you place them in the top half of your aquarium.> If not should I add an additional strip of the same fixture or what would your suggestion be? <Research the lighting requirements of the corals you want to have in your tank over time and purchase the correct lighting in the beginning rather than worrying about lighting requirements each time you purchase a new coral. This website is a good start, learn to use the search feature, you'll find most corals and their lighting requirements. For mushrooms, please visit: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corallim.htm. It's better for your corals and your pocketbook. > Currently I have FOWLR system (currently on a 6hr/day light cycle) and I'm looking to add some coral/mushroom species to my system. Also what should I increase my light cycle to, I have read that these species have low lighting needs. <I like a 10-hour light cycle and have them timed so they are on when I am around to enjoy the tank. They go off about the time I go to bed and come on 10 hours prior.> Thank you. Anthony <Take care and good luck! -- Brian Griffin>

Reef lighting, reading   10/19/07 Hi again, <Mike> On the recommendation of my LFS, I purchased the Current USA Orbit which contains 1X65 watt 10,000K and 1X65 watt 7100K actinic to light my 54 g. corner aquarium that is 27 inches deep. <... not much light for this shape/depth...> I planned on primarily keeping mushrooms and maybe some low-light softies and was told that this would be adequate. <Mmm, no> I had several red mushrooms that were hitchers on my live rock; they initially were extending their stems and "cupping" up. I moved them higher in the water column where they began to thrive. Obviously, I do not have enough light to place these creatures any lower than six-ten inches deep in the tank. Do you think I should get rid of the compact fluorescent and go for MH, or can I add more compact fluorescent? <Could do either... Do look into operational costs (electricity, lamps) and waste-heat production/elimination...> For example, I noticed that Current Usa also makes an 18" T5 model that would fit nicely on the back of the glass canopy and would add another 40 watts. <Not enough wattage additional to make me change...> Any ideas? I've already made one wrong purchase and certainly don't want to make another. Thanks, Mike <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm the bottom trays... Bob Fenner>

Reef Lighting 10/14/07 Hi <Hello Chad> I have a 75 gallon Softie tank with 4 x 65 watt Power Compacts. I would eventually like to move up to SPS and a clam or two. Would two 250 watt halides be overkill, over superheat the tank without buying a chiller? I live in Arizona <Our daughter moved there recently (Scottsdale) and she loves it. Little too warm for me though.> and we keep our house at 78-80 Degrees. <If your tank is 24" or less in height x 48" long, it is a little more than you need. Two 175 watt halides should do the trick. I'm running two 175 watt/14K halides on a 18" deep x 60" long tank and it is stocked with SPS, LPS, and softies. Everything is looking good/growing. I do feel that I'm on border line for SPS though. I do keep the monti's/Acro's in the upper third of the tank. As far as heat build up, I run one Ice Cap variable speed fan on the system and the warmest the water has ever been was 84. Although two 250 watt halides would not be overkill, fans are definitely required and you may have to resort to employing a chiller. Read here for more info. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm> Thanks <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Chad

Lighting Two Systems  10/12/07 Good afternoon, <David> I have a question about lighting... 200 gallon tank utilizing about 180gallons of water + 35gallons in the sump 200lbs live Tonga rock Tunze Protein Skimmer (rated for 325gallon tank) ~ gives me a cup of skim every 4 days? 3-6" sandbed (pending where my moray is digging) Nitrates 15-20ppm, Nitrite 0, Ammonia 0, pH 8.2 Temp 24.5 - 25.5oc ** This tank is a fish only system I have a 95W PC and a 65W PC lighting strip on this tank. Blue Actinics (sp?) 1pm - 10:30pm Regular bulbs 2pm - 9:30pm. Bob's comment about most aquarists ignorant to lighting... ya, that be me?? A number of fish retailers had indicated to me with fish only, I should be fine with my wattage; <You are> however I am now concerned about the wattage and my photo period. Bob had indicated 1-2W/gallon. I've been battling small temporary Cyano issues as well as reddish/brownish spots on my sand. Usually clears up within weeks. Mostly, this tank suffers from long greeny/browny hairy algae growing up to about 2" or so in some areas. My tank was perfect and algae clear for months and only experienced this outbreak during the first 2 months of startup which I thought to be understandable... and just this past few months. I also have incorporated a RO/DI which I've been using for a month. I also have Chaeto in my sump and am doing 20% water changes per month (smaller changes almost weekly). My lighting practices have remained constant since startup so I was thinking I had everything down perfectly during the 6mos of my perfect algae free tank. <"Things" change... the make up of the system, chemically, biologically...> I'm suspecting that it has something to do with the Calgary tap water, hence I purchased the RO/DI. <A good idea> My other tank... 90 gallon tank utilizing about 75gallons of water + 25 gallons in the sump 90lbs live rock Aqua-C Remora Pro skimmer (best skimmer in the world!) ~ nice thick sludge every two days Half the tank is about an inch sandbed, the other half is 4" deep separated by liverock retaining wall. Yep, experimenting and need a deeper bed for a Jawfish. Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia all 0, pH 8.2 Temp 25 - 26oc ** This tank is going to be a reef tank once I get it under control** I have 2x250W MH and 2x90W PC's. I've only been using 4-5hrs of MH's and about 9hrs of the PC's. I've not yet introduced any corals... This tank has historically always had pristine water conditions but algae galore. I have no problems growing nice green plant like algaes but am also battling Cyano and some awful green/brown hair algae as above. This tank has never run algae free. As mentioned I have been using RO/DI for water top off and water changes. The 90 gallon should be at a point now where all water utilized within is from RO/DI. The 200 gallon tank should be at a point where about 40% of water within is from RO/DI. In addition, Kent mentions about a 10day straight run time on the RO/DI unit before ultimate water quality is achieved. I'm likely only at about 5days straight. I realize the benefits from this may take another month or so to appear. Question is, given my algae problems and lighting, is my lighting ok? <Yes> Too little in the 200gallon? Wattage wise or photo period? How about my 90 gallon? <I would alter the photoperiod in the reef tank with the addition of photosynthetic livestock... Otherwise, all seems fine. BobF> David Brynlund

First try at Coral/Lighting  10/12/07 Hi, <Howdy> I have a 32 gallon Finnex M-tank running with about 30 pounds of live rock (forgot which kind of liverock it is, but it is lighter they said compared to similar sized rocks), 2 clownfish and a damsel (damsel is getting pretty big now and can be mean - not sure what kind it is but I attached a photo). I have a 3 inch sand bed and a refugium in he back of the tank (lights running 8PM - 8AM, turn on/off with main display lights) with sand and macro-algae and many of copepods and things. I also have a skimmer in the rear of the tank. <The damsel you can find here: http://wetwebmedia.com/neoglyphidodon.htm> For circulation I run a Hydor Koralia 1 and a Hydor Koralia nano on opposite ends of the tank, and a Microjet pump aimed behind the live rock to keep circulation behind the rocks. The return pump itself also make a nice current. Not sure if I have my circulation set up ok or not but the fish seem to enjoy swimming into the currents created by the Hydor's. For lighting I currently have a fixture with 3 x 55w compact fluorescents of various degrees for a total of 165W. The tank has run for about 10 months now without issue, but I am now planning on adding a cleaning crew and some coral. <Some... coral...> Water readings are always perfect, all 0's with nitrates usually between 0 and 10. Usually for a 10% weekly water change. My question is for corals, is the roughly 5 watts per gallon OK? <Mmm, for many species, depths, yes> Or am I limiting myself? <More so with this small volume> I was looking at the SunPod 150W metal halide or the 250W (like 8 watts per gallon) metal halide, both at 14,000 degrees. Do you think the 150W SunPod would better the 165W of Cf's or do you think the 250W fixture would be the better choice? <Don't think it really makes much difference here> I know I am only in a 32 gallon tank but I do not want to limit the kinds of corals I can have in my tank... <... this is counterintuitive... there are a few important groups of limiting factors in placing disparate cnidarians in close proximity in small captive volumes... poisoning, overgrowing, stinging mechanisms... All need to be taken into consideration in putting together a stocking plan> Do you see any holes in my plan? And for adding coral, what types to you suggest for someone new at reef keeping? <...?> Should I limit the number of different pieces I add to the tank at once? <Yes> In particular I was looking at the "starter packages" or "frag packages" for sale on several sites like LiveAquaria, etc. Do you think those are a good idea to start with? <This is an excellent company with many good people, practices> Thanks Dave Sheehan <I would study for now Dave... Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/index.htm BobF>

Upgrading Reef System 10/10/07 Hello, I'd like to thank you guys for having such an incredible web site. <Is appreciated my friend.> I've got a few questions that hopefully you can help me with. I currently have a 75g setup with a ProClear wet/dry, a Top Fathom skimmer, 4x 36in 95w VHO retrofit kit, 70lbs of live rock, and about a 2in bed of live sand. I've ordered a ProClear Flex 200 to use as a refugium and replace the wet/dry and I've ordered an Aqua-C EV series skimmer to replace the Top Fathom. <A major improvement here.> I have a wooden canopy that totally encloses the top of the tank except for the back side. The bottom of the top of the canopy is about 8.5in from the surface of the water and I'm wanting to upgrade to halides. Do I have any options other than retrofit kits with this canopy and will cooling fans be a must? <A retro is the way to go, and yes, you will need cooling fans.> With or without the fans, will it likely be worth my money to invest in a chiller? <I'm using two 175 watt halides on my tank with just one Ice Cap cooling fan, and my highest temperature is 82. Like you, our A/C is on when outside temperatures exceed 80 degrees.> If so, my choices are a Prime Chiller 1/10 HP or a ARCTICA 1/10 HP. Any ideas on which one is better? <I'd probably go with the Arctica. Their 1/10 model will handle up to a 130 gallon tank based on the minimum flow rate of 240gph. The Prime 1/10 handles up to a 70 gallon with a minimum flow rate of 420gph. It appears the Arctica is much more efficient. I would do more research on these chillers as I am no expert on chillers. I would hold off on a chiller until you see what kind of temperature swings you incur with the halide lighting.> Currently, my aquarium stays in an air conditioned room and the water temp stays around 78 degrees on it's own. I'm sure that halides that close to the surface are going to change that. With the retrofit halides, I'm looking at a Hamilton kit and they are recommending a lens of some sort to protect the bulbs. Any info on Hamilton? <Do search on this. I do like their 14K lamps.> How important do you think it is to have a lens or glass separating the bulbs and any evaporated moisture/salt creep? <Very important, any splashing can cause breakage of the lamp.> I don't want to have anything taking away from the direct light. <Won't hurt, I clean my glass top weekly to insure this does not occur.> Finally, I'm looking for something that will "polish" the water. Some small type of mechanical filtration other than a hang on. Any suggestions? I've been told to stay away from canister filters because of clogging and nitrate/nitrite problems down the road. <Blah, to me, hogwash, I wonder who started that crap. Any filter that is not cleaned on a weekly basis is going to lead to rising nitrate levels. I've used canisters on some systems and never had nitrate problems due to it's use. A couple bags of Chemi-Pure goes a long way in polishing the water. As far as a mechanical filter, the Marineland Magnum's come with a 5 micron filter cartridge that is re-usable.> Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time and expertise! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Will
Re: Upgrading Reef System 10/10/07
<Sorry Will, forgot to address the retro question. Do check out the PFO system. Their ballast are encased in aluminum with extruded fins that act as heat sinks. I'm using two of their systems and I can attest they are very well made. I got mine from Premium Aquatics for a little over $400 which includes lamps, quick disconnect cables, highly polished reflectors, sockets and ballasts. James (Salty Dog)>

Another Lighting Question/Reef Lighting 10/5/07 Hi gang! <Hi Mike> An upfront thanks for your much appreciated help! As an FYI, I have searched your site and many of the "forum" sites, but am leery of the advice I read/get on those sites. One can never tell the knowledge and/or agenda of the posters. <Most is based on experience, the more you read, the more you can narrow it down.> With WWM, no such problems--experts with no agenda! I have what I think should be/is a simple question regarding power consumption of metal halide vs. T5HO lights. Specifically, I would like to know, assuming similar wattages (i.e. 300 watts of MH and 324 watts of T5HO), will the MH's cost more in kw/h to run every month than the T5's? <An in depth question. All depends on the efficiency of the ballast. All things being equal, the T5's would probably run less, but there is more to the equation than that.> As is the norm in this hobby, I have found seemingly reliable answers on both sides (yes, the same cost, and no, the MH's more). Although I understand this problem when it comes to questions which only opinions can answer, it seems like a quantifiable answer should be readily available to this question. <Mmmm> To give some background: my new tank is 60" long, 18" front to back and 24" tall. I am, obviously I think, in the market for new lights. My concerns are, in this order: supplying sufficient light for the organisms I will be housing, initial cost of equipment, monthly electricity bills, and upkeep costs (i.e. bulb replacement). I have narrowed my choice to T5HO and metal halide. I have read that T5's, being "higher efficiency" than any other bulbs, means that one can run fewer watts of T5's as compared to MH's (specifically, I repeatedly read that 216 watts of T5HO is equivalent to 400 watts of MH). Is that true? <A loaded question. Equivalent as to what. One needs to know how the test, if done, was conducted. The distance from lamp to light meter is a big factor here.> And, if so, I would assume that the T5's would cost less on the power bill each month as they only "burn" 216 watts to the MH's 400? <Lamp wattage can be misleading, how much current the ballast will draw to light the lamps is what's important.> Is this close, or am I into apples v. oranges territory? <No, MH vs. T5 territory.> Underlying all of this is, I am planning a mixed reef, but with only a few SPS (and, maybe, a clam or two). I figured I could use/get away with approximately 300 to 400 watts of light, be it from all T5HO's or a MH/T5HO combo. What do you think? My thinking (so far) is that, assuming power costs will be similar, I am leaning toward the MH/MH-T5 combo (HQI MH). The up front costs of the fixtures/retro kits will be in the same ballpark, with the MH a bit higher. Bulb replacement would seemingly be quite similar, as 2 $50-$60 150w MH bulbs each year are close to 6 54w T5 bulbs at $20-$25 every 18 months. I am not overly concerned with heat, as my tank is in the basement, and I would like the shimmer effect. Plus, I am such a DIYer that I can plug in a fan if need be. My mind would change quickly, however, if the MH or MH combo fixture would cost me much more to run each month. Finally, if true that 216w of T5HO are equivalent to 400w of MH, I would go the T5 route and get less than 354w in order to save money (upfront and on bulb replacement). I hope I was clear enough, and thanks again for you valuable time! <Mike, with your 24" deep tank, and the want to keep SPS and clams, do go with metal halide. With SPS and clams, I'd go with two 250 watt, 14K lamps. No need for any other lighting. I'm not so sure T5's are going to have the penetration MH has. Being that the T5 lamps are a relatively new technology, I haven't heard enough feedback from aquarists to recommend them over MH in a 24" deep tank. You may want to go to our chat forum and post this question. Go here http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ James (Salty Dog)> -Mike Dee

T5 HO vs. Compact fluorescent 10/1/07 Hello ladies and gents, <Eric> After perusing your splendid articles and FAQs on lighting I have come to the conclusion that I'm still confused. I have a nano reef (29 gallon AGA tank) currently lit by 130 watts of 50/50 power compacts. I'm currently keeping zoas, shrooms, various LPSs and a yellow/canary porites colony which has been slowly growing. Would I get more PAR if I switched to 4 24 watt t5ho's with individual reflectors? <Mmm, yes> Thank you for your time and consideration, Eric <Please read re Cnidarian allelopathy, the Compatibility of the species/groups you list... on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Reef Lighting Photoperiod? -- 09/30/07 Hi, <<Hello>> I have a 72-gallon reef tank with metal halide lighting and I was wondering how long should the light be on for? <<According to Richard Harker, daylight in the tropics is somewhere around 14 hours with little variation between seasons. Obviously the 'strength' of this light varies through the day with the movement of the sun'¦unlike the lighting in our reef tanks. Most authors will state a photoperiod of between 10 and 14 hours. I prefer a 12-hour period for each bulb, run on a separate timer and turned on/off in sequence with about a 10 minute interval'¦but then I have 6 bulbs over my tank>> Should it be the same as PC bulbs? <<Yes'¦and still 12 hours>> Right now I keep it on for 8 hours at full light and 9 hours with a actinic, I looked everywhere on your web site and could not find the answer for my scenario. <<I would increase the photoperiod of the metal halides to a 'minimum' of 10 hours with the Actinics running an hour before and after for a day/night transition>> Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Chris <<Happy to assist. Eric Russell>>

Too Much Light... reef  8/9/07 Crew, Thanks for all the amazing help you folks provide. <You're welcome.> I'd probably have quit the hobby without this site. I have been wondering if I have too much light in my tank. I have a 24" high 165G tank and my lights are all T5s with individual reflectors. They are as follows, 80W ATI Blue+, 80W D&D Midday, a second 80W ATI Blue+, 80W D&D Aquablue, 54W D&D Actinic+, and a 54W D&D Midday. I think all the bulbs have pretty good PAR values except for the Actinic+. I am wondering if I have too much light because one of my SPS is bleaching and it's about 12 to 15" away from the lights. I also have a Cyphastrea ocellina lying on the sand and while the sides look fine, the top of it has some bleaching. <Mike, it's the other way around, you do not have enough light for the depth of this tank. You do not give the length, but I'm guessing it's 6 feet. I'd be thinking about three 175 watt metal halides. Try placing the coral in the upper third of the tank, should help, but don't look for overnight changes.> Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Mike
Re: Too Much Light... Cnid.s  8/9/07
Crew, Thanks for all the amazing help you folks provide. <You're welcome.> I'd probably have quit the hobby without this site. I have been wondering if I have too much light in my tank. I have a 24" high 165G tank and my lights are all T5s with individual reflectors. They are as follows, 80W ATI Blue+, 80W D&D Midday, a second 80W ATI Blue+, 80W D&D Aquablue, 54W D&D Actinic+, and a 54W D&D Midday. I think all the bulbs have pretty good PAR values except for the Actinic+. I am wondering if I have too much light because one of my SPS is bleaching and it's about 12 to 15" away from the lights. I also have a Cyphastrea Ocellina lying on the sand and while the sides look fine, the top of it has some bleaching. <Mike, it's the other way around, you do not have enough light for the depth of this tank. You do not give the length, but I'm guessing it's 6 feet. I'd be thinking about three 175 watt metal halides. Try placing the coral in the upper third of the tank, should  help, but don't look for overnight changes.> Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Mike <[b]After reading both emails and responses and not actually seeing the tanks or knowing the nutrient levels I have a revised response[/b]...> <First, assuming this is a 6' tank, I am unsure if you lighting is (2) rows of T5 or (3) rows. In any event on a 6' tank at a depth of 24" I would recommend no less than a fixture with (4) rows of lamps to light SPS dominated tank. If you had mainly soft corals than your current lighting would be fine. Without knowing what species of SPS bleached, I can not relate if light or the lack of was an issue. Many things cause SPS to bleach or similarly RTN. Assuming the SPS is an Acropora, If the SPS lost it's tissue from the base and worked up to the tips it is a predator probably a Acro Eating Flat Worms), if the loss of tissue was at the top of the coral and working it's way down it may be lighting and nutrient affected. Too high of a nitrate level can cause this, too high of a phosphate level will cause the SPS to "brown out" in color but the coral will still grow. The picture of the clove should that the soft corals was indeed growing and I have seen time and time again the "frilly" tentacles from intense lighting. Keep in mind that from tank to tank the nutrient levels vary, along with water clarity, and from lamp type to lamp type so do the PAR readings. With that said I would say my theory is only an opinion from past experiences. The Cyphastrea Ocellina may be affected by nutrient levels also. T5 lighting has as much impact on corals as Metal Halides. I have grown many SPS with T5 only set-ups and several LFS in my area are T5 only with great coral selections. I believe using the T5's was a good choice. I am sorry I can't help more. Rich aka MR. Firemouth>
Re: too much light? 8/9/07
Does it make sense for the bleaching to occur on the top of the Cyphastrea Ocellina? I thought I had too much light because from a prior email attached below, I was advised as such. The Clove polyp is probably 5-8" off the sand. I consequently replaced an Aquablue with a blue+. <Hello> Hi folks! Thanks for all your help so far in my reef keeping journey. I have a clove polyp that looked the way it should for about 2 weeks before becoming this. It keeps growing more and more polyps but it's all thinned out and doesn't look anything like a clove polyp anymore. Is it too much water flow or too much light causing this? <I looked at the pic provided and I must say it is definitely a healthy, growing colony of yellow striped clove polyps. I have the very same kind in my 180gallon mixed reef tank. The unusual growth pattern you are referring to is the fact that the tentacles became very long on the arms and are giving it more of a crazy polyp look. This is indeed from too much light. Every colony of clove no matter the color morph) I have placed close to a 250watt Metal halide lamp has developed the very same characteristics as yours. I am adding 2 pics of before and after increased lighting to show the difference. I have never tried to reduce the amount of tentacles as I saw no reason for the attempt. If you are unhappy with the look you could try shading the cloves or moving to the sand bed and see if they change back.> <Thanks, Rich aka Mr. Firemouth>

Reef Lighting 8/9/07 Hello fellow reefers. <Hello Garret> Just had a quick lighting question for ya'. You guys have been so helpful with my 46 gallon bow front reef, I'm hoping you can help one more time. I've pretty much figured out what lighting fixture I'm getting but need help with the specs. I'm upgrading to a 72 gallon, adding more live rock of course, and going through all the cycling again. The 46 was just to restrictive. I believe I'm going with the Coralife Aqua light Elite. People keep suggesting the Pro which comes with the double ended halides. Maybe I'm old school but I'm just not buying the hype with these types of bulbs. Do you think they are better than mogul based??? <As good as, and more compact.> Also the lunar lights might be nice, but with the Elite series you get the full reflector which I believe will give better light distribution. I guess I've already asked one question so here is my last one. With the tank 48 inches long and 16-18 inches deep ( from top to bottom, which is including the deep sand band which will be used) do I go with the dual 250 watt, Or do I just go with the dual 175 watt?? .(Both come with dual 96 watt actinics, so that's not an issue) I want all the light I need for clams, SPS, LPSs, I want no restriction to ANY high light needing corals I might want. I also don't want to super nova the tank, I would like some mushrooms and Zoa's as well. I guess to help I would like to keep light on the higher end just to able to get those Montipora, and other great SPS's, and high lighting needing animals. Those are my top priority. What do you guys think? <For what you want to keep, I'd go with the dual 250 watt system.> Thanks for all the help from the past and into the future. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Lighting Choice For A Relatively Shallow Mixed-Garden Reef System -- 08/06/07 Hello fellow reefers. <<Hello>> Howzit? <<Not so bad...for a Monday>> With so many choices I just wanted the pro's (you guys) opinion on my lighting choices. <<Always happy to proffer my opinion>> I'm obtaining a 72-gallon 48' length and 18.5' deep w/o the deep sand bed that's going to be employed. So I'm guessing I'm dealing with 15-inches in depth if not less. <<I see>> I've pretty much chosen a Hamilton lighting canopy with 96-watt actinics. The hard part here for me is choosing the halide output. I want to keep all the standard stuff, clams, sps, LPSs, mushrooms, zoos. <<Ah, the typical 'mixed-garden' reef system...and often the most challenging in all aspects, to include lighting for the differing needs of the occupants>> The full mixed-reef if you will. <<Yes>> Do I go with the 2 250's, or the 2 150's? <<Considering the depth, I think the 150s will more than suffice>> If it helps, either way I'm employing an Arctica chiller. I just wanted your guy's opinion on this. <<You have mine>> Do you even like Hamilton? I hear they're pretty good. <<I've not used their setups before, but like you have heard they are reputable>> Thanks for the help. <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

Lighting Cnid.s, reading   8/2/07 Hello. Would the following lighting fixture be good for a 65g tank (36x18x24), housing, among a few mushrooms and button polyps, a BTA? 2x96 Watt (1)dual spectrum daylight bulbs, (10,000k and 6,700k) (1)dual spectrum actinic bulbs, (460nm and 420nm) <... nope. Not sufficient intensity... would switch the actinics...> I remember reading a response from Anthony recommending specs like this for a 65g mixed reef setup (barring a system containing clams and/or stony corals), but I don't remember for sure. Your advice is much appreciated. Eric <Your reading before writing as well. Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm The last tray down. Bob Fenner>

Lighting, anemone/reef... fixture choices   7/22/07 Thank you for offering a wonderful site and great help. I am asking about lighting for my marine tank. I have a 55 gallon tank. In it are 2 peppermint shrimp, one cleaner shrimp, a mandarin goby, a common clown fish and now I believe a Condylactis gigantea. <"Now and "believe" as you now consider it this species I'll take it> This last one is my concern. I have learned through your site that I do not have enough light for him. I am looking for a good lighting system of course for not a lot of money. I tried to check with the businesses that you suggested, but couldn't find Coralife. <Mmm, unusual... the company's products are sold by numerous etailers...> When looking directly to this site, I found what I thought might work. They had a Lunar Aqualight 4 65 watt - 4 moon glow. I don't know what moon glow is. <Is a type/ selection of spectra that mimic the reflectance/incandescent photonic energy of night-light...> I also didn't know if I could just change the bulbs to whatever I wanted at a later date. <Yes, you could... and IMO, should> It mentioned 96 watt, but didn't show me a place to purchase that unit. Not sure if I can just change the bulbs to 96 or if I have to buy a unit specifically for 96 watt bulbs. <Mmm... the fixture is made for lamps of a particular wattage... but many/most "come with" an initial set of such lamps...> I would eventually like to add some coral <Need to investigate the needs, compatibility, feeding of each type/species you're interested in AHEAD of acquisition> and more live rock. I also have a couple of pounds of live rock. I am also a little confused on the power compacts vs. HQI lighting units. <Re? These are two differing means... both produce useful energy> I think we would be fine with the PC, but wondered if we should consider something else if it were to save us in the end?! <Mmm, depends on what you want to do... Either sort can be made to work here> I am in need of your help and hope it isn't just for experienced marine people, I am not. One last thing, my tank has a canopy. This unit I mentioned would fit into it. The interior space within the canopy is 48" X 12" X 5". Thank you so much for your help. Trisha <Likely you will want to, need to abandon this hood and go with something else manufactured or DIY in the switching of fixtures here. Please continue perusing here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm The tray at the bottom on Lighting... there is considerable to consider here, but important to know some of the underlying science to gain an understanding of what your options are... and their up-front and ongoing costs... This latter, mainly electrical and lamp replacement can be the largest expense in such ventures as aquariums. Bob Fenner>

Quick Lighting Question, reef   7/15/07 Good morning! <Hello Garrett, Marie here today> I hope all is well with the crew. You guys here on the weekends? We never give you guys a chance to rest huh? Thanks for being here for us, this is the only website I trust for info. <Glad we can be of help> Quick and easy lighting question. I tried to save some time here but couldn't find anything in the archives. I tried, I promise. hehe. <Thanks for researching first! > So, I've had my reef running for 16 days. Right now I have only had the actinics running. even got a decent diatom bloom from them but I'm just curious on how long before I should run the 10,000ks. Initial start up? 1 month? Just don't know how long till I run my light fixture at full force. <You can start your lighting regime anytime now. I assume you are planning to put coral in the tank. Lighting requirements will depend on type of coral and placement in the tank so be sure to read about the type of coral you choose. Metal Halides usually are run around 12 hours a day. > The tank is a 46 bow with 24lbs live rock, <You may want to add some live rock, recommend 1 lb/gallon> 3 very small chromis, light clean up crew with snail, hermits, fighting conch. If it matter all parameters read what they should. <Then I assume that ammonia is zero, nitrates are less than 25 ppm, nitrites are less than 0.1ppm and the tank is done cycling> I have noticed two small tanish polyps pop up so they like the actinics...can you help a reefer out? <You can run your lighting for any 12-hour period, so be sure to pick that time that allows you to enjoy your tank! > Thanks guys, and ladies. <Your welcome, good luck with your new tank! >

Regarding reef lighting   7/13/07 Dear crew, <Hi Tony Bologna> I've recently been given some information by my local fish store regarding reef lighting that suggests the lighting is insufficient for many corals. I have a 75 gallon aquarium with standard dimensions (48x18x20..i think) with a Current Nova 4x54 watt T5 hood (with single shared reflector). This hood currently lights a colony of zoanthids, a pink star-polyp colony, and a waving-hand Xenia. I'd like to healthily sustain some SPS corals as well as some LPS in the future as well. Would you advise me to upgrade my lighting configuration or do you think this will be sufficient? <Your LFS isn't completely wrong or right. The reason is reef lighting comes down to personal preferences. There are a myriad of choices from wattages to color temps of bulbs. (Kelvin's) Not to mention the Myriad of bulb choices! They are probably recommending what works for them. As for lighting SPS, I have tried many different light applications, including experience with the Solaris L.E.D. systems. Metal Halides punch the water with the most PAR which is what is important to our corals. T5's with High Output ballasts (Ice Cap 660)and individual reflectors are the next best thing for growing SPS. (Personal experiences spanning over 2 decades) Your system is using (4) 54watt bulbs which will be fine on a 75g tank. You will have to place your SPS higher in the rock work to get the most from the bulbs.> If it is sufficient, will the rate of reproduction of the corals be modest or better? <Your growth rates are affected by water quality, calcium and alkalinity levels, and by the intensity of the light provided. If your intentions are to grow SPS as fast as possible than 400w Metal halides in Luminarc reflectors would be the best choice. If your intentions are to enjoy and grow some colorful SPS colonies than your current lighting would be fine. If you find you are unsatisfied later than you can add a second fixture with 4 bulbs.> Thank you for your advice! <Your welcome...Rich aka Mr. Firemouth>

Reef Lighting Selection 7/12/07 I was reading through your website. Excellent source of information. I would recommend it to everyone. <Thank you, glad you enjoy.> I have had multiple salt water tanks (at once) for the last 25 years. I have a 75 gallon with lots of fish, but I am naïve with reefs. I want to convert my smaller 30 Gallon freshwater tank to a Reef. <OK> I am looking at either a Coralife Lunar Aqualight , vs. Coralife Aqualite Deluxe vs. the Current USA Dual Satellite. All are 36" inch and have 2 96W systems. Two of the three have lunar lights. <Lunar lights are purely aesthetic and have no bearing on photosynthesis.> I do not want to make a wrong decision on lighting. I was originally set on a combination Halide (150W, with a 10K and Actinic hood, thinking more is better. But after reading your forum saw that it is not always true. My questions to you are: 1) Which of the above 3 systems would you recommend for lighting? <I'd recommend a 175 watt metal halide if you plan on keeping hard corals such as Montipora, acropora, etc.> 2) Is there any difference between the bulbs offered by each. If so which do you prefer? <As far as brand name, I personally think Ushio and Hamilton are good bulbs, but I'm sure there are others that perform equally well. As for color temperature (Kelvin), I'd go with 14K. There will be enough blue in this lamp whereas actinic lighting will not be necessary.> 3) For a 30 Gallon tank (36X12X18) would you recommend a combination hood with a MH or just one of the above three? <I would try and find a hood with just the halide fixture, may be hard to do though. I know that SunPod makes a 36" hood with two 150 watt, 14K HQI lamps. This would be ideal for your size tank if keeping hard corals is in mind. I believe it mail orders for around $450.00. There are also several DIY kits carried by various etailers, Premium Aquatics for one. This gets you in the game for much less.> I am planning on keeping a variety of Live Rock, corals and Anemones with a tang or two <This size tank is much too small for keeping tangs.> and some clowns and do not want to be limited (by light) to what I can have? I believe that the two 96W should be enough for this small and shallow tank, but wanted your thoughts on the MH. <Two 96 PC lamps would be enough, as this will be providing a little over six watts per gallon, but I really believe SPS corals do much better under MH/HQI lighting. Keep in mind that the watts per gallon can be misleading in some instances. MH and HQI produce a more intense light compared to fluorescent/PC tubes. I happen to like the rippling effect created by these lamps also.> I want to order this today or tomorrow, so if you can answer this soon, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> sincerely, Mark Valentino
Re: Reef Lighting Selection 7/13/07
Salty Dog, You recommend a 175W MH system. I see both Coralife and Current USA have 150W and 250W MH systems. Can you put a 175W bulb into one of these? <No, The 150 watt is a HQI system, not a MH. If you want a complete hood, I'd probably go with the SunPod twin 150 watt HQI system for $450.00. I do not know of anyone else that just makes dedicated MH/HQI hoods without supplemental lighting. The $450.00 for the twin 150 system isn't a bad price considering that it comes with the lamps and cooling fan.> Is there anyone else that has a 175W MH complete light/hood system that you would recommend besides PFO? <The PFO is strictly retro, you would need a wood canopy to incorporate this system. Your best bet is to Google and look for best prices on this lighting.> Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog))> Mark

PC or MH? That is the question?  7/12/07 Hello Crew, I currently have a 75 gallon (48" x 18" x18") reef aquarium. The tank contains a few fish and mostly soft corals with a few LPS (brain corals and a bubble coral). I have been lighting the tank with 260 watts of PC bulbs. I have been completely satisfied with my coral health and the look of my tank. However, I have always coveted the look of metal halides and the versatility they offer. <Not to mention those enchanting glitter lines. ;)> Now my lighting system has malfunctioned and I am forced to buy a new setup. I have read many of the articles and FAQs on your site and they have been a big help. I have read some information saying that two 175 watt metal halides would be good for this system, but I have also read that this much light could be too much for the livestock I currently keep. <It's not too much light for the corals you have. However, you will need to take great care in acclimating them to the new light. You can do this using layers of mesh screens.> I really don't have much interest in moving to SPS but do like clams and frogspawn. Would the cost of upgrading to metal halides be worth it or would this much light just burn out my softies? <If you acclimate them well, you should be fine. As far as if it's worth it, that's more a personal thing. I love metal halide lighting, so I would say "yes." But die-hard PC-lighting fans might have another opinion. However, if you want to keep clams, the MHs would definitely be better.> Should I just stick with the PCs? I think I know the answer here but I keep second guessing myself. Any "expert" advice would be much appreciated. <See above. It's really your call. But for any Tridacna clams, you'll want the metal halides.> Thanks <De nada, Sara M.>

Coral health. Too Much Actinic Lighting -- 07/10/07 Thanks for all the help over the past two years as I've gotten into the hobby. Your site is my go to site for advice. <<We're glad we could be here>> I have a 165G tank with SPS on the top and LPS and softies in the middle and bottom. I run two Tunzes and a Wavebox for flow and 214 watts of T5 Aquablue and 214 watts of T5 Blue+ for lighting. <<From what I can find, the Aquablue bulbs are 60% Actinic and the Blue+ bulbs are 100% Actinic... Not nearly enough useful spectrum/way too much Actinic lighting here>> All the bulbs have individual Tek reflectors. During the day my Ricordea are noticeably smaller and dormant and my Kenya coral is about 1/3 the size compared to the night time. I know corals usually get larger at night to feed but they look a lot healthier as well. Also, my Clove Polyps look all stringy and worn out after a week or so. Do you think I have too much light or too much water flow for my corals which is causing them to shrink up? I get about a 1-inch wave with my Wavebox. <<I seriously doubt your issue is 'too much' flow unless you have the Stream pumps positioned such they are directly 'blasting' the corals. I really think your problem is you 'don't have enough intensity/useful light spectrum' to allow the corals to photosynthesize properly. I urge you to consider reducing your Actinic lighting to about 1/5th your total wattage and employ 10,000K lighting for the remainder. Regards, EricR>>
Re: Too Much Actinic Lighting - 07/10/07
Would adding a 6500k daylight bulb work or do I need a 10k? <<Replacing the majority of the Actinic bulbs with 6500K bulbs would be fine, and are of even more "use" to your corals than the 10000K bulbs. I merely suggested the latter because they do provide enough "useful light spectrum" and are more aesthetically pleasing to the "human" eye for most hobbyists. EricR>>

Reef Tank Lighting... reading... Incompatible cnid. mix... focus on lighting, needs to be on comp.    6/16/07 Hello My Name is Randall. I have a couple of questions about lighting for my Reef Tank(s). I currently am running a 75G Reef Tank with about 100 lbs of Live Rock. I seem to have been successful so far and have had great water quality. My PH is about 8.4, Alk 3.5, Calcium 410-430, Nitrates 0-0.5, Ammonia- Non Existent, Phosphates - 0, Nitrite - 0. My salinity is around 1.022. <I'd be raising, keeping this more like 1.026> I have lots of polyps, mushrooms, and leathers at this point and am also keeping a large purple sebae anemone <Oh! Am writing a survey article re this species, Heteractis crispa... I do hope you have very small specimens of the other mentioned cnidarian Classes... and very good gear and maintenance procedures... and that this tank is very well established...> and a Montipora Cap. My coralline algae is growing great and I have no problems. Now to the question... I am currently running 6 X 65 W power compacts (2 X 10K, 2 X Actinic, and 2 X 50/50) and 4 blue lunar LEDs. Everything is doing well as I said before, except maybe a Torch which has acted up since I got it. I am considering an upgrade to an 8 X 65 W PC set-up that a friend of mine is trying to pass-off with 16 Blue LEDs. I am wondering if I could keep SPS corals such as Acroporas and more in my tank with that upgrade and is it even worth the bulbs. <Mmm, no, not with the Anemone... and not worth the switch IMO period> My only other option at this point is to try the 8 X 54 W T5 HO fixture from Tek Light. If these are not viable options for SPS then I will just continue to wait for an opportunity to snag some MH. However I would really prefer not to bring that heat into my living room. <Uh, "less technology, more biology" needed here... Buying items won't save the day or your livestock here> A separate question altogether... After the upgrade on the 75G tank I am planning on setting up an odd sized 40 long as a reef tank. The tank is approximately 48" long X 17" wide X 15" Tall. Corals would almost always be directly under the lighting, and I plan to put the 6 X 65W PC on this tank. What would be my limitations with corals on this tank? Any SPS? Thank you very much for your time. Randall <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/index.htm and/or learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM... Your answers... and as the advert.s go, "So much more" are archived/posted already. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Cnidarians? -- 06/11/07 <Hello Jeff> My tank is 240 gallons. 8x2x2. I wish to keep Zoanthus, Palythoa, Protopalythoa, Ricordea and some other species of mushrooms. I currently have 2 Pc light fixtures. Each fixture has 4 96 watt bulbs. Half are dual daylight 6700/10000, half are dual actinic 420/460 nm. So that gives me a total of 768 watts of light which is 3.2 watts per gallon. Or so I thought until reading some information of WWM. <Power compact lighting is less efficient at penetrating depths of 24" as say Metal Halides(12000k color temp) or T5 High Output lamps. The watt per gallon is not as much of a factor as the PAR rating. This where the Metal Halide lamps excel with higher PAR.> I didn't know that you can't count actinics as useful light, so that only gives me 384 watts which brings me down to 1.6 watts per gallon which isn't much. I really like the look of this lighting combination. Actinics come on an hour before and go off an hour after the daylights. The lights are on for 12 hours a day. After reading through some FAQs on lighting I gathered I should change out the actinics for daylight bulbs to get the most benefit photosynthesis wise. However, if I do that, I'm not sure if I'll like the color of the tank. I could go with 8 96watt 10000 K and get a couple of cheep strip lights and add some blue or actinic bulbs to them.. That might give me about the same color balance as I have right now. I'm not sure what would be best. But I certainly want what's best for the animals in my care. On the other hand, I guess I could drop another 1000 dollars on 2 more lighting fixtures to balance things out that way. Of course spending that kind of many just to house actinics seems like a waste of money if actinics are worthless any way. In that case I would be better off having 16 daylight bulbs. If I want the exact same color I have right now I would have to double up. That would give me 8 dual daylight and 8 actinic. But like I said it seems like a waste having all those actinics in some very pricy fixtures. It sure would be expensive replacing that many bulbs every year. I know your probably thinking this is way to much actinic. I do like the dawn/dusk effect though. If I switched out the actinics for daylights I would no longer have this. I would be willing to give this up to house these animals though. <Actinic supplementation is NOT required for the corals to thrive. They do however make the colors of the corals "pop" at you. Greens are greener and orange is more intense. Many tanks are run with strictly 10000K bulbs without issue> I guess my question is how many watts per gallon or what intensity of lighting is needed for these different animals. I know Zoanthids are found at varying depths and water conditions in the wild. I've read that Zoanthus require more lighting than lets say Protopalythoa. After reading Blane Perun's article on Zoanthids these are a must have. I just love all the beautiful color variations. <It has been my experience that zoanthids and "Palys" need more light than other soft corals and tend to reach for the light by lengthening their polyp stalks. If your zooanthids are reaching instead of the polyp head expanding and growing larger then they require more light. With that said, too much light will cause the corals to bleach and fade their colors. If that happens they should be moved to a lower part of the tank until they recover and the light duration may be reduced to 8 hrs instead of 12hrs if bleaching occurs.> When It says some species of corals require dim to moderate light what does that mean? What is dim to moderate.(3-5watts per gallon) What is moderate to high.(4-7 watts per gallon) ? Magazines like Drs. Foster and Smith and Marine Depot don't give any specifics. I do run carbon on a regular basis which helps light penetration. I'm not really sure how much it helps though. I looked in my marine invertebrate pocket guide, but it does say much about lighting either. I realize placement in the tank makes a difference also. <I relate low to moderate lighting to the fixtures/lamps used. Power Compact lights, Normal output T8 lamps, and standard T5 lamps in wattages less than 5watts per gallon would be in this category. Moderate to High light corals would mean VHO fluorescent lamps, Metal Halides, and High Output T5 lamps higher than 5watts per gallon. All of these "high light" lamps have better PAR ratings and can also penetrate the water deeper.> I wonder why a lot of PC fixtures are sold with half actinic and half daylight if actinics are mostly for aesthetics. After reading more I discovered that actinics don't really stimulate photosynthesis like the "full spectrum" bulbs do. And, on top of that, daylight bulbs have more than enough blue in there spectrum to suffice. At this point I don't know what to believe. The LFS says I have enough light for theses animals, but I guess I just want an opinion from the experts. So, in your opinion, do you think my current 8 96watt combination is sufficient for the Cnidarians listed or should I invest in some more lighting? <I would recommend 2 four foot T5 HO fixture with 6-8 lamps in each unit. There efficiency is greatly enhanced if individual reflectors are used. I don't feel that the zooanthids would do as well with the PC's listed. The Ricordea, mushrooms, and other soft corals would be fine with your current lights.> Thank you very much for your time. Jeff T. <You're Welcome, Rich AKA Mr. Firemouth>

Actinic lighting, Cnid. use  4/22/07 Hello, <Howdy> I generally find all my answers in your articles and FAQ but this time I am a little confused.  I will try not to waste anyone's time here as you must receive more than enough emails.  So I will keep it simple and right to the point. <Like me!> I have a 29 gallon tank running 130 watts of PC.  I am going to start stocking it with mushrooms, polyps, and various other corals with photosynthetic needs.  As I look at my empty tank I really can't stand the sight of the actinic blue and want to know if pulling it out and running all white bulbs will affect anything. <Will improve most everything...> Currently all light is 10,000 Kelvin and I love how it looks.  The lighting article was a big help but I am not too sure if my setup is the best thing I can provide. <More "white" of whatever temperature would be better functionally>   One last thing.  I have been only considering coral species with light requirements labeled at MODERATE or LOW.  Am I over doing it if I consider a specimen with high light needs, or is this on a specimen by specimen basis? <Specimen and species... there is a range of "photo-adaptation/compensation" for both...> Always appreciate your insights.  Thanks so much for all the articles, FAQ pages, links, etc.  Thanks especially for giving your time. John Davis <Happy to share, assist you. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Modification (Definite Need For An Upgrade) - 04/14/07 Hello, <<Hi there!>> First I'd like to thank everyone for helping with all (3) problems I've had in the recent past with ammonia spikes and holes in the sea star. <<Am sure you are quite welcome>> The water and critters are doing great! (knock on wood) <<Excellent>> Here's the question... lighting.... I have a 55 gal with only 1 48 inch, 40 watt 18,000K T-10 Power Glo. <<Hopefully this is not a reef tank...>> Housed in the standard 48" strip light that sits on the tank. <<I see>> This is doing "almost ok" with the light hungry critters, namely the pink tipped Haitian anemone and the green polyp coral. <<Mmm, no...not even "almost"...is only a matter of time until...>> The coral resides 12 inches from the top of the tank, while the anemone just kind of hangs around near the bottom.  He could climb higher if he really wanted too. <<Maybe...but this should not be construed as meaning it is meeting its photosynthetic needs>> Here's my thought, my single light strip hood (after examination) could most likely hold another one of these T-10 bulbs. <<Still not enough my friend>> I've looked on the web for almost 2 1/2 hours on DIY lighting and modifications, I've found no specifics!  All I really want to know is...... Can this be done? (though I know almost anything can be done, it's whether or not it works). <<It could yes...but is a waste of effort/money in this case...in my opinion.  Why not just upgrade to a more appropriate fixture?>> Do I just need to wire 2 more end plugs in the current fixture and run it with the current power? <<Nope...this alone "will not" work>> Do I have to use a second ballast for the second bulb? <<Indeed...or replace the current ballast with one "meant" for two bulbs>> I thought this would be easy enough if all it needed was 2 more ends. <<Not that simple...as you already seem to be aware>> A little reluctant to do trial and error, my landlord may get a little irritated if I went and burned the place down. <<Heee!  Your wet pets likely wouldn't like it either!  Do be certain of what you are doing before proceeding>> I thought about building a hood with better yet lighting, but it's a budget thing, I simply can't. <<Mmm yes, understood...but if you can't provide the proper lighting, why do you have these animals under your care?>> For now I must do it myself as cheaply as possible. Thanks in advance. Rochelle <<Well Rochelle, the fact remains your livestock requires more light than you have.  As a suggestion, look in to the Current Slimpaq T5 fixtures.  A 48" 28w fixture (ballast and bulb included) is less than $25...A half dozen or so of these with 10000K bulbs over your tank are a much better; and hopefully attainable/still within budget option than what you propose.  Regards, Eric Russell>>
Re: Lighting Modification (Definite Need For An Upgrade) - 04/22/07
I just want to say "Thank You" Eric!  THANK YOU!!!!!! <<Hello Rochelle...and you are quite welcome>> These lights are sooooo affordable I was able to come up with enough money for 6 right off the bat. <<Ahh, very good to hear...your livestock will be very appreciative>> Everything included for only $140.00.  I love that they're linkable and I can add more later. <<Indeed, as livestock requirements/money dictates.  I'm pleased you're happy with my suggestion of at least half a dozen Current SlimPaq T5 fixtures as an "economical upgrade" over a pair of NO 40w fluorescent bulbs.  The T5s are turning out to be a very good/versatile technology (better than PCs I think), and the slim profile allows you to "add enough" bulbs over the tank>> Now I just need to bust out that saw to get that canopy built, got my hands on some free cedar, (what a combo, a blonde woman and a circular saw! Woo-Hoo) can't wait to get my green coral out of "foster care." <<Hee!  A "DIY Diva"...excellent!  You will find those T5s will perform even better with some reflective material behind them>> Again my whole purpose for my email was to say thank you for your suggestion, very much appreciated. Rochelle <<You are more than welcome...  And I very much appreciate the follow-up...is very gratifying/redeeming to know.  Eric Russell>>

Life Lessons to the WWM Crew....maybe  - 4/6/07 Dear Fellow Crew-Members, Sometimes....even we deserve to laugh. Please take the time out of your hectic lives to find the humor in the bellow query that I did....though I am told my personality has much more cynicism than your average citizen.  I don't know about you guys but there are just certain groups of people who I feel hold to much power or discretion over my immediate future, and for that reason alone I don't attempt, though I still succeed at times, to pester or anger them. They include: Motorcycle Cops Doctors and Dentists Personal Attorneys Some Family Members Employers and Co-Workers Teachers/Professors DMV employees Car Mechanics ...and most notably those who prepare my food.. .....oh yeah and those that dispense free aquarium advice.... Lucky for this individual we are benevolent despite are accused "elitism and rudeness" (there is my sarcasm showing) Have a great day guys, AJ <Heeeeeee! What a crack up! B> Here is the query:

WWM, the "Simon Cowell" of the pet fish world? Lighting issues as well...  - 4/6/07 So I'm going to take the high road here because even thought <Though?> I may feel that some of you come across as rude and elitist at times, <Lance'¦for me personally, with the unique and dry sense of humor I have, this is quite humorous.  Typically when one is the 'bigger-man' or  'takes the high road' they do not announce it as generally speaking this defeats the purpose.  'Taking the high road' usually entails that the 'taker' of said road is mature enough not to enter into or return insults in a 'bickering' match.  I find this ironic because you are the initiator of this correspondence.  But please, do not mistake this rhetoric for offense; I have surely had my entertainment for the day, thank you.  Furthermore I'm sorry to hear that you find the truth to be rude and experience to be elitist'¦.it doesn't leave much room for an open mind.  But what do I know? Please, if you have time do recommend a way for us to better our relationship with the public, it would be most appreciated?> your sight can be informative. <Again, I thank you.> I will attempt to conform to your question rules <Our knowledgeable volunteer staff provides a very valuable service'¦the most notable identity of this service is that it is both free and reliable on a daily basis.  I do not think we step out of our boundaries by asking those to use proper English in return'¦especially since in the end it is for the use of other hobbyist on the path to success in this hobby.> and swallow my pride -- <This is good, pride, arrogance; conceit has been to blame for many notable entities in history'¦> here it goes, a pretty easy one I hope - Is there a formula for lighting a tank with mostly soft corals, fish and inverts <Mmm'¦there is no, in my experience, hard and fast rule of thumb regarding the lighting of photosynthetic, zooxanthellae life-forms in reef aquaria'¦and there shouldn't be.  There are far to many variables to consider, the size and depth of the tank, the types animals (their specific needs), what type of system the animal is coming from. What are the long term uses of the tank'¦is it a long term display'¦is it a propagation tank.  Each of these individual factors need to be addresses, most important the specific targeted animals.> i.e. watts per gallon, <Of the rules of thumb available regarding lighting a reef tank, I think this one is the worst of all. Though it may have been viable in the hobby's past I really think that this practice of choosing a lighting system based on 'watts per gallon' is quite antiquated.  For one, not all tanks of the same volume, gallon-size, have the same dimensions. For example two tank's of the same volume may be of different heights, and one may require more or different lighting to meet the needs of the intended livestock.  Other variables include (but are not limited to) different types of lighting; a 100 watt Metal Halide bulb and a 96 watt power-compact bulb are similar in lighting but vastly different in lumen output and intensity.  When choosing lighting the P.A.R. rating is a much better indicative quality of how much light you have on your hands than the 'watts per gallon.'> and what would be needed to add some stony corals such as a blue pagoda? <Well first of in your readings of WWM you will see that we do not recommend the keeping of stony and soft cnidaria together'¦long term.  But'¦'¦the needs of 'said' and similar animals are well documented on WetWebMedia and the net in general.  For that matter similar lighting questions as well as detailed lighting articles can be found on WWM. Also, please look into those by Sanjay Joshi, are also easily accessible to anyone with net access.  It is imperative that before one writes on a whim, they attempt to research the needs of the animals they plan to keep.> Lance <You're Welcome'¦'¦Adam J.>

Lighting a Reef Tank; a multitude of variables  -- 3/28/07 Hello Crew, <Hi.> As usual, when I have a new project I always come to you guys for the best advice. <Thank you for the comp's.> Forgive me if I'm a bit anal with too much details. <I can be too...depending on the subject matter.> Anyway, I'm setting up a new 65gal 36x20x20 mostly sps reef (my first) and would like to use two icecap retrofit  halides (to be purchased) supplemented by one 96 watt pc actinic (in-hand).   <So you already have the PC? If you already have it I can understand using it to save money but if your not hurting...consider T-5 HO or VHO, aesthetically much more appealing than PC, longer bulb life and do not run as hot.> Based on reflector dimensions, I could fit only one pc retrofit (5" width) and the metal halides (13" width) on a 20" wide canopy. <Thin profile? An even better reason to look into T-5's down the line.> I guess having only one supplemental actinic bulb unlike others I read about (with 2 or 3 plus 10,000k halides) is the main reason for the different color options below. <The supplementation of fluorescents to metal halide is, generally, for aesthetic reasons alone.> My question is in regards to wattage and color. <Okay.> Which among the following is optimal for aesthetics, growth and economy (aesthetics being the most important and economy being the least).  I already have a 1/10hp Arctica chiller so heat would not be an issue but electric bills might be. <Especially if you live in California like me.> Oh, one more consideration is upgrading tank size (don't we all plan on bigger tanks) and being able to re-use the metal halide ballasts - <That shouldn't be an issue...I mean it is an issue, but I see no problem using a ballast down the line.> I guess this consideration alone would justify 250's if they're good enough for a future 120gal 48x24x24 mixed reef tank and not too much for the current tank. <Two of them would surely be too much for this tank, unless you are going with a purely shallow water/tidal bio-tope and I know very few aquarists who (even in a shallow water/SPS display) can resist the allure of some deeper water specimens like Euphyllia.>   I've read that there's never too much water flow in a sps reef.   But is this true for lighting? <No, certainly not true at all.> a. 2 x 175w (10,000k) b. 2 x 175w (12,000k) c. 2 x 250w (10,000k) d. 2 x 250w (12,000k) e. 2 x 250w (14,000k) <Well first off are you looking into DE (double ended) or SE (single ended bulbs), second you've forgot a few variables which are key in answering this question: What brand of bulbs, 14,000k in one brand is not 14,000 k in another brand. Second (and please stress this one) what type of reflectors are you using, some are great other do little justice, they are almost...if not as....important as the wattage of the bulb itself when it comes to par rating. Also all of your options include two bulbs, which could work, but I believe that for what you're going for one bulb with an efficient reflector could work just as well too.> - I'm not sure if you'd consider this option unless I run the halides and actinics at separate times so I could at least simulate dusk/dawn lighting.   <14,000k can work, but again see my comment about brands, keep in mind that bluer spectrums tend not to do as much justice as 6500k-10,000k in the par penetration department. For more particulate detail....see Sanjay Joshi articles.> Also, I listed this option based on my new JBJ K-2 70w (14,000k) which is not blue enough for my taste - a very important consideration! <Not a quality piece of equipment in my opinion...from he reflector...to the ballast...to the bulb.> Is it true that once broken in, metal halides in the blue range (i.e. 14000k's) will be less blue? <Depends on the brand...again for comparison of these see Sanjay Joshi's articles.> Would I have algae problems with 14,000k's <No more (significantly) than you would have with other bulbs, keep nutrient levels low, have lots of water-flow.> Where should I place the actinic pc - In front or back? <Your choice...solely aesthetic .> I'm assuming in front for a bluer color. duh... <Would agree.> Thank you very much, Anthony <Anthony, would like to help you a little more if you can answer a few of the questions I posed. If you have trouble, I will point you in the right direction. And PLEASE look of Dr. Joshi's articles. Adam J.>
Re: Lighting a Reef Tank, Lots of Variables/Choices   4/1/07
Hi Adam, <Hello again Anthony.> Thanks for the detailed reply. <Of course'¦what else would we do?> As requested I'm going to give more details on the bulb type, brand and reflector.  By the way I'm also from California (Glendale). <Oh your across town, I'm in the South Bay area.> Also, I've decided to go with a taller 65gal - 36x18x24.  I think this would make the tank look bigger. <It will but do keep in mind taller tank are in some ways more difficult to aquascape, harder to light and may require more elbow grease when cleaning time comes. Other than that the height, or show-height as many of us call it; can be quite aesthetically appealing.> I don't have the space right now for a longer (i.e. 48") tank.  I'm also considering 36x20x24 = 75gal for more depth. <If you can swing it definitely go for the 75, you will appreciate the added surface area...trust me on that one, I learned the hard way.> But the tank may have to be custom made. what do you think? <It think it's definitely possible.> I going for a glass tank because my old acrylic scratched so easily. <There are may pros/cons for glass vs. acrylic'¦another subject that many hobbyist do not agree upon, and another decision that is largely made on personal preference.  Living in California though'¦earthquake country'¦.go with a thicker/reinforced glass.>   I think AGA tanks would be cheaper but I don't like the greenish tint on their glass. The LFS suggested a Lee-Mar tank.   <These are high quality as far as glass tanks go.> What are "starfire" tanks anyway - Are they worth the extra cost? <Starfire glass is a 'fancy' way of saying 'low-oxide' glass.  They generally last longer and have much higher clarity than standard glass tanks.  As far as it being worth it? That again is another personal decision. Starfire glass like I mentioned has the higher clarity but as you already know it is more expensive.  In smaller glass tanks you probably won't notice much of a difference between standard vs. starfire glass but the larger the tank is'¦.the more you will notice, especially a few years down  the line.>   Maybe you can recommend a LFS if you're from Southern California. <Here in Southern California, we get a little robbed so to speak. We have arguably the best trans-shippers wholesaler in the world here, i.e. Walt Smith, Quality Marine and Sea Dwelling Creations.  The LFS's in the area don't reflect this though from my experience. If you can 'sneak' into the wholesalers, go for that, if not e-tailer's are another options and many of them are SoCal based as well and some will even allow you to pick up in person. (Jeff's Exotic Fish for example).> I usually go to Mark's Tropical and Aquarium Center in Studio City and Sherman Oaks. <No experience with this one.> Ok, back to halides.  I'm definitely going with retrofits that would fit in a 9-12" inch tall canopy. <Be wary of heat in canopies, plan on vents/fans.> I like buying from marine depot and leaning towards their IceCap retrofit kits unless you don't recommend IceCap ballasts or the bulbs they come with: http://www.marinedepot.com/aquarium_lighting_metal_halide_icecap_system_reflector.asp?CartId= <They are a reputable brand, and I don't think you would be disappointed, though I probably prefer the reflectors that sunlight-supply utilize. PFO and Giesemann are other to consider'¦.Marine Depot carries these as well.> They're all single end lamps but the bulb brand depends on the kelvin.  I heard double-end is better but I can't find retrofit kits. <There aren't too many retro's for DE bulbs because they have to be covered w/ a glass to shield out harmful UV, so you tend to see more pendants when it comes to DE. In my opinion though the pendants are just as versatile (if not more) as retros.> And all come with spider reflectors - is this a good reflector?   <Many people are happy with them'¦they get more favorable reviews than bad.> Do you think that I should  go with two lamps, since I'm now going for a taller tank?   <It really depends on what you plan to keep, with an efficient reflector (even if you go for a shallow water biotope) I don't see you needing more than two 175's or 150's'¦.less if you plan on keeping softies'¦.etc. .> Should I go with 175 or 250 watts? <I think 2, 250's would be overkill for this tank unless you plan on going strictly with a shallow water biotope. You could get away with less wattage or just one 250.> I would go with 250's if I'm only supplementing with ONE pc actinic.  But I'm seriously contemplating your suggestion in spending extra for TWO T5's or VHO actinics.  (I think I can squeeze two with the halides in a 36x18 footprint) <You may not have to, but again'¦depends on what you want to keep.> If  I do, which would you recommend? <I think you could get away with either 2x 150 or 175 or a single 250 supplemented by a fluorescent bulb of your choice'¦.the fluorescent being for aesthetics of course.> I noticed that the 36" T5 is only 39 watts vs. 95 watts for VHO. <Ahh'¦but see it isn't about wattage but about the lumens that the lighting provides. A 39 watt T-5 with an efficient reflector can provide just as much light as a metal halide bulb in some cases (at shallower depths). The T-5 would still be my choice in this case'¦.and Dr. Joshi does have articles on these as well.> I also noticed that the reflector is built in on VHO's <True but not as efficient as a quality T-5 HO.> which would give me more room. <Also true, but consider T-5's are much more compact than VHO's.>   I wonder why you recommend T5's for my thin profile? <They are small, not very hot, efficient and economical'¦what's not to like?> I think the T5 bulbs are thinner but won't you have to consider the external reflector? <Yes but they aren't very large.> As far as the kelvin rating (assuming all bulbs are equal), There's no question I would pick 10,000k if I'm going with two actinic bulbs. <That would be my compromise.>   However, what would you recommend if I stick with my on-hand single pc actinic.  Remember that I like seeing blue...  Should I go with 12,000k's (kit comes with ALS bulb) or 14,000k's (kit comes with Hamilton bulb)? <The 14,000k Hamilton is an okay bulb but if you want blue look into XM's and Ushio's as well. Remember that just because the brand labels it a 14,000k it may be slightly lower or less and for specifics I again point to Sanjay Joshi.> By the way I'm reading Sanjay's articles. <Awesome.> Adam, I plan to ask other non-lighting setup related questions.  I want to do things right this time around. Should I start a new thread or should I continue with this one? <Your choice, if you want a chance at getting another crew-member start a new one, if you want my continued input respond to this one. But before you do either search WWM, it is likely someone has already asked/answered the same question you have.> Thanks again, Anthony <Of course, Adam J.>
Re:  Lighting a Reef Tank, Lots of Variables/Choices  4/5/07
Hi Adam, <Hey again Anthony!> A couple more questions, <Of course.> then I'm done with my lighting decision. <...Can never do *to* much research.>   First, I'm sold on the fact that 2x250's is too much even for a sps tank???   <I wouldn't say to much, I just think with a set of really good reflectors you could get away with less. again it depends on the direction of the tank, if you were to go *strictly* for a shallow water SPS biotope...then that might be an option.> I'm considering 150 watt DE lamps on PFO mini pendants which can be used as retros. <Not bad choices.> Is this a better option compared to 175 watt SE lamps on spider reflectors. <To be honest my knowledge by brand on reflector efficiency...is a bit dated, about a year or two at least since I've taken an in depth look.  But having said that (I hate to sounds like a broken record) I'm sure Dr. Joshi's article's touch on these. I would assume the PFO DE pendants would be a better choice, only because the small profile of DE bulbs, generally speaking, allows them to be coupled with more efficient reflectors in comparison to your average SE bulb. Having said that both items are of quality construction.> I've seen a running new JBJ 28g nano cube with one 150w 14,000k DE and I don't think it's that bright. <Not my first choice in lighting brands.> Of course I'm planning on 10,000k's. <Tis' my personal choice when paired with actinic fluorescents.> Thanks again - Anthony <Anytime, Adam J.>

Lighting... general reef. What's up Guys/Gals Thank you for everything your lifesavers. My question is about up grading 30 gallon aquarium. First I have a 250-Watt medal halide pendant. <Yikes... smokin'> I was looking at upgrading my 30-gallon tank to a 55, 65 or 75 gallon. I talked to the owner of the LFS and he told me I could do a 65 or 75 but suggested I also use 2X40 Watt VHO's with actinic bulbs. <For? What sorts of life? Intended use?> I looked at 2 aquariums the 65's dimensions were 48 X 18 X 17 and the 75 was 48 X 19 X 22. Combined my lighting would be 330 watts. I looking at keep SPS and Clams. I am just wondering if the lighting would be sufficient enough for a 65 or 75-gallon tanks? Thanks you Very much Kyle <Should be able to be made to work... concentrate the tridacnid/s, SPS under the area of the MH pendant... See WWM re actinic use. Bob Fenner>

Halide vs. T-5  - 03/02/07 Hi Guys,       I have a 80 gallon(4 feet wide 24 inches deep) garden reef. Currently lighting with a 24 inch 150HQI outer orbit on one side and 96 watt PC on the other. Coral distributed appropriately. I am about to upgrade, and find myself liking SPS more and more. What would you recommend? I am thinking of either 2x250 watt 13,000k MH, or 8x54 T5's(I live in Las Vegas, and it is hot here). Are there any units you recommend. Thanks. <If you want to create a shallow water biotope and keep SPS and clams all over the tank; then the halides are the right choice for you. T-5's provide plenty of intense light (huge fan of them) but not enough to be able to certain animals on the lower decks (bottom area) in this particular tank. And furthermore T-5's any light for that matter are only as good as the reflector you pair them up with....you remember that now.  >   Shaun   <Adam J.>

SW, Quick question on lighting   2/24/07 Hello.   What would you recommend for lighting, for a  30" x 19.5" x 19.5" 53g tank ?  I'm planning on keeping soft corals, an Anenome or two, <Mmm... I would not mix an Anemone with Alcyonaceans in such a small setting myself... see WWM re allelopathy here> live rock and some other fish. <Other?>   Would 4 24w T5 bulbs be sufficient? <Mmm, marginally; need more wattage... though for this depth, many might suggest MH> If not, what wattage would you suggest? <Posted... see WWM> Would I be better off buying a fixture that includes a MH bulb as well? <Perhaps just this> Do you know of anyone that makes 30" light fixtures? Thanks so much! Pam <Mmm, yes... though I would be very tempted to settle on a single MH pendant... maybe just a 250 watt... 10K temp... Bob Fenner>

Low light coral opinion, upgrade your light!  2/18/07 Hi Guys! <Hi Christine, Mich with you tonight.> I love your site. I'm hoping one of you girls or guys can help me decide how to stock my tank with corals.  I have a 70-gallon bow-front All Glass acrylic tank, about 20" deep.  I am using the light that came with the tank, a 48" reflector hood that holds a light up to 40 watts, but right now I have a 32W rapid start lamp in it. I would really like to add corals to my tank, but I know that my lighting is quite low.   <Quite!> In your experience, do you think I could do mushrooms, maybe Xeniids, or any macroalgae?   <You may be able to do some macroalgae, maybe xenia if there is a fair amount of nutrients in the water, but I think mushrooms would be pushing it.> What kind of corals do you think I should go for, if any? <I would highly recommend upgrading you light before venturing into corals.> I am very slowly getting coralline creeping along my rocks, and I have a fair amount of Syconoid sponges. <OK.> I am feeling very overwhelmed and confused, as many sights list even LPS as 'low to medium' light, as if those descriptors help :) <Really, you should put your money into your lighting system.  You will spend more money on corals doing trial and error than you would if you just upgraded your lights.  If money is the issue, look in to T-5 lighting that you can buy one at a time and add on gradually.     http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i4/fluorescent_lamps/fluorescent_lamps.htm  > Thank you so much for your time, Christine <You're welcome.  -Mich

Making The Light Choice (Lighting System Selection)   2/14/07 Hello and thank you for your most helpful website. <Glad to hear that you enjoy it! Scott F. dropping in today...> My question relates to metal halide lighting for a 36" X 25" deep tank.  I am interested in keeping SPS and LPS corals. I have been looking at the gamut of fixtures out there. I see many recommendations for some pretty pricey fixtures. Finances are a concern so I have been focusing on the "most bang for the buck" methodology and keep coming back to Coralife and Current usa. I am tossed between a couple of fixtures. Both fixtures are 36 inches long.       Fixture #1- 2X150 metal halide and 4 - 39W T5HO fluorescents   Fixture #2- 1-250W metal halide and 2-65W HQL fluorescents <Both nice fixtures that would work in a variety of situations.>     Do you think one of these will suffice for my needs? <I believe that they both could work, provided all other requirements (current, water quality, food, etc.) are met. Also, I assume that your tank is no deeper than 24", or the 250watt fixture is a better choice for its light penetration.>   Is one a better choice than the other?   <I like the first one, myself. It's a nice combination of bulbs that can provide a lot of flexibility.>   Is the effect of 2-150W MH "cumulative" as to outshine the 1-250 W metal halide? <Not really, IMO. The advantage would be possible greater spread of two evenly spaced bulbs.>   Would 2 150W be hotter than 1 250W? <No real right or wrong. It all depends on the needs of your animals and the aesthetic that you are attempting to achieve. I like the two bulb combo.>    Thank you for your answers and appreciate any insights you can offer. Robert <My pleasure. Again, I think either fixture could serve you well! Choose the one that best suits your needs. Best of luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Lighting Choices for New Reef Tank - 02/11/2007 Evening Crew! <Hi Jason.> Jason here. <Adam J on this end.> Okay, my wife and I (mainly my wife) found a great deal on a 90g all glass system with built in mega flow overflow which I'm totally excited about because I'm tired of the hang on overflow. <I'm not a fan of them either.> I read all the horror stories, not to mention how unsightly it is when it's full of algae. <Agreed.> Anyhow. The tank comes with stand and canopy. The dimensions of the tank are 48x18x24. Is there a lighting system you or anyone would recommend for the tank. <In a concealed (standard) canopy, unless it's custom and very tall metal halides are out of the question, so my choice would be T-5HO fluorescents. A Banks of 6-8 of them mostly 6500k to 10,000k. If you are willing to forgo the canopy and suspend lighting then MH could be an option.> I'm heading toward a reef, hopefully to contain SPS and softies. <Not a good idea to mix both in a tank of this size.> Also looking forward to finally having the space to try an anemone for my two false Percs. <Be sure to research these.> I have a 37 gal right now with a Current air orbit 150w MH fixture. Which I've enjoyed but I know it wont fit the bill for the new <See above.> tank. So i was hoping you could shed a little light (pun only slightly intended ;p) on the subject for me. <Don't worry your not the first to use that pun.> If there's anything else I could tell you to help you help me, let me know! Thank you in advance. <Anytime.> Jason. <Adam J.>

Re: New 90Gal/Lighting   2/11/07 Thank you for the reply. <No problem.> I have been doing quite a bit of research for the past 5 or 6 months on a whole bunch of things with this new tank. <Good.> I want everything done right from the start so I don't have to look back later and go, geez, I wish I'd have done this or that. <I think that's unavoidable no matter what you do, hehe.> I mean one or two things isn't so bad, but any more than that and you just want to break stuff. <Been through that.> So onto my next question or questions. <Okay.> I've looked up quite a few different retrofit kits and systems, I've seen the retrofit for the AquaLight pro. <Not my first choice of brand, but not the last either.> If I forgo the hood or have a taller custom hood built (which is completely possible considering the LFS I'm dealing with has their guru who actually has some pretty good prices) is there anything you have to say about said system or brand? I've heard this and that. <If we are talking retrofit kits I prefer Hamilton or PFO to CoralLife, any day of the week.> People either hate it or love it. But I'm looking at the wattage for the setup and it looks to be a pretty nice deal. <Wattage is a horrible way to look at lighting systems, two types of lighting at the same wattage can be completely different in terms of PAR rating/efficiency.> The other thing is since the tank I'm purchasing will be 48 inches across, they have the kits in that size exactly as well as the 36 inch kits. Would it be that big of a deal to get the 36 instead of the 48 and would the extra six inches on each side be that big of a deal? <Not if you don't mind a few shadows on the edges.> As of right now, the fixture i have now is single 150watt halide alone over the 37, which also happens to be on mounting legs. So it's only one light and it thoroughly lights the entire tank. I'm just a little weary of the T-5 lighting because in order to get up there in wattage, you need so many bulbs. <Now I don't mean this negatively but that last comment ids probably the most frustrating one in the world when it comes to recommending lighting.  Relying on wattage alone, as I said above is probably the worst way to choose a lighting system.  Two types of lighting can be the same in wattage and WAY different in par rating/efficiency.  Compare a 70 watt MH to a 65 watt PC...sure they are similar in wattage, but the H is much more efficient at penetrating the watter and delivering a quality light.  As for T-5's, if your talking wattage, your missing the point. The beauty of T-5's is that they are low wattage, low temperature and low profile.  The low profile allows them to be accompanied with efficient reflectors, allowing for up to 300% reflectivity, great par rating, much better than PC's and almost comparable to MH (they are comparable at moderate depths....but not deeper)...not to mention the bulb life. Look into some of Sanjay Joshi's lighting articles for more insight.> So again. HELP. lol, Thanks a bunch in advance. Jason. <Adam J.>

Lighting Choices....Tall Reef Tank - 02/06/07 Greetings Crew, <What's up Josh?> Cannot thank you folks enough for being a resource to the marine aquarist community. <Thank you for the compliments.> My question relates to lighting. <Okay.> I purchased a 70 gallon Oceanic Tech tank. The tank is 36.5X 18.5 X 25.  I am trying to choose a light fixture that will suffice for a wide variety of creatures. I have followed the posts and am pretty certain that I will be choosing metal halide lighting. When I purchased this tank I was looking at a Coralife Aqualight Pro fixture. This fixture and tank were supposedly engineered around each other. I have also entertained the Current USA Outer Orbit  and Outer Orbit HQL/T5HO series fixtures. If I had to choose the Aqualight or the Outer Orbit, it is a close comparison. I figured I would go with a 175W halide vs. the 250W(also offered), unless you think otherwise? <Well it depends on what you want to keep, if you are going for a shallow water bio-tope, a 175 or 250 watt pendant would be my choice as 25" is pretty deep but if your going for less demanding creatures (Zoanthus, shrooms and the like) a 150 watt pendant would be more than enough. I only recommend MH lighting for this tank due to it's shape/height, seems like fitting fluorescents would make it tough.> Keeping mind that this tank is 25" deep. <I did.> With regards to the Outer Orbit HQL/T5HO; This fixture too offers 2 metal halides(175 and 250W) along with T5HO. Would 2 metal halides be overkill in an 36" tank? I was also concerned about the heat factor of 2 halides but like the  T5HO benefit of this fixture.  Would the 2 halides and the T5HO' be that much better? Or do recommend a whole other solution? <The lighting type/amount sounds fine to me.  However I think there are more reputable models/brands out there which I am willing to suggest should you want to look into them.> Please advise as my head is spinning with information. Just like everybody else I am trying to figure out how to proceed properly so I only have to buy this once. <I can give you a more definitive answer if you tell me exactly what you want to keep in the tank.> Thank you. <Anytime.> Sincerely, Josh Rosenberg <Adam Jackson.>

Lighting  Tall Reef Tank - II - 02/06/07 Thank you so much for your assistance! I'll go ahead and keep the T5-HO bank at this point in time; what is best for the life in my tank comes first over aesthetics. <Sounds good Stu, there is nothing wrong with Metal Halide lighting, you just have to know when and when not to use it.  It's   hot, it's intense but in some applications it is necessary I just don't see that with your set-up.  You did however mentioned you like MH for the aesthetics and I don't blame you, if you do decide  to go this route (and I will make this recommendation assuming you will be keeping the same coral/photosynthetic stock.....then a pendant with a higher Kelvin rating (10,000k-14,000k) supplemented by the T-5 HO...............or a duel pendant system w/ no florescent supplementation (low wattage and suspended highly). But again that would be for you....it isn't necessary.> Have a fantastic week, <You too my friend.> Stu <Adam Jackson.>

Lighting a Reef...Visual vs. functional   2/6/07 Greetings - <Hi.> I have a 55 gallon small reef system. As far as fish go, it has a Coral Beauty Angelfish, a couple of Green Chromis (5), and two paired Ocellaris Clownfish. This stock is the original stock that has been in the tank over the past three years (it is a young tank). I skim with an Aqua-C Remora and use an 1800gph closed loop system for circulation, along with a small HOB refugium. I use RO/DI water as my source... Our tap water used to be fantastic (Hetch Hetchy), but something happened this year which necessitated the purchase of the filter (phosphates and higher TDS). Nitrates are 0, Ammonia and Nitrite are both 0, Phosphate is 0, etc. Calcium is in the high 300's as far as water parameters go for the tank. <Okay.> So far, all has been spectacular... Numerous zooanthids and some other encrusting corals hitched in on my live rock, and have been spreading and growing very well. Coralline algae is also prolific. <Great.> I currently have a bank of 4x39w T5-HO lamps over the tank, although I would only count 3 of them as making a difference as one tube is actinic (the rest are 10,000k). I've always liked the look of metal halides, though, and was wondering what y'all think of such an upgrade. <Well what you have right now is more than adequate for your photosynthetic livestock....do you plan on creating a shallow water bio-tope n the near future?> Should I use 1x150 HQI, or two 150's for 300 watts total? Two 70's? I know that acclimation will be absolutely necessary. <See my above comment...again....depends on what you want to keep.> I would like to go straight MH without actinic supplementation; should I go 14,000k or just straight 10,000k? <10,000k (lower temp.) is better for the photosynthesis but 14,000k could work....that would be for you mostly though (the owner/aesthetics).> Or is this simply too much light? <It "Depends" what do you want to keep?> I have hopes of keeping more difficult corals in the future, but I'll admit it's primarily the aesthetics of the metal halide lit tanks that are the driving force here. <You need to make a definitive decision, are you going to keep more light demanding/shallow water corals or do you plan on keeping the Zoanthus/colonial polyps...because I would not keep them together in a tank of this size....> Thank you in advance for this fantastic resource and all of your helpful advice. Very truly yours, Stu <AdamJ.>

Intense Lighting on 55 for Shallow Water bio-tope   2/3/07 Dear Crew, <Hi Daniel.> I have a 55 gallon tank with a 6" sand bed. I am looking into getting new lighting for my tank, as I would like begin keeping Acro's. From reading your FAQ's, it looks like Metal Halides are not recommended for a 55 gallon tank. <Well often people use too much....the wrong kind....I think if done right (temperature concerns taken into affect; it could be done...x2 150 watt DE would be my choice.> That leads me to this question: How many watts (Compact Fluorescent or VHO) would you recommend to be able to keep Acro's all the way down to the sand bed? <Neither, of the two of these I would much rather utilize T-5 HO.> I was considering 260watts (4x65) compact fluorescent (10K) with 2 NO 40w actinic bulbs, but do not know if this would provide enough light at the sand bed. <No...and personally I don't like power compacts, poor color, HORRIBLE bulb life.> Thank you all for your time. <Anytime, fell free to ask/read FAQ's for more detail should you desire....> Daniel <AdamJ.>

Reef Lighting 1/30/07 Hi there, <Hello Dave> Have been searching and reading your site daily (among other things) for a few days now, and still can't make up my mind. BTW, great site, was indispensable when I first set up my African cichlid tank a couple of years ago. I'm planning to upgrade my marine aquarium very soon from a tiny 20 gallon to either a 75 or 90 gallon, and trying to plan things out in advance. I envision the bottom and middle to be dominated with LPS, and the top with some SPS. Also 3-4 clams dispersed would be awesome. Believe me, I have read everything I could find on the net and elsewhere about the best lighting solutions for me, and just want to get a professional opinion on the most ideal set up. I was first going to order a 48 inch 2*150W HQI (SunPod) but was concerned it wouldn't be enough light. Then thought the 250W version but read things that made me think its overkill and heat would be an issue. So now I'm thinking the most appropriate might be a fixture that's 2*150W HQI plus 4*54 T5 actinics, since I figure I would have more flexibility since I could always change 1 or 2 of the actinics for a 10K T5 bulb for more light if I need it'¦and a bluer halide if I wanted different esthetics, does that make sense? Money of course is a factor (when is it not?), but the differences are not huge, and my first priority is a beautiful and healthy aquarium and not feeling later that I should have bought the right stuff the first time. Any advice would be most appreciated. <For corals and clams, you are best to stick with halide lighting.  I would suggest either three 150 watt HQI or two 175 watt metal halide lamps.  You may want to check out www.premiumaquatics.com.  They have a good selection of DIY kits.  Would save you a few bucks over the cost of a manufactured fixture. James (Salty Dog)> dave
Re:  Reef Lighting 1/30/07
Thanks for responding! <You're welcome.> Just to clarify, I want a fixture I can place on the tank rather than hanging from the ceiling, and 3 halides won't work because of the central brace of the aquarium. I am leaning toward the "outer orbit pro" fixture which includes 2 150W halides PLUS 4 54W actinics. If I end up going with the standard 90 gallon (25 inches high), will I be good given the tank I describe i.e. LPS bottom, SPS top? Would I be fine with a Maxima on a 3 inch sand bed? I guess what I am asking in a nutshell is, will this fixture give me good growth and coloring or should I go with the 2 250W version of it? <Dave, I think two, 250 watters would be overkill.  Two 175 watt, 14K halides, should work for you.  I believe that is what I suggested the first time around.> Thanks again, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Dave
Re:  Reef Lighting 2/3/06
James again thanks for your responses. <You're welcome Dave> I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but would like to understand the reason for your advice. It's true I don't plan a hardcore SPS tank, but rather an LPS/SPS mix, but why do you think that 2*250W would be "overkill"? <Not necessarily overkill, but think it is more than you really need.  If a high density level of SPS and clams is in the future, then you may want to go this route.  My suggestion is for energy saving and heat concerns.  If you are using a chiller, then that problem is eliminated.> Every reef site I check out has loads of reefers lighting their 90 (24" high) gallon tanks with 2*250s, and in fact often insisting that 2*150W would be insufficient and would cause SPS to turn brown. Are they just wrong? <Not wrong, but do you really need that much light in a 48" 90 gallon tank?> Will 150 HQIs maintain the nice colors? <Dave, my suggestion was for two 175 watt halides not 150 HQI's.  I believe I also mentioned way back when, that three 150 HQIs would work just fine, and you mentioned that would not work since you have a center brace.  There are fixtures that incorporate two 175 watt halides and two 96 watt PC lamps.  This I feel, would take care of most SPS/LPS needs.  This is going to give you six watts per gallon. If cost isn't a concern, and heating issues can be handled, then go ahead and get the 250 watters, but keep in mind that the fixture I mentioned above is going to give you 42 more watts that a twin 250 watt fixture.  Do Google/search as you have been, make your own decision based on what you have read.   Thanks again. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Dave.

Please help ASAP - Lighting, reef   - 1/18/07 A preface: Thought I had a handle on lighting but keep reading, seemingly, conflicting or vague information. I've been sifting through hundreds of articles/posts on lighting for about 8 months now while saving up to replace my current lighting system and I think I'm overloaded with info and more confused than ever. <There is definitely a lot of info here. More everyday!> Lightning hit the line outside my house and my current lights/some pumps are all shot. <Ugh.> I've got a 150 gallon tank with a 60 gallon refugium (just replaced my old 30 gallon wet/dry) and a lot of fish and I need to get a new lighting system <for> ASAP before I start to lose my fish so your help is GREATLY appreciated. <Let's get right to it then!> My questions: I have a 150 gallon tank FOWLR 60" x 24" x 24" and 60 gallon refugium. I need a new lighting system but not sure what's "best" for me. I may have some coral in the future but probably not (already spending too much time/money on tank - <a>ccording to the wife). <Hehe.> That being said, I've seen a setup at a LFS with 250W HQI MH running 10K and 20K bulbs. I prefer the look of the 20K, more blue than 10K and not overly bright. Haven't seen any of the 175W 14K bulbs but read good things about them. I love the look of the fish, sand and LR under the bright and very actinic 20K bulbs but I'm worried about heat and cost. Could I get a very similar look with fluorescents? <The short answer: No. Halides jewel like no other.> And if so, which is truly best, PC, VHO or T5??? <You know where your confusion set in? When you wanted to find which system is "best". Each of these are application specific, so... > It seems like PC are great but not for true actinic  <Mostly true.> and VHO have great actinic but not as efficient or bright as PC. So maybe a combo? But where do T5's fall in? <That's an interesting way to put it. T5's "fit in" very well. They are very thin and can be packed into small spaces. Not as much light as a PC, but they have more flavors.> Some say they are outright better than VHO & PC while others seem to think they fall short and again recommend a combination. No offense but it seems like in every other post, you guys keep replying with "it's really your preference" or "it's what you think personally looks better". <And you want someone to tell you what to buy? Ok. You like the 20k Halides for their color and apparent lack of intensity. That lack is actual, because it is expending energy in a less-than optimum spectra. Not bad, just not "best". I (Graham, btw) like to use a lower temp, and depend on a T5 for my actinic 03. Why? Halides are expensive. If I'm spending the money, then I want it to make stuff grow. I'll tune the spectrum with fluorescents around the halide. I think two 175w MH would be good for a budding reefer, but you don't need that right now, and the heat is an issue for you. How about a pendant with one 250w MH and two to four PCs?> So now I'm really confused on what's best. If I want the bright shimmering look of MH and the very vibrant blue actinic to show off fish, while keeping heat and cost as low as humanly possible, what should I get (specifically for my tank)? Also, what's best for LR growth and minimal algae that currently plaques my deep sandbed? <Mmmm, there's a different game. You can have any light system with and without algae problems. The trick? Water quality.> One more piece of confusion, I seem to recall an earlier article from WWM stating that fluorescents with "full light spectrum" bulbs are really the "best" thing and nothing else is really necessary but yet it seems in your replies that you guys really love your MH's? If full spectrum bulbs are all you need, can you use shoplights or are PC/VHO/T5's really better? <That tidbit alludes to the fact that full-spectrum is what is available in nature, but most people find the bluer tones more pleasing to the eye. As for MH, we just like the jewelling on the substrate ;) > As for the refugium, what size PC light with what bulbs would you recommend to grow Chaetomorpha? <1 96w 10K is what I would start with.> And where do you get Chaetomorpha? <LFS> Do you buy it online fully grown or can you grow your own with "seedlings" so to speak? <I am a proponent (sp?) of supporting your LFS. Get it thru them! > Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Again, I need help ASAP so I can get what I need and try to help my little guys survive. <Good luck, Michael. -Graham T.> -- Michael Kunz Re: Please help ASAP - Lighting (Follow-up) 1/19/07 First to clarify something. The "seemingly conflicting" information I mentioned was not necessarily from your website but from several other sources I've utilized to get information on lighting. And THANKS again for your quick response and helpful suggestions. So I have a few more questions and then I think I'll have everything under control. <Poifect!> After reading your reply below, talking things over with my wife (and refinancing the house - haha) <LOL> and making some changes to my setup, I've managed to drop the temperature of my tank by about 5 degrees. <Do you not use heaters...?> So I think I can go with the two 175w HQI MHs and supplement actinic light with fluorescents now that heat shouldn't be a problem. <Very nice. Of course, you do need to keep in mind (as I'm sure your research has revealed) that you need to acclimate your livestock to the change in intensity.> I moved my refugium directly onto the concrete floor (my tank is in the basement) and replaced my cheap, inefficient in-sump pump (which was the one fried by the lightning strike) with a quality, efficient inline pump that is outside of the refugium. These two things dropped my tanks temperature significantly. It's amazing how much heat my cheap pump was actually generating (I've learned my lesson and won't skimp on important things in the future - like say... lighting). <Or surge-protection? ;) > That being said, I think I would like to go with 2 - 175w HQI MHs. You mentioned below that "...Halides are expensive. If I'm spending the money, then I want it to make stuff grow. I'll tune the spectrum with fluorescents around the halide. I think two 175w MH would be good for a budding reefer..." So my questions are; Would you use 10k MH bulbs or the 14k bulbs I've heard so much about. <Personally - and this may be opposed to other crewers, but so be it - I like to stick with 10,000K MH. I agree that if you use *just* MH lighting, 14,000K is mostly pleasing to *MY* eye... but I feel that you are paying for a high-output bulb to make some of it's high-output in a non-PAR area of the spectrum. > What T5 bulbs would be good to supplement the actinic of either MH bulb choices. <Oof! You asked a toughy! I know you don't want to hear that it's up to you, so I'll recommend Powerchrome Actinic+ ( http://www.hellolights.com/48t5hoac54wp.html ) which peaks in the 450nm wavelength. That's the one that makes your eyes feel funny when you look at it. Makes your corals' zooxanthellae and fishes color radiate... like a black-light. I think that the "other" blue bulbs give less flash from your fish... BUT: that is my opinion. I'm assuming you aren't planning to make a full-on SPS mega-reef, so you'll probably be able to cope with that. One other suggestion would be for you to find a LFS that will let you borrow some of their bulbs to take home and make a trial with. (Used, naturally) > Also, do you prefer two MH pendants and a separate T5 system or a hood containing both? I guess the question is, which is better, less heat with pendants or convenience of everything in one housing unit? <Mmm... depending on your space and other factors, I would most likely recommend the pendant not because of heat, but because you can adjust it's height relative to the surface of the water to control intensity. (And yes, heat too) You should be able to get away with having the T-5 bulbs as much as 12" off of the water's surface, or anywhere closer, too. Beyond that, the light will be notably diffuse. I think you'll find the easiest way to get the most out of your light is to have the T-5s and the MHs on different setups, allowing you to bring the T-5 closer to the water with the MH higher up, if you deem necessary. While I'm buying your lights for you, I should mention the complication of making a shadow with the T-5 hood... dang!> Finally, (sorry I'm so "needy" but I'm really in a time crunch) <Don't worry, Im having fun!> could you recommend a few good manufactures or models. I've spent so much time lately looking at which combination of bulbs and ballasts to use that I'm just not sure what to get. <Mmm... if you need brand names, then I will have to be loose here. We are just talking about MY preference, but it's based on my experience... in the service and retail trade. Sunlight Supply has nice hoods, and Aqua Medic has some very sleek designs, too. There is a manufacturer of ultra-high quality MH pendants (Japanese) that escapes me, but they seem to me to be the pinnacle. I think Ice Cap is a great ballast manufacturer, and they offer just about every wattage flavor out there. As for bulbs, I like Japanese here, too. Ushio. > Read something about a spectral analysis by Sanjay Joshi that seems to suggest the new Iwasaki 175w aqua2 14k bulb (weird, keep seeing 14k and 15k interchangeably) with Ice Cap ballast (not sure which one) is one of the best combinations as far as output, power consumption, spectral light, etc... <Ahh yes: http://www.reeflightinginfo.arvixe.com/ a very good read, though it left me ready for a nap to dream of floating on sunbeams...> But then I read differing opinions about which Ice Cap ballast to get. Something about overdriving the T5's with a more powerful 660 ballast vs. the 440 ballast? <Beyond my experience, sorry.> Some 250w MH ballasts claim to be able to run 175w and 150w bulbs but then when you read further they really recommend getting a 175w ballast to run 175w bulbs?? <I would only run the recommended bulbs, unless the manufacturer has data to backup the compatibility claims.> So, any recommendations on a complete system (including ballasts) or individual MH pendants and T5 fixtures would be greatly appreciated. THANKS AGAIN for your invaluable help! <I'm sorry, Michael. That is beyond my intention as your advisor. You should check out http://www.hellolights.com/ and shop the "complete hoods" and pendant sections here. I would be happy to point out pros & cons of a potential selection, but I think you have plenty of information - both from me and your other research - to make an excellent decision. Sorry to disappoint, here. -Graham T.>

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