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FAQs about Light and Lighting for Marine Systems 3

Related Articles: Marine Light, & Marine Aquarium Light Fixtures and Canopies, Lighting, Lighting Marine InvertebratesAnemone LightingCoral System LightingMoving Light Systems

FAQs on: Marine System LightingFAQs 2, FAQs 4, FAQs 5, FAQs 6, FAQs 7, FAQs 8, FAQs 9, FAQs 10, FAQs 11, FAQs 12, FAQs 13, FAQs 14, FAQs 15, FAQs 16, FAQs 17, FAQs 18, FAQs 19 & FAQs on Marine Lighting: Fixture Selection 1,  Fixture Selection 2, Fixture Selection 3,  (incandescent, fluorescent, MH/HQI, LED, natural...), Lamp/Bulb Selection 1, Lamp/Bulb Selection 2, (See Fluorescent, LED, MH... below), Installing, Waste Heat Production/Elimination, UV Shielding, Measure, Troubles/Repairs, By Manufacturer Make/Model: & Actinic Lighting, Metal Halide Lighting, Fluorescent Lighting, Compact Fluorescent Lighting Small System Lighting, Lighting Marine Invertebrates LR LightingTridacnid Lighting

Lighting/skimming/anemones Hello Bob Jen here from Logan Utah. First of all, here is my set up: I have a 75 gallon tank (fish only for now), a wet/dry filter, a protein skimmer (the Berlin triple pass brand), about 20 pounds of live rock, crushed coral as the substrate (about 1/2 inch thick), 1 actinic, and 2 full spectrum lights (48"), and a "penguin"(350 mag) canister filter. I'm sort of a beginner at saltwater and I've had my tank set up as a marine tank for a year now. I am thinking about introducing a anemone. Is my lighting sufficient? <Mmm, for some species, yes... but for the larger, naturally symbiotic (with Clownfishes) ones no> If not, what do you recommend? <About three times the amount of light intensity that you now have... for this size, shape, type system either cramming in more normal output to boosted types of fluorescents, T-12's (compact fluorescents), or at least some metal halide (over the anemones area) illumination> I've had my eye on a Epicystis crucifer (pet store calls it a flower anemone). So far, I haven't found any info. on this species. Is it a hard one to keep? what does it require? What do you recommend? <Oh... this is an "easier" type of anemone for captive use... needs some lighting, feeding (twice a week or so, meaty, chunky foods)... S.O.P. in water quality, upkeep. My image, input on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/twaanemones.htm> Also, as for the protein skimmer, I keep reading everywhere that most people don't use a protein skimmer properly, yet the articles I read don't bother to explain the right way to use one, or to explain what most people are apparently doing wrong! <Mmm... some skimming is better than none... there is such a thing as "over-skimming"... Please see the marine index on WetWebMedia.com or the search feature/tool there re skimming...> I was told to run it for a few days every month. Could you please help me to clarify this? Thank you for all your time and commitment to this wonderful hobby! Jen M. <Run it continuously my friend. Bob Fenner>

Reef Lighting Thanks for the info. I have a few more questions. <quite welcome John, Anthony Calfo answering queries to keep from weeping because the Steelers aren't in the Superbowl... I could have watched the Raiders play the Rams... at least Oakland deserved to be there...hehe> The tank was used for a saltwater fish only tank and I would like to upgrade the lighting for a reef tank. The tank is the same shape as a 55 gallon but it's taller. What type of lighting, strength, would you suggest. Keep in mind I'm on a budget! <Its OK to be on a budget with a reef...most everybody is. Please just do not be tempted to buy animals that simply do not belong in your ultimate setup. The first thing you must do is decide on what invertebrates you would like to keep BEFORE you choose your lights. At least narrow the field down to an order or some key families (Octocorals only, feature sps and clams, deepwater LPS, etc). A mixed garden display is ultimately a bad idea although it is the most common (leathers, sps, LPS, mushrooms, etc all mixed together). Aquarists say it works fine but then complain about poor growth and mystery deaths in their tanks after a year no doubt due to the unnatural allelopathy (chemical warfare) of combatants that would never see each other in the wild and the compromised reality of keeping animals collected below 40' with others collected in less than 10'...just not a responsible or successful way to set up a reef. So... your next problem is the depth of your tank. A little deep indeed for fluorescent style lighting. In a nutshell... put at least 400 watts of VHO (or comparable Power Compact) light over the tank if you want to keep most soft corals or large polyped stonies... 4 110-watt VHO bulbs split between daylight and blue color will do you nicely. If you want small polyped stony corals... you will want 2 175-watt halides (resist sunburst or Blueline... gun for Iwasaki/Radium and the like)> I also have to get a protein skimmer. I have been told that the Berlin is a very good choice. Thanks, John <I prefer a EuroReef, Turboflotor or Tunze for reef aquaria. A strong preference. Best regards, Anthony>

Lighting Hello, I was reading your book hoping to find some information on metal halide lights. While I know the difficulties that authors have with using product names, I suspect that you do have specific product knowledge. <Yes... though not much... The book, TCMA was actually "finished" in late 1995... before much in the way of popularization of metal halides btw... I would seek out a wider set of experiences, opinions in the way of hobbyist listservs/bulletin boards, chatforums (ours: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/)> I am setting up a 180 gallon reef tank. I have carefully picked out all of my equipment but am still wrestling with the lights. Since my sand bed will be 4" and my tank is 2' tall I will have 18 inches of water for the light to penetrate. So, should I get 250 watt or 400 watt. <250 maximum... you won't benefit from higher wattage, and will have to fight algae and excess heat problems otherwise> It seems everyone has a different opinion and the more I read and listen to people the more confused I get. It makes me crazy when I think about what type of ballast and bulbs should I get? <Keep studying... seek to understand the underlying principles behind peoples disparate opinions. Read the background pieces posted on WetWebMedia.com re the science of lighting, and applied technology of fixturization> I have read that HQI double ended bulbs are the best technology we have in halide lighting. I saw some test results showing that the 150 watt bulbs outperformed some of the 400 watt metal halides. So, I was considering 250 watt HQI Hamilton Reefsun along with some VHO actinics. What do you think? Any suggestions? <These are fine products> I am new to the hobby and I really want to make sure that I get the right equipment the first time. Many people I know buy cheaper equipment but end up replacing it or upgrading it which was more expensive in the long run. I plan on keeping SPS, some stonies and maybe a clam or two. I find this so agonizing. Your input will be appreciated. thanks Shirley <Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lighting.htm and the linked files, FAQs beyond. You will understand. Bob Fenner>

Lighting question Hi Bob-- I've been reading thru the WetWebMedia website and your book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, and have a lighting question for you. I'm slowly adding more live rock to my 55 gallon saltwater set-up, hoping to add more inverts and reef plant life. I currently have a sea urchin and starfish, plus a few damsels, a Koran angel, a Flamefish, and a moon wrasse. I am using two fluorescent bulbs, but realize that I need to have at least four (or switch to CF lights) to stimulate more beneficial algae growth and to keep the inverts healthy (if/when more are added). <Okay> I have previously used a CF hood with two 55W twin bulbs, but could only keep them on for a few hours a day due to massive diatom growth everywhere, even with regular water changes, protein skimming, and UV sterilization.  <Likely a tapwater nutrient source problem (e.g. mainly silicates, phosphate...) Please see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brownalgcontfaqs.htm and the linked files referred to there> All water parameters test fine, temp is constant at 78F. Do you have any suggestions on how to add more lighting without having the diatom problem all over again? <The best is to limit the sources of nutrient input, and additionally, provide competitors, like macro-algae, that will use up available matter and light...> I realize they're basically harmless, but they are not the most esthetic aquarium growth around. <Diatoms do have their place, uses...> Thank you in advance for your help, and for a great book and website. All good wishes, Daryl Klopp <And thank you for your kind words and help with the latter. Bob Fenner>

Tiny bubbles... (algae trapped gas) Dear Bob, We just put in power compact lights (had regular fluorescents before this) and noticed that our green algae growing on the side of our tank is producing bubbles--not bubble-algae but gaseous bubbles. Is this good or bad?  <Neither... but natural, to be expected... boosted photosynthesis, with the oxygen gas produced trapped below the outer cells/colonies of algae. Bob Fenner> It looks like it's growing faster with more light. I did a search for bubbles and algae and had trouble finding an answer. Thanks, Allyson

Re: tiny bubbles... Do you ever sleep? <Yes my friend. Bob Fenner, groggily> Thanks. Allyson

Lighting Question Bob, I'm upgrading my lighting system on my 90 gallon tank. I currently have 2 x 96 watt power compacts and 2 x 30 watt (approx.) conventional fluor. I'm going to remove the conventional fluor. (won't fit with new setup) and replace them with 2 more 96 power compacts. My current 2 pc bulbs are both the CustomSeaLife SmartLamps which are 50% 10000K Ultra Daylight and 50% Ultra Radiant Actinic Blue. I have a variety of light dependent species in the tank from hard and soft corals to a clam. What 2 bulbs would you recommend to add the 2 I currently have, more SmartLamps, 10000K's or some of the lower (5000 - 8800K) bulbs or possible even the Actinic bulbs or would it best to use a mix?? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Phil in San Diego <For me, the two new lamps I'd make 6,500 or 7,200 Kelvin's... the rest I'd leave as is. Bob Fenner>

Lets try for seconds (marine lighting "guidelines") Hi Bob.....me again. Lighting question, possibly a newbie mistake again! I was reading somewhere about the amount of wattage per gallon required for a reef tank.  <Lots of other factors than W/gal...> I think it stated 5-10 watts per gallon for light hungry corals. My 65 gal. corner diamond tank, which is 24" deep, @ 5 watts per gallon works out to be 325 watts. Well I bought two 175 watt HD's, and built a hood box to house them. I have the ballast separate from hood and will also have fans to remove heat from hood. I've read the UV radiation may need to be addressed with an sheet of acrylic as a lens.  <Check with the manufacturer... of the fixture or lamps... more for a splash guard (rupture) than UV likely> After further reading, it seems that this amount and type of light may not be ideal. Will it suffice or should I go back to the drawing board. What should I remove or add? It's not complete yet so now would be the time for adjustments. <What are the makes, models of this fixture, lamps? Metal halides of "pet-fish" grade, use ought to be fine here. Bob Fenner> Respectfully thanks in advance, Roland

Lighting for aquarium Thanks for the rapid response regarding my girlfriend's aquarium. <Glad to (try to) be of help> I have a quick question regarding lighting. I have heard that it is recommended that one should provide roughly 3 - 5 watts per gallon of lighting for a marine reef aquarium. Following that recommendation, I currently have on my 135 gallon tank 4, 60" VHO (140 watts each) fluorescent bulbs running off of two Ice Cap 660 ballasts. The bulbs themselves are as follows: 1 actinic, 2 50/50 and 1 super daylight. In your opinion how sufficient is this lighting? <Fine for most all marine organisms used in the hobby> I guess some further dimensions may help; tank is 6ft long x 2 feet tall x 1.5 feet deep. Lighting sits in an enclosed hood with the lights roughly 5 inches from water surface. A 5/16th inch piece of clear Plexi sits between the two acting as a deterrent for evaporation. <I would likely remove this barrier... but would have about the same mix of lamp temperatures/spectra, and definitely be using compact fluorescents as well... Unless... oh I see you address metal halides below> I know that people have been spouting off this and that about MH lighting, but for me the costs of running them seem a bit too much.  <Agreed... and the added waste heat... need to augment all else (Carbon dioxide, biominerals, alkaline reserve...) to make all "balance" in order to boost biomineralizing life... doesn't "make sense" for me> My question is has anyone to your knowledge done spectral analysis on HID lighting (high intensity discharge)?? <There are such investigations re the technology itself. Have not seen reports in English on their application in ornamental aquatics as yet> I know the bulbs are outrageously pricey (I have a 10 watt bulb that is about the size of an overhead projector bulb that runs almost $100) but the wattage savings in electricity costs are enormous and the heat emitted by the bulb is next to nothing. (my 10 watt bulb is equivalent to that of a 50+ watt bulb with a whiter spectrum to boot) Granted I am comparing them to a 10 watt bulb and my experience with this type of light is limited to this size of bulb, but I know of slightly larger bulbs that still use low wattage and emit little or no heat. <Yes... am looking forward to this lighting, use in our interests> If you know anything about this type of lighting for aquariums or if there is anyone even looking at this, could you let me know. thanks!! Andy <Perhaps you will be the one... simple enough to test... as you seem aware. Look for Dana Riddle as a name to search under for such testing protocols. He has written popular/hobby press works on testing aquarium lighting for FAMA, Aquarium Frontiers... Bob Fenner>

Lighting Emergency I have a CSL retro 2 x 96W PC fixture and one of the end caps is burned out. As in smoke and ash. I am not sure what happened as I was on Vacation (Isn't that the way everything happens). Where can I order a replacement End cap and is it O.K. for me to run the ballast with just one Bulb.  <I wouldn't. Too much change of other corrosion, shorting damage elsewhere in the fixture.> I kinda have to. I removed the affected end cap and taped up the wires w/ electrical tape. I then plugged it back in and turned it back on but the light kinda flickers and isn't as bright as I am used to seeing it. Please Advise me as to the best coarse of action. <Unplug this unit, call Custom Sea Life in the AM: http://www.customsealife.com/ Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia>

Thanks for the Help (CSL, marine aquarium lighting) Thank You for your help with my recent lighting Emergency. I got into contact with Custom Sea Life and they are going to mail me a new end cap soon. I now have another question regarding light. I really value my current corals and did not want to have to wait for the mail to get the new end caps so I bought a new lighting system for my 75 gallon reef. I will use the 2x96 on my 30 Gallon once it is working properly. My question is as follows; Is it Ok for me to place my new lights directly on top of my aquarium. The New System is a deluxe hood from Hamilton Technologies containing 2 x 175 65K MH and 2 x 110 Actinic 03 VHO in an Aluminum Hood with 2 fans and a remote ballast. I typically see that type of system suspended from the ceiling in my LFS. I however live in an apartment and cannot put hooks into my ceiling. I asked the people where I bought it and they said that you could put it right on top but they suggested that I pay close attention to the heat and be ready to build some sort of stand in case it overheats the aquarium. Anyway I look forward to your response and appreciate you help. Thank you <The suggestions from your LFS are sound. I would look into "stand-offs", devices for elevating the fixture at least a bit... for both waste heat release and to cut down on probable saltwater splash, corrosion... You can either build these stand-offs or fashion them yourself (acrylic, plastic/PVC parts, wood...). Bob Fenner>

Lighting Bob, thank you for getting back to me so quickly re protein skimmer. My FO 75 gal tank utilizes two 48" 40 watt fluorescent lighting( 10,000k and actinic). This is probably minimal (from your FAQ's) but this set-up has been operational for approx. two years. <Yes... IMO/E not "boosting" systems with too-bright lighting is advantageous in many cases.> I've learned a lot through reading books (I just received your book and can't wait to read it!) of course the most obvious - experiencing the ups and downs. I'm happy to say it's all ups now. Bob, I would like to upgrade my lighting to PC 4x65W. and eventually I would like to keep live rock and some soft corals. Would this be too much lighting for my FO tank (is there such thing?). <Not too much... and yes, some organisms (fishes and non-) do not appreciate over-illumination... like Lionfishes for instance> Would there have to be some gradual acclimation period from the existing lighting to the new lighting for the fish to get used too? <A good idea to just run one half of the lighting for a couple of weeks... then add a couple of hours per (mid)day for the other half of lamps... for a week, adding another couple of hours a week thereafter. Bob Fenner>

Re: Lighting Bob, didn't mean to be rude. I forgot to write Thanks Rob <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Upgrading reef lighting. Hi Bob. Thank God for your website! I live out in the woods of Michigan and there are no good LFS anywhere. I went to Grand Cayman about 3 weeks ago for a week of dives in hopes to solve my reef lighting dilemma. <Oh ho!> If anything, I confused myself even more. The light at 30-40ft depth seemed awful dim on a bright sunny day with about 90-100 ft. visibility.  <It is... relatively> So I thought to myself I didn't need anymore light. <Mmm, an artifact of our subjective reality... our eyes are amazing tools/devices for "auto-dimming"...> But I know it's not enough. A bit about my setup: 90 gal.(48Lx18Wx24H) display, 200lbs. LR. 72 gal sump and 75 gal refugium. I have had great success (believe it or not) with my single 10k 250W MH Light for the past 5 years. <I believe it> About a year ago I started to collect SPS and clams, but I had to put them at the very top of the water column for them to do well. Now I want to spread them out over my whole tank, so Santa Clause (my girlfriend) is going to bring me some reef lighting! I was looking at two different units. <You lucky pug> CSL PC 4-96W 2-6700k Daylight bulbs and 2-7100k Blue Or CSL PC 4-65W with the same bulbs as above. My livestock is: SPS, Max Clams, a couple of Anemones, LPS, and a bunch of mushrooms. Here is/are my question(s) is the 4-96W with my 250W MH too much light?  <No... this would be my choice> Is it better to go with the 4-65W and a 250W MH?  <Oh! Even better... for looks, function> or Possibly two MH and 4-65W? <You'd likely have to fit a chiller into your budget... I would likely "center" the one MH... or if it looked better, move it over to the left or right...> With my 10k 250MH witch bulbs would you choose? I only want to buy new lights once. So any advice you have would be worth gold. <Mmm, a tough one... the Iwasaki likely> Hope to run into you in Fiji in June '02 <Sounds great. Stay tuned and perhaps our itineraries can be organized to do this! Bob Fenner> Warmest Regards, Brad Stefanko

Re: Upgrading reef lighting. Thanks for your help with my reef lighting problem. I took your advice and I will go with the CSL 4-65W unit with my current 250W MH. <Think this will be best> Now is the CSL set up better for Clams and SPS than say 4-24in. VHO IceCap set up with my 250W MH? <Both are worthy units... quite similar... the Custom SeaLife units incrementally better. Bob Fenner> Thank again! :) Brad

Question?? (re marine lighting "rules") "Dear Bob": Is there a "rule of thumb" as far as the intensity of light for marine aquariums??  <There are a few... with many stipulations... for shape of the system, types of livestock, desires of the keeper...> <><>From different sources I've learned that between 4-6 watts / gallon depending of invertebrates<><><><>Watts or Lumens???? <Mmm, lumens are a better measure...> not the same, a 4 watt incandescent than a 4 watt metal halide therefore different intensity, different lumens <Not different lumens... different amount/quantity per watt consumed... do read over the WWM site, the Net re light quantification> Please advice on this topic thanks a bunch, and keep them beautiful pix coming please!!!! <Keep studying my friend. Bob Fenner>

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

Clarification Wasn't sure you had a lighting preference in my case or just feel the additional 175 is better regardless of MH & CF combo or CF alone. <Mmm, better to use a metal halide in a two foot or deeper system with the choice of livestock you listed... for looks, function... than CF alone... and better still with CF of complementary wavelengths, temperature. Bob Fenner> Thanks. Geoff

Jalli and UltraLife Lighting Have you ever heard of, or are you familiar with the aquarium lighting brands Jalli and UltraLife?  <Not Jalli, but am familiar with UltraLife.> I'm looking at their PCs, tend to be relatively cheaper than others. Thanks-Penny pincher <A good idea to look around, shop for best quality, price. Most all lamps are actually made by a few companies, re-labeled by companies re-selling them. None of the lamps sold in the aquarium interest are made by the companies selling, labeling them... Brands like G.E., Sylvania, Phillips are actual manufacturers. Bob Fenner>

Skimmer and light choices Bob, I am setting up a 100 gal reef tank (60X19X18) and need some advice. I will be putting 90lbs of live rock in the tank along with live sand. I plan to put some soft corals, maybe some Acropora and a few fish (small reef fish, Naso). At least three strong powerheads for water movement. Lighting will be VHO powered by Ice Cap 660 ballast. I will have three 5' lamps at 140 watts each for a total of 420 watts. Two questions. In your opinion, will a Berlin HO skimmer with Rio 2100 be adequate for this setup?  <Probably so... you might want to look into (via the chatrooms, bulletin boards) re other types of pumps, perhaps a larger Rio series> I had considered the Remora Pro but wasn't sure it would be as efficient. <This is a better choice> Also, I have been able to find three brands of VHO lamps (URI, Coralife, Refit) in 5' lengths. Do you favor any brand and what combination?  <The URI are superior here. One an actinic 003 class> I will only have three (an odd number) so I'm not sure of the best combination. Thanks in advance for your help. Tony <Much to do, learn, enjoy. Bob Fenner>

SUNLIGHT Dear Mr. Fenner, After moving my office, I am about to "restart" the 37 gal fish and soft coral tank I keep at work. Two walls of the new office are all windows with southern exposure so there is the opportunity to have a great deal of sunlight exposure for the tank. In previous set ups at home and at work I have avoided sun lit areas based upon what appeared to be conventional wisdom that exposure to sunlight would stimulate algae growth. Lately some "experts" seem to be leaning towards encouraging increased sunlight exposure. Any thoughts on these options - 1) Tank backed up to window with cardboard baffle behind it to block sunlight, 2) Tank backed up to window with full exposure, 3) Tank backed up to wall opposite window with some reflected exposure, but no direct path exposure? <Good consideration here to possibilities. I really like #1... you should be able to deflect enough light, heat as you state with a simple cardboard baffle arrangement.> As always, the service you provide to the community is greatly appreciated. <Thank you for your kind words and writing. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Dick

Lighting periodicity I didn't see an actual time table on the web site that specifically states on/off cycles for lighting. Is there a standard?  <Hidden amongst various articles and FAQs files... start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lighting.htm> I am ordering the GE Chromaline 50 (4, 3 footers) Do I run them 12 on 12 off? I have a timer on my system now. Plans for the future several fish, a few corals, a few anemones. Thanks bob, Trisha <Be chatting, studying. Bob Fenner>

Unique lighting question Thanks for the great website. I've learned tons. My first question is not so unique, but I'll ask while I'm at it. I'm setting up an 80g (72" long x 16" wide x 20" deep) to contain LR, LS, max fish density, and some inverts. Not planning on any corals right now, but I DO want to keep the various colors of coralline algae on my Keys LR. Do you think 2x96W (SmartLamp) power compacts would be enough lighting for this situation? <I would use four of these> What if I were to use, say 6-8 Vita Lite standard bulbs? <A possibility. The four 96 watt SmartLamps would be better... Vitalite's are getting harder to come by. Dura, the maker, is gone> Now to my real question. I plan on setting up my tank in a large window. It would be really cool if people could look in and see the inhabitants, but should I paint the back of the tank black, as sunlight might lead to algae/other problems? <Very likely yes... There are only a few cases where some "incidental" sunlight does more good than harm> In your articles, you indicate that natural sunlight is too hot/too unpredictable for average applications. Have you come across any thriving reef systems that use only sunlight?  <Oh! Yes... a few... and some public aquariums have useful skylight arrangements for overhead sun use (e.g. the Waikiki in Honolulu)> I could sound ridiculous here, but lets say you had your tank in central coastal FL, and on top of it you had a ~15 ft. tall water column open to light at the top. Would this produce the natural water light filter found in nature adequately? <Yes...> Or, considering light from all angles, lets say you placed an aquarium system into a 15 foot deep pool? Or, might there be any sunlight filters that could be placed right over the tank to simulate the spectral portion of sunlight that is common on the reef? <High black body radiation metal halide fixtures do this... like some of the 10,000 Kelvin's and up from Germany...> Thank you sooo much for your time. Rex <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

DIY lighting reflectors I've been researching lighting reflectors for a 60'' VHO system. I have ruled out aluminum flashing but I would prefer to not spend the outrageous $8 + per foot material that many online companies are selling. Any suggestions for a DIY lighting reflector to go in a canopy for a reef tank? <My fave is the Mylar material coated/embedded in thin acrylic sheet. Light weight, waterproof, easy to cut, adhere to most any surface, easy to keep clean, high index of reflectivity...Look for this through large hardware stores, acrylic outlets (check the local availability through the phone/directory). Also, do read through the premiere DIY website of Oz' Reef on other possibilities, for other input: http://www.ozreef.org/ Bob Fenner>

Icecap ballast Hey Bob. . . I got the Icecap 660 ballast today but I was surprised to find there was no power cord nor was there a place to connect a power cord. What gives? How do you connect this thing to the juice? <Hmm, let's send this message off to Perry Tishgart and gang at Champion Lighting (and Maurice) and ask them. Some folks don't "include" a pigtail, power cord with their electrical products, considering that "one size does not fit all" and instead intend that the customer purchase or request this separately. Let's see. Bob Fenner> As always, thanks and keep up the good work!!! David Dowless

Re: Icecap ballast bob, the ballast does not come with a plug. the user can use an ice cap timer which is hard wired, wire it to a switch, or simply splice a 3 prong plug to the white, black and green power line. Perry <Ah, as I surmised. Thank you Perry. Will post this to the appropriate FAQs files on our principal site (WetWebMedia.com). Hope to run into you on the show circuit. Going to Interzoo in May?  Bob Fenner>

A few quick questions (lighting electrical concerns) hi, <Hello there> I was wondering if you could answer a few questions. I have a 55 G saltwater reef tank with a 30 g sump, and have to move in the next 2 weeks to an older apartment that unfortunately doesn't have much electricity. I have a LN electronic ballast that runs 4 x 110 W VHO bulbs (the LN is from Premium Aquatics, it's the equivalent of the IceCap 660). I was wondering if you knew how many Amps this system uses? <Hmm, sure don't... would probably "just" test here, but you might contact Premium, or even Perry Tishgart at Champion re his competitors draws> The follow up question is how many amps would it use if I ran 4 x 40 W bulbs? (the bulbs are 46.5"). <Again, the only satisfying "answer" for me would be to actually do my own test here... The calculated and stated amperage will not be the same... do you have a friend/accomplice electrician or physics lab cohort who has wrap around induction type test gear? Very simple to use.> The last question is what do can you feed bubble-tipped anemones? it's a lot of work to reach into the tank and give each one bits of fish, so I was curious if there are supplements to add to the water that work as well. <Lots of light... and occasional (once, twice weekly) meaty feedings (get, use plastic tongs... they're made for this and other aquatic purposes by Eheim, Tetra, AZoo...> thank you very much for your help, Ben <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Lighting (photoperiodicity, opinions) Bob Once again thank you for your time. I really appreciate having someone to ask all these questions to. I have a fairly new system 1 mo old. It is 135 gal with 200 lbs. of live rock, 5 soft corals, 3 polyp rocks, 4 mushroom rock and 2 hard corals. My lighting consist of 2 96 watt 10k CF blue, 2 96 watt 10k CF daylight and 2 96 watt 6k CF 50/50. I have read your articles on lighting and most of the question and answers and all I can find on the amount of time to run your lights is around 12 to 16 hrs. My LFS told me just to run the lamps for a total of 6 hrs. 4 pm to 9 pm blue and 5 pm to 8 PM the other four. They said if I ran them more than that all I would be doing is promoting algae growth. <Mmm, I disagree... if you have purposeful (intended) light-using life in your system, it will do better with more hours, regular illumination...> My question is does that sound right? I want to make sure everything stays healthy. I am looking for some help with the stages and the amount of light I should be giving the tank. Thank You once again. You are a life saver. <The stated opinion from the store is "unusual"... and I fear out of context. Do seek others input here... Our Chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ I would use timers, put the "bluer" lighting on sooner and later... and run all about twelve hours per day. Jason Ps I just started to get certified in diving. I am sure I will have questions for you in this area also. So far it has been great all though I am having trouble clearing my mask. <Practice my friend... and do try other makes/models of masks (everybody's face is different)... Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

FOWLR Lighting Robert, I have a 55gal ALL Glass tank. I currently have the original hoods (two 24") on the tank. My filtration is taken care by a 75gal hang on the back wet/dry with protein skimmer and an Marineland emperor 400. I plan on converting to a FOWLR tank and doing more of a Berlin style of filtration. <Sounds good> What type of live rock and amount would you recommend and also what type of lighting do you use on a tank like this?. <Please read through our site on these issues. Starting.... here: http://wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/lighting1MAR.htm and beyond through the many links, FAQ files... there is a bunch...> (watts per gallon) Is Fiji live rock really much better than Florida rock?. I live in the Tampa bay area and can get FL rock really cheap. <Both are/can be good... I would go with the local if a good value.> Thank you so much for taken the time to answer my questions. Thank you, Jason Millwood GO BUCCS! <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner, who just got back from Miami and Key West>

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

Marine lighting Mr. Fenner, Do you think 576 watts of pc lighting over a 180 would be enough light to keep any type of coral I wanted?  <Very likely so> I know watts is a poor measurement of light but I'm not really familiar with par or lumens. <Easy enough to become so. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/lighting.htm Bob Fenner> Greg

Re: Marine lighting Would there be any limitations to the type of animals I could keep with 6x96 pc's over a 180 (72x24x24) tank? <Umm, yes... but limited by light? Likely not> Also I would like to get a Longnose butterfly. Are these fairly reef safe fish, and do they do well in a non-aggressive type of community? <Fairly safe, yes. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/forcipig.htm> I have also read on bb's the opinion that marine ich is present in every tank, it just rear its ugly head until the inhabitants become stressed. What is your opinion of this? <Not present in every tank... excluded Cryptocaryon does not just pop up... shades of pre-Pasteur times! Stress, many other factors involved. Please read through the "Marine Disease" section on our site (www.WetWebMedia.com) Bob Fenner>

Re: Marine lighting I should have been more specific. sorry. I was meaning to say will there be any limitations of animals I could keep due to lighting requirements with this lighting.  <Ah, yes, I understood your intent (I think/recall). You should have little to no limitations due to the proposed lighting scheme> I bought your book TCMA and thought it was exceptional. When are you going to write another? <Always more in "the works"... for Microcosm/TFH a Pocket Guide on Ponds now... a few more whittled on weekly> If you do I would like to pre-order a signed copy. <Ah! A worthy suggestion, thank you> When I set up this tank I was thinking of getting uncured live rock and curing it directly in a bare bottom tank and then adding the substrate after the cycle is finished. Would you recommend putting the live rock on stands such as pvc or getting some base rock to set it on since I don't wants to waste a valuable commodity (money and LR) by covering it up with sand. <Depends on a few factors (types of live rock, substrate, use of plenums or such, desires you have... but by and large, no... better to simply place LR on either the bottom directly and sand about... Please read through this FAQs section and any about it that touch on your curiosity: http://wetwebmedia.com/lrplacingfaqs.htm Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Marine lighting Sorry to bother you so much, but for a 180 would you recommend 3 175 or 250 MH with supplemental VHO over 6x96 pc's? <Hmm, is this your "first time out" with a reef system? If you're tending to high-light intensity users like many SPS corals, tridacnid clams, the three 175 watt metal halides with actinic VHO's would be my choice... but if not, and/or if this is going to be a "starter system" for you, the power compacts will more than do...> This has been the hardest and most confusing part of planning this setup. Is the electricity bill really that much more? <Not "that much" in the stated case... you can easily calculate the proposed wattage consumed, lamp replacement, initial costs comparison> FWIW the light will be going over an acrylic tank with a 29 gal sump so would I need a chiller also? Buying a chiller is what I am trying to avoid. <You might well find you need a chiller going with the 175 W MH's... definitely 250 watt units... Do please read over the many FAQs stored on our site re marine lighting... starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/morefaqsmarsyslgtg.htm Bob Fenner> Greg

Lighting (concerns re heat production, elimination) Hi Mr. Fenner, I have a question concerning lighting. My saltwater tank is 60" long x 30" high x 16" deep. The problem is at the top, the middle third has a glass brace across it that is 5/8" thick ( same as the tank sides). <A good idea> How badly will this affect the tank concerning the lighting, since it is already a deeper then average tank, <Actually, the depth of this length/run and volume is a few inches less than "average"> if I want to eventually make it into a reef tank? I know have a FOWLR. I cannot put anything that will heat up a lot. (The top along with the sides are completely enclosed in a custom built cabinet, and it is a see-through to both sides, and already on hot days I have to keep the top door open for heat dissipation, even though my current lighting is way under in terms of sufficient lighting which consists of two 48" fluorescents.)  <Good description> I am currently trying to figure something out to vent the enclosure without any light straying out . <Perhaps some openings on the top with a "light barrier" to allow air circulation, block light... or drilling through the tank, running a clear pipe up through the bottom with cool air... or... > The cabinet is in the kitchen/living room wall, and stray light will not be convenient. A thought: the current enclosure has particle board on the top ( hidden by molding around the edge), if I cut out a big section, and replace it with something heat conductive, such as aluminum, or such , do you think this will make a difference to dissipate the heat up, and out of the enclosure, instead of a fan or such, or will this not make enough of a difference to merit the trouble of the modification?  <Interesting... but don't think this would make much difference> In other words, does passive heat dissipation in this way, work as well as an active design?  Thanks, Greg <Consider the "chimney" approach with or w/o muffin fans to move air over the top and not to worry about the changes in light (some loss of intensity, phase shifting... not too appreciable). Bob Fenner>

Sorry . . . a question about lighting and bulbs Hi Bob, I have yet to personally bug you with questions about lighting, but you had to know I would some day. I will try and get all my questions to you at once, like ripping off a band-aid this way. <Ouch!> Anyway, I have decided to pick up a kit from Aquarium Hobbyist Supply as this seems to be the cheapest way to do compact fluorescent. This is for a new 72 gallon bowfront with little WIDTH for lighting. I have yet to do corals and only had FOWLR systems, so I will be working into a reef with easy corals at first this time around on this tank. Here are the questions: 1) I can either do 2 x 96 Watt kits or 4 x 55 Watt kits. Seems to me the 4 is better because a) it gives me more watts, b) it leaves space between the two sets in the middle of the tank where my plastic support beam is (I have heard the melt sometimes. c) individual bulbs are cheaper if just one goes out. d) the 4's are 22 inches long a piece and would therefore cover more of the length of my tank (44 inches) which is 48 inches long and the 2 x 96s would only be 34 inches long. So do the 4 55 watt kits sound better to you too? <Yes... would add more flexibility in lamp selection, 4 vs. 2...>> 2) I am wary about building my own hood(s) for my lighting. AH Supply's website says you can make one out of wood for cheap. I don't know why I don't like the idea of getting wood hot, but I don't. What is your feeling about a DIY hood for lighting. Any other materials I could use. Oh and I am not the best handyman on this earth. Would I have to build a fan in there? This sounds daunting. <Acrylic (comes in opaque colors as well as clear, translucent), or PVC sheet... both are harder to work with for most folks than wood... no problem with the wood, coated with polyurethane product... See DIY Oz'Reef for some ideas: http://www.ozreef.org/> 3) Lastly, I am completely confused about the bulbs I should get. I think whether I go with the 4 x 55 or the 2 x 96 I should do 1:1 actinic and daylight bulbs right?  <Just one Actinic... 003...> But what color temp do I want with the daylights? I have no idea. I want to be able to have as many different types of corals as possible. The AH Supply website said to go daylight bulbs between 6,400 - 10,000.  <Good advice, or at least I concur> Well there are a few options in that range. Which does what with regard to a) fish and coral health b) aesthetic pleasure of the viewer. <One actinic, the others... one 10,000 for now, and two 6,400 and next switch time go with two 10ks> 4) My co-worker asked me, since I was emailing you, if you knew of any plants that grew in brackish systems. <That's it... Am going to write that brackish plant piece... hopefully tomorrow. In the meanwhile have just finished an Archer column: http://wetwebmedia.com/archerfishes.htm In which I do mention some of the better, more commonly available salt-tolerant aquarium plants.> 5) We also both want to know if (any) fish have pupils. <Yes... Anableps... a few others... Bob Fenner> Thanks for all you help. Your friend, Bryan Aalberg <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sorry . . . a question about lighting and bulbs Thanks for answering my last questions so quickly and thoroughly. I have one more question and that is it. Previously I asked (and you answered): But what color temp do I want with the daylights? I have no idea. I want to be able to have as many different types of corals as possible. The AH Supply website said to go daylight bulbs between 6,400 - 10,000. <Good advice, or at least I concur> Well there are a few options in that range. Which does what with regard to a) fish and coral health b) aesthetic pleasure of the viewer. <One actinic, the others... one 10,000 for now, and two 6,400 and next switch time go with two 10ks> Taking into account that my tank is 48 inches long and each of the 4 bulbs is only 22 inches long, the bulbs will be se up as 2 on each half of the tank. If I go with only one actinic bulb, it would be one of the bulbs on one half of the tank, will the tank look unbalanced with blue light? <Hmm, it will look a little (masked by the "white light" when both are on) and actually be unbalanced... but no worries functionally or IMO esthetically... Nice to not have an overall uniform appearance> Likewise when the daylights go off and the actinic stays on for awhile without them (you do this right?) will it be as beneficial, aesthetically and purposefully? <In my opinion, yes> For some reason I thought I should have an actinic bulb on each side and a daylight on each side. Likewise, if I go with only one 10,000 on one side and one 6,400 on the other, will one side of the tank look a lot brighter?  <Yes... a bit. I would place a 6,400 and 10k white on the one side (the right...) and the actinic and another 10k on the left> I promise this is my last light question about lighting. Thanks again for all your help. My co-worker/friend thanks you too for the lead to the brackish plant info. <Am out of time today unfortunately... gearing up for a trip... will write, post ASAP on return next month. Please remind me to add more to the brackish section if I slip up. Bob Fenner> Bryan Aalberg

Lighting Question Bob, I'm a huge fan of your site. I've learned much. <Me too> I've recently set up a 90 gallon tank (conventional 90 gallon dimensions) and I'd like to upgrade my lighting. I've currently got 2 x 30 watt Coralife 50/50 bulbs in place (originally only planned on having fish and live rock).  <Yikes... not much illumination> I'm thinking of upgrading by using an Electro-Lite Ballast kit by Custom Sealife (2 x 96 watts). This configuration will give me a total of 252 watts (I'll leave the Coralife bulbs on for now). My 2 questions are: 1. What sort of corals, clams, etc. might a be able to keep in this configuration (I've got about 100 lbs. of live rock in the tank, so I can place things fairly close to the lights)  <Maybe, as in Tridacnids, T. derasa and maxima near the surface... supported by your rock> and 2. What PC lights should I purchase (I'm leaning towards 1 96 watt 10,000k and 1 96 watt SmartLamp (50/50 daylight/actinic). <These will be fine> I know that when finances permits, I would like to replace the conventional Coralife bulbs with an additional 2 x 96 watt PC unit. <Yes my friend> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank You, Phil in San Diego <Bob Fenner... in San Diego>

All the Light? Hey Bob. I have been puzzled for a very long time and maybe you can help me and other aquarist out since you are a diver. Most aquarist are not divers  <Agreed, and this is a shame> and have no real idea of how things are on the real reefs versus in our little glass/acrylic tanks. Almost every book, magazine article and web page suggest huge amount of powerful lighting for a reef tank. I know there are a lot of gear heads out there but come on! You being a diver know that there are thousands of corals growing thriving and multiplying like crazy below 20/30 ft. In fact there are tons of them all the way down to 150/200ft. You know for a fact that light levels drop drastically the further down you go. <Yes, and that the "folks that make, post light intensities" are not there on "bad days", during storms, rough seas... Creates sales of lighting fixtures though... And gives folks more "instant" gratification, rather than waiting relatively long times for apparent growth...> Many of these corals would do very well in our tanks that live in the wild at the 20 to 100 ft. range. Hey! This lighting is right in the range of N.O. fluorescence. Why is this never talked about? <You and I have talked about it... myself for decades.> I know the manufacturers of all this intense lighting would freak out on the idea of keeping these animals. Why aren't the deeper corals given their time in the spotlight? <Actually, many are... most wild corals are collected in snorkeling depths (maybe ten-fifteen feet maximum), but there are species, areas where they hail from much deeper on average. For instance, most Elegance Corals (Catalaphyllia) are gathered from 100 feet or more nowadays> (maybe a regular output fluorescent spotlight) Surely all the reef divers know the wonders of tropical marine reefs worldwide aren't just at the waters surface where all the corals get blasted by our sun. We need more information on these type animals. We have spent time learning about the higher light loving corals the past few decades, lets move on. Like many things in life, we spend to much time on the surface and not enough depth. Zimmy <Agreed. You make very good points, and a reasonable "call to action". I encourage you (really) to present this "manifesto" to the hobby magazines (probably FAMA) and the various chatforums on the Net. If you'd like, I'll gladly supply you image work, read over the article, supply you with addresses, names to send it to. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Question Hello Bob, and thanks in advance for your help! You are providing an awesome service that is very much appreciated!! <Very glad to hear, understand this> My question is fairly basic. I am in the process of setting up a new 100 gal (60"Lx18"Wx20"H) saltwater tank FOWLR (and invertebrates such as 1-2 anemones, stars, urchins, shrimps) NOT planning on keeping any hard or soft corals or clams. I have been reading information on this and other sites as well as talking to my LFS personnel however still feel a little confused on one or two points. <Easily done...> Specifically, my question is around lighting. I am trying to decide between VHO lighting and Power Compacts. I have read that PC's offer more Lux per watt when compared to other technologies including VHO.  <Yes, this is so> The example used was that a 55 watt Compact bulb is roughly as bright as a 95 watt VHO tube. If this is true, does the 3-5 watts per gallon "rule of thumb" still apply, or does it become some lesser number if PC's are used.  <Less for the "same, equivalent" use...> Considering what I am interested in keeping, which would yield the best results, a 420 watt VHO system (3-140 w bulbs) or a 220 watt PC system (w/ 4-55 w bulbs). Based on my price-related research, either of these two systems could be had for roughly $300 each which fits my budget. <Ah, sounds like you've been doing your research, shopping. These two choices/alternatives are close in terms of initial cost, and function... so close that the esthetic part of the equation (what looks better to you) becomes a deciding factor between the two. I am actually more inclined to the compact fluorescents here due to the depth of the tank... but would easily go with the VHOs if this were a planted aquarium (freshwater) or one that no high-light intensity life was intended for (e.g. the anemones)> My other question is with regard to the length of the lighting. Very simply, is it necessary to cover the full 60 inches (i.e., VHO) or would a 48 inch bulbs/fixtures (i.e., Power Compact) be sufficient? <The four footers are fine... in my opinion/experience better to have the "brightness" dropping off at the edge/s of systems. Bob Fenner> Calvin

Re: Lighting Question (photoperiodicity, transitions) Hello again Bob (As always thanks!): One more question concerning my new lights. (as always) I have my lighting on a timer to go out at the same time (left and right). Does it stress the fish to have the lights go out into sudden darkness and likewise turn on to sudden light in the morning? <Actually, a qualified yes... would be better to have at least some "outside" light on, turn off on a timer later... or better still, to utilize a "dimmer" timer...> If so, I was thinking of placing a small 20 Watt "NO" lamp behind these to turn on before the main lights and off a few minutes after they go out. Is this a good idea or a waste of time? <Ah! A very good idea> Thanks! Have a good weekend! <You as well my friend. Bob Fenner>

Black Lighting Hello Bob, do black lights negatively affect the live specimens in a reef tank (corals, inverts, fish, anything else)? They would be for looks only, when the main lighting system is off. <No harm as far as I've ever heard. Have actually done some underwater photography using "black lights"... Gorgeous. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Dan

MH vs. PC Hi Bob: I recently purchased a house :) and am finding out that I have larger bills to pay, <Maybe only in the (annual) short term. Do see your tax accountant re your withholding, other possible sources of "not-paying"... i.e. taxes> including utility :( In contemplating options to reduce energy consumption, the focus naturally comes to the reef tank lighting system.  <Yes. Often largest electrical consuming item> I currently use two 175w 12000K Sunburst MHs over my 60g tank (which would be upgraded to either a 91g or a 120g, pending the recovery of the economy), and all sorts of water/air cooling accessories. I understand that PC would lower all costs considerably, but switching from MH to PC does require extra investment (bulbs, ballasts, sockets, bulb holders, etc.) <Yes to all. Well-stated> , I would like to know how long before I can recover this investment. <Hmm, pretty simple mathematical equation... Watts consumed are charged by kwh (kilowatt-hour)... for instance you have 2 X 175 Watt MH's now... Versus the same multiplication for the proposed CFs plus their upfront cost, and a factor for the relative replacement of lamps, fixtures going forward...> Do you know where I can find updated, and preferably detailed, information about operating cost differences between MH and PC of the same wattage, for example, 2x175w MHs vs. 4x96w PCs? <If "wattage" (actually consumed) is about the same, then cost of electrical operation is about the same... minus costs of running cooling gear, and factoring in (once again) the relative costs of replacement, purchase...> All the articles that I have found are either outdated (2+ years old), dealing with the same lighting type (MH vs. MH, etc.), or merely stating the advantages of PC over MH on the very high level, for example, lower operating cost, temperature, etc. While this easily help a new hobbyist determine the type of lighting he/she needs, it does not assist me in making the right decision. Thanks. Chia <For many, probably most applications, the "cost/benefit" in making these switches is made up in a few years (2-3)... But, you can "do the math" here as well. Bob Fenner>

LIGHTING? Hey Bob, I am going to be upgrading to a 200 or 240 gallon reef, I currently use a 4 x 96 watt power compact system. Plan on keeping sps corals in the future, what do you think of keeping the power compacts over one side of the tank and adding a metal halide and actinic combo over the other side???????  <I think it's a great idea> Look stupid or be a good way to separate the system with the different corals on separate sides of the tank. Thanks Rob <For me, the latter... Nice to have differences in such a size (eight foot long likely) system... different conditions to grow different organisms... can make the system look like a bit of ecoclinal variation is going on. Bob Fenner>

Canopy or CSL Hood fixture Dear Mr Fenner, I hope you don't mind my writing to you once again.  <No my friend> I have been reading you web site about lighting as well as covers and canopies. I spent this afternoon combing the LFS and gathering info about how to light my tank. <A worthwhile approach> My aquarium (75gal.) is glass. Two stores have said that the Custom Sea Life retro fit fixtures are too heavy, have an ill fit that could crack the glass of my aquarium. They claim they have had people who have had this happen. They recommended purchasing a canopy and having the lights affixed to that. That seemed silly because wouldn't the canopy be even more heavy? Hmmm... <Does seem odd> I am horribly indecisive. If I were to get a canopy with a 275-380 watt fixture and it was about 3-5 inches above the water, would I get the correct amount of light all the way to the bottom of the tank (24inches deep?) Another question is with the heat and cleaning. The retro kit has a built in fan, the canopy does not. <You would need to install at least one fan... I'd place two... one blowing in, the other out... if you went with the canopy. The lighting should be sufficient... more light intensity dependent life could be placed higher up in the water column> Would there be enough distance and ventilation in the canopy where I would not have to worry? How bad is it to clean a canopy? <No worries... coat the inside with water proof reflective material (Mylar encased in thin acrylic is my favorite.... and once a week wipe down the insides with a new paper towel...> I called CSL and asked theses question but I wonder of their motives, they do want to sell their products. I asked the LFS and everyone who works there is paid by purchase, so again I question their motives. I have read as much as I can take today. Now I am crying uncle. <Hmm, I understand your position... wise to consider base-line drives... but do also place yourself in these people's place... they also have no better inducement than to help you be successful.> If you could forgive me for asking what I am sure are simple questions and give me your valued opinion at you convenience. Thank you is not enough to express how much your responses mean to me. Best wishes and I hope you enjoyed your trip! Josie <Yes my friend, thank you. Bob Fenner>

Your book, lighting Thanks for the previous answers. I did not dig far enough to find most of the questions already answered. I was, however, looking for your book at Barnes and Noble only to find it is out of print, any suggestions where to find a copy? <Has just been reprinted by the new Microcosm/TFH coalition. S/b available through B & N, Amazon et al. soon. Can be ordered through the hobby 'zine T.F.H. or the etailers listed on the www.WetWebMedia.com links page> One last question in regard to lighting for LR. Is the 2-3 watts per gallon rule of thumb more in consideration for depth of the tank or how much growth you will see? <Hmm, yes... and a few other factors... like the type of lighting... it is after all, just "a rule of thumb"...> Is 2 watts/gal for a 75 gal just getting by? Don't mean to be a pest, just want to do it right. Thanks, Hank H. <Too little wattage for this size, shape tank... need at least 3-4 or compact fluorescent, even more for metal halide to get coverage. Bob Fenner>

Lighting up Oh Bob I forgot to tell you. I bought a compact lighting unit for my 45 gallon tank. It contains two 55w bulbs (pretty bright) made the tank look incredible. I also bought a 30w Actinic bulb for my existing light strip that came with the tank. Everything looks good. They only thing I notice was an increase of the brown algae. This could be the result of a larger amount of water changed than usual. Would the increase of lighting produce the brown algae? <Mmm, yes... at first... this "too shall pass"... as the system adjusts to more and different light/photonic energy> But a word of advice to everyone don't look directly into the actinic bulbs while they are on your eyes will go crazy. Hey Bob if you post this message on your web site everybody will probably start looking directly at the light. <You are a worthy strategist. I will add my comment as well. Looking directly into any artificial light source is ill-advised. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your help. David S. Garcia

Question on switching marine lighting Hi Bob For starters, I am VERY grateful for all of the help you have given me and others the past few years. I know it takes quite a bit of your time as you have many other things going on at the same time. <Yes my friend, a "work" of passion, veracity> I also love your book ,which I keep with my other treasured hobby materials. My question is, I have a Berlin system 120 gal 48x24x24.Packed full of live rock and live sand along with all of the usual maintenance critters and hard and soft corals. My lighting is a 48 inch CSL Metal halide system 2 250watt 65k"s and 2 pc actinics. Would the 10k halides work getter for my inhabitants than the 65k"s?? <In all actuality a qualified "yes" here... very likely the extra light penetration, PAR radiation would boost alls health (providing you have other requisite materials matched... biomineral, alkaline reserve, CO2...) and provision for likely waste heat problem... and are cautious at grading from what you have now to the MHs...> I really like the look of the 10k"s though. Also how often should I change my halide bulb's and my actinics?? <Hmm, depends on how long you leave them on, the manufacturer source... six months of "average" (like twelve hours a day or so) is about right for most/many of both. Label something near them for their inception dates. Bob Fenner> As always, grateful tank's take care.

Lighting Hi Bob, It is me again I had a simple question. My aquarium lighting consist of 1- 36" [30w] florescent light(10,000k) 1-18" [15w] florescent light(10,000k) and a 18" [15w] florescent light (50/50). Is this enough for a 45 gallon aquarium with live rock and a couple of hermit crabs?  <Mmm, just barely... you might look into modifying a simple shoplight... two 40 watt lamps would be much better> I know you recommend 1-3 watts per gallon. I do not know if I spell florescent correctly? <Spell check my friend... it should be part of your e-mail program, and habit. Bob Fenner, fluorescent> Thanks Again for all of your wisdom David Garcia

Bulb breaking Hello. I've got what I hope isn't a problem, but I want to find out for sure. While adding on a MH pendant to my 180 reef last night, I managed to bump one of my 96w Actinic PC bulbs. It fell into the tank and broke. (good thing I took your advice and had everything on a GFI unit).  <Yikes. Thank goodness> By the time I reached in and got the bulb out, I could see a cloudy substance drifting out of the broken tube and into the tank. I'm assuming this is the phosphorus that is in the bulb. My question is: is this toxic to fish and corals? I do have carbon running in the system, would this neutralize the phosphorus? <Hmm, if it has not killed the livestock... probably not. And yes to the carbon likely helping.> On a happier note, I'm looking into purchasing an established salt water only fish store (they also do custom tank installation), and was wondering if you could give me any advice on what to look for when I audit the current owners books. <Congratulations, and welcome to the trade... many challenges and great fun ahead. Best to actually hire an accountancy firm/individual to look at the books (and help you set up your bookkeeping) and tax returns for/with you from the get-go here... and your attorney, especially if they're involved in this transaction. Have you had time to work in the shop with the present folks for a few weeks? I STRONGLY encourage this> Thanks for your time, and the great service you perform to hobbyists everywhere. Kevin P.S. If you're ever in the Ft. Lauderdale area, I know of an all you can eat sushi bar, and I've got a batch of beer brewing with your name on it. <Hmm, may be going that way sooner than I thought. Be chatting, and do read over the "Business Index" parts of the wetwebmedia.com site. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Question for 55g Hi Bob! Me again. Now I am on to lighting. I am turning the 55g into a reef. Which lighting would be better? SmartLite 2-65w w/Actinic-total watt only 130w OR Custom SeaLife 4-65w 2-6700K 2-Actinic w/fan Dawn/Dusk <Hmm, both are good units, but I would choose the second for most applications> I am leaning toward the SeaLife. I have been reading your site and think the SmartLite may not be enough. On the other hand, would the SeaLife wattage be too much on a standard 55? If not, could ALL types of invert be kept adequately? <Not too much, and not all types of invertebrates... too big a group to make such sweeping generalizations... some don't favor any light at all, and some types that folks like to keep (giant clams, some of the Small Polyp Stony Corals... like the families Acroporidae, Pocilloporidae have members that would appreciate much more intensity even than this> Also, my tank is 13" wide. The SeaLife is 9.5" wide. In essence, it would cover the majority of the tank top. Is this acceptable?  <Yes> Can I feed from the spaces in the back of the tank. I'll contact the manufacturer but would you happen to know the weight of one of these units...manageable? <Don't know exactly... only a few pounds ("ballasts" are remoted... not in hood), and yes, manageable> One more thought, my current light strip sits on top of a section of glass that is different than normal glass. It is kind of opaque, not see through...know what I mean? Should this be replaced with clear glass to maximize the lighting or is this normal tank construction? Oceanic tank, if this helps. <Best to leave out the glass of whatever kind here... all reflect, absorb, change some light energy> This newbie thanks you again! <Sus, do join the WWM Chatforum... I'll post the URL here: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ You will do well to have others input in addition to mine. Bob Fenner> Susie

Lighting Hello Robert, Thank you having such a great web site. I search it all the time. My name is Jim and I have a question (if you have time to answer it). I have an 80 gallon SW tank, with (among other things) 2 Sharpnose puffers (Canthigaster valentini and Canthigaster epilampra). I plan on keeping the puffers, so I won't be keeping too many inverts. I currently have about 60 lbs of live rock. <Okay> I want to upgrade my lighting. Right now I have 1 10K 40 watt, and 1 Actinic 30 watt bulb. The tank looks nice, but the lighting doesn't really show off the color of my fish very well. It would also be nice to be able to grow more coralline algae or maybe some Caulerpa algae. I wanted to upgrade to some power compact lights and have been looking at the custom SeaLife smart light setup which has 2 x 65 watt bulbs. My concern is, if I do this will unwanted algae grow completely out of control? My nitrates are usually around 10ppm. <No problem with the extra light (are you adding the new (I would, or even about double it)> Do you have any other suggestions if my idea is not a good one? <Just to increase the illumination to about double what you state OR keep the old lighting plus the new... and to utilize live rock with macro algae with your Tobies/Sharpnose puffers... as they will really like this to eat, and the algae will really improve their color and health> Thank you, <Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner> Jim Moss

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

Bigger is better, but how to light it? Bob, Thank you for all your past help, and the help I am about to ask for <g>. I am now the proud owner of a 150 to replace my 75. I know you get a lot of questions on this subject, so I'll try to be brief. I've looked at your FAQ's but still... <No worries, and congrats on the upgrade> The 150 is an Oceanic with the Oceanic cap. My tank is mostly reef with some fish. I have soft and hard corals, and clams. Acropora is the only thing that did not do well in my 75 under 4x96 PC, but I may not be interested in trying them again. I'm not a big fan of the look of MH pendants, so should I go back to PC or some other MH solution. You don't need to name brands (though feel free <BG>) <Always do> , but I REALLY don't like the yellow look so I'm heading towards a 10k temp. What I would like to know is how many of what wattage and type you think would make me and my animals happy. After all, it's not like I can walk into a LFS and see a bunch of solutions setup to evaluate... <Well... if it were me, mine, I'd go with about four to six watts per gallon of power compacts in this case... with about one third/fourth actinic... and possibly conjure up a way to leave the glass top out from between the water and the lamps... the 10 K temperature is fine otherwise.> Thank you keemosabee (sp?), <The medium is the message. You're welcome. Bob Fenner> Marty

Re: Bigger is better, but how to light it? Bob, Thanks for the sage advice. I've been digesting it all day and I now understand why not to do metal halide in my case. I am searching for a good solution in the CF arena, but am also thinking that 4-5x160 watt VHO might be a good solution as well. I've read that the Icecap 660 will provide more lumens from the same bulb than the Icecap 430. Do you know if there is any truth to this? <Yes, this is so according to the fine folks at Champion> I like the idea of a 72" bulb, but would appreciate your opinion of using VHO instead of PC. <The power compacts are "better technology" all the way around in terms of PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) and cost per lumen (energy, fixture, lamp replacement...). Looks-wise, either could be argued. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Marty

Tank size and lighting configurations HI Bob, Have you any comments or experience with the AquaSpacelight lighting fixture? <None directly> Here are 2 tank configurations: 1) 2x250w HQI 13K, 2x24w PC actinic for 48x24x24 2) 3x150w HQI 13K, 4x24w PC actinic for 60x18x24 It seems the corals in tank#1 will get better PAR. Is that a safe assumption. <On the basis of total wattage input... yes> Which tank, from your experience, is more aesthetically pleasing, will be easier to place corals, and lay rock? <#2 for looks, #1 for stacking, building... due to width> Wouldn't fish be more happy in tank#1 versus tank#2? What about corals? <Bigger is better> Most Europeans have hanging fixtures and leave their tops open. In your travels, what have you seen people do to prevent fish from jumping out and allowing light in optimally? <Selecting less "jumpy" livestock, leaving water levels down, building up a safety "edge" along the top edges of the tank with plastic or glass... Bob Fenner> Thank you for your comments. Jackson

HQI (lighting) Hi Bob, I have a question regarding the newest form of light which is HQI metal halides, meaning the two sided socketed metal halides outputting 2-3 times more lumens per watt compared to the standard single sided MH. <I know of this technology> With the onslaught of this new lighting and it's intense characteristics, wouldn't it just throw off the whole watts per gallon needed generalization? <Yes... this "rule of thumb" is not very useful already> How many watts/gallon are recommended for the most light loving corals (like clams) in standard MH lighting and similarly, how much watts/gallon for HQI lighting? Or probably more accurate for temperatures around 10000K, how many lumens. <3-5 or so of each... depending on depth of system, desires...> If I were to use 2x150W HQI 10000K's and 2x40W NO Actinics, would this be enough for a 60x18x24 100gallon tank? Would I need to add daylight (6700K) or would the 10000K be enough red light for sustaining green zoo..? <This would be enough all the way around> I'm not sure how much actinic is needed to supplement this setup and no one really ever talks about it. Perhaps it's for tank appearances only. <Does have some functional aspects> What temperature is actinic anyways and how much is needed? The lumens drop as the temp of the bulb increases and there's no data to be found. <Try your search engines here... much is known, available> Please advise and enlighten me on this fuzzy idea. My interest of course lies in providing 2.5watts/gallon of HQI lighting which is suppose to equal the comparable standard MH light output of 8watts/gallon. <Not exactly... PAR is what you're shooting for AT the sites of the photosynthetic livestock you intend> Here's an article showing success with HQI. http://www.thereefweb.com/200%20gallon%20reef%20tank%20walk%20through%20intro%20page.htm <Thank you for this. Will post on the WWM site for alls perusal/benefit. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your time and your advice is always valuable. Jackson

Marine tank lighting Mr. Fenner, I have some questions for you regarding the lighting in my new aquarium. I've written you before and have greatly appreciated your advice. My current equipment is as follows... 60 gal flat-back hex aquarium 20 gal DIY sump Eheim 1250 return pump HOT Magnum canister 2 maxi-jet mp600 powerheads 1 300Watt Rena cal top light excel heater That's it so far.. I plan on getting an AquaC EV90 skimmer but my question is in lighting... I'm looking at choosing between 2 types of lighting VHO and Power Compacts. The systems are #1 Custom Sealife 4x65Watt 48" Retro kit #2 Icecap 660 with 4x95Watt 36" Retro kit <Looks, function, expense of operation: the PC's> Which system would you go with and why. I've heard that VHO's tend to keep reef systems better but this is all opinion based. With the CSL setup I can have separate dawn/dusk switching but only have 260Watts of light.  <This is fine for your size, shape system> I've heard the power compacts put out more Lux per watt than VHO's but would these two systems be roughly equal or would one be vastly superior for my desired purpose.  <The PC is about twenty five percent "better" all the way around> I would like to do a full reef set up, starting with live rock and fish till the system settles in, and then start adding corals, invert and so on....Thanks for your opinions...sincerely.. John <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Errata (e pluribus unum, this one on marine aquarium lighting) Hi Bob, <Howdy> I found another typo that you might want to correct. <Yes... find these every time I look... sheesh> In the Marine Aquariums section, set-up, lighting, I found the following statement that has an error in it: Light is generally considered to be the visible (what we can see) portion of the electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) spectrum. Do you recall the presentation of light, EMR as "waves", or wave functions? Wavelengths are the distance between the crests (or troughs) of these waves. The wavelengths of visible light extend from about 4,000 to 7,000 angstroms (one angstrom equals 10-8, or 0.000 000 01 meter, a billionth of a meter). You may have encountered another unit of measurement, the nanometer (abbreviated as Nm), defined as 10-9 or 0.000 000 001 meter. Visible light as measured by this unit of length is 400 to 700 nanometers. The error is that one angstrom is actually 10 to the 10th power, or 1/10,000,000,000 (one ten-billionth of a meter), which is why 4000 angstroms = 400 nanometers. You can't say that an angstrom is one billionth of a meter in the same paragraph that you correctly state that a nanometer is one billionth of a meter. OK, I just had to point that out so that you could "fix" it. LOL <Thank you for this... to think I used to teach H.S. Physics. Bob Fenner> Have a nice day! Regards, George Davis (Ninong)

Lighting To Robert Fenner, Thank you so much to responding to my emails., I am changing my halide bulbs and I was wondering what type of bulb combination would be best for my reef tank. It is an LPS, sps, and soft coral tank. I was thinking 3 10,000k bulbs with to VHO actinics for my 180. I was wondering if this would be best. <This is/would be my choice, though I know of folks who would trade in one or two of the MH lamps for 20 K's. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Ryan Alexaki

Fishy Questions (Lighting, overflows) Lorenzo: Great job answering questions for Bob! <Thanks. I'm hardly a fair substitute, but I guess when a friend like Bob asks... I'm happy to give it my best shot...> I have a 100 gallon acrylic tank that has been sitting around for sometime (new). I'm contemplating creating a reef/invertebrate/fish tank. I will be keeping mostly tank raised hardy corals. Now for the questions: 1) Truth or fiction: Will sps corals thrive with VHO (including 03 lights)? I'm sure you know what the guys at GARF say but my research says GARF is "swimming against the tide." How do they really succeed? <Mmmm. I think you can do some SPS with a load of 7200/10k PCs, which I'd definitely go with over VHOs. Much more efficient, longer lasting bulbs, lots of advantages.> 2) If I go with the 4x VHO I will probably buy the 2x fixture first and then add the second 2x fixture a couple of months later. Total wattage 440. Good idea? The tank is in my living room. Any idea as to how distracting the noise of the tank AND brightness of the light will be in our living area? <You can greatly reduce the noise of a built-in (even a hang-on) overflow with some clever pipe/input designs. (I need to find the URLs again, for these things). The annoyance of brightness is totally subjective. I have a 60gallon with 220 watts of PC lighting, and you can comfortably read next it, as the sole room lighting. > 3) If I have 440 watts (220 of those watts are actinic), will the lighting be versatile enough for many of the "hardy" corals? Borneman seems to think the only lighting that will work is halide. Ditto for Tullock. <Halide will definitely improve your chances... you might use a combination, with slightly lesser/cheaper halides thrown in.> 4) A local fish store is willing to drill my tank and add an overflow. I considered a hang-on overflow but no one seems to like these things. Would you suggest a built in overflow and how loud and accident prone are they? <Bob seems to approve of the CPR overflows. I personally don't believe in ANY overflow that relies on ANYTHING besides gravity. I'd go built-in.> 5) Finally, I have been in the marine fish hobby for almost three years and it has been totally wonderful. I have never lost a fish. If I have the right equipment (calcium reactor, skimmer, Caulerpa sump, good lighting, 100 pounds of live rock, deep sand bed, Eheim canister for circulation and carbon, etc,) how sustainable are home reefs? I mean, will I be able to get corals to grow for years like the fish without constant attention? I am proud to say that I have no aquarium horror stories (knock on wood) and I want to keep it that way. <You're definitely moving toward the more challenging end of the hobby now... BUT only because the tragedies, when they happen, are much greater/more expensive. As for maintenance, longevity, I'm totally sold on reef systems (60+ gallons) as EASIER to maintain than freshwater systems. The balance eventually achieved with a bio-diverse mini-reef is really magical, and certainly the most beautiful, entrancing, fascinating environment you can add to your living space!> Thanks for all the great work. Drop me an email the next time you're in Las Vegas. I'll be glad to take you on a tour of Vegas aquariums. There are many beautiful aquariums including the shark reef at Mandalay Bay. <My uncle used to build/install those things... I'll have to visit someday. Cheers! Lorenzo> David Dowless Livin' and learnin' . . . <Ahh. Nice sig.>

75 gal reef lighting Bob, I would like your opinion on lighting a 75 gal reef tank. The tank is a Tenecor acrylic tank 4' long and 20" deep. I plan on using a thin sand bed (1-1.5"), about 80 lbs Fiji live rock and a sump/refugium probably with miracle mud. I've been looking at VHO and pc lighting mainly and cannot decide which one to use. I'm thinking I need 4 110 watt VHO bulbs or 4 96 watt pc bulbs. 2 bulbs will be actinic and 2 will be daylight. The lights will be inside a canopy that is 5" tall and sets on top of the entire tank. I plan on using 2 25 cfm fans in the canopy. Which type of lights do you feel would be better for a mixed reef tank. I would like to eventually have soft, LPS, sps and maybe a clam if things go well.  <The power compacts for sure... a few years hence the VHOs will go the route of the High Outputs... remember them?> I'm also concerned about the acrylic top of the tank blocking the light. The tank has two access holes with acrylic covers that I could leave off. The holes are roughly 15"x8" but I will double check the size. I have heard the pc bulbs are easy to break where the tubes are joined together, have you heard the same?  <Have seen reference to this... not really so... not easily broken> Are you familiar with the miracle mud system? <Quite so... know Leng Sy personally, professionally> If so, how difficult is it to start a new system with?  <Very> I plan on ordering cured rock from harbor aquatics. They say it is cured in their vats for a couple of weeks before it is shipped to the customer. Do you have any opinions about harbor aquatics or know where I can order fully cured live rock.  <Have seen good marks, comments for this company for years> I think the system will be easier to get going if I use cured rock instead of the uncured rock. What do you think?  <If a new system... and you have plenty of time/patience... easy enough to "cure" yourself... but if not...> According to the ecosystem web site I will not need a skimmer on this system and do not plan on buying one unless I find out otherwise that I need one. Thank you for your assistance. <I do use skimmers on all of our similar-mud/rock, cryptic fauna systems... I would at least run one for the first few months your new system was going... yes, in exception to Leng's protocol. Bob Fenner> Brad Janecka

Re: 75 gal reef lighting Bob, Thanks for the speedy reply. Hope you do not mind a few more questions I thought of. What combination of bulbs should I use? 2-actinis 2-6700, 2-actinics 2-10000, 2-actinic 1-6700 1-10000, or other? I have been looking at PFO power compacts.  <The last combination is my choice> They are a little cheaper than CSL and come with individual reflectors per bulb and also have waterproof end caps like CSL. Do you have any experience with the PFO lights?  <Yes> Should I leave the access hole covers off for better light penetration or does the acrylic top not really block any light?  <Leave them off... acrylic does block, reflect light...> Do you have any suggestions or personal favorites for a skimmer that I should use on my tank. What about the DIY skimmers? <My opinions can be found on the "Skimmer" sections of our site: www.WetWebMedia.com... depends on size, type of tank, livestock which are "better"> I consider myself rather mechanical and would not mind building a skimmer myself if I knew it was a good design and was going to work as well as one manufactured and save me some $$$. I would like to have the skimmer inside my cabinet, which is 32" on the inside. Thanks again. <Lots of DIY plans on the net... maybe see "Oz's Reef" for a good start here... Link on WWM links pages. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Hi Bob, I have a 125g reef tank with 2 175 watt metal halides (12000k bulbs) and 3 110 watt power compacts (9700k bulbs), 2 55 watt bulbs are blue actinic. I am in the process of adding a 250 watt metal halide (6500k bulb) and 2 more blue actinic for the existing power compacts, and also switching to 6500k bulbs in the 175 watt halides. My question is whether or not I should switch to the lower Kelvin bulbs, If I have enough lighting for harder to keep corals, and also if I need UV protected lens to cover the lights. <This is a bunch of wattage... you will have plenty of light for most all... and no to requiring UV filtration> One more thing if you don't mind, is I have added a calcium reactor to the tank and the bubble algae that I had originally is starting to spread over the tank more, Is there a way I can remove it without making it spread worse. <Try a Mithrax Crab or two... Please see the www.WetWebMedia.com "Algae" and "Algae Control" sections and FAQs. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your time, Eric Mraz

Lighting a 120 Reef Hi Bob, This lighting thing has got to be the most confusing aspect of a reef set up. <It's one of the principal ones...> Anyway as most people I'd prefer to buy equipment once and would want to be able to keep many different types of coral/inverts. I've read on some web sites that fluorescent light produces as much heat as metal halides do. <No... not per watt of energy consumed, per light produced... MH much more heat by its method of photonic production...> They just produce it in larger area and not so concentrated like the halides. In pricing CF and VHO vs. metal halides it appears that watt for watt the halides work out cheaper to set up but not necessarily operate. <Well-stated> Also lumens seem very important to coral life and not watts although high lumens means high watts. <Yes sort of to the former... many stinging-celled life forms need, can use intense lighting... but no to the latter... you can spend a bunch on power (consumed) and not end up with much useful illumination> Anyway I'm not sure whether heat would be a problem on any of the choices since I plan on putting a 100gal sump in the basement which is about 67 degrees or year round. <Hmm, perhaps an expensive proposition... you want above all to be able to simply, consistently, inexpensively control temperature... not "pay" to heat up the water in one place, lose the thermal content elsewhere...> I would think that this might help in a stable temp for the display tank. Which set up would you use ? 2 175 10k & 2 VHO 110 03, 2 250 10k & 2 VHO 110 03 or 4 96CF 10K & 2 VHO 110 03 <For what sorts of livestock? And what purpose? Are you going to culture, sell fragged Acroporids for instance? I would go with the last choice if it were up to me... but many people I know would mix the MH with the VHO actinics... for looks, production...> or what about the HQI ? Possibly 2 150 10k and 2 VHO 110. I've read at another board that the 150HQI puts out as many lumens as a 250 MH and roughly equiv. to a 300 watt bulb. <But not useful (PAR) energy at a constant-age rate... don't get involved here> Sorry to keep bothering you but with endless opinions on set ups its hard to know which road to go. It seems everyone swears by whatever lighting they are using usually switching from another an say I'll never go back to VHO, CF or MH. Thanks Mike <Many sayings come to mind: "many roads", "to each their own", "if your brother jumped off a bridge...." All these light fixturing possibilities will work... with different up front, continuing costs, looks, heat inputs, biological effects (per your chosen livestock, desires with same), maintenance issues... Make a chart of all the factors you consider important, rank/differentiate them (give them oh so many points each to consider), score the choices per those factors... add up the points per type/choice/mix of lighting. Voila! Go with the highest scored arrangement... then get on to the terror of considering what sorts of filtration you might have... Bob Fenner> Thanks for your reply. My thinking on the types of livestock would be a healthy balanced mixture from each category of corals (soft, LPS, SPS)/inverts/fish. <Sounds good... but do investigate these by species... as there is a huge range in light use/tolerance within these groups. Many soft and hard corals are even non-photosynthetic... and other invertebrates, fishes have low light needs. Bob Fenner>

Lighting for 1st marine tank Dear Bob...congrats on a wonderful book. (My husband & I have decided on a peaceful community and will put the clown trigger on the "someday" list.)  <Ah, a relief, and thank you> My question is while we have chosen to go with wet/dry filter, a canister and protein skimmer for our, fish only, 135g we are having a tough time deciding on lighting. The LFS we're dealing with wants me to come in Friday to discuss a few options as he was getting in a "new" retro-fit system last week and wanted to work with it a little before considering it for us.  <Sounds like a good shop> He previously suggested "staggering" 2or3,48", 50/50 bulbs which surprised me as our tank is 72" long and the fact that watts would be low. (80-120) I've read and like your suggestion of 1 blue and 3 full spectrum and am assuming to use bulbs the same length as tank. Any input on staggering of shorter bulbs would be greatly appreciated as I just don't get it. (Sure wish I had friends or family who have gone bravely into this wonderful hobby before me!!!) Thanks, Barbara <Well... staggering lamps is not a big deal... and for a (for now) fish only system I might leave off with actinic/blue lighting... but do agree with you re the low wattage, and don't quite know why the folks at your shop don't consider longer lamps... Perhaps direct them to me or the www.WetWebMedia.com site for going over this issue. Bob Fenner> I should have added that we will be starting with more than 50 lbs. of live rock to set-up. Thanks again...Barbara <Ah, good to read. Bob Fenner>

Lighting for a 75 Gallon reef Hope you are doing well. <Oh, yes, thanks... in Hawai'i visiting now.> I recently moved all the stock from my 30 gallon reef to my 75 gallon reef. I built a new canopy for it and I installed 2 10K 96 watt CSL power compacts (centered) with the intention of using 2 40 watt NO actinic blue lamps as a supplement. Well all things seem to be doing fine until I installed the actinics. I can not even tell they are on.  <Don't worry about this... your organisms can "tell"...> Can you suggest any inexpensive way to supplement my 192 watts of CSL PC's. I am inclined to think that I should probably just get another 2X96 blue or add 4 x 65 blue ( I like the tank to have a blue tint) but that is a little bit much since the whole reason I consolidated the tanks was because I will be moving this summer and thought it would be easier to move 1 tank than 2. Plus when I get moved I will be upgrading to a much larger tank so I don't really want to blow all of my money on my 75 and then have a technology that will not transfer to a larger tank. (looking at a 300 to 500 gallon built in to basement) my ! <Wowzah!> homepage is at http:\\home.cox.rr.com\tmdjr I have not yet updated it to include the stock from my 30 which includes 2 yellow watchman gobies 1 additional scarlet lady cleaner shrimp 1 horseshoe crab several hermits some small colonies of xenias 2 gorgonians some button polyps some yellow colonial anemones 1 branching frogspawn 1 branching hammer coral several mushrooms 2 small colonies of green star polyps. oh and I also about two months ago removed all the Bio balls and replaced them with live rock and Caulerpa to the sump which I now light with a 13 watt PC from lights of America {same photoperiod :( }. <Ah, you won't be disappointed with this last improvement... a very smart move.> Sorry that was so long. <No worries mate... and if it were me at this point I'd either just hold off and keep the present lighting scheme... which is fine functionally and esthetically... or purchase some of the lighting that you can/will be installing in your new mammoth set-up coming along in the future... Bob Fenner>

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