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FAQs about Light and Lighting for Marine Systems 4

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

FAQs on: Marine System LightingFAQs 2, FAQs 3, 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 Lighting, Tridacnid Lighting

PC vs. MH <<Hiya Christie, Lorenzo here filling in for the rest of the gang off to MACNA>> I have a 75 gallon tank, it's 48 X 18 X 18. I plan on keeping some SPS near the top, and some soft Corals. I am presently trying to decide between 4 (96W) PC or 2 (175W AquaLine) MH. Which System do you think would better serve this mixed community? Thanks for the great site, Christie. <<Of the two options you list, go for the 2x MH. (For one thing, 4x96PC won't really fit, if you get decent reflectors) Also consider using a single 250W MH on one side, and a pair of 55W PC on the other (one blue, one 10000K), for a very nice effect, and good mix of "lighting environments". My own 85g has a 150W MH (10000K HQI) on one side, and a pair of 32W PCs on the other, and it's fabulous - but it sounds like you're looking for something even brighter?! (I do keep SPS, LPS, softies, and clams!) Cheers, Zo>>

Lighting for 20 gal Flatback Octagon Hi Bob, <<Hi, it' not Bob though, it's JasonC this time.>> First I would like to thank you for a great site with a world of information. <<I'm glad you find it useful.>> I have a 20 gallon flatback octagon (30" long 12" wide 16" deep) and I'm going to set up the aquarium with live sand, some live rock, a few fish and some inverts. My question is do I need to buy a special light (currently have the standard fluorescent fixture that came with the aquarium) for the live rock (I really want the coralline algae to have beautiful color and growth) and inverts? <<Well, for coralline specifically, it's not really picky when it comes to lighting... any will do, it's more concerned with calcium availability.>> What about a either a compact fluorescent a 24" 1x55 watt 50/50 (BLUE/10K WHITE) or 24" SmartLite with 1x65 watt Lamp. What inverts do you recommend with standard lighting? <<By Inverts I assume you mean corals - not that they aren't invertebrates, but if you were talking about shrimp let's say, they wouldn't care about lighting type at all.>> Which inverts do you recommend with the compact fluorescents I listed? <<Most of the soft corals do well under fluorescent lighting, and some of the large-polyp stony corals as well. I'd advise you to pick up a copy of Eric Bornemann's book, Aquarium Corals - it is a great guide to the various requirements of captive corals, and will also be more than useful for continued care.>> Thanks, Jeff <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Lighting for 20 gal Flatback Octagon Thanks for your help.. <<My pleasure.>> I was told I needed special lighting for the live rock and inverts. <<And they need the sale ;-) >> You saved me about $100-$150. One more question I just thought about. I am going to use a "hang on the back" power filter and I'm thinking about the Penguin Bio-Wheel Filter 330 (330 gph). Is this too much filter and too water turbulence for this 20 gallon tank. <<Well, I am a big fan of "over filtering" and have numerous times that there is no practical way to have too much circulation in a tank. In this case, due to the small size, you may find this filter blows your substrate all over the place. I would recommend that you try it, with the proviso that you may need to throttle it back a notch or two to make sure you can still see through the water.>> Thanks, Jeff <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Lighting for 20 gal Flatback Octagon So you don't recommend any special lighting for live rock with coralline algae? <<Nope.>> I have only a 40 watt fluorescent. <<My bet is that this will work fine.>> By inverts I am talking about crabs, snails, shrimp, etc. Any special lighting for these inverts -- no coral. <<Nope, they will be perfectly fine.>> Thanks, Jeff <<Cheers, J -- >>

Lighting Salutations. Hope all is well with the WetWebMedia folks. <and to you as well good sir> I have done some research via web forums, looked at your FAQ's, but not found my specific query. I have a 90gal, currently with fish, LR, and a few inverts (Sally Lightfoots, skunk cleaner shrimp, hermits, sand sifting star). The current lighting set up is 2- 48" NO's. One 10,000K white and one actinic 03. The coralline algae growth is moderate, on about 60% of all the rocks. All is well with the tank currently. <very well> But I WANT to get some PC lights. 4x55W or 4x65W. I am planning on building a canopy whether or not I get the lights. <consider that fluorescent lights categorically should be mounted no further than 3" off the water surface for best results> I am hoping that the increase in light will make the fish look nicer/brighter, perhaps grow some macroalgae, grow more coralline algae,  <a spider reflector may be all that you need here my friend. It can dramatically improve refraction> and maybe even keep a low light- requiring anemone.  <most anemones need a species specific tank. In fact, most that are put into a mixed display as just such an ancillary addition (low light or not) end up dying within a year. Please reconsider> I currently have a Regal Tang, Sailfin Tang, and Maroon Clown. I plan on soon introducing an Emperor Angel, Raccoon Butterfly, and perhaps a Royal Gramma. <this is too much for a 90 gallon in the short view of say 2 years. Single maroon clowns morph to female and can reach 8", the Emperor at around a foot long, Raccoon, Regal and Sailfin are close behind. We are literally talking about 50-60" total in adult fish length... please consider their adult sizes and refrain from adding more. Leaving out the Emperor would be a big help for now> [I have no interest in corals right now. They are extremely pretty, but the additional requirements seem like too much for me at the present time.] <OK... subject to debate ;) > Would these lights be a waste for where I am right now?  <quite possibly... without the anemone... a modern reflector alone may be all that you need> Would they introduce problems with my tank (algae bloom, kill off my coralline algae, alter the chemical balance, etc.)  <little risk here of killing corallines if you acclimate slowly to new lights and no risk of algae bloom if you have control of nutrients in the tank> Would they allow me to keep an anemone? <no more risk than the Raccoon and Emperor eating it outright> Also, retro or compete set with hood and just put it under my canopy?  <personal preference> Any specific band? I see lots of JBJ retros and complete sets for a good price, or is this a "you get what you pay for" type of investment? (Hamilton or Custom Sea Life) <Hmm... two 150-watt halides would give you much more bang for the buck... bulbs are brighter and last longer and they give the magnificent effect of dapple/glitter lines> Thanks for the wisdom, John Michael <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

From One of Your Readers: Please Help (re: marine lighting options) Mr. Fenner, My name is Grace Miller and I am fourteen years old. My parents bought me your book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist for Christmas. I have enjoyed it very much and find it helpful. I have had several freshwater tanks and have just started my first Marine tank six months ago. I have a 55gal long that I purchased used from a second party. It came with standard fluorescent lighting which I need to replace. I have had difficulty in deciding which lights would be a good investment for my tank.  <A large and confusing topic> I would like a fish and hardy invertebrate system. A local aquatic retailer has suggested a compact fluorescent lighting system for $300.00. This is quite an investment for me and I want to be sure that it is the appropriate lighting. Trying to research this through your book and the Internet has left me a bit confused. What would you suggest? <Please read through the more recent, diverse input re marine lighting possibilities posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lighting1MAR.htm including the many FAQs posted as linked files beyond> I would appreciate your opinion and again I have found your book a valuable resource. Thank you for taking the time to respond. Sincerely, Grace Miller <Thank you for writing, your avid interest in our hobbies. Do read through the cited materials and we'll chat further. Bob Fenner>

Lunar lighting <Anthony?> Hey WWM Crew! I am hoping to speak with Anthony about a point that was made in his book about lunar lighting. <I have never tried illuminating the moon but I'm willing to try> I am in a quandary about how to simulate moonlight or the sun/moon cycle in my tank. I do believe that it makes a difference for the positive to do this in a reef tank. <yes... I agree. Some researchers down in Texas believe they can influence spawning cycles in part by this. It may nit be a huge influence... but is very cool aesthetically if nothing else> I have found many products online. The Aquacontroller II sounds sweet yes I have the money.. heehee I have my reef emergency fund and general mad-money stash) and something called the moon strip http://www.petsolutions.com/cgi-bin/cgiitmls?m=ThisP&p=1048.140000&l=1 Here is a link to that. I also have found this device http://www.fishtankshop.com/catalog/default.php?cPath=2_13_19 Called moon beams. I wonder what matters more, the cycle of the moon across the tank? The monthly/yearly cycle? Or the style of lighting penetrating the tank? I hope that makes sense. <yes... I think. I think the most important factor is the rhythmic attenuation (quarter, then half, then 3/4, the full moon and then waning again)> I know you recommend a blue bulb moved across the tank as a cheep alternative,  <not moved necessarily, just waxing and waning> but I wonder would you could recommend if it were carte blanch. :) <the moon strip does not say that it is automated... it sounds like it is literally a $179.00 actinic light bulb that can be dimmed (?!?). Yes, it states that the spectrum does not sway with dimming, but big deal. Who said that the moon only imparts a light wavelength of 484nm? It may be a fine product, but I don't think it is necessary. Now the moon beams for $79.00... I saw them at the MMC conference in Michigan a couple of weeks ago. Looked interesting, but again... still needs attenuation. Still an overpriced light bulb. Until someone proves that fish/coral respond to a specific type of simulated moonlight (484nm, blue LED, whatever) I'm content with the understanding that reef animals respond predominantly to the waxing and waning of a weak nocturnal lamp and that means that a $2 blue party bulb in a book lamp plugged into an $8 dimmer switch is good enough for me. As cool as I think the idea is... moonlight may not be a tremendous stimulus. There are much better ways to get fish/coral to breed (like HUFA rich foods coincident with an appropriate photoperiod from their natural habitat (like springtime on the GBR)> Thanks!! <always welcome, Anthony>

Filtration/lighting questions Dear Dr. Bob, <Steven Pro this morning.> I wrote you about a week ago and would like to extend my gratitude for the quickness in your reply and the truth in your words. I've noticed that a lot of the pet store/aquatic dealers around me seem to be just in it for the buck, not caring about me or the specimens needs. <Unfortunately, there are some people like that in every industry. Look around and hopefully you can find a good source of livestock and information.> I have just a few more questions I would like to extend as I feel that no one around me seems knowledgeable on the subject. I'm going to go with a 125 gallon tank for a while, and upgrade sometime in the near future. What filtration system would work well in your opinion? <Varies by what you wish to keep, but brisk circulation, liverock, live sand, and protein skimming work well with most.> Any specific brand or models that appeal to you. The guy at the aquatic store told me that I would do just fine with two Emperor 400's. He quoted me 150 for the two, but I found them on the net for $50 each, so may just try and put three in there. Would this work well? <Not the way I would go for any animal. The Emperors are fine filters except that they cause a lot of salt creep.> I am also going to add a protein skimmer. I was looking at a Aqua Medic Turboflotor 1000. How well do Hang-On skimmers work? <Efficiency of skimmers varies by model and the way it is installed. Look through the archives for recommendations, but if the water level fluctuates a great deal, skimmer performance decreases.> Would it be all right to set up the tank with everything but a skimmer for a while? <Not in my opinion. An invaluable piece of equipment.> Also, as far as live sand, crushed coral sand would work best? <I prefer a fine grain of aragonite sand for everything. Under an inch or over four inches varies on the application. Again, a quick read of the FAQ files can give you the answer to for specific circumstances.> That's what I've heard. And now probably for the dumbest question you've ever heard, but it rally is bugging me. Being as the bamboo shark is nocturnal how exactly does it react to the lighting system? Basically, how if he is nocturnal do I see him active? Do I need to have the tank completely dark in order for him to move about, or can he be active with the light on at night). Another pet store guy said a red light would work because they can't see it. I can tell I probably lost you, let me simplify. If I turn on the light at oh say 11pm to see what he is doing, will he hide and go back to sleep or something? Do I need the lights on all day, and then shut them off at night? God, I feel like an idiot and apologize for asking someone so accredited as you such a lame question, I am just kind of confused. <The red light at night would work so that you can see their behaviors at night, but these sharks are not known as active animals.> Finally, how should I "break in" the tank. I was thinking of adding some live rock, and maybe two or three fish for a few months, then adding in the shark. Does this seem adequate? <Fishless cycling with liverock is better.> As always, I appreciate you taking the time to answer these seemingly pointless questions. Thanks, Bob Benson <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Tank Lighting Question Hi Bob <<JasonC here, Bob is away diving>> I am starting a reef tank with the only experience is a freshwater tank I have had for a about 3 years. I have been doing a lot of research and I must say your book and this site have been the most informative. My setup so far is an acrylic tank 48x20x24 it will be housed inside a wall with viewing on both sides. The housing will be well ventilated. I am planning on starting out with 150 lbs of live rock and a couple inches of live sand. I am using the T1000 skimmer with 2 eheim 1060 pumps with a 35 gallon sump. I will be stocking the tank with soft corals some sps (higher in the tank) and clams, and fish. <<so far so good>> I am ready to decide on lighting I am leaning toward 2 MH 250w Ushios bulbs with Icecap electronic ballast and 2 VHO actinics 140w. Do you think I should go with 175w or 250w MH? <<this is probably up to your electric bill. Probably two 175's would be quite > Should I make my own reflector or do you think a pendant (bell or horizontal) is better for my setup? <<that's two different questions - one, unless you have a machine shop and are considering a bare fixture, buy a pre-made reflector. The form-factor of the lamp is more a function of how it will fit in your tank room.>> The room will be kept at a constant 70 degrees year round, do you think it I will get by without using a chiller? <<no way to tell until you get the tank in there.>> What do you think of my setup so far any recommendations will be greatly appreciated. <<sounds like a good list so far. I would make sure you set aside funds for extra/secondary pumps and also a quarantine system for new arrivals.>> thanks <<Good luck. Cheers, J -- >>

Questions about Reef Lighting and Chillers hello Mr. Fenner, <<JasonC here, one of Bob's "associates">> I am brand new to the hobby of reef keeping and trying to educate myself. I know you are diving right now, but I hope one of your associates could answer my question. I have a 58 gal. tank with one power compact strip on it with two 96 watt bulbs-one blue and one white. I have been told by my local coral store owner that it is a little underpowered. I do have leathers, mushroom, and polyps in the tank now , but I only started this one week ago. What is the ideal lighting guidelines for power compacts? <<should be fine for your tank, sounds like perhaps that store is trying to shake some more money out of your pockets. As far as guidelines for power-compacts... well, it's really amount of light applied to the tank, not the type of bulb one uses - this is the nut to crack. Do give the following link and subsequent FAQs a read-through: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lighting.htm >> Secondly, my tank runs about 80-82 degrees, I was also told to start saving for a chiller, what are the parameter to know you need a chiller? <<parameters for a chiller? Live in the desert, already bought all the spare pumps you need, aching for something to spend your money on. Chillers are expensive and really should be saved for a problem you can't solve any other way - like with a simple fan blowing across the top of the tank. Here's another link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chillersmar.htm >> grabmayer <<Cheers, J -->>

More Questions about Lighting Hi Jason, Call me dumb, I read the link you suggested on lighting a reef and I still am unsure if my lighting is good. It suggested VHO lighting , which I do not have. I have PC's. <<power compacts are a significant improvement on VHO - longer life, more efficient>> Or am I confused? Anyway, I'm still am going to ask, what is the intensity of light that I should shoot for? Right now I am a little shy of 3 watts per gal. (2-96 watts for a 58 gal) - Need straight forward advice. <<what is it exactly that you want to keep? This will dictate most your lighting requirements. SPS Corals and Tridacnid clams are among the most demanding in the arena, but there are plenty of people out there doing well with both of these with less than the "recommended" amount of light. Personally, I'm not a big fan of ratios - 1" fish/gallon, 3 watts/gallon, etc. - they don't always apply in a linear way and so you've got to judge these things by a number of criteria. I mean... how are your leather coral, polyps, and mushroom doing? I think you will find the light you have will work well with these. If you want to move on beyond that into the clams or SPS corals, you may need to upgrade your lamp, but then again... the clams say, may just work if positioned up high in the tank. You see, there are many, many answers. If you didn't already, continue reading the various lighting FAQ's that reside as links from the page I gave you. [ http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lightMAR.htm - etc.] You will find many other people like yourself asking identical questions - from these you can probably notice a trend and make the appropriate adjustments.>> Thanks J-grabmayer <<As an aside - if you do the math - your tank 58g X 3watt [per gallon] = 174 watts needed, your light 2 bulbs X 96 watts = 192 watts provided. Looks like you're coming out ahead of that curve just fine. Cheers, J -- >>

Lighting Questions hey bob, <<Not Bob, but JasonC standing in while Bob is away Diving.>> thanks for your calc reactor help -- it's dialed in now (effluent 6.8-7.0, tank ph. 7.9). I suppose I'm just waiting for things to stabilize and for ph to start crawling back up. oh, one thing to note about Aquamedic calc reactors -- my leaking problems were caused by just a few, barely noticeable grains of calc media caught in between the top opening and the body of the reactor. <<interesting>> this was enough to cause water to seep, a lot of frustration, over tightening of screws (which are cheap plastic, whose threads strip easily), until I figured out the problem with those silly grains of media -- this troubleshooting problem should have been noted in the manual, I think, which is pretty much junk anyway (not explanatory at all). <<actually, it's hard to write a good manual, and think in advance of everything other people might do when you are the person who built it and knows how it works best...>> otherwise, the reactor seems ok. anyhow, onto the questions: 1.) lighting upgrade: I'm torn on this one -- I have 128w of pc lighting (4 32 w bulbs), on a 48" long, 20" deep tank. most everything I've read says this isn't enough (or recommended anyway) for a reef tank, but my corals seem to be doing really well -- a galaxy, fox, Discosoma, leather, polyps, and a brain. it's been more than a month now, and they seem healthy -- am I deluding myself? <<no. If they are doing fine, they are doing fine in my opinion.>> are they on a slow demise that I just can't discern? <<I doubt it.>> I'm afraid to upgrade to 220w or 196w not just because of the cost, but because of any potential shock -- that's nearly doubling the intensity they're receiving now. <<and there's no doubt they would come to appreciate it. >> could their seeming health have something to do with my use of 4 bulbs? <<no, it's really just total wattage>> I've read that spreading out watts over a number of bulbs is somehow more effective (I'm fuzzy on this, but I do remember reading this). <<have not heard of this myself, perhaps something to do with ballasts - do you have any links?>> in any case, I don't plan on getting any more corals or a clam. you're advice is appreciated so I can put my mind at ease on this issue. <<I will trust you know how your corals are supposed to look when they are happy, so... if they look happy most of the time... well - do you need more light? Hard to say. Are they growing like weeds? Maybe they'll grow a little faster with more light. Maybe they'll grow a nice slow rate with the light you have now and you'll be able to enjoy the tank without upgrading for much longer.>> 2.) is the benefit of lighting a refugium 24/7 (versus RDP) worth the extra electricity cost and incremental heat (an extra degree or so)? is it just faster nutrient uptake? <<well, if your refugium is lit with a fluorescent, then the increased cost will be marginal. The benefit is multifaceted and I think depends on who you ask. Let's see how many I can recall - plants stop producing oxygen in the dark cycle and instead consume it; (may?) stop sexual cycles in macro algae by confusing it; will produce lots and lots of macro algae - which in turn becomes a nutrient sink, playground for various things that become coral food, etc, etc. the list is lengthy.>>  any possible downsides I'm missing? <<if it's in your bedroom like one of mine, then yes - it might keep you awake.>> Thanks bob, Javier <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Touching Base on those Lights <<Ahh - ok, well still, same things apply.>> I actually have 144 watts of pc lighting (4x36), if this helps you diagnose my question any better. thanks again, bob <<Cheers, J -- >> - Javier

Lighting Questions <<JasonC here helping out while Bob is away diving.>> I have a 55 gallon with dimensions of 36L x 15w x 20h.. It has a built in wet/dry filter.. I want to add power compact lighting but here is the question. The top of the aquarium although 36 x 15, the top is basically all covered up acrylic except for a hole which is 28 x 7 1/2(this is where the current light hood sits on... <<ok>> I want a Power compact light system.. <<sounds good too...>> Do I get, lets say a 24 inch PC system or go with a full 36 inch... I'm not sure if having lighting over that extra acrylic is a waste .. <<Should go with the longer fixture - is not a waste as long as that acrylic is clear - try covering same with dark paper and see the difference it makes!>> Should I concentrate on the hole with a 2 X 55 watt 24 inch system... And if the 36 inch system is suggested, how many bulbs, watts, etc should I make sure to get... <<I'm a big fan of "get as many as you can afford" philosophy. Two is good, four is better.>> I'm not looking to go all out and fill up my tank with coral/fish life but I would really enjoy having the ability to choose what ever I want to put in.. Right now I'm just starting out with live sand, Live rock and the starter fish.. So far so good but I noticed some of the rocks or turning brown.. <<more light will make this happen faster.>> Any ideas as to what that is? <<diatom algae perhaps, certainly part of the normal phases of a new tank.>> and a fix? <<Read up... PC Lighting FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cfmarfaqs.htm  Diatom Algae FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diatomfaqs.htm  Cheers, J -- >> Thanks WillyG

Questions about Tank Lighting <<JasonC here filling for Bob while he is away diving.>> I have enjoyed reading your essay on light. I have found it very straight forward and highly informative. This said, I would like your opinion regarding my current lighting and future coral acquisitions. I have a 28" cube acrylic aquarium--95 gals. Space was the reason for this dimension choice. I am currently using a Power Compact with 1 - 10,000K white and 1 - 8800K blue actinic bulb. I would love to purchase Brain Coral, Xenia, elegance coral, and maybe a symbiotic anemone (but I have read literature advocating against this due to the large odds of mortality. <<One of the big lessons I've always tried to apply, and Bob hammers it too, is that you can do these things, you just need to know what an unhealthy one looks like so you can leave it at the LFS rather than bringing it home.>> Your recommendation for the Full Spectrum is both prudent and clear to me--however, with the dimension constraints, having eight plus bulbs is neither practical for space or money. <<You may want to look at the Custom Sea Life Power Quad - 96 watts in a 4-tube bulb. I just installed one over my refugium this weekend, they work quite well.>> Thus, my question. Clearly, the light I am currently employing is "low". What would your recommendation/suggestion be to provide the animals I'd like to keep the light they need to flourish? Thank you. Your feedback will be greatly appreciated. <<Well, this is one of those things that depends on who you ask. I have a 175w MH on my 54 corner tank, so I'm a bad influence. At the opposite end, you've got the folks at GARF [ www.garf.org] who swear they can raise Acropora on a 40w fluorescent tube. Have you considered a halide lamp? A single pendant in the 175 to 250 watt range would let you do all of those, and the anemone would LOVE it... all your choices would love it. Two big drawbacks: electric bill and heat accumulation. The bill part isn't that extreme. The heat can be if you don't deal with it. But I digress, I'm not trying to spend your money. I think if you shop around some, you'll be able to increase your wattage with the correct form-factor for your space. It's a bit of a juggling-act and sometimes a space-driven choice becomes a sort of "get painted into a corner" ordeal. Do check out the "Power Quad" - I'm still seeing blue dots from installing this one.>> Fond regards, Geoff <<Cheers, J -- >>

Lighting a New Tank Mr. Fenner, <<Hello, it's JasonC, Mr. Fenner [Bob] is away diving.>> I have just set up a 90 gallon All-Glass Salt Water Aquarium with intentions of reef & fish. I have put in about 50 lbs of Fiji live rock and patiently waiting for my system to cycle. It has only been up and running for about a week. I have a Tidepool wet/dry bio wheel filtration system with a 700 gal per hour submersible pump. I also have a 48" 110 watt light with two 9325 Kelvin bulbs. My question is this: Since I have put in my live rock, how much light do I give it and for how long do you suggest? I have heard conflicting reports. Should I start with just a small fluorescent light an hour a day and then build up to my bright light? <<go for broke - live rock cares not about these things. You can run your lights at your intended cycle [12 hours I'm guessing] right now.>> You have a very informative and pleasant web site. <<Bob will be seeing all this mail and he will appreciate your kind remarks.>> John Kummer <<Cheers, J -- >>

Lighting Question <<Hello, JasonC here filling in while Bob is away diving.>> I have a 135 gal. tank 72x18x24 what do think about a light with 6-55watt bulbs 3x10k white 3x7100k blue actinic I am planning a full reef and fish tank, I have 120 lb live rock now and a 40gl refugium.......I plan on adding MH later maybe just one to give me the shimmer....also can I put 96 watt bulbs in place of the 55watt bulbs? <<sure you can, but there is a significant change in output - 330w vs. 576w >> and one more????? how high above the water to mount the lights? <<High enough that you can still work on the tank, but low enough that you get what you are paying for... light. There's a happy medium there somewhere.>> Thanks again Joe Grunstad <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Questions on Lighting a Reef Tank Thanks for the quick response..... <<my pleasure.>> Some extra questions... I read through the FAQ .. Seems like everything is normal and will work itself out. I see maybe a clean up crew might help but one thing I have had was a couple of turbo snails... It was before the algae showed up though.. maybe 8 days. After about a week of having them I noticed they both had died... <<sometimes happens in a new tank.>> Was this because there wasn't any algae yet.. Should I try again now that I have this algae sprouting everywhere.... <<can be, also unsuitable conditions - snails are actually kind of fragile.>> Part two.. Based on your suggestion I looked into some PC lights and found a few I might get.. Both are 36 inch units One has 4 36watt bulbs while the other has 2 96 watt bulbs... go for the higher wattage or more bulb? <<most wattage, definitely. 144w [4 x 36] vs. 192w [2 x 96] there...>>

More, Different Questions on Lighting a Reef Tank Hi Bob, <<JasonC here, Bob is away diving...>> I've been perusing your archives, talk about information overload! On a trip to buy replacement suction cups for a powerhead, I ended up with a 3 x 36w PC fixture with 3 50/50 white/blue bulbs for my 55gal tank... and 4 suction cups. <<funny how that happens.>> This gives me 2 watts per gallon. I read your "out-on-a-limb-rule-of-thumb" of 1-2 watts per gallon. However, in several of your replies to people's questions, you are advising, or at least agreeing with, 3 or 4 or even more watts per gallon. <<2 watts per gallon is a bare minimum, more is better in lighting, but often depends most on budget.>> I'm just getting ready to switch from FOWLR to reef, and don't plan on any high maintenance or fragile inverts right now. Will this fixture be sufficient? <<sure, will be fine.>> Do you have any inverts you would recommend for this level of lighting (mushrooms? Zoanthid polyp?)? <<those all sound good>> Lastly, the tank is currently a Berlin type setup (2" sand bed, live rock, protein skimmer in sump) and has no mechanical filtration. <<sounds reef-ready to me.>> Water conditions are good, but there is some obvious particulate matter in the water. Not enough to be cloudy, or anything really bad, but I'd like to clean it up with some sort of filter. <<don't bother - corals like this kind of stuff.>> My concern is with the buildup of nitrifying bacteria on the filter media, and the sharp drop that will occur when I clean/change the filter material. Is this a realistic concern or am I just being paranoid? <<not realistic - as much of that bacteria exists on you live rock, perhaps more. No need to worry about the filter medium swap.>> Thanks, Mike <<Cheers, J -- >>

Tank Lighting and Sunlight Hello and thank you for all the advice you've given to beginners like me over the years. I've got a 65 gallon tank (36"L x 18"W x 24"T) I'm slowly setting up for reef conditions. Right now my lighting is a 95 Watt Power Compact 50/50 Smartlight plus a 60 Watt standard fluorescent hood. The tank is covered. The tank's location gets indirect sunlight throughout the day and also some direct depending on the time of year. The 60 watt fixture is on a 12 hour cycle and the SmartLight is on a 10 hour cycle (I'm trying to simulate dusk/dawn conditions). I'm concerned that I don't have enough light. Right now the only light-intensive organisms are two anemones - one medium sized Haitian and a small 2" diameter ?flower? anemone. Over the last few days the flower anemone has opened much, but this may be because it lost it's footing in the sand and floated about the tank. It's taken several days to get it to reaffix itself into a good position. I'm interested in corals but have none yet. I do have coralline algae spontaneously growing on some of my live rock. What do you think? <It seems like weak lighting for most corals. If you get more specific, one of us can help you tailor your lighting to the desired corals.> Also, my LFS told me that the Maroon clowns will go into the Haitian anemone. I didn't believe him, but it's true! Within one day after I moved the clown from the isolation tank to the show tank it was wrapped up in its tentacles. I wish I had seen the process. Are there any known drawbacks to this non-natural arrangement? <No probably none. Also, your LFS was right. Wild Maroon clownfish are only found in bubble tip anemones.> Thank you -Ian Berger <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

This is driving me mad! Marine Lighting Choices Hello Mr. Fenner, How I wish you could have a reef aquarium book out! <Am hopeful to have this work out someday soon as well> I have learned so much about my initial setup and which fish to choose from TCMA. How to properly care for them, and the tank it's self. I am just going crazy when it comes to coral and there needs. I have been to many web site, have many books that I have read and am currently reading. Nothing is helping me when it comes to lighting my tank. 48x18x22 and a 10" hood. I have been on many message boards (just discovered yours) asking people what sort of light I would need to keep SPS & clams but that would not fry my bubble corals and open brains. And what other few LPS I want to get. I asked EricB., Dr. Ron, and many people on reef central, reefs.org, my LFS, my reefing friends and looking through books. Everyone (9-10) is advising me to get (EricB. and most of the people on the message boards) 2x250 watt MH with 2x110 watt VHO. There are people who have kept LPS under these lights (same height) for years and have good growth and color. Would it be a good amount of light or to much?  <Too much for me... If you were doing an experiment in "the absolute most" growth you could get from photosynthesizing marine life... and coupled a calcium reactor, likely controllers, careful feeding... then I might go with this much light intensity... But... if it were me I'd drop to 175 Watt MH's and half the actinics in VHOs or better PCs...> They said (and I see the logic) that as long as my LPS are near to the DSB and that my lights are raised so far above the waters surface I will be ok. This is killing me. I would love to know your opinion. I read through your Q&A and in one post you said that for a tank that is 23" tall the 2x250 would work best. <Yes... but with your raised sand bed, your water level will be 17-18"> Then in another post for someone who had a 23" tall tank you said it would be best to use 175 watt MH with VHO actinics. I could really use you knowledge. Thank you kindly! Robert <I'll go for what's behind door/choice number 2! Be chatting. Bob F>

This is driving me mad! Marine Lighting (Anthony's turn) Hello Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service> How I wish you could have a reef aquarium book out!  <I wondered that for years until I learned that he did indeed write a "Conscientious Reef Aquarist" book that got bought but never printed by the publisher... no worries though... Bob has been furiously generating and cataloguing a lot of such information on this WWM site... typing on two and three computers at the same time... well, almost <wink>> I have learned so much about my initial setup and which fish to choose from TCMA. How to properly care for them, and the tank it's self. I am just going crazy when it comes to coral and there needs. I have been to many web site, have many books that I have read and am currently reading.  <OK... shameless plug for my new reef book... see Bob's review on this site  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bkcorlproprev.htm or my site for samples/endorsements (www.readingtrees.com). Really, have I no shame ?! But seriously, I put a lot of heart into it and it is written in a very straight-forward conversational tone. A good bit of info if I may say so too at 450 pages> Nothing is helping me when it comes to lighting my tank. 48x18x22 and a 10" hood. I have been on many message boards (just discovered yours) asking people what sort of light I would need to keep SPS & clams but that would not fry my bubble corals and open brains.  <that is indeed a tough and unnatural mix...never to be found on a reef and long term may prove to be difficult for you without some very creative (and attractive) rockscaping to create ledges and overhangs for diffusing light for the deepwater LPS corals and Zoantharians for example> And what other few LPS I want to get. I asked Erick B., Dr. Ron, and many people on reef central, reefs.org, my LFS, my reefing friends and looking through books. Everyone (9-10)is advising me to get (Erick B. and most of the people on the message boards) 2x250 watt MH with 2x110 watt VHO. There are people who have kept LPS under these lights (same height) for years and have good growth and color. Would it be a good amount of light or to much?  <I'm inclined to say too much. Truthfully, my advice would be to pick one thing and do it well... spare the unnatural allelopathy and aggression of this unusual mix. Just because it works for some folks for even a couple of years doesn't make it right, convenient or even replicable by you. The natural lifespan of many coral is to be measured in decades... and that will be a moot point in a crowded or inappropriate reef tank> They said (and I see the logic) that as long as my LPS are near to the DSB and that my lights are raised so far above the waters surface I will be ok. This is killing me. I would love to know your opinion. <you definitely have a different perspective from me. Keep in mind that my opinion and experience is influenced by my vocation as a commercial coral farmer with regard for absolute parameters of health and especially growth (without concern for aesthetic presentation). You may be willing to compromise growth and lifespan to enjoy a mixed garden reef aquarium. It was my business to avoid that. Both positions are valid but at some point we must concede that some compromises do not serve the greater good> I read through your Q&A and in one post you said that for a tank that is 23" tall the 2x250 would work best. Then in another post for someone who had a 23" tall tank you said it would be best to use 175 watt MH with VHO actinics. I could really use you knowledge. Thank you kindly! <ultimately... my advice would be to only use 2-250 watt halides if you intend to have your tank decidedly dominated by shallow water SPS corals and clams with very few mid to low light animals. Else, you will find yourself spending too much on electricity for animals suffering under it. The VHO supplements are an entirely different matter. Although love the color of VHO's, spectral analysis of most every halide on the market has demonstrated that the lamps already have excessive blue peaks in the spectrum. More blue light is pointless for coral health and simply makes a very nice aesthetic affect when the halides are off. Do look into the published works of Sanjay Yoshi and Dana Riddle on halide lighting. Short story though... Aqualine and Ushio 10K bulbs are highly recommended among lamp choices. And if you can use the 150 watt fixtures... Iwasaki 6500 k bulbs are the absolute best all things considered (lamp life, spectral sway, color rendition, etc). And remember...easy on the blue lights if you intend to keep shallow water sps corals. Kind regards, Anthony Calfo> Robert

Re: This is driving me mad! <Anthony> Marine Lighting Choices  Hello again Anthony <greetings, my friend> I went to your web site and checked out your book. I will place an order in for it tomorrow.  <thank you kindly... but the advice is free, do ask away!> I am now more confused then ever and am in need for some more guidance. I had no idea that mixing coral like LPS & SPS (as I have seen in so many tanks) is such a major mistake for the health of the coral.  <this is news to most of us as aquarists. Only in the last decade have we begun to see enough aquariums set up for extended periods of time (5-10+ yrs) to have a glimpse of what the long term effects of coral aggression might be. Reefkeeping really only began to draw attention in popular literature in the mid 1980's and arguably did not begin to really catch fire until the early 1990's. So even by 1995, let's say, there were still very few tanks set up for more than five years. Now enough time has begun to pass here in the USA that we have more than a few aquarium displays to look to that are documented for more than a decade.> I don't want a pretty tank and then a year or two later have everything die on me.  <yes... a reality for many aquarists as a couple of years go by in a crowded or inappropriate tank and the flaws catch up (mysterious deaths from slowly underfed coral and those poisoned by competitors). But let me assure you that although I do indeed have somewhat of a purist/hardliner approach to reef aquariology, I readily admit that you can indeed enjoy a mixture of so-called "unnatural" tank mates like LPS and SPS in very good health. Its just that we cannot be lulled into thinking its a free for all. All in moderation, of course.> I am not a cruel man, just ignorant and trying to learn.  <as we all are everyday> I didn't mean to come of as if I am willing to risk the health of my charges. <not at all... as aquarists we are indeed empathetic and passionate folk. And your quest for knowledge reflects your good intent as it should be> Now having reconsidered much I will ask if it would be acceptable to mix LPS with calms. I am quite enamored with the electric blue Max's. <there will be a compatible combination for almost anything that you like... Tridacnids occur in very shallow water to depths below 45 feet (well below that for some, as I understand it). If you elect to have a shallow reef theme, then enjoy the blue T. crocea and T. maxima. If you opt for a deeper themed tank (LPS like bubbles, fox, purple tip elegance, brown hammers/octopus, red open brains, Cynarina buttons, etc) then the hardy T. derasa or better yet Hippopus species of clams would do nicely> Could I keep them (on the sand bed) under 2x175 watt with say..2x100w VHO actinics?  <most clams indeed yes> Or would the blue light do nothing for the clams.  <right...the intense halides are the ticket> I would like a good amount of blue so that my LPS can fluoresce more. is that wrong as well? :) <not wrong at all my friend... just an aesthetic preference. But there is more than enough blue in modern halide lamps to satisfy your coral. Keep yourself happy by having a strong VHO blue actinic or two on a separate ballast for the lovely fluorescent effect (even leaving them on an hour before and after the daylights to give a cool dusk dawn effect)... but don't expect them to contribute much to coral growth without daylight. They are to be enjoyed for aesthetics. Although 250 watt halides may be appropriate for the colorful sps corals that you think you might like to have...such species are really are a great challenge for a new aquarist until you get the hang of the calcium/alkalinity dynamic and how to control it with consistency (other issues to). As a "newbie"... you'll have a much better start with hardy and colorful soft corals. They are much more forgiving in general. I'd suggest that you pick two 175 watt Ushio 10K lamps or two 150 watt Iwasaki 6500K lamps to serve as your primary lighting. Trust me my friend... for reasons that will be revealed to you in due time, resist all stony coral (SPS and LPS) for at least the first six months if not one year. Plenty of great soft corals that will serve you well through your growing pains> Thank you kindly Anthony. I hope you can forgive this silly newbie! Robert <nothing to forgive at all, good sir. I'm grateful that you are considerate of your future charges enough to ask questions and that you care to know my opinion at all. Also, do look into a local aquarium society too... its a great place to get honest advice from experienced folk who have nothing to sell you <wink>. Kindly, Anthony>

Re: This is driving me mad! Marine Lighting Choices  Hello again Mr. Fenner Thank you so much for the quick reply, not only by yourself but from Anthony as well. I can't wait for your reef book to come out! It is a good thing that you have such a informative web site to go to for those like me who are waiting for your book. <A great outlet, device, tool> I learned much from your response. I am rethinking my plan and will downgrade from my original idea (2x250wMH) and maybe go with 2x175..the actinics and their wattage are still up in the air. I thought 2x110VHO but I am guessing that will be an overkill. <Yes, more than necessary, useful> I just want my LPS to fluoresce really well and have enough light for all kinds of clams. I will do more research. :) Thank you kindly. Robert <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Bob, I bought a pendant light which has a 400W metal halide and 2 28W actinic PC bulbs. I have a 46 gallon tank with FOWLR at the time when I purchased the light at my LFS I didn't realize that 400W is very extreme for a FOWLR tank. <Yes, boiling water is too hot...> I did some research and one of the conclusions I came up with is that I would probably produce more bad algae than what it is worth. I do enjoy the look of the glimmering water. If I were to do a retrofit using the PC lighting (2 55W bulbs actinic) and add a (1) 175W Metal Halide or (2) 75W metal halide if they make one) would this setup be to much? <I would go with the 175 Watt MH and just one of the PC bulbs as an Actinic, the other as a "white" lamp. Bob Fenner> Thanks

Clams, Light on Clam would 200 watts of CSL Smartlight be enough light for a small clam (maxima) on a 55 Gal tank??? Thanks Jeremy <yes...very fine, but do be sure to keep clam within top 1/3 of tank for best success. Clams really do enjoy bright light, and fluorescents do not penetrate deeply in water. Kindly, Anthony>

Lighting for 92 gal reef tank Hi, I'm a beginner and just purchased a 92 gal CORNER tank and can't figure out how to light it for a reef set-up because of its odd shape. I know I want fluorescents and MHs with timers but I can't find anything that fits. I have no problem hanging my MHs but where do I put the fluorescents. Marty <Do not worry about adding fluorescents too. Get yourself the 175 watt 10,000K Aqualine-Buschke lamp and call it a day. -Steven Pro>

Question of Marine Lights Hi Bob, <Steven Pro this morning.> I am planning to set up a marine tank. I have been reading around and am currently deliberating on whether to include a MH in my lighting arrangement. My tank will be a 72" x 30" x 30". Bottom substrate will be about 6" deep (so effective water depth is only 24") and I am planning (or maybe "dreaming" will be a better word) on putting some green star polyps right on the substrate. I read that green star polyp need good light and current. My question is do I need a MH lamp for this setup? I am worried about the amount of light penetrating down to the substrate. The LFS is pushing me for MH, which I suspect is heavily motivated by their price tags. Locally I can easily get 30" ballast for 2 PC tubes, each PC tubes is rated 36W, and available in 72000K and 11000K spectrums. Since each PC ballast cost less than 10% of the MH, I would rather go for a few PC ballasts *IF* MH is not needed. What do you think? <I think your best solution is the MH's because of your tank depth and width. Three 175 watt or three 250 watt 10,000k Aqualine-Buschke lamps would work well depending on your other desired photosynthetic creatures.> Thanks in advance & BTW I must tell you that your contributions at WWM forums is a godsend. -Edwin <Thank you, Steven Pro.>

Lighting question Hello, <Cheerio, old sport> I am new to the hobby and have a fish only 46gal tank about 8 weeks old. My 36" bow front tank is lighted with 2 x 15 watts.  <very weak indeed> My ambition is to have a reef/fish tank with colorful corals. I'm contemplating purchasing either the Smartlight or Britelight 96 watts compact from Custom Sea. I'm confused as to which would be the better choice or would there be a better choice in another product line. There is just enough room to continue using the 30watt strip that came with the tank in addition to a new strip. Your thoughts? I read that compact lighting provides more light per watt than standard fluorescents. Is that true?  How does that work? <spatially true... a more intense lamp. But before you decide on lighting, you must decide more specifically on the inverts that you want to keep. They have such drastically different needs. If you like Zoantharians (mushroom anemones and button polyps) and some LPS corals you'll be fine with the PC lights. If you want the common sift corals... still probably OK. Colored soft corals (yellow/green leathers) will be somewhat difficult. And clams and most colored SPS corals will not do well at all under modest PC config (may need halides)> Thank you <very welcome. Anthony>

Lighting I'm thinking of upgrading lighting on my marine tank I've  been looking at Coralife tubes what do you recommend my tanks 5ft long 2ft high 18"wide also what sequence do I use them do I leave actinic tube on all night or turn it of thanks Craig brown how the dive going PS its a fish only tank and I don't want halides <For a fish-only tank, the question of lighting is strictly for aesthetics and maybe Macroalgae/coralline algae growth. I would recommend four 40 watt normal output fluorescents for fish-only. A mix of 50/50, actinic to full-spectrum lamps, is usually visually appealing. Do not leave the actinics on all the time. A normal photoperiod is fine, 12 hours max. If you can get them, I much prefer URI lamps to anyone else. -Steven Pro>

Marine Aquarium Light/ing have 180 gal reef tank 29 in high what kind of lighting should be used <Please read through the light, marine lighting sections on our principal site, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lighting.htm continuing on. Bob Fenner>

Halide bulbs PAR. Hi Bob <Steven Pro this evening.> Hope all is well with you these days. My question is about the PAR of 2 halide bulbs. I was looking into purchasing 2 250 watt 10k halide bulbs for my 120 Berlin system reef tank. I was wondering, The 2 manufactures I am looking at are Ushio (German 10k) and the Aqualine Busch German 10k. Which of these bulbs has the most PAR using a CSL magnetic halide ballast? I would use 65k"s but even with actinic supplements they still look too yellow. Thanks in advance. Take care. <I could only find spectral analysis for 175 watt Ushio and A-B. At that wattage, the Aqualine Buschke lamp has a greater par value. -Steven Pro>

Lights Hi again I just emailed you about protein skimmer and lighting. I was wondering what you think about Phazer II XHOPC 110watts?  Thanks, Natalie <hmmm... the measure of a high output should be the intensity and quality of light it puts out. 110 watts on 55 gall is very week for coral. There will be very few that will live under it long term (although you can have many of the wonderful and colorful button polyps and colored mushrooms). After you pick you desired coral, then pick the color and intensity of bulbs that you'll need. 6500 to 10K are great all around. The higher Kelvin bulbs are very blue and you must demonstrate a need for them or avoid them (most fail miserably on spectral analysis anyway). Anthony>

Lighting for Marine Systems... have 180 gal reef tank 29 in high what kind of lighting should be used <All questions of lighting have to begin with specifically what photosynthetic creatures do you intend to keep. Lighting for a bubble coral is significantly different than for yellow Porites. -Steven Pro>

Re: Lighting Thanks for the very informative reply! I was perusing the different power-compact lighting options for my 75-gallon, and it seems as though the costs are very similar to metal halide (two 175w 10,000k bulbs with fixtures) lighting. Is there a place you would recommend I look, or are they going to be within $50 of each other either way? If this is indeed the case, would spending another $50 for MH be better? Thanks! Sam <I would think the price difference would be greater than $50, but if it is that inexpensive, get the Icecap 175 watt MH's with 10,000K Aqualine-Buschke lamps. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Hey Bob (or Anthony if it's you), <It is Steven Pro today as Anthony is at the doctor's after he got mauled by his wild cat last night.> How are things in your neck of the woods today? <Getting very cold and windy here in Pittsburgh.> Pretty good here, getting excited about the new tank. Hubby is making the light cover now. Which is the reason for my writing/question today. We are going from a 66g to a 125g as mentioned before. The 125g is 6' long, where the 66g is only 4' long. Question is, would it (work) to have the lights only as a 4' section above the tank? Or should we redesign the lights and have them cover the full 6' of the tank? <It would appear pretty strange and be inappropriate for any photosynthetic animals.> Once again.....thanks for being there for the questions and concerns for all us hobbyists. -Hannah Bluenoser <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Lighting Hey Steven, <actually, Anthony this time in your service>  Now that was fast service! <we aim to please <smile>> I just wish the guys I work with did their paperwork that fast...hehe <they don't have the perks that we do> I hope Anthony is ok, and the cat too. What kind of cat? <Hehe... another scar, and another story to tell. The kitty is recovering from his surgery last week pretty well so far (obviously frisky). Zorro is an African serval> So you suggest to keep it the full length of the tank....I thought so, and they way I wanted to do it too...but you know men...oops you are one aren't ya...hehe <hehe...stubborn creatures aren't we?> Thanks again. <kind regards, and thanks for your concern. Anthony> Hannah :)

Re: Lighting (and dangerous cats) Hey Steven, Now that was fast service! I just wish the guys I work with did their paperwork that fast...hehe I hope Anthony is ok, and the cat too. What kind of cat? <He has a cerval or serval, I do not know how to spell it, named Zorro. It is about the size of a bobcat and it accidentally bit him through his eyelid.> So you suggest to keep it the full length of the tank....I thought so, and they way I wanted to do it too...but you know men...oops you are one aren't ya...hehe <Not all men are like that. I am a super fish geek and spare no expense on my tanks, much to my wife's chagrin.> Thanks again. Hannah :) <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Hi all, I have a 46 gallon tank with the GE 110 watt PC hood (just shy of 10,000 K...like 9325K) so that puts me at about 2.3 watts/gallon. My current set up is fish only with live rock and some shrimp, crabs and snails. With that level of lighting is there ANYTHING more I can do with this tank without upgrading my lighting? I was hoping it might be feasible to drop in an anemone with a clown fish, nothing major. Any suggestions on how far I can go with the inverts and this level of lighting? Wes <Forget about the anemone, much too difficult. Mushroom anemones/Corallimorphs are fairly adaptable to light levels and would be your best bet. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Mr. Fenner, <Steven pro this afternoon.> Currently, I have a 40-gallon reef with an assortment of corals including torch, frogspawn, Goniopora, colt, galaxy, with a few different polyps as well. I am going to be moving the system from the 40-gallon to my new 75-gallon (which is empty right now). My corals are absolutely flourishing, and I would like to keep it this way (obviously). My lighting at this time includes a 36" blue actinic and a 120w power compact. But, as you are well aware, the 75-gallon is 4" taller. My question: what type of lighting do you recommend for my 75-gallon in order to emulate the current lighting in my 40-gallon? If I use 3"+ of substrate, can I use a power compact (300w)? This would be 4 watts per gallon. Or, do you think it is still too deep, and would require metal halides (possibly two 175w, 10,000K)? As is always the case, I'm trying to keep costs down. I'm at a fork-in-the-road, and I'm not sure what to do. -Sam <For your corals, MH's are not necessary. PC lighting will work just fine. I think you wish to use 6 55 watt PC lamps for a total of 330 watts or maybe 3 96 watt lamps? Either should be just fine. You may also wish to consider VHO's. Three 110 watt lamps would be good, too. -Steven Pro>

60 gal Lighting Question Hi!  <Anthony Calfo, author/friend, in your service> I have been researching SW aquariums for about 3 months, and just purchased my tank this weekend. I have your book - TCMA and I loved it,  <me too!> and have read many articles on the web site as well. My tank is a 60 gallon hex - 48x16x20. But I have a couple of questions about lighting. I am planning my tank around keeping Tridacna clams and the corals that can withstand the high lighting.  <colored sps, or colored soft coral, or LPS brain coral and blue clams... yes, but try not to mix across the groups much for fear of problems from the unnatural allelopathy (coral aggression). I discuss this at length in my book as well> My well-intentioned husband surprised me by purchasing a 4x96 watt power compact custom SeaLife retro kit - but I am wondering if this might be too much light?  <not for a truly shallow water reef tank... split the bulbs between blue and daylight if your are really concerned (as opposed to mostly daylight for shallow water animals> Ideally, I was thinking 3x96 watts. I believe this kit comes with 2 ballasts. If 4x96 watts is too much light, can I only run 3 bulbs - or is it a bad idea to leave one socket empty? Can I replace one or two bulbs with a lower wattage/output bulb?  <none of the above necessary or recommended... a beautiful light fixture.> Any suggestions you might have would be wonderful... <all will be fine if you research your corals needs and truly stick with high light invertebrates> Thank you so much for all you do! Kate <our pleasure indeed. Kindly, Anthony>

Lighting Question Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Thanks for taking all of our questions. I am not sure if you really know how nice it is to have access to such an amazing resource. I really appreciate it!!!  <we all are and agree> My question concerns lighting. Here is my setup and my plans for the tank. I have an All-glass 125 (72x18x22) with the Modern series hood and stand. I have 160 lbs of live rock and 4" sand bed with Live Sand.  <excellent> The rock is curing in the tank and the nitrites have finally hit 0, as has ammonia and nitrates are at 5. I have about almost 2000 gallons per hour flowing through the tank. I also use a AquaC EV-120 for a skimmer and a 25 watt Emperor UV. Here is the plan for the tank: 6 Green Chromis, 2 Percs, 1 purple tang, 1 6-line wrasse, cleanup crew, a few Jawfish and a dwarf angel.  <skip the Jawfish please... undermining the reef, too passive for the tang and certainly the wrasse (jealous little fellows), etc. And not the best detritivores anyway. Look for others like white starfish, yellow watchman gobies, etc> For the corals, I am looking at mostly soft corals (Leathers, polyps, mushrooms) some gorgonians, and possibly a few SPS Corals high up on the rock.  <try to resist mixing drastically diff species as much as possible (softies with sps/LPS)> My lighting at the moment is a 72" 2x96watt Smart Lite Canopy from Custom Sea Lite. I am pretty certain that 192 watts are not enough for even the softies, so here are my options: Buy another canopy of the SmartLite to add another 192 watts to total 384 watts. Would this be enough?  <depends on the needs of the coral... maybe not enough if you go for colored softies, clams and sps...but fine with most Octocorals and LPS> Or I could return this setup and get a 6x96 retrofit for the canopy. Would this be optimum? Would I need to drill holes for fans in the canopy with either upgrade?  <possibly.. not a bad idea if the ambient temp of the room is on the high end> Please let me know your thoughts. I also have access to a 3 bulb MH Hood from Coralife for 1/2 price used. What do you think of that option? Thanks for your response. <MH only if your desired corals need it... you simply must pick your corals before you pick you lighting. Their needs range so wildly. MH lights do produce those beautiful glitter lines which also stimulate zooxanthellae... 20K radium bulbs or the like if you do> Adam <kindly, Anthony>

Aquarium Lighting 72 gal Bowfront Sir I read all your articles about lighting. Very informative, but didn't tell me the one thing I needed to know? What do I buy? I have a brand new 72 gal bowfront tank. I want to plant it with freshwater beginner plants (I am buying them from FishVet.com) - nothing fancy. I understand that I need more wattage than came with the tank to keep the plants growing -- apparently about 150 watts worth? But I am totally confused with what to buy? <P> Do I need to toss out my hood and buy a replacement? If so what brand? You seem big on Vita-light. But they offer dozens of bulbs? Which ones? I assume 48 inches, but even there I am confused. The lighting system that came with the tank is only 40 watts or so. If I need 150 watts do I need 4 bulbs? That means at least two hoods? That sounds crazy. No to mention the fact the tank doesn't have room for two hoods. <P> And all the systems you seem to describe as having 150 watts on up seem to generate a LOT of HEAT. I am really concerned about the heat for a couple of reasons. Most importantly my 4 year old son. If its hot enough to burn down the house, it sure as heck will burn him. And I would rather not cook the fish either? <P> All I want to do is give my son some nice tetras and catfish to enjoy watching. He loves his beta and wants more fish. But this whole lighting thing has me ready to toss the darn aquarium. Please help. I don't want to disappoint my son, but I can't figure out how to get 150 watts of lighting out of the one long bulb and fixture I have and from what I saw in the store the other day its going to cost $400-$500 dollars to get that wattage. That's more than I spent on the aquarium? <P> There has to be an answer to this. I can't believe that the average hobbyist is spending $500 dollars just to light a 72 gal aquarium. And that same hobbyist is somehow managing to keep some simple aquarium plants alive. The only question is how? <P> Please don't just tell me "Compact Fluorescent & full spectrum fluorescent lighting with boosted output features"? That is meaningless. Tell me what to buy and if possible were to get it. I make a reasonable living and can afford to buy what you recommend - I just hope it isn't a $500 hood. Thank you for reading my rant and for hopefully helping a beleaguered Dad. Respectfully - Mark Corrinet. <First off, you will need to replace/get rid of the existing hood. Go get yourself a "glass cover". These are available at all pet stores. Be sure you get one for your brand and size of tank. An All-Glass 72 bowfront has slightly different trim than an Oceanic 72. Next, buy two 48" fixture that each hold two 40 watt lamps. They will fit on top of your tank. The glass cover will run you about $50. The light fixtures about $100 each. Plus replacement lamps, four times $30. Grand total ~$370. We hobbyists are a sick bunch. I have a reef tank and I have spent $1000's on it. Also, the light fixtures should not burn your house down, cook the fish, or scald your son. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Hey Guys Bryan Here. <Hi Bryan, Anthony here.. at least in body... I'm pretty sure I've lost my mind.. so this will be just like any other day> Few questions on lighting. I've been going back and forth w/ types. At first I was all VHO, now I'm on PC. The more reading and studying the harder it gets. <both excellent quality, and very attractive color combinations. If you, like me, subscribe to the KISS school of thought... save money, time and wonder and just buy a tried and true outfit: balanced VHO daylight tubes and Super Actinic Blues (I like URI brand)> I have a 75 gallon adding LR to make a FOWLR, don't plan on any corals in this particular setup. One thing I want to know if my ideas are a little overkill. I saw a 4x55 watt PC w/ fan and dimmer. (I know I don't need the dimmer, I tend to get excited w/ gadgets) or a 2 bulb 110W VHO w/ daylight and actinic. <now you are talking... I like the latter VHO outfit just fine> Cost wise not much diff b/c I'll have to get VHO retro fit and reflectors etc.. Which would you prefer and are these options overkill.  <not overkill at all...not as bright as you might think> Another question off the subject is on refugiums. Thru the F&Q'S I saw mention that w/ a DSB and LR it does not need to be lighted? true?  <correct> Last question and maybe impossible. <That's OK... I'll just make up a convincing or confusing answer> Even though I consider myself fairly intelligent I can't for the life of me figure gph thru a specific size bulkhead/s. This is in general. Is there an equation w/ diameter and circumference w/ weight of water divided by the atmospheric pressure multiplied by radiation of the sun or should I just say screw it. <there are just too many good jokes and plays on word for that last sentence, so I will keep them to myself instead and just answer the question. Some specs rate a standard 1" bulkhead (drilled 1 3/4 inch hole) as capable of 600gph...bull. At best this is with a siphon created (noisy sucking sound you get when your pump is oversized to you don't have enough overflow holes drilled). Assume 300 GPH per hole for gravity overflow to be comfortable assuming you are using standard bulkheads... if not, well... buzz off I don't remember other specs...hehe. No, seriously... I hope this helps. Kind regards, Anthony> Thanks for all your help Bryan

All 10,000K or mix Hi Robert, I intend to convert all my FL to about 10 PL for my 5'. Should I use only 10,000K and 03. Or it is better to have some 10,000K, some 6,500 and some 03? <I like the look when you have a 50/50 mix of full-spectrum and actinic lamps. -Steven Pro>

REEF LIGHTING I have read a couple of your articles on lighting. I have a normal size 55 gal. reef tank, 18 inches deep about 16 inches from the top to the top of the gravel. I now run only 3 normal output lights, 1 actinic, 1 20 k, and 1 10 k. I'm ready to upgrade my lighting system. I can't make up my mind between an icecap 660 and 4 VHO's, or compact fluorescents. I was on the side of VHO's, because of the lower cost, and also less heat. But I found compact 4-96 watts from south bay lighting with a built in fan and dimmer for $375. <Both of these seem a little overkill. Two to three 110 watt VHO's or four 55 watt PC's should be plenty for most things. It depends a great deal on the desired corals.> Which by the time I buy the Icecap ballasts, lights, fans, reflector and dimmer, the cost is about the same or more. Is everything I listed with the VHO system necessary? <The dimmer is not needed.> Do compacts really put out that much heat compared to VHO's? <There should be slightly less heat with PC's vs. VHO's.> Do they really save a lot on electric bills, compared to VHO's, or is that all hype? <Yes, slightly more cost effective, plus the lamps last longer, fewer replacement lamps, one year for PC's vs. 6-9 months for VHO's.> Which set up gives me the best lighting for the largest variety of corals? <A bigger, deeper tank will give you the largest variety. In a 55, you are going to have to narrow your choices. Is this predominantly for soft corals, large polyp stonies, small polyp stonies, clams, etc.?> Can I house stony corals and such with VHO's? <Some SPS will do fine under VHO's. Montipora, Pocillopora, and Hydnophora to name a few.> I want to have a successful reef system without spending a ton of money on equipment I don't need. I run a pretty simple system that seems to work well. A trickle filter system, <I would loss the trickle filter eventually.> hang on protein skimmer, a couple of powerheads and some phosphate remover in the sump. I add liquid calcium, Iodine, strontium and reef solutions additive, but will be switching to Kalkwasser instead of liquid calcium. <Good idea to change to Kalkwasser.> I do water changes every 2 weeks faithfully, every week if I feel it necessary. My only other questions at the time are, is a RO system needed the more corals and fish a person gets, and do I need a UV sterilizer? <I always recommend an RO whenever setting up a reef tank. The UV is not needed.> From what I've read in you articles you seem to favor VHO's if I am correct, but I just want to be sure. <I prefer VHO actinics to PC actinics, but now newer PC actinic lamps have just come out and may be better.> Magazines, pet stores all seem to favor compacts or MH. <They all have their place depending on desired inhabitants and tank dimensions.> I just want to do the best for me not the store and get some advice from an expert independent source. Sorry about the lengthy scrambled email, I hope you can make sense of it. Thank you for help and your knowledge. -Mark <I hope I have been helpful. -Steven Pro>

Obsessed w/ lighting quandary Dear Bob (or the WWM "entity") <Steven Pro here today.> My quandary is illustrated with a few photographs here: http://www.thejonescamp.com/lightquestions.htm It's all about the surface area over my tank. And my strong desire to have MH. At first I thought 2x175, but then a good LFS guy (who doesn't sell this sort of lighting) suggested one 250 mounted perpendicular to the front glass. I was sold on that for a while, but again I'm thinking that two lower-wattage MH bulbs would allow me keep a more consistent spectrum and intensity, by replacing them on alternating offset schedules. <Good idea.> So, I'm trying to figure out if I can put together one or two pendants, and if my space requirements will force me to go with "space-saver" VHO's squeezed across the front, or if I should go with PC's for my actinic needs. And if I go PC, should I keep them in a separate fixture (since the MH bulbs will be perpendicular to the glass, would that be a good configuration for the PC's as well?)? Can you tell how confused and perplexed I am? (I'M FREAKIN' OUT HERE, MAN!!!!) I've seen some manufactured horizontal pendants that combine MH & PC, but since my tank is *almost* 3' wide, I figured I'd have to double up on those, and that's just gonna cost a ton of money. Alternately, I've thought about getting a retro kit MH bare "spot" fixture and trying to get the "shimmer" effect from some cheap DIY placement of it, while the rest of the tank is lit with "white" and "blue" PC's. I have NO idea how impractical, unrealistic this idea is. Lastly, I should probably mention that I live in Phoenix, and even though we splurge on the house's A/C usage, I imagine I ought to consider electronic ballasts to reduce heat. I have read about Blueline and another e-ballast as new alternatives to Ice-Cap, but I can't remember if that was just for VHO's or even where I read it in the first place. <I would use two 175 watt MH's mounted perpendicular to the tank. I do not like pendants. They do not throw all of your light into the tank effectively. IceCap makes electronic ballasts for MH's and provide very nice light when using Aqualine-Buschke 10,000K lamps. Do include fans somewhere in your plan to displace heat from the lamps.> Sangku in advance, -R.B. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

requesting some help, Lighting I am a little concerned about lighting. I have a 75 gallon tall Reef tank, Bio-filtration as follows: 90 lbs. of live Fiji rock 80 lbs. of live sand a protein skimmer a power head suitable for a 100 gallon tank. <Just one powerhead?> I would like to use VHO or power compacts, but I don't know if that will be enough for the soft and hard corals. Some fish will be in the tank (reef compatible). I've read your book on reefs, it touched on how to set up a diverse size of tank (fish only, reef, etc..). It did not go in depth with lighting for reefs. If you could shine a light on this project, I would gladly appreciate it. <Lighting depends on what particular corals you wish to keep. If you want to keep predominantly soft corals and large polyp stony corals, 4 55 watt PC's or 3 110 watt VHO's would be my choice. If your want clams and small polyp stony corals, I would suggest 2 175 watt MH's.> Thank you, Hector G. Aguilar <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Question About Lighting Hi again, <right back at you! Anthony> I emailed last week about the cycling of my tank... thank you very much for your reply. I have one more quick question for you, however. I am thinking of buying some nice lighting for my tank so that I can do reef at some time and I am planning to go with metal halide lighting. I have been told that for a 125 gallon 72" tank, two 250 watt metal halide lights would work good.  <and quite possibly too much...you must pick your inverts before you can decide on what to light them with... otherwise you are putting the cart before the horse> My question is this: could I use one 400 watt light instead of two 250 watt lights?  <almost certainly not unless you only intend to keep very shallow water sps corals. Too intense for less than 30" water depths> I have found that that would save me about $200.  <because it is cheap industrial lighting technology...mass produced> What would be the optimal configuration? <you must pick your corals/inverts first my friend. Some will thrive under 250w MH and others will die within weeks from shock> Well, thanks again for all your help. Scott <best regards, Anthony>

Lighting Few questions regarding lighting. <I'll try to make up convincing answers, my friend. Anthony Calfo> I have a 75 gal FO am going to add LR. I currently have a 2 fluorescent bulb strip light. I am looking at VHO. Through research and if I understand, in order to use VHO bulbs I have to get a retro fit kit w/ new ballast for VHO on my regular fluorescent strip light.  <yes...an entirely different fixture in total (end caps, ballast, harness, bulbs)> Been going through the F&Q's on lighting and also LR. Here is main question. New to this and trying to figure How much lighting for the LR. Not planning on any corals. Understand I need at least 200W (over 5000k/ bulb) on for at least 12 hours. Looking at 1 110W daylight VHO 6500 K and 1 110W actinic blue. total of 220W. Is this enough lighting for coralline growth?  <easily enough light for corallines and an attractive color combination at that> Your help is so appreciated, don't know where I'd be w/o your guy's help. Thanks Bryan <kind regards, Anthony>

A little unsure about lighting I have a 110 gal high tank 48 7/8 x 19 x 30 3/4. I have been reading your web site info. But I am unsure of one 1 thing Lighting. I would classify myself as an "Extensive type". What I would like to know is what lighting set-up would work for my tank? I am just starting out and do not want to get the most expensive light system. Just one that will work for my tank. Any advice would be appreciated. <Look to a mix of compact fluorescents and metal halides here... for me a couple of 175 watt MH ... and some actinics for the CFs. Actual brands, makes, models you can review per the links pages on WWM. Bob Fenner> Thanks Dave

MH vs. PC Hello Robert, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have been looking at lights for my 45g tank. I want to be able to keep clams and sps. I have been looking at PC's four 96watters. Would these be enough?  <very fine, but how deep is the tank? If more than 24" it is a rough tank to light and keep such invertebrates in> If so what bulbs 10,000k 6500k etc... I have also looked at two 175mh "10,000k" with two 55watt pc's. The tank has a brace in the middle so going with one MH wont work. :( <is this a long tank instead? MH are rather bright for a tank on the smaller side> I want to know what should I go with.  <you really need to decide what invertebrates you want to keep more specifically before you buy lights. SPS and Clams run the gamut on light requirements varying by species> I worried that the pc's wont be enough  <unlikely> and the MH will heat up my tank to much in the summer?  <untrue> The tank does Have a 30g sump under it almost filled to the top...  <very good> Would I have a heat problem ? <Not from pendant lights...rather from pumps or ambient temperature without air-conditioning in the room/home> Thank You, <very welcome. Anthony> David Papo, Jr.

MH vs. PC follow-up Thank you for your fast response :) <my pleasure> The tank size is 3 feet long, 1 foot in depth and 2 feet DEEP. And the room house dose have ac so I guess heat wont be a problem <excellent, but I would still hesitate to recommend MH for a tank this size unless it was explicitly dedicated to shallow water species (SPS, blue clams and the like). Do forget about LPS corals (octopus, elegant, hammer, etc) and mushroom anemones most likely under this kind of intensity.> Ps Thanks for sharing all your wonderful info with everyone, I love reading the site. David <You are quite welcome, David. Do pass along what you learn. Anthony>

Lighting Hi Mr. Fenner. I have several questions to ask after reading your great article on lighting in Jan.'s issue of FAMA. I am setting up a reef aquarium with both hard and soft corals. I am using an Ice Cap ballast, 660 which can power up to 4 110 w bulbs. In the past I have used 3 white actinics and 1 blue 110 watts bulbs. I would like to try the Duro-vita Lites full spectrum bulbs but I don't know if they will be strong enough as far as only being, I think 40 watts each. Would in fact they be strong enough? Second, is the color temperature more important than the wattage of the bulb? And do you know if you can use the Duro Lites with the Ice Cap VHO ballast? Thanks for your help.  <Actually all academic questions... the maker of the Vita-Lites (Dura Corp.) is no more... Would go with full spectrum lamps in the proportion you mention (3:1) of any appropriate (mix) of temperatures. Please read through the various light, lighting sections (articles, FAQs) posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for more detail. Bob Fenner> Troy Steinberg

Re: Lighting recommendation for a 55 gallon tank Yes I had read that anemone story before, but I read it again thanks. Really interesting! One more question: in your opinion (whomever gets the lucky task of writing back :D) what do you think of having a small clam towards the top somewhere if I were to have the compact flours/ normal output flours set-up going? (the 4 55w compacts, 2 40 reg set-up on my 55 gal)? In your opinion would this be too little light? < a T. derasa would be fine in less than 12" of water under this light. Also Hippopus species. Unlikely maximas or croceas (blue/purples)> The people at the LFS and some other chats I've read suggest two MH lights, but I'd really rather do the compact fluorescents addition. Thanks again. Melinda <PCs and VHOs are fine for any tank less than 24" deep. MH are nice but not necessary unless you are into shallow sps species. Anthony>

Lights, CRI, Temp. Full Spectrum Dear Bob, I enjoyed your article on aquatic lighting and I have one question concerning the definition of "full spectrum". If a lamp has a color temperature of 5000 k and a CRI of 98, is it full spectrum? <Very much so> I purchased (2) Philips F25T8/TL950 for my 38 gallon planted discus tank. This lamp has a color of 5000 k and a CRI of 98. It only differs from the Colortone 50 in its higher CRI. Your thoughts and comments are appreciated. <Near sunlight incandescent temperature and Color Rendering Index is not an equivalent of the notion of a light/photonic source being "full spectrum" but for intents, purposes is about the same functionally, esthetically. Bob Fenner> John

Eclipse 12 lighting Robert, I just set up an eclipse 12 tank with saltwater. Right now I am conditioning it with damsels, but eventually I would like to put some inverts and what not in there. However the stock bulb I got isn't up to snuff. How do I get more intensity and the blue, without totally rigging a Power Compact, is there a bulb that I can put in there to replace the stock one. The only suggestion I got was a bulb made by Helios, but I can't find anyone anywhere that sells Helios bulbs. Any help would be great thanks. mike <The fixture really needs replacing if you intend to keep much of the more light-intense species in such a system. There are companies that offer such retrofits (Champion, Custom Sea Life...) or you can rig one yourself (e.g. Home Depot CF's)... I would check with/through the various bulletin boards, chatforums (reefs.org, reefcentral, WetWebFotos...) for recent actual hobbyist/end-user input here. Bob Fenner>

Lighting I am a little concerned about lighting. I have a 90 gallon tall tank (28 inches high) that I want to start adding in live rock. This will be a fish only tank (well maybe also a crab and some snails) and I was planning on purchasing 2 36" full spectrum 30 watt lights and 2 36" 30 watt actinic lights. In reading thru the info on your site I am starting to think this might not be enough.  <You are correct... this "amount" of light (intensity) will be barely sufficient... not leading to very satisfactory growth, health, appearance of so much of the life that you otherwise will have> I live in California and power consumption is a concern so I don't want to burn more than I have to. <I understand. We live in San Diego> Do you feel this is adequate to keep the rock healthy and the tank looking nice or should I go to the subcompact lights and if so how many watts? <Ah! Yes, a good choice... a couple or three watts per gallon here will "do it"> The tank sits in a corner with two large windows adjacent to it which should help somewhat. <Mmm, yes, perhaps... Do keep your options open here for shading however... natural sunlight can be problematical... in terms of pest-algae production and varying temperature. Do plan/devise a way/means to at least periodically shield your system. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your help! Scott B.

lighting for T. maxima Hi Bob <Hello. You got Steven this morning, doing my little part.> Hope all is well for you these days. I have read over your site on lighting for clams and I am still a little confused on what lighting I can use to successfully keep T. maxima. My tank is a 120gal 4x2x2FT. It is a very successful Berlin system with 200lbs of Fiji liverock and about 150lbs of Fiji live sand. It has all of the usual sps, LPS, and soft corals and inverts. My sand bed is 4inches deep. My lighting is a CSL 48INCH halide hood. The halides are 2 250watt 10K's with 2 65watt pc actinics. Will I be able to keep these animals thriving and well with this amount of lighting? <That seems like plenty of light for what is really just 20" deep at over 5 watts per gallon.> Thanks in advance. Take care. <You are welcome. You too, Steven Pro.>

Deep Reef Bob, <Hi, my name is Steven Pro. Anthony Calfo and I are helping Bob answer some of his daily questions for the time being.> I have a question about a deep reef tank. I am trying to find out what kind of lighting I should use. Is it possible to just have fluorescent lights on my tank? It's 125 gallons (18x24x72)with live rock only at the moment. I am trying to do this right and get what I need before adding lives. I am looking at fish and inverts that don't like bright light and are non-photosynthetic. <You can use only standard fluorescents, if all you want to keep is non-photosynthetic inverts. Do be sure to properly research the captive care requirements of your animals as non-photosynthetic corals require feedings of the appropriate foods.> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance, Ann

Quick question. <no quick answers.. you've got the wind bag, Anthony Calfo here> Thanks for your answers in the past.  Much appreciated. I see in your previous answers about lighting that you recommend not using glass over the top of the tank. <yes...excellent gas exchange and so much more> I was using glass until I read this, but my evaporation is now more (of course) than I like.  I turned up the humidity in my house a little to try and compensate (it's dry up here in Michigan during the winters).  I still think there is too much evaporation. <what's the problem/harm? How about a simple float switch for automatic evaporation top-off...very inexpensive and can be retrofitted for any system. Heck... you can even run a tiny 1/4 refrigerator tubing line from your water supply to hook up to it and/or a solenoid for auto top-offs and never look back> I have a 38 gallon tank, 10 gallon sump with plenum and macro algae,  with 192W of PC lighting.  Right now it is FOWLR, but I am adding a coral or two within the month. <bud, if the evap in a 50 gallon system is any trouble, you've got a long road as a reefkeeper ahead of you <wink>> In your opinion, how severe is the loss of light with glass or acrylic. <very... the expense in lights to compensate for reduced penetration will make you suddenly want to go shopping for a float switch for auto top-off. You make the call... $15-50 float switch or a few hundred dollars extra in lights and monthly electricity> I want to be able to support corals well. Is there a difference between glass or acrylic, <depends on any given material.. some are severe to the extent that you will not keep shallow coral species at all> in terms of phase shifts, loss of output...?  I could use a thin acrylic instead of glass... <nope... warps within weeks with condensation...amazing. Honestly, bud... take our advice: Bob has DECADES of experience in the industry, and I have handled thousands of coral in my greenhouse. Trust us grasshopper... kindly, Anthony> Thanks, Dan

Lighting Dear Marine Biologist, <Ha! You're stuck with Mr. English Literature, instead my dear... good to hear from you again. Anthony> I am looking for new lighting for my 55gallon, 7 month old reef tank. I did have 190 watts consisting of a 48 " twin tube @110 watts, and an actinic 40 watt and day light 40 watts. Well, after only about 4 months, the twin tubes burnt out.  <A-chee-wawa!> I have no idea what happened. At $250.00 for the tubes and reflector, this is tough to take! The store I bought them from are no help! Looks like I'm stuck with the loss because I didn't keep my sale slip!  <nope... not necessarily. With 110 watt VHOs I'm guessing/hoping you had an Icecap brand ballast. If so, their customer service has been excellent. Call them up directly. If it cannot be fixed under warranty, they can refurbish it like new for a fraction> Ahhhhhhhhh! I am thinking about Metal Halide lighting because this particular bulb seems to be "all the rage". But seriously, this type lighting looks like the way to go for a diverse group of corals etc. <No needed... although I like the dappling of refracted light halogen bulbs create. Only get a halide if you want mostly sps corals in your tank. I personally would not put it over a 55 gallon that has any hope of including LPS corals (hammers, torches, frogspawn, etc) or mushroom anemones... you'll possibly burn them unless you use a weaker 150 watt bulb> My questions are: 1) How many watts are safe to run, considering that the inhabitants are use to only 190 watts?  <two 150 watt halides would work well if you so choose> I don't want to damage them, especially my rare little beauty, Rhodactis cf. mussoides, that was recently identified by Anthony Calfo. <glad the ID hit the mark (thanks to your excellent drawing!). But bad news is that it WILL burn under direct halides... you'll have to put it in shade or a crevice> 2) How do I know what type of ballast is needed for a particular light? 3) How long do I burn them and what about the dawn bulbs that simulate sun up and sun down, do I still need one of these too? <quite frankly, because of the depth of the tank and the corals you are likely to want to keep... I'd be happy with 4 110 watt VHO bulbs of mixed blue and white color (2 of each, separate ballasts and timers for staggered effect if you like). Although more wattage than 2 halides, 4 VHOs are not as intense and are less likely to burn the popular low to mid light beginner corals> Thank you for your help! Pam <quite welcome... get a hit list of desired coral before deciding on light... otherwise it's like putting the cart before the horse. Anthony>

Reef Lighting Hi Anthony and Steven! You're doing a great job answering questions! <Thank you very much.> I have a few of my own: My tank (100 gallon) has been up and running with 100 lbs. of live rock and 440 watts of VHO since October 15th. Due to a number of circumstances, I only have a colony of Zoanthids and mushrooms and a Salarias fasciatus. I have had two Firefish in quarantine for a week. 1) Both fish are eating great and seem comfortable. For one day, one of the fish had a small white spot on a fin. The spot was much larger than a grain of salt. But alas, it went away (several days ago) and has not returned. Aren't these guys disease resistant? <Not really disease resistant nor particularly disease prone either.> When can I add them to the tank? <Please wait another three weeks.> Do I need to change the water <Yes, a water change would be in order, 25%.> and sterilize the quarantine tank before the next fish? <No, you want to keep the tank biologically active and ready for new fish.> 2) With the lighting that I have, will I be able to keep most corals? <Most LPS (Large Polyp Stony) corals will love your VHO's.> How about clams? I'm guessing that I don't have enough light for a maxima or crocea, but what about a squamosa? <Derasas are fairly beginner friendly.> 3) I like the idea of a dimmer system and lunar light made for the Icecap systems. How beneficial are these dimmers? Maybe I don't "need" it, but I think it would look great . . . But would it be a positive for the corals? <I would probably not benefit the corals and may harm your lamps. There is some evidence of shortening the useful lifespan of some lamps by using dimmers.> Thanks for your time! Have a great evening! David Dowless  

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