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FAQs about Light and Lighting for Marine Systems 5

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

Related FAQs: Marine System LightingFAQs 2, FAQs 3, FAQs 4, 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 Tridacnid Lighting

Lights & Heaters Hi Bob and or Crew: A couple quick questions in regard to lights and heaters. First with heaters I currently have two Visitherm 300 Watt heaters in a 110G reef tank which I would like to move to the sump. Is mounting horizontally a problem with these heaters? <I have never had a problem mounting them this way.> Is this too much wattage for a 110? <maybe slightly more than needed, but they are thermostatically controlled and will not overheat your water. They merely have extra capacity to heat your water if need be.> Would I be better off with two Jager-Jager 200 or 250 Watt (I like the 2MM thickness especially in a sump)? <They are a better product.> Now on to lighting, I am about to buy a Giesemann 2x250 watt metal halide with actinic PCs which I will hang about a foot above the water surface. This light uses the double ended metal halide bulbs which create a very brilliant light but also seem to throw more heat than the common socket metal halide. Any info in regard to these lights and/or bulbs? <I have not seen any comparative info on difference in heat output. These double ended units put out more light than the same wattage single ended lamps. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Questions Mr. Fenner, <Steven Pro answering a few questions now.> I am upgrading from a 40-gallon (long) to a 75-gallon (long). Currently, I have a power compact coupled with blue actinic (I forget the wattage, but it's about 3 watts per gallon). My tank is primarily made up of corals (Goniopora, plate, frogspawn, torch, galaxy, colt), all of which are thriving. My question: what type of lighting will I have to upgrade to with the new 75-gallon tank? <I have no idea what you have now, to recommend what you need.> I am thinking one metal halide bulb with some blue actinic. <You need two MH's to get adequate coverage on a 18" x 48" surface tank.> If I don't have to upgrade, I would be thrilled, but I'm pretty sure I would have to. What do you think? Wattage? Thanks! Sam Minneapolis, MN <Do make use of the extensive archive on lighting issues here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/index.htm -Steven Pro>

PC Lighting Dear Mr. Fenner, <Steven Pro here today.> Thanks for all the great advice on your website as well as your fine book (TCMA). I am in the process of setting up a reef aquarium and have some questions about the best lighting. The tank will be 58g (36x18x21). I plan to do an Indo-Pacific style reef with soft corals, an anemone, <I would rethink adding an anemone.> and maybe some LPS corals. After some research, I am convinced that PCs are the way to go. However, for these tank dimensions, I can only find hoods that contain either 2x96W or 4x96W PCs. Would the 2x96W be enough (for an 18" wide tank), or am I better off with the 4x96W? <Two 96 watt lamps will not be bright enough. Go with the 4x96.> Of course, I'd prefer not to break the bank! Thanks in advance for any help you can give! Sincerely, Brian Whooley <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: New Tank/Lighting ? and Bob Fenner speaking in Pittsburgh Hi again I just emailed you all concerning the set up of my 75gal tank. I do eventually plan on upping the lighting to be able to keep a few corals or something of that sort but for now will the lights that come with the tank be capable of helping the live rock and the critters inside. <likely fine for viewing fish and maintaining some growth on the live rock... but not much. Very few if any cnidarians to be recommended here because of the depth of the tank (standard lights on a tank 18" or less can work a little better... but not here). 4 VHOs or PCs would be nice for medium lighting to keep a fair selection of coral/polyps etc.> Colleen Pittsburgh, PA <hey... from the 'burgh! Steve and I live in Pittsburgh. Have you been to a PMASI meeting (marine club)? Bob is actually speaking here this month: Saturday, June 29, Palace Inn, 6:00pm, Neptune Room. Anybody in driving distance to Pittsburgh that wants to visit our fair city...please drop a line for directions and info on tank tours/hospitality! Kindly, Anthony Calfo>

Re: New Tank  Antoine, Thanks for your response to my questions, Yes a bigger tank is DEFINITELY in the future going to start with the lion being rather small so I think we should be ok. <and do train the little bugger early to eat a wide variety of frozen meaty foods. They can be trained very easily when young and they can just as easily train you into feeding only "silversides" or worse...live freshwater feeder fish. So many lions/predatory marines die prematurely of dietary deficiency from such limited diets> On the ZooMeds, no I have not bought them yet any suggestions would be great thought these sounded like the best.  <hmmm.... do browse the message boards with keyword searches on this product and consider the feedback on these pumps. It would be nice to see a total tank turnover of around 800-1200 gph from your combined water moving pumps. Perhaps higher if you end up with a reef tank> I will check into your choices of skimmers from what I understand (correct me of course) the skimmer should not be put on until after the tank cycles. <not correct at all! Antique advice from somewhere <wink> (I could probably name the store...heehee). Skimmer is critical in the first month especially if you add live rock.. else you will suffer a ferocious algae bloom. Nitrifying bacteria are benthic (substrate dwelling) and are unaffected by skimming, UV, Ozone passages of water> I do seriously appreciate and value all your help. <my great pleasure> thanks Colleen Pittsburgh, PA <kindly, Anthony>

Lighting and Fish Hi guys. I have a lighting question. First I want to say that Anthony keeps some pretty late hours. I just happened to see the time on the e-mail when he replied. Was it 5am? Now that's dedication. Anthony, you deserve a raise. So, about the lighting. I'm upgrading from PC to MH. Right now I have 300 watts of PC. I'm looking to add two 175 watt MH. <Add, as in addition to or are you really exchanging, taking the PC's off for the MH's? Please archive the WWM FAQ's as we have discussed previously shading your corals with window screen so as not to shock them with the new light.> I was wondering if all my fish will be able to handle it. <The fish will be fine. It is your corals I am worried about.> The tank is a 120 with lots of live rock and some low-medium light inverts. The fish are: blue hippo tang, flame angel, Copperband butterfly, royal Gramma, o. clown, blue damsel, Foxface, and a scooter blenny. I've had them all for about a year with no fights. They even survived a move! I can't even believe that. Well, thanks again. All you guys are sooo helpful! -Becky <Congratulations! -Steven Pro>

Lighting a 180g tank. Bob, Many thanks for your answers in the past. Thank you as well for future ones, in advance. I am planning a new 180g tank (72"x24''x24") and have in mind that I would like to do soft corals and some LPS's. I have read your postings regarding lighting and you make it clear that it is ideal to have about 50-100 Lumens/gal. of full spectrum, fluorescent light. <In many circumstances, yes... if you intend, would like to "boost" photosynthesis and its results (with carbon dioxide infusion, calcium reactor, feeding...) you would do well to have even more light... even metal halide at two feet of depth> I calculate that I'll have about 24,450 total lumens for about 135 Lumens / gal, at a 6700K color temp (all power compacts lamps). The only issue is that the light is a CRI of 84. Is all lost because of a Color Rendering Index below 90?  <Mmm, not altogether... but would be better to research, find lamps that have higher "temperature" and also a plus ninety percent color rendering index> I am also using Synthetic Sun Parabolic reflectors underneath the lighting for maximum reflection. If I can get by with this configuration, would you supplement with some additional lighting?  <Yes> Would it be okay for clams and other corals with a greater lighting demand? Please Advise. <For Tridacnids and SPS (small polyp stony corals), you would be better off either installing some 10,000 K or higher CFs or metal halides, or MH and actinic fluorescents... Keep investigating at this point; seek out the opinions of others who have recently "gone through" this decision process. Try here: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/, and ask the etailers for their input. Folks at Champion, Custom Aquatic, Marine Depot... you can find them here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlinks.htm have much invested, are desirous in helping your success. Bob Fenner> Thanks So Much, Jeff Seely

Color Spectrum VS Color Temperature (lighting a 2' deep tank, mix of invertebrates...) Bob, <Steven Pro in this afternoon.> I have a 180 gallon fish/coral setup and I am getting varying opinions on lighting recommendations. I house soft corals only: leathers, mushrooms, and anemones, and need proper lighting for them. Currently I have two power compact systems a four foot retrofit (including two 22" 65 watt Ultra-Actinic and two 22" 65 watt 6700K Ultra-Daylight bulbs) and a six foot retrofit (including two 34" 65 watt Ultra-Actinic and two 34" 96 watt 6700K Ultra-Daylight bulbs), total of eight power compacts. My first question is which is more important to these corals color spectrum or the color temperature? <The most important factor is intensity, then spectrum.> Second question is should I have more actinic lighting or higher color temperatures to keep the corals healthy and growing? <Full-spectrum/daylight lighting is best for corals with some actinic lighting for appearance sake.> Third question is do the reef critters see blue light as high noon? <That is not my understanding.> Should the bright daylight bulbs come on first and go off last while the blue bulbs come on second and go off first? <Most people run there tanks the other way around, actinics first to come on and last to go off.> Thanks, Dave <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Color Spectrum VS Color Temperature II Steven, Thanks for the quick response and answering all of my questions. My reason for asking the third question was that I obtained some information from the Pet Solutions' (mail order company) web sight that I wasn't to sure of "To the reef critters, blue light is high noon, so actinic bulbs really should not be used to simulate a sunrise/sunset with other daylight bulbs. The "bright" daylight bulbs should come on first, then the actinic." I always use to have my blues come on first and go off last, as well, until I read this article. Take a look at their web site to see for yourself if you're interested. The information is located in their Reference section under Diving Deeper - Lighting Basics For Mini Reefs. <I found and took a quick read through the article. It does not say much more than your quote. First, most white-appearing lamps for reef aquariums have a lot of blue white in them, many the same as full actinic lamps. It is just that they have a lot of other color spectrums too which gives them an overall appearance of white light. Take the example of the 6,500 K Iwasaki MH lamps. No one is going to say they appear blue, more likely yellow/green, but they have a substantial amount of blue spectrum light and are quite capable of growing thriving corals without any supplemental lighting, although the appearance and fluorescence of the corals will not be the same. Secondly, most aquaria are so shallow you are not going to get a lot of blocking out of the other color spectrums. I think it is at 10 or 20 meters that all of the other spectrums have been completely blocked out. That is a lot deeper than any aquarium I have ever seen. Now many of our aquariums are not as clear as open ocean water, but still. Lastly, waxing and waning is nice, but not absolutely necessary and you could probably wax and wane whichever with the same effect.> Thanks, Dave <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Upgrades for a 55 I currently have a 55 gallon medium stocked with plate, brain and frogspawn corals, mushrooms, Sebae and saddle anemones. My current setup for lighting is 1 10,000 AquaSun VHO, 1 actinic white VHO, and 1 actinic 03 VHO. I am wanting to go to metal halide, probably in the 175w range. I have an icecap 660 and need some advice on bulb recommendations for the halide. Thinking maybe 2 65k halides with 2 actinic 03 VHO. Your help would be greatly appreciated, you have a very informative website. <There are various lamps recommendations in the FAQ file on MH's, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/mhmarfaqs.htm Besides that though, you run the very real possibility/probability of burning your LPS with the MH's. Your current lighting seems more than adequate for your animals. I would not change a thing.> Thanks, Scott Vester <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Thank You, Invert ?s Hey, <what?> Thank you for your help.  <you're welcome...now what do you want?! Heehee <smile>> I have decided to stick with the Sixline wrasse for my setup. I do have a question about inverts. in my tank. I will have 2X55 10000K PC lighting over my setup (20 gallon). I have never kept or tried any kind or corals. Do you think this will be enough light and could you suggest some corals that would be good for a beginner?  <plenty of light for many corals and invertebrates. Trust me on this one... I have a lot of experience with the subject <wink>...avoid all LPS hard corals (many reasons...aggression, wild populations, sensitivity to handling by newbie, etc). Also resist most sps and hard coral in general until you have a clear understanding of the difference between pH, Alkalinity and Calcium... and how to test and control/maintain these levels consistently. Instead... enjoy most soft corals, Corallimorphs (mushrooms) and Zoanthids (button polyps). Because of the size of your tank... you can easily find some attractive creatures from these groups and be assured of success> Also, would an Anemone be possible for the clowns and would any of the clams work? <not even close to being possible. Anemones an corals absolutely don't mix...especially in a small tank. They are also relatively to very difficult to keep successfully for most people. Never for beginners. And the hardy clams that will tolerate a new tank and lower light grow too big (T. squamosa and T. derasa grow to 18-24"). The blue clams need quite a lot of light for long term success. Trust me... stick with soft corals only and you will do wonderfully as you make your way up to bigger reefs <wink>. Not a matter of if, but rather when...heehee! With kind regards... Anthony> Thanks, Jonathan Pac

Lighting Follow-up Steven thank you very much for your quick reply. It amazes me how you guys are always there to answer any question. All of you are a very valuable asset to this hobby. <Thank you very much.> With your recommendation on the MH fixtures I would need to have fans and heat could be a concern. <Similar heating concerns for 4 96 watt PC lamps, too.> I am making my own hood so I would be using retro kits inside of it. With the MH's can I just go with 2 175's? <Yes> If this is an option are there lamps for the MH's that give the tank an actinic look or am I going to need another type of fixture with them for that. What MH lamps would you recommend I use. <Using either Aqualine-Buschke or Ushio lamps will give you plenty of blue light appearance, no supplemental lighting needed.> The tank is currently only a FOWLR will this be overkill on lighting? <More powerful lighting will help to fuel some sort of algae growth. Your nutrient level will determine what ends up growing, Cyanobacteria, hair algae, or coralline and macroalgae.> Finally, if I went with the compacts would I have to use fans? <Yes> Thank you. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Yet another lighting question. I have a 120 gallon tank. The water is 24" deep and it is currently a FOWLR. After much research I think have decided to go with compact fluorescent. I must say it is not easy to make a decision in this area. Money seems to be a limiting factor. I would someday like to have sps and clams. I know that these are light loving creatures. For now am I better off going with 4-55W compacts and adding more later or should I start out with 2-96W compacts and add on to that. Or should I go with some other type of lighting all together. Thank you. <For SPS and clams in a 120 wide, you will need four 96 watt PC lamps. Complete hoods that hold these cost about $500. Or you could use two 175 watt MH pendant fixtures with Aqualine-Buschke lamp upgrades for about $520. With the initial costs being fairly similar, the cost of replacement lamps also similar (two at $90 each versus four at $45 each, prices from Champion Lighting & Supply), I would prefer the MH's. I think you would get better results (growth, color, etc.) and a slight saving in electricity. -Steven Pro><<... the new math? Add 'em up again Steve. RMF... 192 vs. 350 watts...>>

Lighting I have a lighting question for you. I just bought a custom 120 (used) with no lights. I currently have a FOWLR 75 gallon with only 30 watts of light. The LR has some coralline algae and seems to be doing fine. I really didn't understand anything about lighting until the last few weeks. I have been doing a lot of research. I have read your book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist but still am not sure what to do. Firstly I was bound and determined to go with MH. After learning how hot they get and the cost I decided to move on to another option. <All lighting generates heat, MH's no more than others. <<... no... wrong... RMF... Varying technologies produce a very wide/disparate amount of heat. None more than MH>>  And not that much more expensive initially compared to other lighting options that give the same intensity. One 175 watt MH will cover a 2' x 2' x 2' area pretty completely. To get the same sort of coverage and intensity would require 4 55 watt PC's or 4 75 watt VHO's. MH lamps will go at least one year before replacement is needed, some up to three years. VHO's need replaced every 6-9 months and PC's every 9 months to one year. IN the end, MH's are more cost effective.> Next I was going to use VHO, which also seems to create some heat. Then I decided to just fill the entire hood with fluorescents T-12. Now after reading more you seem to be a real fan of compact fluorescents. What I really would like to do is take your advice directly. The tank is going to be a FOWLR for a little while longer. I would really like to get some good things growing on my rocks before I change over to reef. The lights will be about 2 inches above the water and from the top of the water to the bottom of the tank is 23 1/2". Please let me know also if you think the lights should lay on a piece of glass or if it will be OK for the lights to just sit directly over the water on the 2 glass beams. <You have to follow the manufacturer's recommendation on this point. Some fixtures are ok, other not.> So what is your professional recommendation. I was thinking somewhere along the lines of 440 watts of light with full spectrum and actinic. Thank you. <Any specific recommendation depends on what corals you wish to keep. What is needed for same Yellow Porites would kill many LPS. Decide on this and then look over the FAQ's for any specific recommendations. -Steven Pro>

CF Lighting for a 20gal I have a 20gal. L(24") deep FO tank and would like to start to add LR and inverts. I don't have much space for light due to the tank is mounted in the wall. Is one 55w CF combo 10k/dk. Blue light efficient enough? <It all depends on what inverts in particular you want to keep. They all have very different niches in the reef and very different lighting requirements. -Steven Pro> Shaun Nelson

Re: disaster!! (Marine lighting) Hi Anthony, (or Bob?) I just reread all the pages on WWM lighting again . . . I think I have it (enough coffee and chocolate will take care of anything, LOL) I found several places where Bob was recommending the pc's for my shape 55, and since that was what I was running and I wasn't having problems with my tank and having good skeleton growth, I think I will get another JBJ. The metal halides are surely alluring, but I don't want to cook my tank or buy a chiller so perhaps I am better off sticking with what I know/understand. Still, the kit offered below on eBay sure is tempting . . .(uh -oh . . . head starting to spin again . . . ) If you tell me what to do that is what I will do (Bob didn't lead me wrong on the first tank, LOL!) <Nor will I ever. Do go with the power compacts> Feeling a little nervous about the comments I found re: mixing corals in the reef -- I had buttons/Zoanthids/mushrooms in the small tank and corals (leather, cabbage, cauliflower, open brain, frogspawn, octopus, hammer, and an unknown white thing -- will try to take a pic of it, was a freebie as it came into my LFS and they said it was too delicate/hard to keep and wouldn't make it -- 6 months later and it is twice it's size. Can't find any pictures like it on the web . . . oops, got distracted) in the big one, and now they are all mixed together thanks to the deal I had to cut with hubby . . . both tanks were wonderful, afraid that I will have problems now that they are mixed? <Not much to worry about if/as have "grown up" together. Keep up with water changes, periodic use of activated carbon, other maintenance and don't worry> Another side note, at feeding time this morning saw that the hawk (which was in the small tank) now has some white spots on his side . . . not ick I don't think as it doesn't look like salt grains . . . crossing my fingers and will hook up my U.V sterilizer tomorrow to be safe. SIGH! I guess I spoke/bragged too soon! Course, maybe I could use that as a bargaining chip to get my 25 as a hospital tank and swap out the 10 gallon hospital tank for it . . . hee hee <Likely "just" stress.> Hope this finds you well and not too busy . . . thanks as always for your gracious help! Cari <And you my sensitive, compassionate friend. Bob Fenner> Re: disaster!! OK -- Wait -- had another thing pop into my head -- (knew I hit send too soon! Sorry) Originally with my compact fluor. I had made a loose netted cover and used that over, this tank came with two glass canopies. Will that reduce the light getting to the tank enough that I should remove them and build another net cover? I'm thinking yes . . . Thanks!! Cari <Leave the glass, other optically dense material out from between light/ing and the water if you can. Bob Fenner>

Re: disaster!! Bob, you are so wonderful! Thank-you so very much for your help! Perhaps this weekend I will send a pic of my mystery coral to see if you can id it . <Mmm, okay... though am currently working on my own batch of "mystery" Corals from the recent excursion to Australia... to join my burgeoning collection in the file cabinets! No more Parrotfish or Scleractinian photography! Hmm, maybe I'll send all off to Anthony... Bob F> . . will build the netting this weekend as well! Thank-you! Cari

Re: disaster!! Hee Hee! Well, it isn't hurting it any that I don't know what it is! Good treasure hunting! Cari <Thank you my friend. Bob F>

Re: disaster!! Disaster averted Hi Anthony, Waited to respond again to make sure that I had good news to relay . <excellent!> No fish losses and corals are now all opening quite well. (I did throw the spare skimmer I had on the tank and am running both the remora and the CPR BakPak 2R and have 3 powerheads running, tied up with fishing line) Even the accidental frags are doing their part and opening beautifully!  <outstanding> I have gotten the Alk down to 5, the pH is stubbornly hanging at 8.0 (I am using the 2 part calcium/Alk buffer in evenings and baking soda in the am?) and the calcium has dropped to 350.  <you might want to back off the baking soda and see if the water changes and two part can hack it. The baking soda will eventually skew the two-parts ability to balance the tank> Zip on the other measureables. Will keep dosing and do another water change this weekend. (giving the water time to age). <no need to age long... 12 hours aerated...12 hours buffered...12-24 more salted and circulated> Wanted to ask about metal halides -- I tried reading the site and have ended up horribly confused. With the compact flour. I had 5 watts/gallon,  <watts per gallon sucks as a rule. The same watts in fluorescent can't compare to halide. If you have a deep tank or bright light loving inverts...just go halide> I am thinking I should stay around that, but I don't have a clue what that means really because as you said, the MH's penetrate more deeply . . . I can replace my JBJ formosa with a 4 footer, 4.7 watts/gallon for $350 . . . my hubby has offered to build me a wooden box to house the lights if I want to buy the metal halide ballast and save money, but I really don't know where to start.  <take him up on his offer <smile>> I was looking at eBay and think this is what I need: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2017007226&r=0&t=0&showTu torial=0&ed=1019610059&indexURL=0&rd=1 if I understand I would want 175 watt bulbs with a tank that's 20" deep but . . . if you could tell me exactly what I need for that tank it would be better for me to feel I was doing the right thing . . . the tank is 48x13x20(LxWxH). (-: I would like to be able to keep the type of things that I am keeping currently, (hard and soft corals)  <that item on E-bay is an overpriced unit. The bulbs are 5200K and are useless to you. The ceramic sockets are worth about $15-20. A standard metal halide ballast can be obtained for $45-60 and the reflector isn't worth much. If you or your husband feel comfortable buying the parts and wiring it yourself, you'll save over $100. Else, pay for the convenience of it being assembled. For your tank, you will simply want 2- 175 metal halides... Ushio or Aqualine 10,000K bulbs will serve you very well. Blue VHO light is not necessary for your inverts but can be added for aesthetics if you like> and MAYBE down the road a clam, though they make me nervous . . .  <if you start with a hardy T. derasa or Hippopus clam first you will not be disappointed. Wait on the colored blue Maximas and Croceas> but I don't want to burn out my button polyps, sea mats, and mushrooms that don't need as much light . . <put them on the bottom left and right and diffuse with taller branching corals above them if necessary> going home now to hit the books and see if I can clear up the murky waters that appear to be my brains . . . Thanks, Cari <best regards, Anthony>

Lighting? Hey WWM crew! I posted this on Reef Central and would like to here what you have to say? <OK> >Hello Lights? Many say their PC actinics are great. Fine. Who manufactures them? I am sure they don't have a plant that does it specifically for them. <agreed...very few actual lamp manufacturers> When I place my standard 40 watt Coralife actinic over my tank, my corals outshine my CSL twin 65 watt PC actinics. Although no where near as bright, they just outshine (glow) all that extra wattage. (Don't really believe that the extra glow means a damn thing to the corals because they shrink with the NO tube and they stay large while the PC actinics running.)  <agreed...PAR is most important> Are Coralife PC actinics as good as their NO tubes?  <I am probably the wrong person to ask an opinion of this brand> Why has so many manufacturers opted for 55 watt PC tubes instead of the 65 watt versions?  <honestly no verifiable idea> That adds up to 40 watts of light with 4 PC tubes. Hmm? (Don't see many MH users saying that 145watts are just as good as the 175 watt versions.)  <yes... agreed on that track> I want to add another twin tube PC on the front of my 75 Ga. for a total of 4 65 watt 10000K daylight and 2 65watt (or 55 watt) actinics? <if your primary concern is aesthetics...fine. But if you are more concerned with good/fast coral growth... this is too heavy on the blue. 10K bulbs already have enough/too much blue for maximum photosynthetic activity. 6500K is a lot closer to ideal for growth in most popular reef inverts. Lean blue mostly if you favor LPS, Zoantharians or deepwater Octocorals> I have 2 65 watt 8800K's by CSL and to me, they are just to0 green!!! Their 10000K's have they same spectrum but adds more blue wavelength. Are they as green? Any other 65 watt options that are better? Lighting? Man can we reefers drive ourselves nuts or what? <indeed... way too much focus on brands and combos. None of the high intensity fluorescents can compete with quality MH lamps if PAR and energy efficiency (bulb life, spectral sways, intensity/penetration and power consumption) are the limiting factors. Aesthetics thrown out the window... currently I would recommend 2-175 watt Aqualine or Ushio bulbs on a shallow 4 foot tank for all purpose reef lighting. I certainly do find the fluorescent combos attractive.. and they can grown coral nearly as well or just as well as MH...but they are not giving you the best bang for the buck.> Zimmy <best regards>

Re: ELEGANCE AND FOX Hi Anthony, Just additional question I total 310W (3*30W+4*55W) for the 50 gallon tank and that is about 6w per gallon. I hear that usually 3-4 watts per gallon <really an arbitrary rule of thumb> is moderate light and above it was strong light. Do you say it is moderate due the fact that 165W of it actinic blue? <indeed... the PAR of your setup (the useful measure of a lamps radiance to symbiotic animals) has been skewed by the significant amount of blue light that you have. I do find the heavy blue very attractive myself. More below though> or just because they are PC not MH? <yes... a much greater part of it. 175 watts of daylight MH and the same wattage of fluorescent light are two very different things. MH lamps can penetrate deeply into aquaria where high intensity fluorescents still cannot. And animals at more than 10" of depth from the surface under fluorescents are really not getting a lot of light. Furthermore... if your fluorescents are more than 3" off the water as most folks are... you are really not getting the bang for your buck that you could be. Indeed, I did assume this in my generalization of your system.> Should I change them to 10K SunGlo lights? Will my animals be happier? <not necessarily... bulbs close o the water (but protected) and the most demanding coral for light kept in the top 12" of the tank is usually well enough if you really like the heavy blue color. The bulb choice is all about the animals selected. LPS and Zoantharians will do just fine under the color scheme you have.> Thanks again. <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Twin Bulb Question - Fish/Inverts Hi, Many thanks for keeping such a wonderful site. It's info has helped me greatly in my period of research before starting my first marine tank. I intend of starting a small tank of perhaps 20 or 29 gallons for my first tank. My plans include an appropriate amount of live rock, and "beginner" livestock suck as a few green Chromis and a pair of tank raised clowns. <I would get the liverock first. Wait for cycling to finish and then add the clownfish. Again wait a month or two and then add the Chromis. The Chromis are hardy once you get them, but can be delicate in shipping.> The only inverts I would keep would be a cleanup crew of sorts with some scarlet hermits and turbo snails - just as many as are necessary to keep the setup clean and healthy. All my questions regarding skimmers and other equipment have been easily answered via your site. <Glad to hear it.> However, a lighting question I can't seem to resolve. I usually see 6500k "super daylight", Actinic "420", 50/50 of the previous two, and 10,000k "deepwater" bulbs. For twin tube hoods I generally read that an actinic bulb paired with a full spectrum bulb is a good choice for most tanks. What two bulbs would be best (both for the viewer and the livestock) for my simple fish/cleanup invert tank with live rock? <I would use a URI actinic lamp with one of their white actinics (another name for a 50/50).> If the answer is 1 actinic and one full spectrum white, what does the "full spectrum" refer to, 6500k? 10,000k? <I would consider a full spectrum lamps to be 6,500K, but much about aquarium lighting and the confusion about it is because many of these designations are used for marketing versus actual spectral analysis.> Many thanks for your time and effort, and my apologies if I overlooked the answer in your site. Jeff Rogers <You are quite welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Twin Bulb Question - Fish/Inverts Many thanks for your answer to my original question included below. <You are quite welcome.> I'm exploring another alternative. For a small fish/basic cleanup inverts/live rock system of perhaps 20 or 30 gallons (described below), would it be better to have a twin bulb fluorescent setup where each bulb would be approx. 15 watts, or would it be better to get a compact fluorescent strip light like those made by all glass or CustomSeaLife, whose single bulb is approx. 55 or 65 watts? <If all you wish to do is promote the growth of algae on the liverock, two 20 or 30 watt N.O. lamps will be fine. If you were considering or would one day decide to go with some corals, I would keep the double lamp fixture, changing it to two actinic lamps and add a 55 or 65 watt P.C. full-spectrum lamp.> Again many thanks for helping me in my research for my first marine tank! -Jeff <Have a nice night. -Steven Pro>

Light vs. Heat Anthony <Anthony is off at the Backer Trade Show. You get Steven this morning.> I just purchased a 260 watt power compact, with fan, for my 110 gallon tank. The unit is raised about 1 inch from the glass which is all the room that I have under the canopy. I noticed that my tank's temperature has risen by 2 degrees in the six hours that the light unit is on. Will this cause any problems for the fish <You do not want the temperature to fluctuate so you may have to use your heaters to maintain a warmer temperature as long as the maximum temperature is 82 or below.> and if so how can I help to dissipate the heat. <The proper use of fans and vents is the easiest way. You want the light fan to be able to blow the hot air outside of the canopy. Else, purchase a second fan to do so and mount it on the back of your canopy.> The canopy is solid on top with airflow coming only from the rear. Thanks as usual. Joe <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Light vs. Heat II Steven, A continuation of my heating problem.. I kept my hood open to see if the power compact light was causing the heating problem. (the house temperature was about 79-80* due to a current heat wave) <Pittsburgh has hit 86F today. Strange weather indeed.> The water has not heated up any further so I think that the use of a fan in the hood might be the answer. Which way should the air flow be directed; exhaust or inflow? <Exhaust> The water temperature in my 110 gallon tank is at 83* and has not gone down in spite of air-conditioning the house overnight to 75. The quarantine tank on the other hand only raised to 80* in the heat but went down overnight to 77* and is being controlled by the heater. I am assuming that the temperature fluctuation in the 10 gallon is a lot faster than in a 110. <Correct> How should I go about lowering the main tanks temp or do I allow the cooler house temp to control it and if so how long should I expect it to take. Conversely, it heated up quickly. <If you keep your house at 75, I would think using an exhaust fan would bring the big tank down to 77 in another day or so.> Should I look into the use of a chiller or do you think that the use of the exhaust fan in the hood will control most of the heat source? <If you usually run your AC, I would not worry about the chiller. Even if you keep your house at a modest 78, you should be able to keep the tank at 80.> Thanks again. <A couple more general points. Minimize the usage of powerheads. Much better to use external mounted pumps which dissipate their heat into the room and not into your tank. -Steven Pro>

Quick Lighting Question for a 20 Hey, guys! <Hello Paul, Steven this evening.> Thanks for the unbelievable website and the greatest content on the Worldwide Web. I find myself perusing the site everyday to see what will be asked and answered next. Just a quick question on lighting a 20 gallon (16 inches tall) I was using a PC system that just gave up the ghost after 6 months. (I won't mention the manufacturer but I think everyone out there will know which PC company I am talking about) <I don't, but respect your wishes not to bash anyone.> so I have decided to re-evaluate my lighting needs for this aquarium. I currently employ the services of various algae eating critters, 2 SPS (2 Acro. Loripes, Pociillopora Dam., and 2 Capricornis) a host of various self propagated leathers (Sarcophytons, Finger, Cabbage, Shrooms, Capnella, Neptheid, Zoanthids of all colors, Protopalythoa, Clavularia, Briareum, and Xenias) and some other propagated Gorgonians of various types. Oh yeah, 2 clams. <Wow! It has got to be more than a little crowded in there.> So with my entire tank spelled out for you, I did have a 2x55watt PC lighting system, if this were your tank, what would you choose: 1.) 2x65watt Custom Sea Life SmartLamp system 2.) 2X65watt Custom Sea Life Britelight system (1 Actinic and the other an 8800K or 10K bulb) 3.) or maybe a 4x55 Custom Sea Life Britelight system (2 Actinic, 1 8800K, and 1 10K) <If you were getting good results with the old lights, I would use either two 55watt lamps or two 65watt lamps. I prefer separate lamps, one actinic and one 8,800K. I like the aesthetics of simulating dawn/dusk with the actinic only.> Lastly, I was told I really should go with a Custom Sea Life Metal Halide 175w with 2x28w PC Prism Pendant. I feel that a MH lighting system would burn my inhabitants as well as my acrylic tank to a crisp unless I had it 15 inches off the tank. <Yes, truly overkill. Wait for the halides for your next, larger tank.> But all that aside, which would you choose if it were your tank? Also, which spectrum for the PC white light bulbs? 8800K or 10K? SmartLamp I don't think applies. Paul <See above notes for last two questions. Have a nice night. -Steven Pro>

Quick Lighting Question for a 20 Follow-up Thanks Steven. Sounds crowded but in all actuality, they are all very small (frags if you will) many will be given away or traded. I definitely understand that as they grow bigger they will not stand for other corals infringing on their respective territory (Allelopathy). Truly understand that it sounds crowded but in reality these are very small corals. The plan is for another coral tank in the next 6 months to a year or two. I totally appreciate your comment though. I truly understand where you were coming from "<Wow! It has got to be more than a little crowded in there.>" All of these animals have either been grown and fragged by me (Marine Biology class) or from my friends at GARF. The exception is the clams. They were tank born and raised in the Solomon Island clam farms. They are just 1 inch or so. Nothing outrageous. Again I don't have one coral older than a 4 months in there. I would hate for a beginner (or anyone for that matter) to think that my tank's livestock level is a normal stocking preference or a highly acceptable practice for reefkeepers. These beautiful and fascinating animals don't need my help in their destruction, they need our help. We reefkeepers may one day hold the key to restocking depleted and over harvested reefs where they once proliferated. <Yes, agree with you completely. We all make comments/suggestions as we read through the emails and certain things tend to stand out. Also, we post and archive all of the Q&A's, so many times we make comments for others to read, too.> Anyhow, Thanks for your very valuable time. The PC company was JBJ. Lesson learned. <Will file away that bit of info in my head and on WWM. Thank you, Steven Pro>

I am new and learning..... Hello, My name is Jason and I live in Chicago. It was a dream of mine to own an Oceanic Aquarium. I now have one . Here are the specifics. Perfecto 120 Gallon Tank. 5 feet long, 26 inches high, I think 2 feet deep. I have 55 pounds of live Fiji Rock ( beautiful colors might I add ) I have an Eheim Canister Filter. I have a Prism Protein Skimmer I have 3 Yellow Tangs 1 Blue Damsel 1 Tiger Striped Damsel 1 Large Purple tipped Anemone.( he is a big boy ) I didn't ask what type he is that is a dumb thing to do. My Salinity is 1.023 My PH is 8.2-8.3 My Temperature is 79 Degrees My Ammonia and Nitrites are 0.0 I have some nice mushrooms growing in the tank in various places on the rock. I have 260 watts in my tank and it is bright as hell. 2 lights are the power compacts 110w each. the other two are 2 single strips with 2 actinic 20w bulbs. It looks great but it is very bright. Everyone I talk to says something different about lighting. I feel I have enough light in the tank and I can't imagine anymore can I?) <260 watts is not a lot of light for a 120. Most people use at least 3 watts per gallon (360 watts in your case) for the least demanding photosynthetic organisms with some going as high as 10 watts per gallon (1200 watts, example 3 400 watt MH's) for high demand animals.> My fish are in great health and very active. I bought krill and fed it to the Anemone and it pushed the krill out several times then I think it ate the krill but left the head down in its tunnels. Do they eat krill or is there a better solution. <Frozen and thawed mysis shrimp and plankton are far better choices.> When I feed the Brine Shrimp it flies around the tank and the other fish take it first. <You want to target feed the anemone with a turkey baster after feeding your fish whatever.> I have not been doing this long and I feel I have come a long way in a short amount of time. Can you give me advice on the lighting. <See above notes.> Can you give me direction on the feeding of the Anemone. <Again, see above.> What is the best food to feed Tangs. <Ocean Nutrition Formula Two and Sushi Nori are good foods. Please read through the various FAQ's and articles on anemones and their care. Also, you are going to want to upgrade your skimmer at some point.> Thank you, Jason Tayler <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Follow-up Icecap sells a 4 bulb VHO hood. each bulb is at 110 watts. 110x4=440. Is this enough for what I want. <It is the minimum and you may have to keep certain corals and clams high in the tank.> I really do not want to deal with MH's. But if necessary I will do it. Is it necessary? <More bang for your buck and really not difficult at all.> On another note, what is the big problem with people not keeping carpet anemones alive and healthy? <There is a problem keeping an host anemones.> Will I have enough for them if I go with the 440watt VHO? <You need to not just worry about lighting but also feeding, selecting a healthy specimen, etc.> I truly want one to go with Percula clowns. Please give me some info on this also. <Read through the various FAQ's and articles on care for these challenging animals. -Steven Pro>

VHO & MH <Anthony> Hey Anthony! I just thought I would let you know that I got my dual 175watt MH and 110watt VHO up today. It look amazing!! <outstanding!> I have the spider reflectors with the MH bulbs (so easy to install, full of quick connects and little power tool use) and the VHO bulbs below.  <good to hear... many folks are reassured by this> The only problem is that my VHO is rather low. Like about 4" above the water.  <not a problem at all!!! On the contrary, some folks would argue that 4" is actually still too far off of the water for fluorescents. I personally would not go any farther away. A luxmeter would put this all in perspective for you... fluorescent light intensity is not focused and is significantly reduced as you move even slightly higher up> The spider reflector comes down about 5" and my canopy is 10". How often would you advice my wiping down the VHO bulbs? I am thinking salt creep can be a problem with them being close to the water.  <really only a problem if you have snapping bubbles and hopefully you won't have too much if that (bubbles irritate some corals)> Would once or twice a month do?  <sounds reasonable...we'll just have to see what it takes after setup to keep them always clean> I do my water change twice a month, and often times I get lazy so it is more often just once a month so I thought that it might be good to do as part of my monthly to-do's. <exactly!> Just want to let you know how it turned out and to thank you once again. I will be using a refractor meter this weekend to see if the VHO bulbs disturb the MH, but I think it won't be anything to worry about. Sincerely, Robert <we appreciate the update my friend and will pass it along to others for consideration/reassurance. Thanks kindly, Anthony>

Lighting Questions I have asked around about lighting for my 75gal soon to be reef with very few sps, a clam, an anemone, and a few soft corals with small fishes like clowns and cardinals and so forth. When I do decide to go reef I must upgrade to MH, pc, or VHO. People say MH is too much heat and pc does not have actinic bulbs so go with icecap VHO's which is what I plan to do? Do you agree? <Not really. I like VHO's for some applications, but for clams and SPS I would recommend MH's.> Will VHO's give me enough for them? <You will need at least four, but may not be enough light for all and not cost effective, replacing four lamps every 6-9 months versus a MH's every year.> Do you suggest a canopy with VHO's? <Sure> What is the difference between a retrofit and a hood? <A retrofit is something to insert into an existing canopy. A hood is a complete lighting system already mounted.> I already have a 48" long full hood made by all-glass. Can it fit? <Possibly, measure inside to be sure. You need to factor in length of lamps plus end caps.> Lastly, which model do you suggest for me? <Icecap 660 for VHO's> Any and all additional info on the topic is greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot <I would seriously consider MH's. Two 175 watt Aqualine-Buschke lamps would be very good for your 75 housing SPS and clams. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Question in Regards to Fish I have recently purchased a VHO lighting system and have ordered two 110 watt VHO bulbs. I am also purchasing a cooling fan because I know the temperature will increase. I currently use two 40 watt NO lights. Will this change have adverse effects on the fish to just go straight from 40 NO to 110 VHO? Is there a way to ease them in to it so to speak or does it matter? <It probably will not bother the fish, but if you wish to be cautious you could shade them a bit with several pieces of vinyl window screen from the hardware store. Basically, get several pieces (3-4) cut to fit over the top of your tank. Put them on when you put on the new lights. Then remove one layer every week. This will gradually increase the light into the tank.> Many thanks for your help! <Good luck, Steven Pro>

One more Question Thanks for the fast response, I don't know how you do it. Quick question, I have two PC 96 watt mixed color ranges. If I add another 96 watt PC can I be able to keep clams and a Ritteri anemone. As I mentioned before, my parameters seem to be awesome. No bad stuff like nitrite, nitrate etc. Just a low Alk (wink) I have fixed that problem, just waiting for the good algae to grow. I would like to stay away from MH, I only have a 50gal tank. <Because your tank is so shallow, three 96 watt PC's should give you plenty of light for clams, about 6 watts per gallon. One word of caution, clams will not tolerate low levels of calcium or alkalinity. You do need to come up with some system or routine for maintaining both. Daniel Knop's book "Giant Clams" would be an excellent tool for anyone thinking of attempting these. Lastly, I rarely recommend host anemones as the vast majority of them die in captivity. The few instances where I feel there is an exception, is when the tank and hobbyist is dedicated to there care. They are far too mobile for mixed community tanks where their sting or that of others can be deadly. -Steven Pro> Thank you for you help.

Lighting SPS and Maxima Clams  All and extra info is appreciated. I have found out from numerous sources that 440watt VHO is not enough to support sps and maxima clams for my 75gal 21"deep tank. Is this true?  <borderline leaning toward true depending on the species of sps kept and the depth in the tank at which you keep them> If so I will invest in metal halides. Do you suggest 2 250watt bulbs or something different?  <way too much light unless you are keeping the most delicate/difficult and demanding shallow water species. If instead you are happy with hardier Montipora species and common Acroporas (brown, green, tan with some colored tips) then you will be safer and happier with 2-3 175 watt lamps (10K Ushio or AB recommended if not 3-150 watt 6500 k lamps). Your tank isn't deep enough to warrant 250 watt lamps for fear of bleaching any LPS and soft coral you may want to keep as well> Do I need to supplement with fluorescents or is the metal halides more than enough?  <more than enough blue in the MH lamps... add only for your aesthetics> Do I need to hang it from the ceiling or rest it on a canopy?  <better light from a horizontal mount in a canopy... pendants focus/waster light> All and extra info is appreciated. <best regards, my friend... Anthony Calfo>

Aquarium Lighting Hello Bob, <Steven Pro answering some questions this evening.> I'm new to the aquatic hobby. I have a 44g Hex 22X22X24 corner tank and want to start a reef tank. I have 2 -20" lights and have been reading a lot of articles on light and I have just been getting confused. How much light should I use to get my corals going. I want to use soft and leather corals in my tank. <This is the part I was looking for. You always must identify what you want to light (coral wise) before we can give a reef lighting answer. One 175 watt MH would serve you well. If you do not wish to go that route, you will need three 55 watt PC lamps to get sufficient lighting.> Are there any conversion kits that I can use on my lights? <Yes, AHSupply.com markets several, but you need more than two fixtures. Three PC lamps will be needed.> Right now I have the Coralife 15w bulbs in my tank the Actinic 03 blue and 10,000K Daylight lamp. <Not enough light to grow much of anything.> Can you please help me in getting my corals up and running? <Can I also suggest a few good books? Eric Bornemann's "Aquarium Corals" or "A Practical Guide to Corals for the Reef Aquarium" are both good, as well as, our own Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation: Reef Gardening for Aquarists". -Steven Pro>

Lighting and More Lighting So should I go with the Ushio or AB?  <both bulbs are excellent... and the question would be impossible to answer even if not so. One cannot select lighting so specifically without knowing what inverts you will keep and their respective needs (peaking on blue end of spectrum or closer to daylight/red, etc)> Is a AB hood of good quality or is there something that you recommend like the Custom Sealife or other?  <I have no hood brand preference... I'm a diehard DIYer> Does the AB hood come with the ballast? I think I seen that AB doesn't make 175watt bulbs.  <this falls under consumer research my friend... I apologize, but a three member crew spend hours daily struggling to keep up with the e-mail here and serve the greater good of aquarists in need. This I'll have to ask you to hunt down on your own> With the ballasts, if the ballast is rated for 250watt bulbs can I use 175watt bulbs on it?  <many aquarists have asked this.. I personally would not recommend it> I need to know the exact specifics because this is my first time and I do not want to mess up. Please give me more specific and detailed answers. Thank you greatly. <do look up a local aquarium society my friend where you can actually see and discuss the different set ups of several sort many aquarists rather than just take one man's biased opinion. Form your own intelligent and informed consensus from displays that you see that your like. If you cannot find a local club, participate on any one of the many message boards/forms where such a continuing dialogue will be more fruitful to you. Please forgive the brevity, but it honestly is an effort to help as many folks as possible every day through e-mail and this is more of a consumer question and somewhat of a personal preference when comparing two such excellent lamps. Best regards,>

Update and Lighting This e-mail concerns two things. My final choices and a fun lighting question. After much thought and scouring the web, asking a zillion questions as well as the help from you WWM guys. I have a complete new system up and running for my soft coral tank. It is a 75Ga. Oceanic reef ready tank (remember my e-mails about the skimpy over flow?) No problem! Even at 700gph I have to neck down the over flow because it can handle much more and is too loud if I don't neck it back a bit YES! I have a Custom Aquatic acrylic sump 30x14x16 (plenty of room even if power fails) with a micron bag and a place to hold my carbon and even has 2 probes holders, a Euro Reef CS6-1 skimmer (Yea Baby! Blows away my Aqua C in every way shape and form!)  <it is my favorite as well... you get the quality that you pay for> A Custom Sea Life Velocity T3 return pump (very nice!!!) (Mag 9.5 externally was WAS TOO LOUD and caused incredible vibration.) and finally a 4x65 watt Custom Sea Life Power Compact lighting unit having 2 8800k & 2 actinics. I have almost 6 inches of Carib Sea over my homemade plenum. It was a chore and a massive head ache to put all together but is was also a heck of a lot of fun too. Thanks for all you input. Your opinions are as always, PRICELESS! <sounds like an outstanding system> No on to my lighting question. Now this is for fun. I love my hobby and I don't take a lot of peoples "seriousness" to heart. We need to lighten up and have fun doing what we love so much. So many people having similar results with an incredible diversity of equipment, technique etc... it really is an eye opener. I would like all of you guys to answer on this if possible. Bob doesn't really get into actinics much, expressing that daylights increase growth. O.K. What say you? <I agree completely... this coming from an industry professional that made a living growing coral for the better part of the last decade> #1Would 4 10000k's be better (for coral growth) than having the 2 actinics & 2 8800k's running? #2 Would 2 10000k's + 2 Smartlights (50/50) be better? <there is too much blue already in most halides, and the better MH lamps have enough (AB and Ushio 10K and Iwasaki 6500Ks)... read the work of Joshi on the web and spectral analysis. The numbers never lie. Fluorescents in this set up will purely be for aesthetics or simply a waste of money> On to my third question. I have about 5 to 6 inches of front space on top of the tank with no light over it. OOOH Yea! The front of the tank is not as illuminated as much as the middle and back and I want some of my corals to reach this area.  <put a VHO daylight tube over it then> I also own a twin tube regular output fluorescent light that fits nicely over this area. I could throw on a couple of tubes to increase the light here.  <such poor penetration into the water that they would be a waste of electricity> I have tried it with what I have and the light is MUCH brighter when I use it. <now try it with a Lux meter at 10" depth <wink>. NO tubes are truly useless in water 12" or greater> Question #3 What type of NO tubes would be my best choice to go with here considering my Compacts? <above> Question #4 Should I just get another compact strip light? <I like a focused VHO daylight with a reflector possibly for this application> Just throw you input in and lets have a touch of fun. I really appreciate all you guys and all the help you have given me. Thanks Zimmy <best regards, my friend. Anthony Calfo>

Update and Lighting II Thanks Anthony for you quick reply but I think you are confused as to my lighting system. My lights are Compact Fluorescence. I think you misunderstood my e-mail or misread it. I do not have metal halides. Given this info. what in your opinion, would be my best choices? I can buy a complete 4' twin 65 watt Compact hood for less than I could buy a VHO ballast, end caps and reflector and yet I still have not bought the VHO tubes even. Are VHO's that much better? <I like VHO actinics more than I liked the older PC blue lamps, but there are now real actinic lamps available in the PC format.> I could run 4 10000k's (or less) and 2 50/50 tubes so I can at least get some fluorescent colors out of my corals. What about heat from all this lighting? <Minimal, proper venting and/or a small fan should suffice.> I have the light on a glass canopy with no real way of elevating them. <Even two strips of hood to use as blocks to lift the lights and inch or two would work to allow some heat to escape.> I live in Illinois where our summers get very warm. I keep my ambient temp around 80 in summer. <If the room is 80, your tank will be hotter. Anything over 82 scares me, especially when you have no control over how much hotter it could get. I am diving into a real controversial subject in reef keeping, but many of our home aquariums will begin to suffer at temperatures over 85.> If I need a chiller, then so be it. I would rather not given its expense and its electrical consumption. <You are probably better of cooling the whole room. That way you get the added benefits, too.> Zimmy <To answer your lighting question a little more fully, I would choose the PC lamps over the VHO. You have found a cost savings in the beginning and you should be able to save even more with the price of electricity and replacement lamps (VHO every need replaced every 6-9 months vs. PC every year). Lastly, whatever lighting system one chooses it must perform two tasks. It must meet the requirements of our captive charges and two, it must be aesthetically pleasing. To that end, I like and use some actinic lamps. Depending of corals, using anywhere from a 50/50 mix or 1 actinic to 3 full spectrum lamps. -Steven Pro>

Re: Success with marine lighting purchase Mr. Fenner, Thank-you for the web site referral I was on it the other day and found it extremely helpful! From a local dealer I have purchased a power compact fluorescent lighting system (eight 35 watt bulbs four actinic four white) for $213.00. Thank-you again for your book it is a very valuable resource. Thank-you, Grace Miller <A pleasure, even delight to be of service, and be appreciated. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Aquarium Lighting My hood only has two slots for 20" lamps. How would I go about putting 3 lamps on the tank? This is a corner tank. <no idea without seeing the hood and none of us are electricians <wink>. If the tank will have reef invertebrates, do consider a single metal halide pendant instead. One 175-watt or 150-watt bulb is quite attractive and cost-effective in the long-run for many reasons... do research the archives on this topic if you like. Best regards, Anthony>

Another Aquarium Lighting (Steven's Reply) Dear Mr. Fenner, <Steven Pro this evening, part of the WWM crew.> I just read your article on aquarium lighting, and if you have time I would like to ask you a few questions on the subject if I may. First, does Dura-Test lights work in a marine aquarium with live sand and live rock? <Yes, but I believe they went out of business a while back. I used their lamps a lot before and liked them. A shame they are no longer available.> If so, then why is everyone on the bandwagon for MHs and PCs? <It all depends on what you want to keep and in how big of a tank. MH's deliver the most bang for your buck.> How long do they last before having to be replaced? <It varies by type of lighting and brand.> You see, I'm wanting to put together a 55 gallon marine aquarium with live rock and sand, but the only thing that I can't swallow right now is the outrageous price for lighting! I'm not poor and I'm not wealthy either. I just love the marine aquarium look. I have been doing research on everything I can get my hands on and it's just amazing what it takes to keep the marine life thriving. My goal is to do this without causing harm to these precious animals!!!! <Identify what photosynthetic animals you wish to keep and then tailor your lighting to their needs. As a minimum, you will need four 40 watt N.O. fluorescents to keep just about anything.> Any info on this would be very much appreciated. Thank you in advance for your input and help. James Peachee' <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Another Aquarium Lighting (Anthony's Reply) Dear Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I just read your article on aquarium lighting, and if you have time I would like to ask you a few questions on the subject if I may. First, does Duro-Test lights work in a marine aquarium with live sand and live rock?  <generally unpopular because of their color on the warm end of the spectrum (inclined to favor red and green algae growth from the shallow marine environment)> If so, then why is everyone on the bandwagon for MHs and PCs?  <they have nothing to do with each other... there are so many different applications of lighting even among the most demanding coral. Reef invertebrates are collected from an incredible range of light parameters from ankle deep water to more than 85 foot deep. And so, there is no such thing as ideal lighting. Most reef enthusiast enjoy keeping coral that favor 6500-10,000 style lighting and the availability of MH, VHO and PC lamps reflect that. For aquarists interested in keeping beautiful red kelp or cultivating turf algae in refugiums, the Duro bulbs may work just fine. The symbiont must always be selected before the lights... else it is like putting the cart before the horse> How long do they last before having to be replaced? <6-10 months for symbiotic animals in display...years if fish only> You see, I'm wanting to put together a 55 gallon marine aquarium with live rock and sand, but the only thing that I can't swallow right now is the outrageous price for lighting! I'm not poor and I'm not wealthy either. I just love the marine aquarium look.  <the rock and sand will be fine with such modest normal output lighting. But as soon as you want to keep an anemone or even hardy low light reef invertebrates... the whole game changes. Don't take my word though, archive field studies and put a Lux-meter under different lamps...<smile>> I have been doing research on everything I can get my hands on and it's just amazing what it takes to keep the marine life thriving.  <not amazing at all... the light over a wild reef with photosynthetic invertebrates is incredible! Even MH lights are not enough for some shallow water corals> My goal is to do this without causing harm to these precious animals!!!! <agreed, and it all comes down to if you want to keep invertebrates that need the light or if you are just happy to have rock only> Any info on this would be very much appreciated. Thank you in advance for your input and help. James Peachee' <best regards, Anthony>

Lighting for a 40 Hi Anthony. <Steven Pro this early morning.> I hope you don't get sick of me asking you questions. <Don't' worry about it.> I have just spent about 24 hours in total trying to research lighting for my 40 gallon marine reef tank. I am more confused now than when I started (and received square eyes looking at the screen for so long). At the moment I have 2, 42" 40 watt fluorescent marine white tubes and 1 blue moon 40 watt, all with aluminium reflectors. The marine whites are on for 12 hours a day and the blue moon for 14 hours (1 hour each side). Is this set-up enough light to place corals or sponges in with the live rock? <Depending on what in particular you wish to keep alive and the dimensions of your tank, you may be able to get away with NO lamps.> If not could you suggest what I would need to get the right light strength. I don't particularly want to use MH. <Why are people so intimidated by MH's? You are by all means not the first. It is a regular comment, "What lighting do I need? I do not want to use MH's." You definitely get more light for your money out of them, better depth penetration, and they are fairly cost effective.> Many thanks in advance. Colin <Waiting to hear back from you, Steven Pro>

Aquarium Lighting (Steven's Thoughts) Anthony/Steve, Hello again, hope all is well with you. Would love your advise regarding lighting for a new tank I am setting up. The tank will be a 150gal reef tank, 60 long by 24 wide by 24 high. I plan to have at least a 4 inch DSB, and would like to house principally SPS corals and clams. Am planning plenty of circulation, a sump, skimmer etc. (already have a 75gal reef tank running on PC lighting). My question involves lighting. Anthony gives a pretty strong plug for VHO in his book, which I am leaning towards. 4 - 60inch bulbs on 2 430 Ice Cap ballasts, for 560 watts in total, with two blue bulbs, two aqua sun bulbs (URI). What bothers me is the old rule of watts per gal, this set-up seems to be lacking (3.7) following this guideline. I suppose I could add another set of VHO bulbs, I think a 24 inch wide tank/canopy could house them with room to spare. The alternative would go more where Steve seems to like/advise, with 2 - 250W MH's, and 2 blue VHO bulbs. I would upgrade the MH's to Aqualine/Buschke bulbs (10k), and possible upgrade the VHO's to 110W (from 40w) on Ice Cap ballasts. <If you are going to use the actinic VHO's, I would use the Iwasaki MH lamps.> At this point, I probably would not upgrade to electronic ballasts for the MH's, as this alternative is getting quite costly. <Initially costly and difficult to recoup the costs in electricity savings. Look at the works of Sanjay Joshi for the cost breakdowns.> Is the VHO alternative strong enough to get the job done in this case, or would you recommend going with the MH's? <I would choose the MH's because of the desired corals and dimensions of the tank.> I am also confused on another point regarding MH lighting. Anthony mentions UV protection (for people/fish) is needed for the MH bulbs, but I do not see where this protection is coming from on the retrofit kits available. The people at Champion feel that the MH bulbs themselves have the protection Anthony is mentioning in his book, is this what you meant Anthony? <Yes, some lamps come with protection, generally the single ended screw in types. The double ended lamps require a UV shield.> I don't see any other protection offered. Thanks again for your book, and the advise you two offer.  Steve <I am going to leave this for Anthony to answer, too, since you asked for both our opinions. -Steven Pro>

Aquarium Lighting (Anthony's Reply) Anthony/Steve, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Hello again, hope all is well with you. Would love your advise regarding lighting for a new tank I am setting up. The tank will be a 150gal reef tank, 60 long by 24 wide by 24 high. I plan to have at least a 4 inch DSB, and would like to house principally SPS corals and clams. Am planning plenty of circulation, a sump, skimmer etc. (already have a 75gal reef tank running on PC lighting). My question involves lighting. Anthony gives a pretty strong plug for VHO in his book, which I am leaning towards. 4 - 60inch bulbs on 2 430 Ice Cap ballasts, for 560 watts in total, with two blue bulbs, two aqua sun bulbs (URI).  <as a general rule, I do indeed like VHO lighting very much for aesthetics and health... but an average reef garden is dominated by soft coral and LPS which often thrive under such lighting. When you have a very specific desire to keep shallow water sps corals and clams (even to exclusion) then you must consider what lighting will serve the greater good. In the family overview section of my book, metal halide is recommended as the primary lighting for most sps families with PC or VHOs remitted for shallow aquaria. I would agree that 20" of water is nicely shallow enough to keep many sps well under VHO as you will have though> What bothers me is the old rule of watts per gal,  <its a ridiculous rule than cannot possible apply to all corals we see from ones collected in ankle deep water to others found at 85 foot plus deep> this set-up seems to be lacking (3.7) following this guideline. I suppose I could add another set of VHO bulbs, I think a 24 inch wide tank/canopy could house them with room to spare.  <at this point you just aren't getting the bang for your buck... halides would be better for hardcore sps in the long run> The alternative would go more where Steve seems to like/advise, with 2 - 250W MH's, and 2 blue VHO bulbs. I would upgrade the MH's to Aqualine/Buschke bulbs (10k),  <very nice... although I do not think that the 250 watts are necessary... really a bit much unless you have researched the species that you will keep and determined them to be the absolute most demanding (Acroporids more than Pocilloporids (Seriatopora, Stylophora, Pociillopora), etc)> and possible upgrade the VHO's to 110W (from 40w) on Ice Cap ballasts. <no need for the VHOs with the heavy blue in 10K MH lamps unless for aesthetics> At this point, I probably would not upgrade to electronic ballasts for the MH's, as this alternative is getting quite costly.  <they have been proven to be exaggerated anyway... agreed> Is the VHO alternative strong enough to get the job done in this case, or would you recommend going with the MH's ?  <VHO for aesthetics and maintenance... MH for serious growth> I am also confused on another point regarding MH lighting. Anthony mentions UV protection (for people/fish) is needed for the MH bulbs, but I do not see where this protection is coming from on the retrofit kits available. The people at Champion feel that the MH bulbs themselves have the protection Anthony is mentioning in his book, is this what you meant Anthony?  <excess UV from any lamp (like many MH) is a concern on many levels. Some aquarists have noticed with lamps that throw a lot of UV without shielding (like a thin glass canopy) that many of their corals turn bright green (UV shielding pigmentation) which is cool at first until 3 out of every 4 corals in the tank look that way... and expensive pink, yellow and blue Acros all turn green... then it sucks. Do pursue the work of Sanjay Joshi on the Web... very thought provoking and unbiased research on lighting.> I don't see any other protection offered. Thanks again for your book, and the advise you two offer. Steve <always welcome my friend... thanks for asking such thoughtful questions that many others will benefit from. Kindly, Anthony>

Lighting Hey Bob, thanks for the info. The setup you suggested will that give me nuisance algae. Eventually I will like to setup my tank to be a reef tank slowly. I just want to make sure I can take care of what I have. I have a great protein skimmer and it seems it collects a lot of stuff, however I still get hair algae on my substrate. I am preparing to get a yellow tang, I have to do a water change in my quarantine tank. He or she may help with the algae problems. If my phosphate levels are 0 what else can I check to see what is feeding the hair algae <Lighting does not cause algae. It is merely one of the things algae needs to grow, but usually the limiting factor in our aquariums is nutrients. If your nutrients are under control, you will not get nuisance algae. Phosphate kits do not register a reading for organic phosphate. So a zero test does not mean you have no phosphate. There are many things written in the various FAQ's, but look at your feeding, source water, circulation, water changes, etc. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Question It's been a while since I've written and things are doing well. My reef has been doing great and we have moved into a new and larger home. I am in the process of installing a 300 gal tank 96x24x30 (lxwxh) and my question at this time is concerning the lighting of such a tank. I will stocking the tank mainly with soft corals and LPS and maybe a few SPS. From talking with people and reading as much as possible I've decided to go with Metal Halides. Can three 250 MH light the tank, I know that I should be using 4 but I'm concerned with the electrical bill. I am figuring on spacing them so the low light regions will be at the ends where some mushrooms and other low light corals could be placed? I am planning on using a deep sand bed of 5-6 in. so the tank would really be about 24-25 in. deep. Will the three 250MH do a fine job. Do you recommend 6500k or 10k bulbs and if so, is it a must to add actinics for the corals to thrive. If actinics are needed can NO bulbs be sufficient. I've got so many questions that I wish that I could talk over the phone with you. Maybe if it's okay with you we could arrange for a time in the evening when it could work for both of us. I would definitely benefit from your input as I don't want to make a mistake that can cost me money or the lives of corals. Louis & Ivonne <I would recommend 10,000K Aqualine-Buschke or Ushio lamps and with these you could forgo supplemental actinics. The use of three 250 watt fixtures is ok, but four 175 watt fixtures would be better. Email us whatever questions you have. One of us is always around to help. -Steven Pro>

The lighting saga Anthony, Wow! Thank you so much for forward my last letter to you to Sanjay's address. That was very kind of you and I truly appreciate it. I did some rereading and can is that it was indeed a mistake to ditch the PFO ballast idea for the E-ballast! I will order the 175 MH using the PFO (magnetic) ballast with the Ushio's 10k bulb. The actinic will be 110 watt VHO icecap. I am feeling very good about these choices. I will stick to the LPS and clams. I am looking forward to hearing back with Sanjays reply so I can get the lights and reflector on my tank! Thank you again! Robert <you are very welcome Robert. While no one lighting scheme will be good for all popular corals, I believe that the combination you have will be very satisfactory for many animals. Best regards to you in your endeavors! Anthony>

Lighting and the land of Oz <Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob is off to the land of Oz. Unfortunately though... he thinks he is going to see the Wizard and the Tin man. Someone should have told him that this Oz was in Australia> I eventually plan on having a 75gal reef tank. First I want a fish and hardy invertebrate tank before I go into the reef.  <truly a more difficult tank to run successfully, but knock yourself out> The tank will have an anemone <oh... much harder I meant to say. Anemones (motile) with other cnidarians like coral (sessile) are a recipe for disaster. Pick one and do it well, my friend> for my clowns, sponges, clams, and a few hard and soft corals.  <again, try to be more categorically specific (like dominant soft coral tank, or mostly LPS tank with minor inclusions of others for overall health> When the time comes I want to know what is your recommendation for me. Should I go with the halides or pc's?  <halides give more bang for the buck by any scientific measure (useful light intensity relative to power consumption)> I hope I can get the pc's due to the cost and heat of halides.  <heat is not an issue will halides and pc's do not penetrate anywhere near as deep as halides. A good luxmeter will make this all clear> What brand, min to max wattage, and bulb type combo do you suggest? <for 175 watt halides, 10K Ushio or Aqualine and for 150 watt Iwasaki 6500K> My hood has a place for 2 24" bulbs and I hope I can keep this hood and use it with your light suggestions. Can I? Thanks a lot <for fluorescents (VHO or PC) I would balance between daylight and blue or favor daylight if you like shallow water species (sps, clams, colored softies) Anthony Calfo>

Lighting Hi Guys, I need some help on lighting. I would like to know if I can mix VHO & CF. <Yes> I currently have A 75g flat back hex tank. Due to configuration, I cannot fit (4) 4ft. bulbs. I already have a 3 ft CF fixture with (2) 96w bulbs. I would like to add (2) 4ft VHO fixtures which would up my total wattage to 412w. Is this an o.k. set up? <Sure. I would use full spectrum power compact lamps with actinic VHO's. I like the actinic VHO's better than the PC/CF ones.> Are there any coral I could not keep? <There will always be corals you cannot keep. Any given tank will be better at satisfying one particular group/type of photosynthetic animals.> Are clams still out of the question? <May not be a great choice as the hardiest clams grow rather large, over a foot in length. This tank is rather small for them to fit and there is always a concern for them closing abruptly and shooting water out of the tank.> Thanks in advance. Rocco <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lighting II Hi Steven, Thanks for the quick response. I more thing. You suggested (2) full spectrum CF with (2) VHO actinic. I can only position these so that 2 full sp CFL are toward the front or the back of the tank. Same with the VHO. Is this ok? If so which toward front and which toward back? Thanks again. Rocco <I tend to place my actinics at the front of the tank. -Steven Pro>

Lighting III Anthony, You have been very kind to me, answering these lighting questions must be redundant and frustrating.  <really not at all...glad anyone cares to know my opinion> What I neglected to tell you is that I have had this tank up and running for about 15 months now. I have PC lights currently (CSL 2x96 white, 2x96 actinics) and am keeping softies (mushrooms, xenia, leathers.)  <very nice...appropriate lighting to for many of the softies> I thought that if I could upgrade to MH I could give the softies to a friend and take a stab and the LPS and clams.  <hmmm... The most LPS and clams (especially derasa and Hippopus) can live under your current lighting just fine (bulbs have been changed recently, or do so please)> I really do enjoy the SPS (cats paw, certain colors of Acropora [sp?] cup & scroll corals) but I can do without now that I know the trouble I am asking for by mixing the three. <yes...very much agreed. For starters, many LPS are just too staggeringly aggressive and many so the SPS are finicky about consistent water quality> So here it is. I will order 2x175 watt MH with the PFO ballast, use Ushio's 10K bulbs. <is this one of the electronic ballasts? If so, you might save your money unless the lightweight is a big appeal. Recent studies have shown that the marketing claims of the electronic ballast folks are borderline fraudulent (more light, less electricity, etc). At best, it will take five or more years to recoup the investment. I wouldn't bother... a $50 standard ballast will work as well. Watts is Watts, as they  Then I will order 2x55 watt VHO actinics using Ice Cap 430 ballast. <very nice... I like Ice Cap and respect their customer service. But do you mean 110 watt 4' VHO's?> Can you help me understand all that is needed for this setup? I'm sure I could call the e-tailors and ask what is needed, but I have a feeling they will only hear dollar signs in my voice and bleed me dry. Ok, for the MH I would need the ballast + wiring, I am assuming a Mongol socket? I like the look of the spider reflector (that or I will paint the hood white. not all that sure what is best) and went on Sanjays (sp?) web site and read about this reflector. Do you know of it? It comes with a mogul socket, is it universal and will fit the Ushio bulb and my wiring? <yes... overall I really like Sanjay's report and agree> On to the VHO, the bulb 48", the length of my tank. I would need the bulbs, the ballast + wiring, and end caps. What I don't understand is how it is hooked up to the inside of my hood. I read about acrylic racks or stand offs, do you know which on would be best using a reflector such as the spider? Or what is best for a canopy? <yes... you'll need the VHO end caps for certain, and the acrylic standoffs are convenient and worth the price. If a ready made hardness is available, do buy it unless you are comfortable reading the wiring diagram for DIY (easy and color coded, but not my preference). And as far as the canopy, I'd be inclined to use a reflector that lines the entire canopy to encompass the VHO's and halides. I haven't used the spider reflector to know if that is convenient but I suspect it can be made to do so. Perhaps Sanjay would be kind enough to enlighten us both on it. Do advise me if you discover it is so> Dang, I didn't mean for this to be such a long letter :( Sorry about that. Thank you so very much for you patients and all of the help you have offered me. I hope I can find some way to pay you back! Robert <one word: beer... OK, more than one word: no thanks necessary...really my pleasure. Kind regards, Anthony> <Sanjay... Anthony Calfo here mentoring on Bob Fenner's WWM. I'm forward this fellow's message along for your input if you can share a moment. The question posed to you is about a good commercial or DIY reflector for 2 halides and a pair of VHO in the same canopy? The lamp recommendation is stated below influenced by your study in part. Reply back to this address if you can. Thanks kindly, my friend. Anthony Calfo> Lighting IV Hey Anthony, this is the last email! I swear! :-) <no worries... happy to be of service. Just sitting here eating some tasty special brownies that Bob sent me before leaving and I feel very relaxed. I feel as though I could just sit here for hours answering e-mail... or at least staring at the monitor... hey, what are these cool herbs sprinkled throughout my brownie? Boy do I have the munchies... sure glad I have these brownies here. Man... I love Pink Floyd tunes> I am changing the PFO idea to Blueline I think they have the e-ballast. Sounds better! <hold on there Tonto!... have you looked at the comparative studies of ALL of the MH lamps including the above mentioned? You REALLY need to take a closer look. And as far as the ballast goes... prelims suggest that the claims of electronic ballast manufacturers are difficult to support. Some say not even close to being worth the money. My advice stands as before and was quite deliberate in brand recommendation: for 10K, Ushio or AB and for 6500K the Iwasaki. A regular ballast will be fine. This combination will serve you for 2-3 years before you even have to change a bulb!> >I haven't used the spider reflector to know if that is convenient but I suspect it can be made to do so. Perhaps Sanjay would be kind >enough to enlighten us both on it. Do advise me if you discover it is so> I'm sorry to say but Sanjay does not have an e-mail address on his web site. I have yet to see if the spider reflector can be used with VHO actinics and MH. I hope so! My canopy is 10" tall and the spider comes down 4.5" I think as long as the VHO is lower then that I will be fine. Just keep my eye on salt creep. If you know if Sanjay has a web address posted somewhere could you let me know?  <I do have his address, my friend... but allow me to pass this message along for his reply> I would like to be able to ask him this question. If it does not work, what are your thoughts on painting the canopy top white? Or would I be better off going to HD and getting flashing cut to fit? Thank you again!! Robert <I'm not at all thrilled with the painting idea... but perhaps a polished aluminum reflector. Lets hear what Sanjay has to say. He has a great engineering mind and time spent on this subject in research. Kindly, Anthony Calfo>

Best/Better Reflectors for reef light canopies Sorry, I was out of town for last few days. <Sanjay... no worries. Thank you my friend for taking the time to share your opinion> Of the premade reflectors, the 2 most popular are the spider light and the PFO reflectors. If you have problems with getting them into a hood, the next best option is to make your own by buying sheets of the reflective material and installing them in your hood. Champion (Lighting and Supply Company) sells different sizes and there may be others on the web who do as well. White paint is not a good solution, neither is the flashing from Home Depot. The reflective material should be anodized to prevent corrosion. Using these reflective materials (most of them are the Everbrite by Alcoa) you can easily get 20-40% more light into your tank. Sanjay. <wonderful... I'll be sure to pass this along. Thanks again very kindly, Anthony Calfo> Lighting and Reflectors Anthony- Thank you so much for the email from Sanjay! I feel quite honored to have both of your input into my lighting system. :)  <it is my honour that anyone should care to know my opinion> I just ordered my 2x175 watt MH PFO dual, & 110 watt VHO actinic IcaCap430. The MH are Ushio 10K and the Actinic lights are 03 URI (or IUR, RUI, IRU.. damn my dyslexic mind!) <correct...URI, outstanding quality fluorescents> I ordered the spider reflectors. My original question was not if the Spider reflector was my best choice, but if I can use the Spider Reflector with the VHO bulbs below it.  <I do recall... my apologies... I did not have enough experience to comment and Sanjay may have overlooked it> No worries, in 5-7 working days I will find out if it can work. In any event I know now what will be my best second choice if it does fail to work. <please do let us learn from your experience> Thanks for your time and effort! It has made difference for the positive for my future coral. Robert <you made the difference for caring... continue to do so. Anthony>

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