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FAQs about Light and Lighting for Marine Systems 2

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

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

Lighting dilemma 11-19-05 Hello and many thanks to you pros sharing your time to help out us struggling aquarists. <<We what...?>> <Welcome> Wanting to get into SPS and better growth out of my Zoas, I thought about switching to metal halide. It seems I've acquired a lot of lighting equipment from friends, raffles and mis- educated purchases. <That sounds familiar...> I currently have a 55 gallon reef setup 48 long-24 deep-12-wide light up with a 265watt pc( 2-65watt-10k and 2-65watt-aquatinic). In my possession I have 1-175 watt electronic ballast with a 12k Sunburst bulb , a dual PFO 400 watt ballast with 10k bulbs and a 250 watt electronic ballast no bulb atm. <Hmm, interesting mix.> Well I was wondering if I switch to a MH set up what would be the best configuration? <With SPS I usually suggest you buy as much light as you can afford. In this case, you will be limited by your tank size and the heat from metal halides.>

Would mounting a single 400 watt 10k in the center of the tank maybe a little higher than usual, say 20in, do the trick or? would the lighting be too much for my mainly soft coral setup? <It will be too much for your tank. 55 gallon tanks have a plastic center brace that will melt under a halide. You will definitely need a 2 bulb set-up.> Attached are some pics of my setup and corals if it might help finding the answer to my dilemma. <<No photos found - where be the photos, Travis? MH  Ah, found them in the 'deleted' folder...>> <I believe a dual 175 watt set-up would be more than enough light and will have lower heat for you, but you could also get by with dual 250's (with an extra fan) and maybe pick up some extra SPS coloration. The higher intensity lighting will keep some softies and zoos from expanding as large as they used to. That is due to the fact that they do not need as much surface area to catch light rays for the photosynthetic algae. As a side note, those 65 watt pc's would make great actinic additions to any metal halide combo you decide on.> Thanks for your time,  Ken Logsdon <You're welcome. Travis>

PC vs. VHO vs. MH & PC  9/1/05 Love the site! I read different articles all the time, but I could not find my question.  I have a 37 gal reef tank that is about 3 weeks old.  I have about 40 pounds of LR with no coral just a few damsels.  I have everything setup and running great but the lights.  I have researched many different options but just don't know which one to go with.  I want to keep my options open as far as corals and anemones maybe even a clam not likely though.  I am looking into 3 different light setups: 1) 2 - 65W PC = 130W  cost about $120 2) 4 - 75W VHO = 300W  cost about $240 3) 150W metal halide, 2 - 65W PC = 280W  cost about $360 So what is the best setup for the cost and widest range of possibilities, and what is the best bulb selection (light temp and actinic) for that setup? And if there is a better setup out there that you know of please let me know.   <... depends on the type of life you intend to keep... and what you want to do with it/them... If you end up with SPS and Tridacnids for instance, the MH would be best... for just sustaining most LPS... PC's... Bob Fenner> Just how "not important" is lighting not important to saltwater fish only setup? 7/7/05 Hi WWM crew, First of all i would like to THANK YOU all WWM crew members for being such a great help for all my aquarium problems. I can't think of another better place that helps me so much! THANKS!! <Welcome> Sorry for the long story i tried my best to make it short already. People had always told me that lighting is not important at all in a saltwater fish only with live rock tank. Some of them even say that the fishes actually don't need any light at all, and the light is just for my own viewing pleasure. <Mostly so> I used to have a 136W compact fluorescent lighting system for my 45G tank. It broke down after about 2 months. I didn't have much money with me at that time for me to purchase another compact fluorescent and since people said lighting is not an issue so i used a incandescent hood from my previous 10G tank which only has two 30W mini fluorescent bulbs I'm not even sure if those bulbs are truly fluorescent). <If not... then what?> Those two bulbs barely light up the tank. However, ever since my compact system was gone, my tank has been going down hill. First my Regal tang got ich and died, then my yellow tang and two ocellaris clown died mysteriously, then my totally healthy well eating Moorish Idol died with white patches on his body, <Rarely live... and a 45 is too small...> and then most fish i added after that disaster just keep dying without obvious reasons. <Not likely related> It just seems so strange to me, the first two months my tank was running perfectly, and then the lighting broke down, and from that moment on my tank has been a constant nightmare. Fish dies easily, with no problem in water chemistry) all the fish keeps hiding, all the fishes are always scared. Could there be even a slight chance that the lighting has anything to do with it?? <Mmm, perhaps indirectly... some lighting helps promote algae growth... algae help to absorb nutrients, make overall environment more stable, provide some food...> Could it be that the fishes always think it is night time so they always hide? <No... get "clues" re day from outside light> I have this theory because i once notice my Moorish Idol had different color pattern in day time and night time. And after the compact system broke down, it never fully change back into day time pattern even in the day. However, i think i should mention that even with so little lighting, i can still see clearly into the tank in daytime since the room the tank is in is quite bright in the day. <Bingo> That is why I can't convince myself that the fish is thinking it is night time. But they somehow act like it is night time, especially that Moorish Idol incident i mentioned above. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/idolfaqs.htm Thanks any opinion would be much appreciated! <I would get a better lighting set-up, study re your livestock choices ahead of purchasing. Bob Fenner>

Protein skimmer & Lighting Hi,  <Hi, Natalie... Anthony Calfo here. I must say that you have a beautiful name. My niece and Godchild share it with you> I just started a 55 gal salt water tank. It now has 3 damsels, a brittle starfish, and an Atlantic Anemone.  <do resist anemones if you want coral... a tough mix as motile anemones bring their stinging tentacles on the road to wreak havoc in the tank> I have about 15lbs or live rock, working on buying more.  <the best investment for a marine aquarium> I just added the starfish and the anemone. It will eventually become a reef tank. I need a protein skimmer. Could you give me a few suggestions that are good but also are at a reasonable price? I am short on money right now, but I need one now, right?  <as soon as possible, but not at the expense of buying an inferior model. Compensate by low stocking/feeding and extra water changes in the meantime. Do look at CPR Bak Paks, Turboflotors, EuroReef Skimmers, Aqua C. Some mail order places on the net like Custom Aquatic have quite competitive prices> I am going to add fish, algae eaters, and invertebrates slowly. <slower the better, yes> I would also like to know a couple of things about lights. I have a two lids making the top of my aquarium. The original lights are what I am using now (15w each). First, what type and number of wattage do you suggest? I want to get some corals but not the ones that require high intense lighting.  <you really need to pick your coral species before you can pick any lighting...they have such different needs. And try to avoid mixing drastically different families from LPS, SPS, Octocoral and Corallimorph families... just a recipe for problems in the long run. Have a dominant theme and stick to it. Low to med light for Zoantharians and LPS species, medium to high light for Octocorals, and high light for clams and SPS species to make a gross generalization> Again my budget is limited. I am not worried about going cheap now and spending even more when I upgrade. When I say cheap I don't mean the cheapest out the best for the money. I would also like to know if I need to buy a different lid or what?  <two retrofit 6500K Iwasaki metal halides (150 watt) would work nicely. Very little DIY save for screwing the reflector and socket foot into the canopy lid, A great savings indeed and a lighting scheme that would be great for the long run too. Halides offer the most bang for the buck hands down> Some people have told me that I could just lay it across the lid I have now with no covering. This did not sound to cozier. Please let me know.  <depends on the light... but indeed not safe for most> Thanks, Natalie  <kindly, Anthony>

Lighting Question Greetings! <Buona sera, Anthony> I am looking for some advice on lighting a 125 (72") reef. I have two options I am considering based on my budget. Option 1 is to purchase two CSL SmartLite hoods each containing 2x96w for a total of 4x96w PC's. This will obviously total 384w. Second option is to buy a retro kit for my modern series canopy from all glass using the Icecap ballast and 4x160 VHO (two actinic white and two actinic blue bulbs). This setup will again obviously total 640w. The price between the two is less than $100. It seems somewhat obvious that the VHO option would be more bang for the buck at just under 260w more light. My intention is to keep mostly soft corals and a few LPS. Which setup would you recommend and why? Thanks! Adam <definitely the VHOs... better intensity that will be needed and appreciated for the deeper six foot tank, still not too much light for the lower light LPS, many of which belong on the bottom of aquaria anyhow (Fungiids, Catalaphylliids, etc), indeed a better value, cheaper and easier bulb replacements because of common industrial applications/production, time tested (although PCs are good lights as well). I like simple blue actinics and daylight in balance. I can even tolerate the cheap industrial daylight tubes under $15 each... they grow coral just as well! URI brand is my choice. Anthony Calfo>

Lighting and Stress? Dear Bob, <Allyson... Anthony Calfo here answering our good friend Bob's mail while he is away> A few weeks ago, we set up our power compact fluorescents (2 full spectrum, 2 actinics). <attractive light combination> A few weeks later, our Naso tang is getting every disease in the book (white spot, black spot, Lymphocystis). Fish is energetic and eating but uncomfortable/flicking. <a change in lighting can be a bit stressful... but not to this extent. The Naso has other issues/extenuating circumstances> I think our cleaner shrimps are getting nice meals since all but the Lymphocystis are disappearing quickly. It's miraculous.  <one of the many blessed wonders of the sea (smile)> Read your section on lighting. You say 12-16 hours duration but is that OK for PC?  <indeed> Should we reduce our light cycle (now 7:30 AM-10:15 PM)? Would it help to reduce the time of the full spectrum?  <no need...largely aesthetic preference> We work long hours and we want to feed the fish 2x daily so we need these hours on. Could we have 2 shorter ON periods or would that be stressful?  <interesting and productive experiments have been conducted with maintaining fish on double-time (4-six hour periods per day...on/off photoperiods)... however, this is way unnecessary for the simple pleasures of a home aquarium> The fish is awake when the room lights are on. Is that stressful for him if it's longer than the 16 hours (I worked all night on a few projects last week). <perhaps a bit much... please just put the lights on a timer set to come on late enough in the day that you can enjoy the tank with lights on long enough after work> Should we cover the tank?  <always!> The fish hates Selcon.  <too bad... explain to him that he has to eat it like it or not...hehehe. Otherwise, we're busting out the old Brussels sprouts... and not the tasty young ones either, but the old bitter ones!> Would putting a few drops in the water do anything?  <marine fish do drink water... but not enough to make it worth the effort. Simply add to a favorite food or experiment until you find it> One last issue: What is a reasonable range of temperature fluctuation over the course of a day? <very little... 2F ideal... 4F+ and you are just asking for an outbreak of Ich (hmmm?)> Many thanks, <you are very welcome... kindly, Anthony> Allyson

Change in Lighting and Stress, continued... Dear Anthony, Thanks for filling in for Bob. You guys are great. Just a little more clarification. My comments are in * *. <<Allyson, it is our pleasure. I'll follow suit and reply with double carrots <<>> To review, our tang is getting a lot of illnesses and we're looking for an environmental cause. We shifted from 15 hours of regular fluorescents to 15 hours of PC. <a change in lighting can be a bit stressful... but not to this extent. The Naso has other issues/extenuating circumstances> *So you're saying that we do not need to reduce the amount of light and should look for other causes. We have a timer and can program whatever is healthiest for the fish. << Almost certainly another cause... although it would still be nice to know what the change was (borrowed/bought light meter) from SO to PC fluorescents>> If we wanted to reduce light time, you're saying that two shorter ON periods during the day would not screw up his circadian rhythms? * <interesting and productive experiments have been conducted with maintaining fish on double-time (4-six hour periods per day...on/off photoperiods)...however, this is way unnecessary for the simple pleasures of a home aquarium> <<sort of... would/could screw up rhythms to some extent but most if not all will adapt...some very nicely. Not necessary, but possible>> *In order to limit tank light time to 15 hours, we need to turn off the tank lights before we go to sleep (we need the tank on before we go to work and after we get home--a long day). This means room lights are on but tank lights are off.  <<I'm inclined to keep it simple and not recommend the double-time photoperiod. Leaving the room lights on with the tank lights off will not affect sleep patterns... the moon can be quite bright over a reef>> Should we cover the tank with a cloth that prevents the fish from seeing the room lights? He clearly is awake even though his tank lights are off. * <<my apologies... I misunderstood your previous question about covering the tank. I thought you meant a literal canopy lens in debate over evaporation versus fish jumping. I now understand you to mean with the intent of filtering indirect light with regard to the extended photoperiod. In which case... I wouldn't bother covering it>> *There are other things going on. Have been fighting high nitrates forever (at least 50). This weekend we will pull half the Biobale and rely on LR.  <<sidebar... bright light does not cause algae... but bright light and sufficient nutrients does. You may want to be on the look out with your extended photoperiod, accumulated nitrates and bulb intensity upgrade for nuisance algae to nip in the proverbial bud>> Is there any way to keep the aerobic bacteria alive just in case we need it back?* <<sure... provide a source of nitrogen/ammonia. Martin Moe Jr., among others, has described the process of adding inexpensive ammonium chloride to a filter or system without livestock to "supercharge" or maintain it in the absence of a living bio-load>> *Just added Caulerpa from a friend's tank. Could that spread disease? <<absolutely... any water from a system holding fish could... always quarantine... even plants/rocks, etc to be thorough>> Temp changed a lot with lighting--now stable. I upped pH too quickly when I saw it went down to 8--baking soda put it up to 8.4--stupid. <<rough but most of us have been there... we learn from our mistakes hopefully>> From here on out, I'm just trying to make the tank stable and healthy and feed him well.* Thanks again, Allyson <<excellent approach! Natural immunity and resistance from good overall husbandry is the very best remedy... kind regards. Anthony>>

Enough Light to Boil Water? Hello there! I finally set up my tank I have a question on lighting my tank size is 48 long 30 deep <30" wide?> and 24 high. I have about 150 - 200 lbs of live rock and about 350 lbs of live sand. My lighting is 2 400 watt 20,000k metal halides and 4 VHO 46" fluorescents ( 660 Ice caps, 2 actinic 2 50/50) I also have a chiller to keep the water @ 77.5. I have a few corals but I surely plan to add more soft and hard corals alike as time goes on. I want to make sure that I have adequate lighting for my animals, I was planning on adding another 400 watt 20,000 or maybe a 250 watt 20,000k. I sure don't want to over do it on the lighting but I do want to make sure that my corals feel @ home. Can you help?? <This is more than enough light. You might even have to tone it down for certain large polyp stony corals. It depends on what you are planning on keeping.> Thank you, Walter

55 Gal - MH or PC lighting? Dear Bob, I loved reading TCMA! Your book has encouraged me to rise to the challenges of marine/reef keeping; an endeavor I think I'll find be even more rewarding than the freshwater system I currently maintain. I'm a big DIY-er, and I would like to tackle marine system lighting issues with your expert guidance. <Am sure you can do this... that is, DIY gear... The state of development of the hobby is not that far ahead of what we all can do given investigation, patience and application> Presently, I'm looking to light two new marine tanks: 20 High [24"x12"x16"] & 55 Gal [48"x12"x21"]. The tanks will share a common water supply: 20 High + 55 Gal + 15 Gal Sump = 90 Gallons total, so as to help stabilize water characteristics and take advantage of common in-sump skimming. I'm looking to keep SPS and clams in both tanks, and I've read a lot on the Internet about the pro's and con's of MH vs. PC lighting. Which of these options (presented below) would you recommend for the 55 Gallon? This particular tank size seems to be "right on the edge" with regard to depth-of-tank, in choosing between Combo-MH/PC lighting vs. All-PC lighting. ** Options for the 55 Gallon ** #1) 250W 6,500K Iwasaki MH (8 to 12" above water surface) & two 55W PC Actinic blues, OR #2) 3 x 96W 10,000K PC & one 96W PC Actinic blue. I'm concerned I might "burn" some species with option #1. However, if safe in your opinion, #1 would provide me with the MH "shimmering light" effect I'd like to enjoy. <#1 will indeed "do this", though #2 would be/is my choice> I am aware of the MH water-overheating issues, and as a DIY-er have no problem w/installing the required cooling fans. Installing a cooler, however, is something I'd like to avoid. I guess I'd offset the MH to the left, so as not to melt the top-center support brace of the 55 Gallon tank (Have you hear of this type of melting happening before?)  <Yes> Would off-setting like this cause a big light distribution problem across the tank?  <No... perhaps to the "calloused eye" who has seen evenly illuminated systems only...> Uneven light distribution could be of some benefit to mobile aquatic life, so they can move to their preferred light intensity (Yes/No?).  <The mobile invertebrates, fishes, yes> If I offset the MH to the left, should I shift the two actinic blues all the way to the right, or stagger as usual (one front right & one back left)? <Space these evenly> ** For the 20 High ** 2 x 55W 10,000K PC & one 55W PC Actinic blue Is this combination for the 20 High adequate for SPS and clams? <Yes> Much thanks and gratitude in advance for your help! :) -Russ <And for your participation, input. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Bob, I read over your website about lighting and I have a question. My tank is approx. 36 " L x 18" W X 24" tall BOW FRONT). I am having difficulty with green algae phosphate is .1). I have a 110w compact lighting and a 30w actinic light. Is it possible that I do not have enough light or the light bulb that came with the compact light could be the wrong type for a saltwater tank? <Not enough light for? Compact fluorescents are fine for two foot deep systems for most types of organisms, purposes hobbyists have. You could use more wattage...> Do you think I would need more watts or metal halide? <Oh! Here it is... you could use either...> I have timers for my lighting, my actinic is on for 8 hrs and my pc is on for 6 hrs. Are these times good enough? <Yikes... again, for what types of life, designs on your part. The time frame needs to be lengthened to about 14 and 12 hours respectively... Algae problems... need other strategies for control... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the linked files till you feel you understand your options well enough to develop and implement a control program. Bob Fenner> Thanks

Moonlight Illumination Effect Hi, i like to know how I can make the moon light on my tropical marine aquarium and which are the benefit, many thanks Gabriele <There are actual lamps (fluorescent) that are designed, manufactured to produce just this effect. Please see a recent issue of Freshwater and Marine Aquarium for a source. Bob Fenner>

Lighting I currently have a cover on my standard 55 g tank with two 21" long bulbs and on the back of the light it said 40 watts. I have been looking for Vita-Lite lights and I can't find fluorescents that will fit my cover for the amount of wattage I need, I was looking to get two 110 watt fixtures, I have done a search on the web. Should I call the number for vita-light on your site instead or do they have a webpage I can order from? <Unfortunately Dura Corporation, maker of "Vita-Lites" is gone> My guess is that I have not found a place that sells VHO bulbs, just regulars, and that is why I have had no luck. <You are correct. There are other makes/makers... Osram, Phillips, GE...> Thanks for the input, I am also confused whether you add the wattage together if you have two bulbs, or it is just whatever amount the actual bulb is? Thanks <Mmm, don't know if I'm following you here... the wattage is likely marked on the existing lamps, the ballasts... Bob Fenner>

Lighting I have a 180 gallon fish and reef tank. It has been up and running for 12 months. I'm still unsure about the lighting requirements for my tank. I have 2 actinic 160 watt VHO and 2 daylight 10,000k 160 watt VHO. All of them are 72' . But the actinic are only on for 3 hours in the morning and then off for the rest of the day.  <Mmm, if it were mine, knowing nothing more than you have stated thus far, I would replace one of the actinics with a "white bulb" and turn the odd pair on an hour before, leave them on an hour after (but on in-between) the other "white" lamps> The only thing on is the daylight bulbs all day until the actinic come back on at night. Should I use more light during the day?  <Yes... all four lamps... with the odd pair on before and after for an hour or so... on timers> I was thinking of 1 or 2 metal halide 400 watt bulbs. I've been having a problem with brown algae and thought it was due to the lights.  <Only in part... Please read over the several Algae files posted on WetWebMedia.com> If you could give me some advice on the lighting and what you would use I would really appreciate it. Thank you very much. <Mmm, perhaps a cursory reading of the Marine Light, Lighting, many FAQs sections would serve you well here. Please: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lighting.htm follow the linked articles, FAQs along. You will soon know what you want and why. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Questions <<JasonC here...>> Im also looking at a 3x175 halide system with blue actinic pc..... but it comes with has 5500k bulbs should I pay the upgrade fee for the 10k bulbs or is the 5500k bulbs ok? <<I would upgrade to 10K, is the MH that I use, I think 5.5 would be too blue.>> ....and also how high do I mount this set up ,12 inches above the tank?. is that ok? <<sounds good to me. Cheers, J -- >>

Lighting & Supplements I am going to get the percula clowns tomorrow. The guy who is selling them is selling all his equipment as well, since he's moving. I would appreciate your advice on the following, keeping in mind that I have a 65-gallon marine & live-rock tank with snails and crabs: <Okay> 1) He has some power-compact lights (110 watts) that are 24" long. Right now, I have 2 30 watt full-spectrum bulbs that are 36" long. Would the 24" lights work for me (placed in the center of the tank, or should I stay away from this type of less-than-ideal solution? <If they are fairly priced I would switch yours out... or if there is room just add them to your hood with the current three footers> 2) He has 40 - 50 lb of live rock with 4-5 different types of macro-algae on them. This sounds like something that would be good for my tank, even if it means removing some of the live rock I already have (I think I have about 65 - 70 lb in there now). <I'd add it if it was a good deal...> 3) He has reef supplements (essential elements, etc.). Do I need those if I don't plan on adding any corals or anemones? What if I would like to try an anemone? <Not really... this is a very large and problem-ridden part of the hobby... we should talk a great deal if you're going to get involved here> 4) He also has Kalkwasser. Is this something I should consider dosing into my system? I get the impression from WetWebMedia that you don't like Kalkwasser. I also don't think I need it, unless I have corals in the tank. Do you agree? <I don't care for Kalkwasser... too many folks cause themselves and their organisms more trouble than good with its use... Better to invest in a "two part" liquid solution for biomineral and alkalinity adjustments... unless (here's a big stipulation) you understand what you're doing, test regularly, and can "play the game" intelligently between calcium hydroxide, calcium chloride (probably), bicarbonates and carbonates (and possibly a little borate...)... Everyone would be best served (oh if these things weren't so dear/expensive initially) by going with a type of calcium reactor... Bob Fenner, who should just "cash in" and sell them in the West...> Thanks for your time, John

Re: Lighting & Supplements Bob, Thank you. I feel it is best to move slowly. If I add the live rock, fish, snails, crabs and new lighting, that should be enough for the tank. I hope it's not too much. <Me too... and agree with your philosophy. Bob Fenner> John

Re Lighting Hi Bob, Recently I asked you a question about the system of lighting I was thinking of using. I plan on setting up a 125 reef (48x24x24) and was planning to use 4x96watt compacts 10k and 2 110watt VHO actinics. What type of coral life can this sustain? Would you install a fan or two in the hood? <Most all types of what the hobby calls corals... stipulated they're arranged/placed in shallower water (on your rock) depending on if they're higher light-intensity users (the SPS on top for example). And at least one fan, yes> Thanks, Mike <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

New Lights Hi Bob (AKA Cutie-Pie) It's the newbie again. I know with 200+ Emails daily you probably hate these repeat patients!! <Hmm, no> My 92 gal. corner aquarium (up about 3 mos. now) with about 90 pounds of live rock is doing very well. Beautiful coralline growth and new things showing up almost everyday. I have been using the light fixture that came with the ALL GLASS AQUARIUM hood but with a used 30 watt Actinic 03 and a used full spectrum (Both Vita-Lite) I have wanted to upgrade my lighting since I began and I got the chance to buy two PC fixtures (2x55) this weekend. One came with new lights (ALL GLASS AQUARIUM fixtures) the other without so I ordered 2 55 watt Actinics to go in the second one. My question is this....Given these lights that I have now and with what the new ones are, what is my best plan to change them out?  <One new lamp this week, another a couple weeks from now...> I don't want to fry anything... I have just the 2 yellow-tail blue damsels, a domino damsel, a scooter blenny (he's adorable) and my Hawaiian feather duster that I wrote to you about before that lost his feathers and in fact, a new little guy has appeared. He's very much more shy than the first. Could that just be his age?  <Yes, assuredly...> I'm sorry, I think I might be rambling? <No worries> Oh yes the lights (really I'm not blond...;)...)Thanks for taking the time and Oh yes just one more thing. I bought this cute little live rock from the LFS because it had these cute little anemone things growing on it. Oops!!! Aiptasia!! At first it had about three small little clusters on it and some wonderful little red worms. Now it has about 8 (but still all on the original rock).  <Don't we wish our bank balances increased as quickly?> My question is should I get rid of the rock?  <I would take it out and let it air dry in the back yard a couple of weeks... rinse it in freshwater, and return it to the tank...> I love the little red worms, all my other live rock worms are white. Okay that's it I promise (for now) Thanks for your help and I remain your faithful groupie:)!!!!Joyce <Wowzah! Bob Fenner, the fish star!>

Lights Hello Bob, We have a 150 gallon reef aquarium (6ft long, 24" wide & deep) that has two 10,000k and four 7100k actinic. They are 36" and 96 watt. We have very hardy corals now and they are doing very well. We would like to progress to more challenging corals and to add clams. We like the blue appearance, but is that adequate light for clams and not so hardy corals? <Hmm I'd add a couple hundred more watts of "white" light here if it were my system, before venturing into what you have in mind... All photosynthetic life in use in marine systems utilizes actinic light to some degree... Bob Fenner> Please advise. Thanks in advance. Sherri

Lighting Upgrade and Crazy Clown I was reading the FAQs on lighting upgrades, in anticipation of my system upgrade. I'll be going from 440W of VHO over the 115 to 525W of MH and the same 440W over the 180. Quite an increase, so I'll definitely have to acclimate my livestock to the brighter conditions. <Yes> In the FAQs, you suggested dimming them (not possible with these lights) or using some material on a temporary basis to filter out or block some of the light. I was wondering if it would be okay to start with everything in the bottom of the tank and then "phase in" the MH lights gradually, by running them initially for around 2 hours per day and then increasing the MH photoperiod every two or three days to add an hour of MH time until the photoperiod gets to the desired length (most likely 10-11 hours per day). <Yes... another good route to photo-acclimation> (The VHOs will still be running 13 hours/day.) Once the "phase in" period is over, the corals could then be gradually moved closer to the lights over a period of a week or two, until I got them to their "permanent" places in the tank. Would this work? <Assuredly> And another rather amusing observation I'd like to share with you. You must remember the maroon clown, who wandered around at the top of the tank for almost a week after he was added before taking up residence in the plate coral. When the plate coral was removed, he wandered around for a week and then took up residence in the Goniopora (which was already in decline and had to be removed last week because it had lost most of its polyps and was compromising water quality and the health of the other livestock). The clown wandered around all last week again. This morning, guess where he was? In the Featherduster! The worm seemed unaffected by his presence--while Featherdusters will generally retract upon the slightest touch, this one apparently had become accustomed to the clown overnight and was not retracting, in spite of the fact that the clown was thrashing around in it. (Is there a bubble-tip in this guy's not-too-distant future???) <Sounds like it...> All for now. Chat again soon. (Still in a quandary about the "show fish" but researching away on the various angel species and looking for something that would be suitable . . . I'll let you know what other ideas I come up with on that. And, one other question--any comments on using fire fish for the school as opposed to green Chromis?  <The latter are far hardier> Equally suitable or too aggressive amongst themselves?) <Not so much an issue here... due to size, type of decor in system...> Thanks for your thoughts. <Be chatting. Bob Fenner> James A. Deets

Re: Reef Setup Thanks Mr Fenner for your very prompt reply. The saltwater aquarium conversion project got delayed by a week because the glass company kept on forgetting that I needed a 2 1/2 inch hole drilled through the bottom (they did 2" then 2 1/4" then 2 1/2")!!! <Yikes... an expensive week.> Anyways, I wanted to thank you and ask a couple more question... <Okay> I did a check and the heater is 150 watts, not sure why I thought it was 60? :-) <Hmm, this happens> Another question on lighting, do you (or anyone else on the forums, you can post my email address for responses) know of any conversion kits that will convert the Eclipse 3 into a more high intensity unit (like a HO or VHO) so that I may provide more light to photosynthetic aquarium life? <Please see the "Marine Aquarium Lighting" sections posted on our website (www.WetWebMedia.com) for this... there are intrepid types who have gone where you're hinting...> I found a great light setup, I think it's 4 VHO's for about $150, but using it would require dumping the Eclipse 3 which is providing the mech/chem filtering and the limited bio filtering from the bio wheel. <Yes...> Thanks again Mr Fenner, and take care, Stan <I will my friend, thank you. Bob Fenner>

Lighting, lamps, position... Hello Bob, Thank you for your help in the past. You and WWM have been able to answer all my questions so far! I have another one on lighting. I have recently received my long-awaited 125 Ga, and am looking at some compact fluorescents. This will be a FOWLR tank with inverts. It is 22 in deep, and will have 2-3 in of substrate on bottom. I will be buying a retro-fit kit for the canopy. My question pertains to the type of light these kits come with, and what I need. I will have about 135 lbs of live rock, and want it to flourish so any grazers I have will be happy. FFExpress has the 4X96 W that I am looking at. But it comes with 2 actinic bulbs. Do these serve any purpose other than looks?  <Hmm, yes... the particular wavelengths produced are of use...> They are 96 W bulbs, but does their color spectrum benefit growth? That will only leave 196 W of 6700K light (non-actinic). Will this be enough (assuming the actinics are only for looks)? If not, I might consider the next step up, having 4X96 W 6700K and 2X96 W actinics. Or maybe find some other source (less expensive) for the actinics? What do you think? Again, thanks for your time! Jason <And thank you for writing so lucidly. If it were me, I'd opt for the six lamp route with the 4/2 mix... If you were somehow limited to the four lamp route I would switch out one of the actinics for another "white" lamp of about the same temperature. Bob Fenner>

Reef Lighting I am preparing to set up a 220 gallon reef aquarium. The tank is 84"x24"x24". I wish to avoid halide lights. I was looking at VHOs, but all I read says CFs are better.  <Yes. They are> Then I read about the SmartLamp from Custom Sea Life.  <Hmm, these are types of CFs, Compact Fluorescents.> Would you recommend a CF with 6-96 watt bulbs (72x12x4) or 2 (or 3) SmartLamps (72x6x4 each) with 2-96 watt bulbs each? I wish to leave open the types of coral I can keep. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Alvin <The latter choice is superior... and you can add another fixture or two depending on the look you want to achieve or should you move up to more high light intensity livestock going forward. Bob Fenner>

Re: lighting Thanks Bob! The 125 is 6' long, and the 4X96 combo has 4 36" bulbs. So over the tank would be 2 lights per half of the tank. If I swapped out only one of the bulbs and had 3 white and 1 actinic, one half of the tank would have 1 white and 1 actinic, and the other half would have 2 white lamps. How would this effect the tank as far as looks, growth, effectiveness, etc?  <I would opt for the six lamp set-up... as previously stated... with two actinics side by side to the back... otherwise... if you had to use four three foot fixtures/lamps I would put two whites side by side to the front... one and the actinic centered in the middle behind them... Would be brighter in the middle... and would center more of the photosynthetic organisms toward the middle...> I think there are only 2 cords for this set-up (one per 2 lamps), so I wouldn't be able to turn the actinic on before, and off after, the white lamps. It looks like the 6X96 will be the best bet. <Ah, yes!> I appreciate the help! Jason <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Marine Lighting Choices Hi Robert, Sorry to bother you with another question but I am planning on starting a reef tank and wanted your advice on lighting. I was planning on using 2 400 watt 20K bulbs and was wondering if I needed additional supplemental lighting to balance out the spectrums. <Hmm, on how big, deep a system? What sorts of livestock? In general... yes, I would have some about 10K lighting, perhaps one actinic lamp...> In the past when I used 20K bulbs (I like it for its appearance) I balanced out the spectrum with 10K power compacts. Or would the sps corals benefit more if I used 10K metal halides with actinic power compacts. <Yes, they would> I would prefer to only use 2 20K bulbs, because this would limit my costs every year. Please give me some insight on this problem. <Gladly... I would use lower wattage (175, 250's... of a mix of lamps, and some CF actinic... Bob Fenner>

Thanks for all the help... moving lighting fixtures Bob I put a stand in my sump and set an AquaC EV90 on top of it with a pump underneath. Doesn't take up much space this way. My rock came Friday and my skimmer has been going crazy pulling out all the junk in the tank. <Yes> Did find a problem with my lighting though. I went with your suggestion of a 2x96W PC fixture and leaving space for a 2x55W if it was needed later down the road. Well, I found I mounted my 2x96 too far back (while leaving space for the 2x55W in the front). I happened to slide my hood forward last night and the light just lit the rock up so nice. When I slid the hood back, the rock seems to turn yellow/brown. So now I'm going to rearrange my lighting. <Sounds good... glad you have the flexibility> Anyway, thanks for all the help. Things are starting to come together now. Now all I need is a cycled tank. In due time..... <It won't be long.> Thanks again....you've been a most enlightening source of information. Paul <You are certainly welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Lighting upgrade, photo-shock... Bob, A few weeks ago you were helping me with a 75 gal reef tank in an office that developed a bad case of Ich and lost a couple of fish (Yellow tang, Salarias Blenny and maroon clown) and helping me with my hospital tank. (You're welcome) I'm happy to say that the fish in the hospital tank are well (another maroon and 2 damsels) and have been doing fine and are off medication for the last 10 days. The main tank was at 83 degrees and 1.017 spg for 3 weeks, and this marks the 4th week without the fish in it. I began last weekend slowly raising the spg to normal (1.023) and lowering the temperature. (Okay) My problem is that in the period that the fish were removed from the tank I upgraded the lighting from 2-40 watt fluorescents to 260 watts of power compacts (1/2 actinic, 1/2 8800k) and I've noticed two things. ( I started with the actinics on 10 hours and daylights on 8 hours a day and am slowly increasing this to 14 and 12 respectively) (Okay, again... ) First is a 'bloom' of a fine green hair (but not the long hair algae) and some red looking diatom like algae. Is this from the 'new' availability of a different light source, and should this cycle out?  (Yes, largely, and yes...) It's mostly on the back glass and bare areas of LR. It doesn't appear to be growing on the coralline algae on the LR. The clean up crew (Astrea and turbo snails, blue legged and scarlet hermits) don't seem to touch it. I've tried adding some lettuce and grape Caulerpa, but I think my lettuce Caulerpa isn't going to last long with the clean up crew attacking it. Water quality is good (no Ammonia, Nitrite, less than 5ppm nitrate, .1ppm phosphate, ph 8.3) (Okay) The other question I have is with regards to lighting. I retrofit the PowerCompacts into the twin tube hood I had after I removed the fluorescents. The hood is about 6 inches wide, and the tank has an all glass lid that sits on top of it independent of the light. I knew I couldn't' fixture directly on the glass without probably breaking the glass from heat. My initial attempt was to buy two fans from FFExpress and mount them to the reflector inside the fixture, with one blowing air in from above and one blowing air out. This somewhat worked, but the fans were too loud for the office setting.  (There are more quiet fans... check with the etailers listed on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com or Radio Shack...) I presently have raised the lights about 1-1/4 inches above the glass, but the glass lid is still getting a little hot and transferring heat to the tank.  (Yes... I would likely remove the glass... deal with the consequences... though water temperature will likely actually be lower... and evaporation much higher...) The tank goes from about 79 in the morning to about 83 in the evening. (perhaps my algae bloom mentioned above is from the heat too??) (Yes) My next idea is to make a bracket to suspend the strip above the tank about 3 inches and remove the glass lid altogether, leaving the entire top of the tank open. (Ahh! Very good) The water as it is now is about an inch from the glass lid, so the lights would be about 4 inches above the open water. I think this should greatly reduce my heat problems, and I know from your book and questions on this sight you always say no glass between lights and water! Is this the rout you would try? (despite the fact that the instructions from the PC Lights say do not use over open water!)  (Yes) I'm also nervous about any livestock leaving the tank via the open lid. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!  (Perhaps some thin strips of acrylic can be attached to the raised hoods sides...) Also, with 260 watts of pc light in a 48" long by about 18" deep tank, would I be safe with most hardy soft corals and a couple of derasa clams? (Yes, likely.) Once again, thank you for your continuing help! The office staff are anxiously awaiting the return of the fish soon! Kris, PA (I can imagine. Be chatting, and visiting in PA soon. Bob Fenner)

New reef setup, lighting Hi Bob, I've been reading through your site. Lots of great info. I plan on buying your book and reading soon. I am planning on setting up a reef and wanted to get your opinion. I plan on a 125 or so, not more than 24in deep (my arms aren't that long). I've had saltwater fish only for 10+ yrs and beginning to plan a full reef. I do not plan on having clams but possibly some hardy hard corals (elegance, brain)  (The former is not hardy... some of the latter as well...) as well as softies and inverts. My equipment as it stands is 2 Eheim 2017 1 Eheim 2015 and 2 Eheim pumps 300 gph and a UV. My question mostly centers on lighting. I thought of the following 2 scenarios 4x96 compacts & 2 72"VHO or 2 175/250 MH and 2 72" VHO (not interested in a chiller). I plan on DIY hood to accommodate the choice. I was going to have one of the overflows feed a 50 gal sump( with skimmer, auto top off, heater etc) and the other feed a 50 gal ref. with plenum. all in basement)  (How nice) and two heavy duty pumps for the return. What would your choice be on main tank lighting ? K's? What would recommend for the reef tank? K's? (All CF's... no MH... about 10K for temp... one lamp an actinic...) Also regarding water treatment. I have my own well and have talked to the local county health dept about water quality. Our water is drinkable and does not contain any metals or bacteria that make it unsafe. Would you recommend an RO unit or a full test of a water sample? Thanks (For now... if the water is fine for you... it is likely fine-usable for your pet-fish uses... I would count on other methods for modification... for biomineral, alkalinity... perhaps more... Start and run the whole thing as is for now... and investigate calcium reactors, other methods of augmentation while your live rock is curing. Bob Fenner)

Yes another light question Mr. Fenner first off love you site!! <Thank you. Glad to hear you find it of value> I've got a 170 gal reef tank 6' x 17"w x 32"h I've got 4 96w pc lights 2, 67k, 2, 71k My tank is tall and not very wide I know a mistake from the start, but it's built in my wall in my master bedroom with vis on both sides and looks great. <I'll bet it's impressive!> Anyway, I've got mostly soft corals in there and a few frogspawn corals and they do pretty good. I want to keep clams and anemones and don't have enough light. <Yes> I want to go MH lights with actinic supplement but am afraid of heat I do have enough room to have them off the tank) and monthly fees;-) Should I go with 3 175 watt MH or 250W? Some folks have said even 400W. <The latter... especially if you can raise them high enough... if you think you might "get into" SPS... want to really boost the metabolism of your Clams...> Im afraid my tank would roast since I don't have much surface area on my tank to cool it. <You likely have a sump.... and can run a fan over the top of boths water surface... During the Summer you may have to add a chiller, or at least alter your light/dark period toward the evening...> Tell me what you think. Any ideas would be great Thanks, Lance <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Yes another light question Thanks for your input. ? Was the latter 250W or 400W? Thanks <Sorry about the confusion... reading/keying too quickly perhaps for my mind to track... the 250 watt MH's are as high as I would go here. Bob Fenner>

Yet another question about lighting and more . . . (for a small marine system) Hello Bob. I have read many of your responses to these lighting questions and have learned a great deal from you already. I, too, have caught the reef aquarium bug and am weighing various options for upgrading my system. <Ah, good> Currently, I am going round and round in my head about lighting. My tank is a 26 gallon Oceanic flatback hex. Currently, it is lit by a single 36" full-spectrum 30W fluorescent tube. Filtering is done with an undergravel filter with about two inches of crushed coral substrate, powered by two AquaClear 301's, an AquaClear 300 hang-on filter with activated charcoal and phosphate remover media, a heater, and a red sea prism protein skimmer (any thoughts for a DIY bubble trap on this model?).  <Yes, rigging up a "dump mini-sump" on the discharge side (in the aquarium) with filter media in it...> Obviously, lots of room for upgrading. Livestock includes a happy 1.5 inch maroon clown, a 1 inch Banggai cardinal, 4 turbo snails, two hermit crabs, and a medium size piece of live rock that is home to some coralline, a few small pistol shrimp (hitchhikers) and a single green (presumably soft coral) polyp. I have also just begun experimenting with additives (Ca, strontium + molybdenum, and iodine) to see if I can get my live rock really flourishing (sort of treating it as a test subject). <A good idea> My aim is to transform my current setup into a beautiful and complete mini-reef. For simplicity's sake, I would like to go ahead now and upgrade well enough to keep just about anything alive, healthy, happy, and growing (though not growing too quickly to control). The lighting is what's giving me a headache. The aquarium measures 36x13x16. While the shape is pleasing to the eye, with the hang-ons taking up a couple inches in the back I am only left with about 5 inches of space that is 36 inches in length. Upgrading to just a dual-strip 36" PC fixture (which may be all I would need) would not work because there would be a couple inches or so (using CSL's dimensions of 36x7.75x4) hanging over the angled edges in front. I have thought about a fixture that would hang from the ceiling above the tank (PC or MH/PC), but the dimensions on these seem too wide as well. I considered a MH pendant, but would one of these be enough to adequately light the entire tank (36 inches wide)?  <No> Wouldn't two of these be a bit of an overkill (175x2=350/26= 13.5 watts/gallon!)?  <IMO, yes> So, though I am not an expert carpenter, it seems that a custom built cap/hood would probably be the best way to go. <Hmm, perhaps some thinking outside the 26 gallon box?> Unfortunately, though that would help to solve the space problem, there's still the matter of what I should place in this hopefully successfully-built hood. I plan to build it about 10 inches high to make the lights 7 or 8 inches from the water. The inner surface will be coated with Plexi-mirror to help distribute the light evenly. Do you think a single MH (12000K and either 175W for 6.7 WPG or 250W for 9.6 WPG) would be practical considering the high reflectivity of the Plexi-mirror?  <There are some "prismatic" materials made by Japanese companies that might spread and direct the light energy into your tank more evenly here, BUT if I were to keep this size/shape system, I would look to the PC's... the downsides of MH lighting here are too much for me...> Would a single point-source make too many shadows at the sides even with the Plexi-mirror surrounding it? It would be nice to only have to worry about one bulb. I could probably find some sort of automatic dimmer to ramp the intensity up and down slowly for a realistic light cycle without too much trouble. I would like to try to get by without a cooling fan (less noise and one less thing to maintain) by leaving the back of the hood partially open.  <Impossible, impractical... the amount of heat here would/will require not only a fan or two, but the use of a chiller... with MH> That would also give me a little room to fiddle with my skimmer without taking the whole thing off. Do you feel it would be better to go with multiple PC's to distribute the light more evenly?  <Yes> I could maybe get two 36" and one 23" (just barely) or one 14" to fit, but would need multiple ballasts, plugs, etc. <What? Use the 36" ones (assuredly) if you're going to build the elevated canopy... and just one ballast, plug...> Assuming I get my lighting/space problems solved, I have the following vision. I will handle filtration with live rock (a lot of it), live sand, and the skimmer. The AquaClear 300 will be retired after many years of trouble-free service. The crushed coral and undergravel filter will also go. I would like to avoid a sump if at all possible and try to get by with the hang-on skimmer. If experience shows that I need a more heavy-duty model than my Prizm, then I will step up to something adequate to the task. The fish load will remain low, perhaps 2 or 3 more small, peaceful guys. I will err on the side of underfeeding. <Good attitudes, thinking all.... do wish I could send you a much larger system... this is where I would restart your thinking...> One last question. After doing some on-line shopping, I have started leaning toward Florida live rock. I realize it is less porous than the other more popular kinds, but there's this company that will put together a "package deal" for you based on the size of your tank including rock, sand, and cleaner inverts (I am sure you have heard of them).  <Yes, am friends with one of the principals> This seems very tempting to me, since it is "one stop-shopping," and they are reportedly able to get you your live rock from the sea to your nearest airport in under 24 hours, possibly preserving a great deal more of the life. First, they send you the "bottom half" of the live rock, which you cure in your tank until it is cycled, then they send you the prettier rocks and the inverts. This seems like a good deal. Am I missing something?  <Doesn't sound like it> Of course, I would find some one to baby-sit my current inhabitants until my tank was cycled. I would then sort of wait to see what grows out of the live rock and later get a few small hand-picked corals, a nice anemone for my clownfish, and maybe a small giant (oxymoron?) clam. <Take all slow here... easy to get in trouble, quick, with such a small system> Anyway, I apologize for the length of my combined queries, but if you could possibly find time to get through it all, your input would be greatly appreciated. It's always nice to have an expert opinion before starting to throw lots of time and money around. Thanks again and happy reefkeeping! Joel Thibodeaux <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Lighting hi bob, how's it going. I read everything about marine lighting on your web site wet web media (very helpful, useful) and I just wanted to know what you thought about the lighting system I planned on buying. my aquarium is 48x18x24, and I plan on keeping many types of corals, sponges, and clams. I am going with 4 -48" VHO tubes, a ballast, timer, 1-2 fans. is this too much or not enough for optimal photosynthesis and marine life?  <Not too much... about ideal IMO> also, I am a little confused about which color bulbs to go with: actinic blue, actinic white or aqua sun. should I mix and match, or even keep certain colors on at certain times of the day?  <Mix and match and use certain temp.s by day... as gone over in the FAQs> also do I need to worry about excessive ultraviolet radiation? <No.> also, is a VHO set-up cost effective, or are there better methods of lighting?  <Yes. CFs, MH's even if you can/intend to match other needs (like CO2, alkalinity depletion...> thank you. <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Aquarium lighting Hello Bob, You had answered a couple of questions on FFExpress for me and in one of your replies I acquired the link to your Web Site. <Ah good. We'll add our comments here> I have a 55 show tank (48x13x21). I am in need of new lighting for this tank as I am planning on starting it all over with the use of LR. I was browsing through some of your FAQ's on lighting, mainly Power Compacts, and though I had found my answer. <Good> Someone had wrote in with a question about lighting for the same tank, a "soon to be reef tank". He said that he had 2 55 watt PC, I am assuming a total of 110 watts and had asked if he would benefit from adding another 2x55 watt PC. You replied that he wouldn't necessarily benefit from this. I though I had my decision made! <Hmm, will have to look for more here... specifics on what this person had in mind, stock wise, results...> Then low and behold the next FAQ was from another guy with the same size tank asking if a 4x55 watt PC is what he needed. You replied by saying it would be "fine to great". Now I'm totally confused. <Ditto the above> What lighting do I need in the way of PC lighting? I plan on having live rock, along with maybe two to three anemones, a couple of clowns and possibly a Dwarf Angel and a Tang, not to mention the inverts to keep the tank clean for me is this overloading the tank?). Can you give me some guidance? <If they're photosynthetic species (the anemones), a good 4 or more watts per gallon at this depth tank... up to... maybe eight maximum in CF format> FFExpress told me they are have a 10% sale starting March 1st and I would like to take advantage of it. Chris had recommended their 4x65 Power Compact, but was wondering if the 2x55 Smartlight would suffice? <Go with the 4X65's here for sure> Thanks for any advice you may provide me with.. Rod <Thank you... for among other things helping me to clear up my own confusing statements. Clarity is pleasurable. Bob Fenner>

Upgraded Lighting Changes I'm sending this from my home email--so the identifying information that would ordinarily be at the end is not on this message. I'm the new aquarium-keeper that asked about the "tubeless" Featherduster worm. He seems to be doing fine even with no tube--hasn't shed his feathers, yet! <As I stated... might not> A lighting question (and cooling, too). I upgraded to VHO lighting this past weekend. I have a 115 Gal DAS setup. The lights are 2 48" Actinic Whites and 2 48" Actinic Blues. Since the upgrade, the temperature of the tank has been slowly rising, and tonight it was up to 82 before the lights shut off. So lighting is important, but how much?  <Vitally for some organisms... not so much... your choice to a large extent how much you want to boost photosynthesis, provide a balance of all other inputs, put up with the possibilities of inequilibrium> I had the timer on the lights set for 14 hours per day for the pagoda, hammer and pink bubble corals, but due to the temperature issue, I've reset the timer to run only 12 hours per day. Is this sufficient for the hard corals? <Perhaps... they will "tell you"> (I've also got a finger leather in there.) If not, and I need to cool the tank, are you aware of any fan units that fit on the back of a DAS-type tank that can force air through the slots on the back of the tank (since there's really not a separate hood on the tank)? <Take a look at the "Oz's Reef" link on the WWM site... you can cut the top, install vent/s, muffin fan/s> I also noticed a few other things today--some of the live rock--particularly live rock exposed to the most direct light--has turned white. Could this be calcium precipitate? I tested Ca yesterday--it was 420. (I use Tropic Marin Bio-Calcium.) Alkalinity was 4, and pH 8.2. SG is 1.022. If it's Ca, will it eventually dissolve into solution again? <Could be, but more likely resultant of light, temperature changes... some die off, supplanting by other life... decomposers for now> I've also noticed today a bloom of green microalgae on the rocks. Diatoms have been blooming this week as well. I've got 20 Astreas and 20 margaritas that seem to be keeping it under control on the rocks, and 2 sand stars and 3 Horseshoe crabs keep the live sand stirred up. I keep it off the glass. I'm not overly concerned about these two--the cleanup crew (including me) does a pretty good job with it. I went through one diatom bloom with the normal lights before upgrading to the VHO lights. I was wondering, however, are these new blooms likely caused by the additional light? Or perhaps by the temperature increase? <Maybe> I also noticed today what looked like a red "spider web" trailing off of the bubble coral and also saw some of this on one of the rocks. It almost looks like hair. Is this what BGA looks like?  <Maybe the coral... look on the WWM site re BGA, Spaghetti Worms> I read the article on BGA on your site--and it doesn't sound fun, if that's what it is. I've only seen a couple of "strands" so far. Suspecting it might be BGA, I opened the air tube to the skimmer a little more, based on your "scary" BGA article. Does this sound like BGA, and if so, would it be a product of the increased light (or temp) as well? <Likely just these changes triggered it, yes> I tested phosphate today to see if that might explain the diatom and green algae (and red algae?) issue--it was about 0.05. (My first algae bloom happened with PO4 in the 2.5 range, a week or so after the tank was set up, and since the PO4 has been dropping over the past few weeks, I haven't seen too much microalgae.) Since we also added three tangs on Sunday, I tested everything else today to check for "system shock"--ammonia, nitrite and nitrates--all were 0. As far as feeding goes, we feed every other day--sheet algae for the tangs (about a half to one square inch each), flake food (for the 3 Chromis  and 1 damsel--they eat it all), and one ounce of concentrated phytoplankton for the flame scallops and tubeworm. Small pieces of shrimp once a week for the bubble coral and 3 small horseshoe crabs. (The sally lightfoots like it, too.) The tank has 150# of live rock and a live sand bed. Thanks for all your advice, Bob. <Just relating what I would do, speculate. Bob Fenner>

Re: Lighting Thanks once again for your thoughts. My project for the weekend will be to construct a DIY ventilation system to fit on the back of the tank. I'll let you know how the project turns out and how it affects the temperature and evaporation. Until then, take care! <Very good. Looking forward to hearing of your success. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Infusion to Ease Confusion Hi Bob I have a question about lighting. My tank is 48Lx24Wx24H. The present system is the custom SeaLife 4 96watt PC's. I want to have some maxima and crocea clams along with a few SPS corals. The proper lighting for these critters is 5watts per gallon to 7watts per gallon. <Yes, according to some...> As far as the watts per gallon goes does it matter if the wattage comes from PC's or halides as long as you have the proper watts per gallon? <Hmm, yes... the same "watts" light produced (nee consumed) by the MH is of more "use" to these Tridacnids... more effective in deeper circumstances...> I can get another set of PC's from FFExpress or champion lighting a lot cheaper than I can get a set of halides in a hood. Do these animals respond better to the halides than to the PC's?  <Yes> Hope you can be of assistance because I am a little confused. <Easy to be so... we could start a club...> One more thing if you would. Is it also true that the PC's are almost twice as bright as the VHO'S ?  <Okay...> I hope you get all this because once again I am a little confused. Thanks for everything once again, and take care. <No worries... and FWIW, I would likely stick with the PC lighting you have now, mount the clams a bit off the bottom (resting on some rock) and possibly add some extra PC's... rather than switching to MH...  Bob Fenner, www.WetWebMedia.com>

Lighting questions Ok, the lighting problem has me more confused than the filtration and fish selection combined. Hope you can help. I was thinking about building a hood myself. I was considering: "A retrofit fixture designed to be installed in an existing canopy or hood. Included are polished aluminum reflector, remote enclosed electronic ballast assembly with a switch and power cord for each lamp allowing dawn and dusk control, moisture resistant end caps, one 65 watt 8,800K Ultra-Daylight, one 65 watt Ultra Actinic Blue, hardware kit that includes stainless steel lamp hangers, screws, and an installation booklet. No. Lamp/Watts/Color-Temp: 1/65/ 8,800K:1/65/Ultra Actinic Total Lumens: 6500 Amps/Watts: .92A/130W" from FFExpress to install. I have a 46 gallon bow front 36x15x20 in which I have 50+ lbs of live rock with various sponges, macro and micro algae, tunicates, etc attached. I do not plan on a complete reef set up. I would however, like to keep an anemone for future clown fish. Would this light set up work?  <Very likely yes. This is the identical choice I would make... though others would advise all metal halide or the addition of maybe a 175 watt MH pendant for the area over the anemone.> Will it be difficult to build a hood and install the lights or should I try to find someone else to do it for me?  <So simple even I've done it... no worries> Everyone I have talked to will do it (just build the hood) for $150+. I have read the articles on www.wetwebmedia.com for help but I am still confused. Thanks so much! Olivia <Take a look on the WWM web's Links pages... under Hobbyist column... read through some of the DIY outfits like Oz's Reef... for much help, encouragement... On the other hand, if you have the money... Bob Fenner>

Lighting upgrade??? Hi Bob, I have a 55gal reef set up for about 8 months, currently has about 80lbs of LR, a mix of live sand and coral substrate, 1 flame angel, 2 tomato clowns, 1 blue damsel, 1 domino, 1 purple long tent anemone he finally found a resting spot) <Ah, good> , and 1 Sebae anemone, 1 moon coral, and 1 bubble coral, also red mushrooms. The current lighting is 4x40w fluorescent (mix of actinic/day)(160total watts) with a 175MH pendant over the one side with the corals. Is this light sufficient or should I upgrade to PC's.  <I probably would not... what you have sounds sufficient, workable, very nice...> The 2 PC's I was looking at were the 4x55(220) or the 4x96(384), will the latter be too bright?  <In a/the grand scheme of "something" becoming rate-limiting here, yes... If you drive/overdrive photosynthesis... will your system become biomineral deficient? Alkaline reserve scarce? How will you provide for the other inputs matching? I would save for your next, larger system, or dive/photography vacation!> Thanks for the help. filtering is done by power filter and HOT skimmer. Kurt <Chat with you soon my friend. Bob Fenner>

Aquatic Lighting Hi Bob, Thank you for replying to my previous emails. I will make this brief so on to my questions. I am contemplating on upgrading my lighting setup on my 55gallon aquarium. Right now I have a 36inch Smartlites by CustomSeaLife. (bought from FFExpress.com) A while ago, I came across a website called Aquatic Lighting (www.aquaticlight.com). On their site, they are selling MH retrofits for a very low prices. I was wondering, have you heard of this company? I'm actually concerned about their reliability but it says on the site that they advertise on FAMA. <Have seen their ads there, that's about all I know of the company... and FAMA does/has to accept all's ad money... I would scout the hobby forums, listservs for other folks first-hand experiences here.> In regards to the Smartlites, have you had any experience with them? I'm pretty sure having just one (actually two if you consider the daylight and actinic separately) set up is not enough since I have a lot of purplish algae growth on the gravel. Should I just add to what I have right now? or go the Metal Halide way? The tank's dimensions are 40x13x24. <Yes, have demo.ed the Smartlites. The depth of your system makes this a tough call... do you want to boost the growth of high-light demanding species like tridacnid clams, SPS corals? If not, I would likely add more CF lighting. Bob Fenner> Again, thanks for answering my questions. You, your site, your book are my number one resources. Take care. Sincerely, Aldrin <Be chatting my friend, Bob Fenner>

Lighting ? for 90 Gallon Reef Tank. Hello, I have been reading the articles and FAQ's on the http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ and have found them very helpful. I am a novice with this hobby and in the process of planning a reef tank set up. I have a 90 gallon that measures 48" x 24" x 18". I plan to have live rock, corals, invertebrates as well as fish in this tank, along with cleaning type snails, etc. I want to know if the Red Sea Phazer IV that is 48" long with 4 55w lights is the proper lighting? I intend to hang this light about 12" above the tank. <This is a very nice unit... and more than adequate for maintaining (note: not maximizing the growth, color, reproduction...) the vast majority of organisms that folks can/do get hold of for such systems> For further information, I have 2 Powerhead 402's for current and circulation, 1 AquaClear 500 Filter, 1 SeaClone Protein Skimmer, and 2 Visi-Therm 200 Watt Heaters. <You'll likely want to upgrade the skimmer from the get-go...> For the bottom layer of the tank I have 40lbs of Florida Crushed Coral. On top of that I plan to add a thin layer of live sand or dirt. How much live sand should I use?  <A few pounds at most... your live rock will readily seed the substrate... this is how many folks in the supply side "make" their live sand...> Then after that stabilizes I will add live rock. There is a vast selection of live rock to choose from. Should all the rock I use be from the same place?  <Not necessarily... I would put some "premium" pieces, a box on top of more "generic" product... do look/buy by the box... Much cheaper> Should the sand or dirt be from the same place?  <Once again, not particularly... I would/do use a crushed coral material like CaribSea and some old of the same and newer live rock... that's it> Is live rock from Fiji really the best or would live rock and sand from somewhere else work just as well? <Depends on the people it's from... and the season, how conscientiously the go-betweens have been rotating, selling their stocks... but yes, about the best deal all "else being equal".> Thank You, Victor L. Harpley <You're welcome. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Questions about lighting, fixtures Hello once again Mr Fenner I need your honest expert opinion again. hope you don't mind. I have a 120 gal Berlin system 48x24x24. I have a saddle anemone, soft corals, and a few LPS corals. live sand bottom etc. my lighting is 4 96 watt power compacts, I only want to keep LPS corals , my saddle anemone, and the soft corals. My question is, Are my 4 96watt bulbs enough to keep everything healthy. As you may know, there are so many opinions on the proper set ups of this hobby it makes me crazy. That is why I come to you. You are an HONEST PROFESSIONAL, and your opinion means everything to me. I don't want metal halides at all. am not going to have sps corals or clams. will have LPS corals though. change the bulbs every 9 months (not once a year like everyone says. Please give me your honest opinion please. I had just discovered your site a few months ago ( BOY IM GLAD I DID) thank you very much Mr Fenner, You will probably be hearing more from me in the future. Thank you very much for your time, TAKE CARE. <Your present lighting should be fine for what you have in mind. CF's of the sort you describe are what I would have in such a size/shape system for the types of livestock listed. You may peruse my further opinions on marine lighting archived on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner>

Marine Lighting Sir: I have come across your site and hope you might be able to answer my lighting question. <I will try> My marine tank is 30" wide, 12" deep, and 22' tall. In an attempt to get enough lighting to keep stuff alive, I bought a 175W, 10,000K metal halide light. <Wowzah> You probably already know what has happened: the fish seem happy, the anemones are happy, but the algae is covering all glass surfaces. A dozen turbo snails don't even make a dent. Should I replace it with some compact high output fluorescents?  <Maybe.... or other countervailing strategies...> Other suggestions besides shooting myself? <Don't do that... All your chance would be over... we never know when/if things will be better...> Thanks for your help. Bart <A foot deep system with a 175 watt MH... you could try a Mithrax crab, Salarias or Atrosalarias Blenny... I would at least look into a very large sump/refugium to tack on to this system... No, your suggestion is best. I would switch to compact fluorescents. Bob Fenner>

Re: Marine Lighting Many thanks for the advice. I'll work on it over the weekend and write again if things change for the better (or worse). Bart Wilson <Very well. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Appropriate lighting hi bob, your peripatetic brother in law weighing in on you official site concerning lighting. I need more lots more. based on my tank size, 110 gallons about 800 watts worth. but I only have a 46 inch width opening. I would like to use a pc system but it seems like I will have to go to metal halides to get the necessary wattage. hesitant to make the investment w/o some of your guidance. thanks much <Thank you for writing Pat... and do concur with your situation, appraisal... I would likely hedge my investment here with the Metal Halides, maybe moving your present lighting to actinic in conjunction (just move the fixtures forward or backward from the MH. And would add some lighting to that sump, or another (this is a Tenecor system to you browsers) that you can tie in with your current one. Had a dream about your toxic water condition last night, and see that you have another msg. to me, so will resp. there. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

VHO or CF? Hi Bob, I am planning a 29 gallon tank for sp corals. I am especially enchanted with Acropora sp. I have a canopy and must make a decision on the best lighting to install. I am very tempted to go with 3 24" VHO tubes by URI. I would definitely use an electronic ballast (probably IceCap). But, in reading through many of your letters/responses, it seems that you might recommend going with CF's. The bottom line is that I want the sp corals to flourish. Please give me your thoughts as specifically as possible with regard to type, wattage, and spectrum of bulbs. Thanks, Trace <Actually (this adverb tossed in here to preface what may seem like contradictory information, instruction sets, but am not paid by the word...) I would like to suggest a 175 Watt Metal Halide for your 29 gallon... this size/shape system, being quite deep and more "square" in top profile than many tank models and your apparent desire to culture SPS corals like the Acroporids... that do best with intense lighting... causes me to make this my number one choice. I know some folks who would even undergo the electric bills and induced waste heat problems/solutions and place a 400 W MH on top of this tank...  And yes to my next choice being a Compact Fluorescent system... not as spectacular to view or as pretty as the MH possibility, but more light for less money (useful) than the VHO's... The MH can be most any temperature from 5,500 Kelvin on up, but wouldn't spend my money on any above 10k.... and do investigate whose lamps are currently longer lasting, and record the inception, replacement dates for same in your calendar/date book.... Guess that's about it. Bob Fenner>

Weiss light  bob  how good are these lights for small reef tanks  thanks  Fred Kious <Have no experience with the line, but I would contact them directly, ask who really makes the lamps, fixtures... what the temperature, effective life span (lumen depreciation, spectral drift) and cost of lumens per kilowatt hour are... And make up your own mind from there. Will the unit be "too much" light and heat for your proposed "small reef tank"? Bob Fenner>

Lighting Mr. Fenner, I have a 30 gal tank that is fairly new (2 1/2 months). I have researched and read all sorts of stuff on lighting, and I'm confused. I eventually would like to have corals, anemones and/or clams in my tank. I'm going to have my dad (who is an electrician) make a hood for me with better lights. What do you suggest as far as lighting, how many bulbs, wattage, VHO's or power compacts, etc.? I would prefer to stay away from metal halides. Thanks for your help. <PC's would be best, a hundred watts or so... more would be okay to about double. Do read over the lighting FAQs on the WWM site. Bob Fenner>

Lighting on an 20Gal Extra High >Mr. Fenner, > I've recently set up a 20 gallon extra high tank (20x12x24) and was wondering what your recommendation on lighting for it would be. I currently have a DIY hood with 4 15watt T8 NO fluorescents that consist of 1 blue actinic, 1 50/50, and 2 10ks. I've been told that this won't be enough for the types of corals that I want to keep (Torches, Hammers, etc.) and need to go the MH route. > I've been doing some research and from what I've gathered, I could go the PC route and cram 2 36watt bulbs with a reflector over my tank for a total of 72watts to achieve 12 watts more than my current setup. Or I could go with a 175watt or 250watt MH and get WAY more light. Do I need the extra lighting? If so, what route would you suggest? >Many Thanks >Jay Longacre <Well written, and obviously investigated... and if it were me, I'd stick with the lighting rig you have for the Euphyllias (family Caryophylliidae) you've listed and for many other not-so-high-intensity light species... even in your twenty high, these will do fine. So, you could boost metabolism and growth rates with other lighting? I'd rather put my time, efforts and safety margin into other endeavors. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Bob, You gave me some good advice some time ago, so I thought I would come back to you with this question. I have a 72 gal. bowfront reef tank that is doing very well. However, certain types of corals, such as open brains, do very poorly in it. I suspect one part of the problem may be the type of light I am using. I believe this because I moved several open brains that were dying into a 'deep water' tank I have that uses only actinic blue lights. They started recovering almost immediately and have grown back over all of the dead sections. The bowfront tank has a Reefsun light with two 10,000K 400 watt Metal Halide bulbs, for a total of 800 watts. Should I switch to another (higher) light temperature in this fixture? Does it need more high frequency light? 12,000K? 14,000K? <IMO probably not... I would take a/the "wait and see" view and possibly add an actinic compact fluorescent fixture to your array.> Any input you have would be helpful. Peace. Love. Recycle. <Hmm> David Bernert >> <Bob Fenner>

Reef aquarium lighting Dear Bob, I have a 72 gallon bowfront aquarium with 90lbs of live rock. I am looking for lighting and I don't quite know which way to go. My aquarium is 48long 17 wide to the center of the bow and about twenty inches deep. I have been looking at power compact pennants to hang over the tank. I found a 4 bulb 220 watt fixture. I am curious if this will be enough light for mushrooms, soft corals and possible any clams. I am also curious if it would be better to go with VHO. I am not quite sure which one is the better value. I am also curious if this is enough lighting what type of corals which are pretty easy to care for would you recommend for the beginner. I appreciate all you help. >> >> Thanks for asking... and am a big fan of the compact fluorescent technology... at about 3 watts per gallon, this scheme is a bit low for tridacnid clams and SPS (Small Polyped Stony corals)... but I would still go with this scheme if all you're looking for is some growth/maintenance and not attempting to boost these higher-light using species metabolisms... The VHO's are comparable in many ways (intensity, spectral mix...) but more money in terms of useful PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) and service factor (cost per unit...) in the medium to long haul. Bob Fenner, who invites you to read over the lighting sections stored on the site: Home Page

Lighting for a Marine Fish Set Up - normal output fluorescent T8 bulb lig... A little about lighting options. I have narrowed my lighting options for the main tank to normal output (NO) fluorescent bulbs and power compact (PC) bulbs. I know that you really like the PC bulbs, but I am wondering if can get away with the less expensive NO bulbs given the fact that the main tank will focus on fish.  <Absolutely. Whatever intensity and looks will suit you will be fine with your fishes... Do get/use timers for the lighting as regularity of light/dark cycles is important.> NO lighting. The T8 bulbs by Sylvania and ZooMed look interesting to me, for their greater energy efficiency than T12 bulbs and low cost. I was thinking that I could illuminate the 125 to 150 gallon tank with two 48" 5500K or 6000K bulbs, two 10,000K bulbs, and two 48" Actinic bulbs. At 36 watts per bulb, this arrangement would provide a total of 216 watts for an affordable initial outlay and low replacement costs. This arrangement might also provide a wide spectral variation for the overall tank look. <I'd leave out the actinics... the "blue" is not of use, nor attractive for your setting, IMO... and do look into the Sylvania Chroma lamps at Home Depot, Lowe's...> Power compact lighting. In a previous email message, you suggested looking into CustomSeaLife PC set-ups. After looking at some pricing information for PC bulbs, I thought that I would light the tank with two 96 watt 8800K bulbs and two 55 watt actinic bulbs, which would provide a total of 302 watts of light. This set-up would provide more wattage than the T8 bulb set-up discussed above, but I don't know if the quality of light would be better (in terms of spectrum) and the replacement cost is much higher per year (about $170 for the PC compared to $72 for the T8 bulbs). <If it were me, and I were choosing between these two, and would not be using much live rock... and no plans for other purposeful photosynthetic life, I'd go with the T8s> Now a few questions.  1. Would the fish be healthier with more light in the main tank (e.g., for pineal gland stimulation) than provided by the T8 bulbs?  <Not really... and the added algae problems from the increased intensity contraindicate more light> 2. What do you think of the Sylvania and ZooMed T8 bulbs? Do either of them put out good quality light? Is the quality of light put out by these T8 bulbs comparable to the quality of light put out by PC bulbs? <Quality? Yes, quite similar... the mechanism of production is just different... less expensive per unit PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) with CF...> 3. Would you recommend any other bulb arrangement over the ones I discussed above for a short and squat 125 to 150 gallon main tank that focuses on fish? <Yes. Just something in the 5,500 K temp, 92+CRI... and lowest otherwise cost of acquisition, install and operation... better to spend more on ballasting (electronic) than get too involved with lamp types... Bob Fenner> Thank you again. Bruce Grant

Marine lighting You may have answered some of these question before but I just ran across your web site and I have a question I would like your opinion on. I have read so much about all the different lightings and I guess there are many ways to go but I am going to set up a 36X18 Tank for a reef tank. Approx 50 gallons. My choices are the following:  which is best? 1-MH 175 W , 2- 30W actinic 1-MH 175W, 2 PC actinic All PC lighting. I am still confused on which would be the best lighting. I am just not convinced all Power compact is best. I was planning on having 2 fans in the hood about 8 inches from the top. I would very much like to hear what you think. Thanks very much. Dennis >> The "best" functionally (IMO of course), are the all-PC.... the most light of useful wavelengths for the lowest per unit cost (fixtures, lamps, replacement, electricity...), but in terms of looks... as in "beauty is in the eye"... you might prefer some, all metal halide...  To the organisms you intend to keep, and what you hope to do with them (boosting growth let's say), more intensity, wattage of either lighting format is warranted... I'm sure you start to understand the distinction between form and function, economics, and esthetics. Bob Fenner

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