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FAQs about Light and Lighting for Marine Systems 19

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Related FAQs: Marine System LightingFAQs 2, 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 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 LightingSmall System Lighting, Lighting Marine Invertebrates LR LightingTridacnid Lighting

1000w Metal Halide 11/6/08 Okay. I'm throwing this out there and I know it may sound crazy. <We all are at times!> I have been in the SW tanks for about 7 yrs or more. I started with the old fashion florescent. Then a few years ago I updated to a 260w Compact florescent system on my 55g. Well I have a 125g that I am setting up and a need a better lighting system. I am going with a metal halide system that I want to do myself. I was going to go with 3 250watts but the price is going to be up there. Someone locally is selling some metal halide flood lamps for $25 complete which sounds great cause all I have to do is change the bulb since its basically the same ballast. The problem is that it is a 1000w each. Here's the question. Can I really go with 1 1000w metal halide bulb for a 6ft tank and try to make a reflector to shine on the whole tank.  I'm pretty sure you will say go with the 3 lights but will this work? <I will suggest the three bulb combo. Do consider the retrofit/DIY type systems, can save some big bucks here. A reflector will just not be able to adequately spread this bulb.> Budget!!! <Do consider 750W vs. 1000W. At 30 cents a Kw/h, 10 hours a day, it works out to a $22.50 a month difference! You would have fewer bulbs to replace, but the selection in the 1000W range for reefs is small end expensive.> Thanks <Welcome, Scott V.>

Will This Light Configuration Work on My 180g Reef?  11/03/08 I normally can find answers by searching previous FAQ, but this question is specific to my situation. <<Okay>> I have a 75-gallon 48" mixed reef that I am upgrading to a 180-gallon 72" reef tank. <<Cool>> Do you think I can utilize the 46.5" VHO 440watt retrofit fixture I have on my 75-gallon now, if I put it on the 180-gallon and then add either 2-250 watt metal halides or 3-175 watt metal halides? <<Sure'¦ The VHO will likely be for Actinics/aesthetics anyway, yes?>> I would put the VHO lights in the back of the canopy and then have the halides in front of the 46.5" VHO retrofit fixture. So it would look something like this if bolted underneath the canopy. with 3-halides, or with 2-halides.  Do you think this would be ok? <<Either should be fine>> As far as the tank goes I live in California so I think I am going to go with acrylic. <<Sounds good>> Thanks, you guys are awesome!

Fiber optics, sunlight and reef lighting 11/2/08 Hello again WWM crew and thank you in advance for your help (past, present and future!). <Glad the site has helped you out!> I was wondering if there is any available information about reef lighting using fiber optics to transmit actual collected sunlight. I have seen articles about using fiber optic lighting using MH and other synthetic light sources, but I am unable to find anything about using natural light source with fiber optics to light a reef. <I too have been wondering this, searching for possibilities lately.> I know there are technologies out there that use fiber optics to carry sunlight indoors to be used to light areas of rooms, but that doesn't necessarily require the spectrum to be transmitted. I know these systems are typically supplemental lights, since the sun isn't always bright enough on rainy days and gives no help at night, but it seems to me that may actually be beneficial in a reef system as long as the spectrum is maintained. <Yes.> It seems it would provide a year round natural light cycle that could have its own benefits. I realize that you would have to have enough fibers to attain the proper intensity, but I do not know how many fibers that might be. <Nor do I, it would depend on the ambient intensity.> So, basically what I am wanting to know is can fiber optics be used to transmit sunlight to a reef tank in place of artificial lights? <I have no doubt it could.> Can it maintain the proper quality and quantity for photosynthetic creatures? <Don't see why not.> Would such a system be possible and feasible or would it necessarily be too large in order to maintain light intensity? <I suspect it would likely be cost prohibitive.> It seems to me that even if there were more initial cost, the long term savings in electricity and replaced bulbs would offset the initial investment rather quickly. <To a point. I do love, am captivated by the idea. With new emerging technologies, the power cost to light our reefs is dropping all the time. Free would be nice. T5s have started to change the way reef lighting is implemented, with the LEDs being the future IMO. Below is the best material I have found thus far on the subject, though not directly reef related.> Once again, thanks for all your help and for a great site. Rob Watson <Welcome, Scott V.> http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/246/ http://pesn.com/2005/07/27/9600139_Fiber_Optics_Bring_Sun_Indoors/

Re: Fiber optics, sunlight and reef lighting 11/5/08 Thanks for the quick response and good info. <My pleasure, learning here too!> It seems to me from the info you pointed me to that the technology is probably there. <Definitely, the question is, is it worth the cost or can it be done DIY?> The system that seemed most promising in my opinion is the satellite dish style collector that moves with the sun. I had seen some info on these systems already, but what you pointed me to was more informative. As a follow-up, if I were to query these companies about the light quality their systems emit at the business end of the fiber optics, what questions would be pertinent? I am aware of the guidelines for artificial light (Kelvin rating preferred 10-20 K, 4-8 watts per gallon depending on species being kept), but I am sure there are other questions that would be more informative in this natural lighting type scenario. <That is one question, what is the color temperature that is actually transmitted. From what I have read the data FOs use shorter wavelengths than we would use in the reef. But, I do also realize it is more of a matter of the source light, which in our case is the sun. If the spectrum is transmitted without alteration, actinic lighting can balance things out for the tank.> For instance, is there a PAR rating of the light exiting the fiber optics that I need to look for (based on mounting the "lamp" end either at X distance from the water surface or even under water)? <I would ask in regards to spectrum and lumens emitted. I doubt (though it would not hurt to ask) that they will have a PAR value to offer, it would be nice.> Since one of their main points is that you get natural color, does that need to be a concern? Or, does that most likely mean the light will be around 6700 K and not near the 10K or more desired? <Actinic supplementation would be required. If a filter is employed to alter the spectrum (or if the optic line itself changes things), it would simply filter out the lower wavelengths, not increase the shorter.> Is there some other measure or light intensity I need to seek, or if they claim their light is equivalent to X watts, would that be more useful? <Watts in relation to whatever bulb they are comparing it to can be useful, I would like to know a claimed lumen output, although this will depend highly on the input!> I saw an article (I believe in Advanced Aquarist) that mentioned the possibility of the light-emitting end being placed under the water surface, since there isn't heat emitted and no electricity to prevent this, that would allow for lower light levels since you would be losing no light to surface reflection. Not sure I am a total proponent of this, since you would lose the dappling effect that you get from single point light source. Plus, it seems you would inevitably get salt creep into difficult to clean places, even in a very well sealed unit. But I can see the benefits of requiring less light and making this more feasible since there is no surface reflection. What are your thoughts on above the water surface versus below the surface lighting in this type setup? <I see many problems with below the water, mainly light dispersion. Even though it is �free�, we still want the whole tank to be lit!> The articles I read also state that the reflector of this systems blocks UV and IR. While I can definitely see the benefits (no cancerous UV and no heat transmission from IR), is there some amount of these spectrums that is currently considered necessary in a reef? <Not really, we do take steps to filter out UV with our halides. Some do argue that some UV is necessary.> I am aware that in many species, lack of UV-B can cause calcium deficiency. Do corals and other photosynthetics also utilize UVA and UVB? <No.> Would the lack of all UV be detrimental? Would it be better to only block the cancerous UVC for a reef? <These all bring us back to the basic question, what spectrum do these systems transmit? Filtering out the shorter wavelengths will lower the Kelvin rating. Do realize many indoor lights are 4000K, or even down to 3000! If this is what they are comparing to then.  However, I do suspect the filtering of shorter wavelengths is intentional, likely with a simple filter, that should be able to be omitted from the system.> Thanks again for all the help. Sincerely, Rob Watson <Thank you for spurring me to investigate this further. I have talked to a couple of engineering/reefing friends and they both seem to think there is great promise in this, even as a DIY! One even has the idea (and wants to try out) of aluminizing (like they do for telescope mirrors) a satellite TV dish. It is a parabolic collector with a known focal point! Pricing out some FO lines, we speculate this may be able to be done for the price of a nice MH fixture. Time and experimentation will tell, as will spectrum and intensity! One great link I was pointed to, hopefully this will help you out too. I will keep in touch with what we find, as I urge you to do to. Scott V.> http://www.nait.org/jit/Articles/grise122002.pdf

Biocube lighting...10/30/08 Hey crew! <Wes.> I have a 29g biocube that has been running smoothly for almost a year now.  I have a few questions about some upgrades that I am planning on making within the next few months. <Okay.> For starters, I have been reading up on some hood mods that allow for an increase in lighting (I believe they beef up the ballasts for metal halides, but I'm not sure). <Useful, but imparts quite a bit of heat to the tank when enclosed in these hoods too.> Right now, I just have the standard 10000k/actinic compact flourescent combo (at 36 watts apiece). My corals include mostly easy to keep specimens such as mushrooms, various polyps, leathers, a candy-cane coral, and a Plate coral in the sand bed. I have around 60 pounds of live rock total. Now, on to my first question: Until I can manage to buy the upgrades, would it be desirable or at least similar to my current setup to replace the 10000k bulb with a 50/50? Coralife makes a 50/50 bulb that's the right size and shape for the biocube, and I'm interested in having more blue light from the actinic half to better display the colors of the corals I have, but I don't want to sacrifice the healthcare of the corals to do so. <I would keep the 10000K, with this low wattage you will want to keep the intensity you do have.> Also, I'm thinking about having a sump (or at least a place for more live rock and a bigger skimmer) down below my tank. I have the standard Biocube stand, and the shelf is easily removable. How would you recommend going about this? <A small aquarium below can constitute the sump. As for getting water there, do consider drilling, the way to go. http://www.reefercentral.com/drilling_video.html> Finally, I've had the skimmer made by Oceanic especially for the Biocube for around 4 months now, and I'm not satisfied with it. I'm looking for a skimmer that won't break my wallet (under or at least close to $100 if possible) and that I won't have to move the large amount of live rock rubble I have from the middle chamber to fit. I don't have any problem with cutting the back of the hood to make room for a hang on unit, so that would be ideal until I can get the sump set up. <If you are at all planning on adding a sump I would wait on the skimmer. Then, do look at spending a tad more and consider an AquaC Urchin.> Thanks for the help! -Wes <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Biocube lighting...10/31/08 Thanks for the speedy reply! <Welcome.> This presents a bit of a problem for me: I don't feel confident enough to drill my tank.  I would rather set up an siphon and pump, if at all possible. <Sure is, do consider two for the sake of redundancy.> As for the skimmer, I've never heard of this one before, but it looks good. <They are, especially for the size and price point.> Do you think the Prizm by Red Sea will suit the situation? <The money is much better spent on the AquaC.> I've also been recommended a Bak-Pak skimmer by my LFS, but that would require me to move the live rock in the middle chamber to put it there. <AquaC hands down over this too, far superior skimmer.> As for the halides, the Biocube has two fans, and I think the mod includes better ones, so that can disperse some of the heat. Thanks! <Welcome, have fun. Scott V.>

Lighting question, SW 10/27/08 Hi, I was thinking of an experiment and curious to see the experts' opinion. I am going to build a strip light with 8 or 10 outlets for regular light bulbs. If I use those energy efficient spiral bulbs at 100 watts a piece, will that type of light keep coral alive in a 55 gallon 18" deep tank? <With enough of them, sure. Do keep in mind the 100 watt rating is comparative to an incandescent, not to 100 watts of traditional reef lighting (VHO, PC or halide).> They don't say the temperature of the light on the box, <The bulb manufacturer's site likely will. Many of these bulbs are too low in the spectrum, some may be appropriate.> I was just wondering if anyone else has tried this approach. <I have seen this, much trouble for little to no return.> Thanks for the time. <Welcome, Scott V.>

Lighting Question - Marine Tank -09/03/08 Hi, <Hello!> This site is great and I have learned so much here. Probably the best place for information an any and all aquarium related questions.<Everyone appreciates that!> My tank is a 72 gallon with 45 lbs LR, 7 fish, cleaner shrimp, 10 crabs, 5 snails, and a Bubble Tip Anemone. My current lighting is the following: 48" Coralife Lunar Aqualight Compact Fluorescent, 4x65 watt w/ 4x moon glow LEDs. I have 2x 10K and 2x 50/50 bulbs currently. I want to make sure that my anemone can get enough light from that. What do you think? I also have the chance to get the Hagen GLO T5 HO 2 Bulb system (54w bulbs) for a great price, would that be equal to or better than my current setup? Or would I need 2 of those to equal my Coralife setup? <First, you are trying to compare watts to watts for your output. What is important is PAR.(photosynthetically active radiation)You want a PAR reading to be around 300 PAR for anemones. Julian Sprung discusses PAR in detail in his book...Coral Reference Guide. To get these readings you would need 2 of the T5 HO fixtures or 2 fixtures of your PC units. This would suffice a depth of up to 20 inches deep with the fixtures no more than 18 inches above the water(the closer the better!) Metal halide pendants in the 150w range would be even better!> What bulb combination would you recommend here?<This really comes down to personal preference but you do want to run one actinic type bulb to each daylight type bulb as a general rule.> My Coralife seems to generate lots of heat, will the T5 be significantly cooler?<Yes, the T5's run cooler. But, remember these are different bulbs, ballast, fan units, etc.> <If you want a recommendation on what to buy, I suggest you look at several tanks and see what you like and is working for others near you. The options are limitless! There are 2 many choices in the lighting market! Please read this page and check the links also... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm > Thanks for your help. <Hope I did help, Rich> Theo

Lighting for a 48 X 18 X 30 Acrylic Tank (Not enough detail) -- 06/17/08 Hi, <<Hello Rhonda>> I combine three smaller saltwater tanks into a larger acrylic tank about 8 months ago. I always had good color and growth on my softies in the smaller tanks and now they don't seem to be getting enough light. <<Hmm'¦why do you think it is the lighting?>> They system is solid acrylic and is 48 X 18 x 30 <<Is this L x H x W'¦or L x W x H? BIG difference'¦>> and it has a beautiful stand and canopy that I would like to keep on top if possible. <<I see'¦this canopy may well limit your lighting options>> Currently I have - 2 VHO 95 watt, a Nova Extreme fixture with 2 - 39 watt T5 and a Coralife fixture with 2 - 28 watt T5 rigged into the hood. I want to go with a retro fit and would like your advice on what to go with and what bulbs and the timing on them? Thanks for your help, Rhonda <<Well Rhonda, if this tank is 18' high, I would think the lighting you have would be adequate'¦depending on the bulb/color/K-values used (which you didn't supply here'¦along with other pertinent info such as specifics about your livestock and its placement in the tank, and details of the canopy). So, based on some assumptions (18' high x 30' wide tank'¦a mixture of livestock with low to medium-high lighting requirements'¦a canopy that limits lighting options), I would recommend a T5 lighting retrofit. I would go with 54w HO bulbs. You will need a minimum of 6 to spam the 30' width, but 8 would be better. You could use all 10K bulbs, but many folks don't like the look or just want some 'fluorescence' as that provided by Actinic lighting. If that is the case with you, then use two Actinic bulbs in a 6-bulb setup'¦or three Actinic bulbs in an 8-bulb setup. As for the 'timing' of the bulbs'¦I like at least a 12-hour photo-period to more closely replicate the lighting periods these animals experience in the Tropics. And if you can put the Actinics on a separate timer, allow them to come on/go off an hour or more before and after the 10K lighting to ease this transition. Hope this helps. EricR>>

Filtration Questions & Lighting Question. 06/05/2008 125 gallon aquarium AGA, at least 200-300 lbs of rock, Fiji, holey lime and bowl. Substrate is mostly crushed coral and sand. <<Make sure the crushed coral is kept very clean to save elevated nitrates>> Life forms - soft corals. Fish - too many, but working on getting them down to a low roar. Lighting - T5HO 4 6' long, CF 96 watt bulbs, 6' length. 2 heaters, I think high wattage, but not sure off the top of my head. Timers set for lighting to fluctuate. 3 hours T5HO, 3 hours of T5HO + CF, 3 hours of CF. Is this a good schedule? <<Sounds fine, as long as about 8 hours of white marine light is apparent, i don't see any issues>> Refugium - Aquafuge Pro Large, built-in skimmer, 17 gallon holding area, return 2100 Rio, maxi-jet 1200 on skimmer, kelp and Chaeto and something else, 8lbs of live Fiji, substrate is crushed coral and sand. <<Ok>> I have a wet/dry from Tru Flo I used to use. I had converted this to a fuge, but have removed it and inserted a real fuge. I am wondering if I should be running that alongside the fuge or not. <<The Wet/Dry?? No, not really>> I do dose with Purple Up, Iodine, Trace Elements, Calcium and Alkalinity steps 1 and 2. <<You don't mention hard corals, do you "need" to be dosing calc and Alk? Stop doing iodine and purple up. Purple up is a complete waste of money as all you need for good coralline algae growth is light, calc and mag. With these apparent, additives will not be required. Trace elements / iodine should not really be needed as these are replenished via your water changes. Does an iodine test show that your suffering from a deficiency?>> I have built a Kalk drip and may use that, but am a bit afraid it would drop the alkalinity without my ability to re-establish that...how would I go about doing that? <<As above, do your tests stipulate that you need to use this? if they do not, then don't use, no need. Incorrect setup of the drip can lead to problems, please do read more here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm >> I feed every 3 days, except eel, who I feed every day or every 2 days so he won't eat my shrimps. <<Sounds fine>> The biggest question is do I run dual overflows and run the wet/dry on one side with a skimmer in that alongside the Aquafuge Pro Large, or do I just run the refugium? <<I would just run the fuge, as i really don't feel that wet/dry filters have any place on a marine aquarium as i feel the maintenance aspect is very high. If anything, convert it in a sump or add as another refugium>> What do you guys suggest? <<Thanks for the questions, I hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Upgrading from PC to T5? 5/26/08 Bye Bye PC, Hello T5 (Lighting Upgrade) Hi WWM! <Hey thee! Scott F.in today.> Let me just say that I Love your website...It's such a help. I have had my reef tank for about 3 years now and am looking to upgrade from my Current USA 2x65 watt Compact PC light to something more suitable for a greater range of corals such as a T5 light. I would like to be able to keep clams and SPS and LPS corals and my light now just won't cut it. Also, I don't want the added heat and electric costs from using a Metal Halide light. My tank is a 29g that is 30"x18"x12" so it has been hard for me to find a light that fits well. I know that I would eventually like to upgrade to a 55g so I'm thinking of just buying a 36" light so that I can use it in the future as well. My question is: What light would you recommend for my needs? I have no idea on what brand or wattage I need so your input is greatly needed. Thanks so much!Justin <Well, Justin, I would tend to agree that T5 is an excellent light source. I am a big fan and use them myself. I can heartily recommend Sunlight Supply, Current, or Geismann fixtures, probably the 4/39w or 6/39w versions. I'd lean towards a 6 bulb version- pack as much light in there as you can, assuming your animals require higher intensity. If you're a DIY'er, you could get some Ica Cap retrofit kits, which also do the job, but require a bit of wiring and installation. Do check out some etailers and ask them what kinds of packages they offer...pricing can be competitive on these items, so it does pay to shop around somewhat. Hope this helps! Also, don't forget to acclimate your life forms to this more powerful light source. Do see here on the WWM site the information on this process, written by my good friend Anthony Calfo. Much good information here. Regards, Scott F.>

Lighting... more or less reef, two feet deep... 05/24/08 Hi, There is so much info on your site it's overwhelming. I have question about lighting. I have 180 saltwater (72x24x24) and it has a glass lid completely covering top and a canopy. Lots of live rock, fish and a green condy anemone. When I setup tank a year ago the guy that services my tank had me get Coralife F21-T5-BP 10,000 I have 4 fixtures with 2 bulbs in each at 21 watts a piece. 2 daylight fixtures and 2 actinic fixtures. After research I don't feel that I have enough lighting for this huge tank. <You don't> I would like to keep some polyps and mushrooms, and would like to find a fixture that is on the lower end of cost, does not put out to much heat and covers the length of the tank. <... Mmm, you're faced with only a few real choices here. I'll skip right to the end of the chase here and say I'd place either two or three metal halide pendants above... sans the cover glass... 175 or 250 watts each... all covered on WWM> Is it ok to have the fixture lying on glass top? Thank you in advance for time and info... DeLana <FWIW cost wise to acquire and power/run these fixtures, I'd do a bit more reading... You could get by with CFs... Bob Fenner>

Simple Lighting Question -T8 Reflector 5/21/08 Hey Guys, I have a very simple question, but the answer seems not so favorable for what I need. Basically I'm looking for a reflector for a 36" T8 bulb. While I can find these on European websites, they aren't readily available in the US as far as I can find. So my question is do you guys know of any company in the US that sells clip on T8 reflectors? <No.> And if not, how would I go about making my own reflector? <You could simply get a sheet of aluminum and bend your own or get a 'solo' type reflector made for standard fluorescent bulbs. Either way you can just attach some T8 clips to the reflector to make your own clip on. I do know of one place in the US to get the clips! http://petchauffeur.net/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?page=TPCS/PROD/ACLAF885 . Consider calling them to see if they have a line on some of these reflectors also.> Before you guys ask, T5 isn't an option as this setup I have is for T8 only. <Understood.> Thanks a lot, Mike <Welcome, good luck, Scott V.>

Ok to replace actinic bulbs with all 10000K? 5/19/08 Actinic Lighting- Aesthetic Or Biological Benefits? I have a shiny new Current USA Sundial with T5HO bulbs - it has two 10,000K bulbs and two actinic blue bulbs - the fixture is great, the fan is quiet, etc. My tank is in a family room with a fairly large window and the bluish color of the actinic bulbs sort of puts me off. My eyes adjust to the indirect light coming into the room and once the actinic bulbs come on it just looks too blue. <Not an uncommon viewpoint in the minds of many hobbyists.> Even at night the blue color doesn't seem so natural. I've been thinking of taking out one of the actinic bulbs and replacing it with another 10,000K bulb or swapping out the actinic bulbs altogether and using nothing but 10,000K bulbs. The coloration of the 10,000 K bulbs looks great and very natural. <I'm a big fan of the 10,000k bulbs. They do lend a natural look to the aquarium, and provide the benefit of full-spectrum lighting for the photosynthetic inhabitants of the aquarium.> Before I do this, I'm curious if there is any benefit of actinic color light to any reef inhabitants? Or is actinic lighting purely for show? <There is some benefit to actinic lighting. It does assist in photosynthetic processes, and helps corals manufacture food. On the other hand, it is really just a part of the complete spectrum of light required by these animals. It does impart some interesting aesthetic effects, of course, such as fluorescence, but it is not required for ultimate success with a reef system, in my opinion.> Love the website - love your books. thanks, Jason <We're glad to bring you the website each and every day, and I join you in thanking Bob for his work on behalf of all hobbyists! Regards, Scott F.>

Reef Lighting'¦PC or T5? -- 05/19/08 I have searched your web site and I still can't find what I am looking for. <<Okay>> I have a 29 gallon reef that has been running for over 5 years now. I currently have a Coralife pc light on it (130 watt fixture). The fixture is starting to fall apart and I want to get a new fixture. <<Sounds like it is time'¦>> What I am trying to find out is if it would be better to switch to a T-5 fixture with 156 watts or should I stay with a pc fixture. <<Is up to you'¦either will work. Though I do like the T5s better/consider them better technology with a wider selection of bulb types (Kelvin Temperatures) available>> Thank you ~Adam <<Happy to share. EricR>>

RE: Reef Lighting'¦PC or T5? -- 05/20/08 Another Question that I have is would I be better going with a 36in fixture or a 24in. My tank is only 30in long but I would like to go with more wattage. Or would it just come down to my own preference? Thanks <<The 36' fixture will indeed be brighter and definitely get more light to the 'ends' of the tank over the 24' fixture. But, base your selection on the needs of your animals'¦ If they need the brighter lighting, or will do well under it and that is your preference, well then'¦'¦ Regards, EricR>>

Lighting Question T5/VHO 5/17/08 I want to first off say thank you for this site and for all the advice and wisdom I have gained from it. <Welcome!> I have a 300 gallon (96L X 24W X 30H) and I need some lighting help. I currently am running 3-250 MH with 4-110 watt VHO's. I am converting to a reef setup and so I will need more lighting. I will be adding another 250 watt MH so that will bring my total up to four but my question is about the VHO's. I was wondering if changing the VHO to T5 is a better choice or just a waste of time and money. What are your opinions on both VHO and T5? <Mmm, are posted... for what it's worth... the cost of fixture and lamp replacement for what you'd get, stand to gain, is not worth switching IMO... no more real looks advantage, nor real savings in cost of operation. I'd stick with either the VHO (that you have) or the T5 if you had it alternatively. Bob Fenner> Thanks Again Brad

Reef Lighting Question 5/8/08 I currently have a FOWLR setup and I am in the process of changing over to a reef setup. <A natural, eventual move!> I currently am running three 250 watt metal halides with Reeflux 12k bulbs and four 4 foot 110 watt VHO (2 actinic white and 2 actinic blue) on a 300 gallon aquarium (96L X 24W X 30H). I am planning on either going with 3-250 watt MH with 8-110 VHO, which will give me 1630 watts total, or approximately 5.433 watts per gallon. <Watts per gallon is a poor measure. Depth and livestock planned are far more important.> My second choice would be going with 4-250 watt MH with 8-110 VHO, which is 1880 watts total or approximately 6.267 watts per gallon. I am "planning" on keeping LPS, Mushrooms, Leather, Brain, and maybe a few anemones or clams. <Anemones will not mix well with the rest.> Which setup would you recommend and also regarding the 8 VHO's which combination of Actinic Blue and Actinic White, what would you recommend with the 12K Reeflux MH's? <The MH configuration totally depends on what you want. With three on an eight foot tank you may have darker areas between the lights. Since this is what you have been running you can make this call fairly easy. Either lighting configuration will work fine, with the more lighting intensive livestock placed more directly under the lights rather than between. If you want to be able to place all wherever (in regards to side to side of the tank) the four MH will be the way to go. As for the VHO's, four pure actinics will be all you need. They add little but aesthetics, if you like a very blue tank you could run eight or a higher Kelvin MH bulb, but four will suit most all just fine. I honestly see little advantage to upgrading your current lighting unless you have major shadows now with just the three, this will depend on the spread provided from the reflector. I hope this helps you decide, Scott V.>

It's me again! Using WWM, light cycles... 04/22/08 I just Emailed you a couple hours ago and I have a another question. <I don't see a prev. question... there are a couple dozen of us "here"... need to send prev. corr. if it's pertinent> I came into the room to turn off my lamp because I learned that fish need daylight and darkness too and that reminded me. If I have my lamp on in the mornings, and turn it off later, would that be any danger to my fish? Not to be a bother, Brogan <See WWM re... regular light cycles are a good idea, but having lights on/off at a particular time not a big deal... Bob Fenner>

Lighting a Reef in the Canopy 4/11/08 I just bought an 180g AGA. <Congratulations.> I'm trying to decide which lighting setup would work with such a limited amount of room. I like the Maristar unit but also like the SE MHs with VHOs With about a 9 inch clearance, what road should I go down? This, by the way, will be a reef tank Thank you <This is really a personal call for you. If you plan on keeping SPS or clams, the MH is the way to go, although the T5 unit can work fine too. If heat may be an issue for you then the T5 looks better. Your clearance in the canopy is kind of tight for MH, but can be done. You will have to decide what fits you and your needs best. Welcome, Scott V.

Aquarium Lighting and Nuisance Algae -- 04/09/07 All, <<Thomas>> Thanks again for everything, and it's nice to write in for an opinion verses a solution. <<Ah well'¦hopefully one leads to the other>> My question is about lighting. I've read lots of the FAQ, spoke with several stores, etc, seem to get a lot of different answers. <<And you think coming here will be different? {grin} >> Perhaps they're just overly complex answers. <<Ahh'¦>> I've seen in stores and read about Halide, HQI, PC, T5, T6, T8, etc. I've decided I don't want Halide lights. <<My personal fave>> I don't think I need them. <<Okay>> My tank is 72" long, is a FOWLR setup, and of course there are little hermits (red & blue leg), some small clams and oysters (compliments of live rock), tiny fan worms, and copepods. I really like the coralline algae, the purple stuff, and I want it to thrive and grow. <I see>> What light setup is going to provide this what it needs? <<Lighting does play a part, but is only a portion of the equation. It won't matter what type lighting you have if water quality is low and bio-mineral content is deficient/out of balance. That said'¦some of the most impressive Coralline growths I have witnessed were under either high-Kelvin (20,000K) Metal Halide lighting that was well up off the water'¦or under Fluorescent lighting with lots of Actinic>> I'm leaning towards putting two 36" PC strips on the tank, both having 192 watts (dual bulbs, one of the actinic variety). That would be a total of 384 watts of light. Think this would be sufficient? <<Would be fine here'¦though be aware the life present on the live rock may change as only those organisms able to make adjustment/utilize the available lighting will flourish>> I'm already wiping down the tank glass once a week to remove algae. <<Not necessarily a function of the lighting>> I don't think it's a bad variety, just the common green algae that snails like to eat. <<And likely won't just 'go away' with a change in lighting>> I think I would need 1273 snails to keep up with it though, especially with the new lighting. It's a different topic, but I've read that nitrates increases the algae, but they consistently test at less than 20 ppm, and usually it's 10 ppm or less. <<And even at that is PLENTY to fuel nuisance algae'¦though what you describe on your glass is quite common and easily just 'wiped away.' Nothing of concern in my opinion>> Is there another factor that causes it that can be controlled, or is it just something you live with due to the intense lighting? <<Water quality and the presence (or lack) of herbivores has much more to do with nuisance algae problems than lighting'¦if this is your focus then you need to spend some more time reading. Start here and follow the associated links at the top of the page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm. But as already stated the light film of green algae you clean off once a week is not problematic in my opinion, nor something you will likely ever eliminate no matter what you do. Many a hobbyist would be happy to have this as their only algae issue>> I've been reading about it, but it doesn't seem to be any of the bad algae (brown, hair, etc), just the green stuff. <<Agreed'¦of no concern>> Well, thanks again and take care! Thomas Roach <<Happy to assist. Eric Russell>>

Lighting Debate 4/4/08 WWM Crew, Hello, thanks for taking my question. You should get your own Sirius radio station! <Hello, that would be great'¦but this media serves us well. We are able to answer questions when time permits!> Anyways, here's my story; I currently have a 220gal with VHO's and I just bought an Oceanic 90 gallon bowfront with the ABS (plastic) canopy and stand. <Congratulations.> Well I bought my first Metal Halide setup, it's a retro kit. Well come to find out that the canopy is only 8" high and I'm worried that the MH bulbs will get too hot that close to the water and/or with a plastic canopy. <Yes, likely so.> So I wanted to return my light setup. I won't lose a restocking fee if I take store credit $600, from Hellolights.com, but I don't know what to do. I was thinking about just getting a all-in-one and mounting it on top of the tank.... Any help would be great. TIA <An all-in-one fixture either suspended as a pendant or mounted on legs will definitely workout fine. Also consider a T5 retrofit. It will give you the lighting you want without the concentrated heat in one spot. This lighting with a fan in the canopy will work great with this setup. Welcome, I hope this helps you decide, Scott V.>

General Question about lighting, Soft Corals  -- 03/10/08 Hello and congrats on a great source of info! <Thank you> First of all, this is an absolutely great site with an unbelievable amount of information! I have a general question about lighting. My wife and I have a 56 gallon display aquarium that is 30" wide x 24" deep and 30" high (I know, this was her pick that offset my $$ spend on equipment). My primary question is deals with lighting. The tank came with a single 20 fluorescent lighting fixture and we have a Corallife 2x65 watt 30" fixture (New 1 actinic 65 watt and 1 10,00k 65 watt w/2 moonlights) is this enough light for soft corals or leathers? <Mmm, no... not nearly intense enough... There are some relatively low light groups, species of Alcyonaceans... and you might "get away" with positioning a few more light-needing species higher up, on your rock... And I would definitely switch out the one actinic lamp for another "white"... Much of this is gone over (and over) on WWM... I would either settle on the three 65 watt "white" lamps and the arrangement of life as stated, or look into adding, switching out this fixture for about twice this wattage... The "better" response might well be to encourage you to ask around at your local fish stores, marine clubs to see if they have a PAR meter for loan... and actually measure the useful photonic energy of all here... at various depths... and/or to encourage your regular use of GAC, ozone... to enhance useful photonic energy transmission... or...> Your insight, as always, would be appreciated... Tank set-up now, 56 Gallon w/actual 48 gallons water (DO w/IO SW mix), 7 months old, 62 Lbs live rock, Remora skimmer w/1200 MaxiJet, 3 MaxiJet 1200 powerheads for circulation, 1 TopFin powerhead for circulation, Fluval canister w/polyfoam, PhosBan and ChemiPure 3/4" CaribSea live sand 1- 2" Flame Angel 2- Ocellaris clowns 1" & 3/4" 1- Bicolor Blenny 2" 1-Royal Gramma 1 1/2 " 1- 1 1/2" six line wrasse 2- Peppermint Shrimp 20- Assorted hermit crabs and snails. 0-ammonia & nitrite 5-10 nitrate (reading before weekly water change) PH 8.3 Salinity 1.024 I'm waiting for my Salifert test kit for Ca, Alk. (I'm in Hill Country Texas ...mail order only!) Weekly 8 gallon water changes w/DO and IO SW mix (aged one week) Canister cleaning each week. <Sound/reads very nice indeed> 40 years experience with fresh water aquariums and I had a prior 400 gallon saltwater aquarium when the only source of saltwater was at Scripps Institute in San Diego. <Ahh, I do remember... still live in SD... in East La Jolla, okay... Mira Mesa> Thanks, Jim Ferguson <!? Any relation to friend Mark Ferguson? Bob Fenner>

Internal vs. External Ballast 2/23/08 Hi. I find your site extremely helpful. <Great!> I am purchasing an HQI/t-5 /led lighting system or a HQI/compact fluorescent/lunar lighting system for my saltwater tank. My question is what is better and external ballast or an internal ballast lighting system. Thanks. Joann. <Each have advantages/disadvantages. With an external ballast you can mount it remotely, keeping the heat produced away from your tank. It is also easier to replace should the ballast go out. The downside is you do have to find a place to put it. With the internal ballast you have the ease of an all in one unit. The downside here is more heat from/in your lighting fixture. One is not inherently better than the other, each just has its advantages. You will have to choose which suits your situation better. Welcome, Scott V.>

Lighting and reading 2/4/08 Hi all, <Hello.> I am confused once again on lighting, I hope you can help. About a year ago I got some advice from one of the guys on how to get adequate reef lighting on a budget for my 55 gallon. So I invested in the T5 HO linkable 48 inch retro fit kits from Current. I bought fixtures here and there and I like them a lot, and so do my fish and corals. (except for the excessive algae, Grrr). <Feeding and nutrient control my friend.> I like the way I can link 2 together and time then to come on gradually, instead of them all at once. I currently have 2 -- 460, 54 watt actinics , and 60,000K of daylight (two 28 watt, four 54 watt). My first question is'¦ is this too much light? <Depends on what you are keeping, likely not. The Kelvin ratings on bulbs are not cumulative.> Can it ever be too much? <Yes.> A friend  told me I should add a couple more daylights (that'd be 80,000K), is that too much? I can already grow just about anything. Right? <Not anything.> I've been looking at metal halide systems, since it's been almost a year I'm due for new bulbs anyway. I can better afford a metal halide system now. All of the HQI (24 hour, 48 inch) fixtures and hoods I've looked at have 2 -- 10,000K daylight bulbs, I know with metal halide I'd have a heck of a lot less algae and that would mean less maintenance! <The opposite is true here.> But would it be beneficial for my critters to change the lighting? From 60,000K of fluorescent down to 20,000K of metal halide? <?> I don't wish to spend the extra money if it isn't beneficial or no sense to it, Any perks for switching? <Depends.> If not I'll just save myself the few hundred bucks and only replace my current bulbs. All the research on pros and cons has only confused me further. <Keep reading, it will become clear with time.> Love that all of your guys are here for people like me. J Thanks so very much in advance, Rochelle <Rochelle, I suggest you read more on this site and perhaps others regarding lighting, what is what, why, and the needs of your specific livestock. Good luck, Scott V.>

Lighting placement, angle reflection question 01/14/2008 Greetings Dear WWM Crew, <<Hello Brian, Andrew here>> First, I'd like to thank the membership of the WWM crew for the enriching leadership you collectively provide. I have kept freshwater (Cichlids) for four years now and have often visited this site for reference. During these freshwater years I have immensely enjoyed pouring over the great variety of detailed topics relating to marine systems as well. Long story short...(and after reading Bob's excellent text (CMA) cover to cover) I'm now venturing into the saltwater realm. Today, I have a lighting and light-fixture-position/hood-design question that neither my reading the FAQS nor searching the archives has answered. I'd be most appreciative of your assistance. <<Lets see what we can do then>> I recently purchased a used, 200gal (84 x 24 x 24) Oceanic RR (Dual "Megaflow"...which by no means actually IS "RR") and am gradually acquiring components, doing research, etc, that will enable me to reach my FOWLR and, ultimately, Reef tank goal. The tank came with an exceptional stand but no hood/canopy. As a somewhat advanced hobbyist woodworker (furniture), I intend to craft my own. As I collect all the necessary aquarium equipment, I am trying to "buy once" and obtain components that will provide prolonged service across the spectrum (no pun intended with my question) of my development as an aquarist. To this end, for lighting, few solutions seem to adequately fit the 84-inch long dimension of this tank. Thinking that an assemblage of separate lighting fixtures would best suffice, I have acquired 4, 20-inch, Current SunPod 150W/14K (HQI) MH lights which I intend to integrate into the canopy design. <<As a note, a single MH bulb is good enough for lighting 2 feet of tank length>> My question (at long last) is this: My plan is to design the canopy mount such that the Sunpods are positioned end-to-end along the 84-inch length of the tank. However, in order to maintain some nominal distance between the ends of the fixtures (specifically, to keep the integrated cooling fans located on the ends of the fixtures free from obstruction), some fixture offset is, I believe, required. For clarity, the concept is that the fixtures on either end would be centered (front to back) and the two fixtures in the center of the tank would be positioned forward (approx. the 8-inch fixture width). When offsetting the SunPod fixtures in the center, a nominal space would be left between the end-fans of these as well. In shifting the center fixtures forward, they would be closer to the front of the tank and so I was considering angling those fixtures slightly inward (perhaps 15-20 degrees)...to direct more light output into the tank and less through the front glass (such as will occur by being closer to the front and per reflector-coverage design). I am concerned about the resultant amount of light reflection that might occur by angling these fixtures, if the reflection would be significant (considering that the water surface is constantly irregular anyway when good circulation is achieved). So, I am wondering if the angling of light fixtures has been successfully done in the past and if a deleterious effect (light loss to reflection) will result by doing so? I've attached a rudimentary diagram to help explain the concept. Any advice would be most appreciated. <<I would be tempted to only use three of the four fixtures that you have bought. Your tank is 7 feet long, 3 of the lighting units will be fine, spaced evenly with 4.5 inches from the outer edge of the lamp unit to the end of the hood. If you use the method you have mentioned above, the light will not be adequately dispersed in the aquarium, basically giving you low lighting at the front as well as an irregular lighting pattern inside the tank, and I think this will greatly reduce the viewing pleasure of the aquarium>> Thank you very much for your time. Best Regards, Brian. <<Thanks for the questions, A Nixon>>

Re: Lighting placement, angle reflection question 01/16/2008 Good Morning Andrew, Reference 01/14/2008 Lighting angle question <<Good morning again Brian>> Thank you so much for the fast reply. <<No problem>> The simplicity of your advised solution is like that "should have had a V8, bonk me on the head" commercial. No need to overcomplicate, duh! In defense of the apparent fog that surrounds my decision making, :), I'd actually considered several options including going with a single, 72-inch, 3-bulb SunPod fixture or, as you suggest, just using 3 of the separate fixtures. However, the more I looked at the dimensions of the SunPod product line, the widths of the fixtures and locations of the actual bulbs (bulb effective centerline within the housing and "centerline" of overhead/hood placement), the more confused I became. I have seen the common reference to a single MH bulb's "effective" ability to cover 2ft of tank bottom. Presumably, this reference takes bulb height (distance from water surface), substrate depth (i.e. DSB of 4-5 inches), and water column diffusion factors into account. In my case, if I have a 4-inch DSB, place my bulbs 8 inches from water surface and have a tank with 24-inch height dimension, then I am looking at a 28-inch distance from bulb to substrate surface. <<A single 250w metal halide bulb can penetrate down to 24 inches when mounted 8 inches above water level>> Per the common reference to a single MH bulb's ability to "effectively" shed light on 2ft of tank bottom, my thought would be that the centerline(s) of MH bulb placement needs to occur at 12-inches from either end of the tank and at 24-inch increments between bulbs for multiple bulb fixtures. I'm thinking that it is particularly important that the bulbs at either end of the tank are placed 12-inches from the tank end so that aquascaping, such as taller live rock structures stacked to conceal overflows, are fully illuminated on the ends (outer sides). <<I agree, we need the lighting as evenly spaced / spread as possible>> Many of the products I see available, such as the 36-inch dual bulb SunPod for example, place two bulbs (bulb centers) approximately 12-inches apart...meaning (presumably) much greater (concentrated) illumination in some areas of the tank and considerably less illumination in others. <<That happens a lot with multiple bulb fixtures>> Part of my reasoning in selecting the 20-inch SunPod was that bulb centerline is 10-inches from the end of the fixture which would allow hood placement to achieve an effective 12-inches of bulb centerline from tank end (i.e. the live rock illumination concern noted above). <<Valid point>> Considering all of this "over thinking" I wonder if, in my case with the 7ft tank, center brace location, etc, a return of the 4, 20-inch SunPod fixtures and purchase of 2, 36-inch (dual 150w MH bulb) fixtures would be worth considering in order to achieve the most evenly concentrated distribution of light (bang for the buck)? What say you? <<I would agree that would be far better in the situation you have with the hood and brace setup. I would go for the 250w bulbs as this will provide you with more punch of light down towards the bottom of the tank>> Again, many thanks for your time. Your advice is most appreciated. Warm Regards, Brian. <<My time is your time Brian, many thanks for the questions. A Nixon>>

Lighting Bowfront 12/20/07 I have just purchased a 72 gal. bow front and need to light it for a reef aquarium. I want to use Metal Halide perhaps in combination with other lighting, but because of the bow there is only 12" of width at each end of the aquarium. I know I can use pendants or attached, but I had thought there is a light I could set on top of the aquarium with legs. Do you know of such a light or what my other options are for combination lighting? Thanks. <Several manufacturers make fixtures that will fit here. Aquamedic and Current just to name two that can use the mounting legs. Another option would be to get a pendant and mount it inside a canopy, but canopies for Bowfronts are usually flimsy and too shallow for this. Don't discount the pendant idea, it can have an appealing look once installed and can be far cheaper. Keep in mind that actinics are not a must. Welcome, hope this helps you decide, Scott V.>

Re: Lighting Bowfront 12/21/07 I couldn't find any with legs on the Aquamedic site. <Sexy series, mucho dinero.> Just hang from the ceiling types. (My wife has said NO to that) And I can't find 'Current' at all doing a Google search. Is that the name of the company? <Current USA http://www.current-usa.com/ > (I did find a SunPod HQI that will work, but if you do know about another one I should check out, let me know.) <Yes, they are made by Current USA. These are probably your best bet per your requirements. Just a thought, any of the hanging fixtures could work if you fabricate your own mounting legs. Have fun, Scott V.>

Switching lights 12/18/07 Good day crew, <Hello.> I short but quick question. I have a 75 gallon system that contains a pagoda, three clams, candy cane coral, BTA, Galaxea, Fiji spaghetti leather, various polyps, Zoanthids and various fish. Two of which are my favorite, mystery wrasse and a chevron tang. <OK> I currently use two 150 watt metal halide bulbs with two 96 watt actinic, and I wish to change to a light fixture whose information is below. Can you please give me a recommendation if this is ok, or stick with what I have. This claims to replace 400 watt metal halide 1-for-1. Thanks. A have a great holiday! SPECS: 280 WATT 5900K, 96 C.R.I., Fixture lumen - Photopic 8,500, Fixture Lumens - Scotopic 65,500 and http://www.fullspectrumsolutions.com/pupil_lumens.htm Visual Acuity Lumens Per Watt 230 Mark Formica <Mark, I could not find the specific product you reference from the link. From what you describe it sound like it could work. Although this color spectrum may work, do realize that it will appear very yellow compared to most the reef lighting that is out there today. Dual 150 halides sounds perfect for your set up. I would stick with what you have and invest your money elsewhere. Happy reefing, Scott V.>

Re: Switching lights 12/19/07 Scott, I appreciate your help. <Any time.> This link has the light fixture that I had in mind. www.fullspectrumsolutions.com. The light fixture is called Ultralux HD. <Ahh, found model no ULHBT5-646, this could work.> Just looking to shave cost and the T5/T6 lighting is where I thought I could start. Do you have any other recommendations in lighting that I could switch too? <The T5 could work here, do realize that these will probably not be water resistant end caps. Also, you will likely end up replacing some of the bulbs, most people would not be satisfied with the look of strictly 5900K lighting. You will just have to weigh power cost, bulb replacement cost and personal preference on the overall look of the tank to decide here.> Thanks. A (passionate) hobbyist forever, Mark Formica <Welcome, great to hear! Scott V.>

Is wattage per gallon the best method? 11/30/07 Happy Holidays to you at WWM! <And to you Dan> I've been thinking about all of the advice given to reefkeepers regarding lighting needs of stony corals. The answer always seems to involve watts per gallon or watts per square foot of tank surface, regardless of lighting source (i.e., MH, NO, HO, VHO, PC). Something tells me that while this may be adequate, wattage alone not necessarily the best solution for optimum coral growth and health.< the wattage rules are for base guidelines only.> Wouldn't it be better to recommend a solution that is stated in lumens per area or volume? <This is why PAR readings listed on the by the manufacturers of the bulbs are so important. PAR is the most important for the photosynthesis.> Would it also be a good idea to base the recommendation on the spectral needs of stony corals?< This is where the color spectrum of the bulb comes into play. The Kelvin rating indicates the color "temperature" of the bulb , but will also relay where in the color spectrum the bulb is. LED lighting by Solaris has the most stable, and correct spectrums for corals.> I'm sure there are other variables, such as tank depth, color temperature, bulb type, differences between manufacturers' bulbs, etc. may come into play, but it seems some sort of charts or calculators can be developed to recommend poor/good/better/best/overkill lighting solutions based on whatever tank parameters are used as the basis for the calculations.<Dr. Sanjay Joshi has made many of these very charts. The problem is one bulb from one manufacturer will have different PAR readings from different ballasts. So it is very hard to say what spectrum and PAR you will actually be at from just the "Bulbs" perspective. My personal experience over the last 25 years has me to believe that 6500K bulbs offer the best growth rate, then 10,000k bulbs which also look whiter, then the 12-14,000K bulbs which are much bluer to the eye, and then finally the 20,000k bulbs which are the bluest. The 20,000K bulbs also do not last as long as the lower Kelvin bulbs and have lower PAR readings. Again, this is why the LED technology is so promising.> I'm not sure whether this may be too complicated to resolve. Ideas? <As technology continues to improve, there should be more progress in the LED market that will make the color spectrum and lamp choices much easier. Thanks-Rich.. aka.. Mr. Firemouth> Dan

Light Hanging Question 11/18/07 Thanks for all the help on the issue of overheating. Leaving the top off and raising the light has helped and I've got a desk fan on the way to lower it even more. <Awesome, am glad to help.> I am probably going to have to build an automatic top off device to go with the sump though, as I'm having to top up about every 2 days or so (any advice on how to do that would also be appreciated). <There are many do it yourself plans on the internet, one can be found at http://ozreef.org/diy_plans/electronic_projects/water_level_switch.html . Just keep in mind that you will be dealing with 110, not 240. I personally use and am a huge advocate of the Tunze water top off system. It is kind of pricey, but well worth it. It has an optical sensor that keeps your water level super consistent, an overflow sensor that shuts the unit off if activated, and it shuts the unit down if it is on for more than ten minutes at a time. Also, it comes with a 12V pump that will pump from a reservoir to the sump to top off. This limits your top off capacity to the reservoir, limiting flooding capacity. All this adds up to an extremely reliable top off system. I have personally replaced the pump in the kit with a 12V liquid solenoid hooked directly to my RO unit, I don't like hauling water if I don't have to.> My primary question, though, is a rather simple one and I feel a bit ridiculous that I'm even asking given that there's probably a very easy explanation. I have the Current-USA Outer Orbit T5HO lamp hanging from my ceiling by the kit that it came with. In my zealousness to lower the temperature, I hoisted the thing up and it's now about 11 inches above the tank. It looks like there's a UFO hovering in my living room. So I'd like to lower it back down a little bit towards the 7-8 in. range and monitor to prevent overheating, but I can't seem to figure out how to do that. I know product questions aren't your usual schtick, but I thought one of you guys might have this setup and know what I'm talking about. As it is, I'm contemplating heading back to my LFS and getting another hanging kit for 10-20 bucks just so the family doesn't flip when they come over for Thanksgiving at the big THING floating in the air over the living room. <That can certainly be unappealing, not to mention the value of being able to adjust the height of your light. The bracket that mounts to the ceiling has a little wire outlet in it. By pressing the wire outlet into the mount you should be able to slide the cable in and out to adjust the length. A PDF with instructions for the mount can be found at http://www.marineandreef.com/shoppro/metal_SunPod.htm I hope this helps, have a nice Thanksgiving, Scott V.>

Re: Light Hanging Question 11/18/07 Miracle workers, all of you ;) <Have just battled the same woes.> Can't believe I hadn't figured out the lights before, but it worked and they look fantastic. <Excellent, good to hear! > Sent an e-mail off to Aqua-C about this last question since I know that's what you recommend, but in the meantime, just wondering if you have any advice. I set up a new Aqua-C EV120 in the same tank. I have a problem though. I've set it up and have it operating for bout 2 days now and after the first day, it started producing MASSIVE amounts of wet foam. So much so that I had to do what they initially suggested and put the outlet hose back into the sump. I figured this might be part of the break in process, but opened the gate valve all the way and it's still producing this volcano of wet foam a day later. Any advice? Is this normal? Thanks! Frank PS Using a Mag 5 with it, for reference. <Is it normal? Sometimes. Many times you will see the opposite during break in. You may want to try restricting the air intake on the skimmer and check the water level the skimmer sits in to see if it is within the recommended range. If you add supplements to your water or vitamins to your food it will very often make the skimmer go nuts like this. If all of the above is in order then just give it some time to settle in. Happy reefing, Scott V.>

Re: Marine Compatibility, and Cichlid Feeding Questions... Now either/or purch. of lambda or LR    11/14/07 Hello Bob, <Eric> Thank you for the help on both the Hawk and the Cichlid questions. It's always much appreciated. I have decided not to purchase the Flame hawk. There are many reasons for this, and after reading I think there will be aggression issues with the Blenny and possibly others. ...and I really think I'm close to the 'stocking limit' for my FOWLR tank anyway. I do have another question, somewhat of a "this or that" situation. Here's a bit of background: In my 55 gallon FOWLR, I have about 40 lbs of live rock, a Whisper 60 filter, a Turboflotor Multi HOT skimmer, two powerheads (one with filter attachment) (both of which are pointed toward each other to ... at least somewhat.. randomize flow) and approximately one inch of sugar fine, live sand. Here's the question: I have the opportunity to buy about 45-50 additional lbs of live rock from a fellow aquarist who is getting rid of his tank. It's in good shape, and he's asking $100 for it. I figure this is a great deal... considering most LFS sell theirs for +/- $8/lb. I have read a ton, and figure that I should have, as a rule, about 1-1.5 lbs of live rock per gallon.. Generally speaking of course. Adding this much live rock would push that a bit. I do want my fish to have ample swimming room, but also want them to have adequate biological filtration. <Yes... and/but this is a 55... 13 inches wide... likely tall enough to stack this rock up... if it is dense...> Should I use that money toward purchasing this rock, or spend the money on another good deal: a brand new 130 Watt PC light fixture for $110 from a reputable online retailer. I currently have the standard Fluorescent lighting that came with the tank, but I'd like my fish to have better illumination, as well as help the coralline algae grow on my live rock. (I'm also aware of testing for calcium, iodine, etc. levels in the tank, and keeping pristine water quality for this) <Ah, good...> Which, in your opinion, is the better usage of the $100 +/-? Unfortunately I don't have enough money to justify both. To be honest, I am leaning toward the lighting option, unless the 130 watts won't be sufficient to be aesthetically pleasing...at least a significant, really noticeable improvement over the lighting I currently have... which is somewhere near 35 watts, I believe? <Mmm, a single four foot lamp of normal output would be 40 watts... two, 80 watts... but luminal output/appreciation is akin to comparing proverbial fruit types here... the new lighting will appear MUCH brighter> (The two fish in particular I want to illuminate are my Blue Spot Toby and my Starry Blenny.. as well as the others.. if that makes a difference). Again, thank you for your help! Eric <Myself... unless you intend to trade up to a larger system soon (in which case I'd get the rock), I'd go for the new lighting. BobF> Re: Do It Yourself Lighting Question...LOA Fixtures From HD? -- 10/20/07 Eric, <<Jim>> Thanks for the quick reply. I appreciate it. <<Quite welcome>> And I checked--according to both the box and the website, the 85W and 100W versions are both 6500K. <<Oh, excellent! I'll have to look in to getting a couple of these higher wattage fixtures>> Maybe that's new. <<Maybe so>> I was just about ready to begin setting this all up, when I came across an eBay listing for a MH/PC combo fixture for $330 (plus $70 S&H). It has 2x250W HQI and 2x96W PC Actinic. <<This configuration would be quite suitable for your 150g tank'¦in my opinion>> Now I am back to wondering what to do. <<Up to you'¦but I vote for metal halide over PC fluorescent (the first choice in your original query) any day>> I just want to make the best choice for my animals and for my wallet, but it seems like I am always trying to come up with the "alternative" instead of going with contemporary wisdom. Can you explain to me why MH is preferred above all else by most hobbyists? <<Many hobbyists choose/use the different methodologies to good end'¦'this' hobbyist prefers metal halide for its greater punch/exceptional lumens-per-watt output, its aesthetics (single-point light source = glitter lines), and its versatility (differing combinations of wattage, Kelvin temperature, and bulb distance from the water make it suitable for 'almost' any marine system>> Is it just that MH was the first lighting solution with the intensity to grow corals in larger tanks, and people are still committed to it (the way I still use VHO's instead of PC/T5)? <<I don't think so, at least not these days. The viability of VHO/T5 systems is a fact>> I have been told that MH has more "punch", that they penetrate deeper than the same wattage of VHO/PC. <<Indeed>> I don't know about wattage, but as someone who studied physics, it seems to me that 100 lumens/sq inch is 100 lumens/sq inch. <<Yes'¦and a watt is a watt... but, how many watts of a specific lighting type does is take to create that 100 lumens/sq inch?>> I don't see how the source of the light changes the quality or character of the light itself (other than temperature/spectrum). <<Mmm, is more a question of the 'strength' here'¦its ability to 'penetrate' the water column. But do have a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lightingags.htm>> Or is the main reason MH seem to "penetrate" better is that they are generally higher temperature than fluorescents? <<No'¦though color temperature does affect PAR in most cases>> Is it just personal preference, or is MH really better? <<A bit of both'¦it is 'my' preference for the reasons stated'¦but as also stated, many hobbyists use other methodologies with very good success>> And lastly, how can a person reasonably compare the intensity/quality of different lighting options to make an informed decision (and not one motivated purely by hype or vague impressions)? <<Research the different options'¦chat with folks using re>> Wattage seems to be a lousy criterion--150W of MH is definitely brighter than 150W of VHO. <<But again, differing methodologies. They have their advantages for different reasons, and the side-by-side comparison only highlights their differences. Is up to you to decide which best suits you/your system. Likely either will work when applied correctly>> It doesn't seem like 110W of VHO is the same as 110W of PC is the same as 110W T5, either. <<Differences in style/quality of reflectors will also have a large impact>> Is there some way (other than buy all four) to make an objective comparison? <<As stated'¦by consulting with others using the differing lighting methods>> I am sorry to bug you guys again, but I just want to understand. <<Understood'¦but like many things in this hobby, this too is not a simple matter of 'black and white.' Differences in tank size/depth, livestock selection (most important), even how clean or clear the water is can dictate the 'best' lighting. I can only offer you 'my' opinions and experience'¦as well as encourage you to seek info from differing sources to allow you to apply your own good judgment to make a decision>> Thanks again for all your help, Jim <<Always welcome. EricR>>

Re: Aquarium lip 10/3/07 Thanks for the reply. I thought I'd let you know how I ended up handling this situation. What I did was buy a few 1/4" acrylic squares. Using aquarium safe silicon I attached them to the inside of the aquarium 1/8" down (level with the center bar) - I put on each side in the corners. In essence they function much like the little pegs that hold up adjustable shelves on the bookcases we are all familiar with (of course you can't adjust these so easily). I like the solution because it is invisible, smaller than a normal lip that runs all the way around and still lets me put my glass versa top cover on the aquarium (so I sit my lights on it, etc.)... Terry <Sounds good. Hope this works well. Not wild above cover glasses though. They cut out A LOT of light, especially by the time lime or salt builds up on them, as it will. Much better to do without. In which case, make sure you use water-proof light fittings though. If something goes wrong, it helps to know that the lights won't explode if they fall into the water! Cheers, Neale>

A Flicker Of Light...Is This The End of The Tunnel? -- 09/23/07 I had a hard time finding the information I am looking for. <<Okay>> I apologize if this question is similar in content to others you have answered. <<No worries>> I have a 55-gallon reef tank that has been up and running successfully for two years. <<Excellent>> All parameters are normal; fish and corals thriving. I have a Current Satellite fixture that has been an excellent choice. However within the past six months the lamps (bulbs) on one of the ballast began to flicker. <<Do swap bulbs around to determine this is not the problem>> At first the flickering was temporary, then it became constant. I bought new lamps and this did not solve the problem. Then my boyfriend (an electrician) disassembled and reassembled the unit. It did not flicker again for about two weeks. Now it flickers randomly once or twice a week, maybe more, and I am not there to notice. Several opinions have me confused. <<Oh?>> One source told me that it was probably a loose wire, not to worry. <<Mmm, possibly'¦but 'is' a worry and should be found/fixed if so>> Another told me that a new ballast was needed. <<Another possibility, yes>> Before I spend the money on a new ballast, is the now, temporary flickering, harmful and or indicative of a larger issue? <<If this is a loose wire, the flickering may well prematurely wear the bulb or ballast'¦might even constitute a fire hazard>> If it is, or was, a loose wire would a new ballast be of any benefit? <<Only if replacing the ballast addresses the loose wire'¦otherwise you are no better off. You state your boyfriend is an electrician'¦I would think it a simple matter for him to determine the problem here>> I tend to be a hypochondriac but it seems that my anemone may be "reaching" for light more than is usual. <<The lamps are likely in need of replacement>> Could the lamps be producing less light, without giving any visual indication? <<Oh yes!>> Is there any way to measure the light that the tank is receiving? <<Indeed there is'¦ To get a true reading of the Photosynthectically Available Radiation (PAR), or effectiveness, of your chosen bulbs you would need to invest in a PAR meter'¦and then one that has a waterproof sensor that can be submersed (not cheap/easily found'¦though an enterprising DIYer might rig one themselves). There is a waterproof LUX meter available in the trade for about a C-note. This meter will measure foot-candles (brightness/luminance) at a specific distance and if readings are taken on new bulbs, they can be used as a 'benchmark' to measure diminished luminance with age'¦ Any input would be most appreciated. Thank-you. <<Quite welcome. EricR>>

So confused on lighting my 210gallon tank. Lighting/Heating/Energy Issues...Which Lighting System Is Best? -- 07/23/07 Hi all! <<Howdy Nick!>> Love your site and have read countless Q&A's from it, but it all seems to just confuse me when it comes to the right lighting. <<Oh?>> I am new to saltwater aquariums and have a 210-gallon acrylic tank (72" long x 24" wide x 30" high) with a 50-gallon sump (40"x18"x16"). <<Neat!>> The canopy only has 5.5" of vertical space in it when the hinged top is closed. <<Mmm...not enough clearance for halides in my opinion...looks like VHO or T5s might be your best option if you plan to use this hood>> Currently there is nothing in the tank except water and sand. I need to finish lighting (and most likely chilling) the tank before I want to add livestock. <<Okay...but 'what' livestock? You should decide this before choosing/purchasing your lighting>> I plan on keeping fish, live-rock, and eventually easy invertebrates (those that don't require super water movement and light output). <<Light output will be variable, indeed...but virtually ALL require good water movement>> I read that I would need 3-5watts per gallon for that setup, so around 600-1000watts of light. <<Again...you need to be specific about what you want to keep>> Now to my questions. I am SO confused about what I should do to light my tank. I don't want to spend $1000's on a system, and I certainly do not want a high electric bill from my lighting each month (nor does my mother). <<Then research the animals you think you want and design/setup a system that does not require lots of high-intensity lighting>> I have read some things saying MH's are the most cost-efficient in the long run, but then I hear that they are costly each month in terms of electric bills. <<No more costly than any other lighting which consumes the same wattage. And I agree they provide the best look/bang for the buck>> As far as fluorescent PCs, T5's, etc... I don't know if they will be strong enough for a tank of my height. <<Goes back to 'what you plan to keep'>> Heat is also a concern. My tank right now is at 88 degrees F, with no lights at all! <<Some hot running pumps/equipment, eh?>> Ambient room temp is kept at 75-80degrees? All I have is an Iwaki 70RLT pump circulating the water from my sump to the tank. (I was told Iwaki's are great, but didn't think they would boil my water like that!) <<And it shouldn't be...sounds like something else may be at play here>> So, even without lighting, I am going to need a chiller. <<As it is now...yes>> Unless there is a better pump on the market I should get?? One that won't cause so much heat. <<Iwaki is one of the best...is this pump new? You might consider an exchange if possible. This pump should not be heating your tank like this. Do also investigate that something else isn't amiss somewhere>> Other things specific to MH that confuse me: Magnetic vs. Electronic ballasts- A WWM crewmember said this- "<the benefits of electronic ballasts are a figment of marketing imagination>" and in an answer to a comment by a reader: "So far, the electronic ballast is much more efficient in terms of energy, heat, and bulb life." he answered: <not even close to being true by one expert I am aware of (unbiased, unpaid and very convincing> (this comes from http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mhmedsysfaqs.htm) <<Opinions vary...I prefer the E-ballasts because they are weigh less, draw less power, and generate less heat than the magnetic ballasts...in my opinion/experience>> But then I have seen other WWM crewmembers say that electronic are much better than magnetic... <<In some aspects maybe...but the magnetic ballasts are generally less expensive to purchase...and many believe the 'get more' out of the bulbs they power>> It is just a huge mind bending area! <<Just keep reading my friend>> I've been looking at possibly getting 2-3 250-watt pendants to suspend over my tank, then I had read that pendants aren't good because they don't spread the light out. <<Was/is largely true with the 'vertical' pendants of past years, but today's 'horizontal' pendants don't have the same limitations>> I was looking at IceCap 250 HQI Pendant and Ballast (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=12780&prodid=25174&catid=115) or something like OceanLight HQI 250 (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=12112&prodid=23526&catid=115). <<Either would be fine...my choice would be the IceCap gear>> Or for fluorescents I was considering 2 Orbit Compact 36" 384watts, though a bit on the pricey side (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=15690&N=2004+113345). <<Indeed...and again, would likely serve>> Also, in terms of heat given and electricity used... Wouldn't a 750w fluorescent system equal a 750w MH system? They are both using 750watts of energy aren't they? <<Yes and yes>> Or, for example, do 750watt fluorescents just use 50% of the watts as actual electricity, etc? <<No>> Then I was considering just doing an IceCap retrofit, but I don't have enough space in my canopy to install them and still keep them 6"+ above the water. (I heard you need lights to be more that 6-8" above the water, and my canopy only has a total of 5.5" of space in it.) <<A bit cramped, agreed>> While with a pre-made fixture, I can just take off my canopy's hinged top and use docking mounts or pendant mounts for the lights. I also was thinking it would be better to get 2 or more smaller fixtures than 1 big 72" light. (So I won't have to move one huge light out of the way every time I need access to the water, etc. Easier to move 2x 36" units than one heavy 72" all the time) <<Agreed>> Once I get my lighting I can see how hot my tank gets so I can size a chiller as my next step. <<I still think something is very wrong re your tank temperature...are you certain the measuring device is accurate?>> Thanks for any help you can give! Nick <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

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