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FAQs about Light and Lighting for Marine Systems 9

Related Articles: Marine Light, & Lighting, Marine Aquarium Light Fixtures and Canopies, Lighting Marine InvertebratesAnemone LightingAcclimating Symbiotic Reef Invertebrates to Captive LightingCoral System LightingMoving Light Systems

Related FAQs: Marine System LightingFAQs 2, FAQs 3, FAQs 4, FAQs 5, FAQs 6, FAQs 7, FAQs 8, 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 Question, considering livestock of differing needs, tolerance Hello, WWM crew. I have a lighting question.  As just ordered an All Glass 120 gal (48"x24"x25").  I'll have live rock in the tank and sump/refugium.  I plan to purchase a 1 snowflake eel, 1 lionfish, 2-3 clownfish, and MAYBE an anemone.  Was also thinking of buying a clam, but the lighting needs of the clam might be incompatible with that of the lionfish. <Yes... though perhaps you could "spotlight" the clam region> I may also purchase corals that have low light needs. I've read all the eel and lionfish FAQs and most of the lighting FAQs, but still have a lighting question. I plan to get a 50/50 mix of full spectrum and actinic compact fluorescent bulbs. What would be the maximum wattage the lionfish would be able to tolerate without adverse effects (blindness, etc.)?  I do plan to have some shelter for the lionfish so he can get away from the light. Thanks KC <A few, 2-3 watts per gallon in this size, shape system, type of lighting, likely aquascaped with rock caves, overhangs. Bob Fenner> Lighting to Bring out Fish Colors 7/16/04 Hi, hope all is well there.  I need some suggestions on lighting please.  I have a 75 gallon F/O NLR community tank and am currently using the lighting that came standard with my setup.  Only using one of the two bulbs because I get enough light from that.  I am wanting a change and was hoping you could recommend a bulb that would bring out the colors of my fish more; make my tank more noticeable; and not cause excess algae.  Please let me know of any suggestions you may have.  thanks, James <James, algae growth is much more dependant on quantity of light, not quality, so with such little light, I would not be concerned.  In any case, some amount of actinic lighting will go a long way to bring out a lot of the colors in your fish.  I would suggest using a "50/50" lamp which contains a combination of actinic and daylight.  This will make the colors "pop" like an actinic without being overwhelmingly blue.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Lighting time I'm sorry I think you thought I was talking about decorating my tank. I was talking about algae I think. its pink red emerald green and yellow its all on my substrate and dead coral pieces that I use for decoration. IM not sure if the lighting is the right amt. its on for about 12-14 hr. . Thank you Misty. <Mmm, if it's supporting your other photosynthetic life, is esthetic for you... this is about right. You didn't mention specific brands, makes of lamps. There are many "types" of fluorescent lamps... some of much greater/lesser utility for aquarium use. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/fixtures.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: reef lighting question Dec 27, 75 gallon jet stream, instant ocean, aragonite, 40 pound live rock, Jan 2 blue damsel, 4 small crabs ( hermit??) , Jan 10 , 35 more pounds of live rock. Jan 20, 30 ml Cal, 15 ml Alk every two days.  Jan 26Domino damsel and 1 power head. Ammonia betw .25 and 0  ppm, Nitrite = don't know Nitrate = 0 ppm Cal = 400 Alk = 3.2 PH 8.2 Salinity ( has always been 1.025) My reef expert is telling me things are going as they should. But i have two questions. 1. I got  a few green algae spots on glass. He says I can't add snails yet.  Substrate is starting to grow algae as well. I found a "bad " peach colored anemone in my live rock, I took the rock out and turkey basted the thing with scalding hot water as directed.  I haven't seen it since.  Also i have what looks like anemone babies ( little dingleberry type of things ) attaching to glass.  it seems like I need something to eat that glass clean now no?? 2.  My tank came with two 40 watt tubes. I want to get to hard corals and coralline algae , my reef guy says i need 4 - 110 watt VHO tubes, ballasts, canopy etc. at $550 + the cost of the canopy.  I  have no problem with this if this is the way to go, but I keep seeing advertisements telling me all i have to do is replaced my bulbs with special blue or actinic and such, which is about a $500 cheaper proposition.  MY expert's displays are fantastic so I trust him, except he hasn't seen my tank.  And $500 is also a snow blower <Well... It would be nice if we could get your ammonia down and get a nitrite reading!  TO clean my glass I use a magnet scrubber, it was $8.99 at Pet Supplies Plus.  It's a great deal!!  You may need to change the lights, but I'm going to give your e-mail to our "coral expert" Anthony!  He'll e-mail you back with a better answer on the lights!!  Best wishes!  Phil>

The (Little) Blue Lagoon (Pt. 2) Hey Scott, would you use just a Metal Halide 150 or 175 watt 10K pendant? Or with PC combo on this lagoon setup? <I like the idea of 10000k halide and true actinic PC's...> Just a 30 gallon just about 20 to 24" tall I believe. Look below for info on what I was planning to do with it if you need a reminder. Thanks man. <This is as fun for me as it is for you!> Just starting to look at my options. Cash at this point is mute. Spare no expense on your opinion. <My kind of hobbyist! Seriously, though- for a lagoon, I'd go for the 10000k's with supplemental actinic. If there was a way to squeeze in a 6500k halide and a lot of actinic, that would really look cool, IMO. Glitter lines and all... But I think that 10k and actinic pc's works!> I value it, dearly. <Any time, Paul! Glad to help...Just send pics! Regards, Scott F>

The (Little) Blue Lagoon (Pt. 3) No problem regarding the pics. I will have them to you when the setup is more than underway. <Cool! I see this setup looking very nice in a few months...> So a 10K 175W with (2) 65w actinic PCs sound OK? I saw a 150W with (2) 65w actinic PCs as well. Go for the larger I assume? <Well, higher wattages are good, if you can afford the electricity, and have some means of dealing with the potential heat- especially in a small tank...> I am going to look at various brands but there is really Hamilton and then Coralife, and CustomSeaLife. I am sure there are others if you can list any. I am open to brands that are well established and good anecdotal evidence of superior usage and life of product. Let me know you thoughts and or findings. <Well, I'm thinking that a pendant light would be a good idea on a smaller tank. Custom Sea Life makes them, so do the other manufacturers that you mentioned. I'd look into the newer HQI pendants, from PFO and Sunlight Supply (look into their "Reef Optix III HQI pendants...awesome>. These give you a lot of bang for the buck! You could use 150 watt double ended HQI bulbs in the 10000k color temp, maybe supplement with some actinic.> Thanks for your time man. Let me know when you are in the Bay Area. <Glad once again to be of service! Do get to the Bay Area now and then...I'll have to check out that lagoon of yours, bro! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Upgrading lighting I currently have a single 48" light fixture over my 75 gal tank. It uses two 50/50 55W power compact bulbs. It is an Oceanic fixture that came with the tank. The bulbs are now about 9 months old and I can see they are significantly dimmer. I am thinking of upgrading the lighting to a Coralife 230W 48" fixture as found here: http://www.esuweb.com/new_site/ccc_53106 It has two 65W 10K bulbs and two 65W Actinic bulbs. Each set of bulbs is independently controllable. The reason I like this particular fixture is that it is low profile (I have very little space under my Oceanic canopy), it has the exhaust fans on top, rather than on the ends, and it provides significantly more light than what I currently have. Now that I need to replace my bulbs, part of the cost of the fixture ($209.95 from HelloLights) is offset. I do not want to attach anything to the canopy itself since I often keep it open and don't want to see bulbs hanging from the wood. It is also a nice piece of furniture and I don't want to drill into it. I have a couple of questions about the changing light levels: 1.) Is going from the current aged 110W setup to a new 230W setup going to shock the corals in my tank (I have some cabbage leathers, a frogspawn, a hammerhead, a bubble corals, a cup coral and several kinds of polyps - green-star/white-star, and Zoanthids)? <Yes it will shock them if you do not acclimate them slowly. The link below is to an article on acclimating Photosynthetic Reef Invertebrates to Light http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm > 2.) What effect does increased lighting have on Cyanobacteria? I've been battling some red Cyano in a small area of my tank for a while. Will this light cause it to grow more or will it actually help? I do not have any algae problems other than the Cyanobacteria. My hippo and purple tangs seem to eat any vegetation in the tank. < The Cyano is most likely caused by excess nutrients, the new lighting will probably not affect it either way.> 3.) Do you have an opinion on Coralife lighting products? <I have never used them myself, I'd check with the folks on the message boards.> My tank gets hot (82F+) in the summer with the current fixture, but there are no fans in the canopy area. I am able to keep an acceptable temperature with a fan in the sump. I hope the fans in this fixture will help to at least not make the situation worse. However, I am willing to put some additional fans in the back of the canopy. I have also asked about this topic in the talk forums but I would appreciate an answer from the experts. < I'd acclimate the inhabitants slowly, going from old bulbs to newer stronger bulbs will definitely be a shock.  Check out Anthony's article and let us know if you have any further questions.  Best Regards, Gage>

New with corals Hi Bob thanks for the link just one more question. <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a 100gallon tank with 2 x 150w MH and 2 Actinic Fluorescents. What would be the best coral to keep? <my advice would be to focus on one specific group of corals and not to mix from an array of groups. Mixing causes too many long term problems from silent chemical warfare in the aquarium. SO, decide if you like the Octocorals best... or the Euphylliids, etc. And stay with the family members in that group. That lets you specialize with a more compatible group of organisms while still having a tremendous number of species to pick from> I mean I read about guys with 3x400w MH etc and my light seems to be nowhere as good ... or is it? <those aquarists are often running commonly excessive lighting and most corals in such shallow aquaria (less than 75 cm) will suffer for it in time. Your lighting is fine my friend. Even if you want to specialize in high light SPS corals and clams, I would still not suggest more than 250 watt halides for this particular tank.> Werner Schoeman <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

180 gal reef with two whites one blue work Anthony I would like add more blue with out having any lights but metal halide. Maybe two 175 watt 10,000k Ushio one on each side and 250 watt Radium in the center not sure if they would mix on a six ft long tank. <sounds like a useful and attractive combination to me> I hope the books are going well and on time. Ralph <thanks kindly :) nearing the finish line for edit indeed! Anthony>

Is LED Lighting the Future? Hello Crew, <Howdy> I was browsing Champion Lighting and Supply and they have a "New Lighting Technology" link that mentions LED lighting with sufficient intensity to support a reef tank "in the future" (possibly, around 2004).   <correct and likely possible> I also saw a reference to this technology in the 2003 Marine Fish and Reef Annual.  Given your combined exposure to marine-related trade shows, what are your thoughts on this technology?   <tremendous potential... the light seems to be very good and efficient. They are just working on getting the price down> How close is it to being a market reality?   <no idea> Also any comparative cost and/or performance data, relative to MH?   <hmmm... some testing needed here to see about "penetration". That's where the best fluorescents for example fail against MH. I still take MH for all-purpose on deep tanks> I'm setting up a 400g reef this spring with about 6 x 400W MH.  With approximately $2500 dedicated to my lighting budget, <unless this tank is literally and fully going to be stocked with high light SPS and clams... you are planning on too much light... to the extent that it will be dangerous in the long run (photoinhibition) to some corals (1-3 year picture). Somebody snookered you on the lighting package, bud. Tell us what group of corals you are focusing on, the depth of the tank... and I suspect that lighting budget can be cut in half and your corals will live better for it> I would not want to have to replace my lighting scheme with "the next big thing" in 12-18 months.  If LED technology is vaporware or not ready for prime time, please let me know. Thanks, Rob <It doesn't matter if LED really does become the next best thing if the halides you are looking at now have been time-tested for 20 years on corals and true. Heehee... these lights aren't a status symbol bubba :) Relax my friend... resist listening to the sps maniacs on the message boards that think you need to run an arc-welder over their just to keep coral. I'll show you ten year old reefs with half the light and better for it. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Is LED Lighting the Future? Hi Again Anthony, Thanks for the quick reply.   <cheers, Rob> The lighting budget was based on the tank depth, and my interest in SPS, and trying to achieve/exceed 5w per gallon. <understood and agreed> The dimensions of the tank are 96" x 24" x 40" (LxWxH).   <Yowsa... that height is a real doozy. MH, my brother> The depth is to maximize the view while standing or sitting. This may be a good time to review my lighting plans with you.  What are your thoughts on 6 x 400w MH that would include 4 x 20,000K + 2 x 10,000K bulbs for SPS?   <the 20K is heavy here... and perhaps at the expense of growth for some coral. There's too much blue in virtually every MH on the market for coral growth (unnecessary... including in 6500K lamps). That said... I still love 20K halides for the color you can achieve in some coral with them. Its all pot luck though. With the wide array of corals you will keep and their variable needs... some will look better under 100K, and others under 20K. There is no clear answer to this question> Also, do you have any experience with E-Ballasts from CL&S?   <I have little or no faith in electronic ballasts as a rule. Too many superfluous claims already proven wrong or weak. Not worth they money they charge for them at present. I'm waiting for future generations. See data from Yoshi on this subject> I was considering their prewired "400W Horizontal Pendants" with bulbs as above by Ushio.   <I really like the Ushio bulbs. I favor (10K) double-ended HQIs even more though> After shipping, the total is around $2500.  If I can save money here and maintain coral health, I am all ears!  Rob <I do want to help you, bud... but this is really where you need to do your homework. SPS keeping can mean that you love Montipora species and will be served best by 250watt 10K HQIs. SPS keeping can also mean that you will feature Porites species and need 400-1000watt 6500K Iwasakis (not to mention a tidal wave of current). Or SPS keeping can mean "I'm going to throw whatever scraps I can find in from every frag swap for three counties"... plus some LPS corals... and a few mushrooms... and a hamster. To give you some kind of answer, though (all-purpose) I would keep use no more than half the lamps 20K and split the others with 10K or 6500K. You seem to like the blue color best, so rule out the 6500K lamps and most of the shallowest occurring sps. For a tank this size, you will want to look into horticultural supply houses for moving light tracks for your halides. It will let you use 3-4 MH instead of 6 and the path of the light illuminating your corals from all and severe angles will be better for them by far. Do see if you can catch up with me at one of the regional conferences or lectures (listed on the FAQ page at wetwebmedia.com or my readingtrees.com  MACNA is on Louisville this year... not to be missed by serious aquarists. We can chat at length then if you like. Best regards, Anthony

Re: Natural Sunlight Mr. Fenner, Thank you for the heads up that my email didn't make it. I know from reading all of the reef and fish boards online that this site is quick to answer questions. I thought I messed up with my email somehow. <Maybe... but it's here now> To the Crew, I am going to move my 90 gallon softie tank this weekend to a place that gets 3 hours of natural sunlight. I have heard Mr. Calfo say how good this can be for coral so I thought why not give it a go. The light the tank will get would be from noon to 3pm. My question is if I should change my lighting time. Would there be any benefit to having the MH come on after 3pm for 7 hours? Why I ask is that I have the MH on from 10am to 8pm for 10 house. because of the natural sunlight I thought maybe I could cut the hours the MH are on. Or would it just be best to keep the 10 of MH and use the sunlight as an extra supplement bonus? <Mmm, there are a few public aquariums and culture facilities that take advantage of some natural sunlight. I would experiment here with testing of water quality parameters and apparent growth, health your guides as to what lighting regimen serves your set-up best. Bob Fenner> Thank you million Karl

Re: Skimmer and pump recommendations Thanks now for my lighting what would you recommend for my 24" cube, I would like to keep a clam or two. I am looking at MH & PC lighting. Thank Dave <Hi Dave, For clams and high light demanding inhabitants, a 175 watt MH (or 250 watts) perhaps with two VHO or PC actinic bulbs to supplement the blue spectrum would be ideal. I would favor the 250 watt for the depth and they are available in a "radium" which may do away with the need for actinic lighting.  The color rendition is a personal choice, you may want to look at clams under different types of lighting to "see" the difference. The blue light will definitely help "fire" the colors of clams and corals.  For PC's try to find "true" actinic blue bulbs. I prefer VHO myself, with Ice Cap ballasts very flexible. (Can drive PC/NO/HO/VHO). Have Fun!  Craig>

Bringing Light To The Reef Hello Crew: <Scott F. with you today> I have had my 58 Oceanic tank set up as reef for 3 months now.  It currently has 90 lbs of live rock and a 4-6 inch DSB.  Cleaning crew of 9 misc snails, 6 red & blue legged hermit crabs.  Also have 1 purple Linckia star and am planning on getting an abalone.  All water parameters are good no nitrates, and ca hovering at 400-420 with alkalinity of 9-11dkh, ph of 8.2-8.3, 20 plus times circulation, and 20% water change weekly to every ten days. <Great water changes. You could even try smaller water changes a couple of times a week...> I want to stock the tank with corals from the Pocilloporidae, Acroporidae, and Poritidae Families - exact genus to be decided based on availability of captive propagated livestock at my LFS. I also wish to have at least one Tridacna Crocea, hopefully more, but space is tight.  I am currently working on two different lighting plans. The tank is 36"wX20"t18"d with the standard Oceanic hood that is 5.5" off the top lip of the aquarium.  I would like to get the clams at least 10 inches down into the tank onto a ledge for viewing purposes. My easiest lighting option is a 4x96w pc with three 6700K bulbs and 1 Actinic 03, I can buy the pre-constructed hood and lay it right on the egg crate.  I am worried that this will not be enough light for my selected animals. <I love PC, and it can work for maintenance of SPS corals, but I think that halides are a better choice for you in the long run> The other option is to buy two MH retro kits of your recommended wattage, and attach them directly to the underside of the hood, possibly putting a heat sink between the wood and the reflector, then install fans into the hood to keep heat down as much as possible. Best case this would put the lights six inches from the water. <If I were going this route, I'd use 10-175 watt metal halides, positioned about 6-8 inches off of the water surface, properly shielded from water splashing. The basic "rule of thumb" that I'd use concerning bulb placement, is to position a bulb every 2 feet of length, so you're right on target there. I'd consider the HQI/double-ended halides in horizontal pendants, as they can give more "bang for the buck" in terms of PAR value and efficiency for power consumed than many higher wattage configurations.> I could then possibly install 2 36 " NO VHO or PC lamps on the outside edges of the hood.  These lamps would be rather close to the MH's but seemingly no worse then the hoods that are sold.  I am worried that this would create sea food chowder out of my reef due too intense heat.  Would love any thoughts you have as to best way to go, or to scrap my stony ideas completely due to tank constraints. <You can make this work, but you need to make liberal use of cooling fans to drive heat produced by the bulbs away from the aquarium. The Ice Cap variable speed fans with temperature sensors are a great idea here. Not cheap- but they are quiet, reliable, and amazingly efficient. I agree with you that heat is the main concern when using halides in a tank of this size, so I'd really take this into account when designing the system.> One last question the wife would like to know, can I put a small section of green star polyps in a tank like this or are they too noxious, she really likes the way they look. Thanks for all of your information and time.  James <Green Star Polyps are one of the coolest, easiest-to-grow corals around, IMO-but they can be incredibly noxious and aggressive to other corals. I have literally seen them dissolve a colony of Anthelia in an aquarium over the course of a couple of weeks! Personally, I'd try to keep the population limited to corals that are generally found with or near each other in nature; there's enough allelopathy going on between the various Acropora, etc., without you having to worry about Star Polyps in the mix! If you can keep them confined, and away from other corals, then maybe it's worth a shot...just exercise good judgment. And, from hearing your plans- I know that you have lots of that! good luck with your setup! Regards, Scott F>

Lighting Corals- Or Making Lava? First of all thanks for the awesome resource on the web.  My buds and I always check your advice before we venture further into our hobby. <Glad that we have been of use to you! We all learn something new every day! Scott F. with you!> I have a question in regards to reef tank lighting.  My set-up includes a 75gallon reef run Berlin with an ETSS 600 skimmer, 2 110w actinic VHO, 2 175w 10K MH, with 90 lbs "premium" live rock, 2 GenEx pumps, and I use RO/DI water.  Livestock is basically groves of 3 types of pulsing xenia, sps, clams, LPSs, 8 types of macro, and various hard corals.  I have a question in regards to lighting and if there can be too much.  At present I have 7.6 watts per gallon and am taking 2 96 watt PCs off of my Peacock bass tank and am tempted to put them on the reef.  My thoughts are this tank was set-up for my newborn daughter and it will sit untouched for many years and I want it to be perfect.  Am I off base for wanting to do this?  If not what type of bulbs would you guys suggest? <Well- that's the 40 million dollar question! There is no right or wrong answer- and no one "perfect" scheme. It really depends on the specific needs of the animals that you are keeping. I have seen lighting taken to extremes- 400 watt halides on 18 inch deep aquariums! As Anthony would say- That's like making lava! The "watts per gallon" rule is really not valid anymore, given today's high intensity lighting systems. There are some general rules of thumb, such as 1 175 watt halide for every two feet of tank length in aquariums that are up to 24 inches deep, and 250watt (or greater) halides for tanks deeper than 24 inches...These are just rules of thumb, once again- and are highly generalized. Also- remember, a tank full of lower-light requiring animals will be negatively impacted by high intensity lighting...Also, spectrum plays almost as important a role as intensity. The 10000k and 20000k bulbs are popular because the provide a useful (and aesthetically pleasing) light. On the other hand, some of the most useful lighting for many corals is not particularly pleasing to look at (for example- the 6500ks). What this all boils down to, is that you need to research very carefully the needs of the specific animals that you are keeping, and what types of lighting suits them best...Then you have to find a "happy medium" and adjust your lighting to please both the corals and your aesthetic sensibilities!> >Also is it good practice to run UV and ozone in a reef.  I have received a 36 watt double helix and electronic ozonizer from my wife for Christmas. Thanks In Advance, Lee <UV most definitely has it's place in reef systems. Yes- there is some disagreement over this issue, too! However, in the grand scheme of things- I think that UV is very useful...Its use has been demonstrated to eliminate many free-floating unicellular algae, as well as many aquatic pathogens. The important things to consider when using UV is that the flow rate through the sterilizer must be slow enough to assure a good "kill rate", and that you must keep the sleeve in the sterilizer clean, in order for it to be effective. All in all- UV can be a very useful (although not mandatory) tool in your effort to maintain a healthy system! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Lighting ??'?s Morning WWM Crew, Love the show - <thanks kindly for saying so... but the show gets better. Wait 'til we post our crew pictures with each of us wearing a sequin thong bikini with the WWM logo placed strategically> thank you very much for sharing your wealth of knowledge with the class!!   <I assure you... our pleasure <G>> I will begin setting up my 55 gal reef tank very soon. Tank dimensions are 48"L X 12"W X 20"H. I will have a 4-5" DSB. The lighting system is a CustomSeaLife MH/PC combo w/ 2 - 175W MH/10K and 2 - 65W PC's/7.1K. Looking at predominately LPS's and clams. <OK> Questions that I have: 1. Based on my research, I am 99.99% sure this is enough lite to house LPS's and clams in this tank - looking for verification. <more than enough light. Mount bulbs at 6-9" from surface... no closer> 2. I am planning on hanging the lite fixture so the MH's are about 8" off the top of tank. Is this this correct height? <oops... we answer mail fast around here <G>. Ahhh...yes> 3. The lite fixture came w/ a Plexiglas cover that slides into the bottom of the fixture. All four lights only sit about 2" above the Plexiglas cover. Will the heat from the lights melt this and/or restrict the lite to the tank? Should I keep this in or remove it? <both pros and cons to using the lens. Keep it if it came from the mfg and remove it later only if you have color color/UV pigment issues> Thanks muchly!! David Kittanning, PA <cheers, neighbor... Anthony down in Pittsburgh, PA>

Lighting on a 300 gal. reef Anthony, I am in the planning stages for a new 300 gal. reef and I've got a question on lighting. The tank will be 96''x30"x24", with euro-bracing so the top will be completely open. Should I use 2 4' retro kits (2 250w- 400w MH, and 2 110w VHO actinics) or should I maybe go with a 6' PFO hood with 3 MH and 2 6' 160w VHO actinics? <it all depends on the inverts you keep and their needs. Is this a dedicated sps tank with clams? A low light LPS tank or a mid rang soft coral display? At any rate, the fluorescents are only aesthetic... no actinic is needed for the coral as all modern halides have enough or too much blue already> I was planning on using 10000K bulbs. <OK... good average color temp. Seek one MH per 2-3 foot of length of tank. Thus 3-4 MH will be needed> The tank will primarily be sps, so I kind of have a hunch that 4 MH should be the way to go, <correct> but I am not a real big fan of retro-fit. <you could experiment with 2 400 watt halides on a motorized light track. Saves money on electricity and gives better light from many angles for the coral. See these in horticultural supply magazines or keyword search on web> Thanks in advance, and you will probably be hearing from me again in regards to all the other stuff that has to go in or on before you even get water in the tank!!!!!Charlie <Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Lighting on a 300 gal. reef Anthony, You're not saying that the lighting companies out there have us by the #$%^& are you? <rather... "creative marketing"... heehee> Anyways, thanks for your reply. If I went with 2 4' hoods and supplemented with 2 daylight VHO and 2 actinic VHO for dawn and sunset, would clams be able to survive on my substrate? <easily.... but be sure that they have a rock buried in the sand underneath them. Never place a clam on sand without rock underneath (risk of predation on young clams)> Never had clams before, so I guess I'll do some more reading and research. By the way, your book is probably destined to become as good or better than the "reef aquarium" vol. I ,II. in my eyes. <Yowsa! thanks but what if it had pictures <G>!> At least you can understand most of your chapters on the chemistry of our reefs. Thanks again, Charlie <with kind regards, Anthony>

Bringing Up The Lights! Hey Guys, I have a quick lighting question. <Scott F. your guy today!> I have a 60 gallon reef tank that has the dimensions of 36L x 24W x 15H. Currently I have 4 URI NO bulbs in there, but it is getting close to 6 months so I am considering upgrading to MH or VHO's. I currently only have low light corals (several different types of zoo, mushrooms, xenia (weeds!), toadstool, and a torch coral that is fed daily to make up for lack of light. <Smart technique...!> I would like to expand my options of corals and maybe even make a foray into clams. Would a 175 MH be too much light for my shallow tank? Thanks for your help. Chris <I think a 175 watt halide, properly ventilated, with specimens acclimated and placed appropriately, would be a good long-term move, especially if you're going to keep clams. Check out this link:       http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm Hope that this helps! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Bulb Color Temp...still misunderstood Hi Crew!! <Cheers, Bill> Thanks to Mr. Fenner for a great book, I am excited about the upcoming release from the 'whole club'!!!    <agreed... and thanks kindly :)  > OK, to my question,  I have a new 100W MH ballast, I was thinking of using it on my 30g FOWLR and converting to reef type plan.  The only decent bulb I can find for a 100W MH is 5500K,  can I supplement a 5500K bulb with blue, probably PCs, and not cause a major issue with problem species growth?    <a fine idea. No worries... 5500K light can grow reef invertebrates well. It is a warm daylight color and quite useful for many shallow water corals and algae/plants. Just be mindful of good nutrient control (fine-tuned skimming, water changes, careful feeding, etc). Warm light is prone to stimulating some nuisance algae growth. All is easily tempered though with nutrient cycling> I know there is no such thing as a 'rule' but how about a 'guideline' or 'starting point' for lighting wattage and color?   <anywhere between 5500K and 10K is fine by me for coral growth. And it is better for desirable plants and algae. Over 10K is too blue and simply an aesthetic preference by aquarists> As always, thank you for the time, effort, care, conscience and energy you put into the hobby.   <best regards, Anthony>

Moving tank/lighting/cleanup crew Hi Guys, <Scott F. your guy tonight!> Love the site.  I had three questions.  I'm currently running a small Berlin system in a 50 gal. Uniquarium (~35 gal tank, 15 gal sump), 30 lbs live rock,  in sump skimmer, sea gel for carbon, 96W SmartLight.  All I have for tank members are I small yellow tang, 1 Lysmata cleaner shrimp, 1 peppermint shrimp, 5 LH blue legs, 3 scarlet hermits, and 5 Turbos.  Fish load will increase once in place.  The tank has been running for 6 months now. <So far, so good. Remember, the tang will need lots of space as he grows...> I'm going to move the tank upstairs to its permanent location.  What is the best way to do this? I was planning on using new Rubbermaid trash cans to move the bulk of the water, and transport the LR in 5 gal buckets.  The live stock would be temporarily housed in a small tank.  I plan on doing this in a couple of hours ( I hope that's realistic!).  Any advice would be helpful.   <Well, you're following the same course of action that I would. Allow plenty of time; no sense in rushing this process.> After the tank is in place, I plan on adding 2" of washed aragonite. <I'd go for a deeper sand bed, say, 3 to 5 inches, if using fine sand (which you should use!). You'll notice a big difference in the form of lower nitrate> Do I need to keep everything out until the dust settles, and will this harm any of the hard corals polyps, and small fanworms on the LR?  Hints would be great. <I'd wait a day or so until the "dust settles" a bit, then add the corals. Probably no harm in adding them sooner, but I'd take the conservative approach> I'm still having problems with diatom outbreaks.  I was planning on upgrading my cleaners to GARF's 30 gal cleanup crew, but any other hints?  I perform 10 - 20% water changes every two weeks with water made up with R.O.  pH is 8.3, and nitrates are <15 ppm. <Well, I think that the nitrate will diminish with the deep sand bed. Your water change schedule is quite good. I tend to favor smaller (like 5%) water changes, performed twice a week. Make sure that you have a protein skimmer removing at least a cup of dark, yucky skimmate a couple of times a week. I'd also employ some chemical filtration, such as activated carbon and PolyFilter, and replace them regularly>   Would I be able to use the sump in the back as a refugium?  Do you know anyone who has done this, and if so how? <Well, not a refugium in the true sense, but you can certainly throw on a light over the top, '86 the bioballs, and put a small plastic container (like a livebearer "breeding trap") in the middle compartment, in which you could place some macroalgae (which should be harvested regularly, such as Chaetomorpha. This can be used as a source of nutrient export. Also, you could throw some live mysids into the Chaetomorpha, and you'll get some of the benefits of a refugium... Don't forget, you could use a protein skimmer in the first compartment...not a big one...but you can find one that will hang on the back, like an Aqua C Remora Pro, or a CPR Bak Pak...> Finally,  Do you know of anyone who runs a combination of PC and VHO? <I have not seen this combination together, personally> I want to increase the wattage for reef inhabitants, but MH would probably heat the tank up too much , and I don't know if another 96W PC would be the way to go. <I like PC's, and use them a lot. I think that you can go with MH if you properly ventilate and fan the hood> I was thinking about adding two 95W VHOs, which I hope would allow me to keep just about anything barring any SPS or Clams.  Any suggestions would be great. <If you could get three or four total 96 watt PC's, you'd really be in good shape there!> Thanks again for your help, Chris in St. Louis <Chris, I think that you're on the right track. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

New Lighting Question www.wetwebmedia.com/aclimcoralslight.htm Thanks for the reply! The page wouldn't work though....... Ray <Please try this one: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm Bob Fenner>

Blinded By The Light? Hey Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. here with you!> After nearly two months of waiting my canopy and lights were finally finished yesterday. Its 4 48" VHOs powered by an icecap 660. I was wondering, do I need to warm the tank up to these lights? I was told not to leave them on for the full 12 hours until I have sort of acclimated the animals in the tank to the lights. Its a 55 gallon with 1 tomato clown, 1 yellow tang, 5 green Chromis, a mandarin goby and a couple soft coral ( green star polyps and a few blue/green mushrooms). What would you recommend? Ray <It's a good idea to slowly acclimate your animals to a new lighting scheme/photoperiod, particularly if the lighting that you were using before was not as intense. Check out this link: www.wetwebmedia.com/aclimcoralslight.htm   for more information on this subject. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Diatoms/lighting/Ca/skimming Hello again!  My thanks for your excellent responses to my previous few questions, you've earned another couple of questions since you have proven so valuable :) Tank: 150g FOWLR, 3 wks old, cycled & stable, pH 8.0.  Had copepods appear last week and am now getting some diatoms (making a few of the upper rocks brown/rust and spotting the substrate to a good deal), seems to be under control though since adding carbon and reducing light to 8 hrs which is almost 2watts/gal. <Get that skimmer in high gear!> Is that a good idea or not, I've read on your site both ways, to increase light and turn it off completely to avoid diatoms or algae problems.   <Everyone has an opinion. I would turn them down, tweak the skimmer, add some detritivores, and slowly increase the lighting over a month or two until you get it were you want it> Also, after I get fish is it ok to stay to a shorter light period --I know the fish don't need that intensity of light all the time. <Most fish don't care. Just don't put them in a dark tank and suddenly turn on 400 watt halides after a month or two!> I have some coralline algae as well which may be starting to fade (bleach). <Probably they are adjusting to the lighting and tank conditions in general. Be sure your Alk and CA are correct> Ca is always about 310 (Alk between 10-12) and it doesn't want to get any higher.  I've been adding the 2 part liquids and also TurboCalcium every day.  Should I keep adding it or increase the amount I'm adding or could there be some other problem? <You're not that far off the mark. High levels of CA and Alk are mutually exclusive. You might consider dropping the TurboCalcium and use Kalkwasser instead. It's very effective. There is a great article about calcium and alkalinity at WetWebMedia. Check on the home page under "new articles."> I am only getting about a cup per day of yellow liquid from my skimmer, but what I've read from your site suggests I should get more, and it should be very dark. <Doesn't sound too bad to me. Tune it up so that it takes less water into the cup. If you are curing rock you should be getting more skimmate than this (and darker)> Is this inefficient skimming or is there just not much to be skimmed at this point? <If you have new live rock there is plenty to be skimmed. If not then there probably isn't a lot to skim. I would play with the skimmer and test it at different water levels (most important aspect of getting a skimmer to run efficiently) and adjust the riser/venturi at various levels> Thanks again for the site and faq's I've learned so much from reading them! <Fantastically great! This is why we exist...to help hobbyists! David Dowless> Mike

Life, the cosmos Thanks again Anthony,     I hope I am not causing a problem by writing every single day, but I have a problem.  If I find someone who knows the answers to my questions, I will ask and ask and ask, until I know as much as possible, or until I make that person so mad at me for asking questions, that they will not talk to me anymore.   <are you threatening me <G>?> I hope that you are doing well. <well... but cautious now :)  > My question this time is..... What is this MACNA of which you speak, and when is it?   <the biggest hobby conference in the nation with 3 days of speakers, lectures and product expositions... essentially, it is heaven for aquarists (hobby, zoo, etc). Occurs once yearly... this year by the Kentucky club. See here: http://www.lmas.org/macna_xv.htm  > If it is what you say it is then it is one of those few precious times in my life that sounds like a chance that only comes once.  I believe that I can make it.   <it is one of the best investments you can make in your education as a serious aquarist. This year should be inexpensive (hotel, conference price, etc)> Although  I need to know the common stuff, dates, times, places that sort of thing.  I have never heard of this before.  I definitely have the time to do it though.   Back to the thing about asking questions.  I was fired from my last job because of those pesky questions.   <you worked for the Government?!?> It would seem that I made some people  that were too high up on the food chain mad by asking them.   <asking questions is necessary and fine... but make time first and always to listen. Do read and research as well> At any rate, I would really love to go to this MACNA deal.  It seems like it would be a good thing.  I also replied to a person that wanted to know if anyone had any Ideas on how to get the Centropyge larvae past the eight day mark.  Now I am supposed to call the Waikiki Aquarium, and another person. (He figured it out, and they are willing to share.) <please share with us/all in kind and write us back here with info! Always give as freely as you take <G>> Also, if I were to successfully bring them past the 50 day mark, at which point they would be metamorphosed, how would I go about documenting that?   <OK... now here is where me/anybody answering a barrage of questions has to draw the line before it is called "enabling behavior". Help yourself (and your future job security!) by thinking about the questions you ask my friend and have respect for the people you ask (still smiling and good natured here <G>). I say this to help you, bud. You asked me how to document it? At face value- the question is remarkable from someone smart enough to navigate the Internet, read, research other people's documentations (the written word, e-mails, articles, photographs) but suddenly you are unsure of how to document you own? Please... throw me a frickin' bone here. Ha! You are now officially restricted to asking only questions that you not only do not know the answer to, but also ones that you cannot discover with a reasonable amount of diligence in discovery (research). :) > I talked to the person that began teaching me how to do aquariums, and she thinks that I am insane.   <really... that makes two of us> Doesn't believe that I am ready to take on something of this scale.   <on that point I disagree... you can do it. All can be revealed> True I have never owned a Marine System, but I think that I can handle it.   <hmmm...> I was able to cycle a freshwater system using just angelfish.  They said that I was crazy for that too, <not crazy... just irresponsible> but in a low pH, stuff just isn't as toxic or even the same thing sometimes.   <exploiting the ammonia/ammonium dynamic isn't absolute or even smart. Just more forgiving> Also, since the lighting is what you would call moderate, is there a way to augment to where I would be able to contain sps and clams,  WITHOUT, and I cannot stress this enough, MH lighting.   <natural sunlight... read about it in the Book of Coral Propagation by Calfo (Amazon.com <G>)> I cannot afford to have the electric company build a small substation in my  backyard.   <if you cannot afford MH lights then you cannot afford the marine angelfish breeding program either, I'm afraid> I am really kind of partial to VHO.  Also I asked about the downdraft not because I want to buy one, hehehhehe, I want to build one, but if it will not work then there is no point to building it you see.   <I never said it wouldn't work... in fact, I said that they are "as good or better" than most skimmers. They are IMO labor intensive and overpriced compared to better choices, though> If you would like the plans, I can send them to you along with a report on how well it worked.  After I build it. <I do appreciate the offer, I suspect our WWM readers would enjoy your report very much!> As always I appreciate your time and consideration,   -b- <best regards, Anthony>

Re: lighting Hey Gang, I have a  question about general lighting. I have a 48"x18" 20" tank with 90 lbs of live rock, Remora Pro skimmer & a Tidepool filtration unit. I only have 160 watts of light (two 48" shoplites). I'd like to see some coralline algae start on the live rock (tanks been set up for about 1 month). Knowing more light is in order, I was thinking about getting a Custom Sealife Britelight & a SmartLite with two 65 watt bulbs each  in the 48" models, will 260 watts produced by these lamps be able to grow some coralline algae, possibly some low light corals in the future?  These lamps are really going to be pushing my hobby budget (otherwise I'd get a 48", 4 tube VHO hood), the first goal is to get the live rock to produce... whatever it will! P.S. I enclosed a picture of the temporary set-up, when the skimmer box for the Remora  shows up, then  the final  "landscape" can be completed.   Thanks, Scott <Hi Scott, 260 watts will grow coralline but you will be limited to low light corals placed higher on the rock.  I personally prefer VHO lighting for coralline (50% actinic blue and 50%actinic white) and for general reef lighting over compact fluorescent. If you are handy you might consider making a hood to save some $$$. Ice Cap ballasts will drive VHO or CF lighting, check them out at one of our WetWebMedia.com sponsors. Best of luck with your budget!  Craig>

Lighting question.. Hello again guys, <and you as well!>I hope that everyone at WWM had a wonderful (and safe!) New Year!   I have a quick question for you guys.  I have a 20gal hex tank with a 15" standard fluorescent bulb.  I am interested in changing my lighting to better, more suited lighting for my FOWLR tank (with 1 soft coral, possible second one growing).  The only trouble is, I'm confused as to which type of light I should upgrade to, either a "full-spectrum" or a 50/50.  Or is there a >difference?  Or should I even upgrade at all?  My inhabitants are 1 false percula clown, cleaner shrimp, the dreaded domino damsel (who's days are numbered) and a royal Gramma.  And second, I cannot find a 15" 50/50 or full spectrum bulb.  Any help and suggestions where I could find a 15" are much appreciated.  Thanks again for saving the day! Maureen <you will want and need more daylight than actinic here. Use nothing bluer than a 50/50. Lamps in the 6500-8000K range would be ideal for this application. There is much information in the archives on this topic... do browse :) A article summarizing the topic can be found in a link on this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Latest%20Articles.htm best regards, Anthony>

Lighting question follow up.. Anthony, In browsing the link you send and checking out what's available, would a 14 watt, 9325K GE Aqua Rays Full spectrum bulb be too much light for my 20 gal hex?  I am having a lot of trouble finding a 15 inch bulb in 50/50.  The only 15 inch bulb I was able to locate was the one listed above.  Thanks bunches. Maureen <the spectrum would be fine, but the intensity is too weak for most invertebrates. Anthony>

Throwing Some Light On Things! Sorry to pester you busy folks again. <Never a bother- that's why we're here! Scott F. with you today!> I recently acquired an Ice Cap 430 ballast for the 90 gal. FOWLR tank I'm trying to get set-up.  What bulb or bulb combination would be best for the coralline & macro algae in the tank, as well as make the fish look their best?  I've read about the 10,000K & 12,000K 50/50 bulbs.  Should I use them by themselves, or with actinic? <I like the 10000k/actinic combo, myself> Also, on the IceCap applications page, it indicates that this ballast will run 3  4' 110 w. bulbs, but Champion & other sites say only 2.  Which is right? <Hmm- I always thought that the 430 powers up to four 2 ft bulbs (for a total of 320 watts). Both of your information sources are obviously knowledgeable (Ice cap makes 'em, Champion sells and uses 'em).  Not to take anything away from the good people at Champion (a great source, IMO), I'd talk to the people at Ice Cap in their R & D department. These guys could tell you exactly what this ballast was manufactured to do, and how best to maximize it's efficiency. Should I decide later to turn this into a reef tank, with corals & anemones, how many VHO bulbs will I need to properly light the tank? <Totally dependent upon the types of corals that you are keeping, how far the light source is from the surface, etc. I'd err on the side of conservatism and get a larger Ice Cap ballast> I'm thinking the addition of a IC 660 4 bulb  ballast will work. <Yep- just my thinking! LOL> That will give me 6 or 7 110 w bulbs.  I was sorry to hear that Duro Test went "belly up".  They made a good product.  Used their lights for years in my freshwater planted tanks.    <I loved those Vita Lites, especially the "power twists". Bummer> Thanks again for your time. Neil <Thanks for stopping by, Neil. I think both of those ballasts are great products, so you'll be fine. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

A Horse Of A Different Color? Hello! <Hi there! Scott F. here> I've heard about positive reaction on seahorses' coloration to 50/50 pink white bulbs. Do You know something about it. <Not specifically regarding the light bulbs- but these are nice bulbs> In my country - Poland only available seahorses are  H. kuda and I'd really love to have red ones. What can I do? Do red environment (red algae), red background? <Yes, sort of! They will often take on the color of their environment- I'd try to use some red colored artificial corals, plants, etc. to "assist" them> Or add some red light (Fluora by Osram) to 10000K and tl03? to make algae grow ad seahorses turn red? Maybe 20000K light? <I'd stick to the 50/50s or 20000ks. The red light will not look too nice, IMO!> Best regards. Darek <Thanks for stopping by, Darek! Good luck!>

Lighting recommendations Hey Gang,. How y'all doin' (insert western, Mile high accent here), heh,heh,heh! So, judging from yer response, I reckon (spitting in the spittoon here!) what yer sayin' is if I want a pretty package with mediocre lighting enclosed, go with the Coralife set-up. <that is one perspective that I would not emphatically disagree with <G>> Do y'all know if URI makes a hood for their lamps? <I don't believe so, but I do feel that they make the finest fluorescents around> I'm running outta e-tailers to attempt viewing various products for lighting!  Thankin' y'all for yer time, gotta go find Bessie now, (escaped outta the north forty gate again). <must be the outskirts of Denver... the city proper was populated with vegetarian yuppies I thought :p > Have a wet one! <I'm not touching that one> Scott in Denver <Anthony in the world and grateful to still be so>

Re: Playing in the Tidepool- Pt 3 Hey Gang, I hope Santa was good to ya! <Oh yeah!> The Live rock+ Remora Pro skimmer has brought the 70 gal. Tidepool 1 set-up along nicely. Steven Pros advise was/is greatly appreciated. After reading about lighting, I understand now that the lighting should have been one of the first subjects I should have addressed! <Still not too late. Decide what kind of critters you want to keep and design your lighting around them> Oh well, the tank has only been set up for 2 1/2  weeks. Very soon, I'm planning on putting a Custom Sealife CF, 48" 4' x 96 watt fixture in place. 1- 10,000 k, <Do you mean a 50/50?> 1-true actinic, <Lots of possibilities. You can also use 2 actinic and 2 Aquasuns or a 50/50, 1 actinic and 2 Aquasuns> 2- 6500 k. Does this sound like a quality combo? <Sounds good to me! Actinic is mostly for aesthetics although corals do utilize the light from these bulbs. An all white combo will look stark and bright. Actinic gives a pretty blue cast through the water> What about the sequence, (position) of the bulbs, does it matter?   <I don't think it matters. For my tank, I group similar bulbs together with the blue on the front. But really...it's just my preference. I've never read any literature that suggests bulb placement...although someone has probably written about this potential issue> The tank is 48"l x 18"dx 20"h. Is this a good light set-up for live rock with possible corals in the future? <I like it!> I'm looking to get a quality ,all around lighting set-up. <This will do it! Just remember not to get any water splashed on these bulbs. They can break> Thanks for the input, and, may your worst day in 2003 be as your best day in 2002. Scott in Denver. <Thanks. As always, it is our pleasure to assist you in your aquatic endeavors! David Dowless>

Glass tops twixt light fixtures I'm currently using fluorescent lighting on my tank.  The tank contains 50+ pounds of live rock, and fish only.  My quick question is.... Do I remove the sliding glass plates over my tank for best lighting?  I've heard that the glass blocks most of the important UV rays for the live rock and fish.  Any information on this would be greatly appreciated.  Happy holidays bud. <Thank you. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/canopyfaqs.htm Bob Fenner> John

Marine photo-adaptation Hey Bob.. quick question. We want to change our 125 gallon tank from normal fluorescent lighting to the smart lights....... The fish in it have been with regular lighting for the last 6 months.. what is the best way to go about transitioning to the new lights.. can we just put them on there. or will it stress them out?  we put one on to see what it would be like and it is extremely different and more intense... what do you think>? thanks so much! <Mmm, I'd make the switch... do you have light-sensitive organisms? You mention fishes... but no photosynthetic sessile (immotile) invertebrates? If not, you can likely make the switch all in one go... perhaps putting the lighting on timers, having it on for only a few hours mid-day at first, extending the light-day an hour more per week. Bob Fenner>

Choices in lighting I just read your intro of lighting requirements where you seemed convinced that fluorescent lamps are the best lighting source given the cost of operation, lamp cost, heat generation, and quality of light.  I am trying to decide what system to build for myself.  I was going to go with 2X150 watt 10000k HQI MH lamps powered  by a PFO ballast, coupled with a 96 watt power quad 50/50 balanced actinic/daylight for a 75 gallon tank built into the same canopy.  I want to place stony corals, soft corals, maybe clams, along with fish.  I like the shimmering look that is achieved with the MH but the decreased cost of the VHO set up is also appealing.  Would I be completely displeased by not going with the metal halide after the fact??? <I'll make an analogy with transportation-car purchases: A Ford Taurus will "get you there" as assuredly as a Mercedes 450 SL... but you'd look different to others and one would likely arrive sooner than the latter... Is the difference in cost "worth it" to you? Will you be willing to pay the greater cost for operation, maintenance?> I have heard a lot, "spend the money now because you will be displeased and will eventually upgrade..." Comparing apples to apples (light quality, intensity, and usefulness by the organisms that are exposed to it) which would be most ideal? <If time, looks are paramount in importance, the MH's are better here>   The store that I frequent in my home town really push Power Compact and Metal Halide.  Because I am building the system myself (once I have chosen it) the costs are not too staggering than if I were to go with a completed or even retrofit kit.  If I decide on the VHO I will probably go with the Ice Cap 660 dimmable ballast and set it up with either VHO or PC. The Ice Cap Inc. web site shows wiring diagrams for both PC and URI bulbs. Thanks for the help and my apologies for the loss of cohesion in my message Scott from Colorado <Clarity is pleasurable. Think on your choice/s here and be sure. Bob Fenner>

Shockingly Confused Over Lighting! I am a bit confused. Forgive me, I was electrocuted the other night while attempting to mess with overdriving NO lights. I think that has something to do with my confusion ......  ;-) <That's bad. Maybe you'll become more "enlightened", though? Maybe  I can shed some light on things...ok- enough already....! Scott F. messing with you today!> I have a couple quick questions. I am setting up a 125 FOWLR. However, I do not have any live rock yet. I can't afford it all right up front. What would the proper amount be for a my tank just to give it a small jump start until I can afford more? <Quite frankly, I'd get as much live rock as you can afford. I mean, there's no sense in me telling you that you need "X' pounds per gallon if you can only afford "y". Wouldn't be fair to you! You sound like you have a nice system set up...Just proceed at a pace that works for you. You'll be fine! You can always add more rock later when you can afford it.> I have a 5" DSB in both the 125 and the 38 refugium (no fish yet - cycle still occurring). I am not really interested in going reef at this point or even the near future. The second issue is lighting. I am still considering an FOWLR eel biotope. I have read eels like dimmer lighting than most. However, I have also saw that a FOWLR needs around 4 watts per gallon. Again, with cash being short, what are my options here? I can only fit so many bulbs under my hood. I looked at overdriving NO but that adds up to almost the same amount as VHO and is temporarily out of my range and is quite shocking (literally!). I can fit (comfortably) 12 36" NO bulbs under my hood. <I'd go with that configuration. You can upgrade later if you feel the need> If I do not have 4 watts per gallon but do have live rock, will the live rock still do its job and not look pretty or will the lack of high lighting ruin the biofiltration of the rock? Any thoughts on any of this stuff? <I think that the rock will perform its function even in lower light situations. Think about deep reefs and the rock that exists down there. You may not get the diversity of growth that you would in a brighter tank, but the rock will work at biologically filtering the water, IMO> Much appreciated as usual and I look forward to meeting some of you guys at That Pet Place in April! Tim Reading, PA <Best of luck to you, Tim. I think that you're doing fine. Please be careful with those arms and legs in the future! Regards, Scott F.>

I want to feel like I live on the sun Hey guys- I have 265 FOWLR, but want to keep my options open. I stumbled across this the other the day for $200 and was wondering if it would work and if so do I need actinics. Thanks, Justin Barstows 1000 Watt Metal Halide comes with ballast, reflector 25"x24"x11" high, 1000 watt 118,000 lumens with 38% more red light and lens (glass cover). This is the ultimate light for color rendition, as well as increased photo synthesis. Penetrates the deepest tank for marine tissue algae generation. Also great if you are growing high light requirement plants. Must be hung at least 15" above tank, and have good air circulation. Shipping will be in two boxes and will cost $45.00 via post office. US shipping only. Please Email with questions before bidding. Thank you Has seen almost no use, bulb is brand new and sells for 100.00 alone. The system sells for $450.00 new. <There is no way you are going to ever need a 1000 watt MH. If you tank was deeper than 36" and dominated by high light animals, I would think about it, but with a FOWLR, you will have nothing but troubles with this unit. -Steven Pro>

Marine Lighting, Skimmer Operation Hi Steven Pro <Buon giorno> I received your answers about my problems (the guy from Rome Italy) that I wrote to you yesterday. The concern was about you didn't get from me the precise set of my lights and skimmer: I got two Interpet Triton 40 watt 120 cm and two Marine Glo (Askoll) super actinic 40 watt 120 cm. The distance from the water surface is about 30 cm. <That is way too far away for fluorescent lights. As a frame of reference, I have a 55 gallon tank (48" long x 12" wide x 21" tall or 122 cm long x 30 cm wide x 53 cm tall) with four 40 watt fluorescent lamps and these are about 2" or 5 cm from the water surface. Even with this lighting, there are corals I cannot keep. I am limited to mostly large polyp stony corals, but that is what I like.> The light seem to human eyes too shiny. <That is probably because the lights are so high too much of it is escaping and not being directed into the water.> The tank is 140 cm length - 50 cm width - 60 cm height, about 400 liters/100 gallons. <A very deep tank, you need to lower those lights, but slowly, perhaps 5-6 cm per week, until they are 5 cm off of the surface. Even then, you will need to keep your corals in the top half of the tank.> Two opposite pumps inside the tank for water flow about 1000l/hour, one just below the surface and the other one opposite a little less than half height of the tank (about 20 cm from the surface); two sumps: the first one receiving the water from the surface of the tank by a skimmer comb with overflow system, the water go down into the first sump where is the Red Sea venturi skimmer classic attached with an Eheim 1060 (2800l./h - 3 meters of "head" advised by the Red Sea for better performance). The distance between the Eheim and the skimmer intake is about 5 cm with a small angle tube, so the skimmer is up in front of the pump and for that reason the skimmer is almost out the sump water, only the base is in the water. The water so processed go into the other separated sump where I put a different pump I had before I bought the skimmer and two much strong for the water coming out the skimmer (the pump was an Askoll 3800 l/h). Now for balancing I put another pump whose range is from 600 to 1600 l/h with a valve inside the pump so I did adjust the flow rate so that the water flow from the skimmer is about the same quantity that go into the tank. Obviously the rate is much less than the other one (about 1200l/h) with the Askoll pump. The skimmate from the skimmer is about 1 cm a day in the cup. The air valve of the venturi is full open. <I am not quite sure I properly envisioned your sump set up, but if it works for you, I am fine with it.> Thanks again in advance. Hoping hearing from you soon, Claudio from Rome <Ciao, Steven Pro>

Egg Crate Material Reference Lighting Hi Steven, Just a comment about using egg crate material to cover the tank instead of glass covers. I read somewhere a few years back, that an enterprising student studied the effect of egg crate material on light and discovered by turning the egg crate upside down (opposite of the way they use it in elevators and office buildings) it increased the fluorescent light intensity by almost 30%. Don't know if its true, but I thought I would share. Paul E. Proue of St. Joe Beach, FL <It is definitely true. Egg crate has distinct top and bottom sides. If you look closely you will notice that there is a slight taper to the plastic. Used one way it blocks out light, the other way it focuses the available light. -Steven Pro>

Re: Egg Crate Good Morning, just a quick question about using egg crate. I read that it focuses light therefore increasing light intensity. Right now I am not using any cover at all, I have my 2X96watt lighting fixture on top of the tank with an acrylic cover on the fixture. So am I worse off without the egg crate since I am not getting the benefit of the increased light intensity and having the risk of fish committing suicide by jumping out? <Yes... better to trade for these advantages and put up with increased evaporation, heat loss> Is there any problem or con you can think of from using this product? If I use it should I keep the acrylic lens on the lighting fixture or take it off? <Leave it on, except when you're "in the tank" working> Do they sell this product at stores such as Home Depot? <Yes. Bob Fenner> Thx, Angelo

Lighting Hi again, Currently, I've got 2 x 96 watts power compacts about 2-3" off a glass cover and cool it with a fan, but I don't think the glass cover is such a great idea because it blocks the light, accumulates a lot of salt, and also the canopy gets pretty hot after a few hours. What height would I have to place these lights off the surface of the water to not have the lights so they are still effective, but not ruined by the salt spray? <I would leave at 2-3 inches off of the water surface and instead attack the source of the salt spray. Remove any venturi airlines on powerheads, lower any spray bars, remove any airstones, use a bubble trap on your protein skimmer, etc.> Are there better solutions than glass covers? <Some people use egg crate material to stop fish from jumping out while allowing nearly full light.> I'd like to grow LPS corals, mushrooms and polyps. Thanks, Ben <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lighting timers Hello Craig! Comment vas tu? Could you please recommend a timer that will work with my Jalli 2X55 W PC retrofit system.  Thanks in advance.  Mimie <Hi Mimie! Of course!  Any electric timer will work with your 2 X 55 watt retrofit. Most household timers are rated for 120 volts, 20 amps, and usually about 1850 watts capacity. Make sure it has a grounding prong outlet so your ground fault protection still works. (You do have a ground fault outlet for your aquarium like in your bathroom, right?) They are fairly inexpensive. Enjoy!  Craig>

Lighting Hello! I have a 75 gallon reef tank with 440 watts of PC lighting. I am not real happy with the blue actinics because they seem more blue/aqua color than purple. <A common complaint with the early PC actinics.> My corals seem very brownish and not really what their true colors are. With PC lighting, I realize there is blue actinics and 03 blue actinics. Do you have any experience with 03 blue actinics for PCs vs. regular blue? <No personal experience, although I have seen both.> Would this make a big difference as far as increasing the purple color and drawing out more color of my corals? <Yes, the true actinic 03 lamps are much better than the first blue PC lamps.> The reason I ask is because I was told PC actinics don't come close to VHO actinics. <I would have said the same thing before. Now, I think they are much closer.> Right now, I am using 10,000K as my whites. Would it be more helpful to reduce my whites to 6,500K as well as increase the actinics to 03's? <6,500K is a yellower color versus 10,000K. Although, I like 6,500K lamps not everyone does. Regardless, definitely get the true actinic 03 lamps. I am sure these will make you much happier.> When I bought this light kit, 3 months ago, I was considering a VHO light kit and consulted your web page. I was told PC lights are more economical and generate less heat than VHO. <They are probably cheaper to run, a little less watts per useable light energy and a long life on the lamps.> But I am not sure I if the colors I am getting was worth it. I really can't believe it but I am considering going with a VHO kit and selling my PC kit. <I would not do this.> I was also told that PC's don't penetrate the water as well as VHO's. <I believe them to be about the same in this regard.> Please let me know what you think. Thanks, Ronald <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugium Lighting Hello, I am setting up a marine system with a 90g display tank, 10g sump and 15g refugium.   <A good idea, but 15 gallons is very small for a 90 display. Should be around 1/3 to more of the display volume.> I've been reading articles and FAQs but am still not clear about the type of lighting I should have for the refugium.  It is not my intention to make a reef tank out of the refugium, just to fill it with 3-4" aragonite, live rocks and lots of macroalgae to deter the growth of microalgae in the display tank and help filtrate the system naturally. What lighting do you recommend for this purpose?  I was considering an Aqualite single-strip 65w, 24" straight pin fixture for $59; will this work? Any other suggestions about my refugium plan?  Thanks, Jeff <Refugiums just need enough light for plant growth, not the intensity required for reefs, not that it hurts. A 65 watt PC would work fine for 15 gallons, maybe more, but do consider a larger refugium. There is much more on refugiums at WetWebMedia.com, search on refugium in the Google search engine. Sounds like a lot of fun!   Craig>

Coralife product Good day, Frank here. <Steven Pro in today.> I need your expertise on Coralife lighting. For a reef tank, 48" X 24" X 27" tank, how many and what type of Coralife fluorescents should I use as Coralife have quite few different that got me confuse lighting type. The tank is with soft corals, open brain, moon coral, mushroom, bubble, polyps and some tangs; no SPS corals. Is TRICHROMATIC lamp a 6500K? The below is the lighting type that Coralife have: ACTINIC FLUORESCENT 10,000K FLUORESCENT LAMP 20,000K FLUORESCENT LAMP TRICHROMATIC FLUORESCENT I need help on the mixture and how many on type of lamp from Coralife. Hope my question not confusing. <While I like and use normal output lighting, for your size tank, it is not the most cost effective way to go. That said, since getting PC or VHO lights maybe difficult or impossible for you, I would use six 40 watt lamps for this tank and selection of corals. I would use 2 actinics, 1 20,000K, 1 10,000 K, and 2 Trichromatics.> Thank you for upcoming advise, Frank <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lighting, actually the whole enchilada Respected sir Well sir I just want to know that how many watts of lighting will I need. My aquarium is 35 gallons.<Hi Monty, This depends entirely on what inhabitants you wish to keep, their lighting requirements and the depth of your water. For the information you need please go to WetWebMedia.com and type" lighting" into the Google search engine. Follow the links to the type of lighting you are interested in.  Best of luck!  Craig>

Lighting a 55 Sorry to have to bother you with a mundane question. I am going to be setting up a 55 gallon, 48 inch long tank and right now I have three JBJ lights. One 130 watt and two 54 watt, one white and one actinic in each. <238 watts total> Would it be too much or not worth it to upgrade to two 175 MH lights or better off leaving well enough alone and use what I have or up to another 130 PC? Right now as far as corals go I have a frogspawn, elephant ear, bubble coral and a BTA in one tank, 130 watt and a 54 watt light in this one, 45 gallon tank. I also have another bubble coral, two brains, and trumpet coral in a 15 gallon tank with a 54 watt light. I will be going from two tanks to one. <I would use what you have. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Dilemma Hello Crew, <Scott F. here tonight> I have a 75 gal. fish only tank in operation for about three years. My current lighting is two 40 watt fluorescent bulbs. One is actinic and the other is 10,000k. I was given an additional 40 watt lighting strip and I would like to incorporate this into my lighting system. I have a question regarding the type of bulb for this particular light. The actinic bulb is closest to the rear of the tank. Then I utilize a 10,000 K bulb. The third bulb will be about 4 inches from the front of the tank. Is there any particular type of bulb that you would recommend for this? Or I guess in other words, if you had a fish only 75 gal tank with three 40 watt fluorescent lighting, what bulbs would you choose to compliment each other? All bulbs will be on a separate timer. I am looking into the URI bulbs, which come in Actinic White, Super Actinic, and AquaSun. Thank You.  Bob. <I like a bit of a blue look, so I'd use one more actinic and one more 10000K. You'll get a nice, crisp, balanced look this way. I think that you'll like the appearance, too. Enjoy!  Scott F.>

Lighting MH or VHO for a 55 Dear David, After reading your comments on lighting, I read Bob's book and other marine books that I have, you be surprised that every additional time you read you pick up new things or understand what the authors are trying to tell you better or things get register in the head much clearer. NOW, I understand the issue of lighting much better. <My friend...True learning often comes after a state of total confusion. "I was blind but now I see!" In Malaysia, the marine industry is growing and I have not (not yet) found a shop that sells VHO. I will visit some DIY shops and fish shops to see if I can get any, otherwise I will place an order to get URI VHO as suggested. I checked on the net, there are a few types (URI), Super Actinic, Actinic White and AquaSun, I need 4 lamps, what is your suggestion for the combination ? <Two blues and two whites. Or three whites and one blue.> If the DIY does not carry URI lamps (most likely they don't), can I get those with similar wattages ( 60-80 or more watts)?. <If you are interested in learning about the wattages available for VHO, try championlighting.com> In fact I have just been to the fish shop to educate them on lighting. They told me that their customers who uses MH (300 watts) on their 48" tank finds the glare too disturbing to the eye and also it creates a lot of algae. <Algae will not be an issue without excess nutrients from feeding etc. If I was going MH I probably would use two 150 watt 10K bulbs...certainly not one 300 watt bulb. You don't want to make boiled shrimp and clams!> Currently, my 55 gal tank uses 2 Eheim filters (2217 and 2215) with a total capacity of 1,600 litres per hour. More filtration than normal, I believe it does no harm and also there is more water circulation in my tank. <Can't have too much circulation.> I also have an Aqua C Remora Pro skimmer purchase from the US after reading the WWM AQs) which proved to be very good. I have a TECO chiller to maintain the temp at 27C. Any comments or suggestion to improve the system? <For a reef system, use the Eheims for circulation only and add LIVE Rock!> Thanks again, sorry to trouble you with questions after questions! <Answering questions from an intelligent hobbyist is never" trouble." There are lots of views and myths in this hobby. One must read and learn for themselves...Then make informed choices based on the evidence that you have discovered!> Regards, Daniel <Keep livin' and learnin'! David Dowless>

Planned 75-90 Gal Stocking and Lighting Greetings unto the Great WWM Crew! <And to you as well!> Quick question this evening reference my planned 75-90 Gal!> <Fire away!> I had a shopping list I had sent in a few days ago looking for comments on my specific Drygoods and didn't receive any. I was hoping you could give me some possible suggestions. I am still researching the animals I would like to keep but for now plan on a few damsels (like 3-4) and/or Clowns (2-3), a couple of goby's and a small starfish (any suggestions?) <Damsels and clowns are very territorial depending on which species you want to keep. research carefully. I like the chocolate chip starfish. They are hardy and stay out in the open. But they do have a ravenous appetite. They will not work well in a reef tank.> in a FOWLR that at some point I might try my hand at maybe keeping some soft corals or?. 80-90 Gallon w/4" DSB and 100pds Liverock. Remora Pro Skimmer w/pre-filter AquaClear 100 Gal -- (Media Removed other than Carbon/Sponge) as a Mechanical Filter (changed often) 4 110Watt VHO lights (2 10K, 1 7600K, 1 Actinic) <If you're not trying to grow corals or algae, I wouldn't want this much light> Any suggestions on Dry Goods or Lighting Changes? <Research on the web and see what other people say about equipment they have purchased. WetWebMedia has a message board with just this type of information. Thank you all so much! <It's a pleasure to assist! David>

Lighting Hello, I am currently upgrading my lighting system by replacing my NO Two 48 inch bulbs (one 10,000k and one actinic) I am planning on replacing them with two 55 watt power compacts.  The Tank is a 90 gallon (48inches X 18 wide X 24 high).  I currently have a VHO setup with Two 48 inch bulbs one 10,000k and one Actinic bulb (110 watts each)  URI BULBS. Here is a link to my tank with everything http://home.san.rr.com/todiefor/90.html.   The parrot fish was given away to a Local fish store recently to give him a better home. I currently have a few corals all soft corals a Xenia & mushrooms and one finger coral.  My question is what Color bulbs would best suit my needs best. (50/50 bulb?  10,000k or 6700k bulbs.  The two bulbs will have to be the same.    Power compacts where chosen because of the current cost of electricity in California (San Diego).  Most bulbs 55 watt PC are 22 inches long.  So given that the tank is 48 inches long.  What would you recommend  for the ideal placement?  I was thinking that it would be best if the bulbs came from the edges and almost met in the middle (Centered in the hood). Thanks, Terry Rickman <Hi Terry, I would run whatever lighting you decide on at 50% white (10000K) and 50% actinic blue. Before springing on new PowerCompacts that only cover 22 inches, have you considered an Ice Cap electronic VHO ballast to run four VHO lamps or PC's, HO, and NO fluorescent bulbs?  You could retain your current VHO bulbs, end caps etc. and add two more powered by one ballast and have better light coverage. This is perhaps the ultimate in flexibility in fluorescent lighting. You might check them out at one of the WetWebMedia.com sponsors.  Enjoy!  Craig>  

Blinded By The Light? Hi guys, <Scott F. this morning> I have a 155/gal bow front mini reef that has been up and running for about 4yrs.  I run 6 96watt power compacts, two of which are blue. Berlin skimmer, sump filter with live rock, UV sterilizer, and I use a Kent Maxima RO/DI for all water that goes into the tank.  Chemistry as of yesterday: PH:  7.9-8.0 Alk:  4 Ammonia:  0 Phosphates:  1.0 Nitrite:  0.22mg/L Nitrate:  10mg/L Ca:  480mg/L Salinity 1.024-1.025 <Check that nitrite and pH again, okay? The phosphate is a bit high, too.> We do 25% water changes 1/wk.  Residents include:  Sail fin Tang, Mandarin, Xmas wrasse, 6 Line wrasse, Ferry wrasse, Yellow Coris wrasse, 8 clown gobies about ? inch each, percula clown, yellow spotted watchman goby.  All fish are less than 2 inches.  Clean up crew consists of about 150 hermit crabs, 1 emerald crab and 20 turbo snails.  I feed the tank two cubes of frozen mysis/day and Spectra Vital 1/wk. The tank has been thriving up until about a week ago.  I mean it really looked incredible.   Now, my frogs spawn and hammer corals won't open at all.  They're sliming or disintegrating.  I've already completely lost two frog spawn heads. Mushrooms looked shriveled, polyps won't open up either. Brain corals, trumpets, and plate corals seem to be fine. I also noticed a bit of red slime algae on the sand. <Possibly due to accumulating organics from the coral meltdown...> On 11/4/02 we added two 175watt metal halides and started to leave the lights on longer. Previously we only had the lights on for 10 hours/day. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated!!!!!  We're desperate! Thanks for your help! Kristie <Well, Kristie, it sounds to me like a case of too much light too soon, as far as some of your corals are concerned. They need to be slowly acclimated to different lighting schemes, or something like what you're experiencing can result. Anthony wrote a great article on this topic- do check the Wetwebmedia.com site for this. I will forward this to Anthony for some suggestions. Good luck!>

Blinded By The Light (Pt. @) Thanks for your help!  I turned off the halides since yesterday and have gone back to the 6 96watt power compacts.  Nothing has gotten worse, but doesn't look any better yet.  Should I add any supplements to the tank? Such as Seachem's Reef Plus?  Or Coral Excel???  We don't usually use this stuff too often. <I am not a big one for additives, myself, and given the possible higher nutrient load from dying animals that may be in your system-I'd pass on adding anything else. Just kick the skimmer into overdrive and execute regular water changes.>   Just stick to mysis and Spectra Vital for the tank.  I checked the ph: 8.0 and Nitrites:  0.  I read Anthony's article on lighting.  Thank you.  I think I must of added too much too soon.  Do you recommend slowly adding the halides????? <Just acclimate the animals slowly, using a technique like Anthony suggests.> Or should I forget about them all together? <Nope- they are great lights!> Thanks again! Kristie <You're welcome! I'm sure things will improve soon! Good Luck!

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