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FAQs about Light and Lighting for Marine Systems, Fixture Selection 2

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Related FAQs: Marine System Lighting, Marine System Lighting 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 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

Tech:/Use <Distance is actual inches of water depth to photosynthetic life> NO/SO Fluor: inches HO/VHO/PC Fluor: 2' MH, HQI, T-5... 2' + MH, Sun... 3' +

LED... stay tuned

Hi Bob,
I am trying to work out the correct amount of Watts per gallon for my mixed reef system. When calculating Watts per gallon should I be taking into consideration displacement of water by live rock and substrate? In your opinion in a mixed LPS, SPS aquarium what should I be aiming for with regards to the watts per gallon measurement? I have seen before that I should be aiming for about 9 to 10 watts per gallon as I have light loving SPS corals.
Any help would be most appreciated.
Kevin Lee

Hello Kevin, and I take it you're referring to light fixturization only here'¦ That is, you're looking for some input regarding about how much energy (in Watts'¦ Volts multiplied by Amperage) per the actual gallonage of a reef/coral system.
            As you will appreciate (soon!), there is no real such formula'¦ Think of only the shape of a given volume system'¦ It could be relatively deep or shallow, eh? With the deeper model requiring much more intensity of light to supply photosynthetic life placed on or near the bottom. Or alternatively, one could argue for lower wattage lighting, placing higher-energy users on top of rock near the surface.
            If you and I were to fashion a complex maths statement re Watts of Light Per Gallon, we'd have to factor what sort of lighting one might employ'¦ as some technologies are far more efficient in producing useful photonic energy than others. For instance, the 'higher' types of fluorescents, going from normal output to higher, VHO, Compact Fluorescent to T-5 are successively better in terms of production of usable light per watt of energy consumed.
            And we're far from being complete in our discussion here. Oft-times the reflector used in directing light is very important, as is the (if present) material/cover twixt the light source and water surface'¦ Even the presence of dissolved colour and more can greatly diminish the transmission of light in our captive systems. Being careful with foods, feeding, using chemical filtrants, and having a high ORP can greatly help with these last.
            You should be aware that there is a very large range of use and photo-adaptability in the 'corals' we keep as aquarists, and the methods for carefully acclimating unknown, new purchases to your system. A 'range' of likely wattage consumption for home hobbyist systems is likely in the 3-10 watts per 'gallon', no matter if contents are included in the volume determination or no.
            I would be remiss even in such a short missal as this to not mention that if one employs such 'high wattage' lighting, that there needs be matching circumstances as more frequent water testing, supply of biominerals, alkalinity, and likely other supplements, to go along with the boosted metabolisms of the photosynthetic life you're irradiating. Very often, it pays to 'go slower' here and aim for a median of values in boosting photosynthesis.
            Finally, you should be encouraged to investigate, possibly borrow a PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) meter, perhaps from a marine/reef club or your stockist, to determine what parts of your system are receiving what measure of useful light.

Metal halides and T5 brands   6/13/07 Hello Crew, <Michele> I tried to send this to the chat forum, but could not log on. I apologize if I missed the answer in the archives. I am trying to purchase new lights for my husband for Father's day....yep, last minute, probably going to have to wrap up a picture instead of the actual lights! <Heee! Good idea> Anyway, I want to avoid the cheaper non-brand name lights, but I am having trouble knowing what the best brand is! We are in process of upgrading from a 90 to a 220 gallon reef with primarily SPS and fish (2 tangs, 1 Rabbitfish, 2 clowns, 1 mandarin). My husband has requested 3-250 watt 10,000 K retro metal halides and 4-36 watt retro T5s. Any suggestions for a good brand name? Ice cap? Hamilton? Coralife? <These are actually all re-packaged, re-labeled products... Not made by these folks... But of these three, the first two are better investments... Such gear buys are better researched ala "Consumer Reports", i.e., by querying on a BB re many users experiences concerning function, longevity, cost per performance and issues such as customer service... Our archived input on these can be found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm at the bottom trays...> Thanks for any assistance. Michele <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

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>>  

Lighting Decisions... I've read probably ever single page of every FAQ and article on lighting you have posted on your website and have also done some research at other sites as well. I am gradually converting my FOWLR to a reef and the next step is the lighting.  Currently I have NO fluorescents and as far as I see it, VHO seems to be the most logical for what I want accomplished.  I want to have keep at least one anemone and maybe a few hard corals, but for the most part I will start off with some soft beginner corals because I am completely new to reef keeping.  After reading a lot of information seems the recommended for what I am looking for is about 5-6 watts per gallon and since I have a 55 gallon tank, about 275-330 watts. <I have never been a big one for the "watts per gallon" argument, but it is a good starting point, I guess.> I understand watts is a measurement of energy and not light but that seems about the general rule of thumb.  Pretty much what I am asking is a recommendation for a setup because with the hundreds of choices out there available I can't come to make myself make a large investment without direct consultation of people in the business. The tank is a 48" long tank.  The 2 LFS around me keep trying to get me to buy MH setups but I am not quite ready to spend that much money.  I am a broke college kid, but I also want a nice setup that will be visually appealing as well as support the life I hope to keep in my tank some day.  Thanks in  advance. <Well, I think that VHO may be a good source of light to start your system with, but it may be a better long-term decision to go for a metal halide system. I think that two 150watt double-ended HQI pendants could do a good job at a cost similar to that of a VHO system. There are a number of good MH pendant systems on the market today. Do consider these pendants as a more flexible and capable long term alternative to VHO. Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.>

Lighting Decisions (Pt. 2) Would I need to supplement an HQI system with actinics or would 2 150 watt HQI without actinics be sufficient? <You would only need to supplement the halides with actinic if the bulb's aesthetics do not please you. For example, a lot of people feel that the popular 10,000k halides are too "yellow" for their taste, so they supplement them with actinic. There is no tremendous advantage in doing so other than aesthetics, however, IMO. Many hobbyists like to use actinics to simulate a "dawn" or "dusk" phase before/after their halides go on or off. Again, purely a judgment call on your part.> Also on hellolights.com, it says that a UV glass shield is necessary to protect the life within the tank.  I have a glass canopy right now, is that enough?  Thanks again! -Ron <The fine folks at hellolights.com (a great company to do business with, BTW) are correct. Double-ended (HQI) bulbs do not have a "shield" like mogul-base halide bulbs do. Pretty much every double-ended pendant that is available in the hobby has the tempered glass shield built in, however, so if you intend to use these bulbs, you'll generally be using them in a hanging pendant that includes the glass, such as those made by Aquamedic, PFO, or Sunlight Supply. Do check them out! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Lighting (Type) Quandary - 06/29/05 I hope this finds you guys and gals in good health and spirits. <<Well I was in the "spirits" last night, so my health may be suspect <G>.>> I have gotten a little confused on the selection for which spectrum lights to use for my particular setup. <<Not an unusual dilemma...and usually made more difficult than it need be.>> I realize that there are many issues that dictate light selection so I am just asking for an opinion here. <<Giving my opinion is what I do best mate! <G> >> I have a 65 gallon tall tank currently running a Coralife 2X96 watt PC fixture and have only fish and a few soft corals (mushrooms, polyps, etc).  All appear to be doing fine. <<OK>> I spot feed the corals occasionally to make up for the inadequate lighting and plan to purchase a 4X96 watt light as soon as I can afford one (married with children and grandchild). <<I'm not convinced your lighting is inadequate or that you need to "double up" given this "general" list of corals...but feeding is always beneficial regardless of lighting used.  Very few corals are purely autotrophic (able to utilize carbon produced by light as a sole food source).  Please do some research on the corals you have/plan to have to determine lighting requirements.  Many corals can be kept under what some may consider "inadequate" lighting as long as you're willing to provide supplemental feeding.>> The fixture I am currently using came with 1 10K bulb and 1 Actinic that are almost 6 months old and close to replacement.  After reading most of the lighting FAQ and articles, I am still not sure which bulbs to get.  Some of you like Actinics, some don't.  Some say that they are for aesthetics only, some don't. <<As with most everything in this hobby, lighting too is a highly opinionated subject.>> Anyway, I am thinking of replacing the 10K with a dual daylight (10K and 6500) and replacing the Actinic with a dual actinic/7100 blue.  Will this be a better setup or just plain stupid. <<Here's where your research (or lack of) on the corals comes in to play.  If you are going to predominate with deep/deeper water corals like the mushrooms/some polyp species, a 50/50 split of 10K (or even 20K) and actinics is a good choice.  If going with shallow(er) water species or the popular "reef garden" variety, I feel a mix of 10K and 6.5K serves better...both contain more than enough "blue" for the corals sake.  In the end, most lighting schemes end up being what looks best to the aquarist, not necessarily what's best for the tank inhabitants...good thing many corals are wonderfully adaptive creatures, eh?>> I appreciate the time and dedication that the WWM crew dedicates to this site and the wealth of information I have gotten from it. <<Glad you have found the site useful.>> Because of you, I do weekly 10% water changes, I bought 40 more pounds of live rock to achieve the 1 to 1.5 lbs per gallon ratio, I bought 2 Rio 1200s and changed my Mag 5 for a Mag 9.5 through a SCWD for more random water flow, ditched my SeaClone skimmer for an ASM G-1X, got rid of my wet/dry in favor of a refugium with Chaetomorpha (had to look that one up for correct spelling), now have a QT tank with a sponge cooking in the main tank, and I own Salifert test kits for just about everything that you can test, a pH meter, and a refractometer.  Because of you, I have not lost a fish or coral in quite some time and my "hobby" is much more enjoyable. <<This is why I am/we are here my friend...thank you for sharing this.>> I am just broke now is the only downside. <<Ahh...but you're rich with new wonderment/appreciation of the aquatic world.>> Thanks in advance of your help and if this question has be answered and re-answered, just delete this email.  I do try to find the answer on my own first, but sometimes the more you read, the more you need to read. <<No worries mate, we're here to assist.>> Thanks, Mike Henry <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Lighting Question 3/27/04 Hello Again Crew, <howdy> Once again thank you for all of your priceless insight!  I have a little bit of a lighting situation on my hand.  I have a 45G system with LR, LS, one Lime Green Leather, some green polyps, and one small mounted Acropora Frag. <a very odd and unnatural mix. These will be challenging to all keep healthy if/when they mature (the leather is highly noxious... the Starpolyp is extremely aggressive... and the Acropora may require lighting very different from the others). Please do endeavor to keep animals with more similar needs/tolerances if not a natural biotope> During my original setup, none of these were planned, and my original lighting proved that...96W VHO 50/50 Coralife Aqualite.  I just finished building a wood canopy, and installed twice the wattage of lighting (96W 10,000K VHO, and 96W Actinic VHO) in the canopy.   <this is on par with the 4-5 watts per gallon minimum for most/many reef cnidarians... although this scheme has more blue than most corals need (the actinics on 10k K being somewhat of a waste (aesthetics aside). Your corals would be much better served by a heavier daylight colored scheme> Due to space concerns I will not be using the original lighting, just using this upgraded canopy, and the 192 watts installed in it.  Before I even install and begin to use the new canopy and lighting, I am trying to figure out how to ease my system into the new (DOUBLE) wattage. <please do keyword searches online (wetwebmedia.com archives, reefcentral.com, etc) for my suggestions with the "screen method": gist of it being the employ of a dozen or more sheets of fiberglass fly screen between the lights and the canopy/aquarium surface and used in a stack to shade light... pulling a sheet away every day or other> Currently the 96 total watts I am using now comes on around 2:30PM and goes off at around midnight (9 1/2 total hours).  With the new lighting I can control both the Actinic and the 10,000K separately.  I would like to have the Actinic come on before the 10,000K and go off after the 10,000K to simulate the dawn/dusk.  I also use one of Marc Weiss' single unit moonshine lights which come on about an hour after all the lights have gone out, and goes off around 9AM.  I know it may sound like I am rambling on here, but I want to go about it the right way so my corals, and my coralline are NOT burned out.  I am not planning on any more corals in this system, but I have been thinking about a small clam.  Would it be smart with the wattage I am using?  Any thoughts, concerns or ideas on how to ease the new lighting into the system. Thanks ~ Steve <no worries... and like so many topics, we have good coverage IMO of this subject in articles and FAQs in our archives. Please do take the time to read and research at greater length: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm many links to follow from this link. Kindly, Anthony>

Lighting Configurations  Awesome site. Great info.  <Glad that you enjoy it! Scott F. here today!>  I'm in process of setting up a 84x24x24 reef tank and am trying to use 'stuff' from other excursions over the years. I have two six foot Hamilton fixtures that I've taken out of the cabinets (in order to use as retrofits). One is 3 x 175 MH with two regular fluoros 48w, the other is 2 x 175 MH with two regular fluoros.  My question is what can I house (backwards I understand) with this intensity of lighting? Is it adequate for most corals or will I have limitations? I plan on fixtures being 12 inches from top of tank'¦maybe 13 to 14 inches from water. Have five Coralvue 12k bulbs for MH now but can change.  <Well, with the wattage of lighting that you mention, and the distance from the water that you site, I suppose that you'd be able to maintain many of the less demanding-to-moderately-demanding SPS corals, and virtually any LPS or soft coral, and all but the more light-demanding clams, if mounted high enough. Keep in mind that any captive lighting system has limitations, of course. Of course, you certainly don't want to mix all of these animals in the same tank! Well- you might WANT to- but it's not a good idea, for reasons outlined numerous times on this site!>  Second question is do I gain or lose anything based on my current magnetic ballast or will I gain anything going to electronic ballasts? I don't mind changing ballast if it'll get my anything long term.  <Personally, I think that electronic ballasts are more efficient, less expensive to operate in the long run, and tend to drive bulbs more towards their "designed" spectral output. There are many points of view on this one, but that's my personal opinion.>  I plan on have a ½ HP chiller, and am doing a pretty extensive venting to outside duct to attic.  <Cool! Literally! Do make sure that you contact a qualified contractor to make sure that your venting is safe and complies with local building codes. You certainly don' want to burn the house down while trying to cool your tank!>  So I'll have two magnetic ballast, nice size Sequence pump, chiller exhaust under cabinet.  <Sounds neat to me!>  Any help would be appreciated'¦..most retailers give me answer according to what is in inventory.  <Yep- that happens a lot!>  Thanks, Jimmy  <Well, Jimmy- sounds like you're on the right path- just experiment with the bulbs to make sure that they are of correct spectrum for the animals that you intend to keep...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

How do we determine proper lighting? - 4/9/04  Have one quick question that I forgot to ask you the other day. <OK> On a argument with people that I know that argue for wattage or spectrum your opinion would you say that on lighting that it's more important to have high wattage or a light with low wattage, but has high spectrum output. <Well, I believe that it is more complex then high or low wattage etc. It is about the amount of PAR/spectrum available for the process of photosynthesis to occur in coral. In my experience, to get the PAR needed for sufficient photosynthesis it just happens to be in the high end bulb technology and fixtures that run them. The wattage of the light is really irrelevant in reality. New technology seems to drive the There are so many articles written on this subject that it almost isn't an argument anymore. Please do give a look through a few of these links on our site:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/fixtures.htm   http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/s/b/sbj4/aquarium/article-list.htm  (these articles listed here are fairly high end and scientific but are proven research papers in my opinion>  Thanks a lot, I don't know what I would do without you guys (and ladies). <Hopefully do more research on your own> Thanks to you I am the only 8th grader who has 4 tanks: 46gal saltwater reef, 30gal fresh, 10gal fresh, parrot fish tank, 5gal female Betta tank ,and soon to be a 90gal saltwater reef tank. Great job! ~Paul>

Natural sunlight 5/4/04 Hi guys-  I am a new marine tank enthusiast just starting up a reef tank and your website has been invaluable in helping me.  So, a big thank you to you all!!!  I have also just recently purchased Anthony's book on coral propagation and it's amazing as well. <Glad you have benefited from the site and from Anthony's book.  Both are indeed excellent resources!> My question actually comes from his chapter on lighting and more specifically, Natural Lighting.  Given the opinion of Anthony that "there is no comparison..." [between natural sunlight and artificial in terms of benefit], I have am seriously leaning towards going that route (not only for the benefits of the reef, but also for the pocket book).  Our house has a conservatory (almost every house in New Zealand has one) and I think it would be a great place to take advantage of the sunlight as well as overall enjoyment. <I agree totally with the superiority of natural sunlight and I am quite jealous that you have the opportunity to use it for your reef tank!> I brought this topic up with my LFS and they not only brought up the "common myth that sunlight causes algae", <An absurd myth to be sure!  In the presence of nutrients, any light source will grow algae.> but also proposed four additional concerns/problems, (1) something about the number of glass panes the sun will have to penetrate significantly reduces the useful light spectrum, <Passing through several panes of glass will reduce the intensity and will alter the spectrum, but not beyond usefulness.  You may have to supplement with some blue fluorescents to produce a more aesthetically pleasing appearance. A light meter will be very useful in assessing light intensity under different conditions (cloudy days, winter, etc.)> (2) being so low in latitude, we don't get intense enough beneficial sunlight, <High latitude, actually (equator is 0).  This is ridiculous.  Temperate greenhouse coral farmers have to use shade cloths in the summer and some have even painted the roofs of their greenhouses to protect against OVER illumination.  Do realize light attenuation through water is huge, and your corals will be in inches of water compared to feet or meters on the reef.> (3) the fluctuations in temperature will be hard to control given the close proximity to the elements, and <This may be a concern.> (4) with the depletion of the ozone layer in the southern hemisphere, the UV is so intense that it would be damaging, if not deadly, with continuous exposure. <I doubt this will be a concern.  Ordinary glass attenuates UV quite well, so after passing through multiple panes, the UV levels should be well decreased.> In your opinion, how valid are these concerns?  Are there other issues that I should be worried about? <If cloudy days are numerous, and in the winter, you may have to consider some supplemental light.  A light meter should probably be considered mandatory equipment to make appropriate decisions here.> If in your opinion the conservatory is still a good option, another concern is that the optimal placement of the tank (decided by the decoration constraints put down by my wife) does not allow for afternoon direct sunlight.  Will I need to supplement with artificial lighting for these hours?     <Ahhh... the ultimate consideration!  This decision really requires a light meter.  Compare the readings on a variety of days, times of day and conditions (take notes!) to a friends artificially lit tank.> Thanks for all your help, Steve <Glad to!  In case you didn't pick up on this...  get a light meter!<g>.  The human eye doesn't cut it.  Good luck with this outstanding plan!  Best regards, Adam>

Lighting and electricity cost Hi there Crew!! <Joe> Just want to make a statement about the pitfalls of halide lighting. I talked my wife into letting me get an AquaSpacelight dual 250 10000k and 150 20000 k system. a really nice light. well, we got our first electric bill since hanging this bad boy and holy cr-p!!!. Almost twice as month as this time last year!! I assume it is the light that is costing the extra $60.00 per month in juice. How do you calculate the energy used with these fixtures?? <Multiply the volts (likely 110 if you're in the U.S.) times the amps consumed (either can be read off of spec.s, or from the ballast/s, or measured with a meter...) and the number of hours used per day... times thirty or so days in a month... divide by one thousand (to give you kilowatt hours)... and multiply this times the charge your utility company is billing you per kilowatt-hour. Voila! Yes, energy use outdistances all other costs combined in the reef hobby eventually. Bob Fenner>

Looking for T5 lighting technology 5/3/04 Thanks for the response. <always welcome> I know what you mean about the anemone.  It is a just a thought right now. :-) <please resist or do dedicate proper space (species specific tank and guards from other cnidarians, overflows, intakes, etc). Anemones do require special care> How much power do MHs consume on a monthly basis?   <watts is watts, my friend... at least as far as power consumption is concerned. What your hardware does with those kilowatts is another story and the reason why halides are a better value for aquarists with deeper tanks. 200 watts of fluorescent over a 30" tank does not deliver the same amount of light (they are much weaker) to corals kept at depth. But halides can punch through the water deeper... hence the "bang for your buck" argument for halides> Got a chart on that or a formula?   <ahhh... no. <G>. But you can fin such data in the works of others. Look up Sanjay Joshi on the WetWeb> My fear with MHs is they'll suck up my wallet on electricity alone.  That's why I was wondering about T5s.   <T5s will work to your advantage if you tank is shallow (24" or less) and you simply do not need the big guns of a MH then> But I seriously won't be doing any coral raising in this tank. <MH has the added advantage of producing glitter lines/god beams... a very nice aesthetic> Depending on how high I can get a rock formation, I might consider a low light coral/shroom, but no more than that.  I can't remember where I saw a chart for light recommendations showing how deep certain light types penetrate.   <very few fluorescents are much good (coral growth) beyond 10" or so... 16" max> That may help me figure out what I need when I get this thing set up. <best of luck, Anthony>

Lighting Upgrade -want your advice 5/3/04 Hi, this question is for Anthony Calfo if possible:  Anthony, I love your book on coral propagation.  Any chance for a part-2? <thanks kindly... yes, indeed. Next year right after we finish NMA v. 2 currently> Anthony, I want your advice on a lighting change I am considering.  I currently have 2 175Watt Ushio 10ks and 2 URI VHO actinics over my 75 reef with mostly SPS corals.   <excellent outfit> The colors of the corals in the top 1/3 of the tank have great color and ok to slow growth (outstanding purples and blues and good greens).   <the growth has much more to do with (not enough or right kind of) water flow and not lighting> Some of my SPS in the lower 2/3s of the tank do not seem to be as colorful (Greens are a little faded).  I replaced my bulbs after only 6 months and I was shocked at how much more powerful the new bulbs were over the old.  My colors of my SPS also improved from the new bulbs. <very nice> My question is I am considering going to 2, 250 Watt Double ended AB 20k run in two of the new ocean pendants.  This would give me only 2 bulbs to replace.  I would be losing some overall wattage but would I get more light to the corals (and better color). Please advise as you have been so helpful in the past. Thanks Andrew <double ended HQI lamps are quite excellent (quality of light overall) and you do not need fluorescent actinic with them... of course, you do not need it with the Ushios or any modern lamp 6500k  or higher. Actinics are just for aesthetics. My concern is that 20K is too blue for many corals. If you favor SPS, then you will not likely be served as well by blue lamps... go for 6500 - 10k K. But if you favor deep water LPS and soft corals/polyps... then the 20k K will be very good. Anthony>

T-5's or VHO? I think this guy should either talk his wife into halides or get T5's.  I can't believe you think VHO's are better than T-5's, but anyway it seems almost impossible to get VHO or Power Compact technology outside the US so I don't think they're an option for him (or me).<< Yeah that is a tough one.  I still think VHO out perform T-5's if you are comparing like 5 bulbs to 5 bulbs.  What is great about T-5's is that the small size allows you to put like 7 T-5's where only 5 VHO would fit.  In that case, I'd have to consider T-5's.  But I don't really have a strong preference either way. >>  Almost the biggest PC you can get in Europe is an 11 Watt!  I've seen the bigger ones for sale only very rarely, and getting bulbs is very difficult. I don't know what the deal is with the US and T5, but the units I've seen had some very poor reflector designs, which is totally key to this technology. << Ah, that might be the case.  Good point, I'm glad you brought this up.  And I too agree, that it is worth the investment to halides. >> cheers Wayne <<  Thanks, Blundell  >>

Lighting 101 - 2/3/04 Dear WWM Crew, I find your site to be an excellent source of information. <Thank you for being part of it all> Unfortunately, I've searched through pages of FAQ's and the internet, but cannot find the definitive answer I'm seeking. <Hmmmmm...OK> I'm confused about lighting for aquariums. <Well, this is a well documented area in reef literature and reef forums alike but not easily understood.> Currently, I have a 75G FOWLR aquarium. <OK> As soon as I get the nitrates under control, I would like to add a few corals or mushrooms. <Well, how you light your aquarium will depend on what light requiring animals you plan to keep> However, if I understand the lighting requirements, I probably don't have enough light. <Again, all depends on the animals you are planning to keep> Currently I have 2 18000K, 2 50/50 and 1 actinic 36" fluorescent lights in my canopy. In addition I have a two cheap blue cold cathode tubes to light the tank at night. I doubt they simulate moon light.) All of the lights are on timers to turn them off and on, which hopefully simulates a normal day. <Timers make a huge difference and an excellent investment> Anyway, if I understand everything I've read, the rule of watts per gallon, is based of NO fluorescent lights, not incandescent lights. <No, the rule of watts per gallon (not a good rule either, I might add) is based on total watt output regardless of bulb type. It is not based on spectrum, intensity or PAR saturation for that matter Regular incandescent lighting is really of no use to growing photosynthetic reef invertebrates due to the spectrum of light waves (of little PAR value)> In which case my current scheme is only 150 watts of light for a total of 2 watts/gallon. Did I understand this correctly? <from the math stand point, yes> Or is it based off incandescent lighting? In which case, 1 35w fluorescent light puts out the equivalent of 1 60w incandescent light. <Nope. Not based on the theoretic value of incandescent lighting> My total would then be 300w for a total of 4w / gallon. <The math would be correct if your conversion value is correct. Again, incandescent light is not of the proper spectrum for use with photosynthetic processes. Your math is correct but you are proving why the "watt per gallon" method is not a good rule of thumb when discussing alternate lighting> If the watts/gallon is based on NO fluorescent lights, <No, it is based on the total watts used over the tank>  then I don't understand how MH lighting is supposed to be any better. <The spectrum and intensity is what is truly being measured not watts per gallon. Are you sure you read through our lighting articles and FAQS? This information is in there and at much greater detail. I am most certainly grossly over simplifying this subject> I've seen these lights in the LFS and they don't appear to be anymore intense than what I have.  With all 5 lights on in my tank, my whole living room is lit up. <Sounds like a lot of light regardless of spectrum.> I can see it from outside the house with the  blinds closed. Anymore, and I would think I'd nuke my fish. <Well, if your plan is to only keep mushrooms then more than likely you won't have any issues, but feel free to experiment with various corals and let us know you findings> I'm sure ya'll have the answers, although I'm afraid I may not like it. MH lights aren't cheap. Not to mention they get hot. <Exactly... and so are incandescent lights as their spectrum is mostly orange red and yellow which are exchanged for heat in the first foot of water. Knowledge is power: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/index.htm start with the articles and then move to the FAQs when you have time. This is a large subject matter. Do search "Google" for "lighting a reef aquarium" and read some of the findings there as well. Hope I helped some ~Paul> Thanks, Glenn

Aquarium Lighting, the upcoming LED technology... an insider view Hi Bob, <Hey Jeff! Had a daydream re you and Mel just yesterday while we were walking the dogs in the canyon... that you folks came out and stayed at the Hawai'i house.> Hope you and Diane are doing well. <Yes my friend, thank you> We have been working for the last year with a high-power LED company in San Jose. They are making LEDs for many lighting applications, including home lighting and multi-color industrial lighting. Our work for them has involved producing special driver electronics and control software for their LEDs, to facilitate long-term reliability testing. We are delivering a test system to them next week that will deliver over 100KW of test power. <Neat... the last couple years I've heard of folks using LEDs, well, developing them for pet-fish use.> While working with them we have gained exposure to their products, both current and future. Some of these look promising to revolutionize aquarium lighting: <Oh!> They have LEDs in various colors, including warm white They are highly efficient - close to fluorescent efficiency They last for 50K to 100K hours They are low voltage (safer around salt water) Cost is coming down <Great!> Given all this, the technology is now available to produce practical LED aquarium lights. These lights could feature much better spectrums for plants and other photo whatever organisms. They would be higher intensity and longer lasting. We could also tune these spectrums if desired with a simple control circuit. Tuning could have a number of applications: <Am looking forward to their advent in our interest> Simulate color shift at various depths Stimulate plant growth (or retard it) Simulate evening and sunset Highlight certain colors in fish Randomize the viewing experience (not always the same hue) What do you think Bob? Is there a market for this kind of thing? <Oh yes my friend... HUGE> Jeff Hulett, Hawkeye P.S. My loaches are approaching 8 inches. <Ahh, what monsters! Hope to see you soon... perhaps in a HHH near here? Or in HI! Bob/Dogfish>

Lighting question 1/8/03 Your website is fantastic. Over the years it has given me excellent, commercially unbiased, info that has contributed to the success of my reef <Very good to here!  Thanks for the kind words.> I have a 75 gal reef with LPS and soft corals. My 4x96watt PC hood just had a ballast go on the fritz. I am not sure what hood to replace it with. <Have you considered replacing just the ballast?  Your local electrical/lighting supply should be able to find you a suitable replacement, and if you aren't handy, will probably install it for you as well.> Should I get the same type or go with a 6x54watt T5 unit. I hear praises for the T5 technology. How long do their bulbs last? Would they put out enough light for SPS corals or clams? I am hesitant to buy a MH hood because of over-heating issues...I don't have the space or money for a chiller <I think the verdict is still out on T5.  The performance advantages they offer come mostly from the physical size of the lamp and the reflectors, not from improved efficiency.  If they don't catch on in the hobby, replacement lamps will remain expensive and hard to find.  It is a poor generalization to say that SPS require high light.  Most do fine under VHO or equivalent (PC, T5) as long as you have enough lamps (you do).  Clams can also be kept under that lighting, but they would have to be in the upper 10 or so inches of the tank.> Your help is greatly appreciated. <Glad to!  Adam>

Lighting Choices 1/5/2004 Hello, <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.> I have been reading your site tonight and it looks like you are doing a great job answering questions. <Thanks, a lot of people have put a lot more work into this wonderful tool than I have.> I know I appreciate the wealth of information. <I've learned much here myself.> I am very new to the reef aquarium hobby.  I am setting up a new aquarium (72 Gallon bow front).  I am trying to decide on lighting.  I am looking at either a 48" Custom Sealife power compact/moon-Lite or a 48" Coralife Aqualight dual linear strip.  Which is better and why. <OK. I'll assume you have studied up a little on the various choices: MH, PC, VHO, T5 and such. If not, do check the lighting articles on WWM. PCs, which both of your choices are, should be adequate for corals with low to moderate light requirements. If you want FOWLR, you can choose a less expensive set-up. If you want high-light corals, you need something better.> <Now to the question at hand. I am not aware of an objective comparison of the two. I can tell you that the Custom SeaLife bulbs enjoy a better reputation for consistency of light output and lifespan. I have the Moonlight product and  am very satisfied. I'd suggest you search the FAQs for these products and perhaps post a thread on WetWebFotos to seek the experiences of others. Hope this helps.>

Lighting question 1/8/03 Your website is fantastic. Over the years it has given me excellent, commercially unbiased, info that has contributed to the success of my reef <Very good to here!  Thanks for the kind words.> I have a 75 gal reef with LPS and soft corals. My 4x96watt PC hood just had a ballast go on the fritz. I am not sure what hood to replace it with. <Have you considered replacing just the ballast?  Your local electrical/lighting supply should be able to find you a suitable replacement, and if you aren't handy, will probably install it for you as well.> Should I get the same type or go with a 6x54watt T5 unit. I hear praises for the T5 technology. How long do their bulbs last? Would they put out enough light for SPS corals or clams? I am hesitant to buy a MH hood because of over-heating issues...I don't have the space or money for a chiller <I think the verdict is still out on T5.  The performance advantages they offer come mostly from the physical size of the lamp and the reflectors, not from improved efficiency.  If they don't catch on in the hobby, replacement lamps will remain expensive and hard to find.  It is a poor generalization to say that SPS require high light.  Most do fine under VHO or equivalent (PC, T5) as long as you have enough lamps (you do).  Clams can also be kept under that lighting, but they would have to be in the upper 10 or so inches of the tank.> Your help is greatly appreciated. <Glad to!  Adam>

Lighting Choices 1/5/2004 Hello, <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.> I have been reading your site tonight and it looks like you are doing a great job answering questions. <Thanks, a lot of people have put a lot more work into this wonderful tool than I have.> I know I appreciate the wealth of information. <I've learned much here myself.> I am very new to the reef aquarium hobby.  I am setting up a new aquarium (72 Gallon bow front).  I am trying to decide on lighting.  I am looking at either a 48" Custom Sealife power compact/moon-Lite or a 48" Coralife Aqualight dual linear strip.  Which is better and why. <OK. I'll assume you have studied up a little on the various choices: MH, PC, VHO, T5 and such. If not, do check the lighting articles on WWM. PCs, which both of your choices are, should be adequate for corals with low to moderate light requirements. If you want FOWLR, you can choose a less expensive set-up. If you want high-light corals, you need something better.> <Now to the question at hand. I am not aware of an objective comparison of the two. I can tell you that the Custom SeaLife bulbs enjoy a better reputation for consistency of light output and lifespan. I have the Moonlight product and  am very satisfied. I'd suggest you search the FAQs for these products and perhaps post a thread on WetWebFotos to seek the experiences of others. Hope this helps.>

Blinded By Lighting Choices? Folks, <Scott F. at your service tonight!> I've read your lighting FAQs over and over, and very good they are. But my simple!! question is still confusing me. <I am the master of simple confusion!> 5' x 2' x 2' reef. No lighting yet (no water actually), so all options open. I can have a pendant unit with 2 halides (250W as standard, but could be 175 or 150) and 2 4' T5s (or T8s) which can be actinic or 'white'. Alternatively I can have a hood fitted with 4 double 5' T5s and a double 3' T5. <Hmm...lots of possibilities!> My current collection is mainly soft corals and mushrooms, but I would like to try clams and maybe some LPs / SPS (at the top, softs at the bottom?). <Uhh-Ohh> However I suspect the correct answer is don't try and do both in one tank! <You're psychic!> Any views ..the more I read the more confused I get. There is a vogue in the U.K. currently for very powerful halides e.g. 2 x 400 W on tanks 18" deep. <And in the States! Many SPS/Clam enthusiasts swear that more is better these days...They may be right, but it seems a bit excessive in such a shallow tank, IMO. However, some of the newer pendants (particularly the HQI pendants) are very efficient, even at lower wattages in more shallow tanks (under 24 inches high). In my 72x24x20 tank, in which I keep mainly soft corals, I employ 3 150 watt Reef Optix III HQI pendants, and I have been absolutely thrilled with the results. I have experimented with this setup for SPS as well, and the results have been great! On the other hand, if I were dedicating my tank to SPS or clams, I'd probably go with 250 halides. The T5's are amazingly bright, and come in some nice spectral selections. If you were going to go SPS, I'd consider 2 250watt HQIs (Aqualine 10000k's) , supplemented with 4 T5 actinics. That should do the trick! Surely this isn't necessary for anything? <Really depends on the animals you intend to keep. I've used 20000ks for my softies, and have been quite pleased with the results...You need to research the specific requirements (ie; wattage, spectrum requirements, etc.> Thanks yet again Brian <A pleasure! Regards, Scott F>

T-5 Lighting I have been reluctant to upgrade the lighting on my 60 gallon salt water aquarium because of concerns about heat build up.  I live in the central valley of Calif. and although the house is relatively new and of course air conditioned, the summers are hot.  Can you tell me if the T-5 technology addresses that issue any better than power compacts of the same intensity? <Yes. The lamps are virtually the same temperature as the air around them> Would the power compacts be any better in a hood with the built in fans than the T-5's? <Mmm, no. T-5's are superior in lumens per watt of electricity, PAR per dollar spent on installation and operation... to all other types of current lighting technology... and the "coolest" running in temperature>   I saw T-5's at a dealer in the Bay area and was very impressed with the quality of light.  With just a little encouragement I am ready to upgrade now.  Thanks for your time. <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Quandary... Hello, I love this site, especially since I can't seem to get help from my LFS.  A few years ago Steven Pro gave me some wonderful info on metal halide lighting and recommended some great links.  I really need to upgrade my lighting situation, and am torn between VHO and MH due to a major hair algae prob-all other variables are dealt with except lighting.   <Okay...> My aquarium is freestanding and is viewable from all sides.  The dimensions are 36"L X 18"W X18"H with a 2-3" sand bed.  The live rock is set up in two high islands on either side with a chasm-like feature running from front to back.  Coral hangs over and off the walls of the chasm.  I have Shrooms, gorgonians, some leathers and LPS's-would like to put in more LPS.   <Quite a mix!> My lighting dilemma is which source should I use?  A 1-175 MH seems the best choice for LPS, but heat is a big factor in my house.  The summers are hot here and I have no air conditioning.  If I go that route I was going to suspend the bulb 10-12" from the water surface with a fan in the suspended hood.  Will this keep my tank from overheating? <It can help. Fans can definitely do a good job helping to keep tanks cool...> My second dilemma is which light brand would be better:  opinions please=10K Aqualine-Buschke or 10K Ushio. <I like Aqualines, myself...The are visual bright, hold their useful spectrum a long time, and have a high PAR value. Not to mention the fact that they really bring out the color in your corals! Personally, I like HQI double ended bulbs in the 150 or 250 watt sizes. There are some great pendant systems available these days...> If I go halide I want best color/coral growth with no other lighting.  The third dilemma is which ballast, I read an article about the e-ballasts here way back when, but opinions clouded the facts.  Given that room temp is the limiting factor, I am confused about which to use:  less light output but less temp of e-ballast or a PFO or Custom Sealife ballast.   <I like the electronic ballasts...Look into PFO, Ice Cap, ARO, and Blue Wave (Sunlight Supply...). All are quite good> If I decide to go with VHO, I was thinking three 36" bulbs on the Ice Cap 430.  One 50/50, one actinic, one sun with the actinic placed in the middle.  But here is my dilemma of VHO, with the LR set up in the middle of the tank and the bulbs only 3-5'' from the water surface, won't the light path from the outside lamps be blocked from the opposite side of the LR? <Quite possible. VHO is a great light source, but I think that halides give you more "bang for the buck", in terms of penetration and spectral energy> It seems that one side would get sun and actinic while the other side would get 50/50 and actinic.  The last thought, is the heat output from Ice Cap VHO something to take into consideration as well?    <Sure- but nothing close to halide, IMO>   I greatly appreciate all the help you can give me, these dilemmas are really weighing heavy on me and preventing me from ordering the lights, meanwhile the hair algae keeps growing, and growing, and growing...    <If you have a means to deal with the heat, I personally feel that metal halide offers the greatest flexibility for the long run. Get a great fixture, quality ballast, and one of the two brands of bulbs that you are considering, and you'll be thrilled with the results. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

New T5 fluorescent Lighting My LFS told me about a new kind of fluorescent lighting that he called High Output T5 Fluorescents. Do you have any experience with these? He said they were comparable to Metal Halides but they didn't use as much energy. Thanks, Eric <Have seen this technology... and do think it's about to "hit" the U.S. aquarium interest. A new facility being built out (over the last six months...) by Rob Miller (ERI in L.A.) is fitted out with 54 watt T-5's... Fabulous... more useful photonic energy per watt consumed (yes) than MH... Bob Fenner>

Re: Lighting Those T5's look fantastic indeed, Bob. I honestly am not a spokesperson for MH contrary to popular belief <G>. <Could've fooled me... and a bunch of other folks (VBGee)> The reef aquarist's (mine too) slant to MH in many/most cases is simply due to fluorescent lighting's inability to penetrate water at depth (PAR readings below 12-18" especially). <I understand> No question that fluorescents are more efficient in shallow water... but with the popularity of DSB and the state of the hobby today, yada yada yada... few folks are running tanks 20" or less. <Actually... the vast majority of marine aquariums have less than 18" of water/depth... check around> We have trouble keeping even some hardy coral in the bottom third of a 24-36" tank under fluorescents. <Not me> So... 150 watt metal halide over a 30" tank versus 150 watts of pc/T5/VHO are very different schemes when measured low... my only point on favoring the MH. <Agreed on the technical, disagree on depth of most systems in use, practical comparison of driving photosynthesis w/o matching technology/practices. Bob>

Let There Be Light! (But What Kind?) Hi Bob & Crew; <Scott F. your Crew member today> I have a 110g 60"long 24" deep lighting with 2-250W 10,000K German made (HitLite) double ended metal halide bulbs and 2-24W PC actinics set 1' above the water surface. I am considering that this may be too much light(?) and thinking about going down to double ended 150W bulbs. <Well, it really depends upon the types of corals and photosynthetic animals that you will be keeping in the tank. For most SPS corals, it sounds about right, actually. It's really a situation where you should research the specific animals that you are keeping, and what their specific needs/tolerances are> Contemplating between 10K and 20K in the 150W's,   I plan on keeping LPS corals and would naturally like to promote Coralline Algae and discourage Hair Algae. Does 10k vs. 20k come into play with Hair Algae?   <I don't believe that the spectrum and intensity are as important as the nutrient levels in the water. With good husbandry techniques, I think that you should just use the lighting that suits your animals' needs. Light alone will not cause algae problems. The 10000k is a true "full spectrum" bulb, gives a clean, crisp, whitish-blue light. The 20000k tends to have a very blue cast to it, but its spectrum is useful to many animals. I have been experimenting with 3 150watt HQIs (20000k) over my 72x24x20 LPS tank, and it has worked quite well so far. They have proven to be energy-efficient, attractive visually, and beneficial to these animals. With efficient HQI ballasts, a well-designed pendant (I use the Sunlight Supply Reef Optix), these bulbs are quite good. I have read a couple of studies (Sanjay Yoshi) that indicate that certain bulb/ballast/pendant combos in the 150 watt range actually yield a higher PAR value than some higher wattages in different situations...Definitely worth checking out!>   I have also been under the suspicion that the 250W's have been too much for the Coralline(?). <I think that the jury is still out on intensity and coralline growth in captive systems. There seem to be many species of coralline algae that adapt to varying lighting conditions, both in the wild, and in captive systems. I have seen many, many reef systems that have beautiful coralline growth, even with literally thousands of watts of halides overhead. There are quite a few factors that contribute to coralline growth; light is only one of them...Do a little research on coralline (see the WWM site), and you'll see a lot of conflicting ideas! Experimentation is best here!> Any recommendations on this matter of color temperature and power would be appreciated. Also if you have a preferred brand in what I think is relatively new type of bulb to the hobby(?). Thanks, Rich <Well Rich, I can only speak from my experience, but I have found that, in the 150 watt HQI segment, I like the 10000k Aqualines, and in the 20000k spectrum, I favor the newer Ushio. If you are contemplating 20000k bulbs in the 150 watt configuration, keep in mind that not all ballasts will work with the 20000k's. For example, 150 watt Ice Cap HQI ballasts will drive just about every HQI bulb made in that wattage, with the exception, I believe, of the Radium 20000k...Do the research, reap the benefits! Lighting is the most controversial segment of reef keeping, IMO. If you ask 10 reef nerds about what the "best" lighting system is, you'll no doubt get 10 different answers. Talk with some fellow reefers, do the research, and make your selections based on your animal's needs...You can't go wrong! Have fun! Good luck! Scott F>

Lighting I was at a local Home Depot store today and saw some great deals on sodium, mercury and halogen lights. I wonder how do they compare with metal halides? Do they have the right spectrum? <No.> More or less lumens per watt (than metal halides)? <Sodium Vapor puts out more lumens, but not in a useable spectrum for aquaria. Mercury Vapor and Halogen less intense, but equally un-useable. Also, lumens are not the measure we are concerned with. We are interested in PAR, Photosynthetically Active Radiation, not lumens, which is a the measure of what your eye sees, not what corals use. Do they emit UV, how long do they last and do they produce less heat?  Thank you, Luke <Look to on-line vendors to save on proper lighting. Forget lighting available at hardware stores, they aren't designed for aquarium lighting. Craig>

Reef Lighting... MH necessary? 6/26/03 This question is for Anthony if possible as he has been helping me with my 75 reef tank. <cheers, mate> Anthony, how is it going.    <very well, with hope for you in kind> You helped me a bunch getting my 75 reef back to a base line.  I have had trouble keeping my Alk/Calcium stable as it was dropping fast no matter what I did (I had a problem of some kind of build up from using two part liquids over time and then having to use a lot of Kalk).  You had me do 2 50% water changes and now my levels are staying good with Kalk alone. Thank you!!!   <excellent to hear my friend!> I am feeding the tank more also daily additions of Mysis shrimp, clam, mosquito larva and flake.  The fish like it also!!! <indeed <G>... we often underfeed our aquaria> I do have another question concerning my lighting.   My corals have started to get their color back although not as fast as I would have liked.  Most did bleach (get light) during my low Alk episode.  Some are still light but getting better. <no worries... most will return in short order just from the extra food/nitrogen now available from your extra feedings> I have a mixed reef with SPS, LPS and Softies.  I have 440watts of VHO lighting (new bulbs) 2, URI 50/50 and 2 URI actinic.  My tank is acrylic so I try to keep the top clean to let more light in. <yes... very important> My SPS buddies are telling me this is not enough light to keep my SPS in good color/growth. <heehee... you'd think those fascists had stock in the power company> What do you think? <without many SPS (remitting them to the surface), your lighting is quite fine my friend> I visited a coral breeder a few months back that had unreal coloration using VHO for SPS.   <agreed. Some folks are a bit too enthusiastic if not mistaken regarding the use of MH for everybody> Let me know your thoughts and thank you so much for your help. Andrew <no worries... best regards, Anthony>

Lighting As a rookie I am overwhelmed by all the information on lighting.  <<You are lucky, I am confused as soon as I get out of bed<G>>> I currently have  normal output 2x15 lamps, one 10K and one 50/50.  I have learned quickly I want more, especially since I want to establish a reef tank with some fish.  But I don't know what type animals I want yet.  Am I going backwards?  My tank is a 45 hex approximately 24" deep.  I want the tank to be very aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.  I am considering imitating the dawn/dusk cycle which got me looking at PC actinics.  Does it matter one way or the other to imitate a dawn/dusk cycle? <<Can be positive>> Is it more or less healthy on the occupants?  Or is that more a preference of the owner?  <<more the former>> The deep tank has got me looking at MH.  I was offered by a store a combo that includes a 2x36 actinic PC fixture with electric ballast and a 175w 10K MH with a magnetic ballast.  What is the difference in ballast?  Is this enough light?  Too much?  Right Equipment?  What type "look" will the two lights together create?  Just the MH?  Would this amount of light generally suffice for low light through high light requirements in my tank?  I realize it would make your life easier if I could class the type species of animals I want but I don't know and don't know enough about what they look like to decide right now.  I'm trying to merge a good mix of light to be sufficient to house just about whatever I see at the pet store at the same time making it very nice looking.  <<Yikes, be careful using this 'criteria' when selecting livestock. Please research first and buy after you decide you can provide proper husbandry/environment>> Is that the million dollar question? I have become so confused so if you can keep it simple for this guy I would appreciate it.  You experience and suggestions will be invaluable to an overwhelmed but fascinated new hobbyist. <<Russ, maybe time to look at some of the info here. Start at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corllgtg.htm and beyond. In a nutshell, electronic ballast, cooler/more costly/ magnetic, more heat/less costly (generally) Most (all?) fluorescent use electronic Metal Halide you have a choice. Metal Halide is generally more costly up front, but bulbs have a much longer lifetime that offsets over time. Many like the halide for the 'shimmer' effect it gives. If you decide MH I would think the 175 you described earlier would be a good choice. See if there is a marine society or other stores in your area so YOU can SEE what each looks like. Very subjective to the individual. As I said before, PLEASE go slow and research before you buy. and keep asking questions. Happy reefing, Don>> Russ Carothers

Stressed out on lighting  2/6/03 Hi crew, sigh...even though I've read tons on lighting (esp. Anthony's article - very good read), I'm stressed :) <no worries... and easy matter to solve relative to what you want to keep and how deep your water is> I'm just not sure of which direction to take on this matter. Presently I have a 96w Pc strip (smart lamp) on my 55gal SW tank. <weak to moderate light even for soft corals> I just have a DSB, LR, and a few fish so far. I'd like to house some corals, not too much. Mainly polyps, mushrooms, a bubble, frogspawn, and xenia at the very most. <good... hardy and not too demanding... although I'd suggest you emphasize one or the other... softies or LPS> So what's the best upgrade available? <in a perfect work... two 150 watt double ended HQIs at 10K. Or... a 4-pack of 48" VHOs (URI split color between daylight and 50/50 or blue)> I'm thinking I can either add another 96w PC strip to a hood I will be making (with fans). That enough light? <a little modest but could work> Or would a 175w MH retrofit lamp be a better value to go with the PC I have? <hmmm... the addition of a MH is definitely the best long-term solution (Value... lamp changes, electricity, etc)> I know MH lamps last much longer too. <yes... huge diff... 6-10 month (Fluor) versus 2-5 years for MH> Hmm. I know with the MH option, it's more watts, <for xenia and the Zoanthids yes perhaps... for the bubble coral and most mushrooms (except high light Ricordeas) not> but is it needed for theses corals? If so, what lamp would be best? 10,000? <a fine average color indeed> Any help would be much appreciated :)Thanks. Toast <adding a 10K Ushio to your PCs sounds like a good compromise to me. Anthony>

Stressed out on lighting Hmm, hey Anthony thanks for the reply. I was just thinking (amazing huh?), since you have high regard for URI VHO lighting, if retrofitting 2-48" 110w of those lights into my hood to go with my 96w PC strip would be a good/better option for me? <i like the color of VHOs very much... but favor halides overall. The choice you make really depends on the corals kept and the depth of water at which you like to keep them. VHOs/PC.s are still only good over shallow water (say 20" and under). Even then most corals will need to be near the surface (top 12" ideally). The bulbs also need to be mounted VERY close to the water to be useful (3" or less)> The 2 bulbs wouldn't take much more room than 1-96w PC fixture would they? <not sure> If I do this, should I eventually change my 50/50 lamp on my PC to a 100% actinic bulb and the 2 VHO bulbs, should they both be 10,000's? <or even warmer (towards 650-0K with a 100% blue pc)> Or still think I should just go for the MH bulb? <MH is the best value IMO... bulb life, light per watt produced, trueness of color over time, etc> (BTW-should MH's be 10" above acrylic tanks?) <correct.. not too much closer> PS. What is it that you like so much about the URI's? Spectrum, reliability, value? <quality control and useful PAR (color for growing coral fast)> Thanks once again (it's late, my brain works best at this time). I really appreciate this. Toast. <best regards, Anthony>

Lighting on a 55G tank <Hi Herbert, Don with  you tonight> This is a fabulous site and for someone like myself who has been out of the hobby since the late 1980's has brought me up to date on the latest technologies.   <Thank you, I will pass the kind words along to the rest of the crew. I am amazed on a regular basis myself with the info that is here> I am planning on resurrecting my old 55 gal glass tank(48"x12"x21") and setting up a reef system.  I plan on utilizing my old homemade wet/dry filter, but instead of using bioballs I will fill the tower with live rock.  I plan to replace my homemade cc air driven skimmer with a new Berlin Turbo in the sump.  2 - 3" of live sand  and 50 - 70 lbs. of live rock will be used in the tank. <Pardon for me butting in here, but less than 1" or more that 4" in the main tank/sump is the current wisdom> My main question concerns lighting.  At this time I am planning on keeping a few fish and mostly populating with inverts and soft corals. (maybe some LPSs).  I really do not want to restrict my selection of inhabitants due to insufficient lighting, however I do not want to over kill on the lighting.  My philosophy is whether you keep fish or corals, if they inhabit the same environment then I should provide the same lighting.  I want to provide the best lighting for the inhabitants successful well-being, and not to accelerate growth beyond natural limits.  I have found these options and would really appreciate your comments: 1)  Purchase new hood with (4) x 55 watt power compacts and use with my existing (2) x 40w NO flour. light hood. (The Jalli hood is narrow enough to allow use of both lights) 2)  Purchase new hood with (4) x 110 watt VHO flour. (Hamilton) 3)  Purchase new hood with (2) x 175watt MH with (2) x 40watt NO flour. (tank is 12"wide, light may over shoot tank a illuminate to much surrounding area?). 4)  Purchase new hood with (4) x 96watt power compacts. <Well, the biggest bang for the buck over time is Metal Halide (even though initial cost may be higher). But 2 175s over 15-16" of water is overkill. Maybe you could find some 70 or 100watt? You can compensate by raising the lights higher off the water if you decide to go this route.  If you do decide to use the fluorescent lighting I would use option 1 and be prepared to change the bulb ever 6-9 months. > Any skimmer suggestions would also be appreciated. <Search for 'skimmer' on the WetWebMedia.com home page and you will find the FAQs you are looking for. You will find that EuroReef and Aqua C on high on the list for sump application and Aqua C Remora (and Remora Pro) for hang on> Last one - would waiting and purchasing a 90 gal. tank be an easier system to maintain?  More concerned with stability rather than maintenance costs, or with prudent and consistent attention, not be a tremendous difference? <Oh yes, more volume=more stability. Better yet, get the 90, have it drilled, and use the 55 as a sump.> Thank you for your patience and time. <My pleasure, hope this helps. Don> Herbert

Science or Hobby? Marine Lighting - 8/14/03 Great website, lots of great information.  I've read the Marine Lighting primer, other articles and threads, but I can't seem to find any comments on a situation similar to mine).  I know others are looking for this info so I will gladly pass it along! <a great attitude my friend> I have a 18 gallon tall with an eclipse 1 hood.  I've retrofitted it with A SmartLite (32W) from Custom Sea Life. I have a deep sand bed (about 4 inches) and 30 lbs of live rock. Is there a way to quantitatively describe the lighting at various depths? e.g.) SmartLite 32W - X PAR, Lumens, or Watts at depth Y <as a useful measure to aquarists, yes... PAR.> Or better yet an expression for intensity as a function of depth (e.g. I(d) = Io * e^-kd  when d=depth ? <regular readers of the daily FAQs will know that I have little interest, if not outright disdain, for overtly anal exercises in mental masturbation that far surpass a sound academic or scientific curiosity. I will tell you, Jeff, with a mixture of humor and sincerity that any such discussion regarding the measure of usable light at depth for corals is staggeringly moot in an 18 gallon aquarium. Arguably, it is just as moot in our 24 and 36" deep aquariums when the subjects/objects of our study and admiration (symbiotic reef organisms at large) found over a much wider range in the sea (many species commonly occurring in niches separated by 40 or more feet.> Can we then relate this to species requirements (compensation and saturation points)? <it can be done, but cannot be fairly extrapolated by species for the above reason. We do not know where on a reef a given specimen was collected: Acropora formosa in 3 feet of water... or A. formosa from 60 feet of water? Doh! The best we can do with such data is on a specimen by specimen basis IMO... or, with further study to know the range of tolerance and adaptability for a given species. Now that would be useful!> Is there any published data? <field data yes... do pillage the academic archives. In aquaristic terms, however... little is available. I do recall Eric B chatting about it. Dana Riddle and Sanjay Yoshi are also very interested in such issues> In the final analysis, given those parameters, what corals can I realistically expect to grow?   <ahhh... in an 18 gallon aquarium? Well... there are many many adaptable cnidarians that will grow well in such shallow water. Finessing light is not your problem, Jeff... controlling growth will be your reality! Dude... do consider installing a beer meister next to your reef tank. Either that, or convert a Kalkwasser doser into a heroin drip. Just a suggestion. Best of luck! Anthony>

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>

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>

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

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>

Re: Two quick questions...one last quickie...:)(marine lighting ongoing) <sigh> I'm incorrigible. Once there is someone who will answer questions, I lock in like a scud missile. :) <that reminds me... I shouldn't have eaten all that chili today> Without going into the details of my prior questions, if I did step down my 75 gallon tall (24" deep) from 2 250W 10K MH to 2 175W 20K MH, would those 2 175W MH 20K bulbs and 4 55W actinic PCs be good enough for not only Acropora and soft corals, but my 2 clams (maxima/crocea)? I don't want to step down from 2 250W MH to 2 175W MH and make my clams unhappy. <the tank is so shallow (assuming some sand in there too? 3-4" or more? I know that most all soft corals and most SPS will be just fine. The clams too although any halide over 10K has "too much" blue wavelength to be useful. Simply more than you need at the expense of desirable daylight colors to grow coral faster. Not much to worry about. The clams will be fine... just not grow as fast perhaps. Do check out the 20K light on this tank that I photographed. A very nice display: http://www.reefcentral.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s= ab85c8f5e0d63ccb5ea8b16054dddfe9&postid=836290 > Thanks... Arthur <best regards, Anthony> Re: Two quick questions...one last quickie...:)(marine lighting ongoing) On my 75G tall reef tank, if I shift from 2 250W MH to 2 175 MH bulbs, should I also switch from 10K to 20K as recommended?  <some compromise on growth of corals for aesthetic pleasure here (going over 10K)> Is that too *much* blue?  <yes... in terms of coral growth and usable light (PAR)> Would the drop from 250 to 175 allow my 4 55W actinics to shine through, or will it still be white-light overload and a shift to 20K is still warranted?  < I have no idea... thanks for asking though <G>> Would a shift to 20K but staying on the 250W bulbs lower the light level enough (so I could keep the ballasts and my wife won't kill me)? <nope... intensity is still an issue here... right or wrong color for coral health/growth> So many options - this time I want to make sure before I do anything. Thanks, as always... Arthur <understood and agreed. Best regards, Anthony> Re: Two quick questions...one last quickie...:) (marine lighting ongoing) Thanks for the quick response...you've been immensely helpful.  <my great pleasure!> I'm going to shift to the 175W 20K Radium's as you suggested...it was what I was thinking of.  <OK> One last question that I can't seem to find an answer for on the web - can the Icecap 250W MH ballasts I purchased just recently drive 175W MH bulbs, or is my wife going to scalp me? :) Arthur <hmmm... very good question. I have never asked the mfg but have seen hobbyists do it with some. I would not recommend it unless the mfg explicitly says so... I'm worrying about fire hazards, insurance violations, etc here. Best regards, Anthony>

Lighting The Way Greetings! <Hi there! Scott F. with you this afternoon.> I am a new enthusiast who is planning on setting up a custom 75 Gal as time permits. I currently have most of the stand done and am looking forward to getting the hood built. As this is a completely custom rig I had some questions regarding lighting as I have read over the FAQ's and done a forum search but still need some advice please. <I'll do my best!> I wanted to achieve around 4-5 watts/gallon and at this point kind of favor the Compact fluorescents due to bulb life and heat generated. If you were going to do a custom hood and had your choice would you go with the Compacts? Or would you do 2 MH w/1 or 2 NO/VHO Actinics or see if the T5's are going to be worth the wait or would you go with a completely different setup? <Well, I use and like power compacts a lot, but if I were doing a custom setup, I'd probably go the halide route, supplemented with PC's. Why, you ask? Even though you are going the FOWLR route now, there is always the chance that you'll be seduced by the reef concept, and halides will give you much greater flexibility to keep many more types of corals and inverts, clams, etc. They are more expensive now, but you'll thank yourself later if you go the reef route 2 years down the line!> >I do plan on using an intake and exhaust fan built into the hood to handle any heat generated and since this is a custom hood I can pretty much fit any lighting solution that would be best for my animals. <Great thought process!> >My current thinking called for 3 96 Watt Compacts (2 6700, 1 10K with a regular NO 40Watt Actinic). My problem with the Compacts revolves around the 96 Watt CF bulbs. I cannot seem to find a good source of these bulbs, waterproof end caps and finding the base fixture (gy10Q)... GE, Sylvania and Panasonic do not list these 96Watt bulbs in their catalogs online although I sure that Panasonic makes some of these as AHsupply's offers some. Is there a good dependable source to order these bulbs and parts online? <try hellolights.com, a good source for DIY lighting stuff> >Does the above rig sound or would you go another direction  <As above> I know a lot depends on the animals I plan to keep and at this point (subject to change) I plan on a FOWLR and find myself drawn to clowns although my wife is absolutely in love with the chocolate chip starfish. I don't know enough yet to know if this would be a good mix (as I know some starfish are pretty predatory) but plan on continued self education as I want to avoid hurting or killing any of these beautiful animals through my own stupidity. Any help would be really appreciated! Thank you guys so much! <So much depends on the combinations of animals that we keep, and their relative suitability for captivity. Do look into the wetwebmedia.com resources to study up on your prospective purchases. Feel free to ask us if you have any questions on your choices. I commend you heartily for your forethought and research that you've done already! You'll definitely be successful if you keep doing things like this! Thanks for stopping by!>

Lighting? for 36Lx18Wx18H tank Hi Bob, I have a questions about lighting. My tank is 36Lx18Wx18H.This is my first time keeping reef tank and I haven set up my tank yet! <welcome aboard! and kudos to you for being thoughtful enough to research before you buy your animals... we talk to too many impulsive people killing creatures for doing that the other way around> ...I plan to have live rock, corals as well as fish in the tank. I want to know if the (JLB DESKTOP FORMOSA) that is  36"long with 4x 36watts is the proper lights for my tank. <Can't say... you have to pick your corals before you can say if the lights are good enough. Coral all have different lighting needs. Read these articles first... they will reveal all to start: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fdreefinverts.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/growingcorals.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm and there you have your crash course. If you are interested in more... look up Eric Borneman Aquarium Corals book or my Book or Coral Propagation (http://www.readingtrees.com/bocpV1.htm). We also have a new Reef Invertebrates book coming out in a few months. See here: http://wetwebfotos.com/store/nma-ri.html > It is good for my fishes and corals?. <the fishes will likely be indifferent> this is the website of the JBJ light  http//www.jbjlighting.com.can u help me bob THANKS BOB.....Azman from Singapore. <Excellent to hear from you in Singapore my friend! Our whole crew will be visiting Singapore this spring for the Aquarama conference. Will you be going? Information here: http://www.aquarama.com.sg/index.html I will be touring Singapore for a few days before flying on to give a couple seminars on Reef Coral keeping in Hong Kong. Can you recommend any good aquarium shops in Singapore for us to see? How far is good diving from Singapore too? Can you recommend a dive charter company? Ha! I bet you did not expect to be asked questions in return :) With kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

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