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FAQs about Light and Lighting for Marine Systems 11

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

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

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>

PCs vs. MH for 29gal Hello! <Hey Stephen!> I've been researching, asking questions and getting a wide variety of answers as you can imagine. My head is swimming (no pun intended) and I hope you can help. <There are many different ways to achieve success in this hobby, and everyone has their own opinions on how to get there.> I have a 29gal, 30x12x18, FOWLR that I'm converting to a reef. I don't want to be too limited on the types of corals I can keep and I do have a 46gal I can move up to if I can make it through the 29gal transition. <Heck, switch to the 46gal, this is a great excuse to go bigger.>   I'm really interested in the Custom SeaLife PowerCompact - 2x65W with 2 Moon Lites. Is 130w of PC sufficient? <Depends on what you want to keep, this sounds like a good amount of light, you will have a lot of corals to choose from.> A couple of people have recommended a 250w MH but from reading your FAQs you don't advise it for a tank of this size (I hope that's the case anyway!). I'm afraid of setting my house on fire, frying my fish and making the room a big spotlight with the 250w MH. <Maybe on the 46gal, but I would not put a MH on a 29gal, too small.  The tank depth is not that deep so you do not have to worry about fluorescents not being able to penetrate down to the bottom, and halides give off a good amount of heat.  I would go with the PCs.> Your help is greatly appreciated. <No problem, I had to go through the same things setting up my 29gal, I ended up going with PCs, so my opinion may be a little biased.  I think they work well for this size tank.  On a larger tank I like the look of the halides.  The link below is a good article on lighting http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm  > Thank you for such a wonderful site for us rookies! Your FAQs have already answered so many of my questions. Stephen <Stumbling across this site for the first time was the best thing to happen to my tanks. -Gage>

Blinded by the light... (06/22/03) Hi, I have read facts and questions section and haven't find an answer to my problem. <Hi. Ananda here today, with an idea on this one...> I have a 34 gallon tank and was using 65 watt CSL Compact on it...I have Soft Coral which was doing fine. a week ago I upgraded to VHO Lighting, I now have 3-24" URI VHO ( 2- super actinic, 1-AquaSun)... <Oh my goodness... unless you *gradually* increase the lighting level over the corals, you can light-shock them. Imagine walking from a dark closet into the bright outdoors -- you tend to squint, don't you? Well, you have eyelids that can protect your eyes, but your corals do not have anything that can protect their bodies.> now the corals are not doing as good...two is dying...I went from 1.9 watt per gallon to 6.6 watts per gallon....What's wrong...are the VHO Lighting too strong? <A sudden increase like that would cause problems, yes.> I wasn't home one time when the temperature went up to 87 degree in the tank... <Yikes! That undoubtedly compounded the problem. Not only too bright, but far too hot...> I am now buying a IceCap Fan.... <In the meantime, a small fan aimed across the top of the water will help.> What do u think is the problems the Light too strong or temperature of the water? <Both! The corals were not given time to adjust to the bright lighting, and that followed by the temperature spike stressed them further. I would put several layers of screening between the lights and the tank, until you get the lighting much closer to what it was with your CSL lighting. Then you can *gradually* remove layers of screening -- over the course of many days to allow them to acclimate to the extra light. Do look around on the WetWebMedia site and chat forums for more info about doing this.> would appreciate anything that can help thanks, Scott <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Re: question on reef lighting I have a good title for this one Lighting to good to be true this was on eBay and i wondered if this would work on my reef its 8,330 lumens and for this price there cheaper than metal halides think i should by it for my ref tank? 500 Watt Low Heat Aquarium Grow Light for! Any Indoor Garden !!! Only $39.99 !! < WOW! I'LL TAKE 6!!! "Grow" type lamps are meant for plants and thus have a whole bunch of red in their spectrum. This light is useless for us as reef aquarists, and would lead to tremendous algae growth. Bite the bullet, go halide, if there was something cheaper that worked just as well we'd be all over it! -Kevin>

Lighting for 55 gallon Hi Anthony <cheers, my friend> How's it going. I don't know if you remember but we met at your presentation at That Fish Place in Lancaster last year, you were outstanding! <thanks kindly!> I want to know what your opinion is on lighting for a standard 55 gallon reef? Will have 4" plus of fine sand, live rock and would like to keep several colorful Zoanthids, will not have any SPS in this tank. I am trying to decide between a PC fixture with 4-65 watt bulbs or MH with 2-175's and 2 -PC 65 watts actinic. <depends on the other cnidarians you would like to keep with them... Zoanthids are quite adaptable either way. Even without sps... if you are leaning towards colored leather corals... go MH perhaps... but them again, if you are leaning towards more Corallimorphs, PC will be very fine> This tank is 18" deep but will have 4 "plus of sand. I'm a little concerned the MH's will be to much for this depth of water. <definitely not too much... especially not in long run (value, lamp life, etc)> Also would the PC's be enough? <still very fine... the tank is shallow enough you could go either way> Thank you Pat: Ps can't wait for the new book. <me too my friend <G>... days away... so close I can taste it :p Anthony> Lighting Thank you, Anthony.  I was just on a forum and someone told me that if I wasn't going to keep sps, clams, or anemones, that I should just get VHO or PC lights instead, as if to suggest I absolutely do not need MH lighting for the aforementioned corals.  What are your thoughts here?   <true... it really all comes down to making a list of species you will keep and then considering the depth at which they will be kept. Many possibilities here. Have you read this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm > I have no problem with getting a MH fixture, but I guess I won't if it would be a waste.   <depends on your definition of waste... MH fixtures have significantly longer lamp life... more economical in terms of bang for your buck in the long run. Yet low light and shallow corals need it not> I'm feeling more confused now than ever! Sam <getting back to the old advice, mate... please literally sit down and make a list by species of what you want to keep. Research their needs and select from the most compatible ones. No worries. Anthony>

Blinded By The Light (Lighting Choices) Hey, Thanks for you time. <No problem! That's why we're here! Scott F. at the helm tonight> I've read through a bunch of Q&A's on metal halide and am still somewhat confused on a couple issues so I thought I'd ask...I've decided to go with a single 175 watt metal halide mounted about 8-10" above my tank. My tank is only 36" long and 21" high. <That sounds about right...But you could possibly squeeze in another one. Or, possibly supplement with pc's or VHO's> I was using power compact but am not seeing much growth and I want to be able to keep more light demanding coral. Anyway, can you direct me towards a quality ballast? What are the "best brands" what makes one better than another? <Wow- sooo many of 'em out there! If you ask 100 reef enthusiasts, you'll get 100 answers...There really is no one "best" ballast for every application. I guess the most important characteristics in a ballast would be efficiency, and the ability to power the specific bulb that you want to use at it's optimum operating capability. Also, don't forget the use of a good reflector....Equally, if not more important than the ballast!> What's the difference between electronic ballast and others? <To get a much better definition than I could ever hope to give (with my meager knowledge of electronics), I'd visit some manufacturer's sites, like Ice Cap, Sunlight Supply, PFO, and Blue Line, and get some good advice from their lighting engineers. My (biased and somewhat ignorant) opinion is that electronic ballasts consume less energy than magnetics ballasts due to the difference in current rating> Also there is such a large choice of lamps out there, what's the difference between HQI and Mogul besides the way they screw in? <A lot of it is about the distribution of the light, and operating efficiency...> I was looking for a bulb that will give me more of a blue look  but not too blue for aesthetic purposes as opposed to crisp white, any suggestions on that? <I'd look at the Iwasaki 50,000K in 175 watt. The Aqualine 10,000k is a good crisp, white bulb with a hint of blue. I've been experimenting with 150watt HQI pendants using 2000k Ushio's, and have been quite pleased with the results I've seen so far> Thank You. Sam <Have fun with the research! Tons and tons of information out there! Ask around, talk to manufacturers, visit some fellow hobbyists tanks, and go with what makes the most sense for you! Regards, Scott F>

Mini Reef Lighting I am planning a 33 gallon long reef tank.  The tank is 48"  long and only 12" deep.  I have all the filtration, quality and everything figured out except one thing.  Lighting and therefore organisms.  I am going to be using a 48" compact light fixture.  With this shallow of depth would the light penetration make the environment a high light situation or medium light?  I am wanting to know so i know whether to go with mushrooms, polyps, and the such.....or bubble corals, leathers, open brains and the such?  Which area of corals will be my target ones?  Thanks for the help.  Oh yea, the compact fixture is 2 tubes that are one next to each other stretching the length of the tank, not double tubed. <Hi John, Don here today. It is really difficult to render an opinion without more information about the lights. Primarily wattage and color spectrum. From what you describe, you have a 96W PC light. If so, this should give you low to medium light depending on depth in the tank. I would think that mushrooms, polyps, some leathers, and maybe some soft corals. You do not mention water flow and this will be another important consideration when making livestock choices. Look here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/fixtures.htm and the links at the top of the page for more info here at WetWebMedia. Hope this helps.> John

Re: 240 gallons of doubt revised Hello, <Hi Jeremy, PF here today> Thanks for the info and the wonderful site. I tried a dry run at cleaning the bottom of the show tank which I couldn't reach if my life depended on it. I think that it's just too big for me to handle so I have purchased a 180 gallon tank instead, 72x24x24. I just ordered it and have to wait a few weeks for it to be delivered, I can't wait. <Did you try standing a step ladder? I find it makes my life much easier even working in my 75> I engineered the plumbing design for this tank and would appreciate any input you might have on the design. The diagram is attached to this email. <Holy Shmokes! Very nice and well thought out.> I am starting the lighting with 4 36" 110 watt URI VHO bulbs, 2 actinic blues and 2 daylights. I also plan on testing 4 low wattage halogen bulbs to give me the shimmer effect. I have read about others doing this in your FAQ's. I am working on figuring out what type of lens filter to use to get rid of some of the blue spectrum from the halogen bulbs. I don't plan on keeping SPS corals or some of the clams that need the MH's. The LFS has never heard of anyone using halogens to light a tank and they want to come see how they work out. <Sounds good for an LPS or soft coral setup (don't mix, the allelopathy is bad). Let us know how the halogens work out to. I'm using 46.5" 110's on my tank, and it looks somewhat pinkish to me, I wouldn't mind a little blue to balance it out.> Thanks in advance, Jeremy Pratt <Your welcome, have a good night, PF>

Lighting, Heat and Ventilation Hi, I'm a newbie to the Saltwater arena and have purchased an Oceanic 72 Gallon Bow Front RR, with canopy. I also purchased the JBJ power compact fixture 48" 65W*4, Formosa -DX. Yes it has a hood. My concern is the heat created in the canopy. The fixture has fans, but there is little room on the ends for air to circulate.  The sides of the canopy (Flexible plastic) do get warm to the touch, but not intolerable. The canopy is open in the back, but that is the only source of air. I have had  suggestions of cutting holes in the end of the canopy, but I'm concerned about damaging it and it's aesthetic value. <Hmmmm, if the unit has fans and was designed for this use, not to worry for it's sake. If heat is an issue, and it well may be, then additional fans, perhaps a raised or suspended fixture may be a better route for you. Look into additional fans and also brackets for supporting your fixture above the tank rim online at one of our sponsors like Foster and Smith. JBJ would be the place to start.> My concern is the heat build up and potential damage to bulbs and fixture. Retrofits really are not an option as the top of the canopy will not support them. <Brackets hold fixture on aquarium rim for support. They make then for 48" fixtures/tanks.  Also, use eggcrate instead of the plastic stuff that came with your tank to increase ventilation.> Any suggestions? My plan is to have corals as well as fish. I know I could eliminate the canopy, but would rather not. Thanks in advance from a "new comer". John <Well, there are several ways. You will find that aesthetics combined with proper and needed function has a price. Poor function is not an option and that's what you have now. There is no doubt that if heat is a problem, something will have to give.   The degree you choose to mix these is up to you and your situation/taste/pocketbook.  Also consider your locale, if your summer weather is hot and you don't have AC, best to open things up and maybe think of a chiller!  Best to start with simple ventilation first!  Craig>

Lighting Intensity I understand that on average fluorescent lights have 3x the lumens per watt compared to incandescent lights. What about metal halide, halogen, mercury and sodium lights? Do they offer less/more lumens per watt? Thank you, Luke <More, by far. Of those listed, only Metal Halide has a spectrum useable to aquaria.  Craig>

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>

Lighting Selection Good day/evening? <Yep- let's call it evening! Scott F. with you!> Night, yeah. Anyways, I wanted to know if this is enough light for my 75 gallon reef tank, and do I need a fan on these pc lights? I plan on keeping mushrooms, xenia, button polyps, possibly a deresa clam thanks JM 47" JEBO 4X55W AQUARIUM POWER COMPACT SYSTEM   SIZE: 47" (L) x 8" (W) x 4" (H) <Well, I really like compact fluorescents for soft coral dominated systems, especially relatively shallow systems. I am a bit concerned about the clam, on a long term basis. I'd place that clam quite high up on the rock structure to compensate. All, clams, even the derasa clam, need very high light intensities for long-term survival...Just something to consider...But the PC's will be fine for the other animals you mentioned. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> Shining A Little Light On A Soft Coral Tank Dear Crew, <Scott F. your Crew member tonight> I have recently set-up a FOWLR system. I am researching lighting at the moment in preparation for taking the leap into soft corals! <Cool- you'll love 'em!> My problem is this: I have a 42 g Hex tank. 24 inches deep!, only about 21 inches wide at the narrowest point (if you see what I mean). I don't want to go down the metal halide route because of cost and heat. Mr Fenner has put me off! <Well-sometimes, holding off makes sense- the heat factor is not to be underestimated in a smaller aquarium> Having researched so far, the most powerful I can find that will fit on this tank is a 20" Aqualight Quad Strip Light with a 96 watt Coralife 50/50 Compact Fluorescent Quad Style Lamp. Sounds like a reasonable deal at about USD 100. <Yep- not too bad!> Firstly: Is there something better at a reasonable price? <Actually- I think PCs are an excellent choice for soft corals, They are efficient, reasonably powerful, and offer a variety of useful (and attractive) bulb types. I have used them with a great deal of success on soft coral tanks over the years, and would definitely recommend them to anyone who is running a soft coral system> Secondly: what results can I reasonably expect? Clearly not much is going to grow at the bottom, so I'll need to put the corals near the top. <You'd be surprised, actually- if you're keeping undemanding corals, such as Sinularia, Sarcophyton, Sinularia, Capnella, etc., and place them in appropriate proximity to the lighting, you'll be quite pleased with the results. I enjoyed my best results by employing two 96 watt, 10,000K bulbs, and two 96 watt actinic 03 bulbs...Alternatively, you could go with 2 "50/50" bulbs, and two actinic 03's. This combination works well if you like a "bluer look" to the tank, and if the corals you keep tend to favor a bluish spectrum. On the whole- I think that you will enjoy fine results with the PCs. Do provide proper ventilation, however- as they still tend to run warm and can lead to some heat build up in the tank if they are not ventilated to remove the heat.> Thanks in advance! Mark <My pleasure, Mark! With a little planning, and good animal selection, you'll enjoy an attractive, healthy tank with this lighting system! Good luck! Regards, Scott F> Reef/selection/lighting questions Greetings "crew"! <Hi Scott, PF with you here tonight> I have been reading as much as I can on your site and must commend you for some very useful and practical information.  I hope you have a bit of time to offer me some (A LOT) of advice.  First a little background: I currently have a 29 gallon set-up with the following:  Skilter 250 with airstone modification, two 201 powerheads in tank for circulation, an Eheim 2213 with bio media (plastic nuts) and 1/2 carbon.  Current lighting is 2x24" 20 watt bulbs (one 10K one 50/50)  with ~25 lbs of LR and 2 false Percula's.  The tank is currently in upstate NY (my previous residence) and was quite stable for the past couple of years.  I am now in Wisconsin and will be moving the tank out here in a few months   I plan on selling/trading the clowns and packing everything else up for the move -- having done this before (from NJ to NY) I feel comfortable doing this -- wrapping the LR in wet newspaper in a Styrofoam box, etc. <Well, there's a big difference between NY to NJ and NY to Wisconsin, expect to re-cure your LR> I've been thinking about what I want to do with the tank and I saw what I thought was a "great deal" on E-bay and purchased two used Coralife 175w MH pendants for $200. <That is a good deal> I figure I only need one and can sell the other. <Real aquarists never sell extras... ; ) ask my (poor, long suffering) wife. > Unfortunately, they only have 5500K bulbs. SO, here is where the questions start:  I was thinking of "upgrading" a bit and trying some "easier" corals in the tank.  Specifically, I was looking at some Xenia spp., a few mushrooms, and a leather or two (would some polyps work as well?). <I don't see why not> Will a 175 watt MH be too much for these corals? <Depends on how high you have them over the tank, I'd say at least a foot, if not more> I was thinking it might be a bit high, so I could purchase a 37 gallon tank which will still fit on my stand and offer some more buffer (increased water volume) <Not a bad idea at all> and also give me a bit more room to adjust the lighting.   Should I just re-sell these lights and go for power compacts (if so, would 110 Watts be enough -- 1 55W 10K and one 55W actinic?) <Well, that's really up to you. The PCs would work well for the corals you want.> If I keep the MH I wanted to go with 10000K bulbs -- will Ushio's work in the Coralife pendants? <That depends on the socket, are they HQIs or mogul sockets? Most retailers will list the bulbs by wattage, color, and type of socket> Is supplemental actinic lighting (20W???) recommended or is it just for aesthetic purposes? <Aesthetic really, but remember, you're the one looking at the tank>  Alternatively, I could eat cheaply for a few weeks and upgrade to a larger tank (55 gallon) for about $300 at the LFS, but I would rather save this $ for the livestock and tank general maintenance fund (or to upgrade the skimmer -- any rec's for a good one for a ~30 gallon setup?). <An AquaC Remora HOT w/a MaxiJet 1200 powerhead to run it> Now, as far as livestock goes.  I really want to go as aquacultured as possible, <Admirable, btw, you could keep clams with the MH's if you wanted. > so I was thinking a pair of percula clowns and a couple of Banggai cardinals (could I do three?) <I'd have to say no, to much biomass>.  I really wanted to add a flame hawk and a lemon peel or flame angel, but after reading your web (and others) it seems like its a bad idea to add any of these latter fish (the hawk if I want to keep some shrimp -- a cleaner, and a peppermint or two and the angels are tricky in a reef, especially one this small). <Got it in one>  I was hoping to add maybe one more fish--something of a centerpiece with either lots of color or personality (or both) -- do you have any recommendations? <You could get a tank raised Dottyback, say an orchid (Pseudochromis fridmani). Relatively docile as Dottybacks go, colorful and fun to watch. Be sure and add it last>  As I said, I hope to go all-aquacultured, but there aren't too many other species that are tank raised, so I might be willing to get one net caught specimen.  What order should I add the fish, as I suspect there probably is a better way to do this, since I want to make this the most stable and inhabitant-friendly tank as possible. <Well, order depends on exactly what fish you decide on. You could also do a small wrasse (say a six line or Twinspot hogfish)> Does this sound like a good plan to you? <Yep, I would recommend you go ahead and bite the bullet and get the bigger tank, and a better skimmer. > Wanted to plan things out in advance to avoid costly mistakes ($ and specimen life). <A good idea, and a good way to do things> Thanks so much in advance for your advice, Scott <Your welcome, have a good night, PF>

- Lighting Options - Hi, <Good morning, JasonC here...> I just stumbled onto this site and wanted to let you know that it has been a great help in deciding to build my 75 gallon reef. <Glad to hear it.> The tank is currently set up for fish but is well equipped for a Reef.  My 75 gallon acrylic tank measures 36" Wide, 24" Tall and 18"Deep.  I want to be able to keep both hard and soft corals.  The tank has a Chiller so heat should not be a problem.  I have two 55watt power compacts that I plan on using in addition to adding add either an Icecap 175watt or 250watt metal halide system with a 10k bulb.  I live in Southern California where we pay outrageous electricity bills and was leaning towards the 175watt system but would appreciate your opinion. <In which regard? Either/both are viable lighting options, although just one of either lamp will likely leave with a bright spot under the lamp and darker areas on either side of it (which might be desirable for your soft corals) - you might consider two lamps or the fixtures with dual 150 watt HQI metal halide lamps, that would give you better end-to-end coverage. Still, the big factor here is going to the impact on your electric bill so... >  Also can you please give me your recommendations for a bulb manufacturer for both systems? <This is a highly subjective issue. I'm a big fan of the Aqualine-Buschke 10K, I really like the light, but many people find these lamps too yellow. I suggest you pose this question on the various forums to get a range of opinion to draw your decision from.> Thanks! Tony Adamski <Cheers, J -- >

- Dusk to Dawn Lighting Effect - Hello,   <And hello to you, JasonC here...> Let me start out by saying this is a wonderful website! A+ I have a 60 gallon tank with a 65watt/4 setup. I hear people talking about the dusk to dawn effect. I understand that it's timing my actinic before/after the 10ks. Please elaborate on this... <Not much to elaborate on... you summed it up pretty well.> Is it best to have actinic only before AND after my 10ks? <Not necessarily "best" but an interesting way of doing things. If you think about it, the sun doesn't suddenly come up, and then suddenly go down at the end of the day - there is at least an hour of twilight at each end. That said, even with actinics, unless you get a fluorescent dimmer, this will still be a sudden withdrawal/addition of light. Even so, many people like the look of their tanks with actinics only.> Also, is it a bad idea to leave my actinics on all night? <Yes, it's a bad idea.> I was thinking of putting a single fluorescent fixture to keep on all night. <Reconsider... if you want night-lighting, look into products specific for this task.> Thanks for you help! Charles Tizano <Cheers, J -- >

- Dusk to Dawn Lighting Effect Follow-up - Do you know where I can find a fluorescent dimmer? <IceCap makes one, I'm sure there are others... check the online retailer. Cheers, J -- >

PAR Index or Table? Mr. Fenner and the WWM Crew, <cheers> For as long as I've been reading your articles about lighting captive reef environments I've noticed the same response in many threads:  "...if you only had a PAR meter..." <they are quite handy... observing trends in coral health, color and vigor... influences of water clarity... aging of lamps, etc> I've invested in a PAR meter (from Apogee Instruments, $300 with sensor, apogee-inst.com) <yes... very fine> and have been startled at the remarkably low readings I was getting on the 2 x 250W MH setup I was running on my main tank.   <do consider/realize how severely water clarity and lamp cleanliness (dust/salt spray, etc) significantly impact light delivery. Unless you are using ozone or changing carbon weekly... plus cleaning lamps and canopies weekly... you can expect to lose a measurable portion of your light> In fact, the distance between surface PAR in the wild (2000) and what I was getting just a few inches below the surface in my tank (500) was shocking enough to push me into 400W lights (now getting 1500 at 6"...) <Hmmm... if you are keeping shallow water species only... perhaps the 400 watters are warranted. For most aquarists, they are not> My question is this:  while in most cases (excepting aposymbiotic corals of some species, and deep-reef Corallimorphs) "more is better" in the case of light, <Yikes! You won't catch me agreeing with that startling admonition. It's not even close to correct. More is not better at all... under-lit corals can be supported with feeding... but over-lit corals can/will suffer photo-inhibition and shut down in time. It's best to offer enough light to satisfy the maximum tolerance of your lowest common denominator and feed all other species to compensate> are you aware of any good references to the range of PAR various animals require to survive-thrive?   <much field data in the academic archives... Alf Nilsen has published some in the hobby literature (Aquarium Frontiers for one as I recall... hmmm... Acroporas by species in Winter 1994 part 2 peeping at my bookshelf here)> In other words, while a Montipora capricornis may get "moderate" lighting in guides about it's care, does that mean a PAR value of 100, or 1000???  Is a shallow water species of Acropora meant for a PAR of 750, or 1750? I appreciate your input on this vexing subject. Thanks, Sean MacKirdy <like RedOx... PAR values are guidelines not rules... there are many other considerations in captive coral culture. Track an study... do enjoy... but don't get too obsessive about it, mate. Kind regards, Anthony>

Tank Lighting <Good morning, PF here> I have a 150 gallon and I want to put  2, 36" dual light strips (4 bulbs) I'm going to put 2 Powerglo and 2 MarineGlo.  Is this going to be enough wattage for this tank (each bulb is 30watts)?  Do I need more light strips and bulbs? If so how many more? <For what? Without knowing anything about your planned setup I can't really answer any questions. I'll give you a better answer when you give me more to work with. Talk to you later, PF> Lighting Duration, Fish Only I have a 75 gallon saltwater fish only tank.  I would like to know how long I should keep the lights on in the tank.  Is it alright to just turn them on when I get home from work, or should they be on longer?  James Hall <Hey James, that should work fine.  I would get a timer for the lights so that they come on for a few hours when I get home, turn off after I go to bed. -Gage> Canopy Design Hello there, and I want to thank you for the invaluable resource you provide.   Your time is greatly appreciated by all (except perhaps your spouses) <Mine is VERY understanding! LOL> I'll try and make it quick:  You have obviously seen hundreds if not thousands of tank stand/canopy designs.  In your opinion, what would are the most convenient features you could think of for a tank stand and tank canopy? <I recently re-designed my canopy to accommodate my new lighting system on my larger reef system, and I went to great lengths to make sure that the canopy provided some of the things that I have always needed: Most important, in my opinion, is access to the tank. I like the idea of the "piano hinge", which essentially makes the canopy open in half, providing amazing access to the tank. I made my canopy about 11 inches tall, which placed the HQI halide pendants that I use about 7 inches from the water surface. Also, with lots of open space in the back, I was able to cut out larger openings to let air in and out to help keep the canopy (and the tank) cooler. I made it a point to install at least two fans in the canopy at either side to further cool the system. And, believe it or not, the tank runs much cooler than I would have ever expected...> Examples would be like removable fronts, hinges, sliding canopies, etc. Perhaps stand variations aren't as important as some canopy features?????? <I agree...To me, once again- the most important feature is access to the tank. Maintenance tasks are so much easier with a well-thought-out canopy that lets you reach all areas of the tank....Just a huge consideration that you cannot overlook! That would be my #1 design consideration> Thank you again and again, Michael <My pleasure, Michael! Thanks for stopping by! Chat with some other hobbyists about the canopy designs they utilize, and check some out...You'll get even more great ideas! Good luck and have fun! Regards, Scott F> MH lighting on 55 I'm considering using MH lighting over my freshly started 55g reef tank. What would a better scenario 2x 175 6500k or 3x 100 10000k for two reasons light intensity and heat transfer or would I be better off going with a different lighting package all together? One reason for so much lighting is to promote a tank upgrade in the future when I become an experienced aquarist. Aaron Gaff   Waterford   MI <Hey Aaron.  I think two halides would be plenty on a 55, but it really depends on what you plan on keeping (especially when we get into the spectrum) .  Consider what you would like to keep in your 55 first, then research their requirements.  Make a list of what you want, feel free to run it by us.  Lighting is one of the most expensive pieces of equipment out there, so it would be best to tailor it to your tank to prevent the need for changes/upgrades later.  Check out the links below for starters.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/marcanopies.htm > Lighting question Hello <Good evening Doug, PF with you here tonight> I have a 65 gallon tank in which I have two false Perculas, one Foxface ,one damsel and one scooter blenny.  I also have several corals.  Bubble coral, button polyp, couple hammer corals and some mushrooms.  I just finished my canopy and am having a hard time deciding on the lighting set up.  I would like to be able to have a couple Maximas clams.  I currently have two 36" VHO bulbs but they are old ones I had and need to be replaced. <Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but after talking to Barry at ClamsDirect about my tank ( a 75g ) and what clams would be appropriate with my existing animals (much like yours minus the 'Shrooms) his advice was to stick with Squamosa. IMO the metal halide needed by the clam would be hard on your corals, which from what I see prefer lower lighting. A Squamosa under 4 VHO's would do well from what I understand. More below> My question is.  Should I go with a 175 watt metal halide with these two <If you really want the Maximas, and are ok with trading out your lower light corals, I don't see a problem with that. Or, you could try acclimating your corals to the brighter lights. Anthony's book has a good section on that more detailed than what follows: use eggcrate over the top of the water, and place about a 12-14 layers of screen door sheets over the water. Every day remove 1 screen. Hopefully your corals will acclimate to the new lights. > VHOs or install two more VHOs, which would be a total of 4 VHOs.  Also, what type of VHOs would you recommend for these corals.    <Steven Pro and I recently talked about this, and I trust his opinion as much as I would Anthony's or Bob's. His advice was 2x 10,000K lights and 2x Actinic 03's. I'm going to be switching over to that myself at the end of the month (and bumping my bulbs up to 46.5"). You could do this and keep Squamosa, I've seen some very colorful Squamosa, it's a matter of looking, and unfortunately being able to pay for them. > Thank you Doug <Your welcome, have a good evening Doug, looks like you have some choices to make, PF>

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>

Say Yes To NO Fluorescents? GOOD MORNING CREW! <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I just ordered a 2-250W Metal Halide retrofit kit for my 80 gal 48(L)x18(W)x22(H). I also ordered 2 250W Ushio 10,000K's for my retro. (I'm planning on getting clams, SPS, LPS and the likes.. too much light?) <Nope. Sounds about right, especially for clams! They really like the intense light.> Ahhhem. Back to my main question. I really like the POP (iridescent/neon effect) that actinic lights provide. Will NO fluorescent actinic bulbs provide this (considering they will be on at the same time as the MHs) or will the MH's drown it out? The fluorescent will be mounted closer to the water, of course. Or am I destined to shell out a couple more hundred $$$ for VHO's? I really like the blue/purplish look. Any lighting advice would help. Thanks a bunch. Iona =) <Well, Iona, you bring up an interesting point. Halides are certainly intense enough to "drown out" some of the visual aspect of the NO actinics, but I think that it's worth a try. In my experience, NO fluorescents will still be quite visible, and provide some useful spectrum, too (although the Ushio's are a "full spectrum" bulb). VHOs tend to be favored by many hobbyists because of their efficiency, intensity, and output, but this does not make NO fluorescents useless as a supplement. For a number of years, MH? No actinic combos were the "standard" reef lighting package offered by many light hood manufacturers. If I were you, I'd experiment with the NO actinics (especially 'cause you mentioned that you're mounting them lower than the MH's) and see how it looks, before digging into your pocketbook yet again! I'll bet you'll get the look that you want, and the extra spectrum will be a "bonus" for your animals! Good luck with your new system! Regards, Scott F.>

Which reflector? Hey there-        I have a 125 with 3-175 watt AquaLine 10k metal halides and 4-96 watt pc actinics.  I am looking to replace my flat reflectors with more efficient reflectors, either the PFO optimal reflectors (mounted perpendicular to the tank- similar to the spider reflector) or the PFO parallel reflector.  I will also be adding 2- 6 foot VHO actinics.  My question is whether I should go with the parallel reflector, which would place the VHOs closer to the water (about 4-5 inches from the surface) or go with the perpendicular reflector?   If I decide on the perpendicular, I will mount one set of VHOs underneath the reflectors underneath the mogul sockets at the back of my tank and the other set on the canopy top in the front.  Which setup would you recommend?  The parallel reflector with both VHOs closer to the surface or the perpendicular reflectors with one set of actinics closer to the surface?  Thank you very much for your help! Josh <Depends on the width of your 125 and how easy it is to move hood/lights out of the way to gain access.  I use one of the parallel set-ups and it works quite nicely, although the focus of the light is more downward then some spider reflectors. The VHO's are down next to the water where you want them. Then the optimal reflectors spread the light more sideways with the reflectors set as they are...but no real good way to handle the actinics....  All depends on how much space you want to cover in that 125!  I would favor the parallel reflector for this reason.  Craig>

Halide Bulb orientation and reflector choice Hey there- <whassup> I have a 125 with 3-175 watt AquaLine 10k metal halides and 4-96 watt pc actinics.  I am looking to replace my flat reflectors with more efficient reflectors, either the PFO optimal reflectors (mounted perpendicular to the tank- similar to the spider reflector) or the PFO parallel reflector.   <sounds good> I will also be adding 2- 6 foot VHO actinics.   <nice for aesthetics... but not needed by your corals> My question is whether i should go with the parallel reflector, which would place the VHOs closer to the water (about 4-5 inches from the surface) or go with the perpendicular reflector? <fluorescents higher than 3" off the water are almost a waste of use/electricity... they need to be scary close to the water to be any good>   If I decide on the perpendicular, I will mount one set of VHOs underneath the reflectors underneath the mogul sockets at the back of my tank and the other set on he canopy top in the front.  Which setup would u recommend?   <since it is for aesthetic effect only at 4" or higher... do what is most convenient for mounting... or for working in the tank> The parallel reflector with both VHOs closer to the surface or the perpendicular The reflectors with one set of actinics closer to the surface?  Thank you very much for your help! Josh <use the parabolic reflectors for the halides at 6-9" off water surface... then buy the VHOs (URI brand) that have the built-in internal reflectors and mount them (you can buy acrylic legs/stand-offs) to mount bulb right on top of the tank top or canopy (no external reflector needed). That's my vote :) Kind regards, Anthony>

More lighting reef animals hey Anthony- <whassup Josh> The underlying problem with the whole issue of adding more actinics and getting better reflectors is this:  I have been adding more and more sps corals to my tank only to see them lose color, get browner, and exhibit little growth.   <likely has nothing to do with lack of actinics/fluorescents <G>. The lack of growth is most always misdiagnosed. Generally caused by lack of water flow or water flow misapplied (assuming your bio-mineral levels are VERY stable... not fluctuating from weekly or erratic dosing instead of proper daily). Seek closer to 20X tank turnover (no shared pumps/wave timers either... dreadful)... of full-time random turbulent flow... avoid laminar too as with powerheads. The browning up of the corals is more likely from excess organics fertilizing your zooxanthellae (need fairly low DOC. nitrate, etc levels).> After i upgraded my skimmer to an aqua-c ev240, many of the sps have gotten less brown.   <consistent with my theory above... less fertilizer> However, they still lack a good amount of color. <could be UV too... try removing the lens between the halides and water over one side of the tank. Unless of course the lens had been neglected in the past (not cleaned frequently) and allowed dust/salt creep on bulb or lens to ruin coral color> I believe that i need more light intensity to maintain their color.   <unlikely IMO... but try one side of the tank only first if your must so as not to shock all corals> I would like to upgrade to 3-250 watt halides and if i do, are the reflectors that essential? <on the halides, yes> I am deciding between using Iwasaki 6500k or AquaLine 10k.  I know the Iwasaki have a higher par rating and more lumens but the AquaLine might be better for coloration.  What is your opinion? <agreed... do 10K for color... and use better water flow to pick up lost growth for not using 6500> Also, after viewing many sps coral tank setups online, i see a trend towards VHO supplementation to the halides which seems to result in good coral coloration.  It seems the power compact actinics are not that great for coral fluorescing.  That is why i was considering adding VHO actinic to my setup(3-175 watt Aqualines w/ 4-96watt pc actinics) currently and adding the reflectors- to maximize the amount of light from my current setup. <do think you can "survive" without the halide upgrade> Also, i don't have a top on my tank and that was why i was concerned with having the VHOs too close b/c of salt spray.   <not a bulb problem here... but a bubble/return line problem. Should be able to avoid dangerous salt spray easily... and all bulbs really need wiped down weekly at any rate for max efficacy> Would a top block any light or uv? <yes... and not recommended here. Just keep the lamps wiped down> You said the VHOs are not needed for the corals- why is that? <they do not penetrate water at depth as well (certainly not from 4" plus) and have more blue than needed. Plenty of blue in all modern halides. Just cool for effect to have actinics <G>> Thank you so much for your help once again, i greatly appreciate it. Josh <best regards, Anthony>

My Acrylic Aquarium Greetings Wet Web Crew. Construction is finally complete on my 825 gallon aquarium 112Lx38Wx44H. As Bob predicted, 1" acrylic proved to be under designed with almost 3/4" deflection across front panel.  Wish I had found your site sooner. Structurally appears sound, visual distortion will be minimized by tank built into wall (front view only).   <Good> I am currently in the thick of filtration and lighting design plans and am hoping to get some feedback. I've spent the last several months pouring through FAQs and have learned a great deal.   <Again, good to see/hear> Aquarium will be a FOWLR set-up. DSB:  Have already ordered a pallet (2800 lbs) of Southdown sand from a Home Depot outside of Milwaukee WI.  Plan to use a 6" bed. <"Keep rinsing"!> Live Rock:  I'm planning to make a serious investment in Fiji live rock.  I am working with the assumption that I should fill approximately a quarter to a third of the volume of the tank with rock - somewhere around 1200 lbs (does this sound like a reasonable estimate?). <Mmm, I'd start with about half this amount and see how you like the look... have it start curing (likely in place)> Including shipping to Minneapolis, Live Rock will be approximately $3.30/lb and base rock approximately $2.20/lb.  Any recommendations on how to split this?  All live rock?  50%LR / 50%BR?    <About half and half with the live on top> I don't plan to push the limits on bio-load for this set-up.  With this amount of LR, do I still need to incorporate additional external bio filtration? <Probably not> Frequent power-outages each spring would cause me to rule out a fluidized sand filter, would probably opt for w/d.  Should I also be considering some form of external mechanical filtration? <Yes> Protein Skimmer:  I have been looking at the AquaC EV-2000 (rated at 1,200 gph).  Will this be adequate for this set-up? <We'll see. Good choice to try>   Are there other skimmers for this size set-up that would be a better choice? <Maybe a EuroReef or two> Refugium:  Plan to use 2 150 gal Rubbermaid tubs with 6" DSB using a single 400W MH to serve both.  Will stock with a small amount of LR and use Macroalgae for nutrient export.   <I would opt for smaller compact fluorescent wattages or T-5's> Sump:  Still trying to decide whether I need a separate sump or whether I can use the second Rubbermaid tub for this purpose.   <You can/could> Lighting:  Ideally, I would like to provide enough light to maintain the coralline algae on the live rock.  Given the depth of my system, I assume I need MH lighting.  Would 4 or 5 250w MH pendants suffice, or do I need 400W? <What do you intend to keep and what do you want it to "do"? The smaller MH's will be fine... but you can have one or two 400 watters for placing over SPS, giant clams you want to boost physiologically> If lighting requirements becomes prohibitive, are there serious implications to the health of the system if the LR is starved for light (i.e. use standard fluorescents for viewing purposes only)? <This won't happen> Thanks much for your time and for sharing your expertise. <You're welcome. Bob Fenner> In your debt, Steve Walker

SUNLIGHT REPLICATION - 4/25/2003 Hey crew: <cheers> I get a bit of sunlight on my tank at the end of the day, and I just love the way it looks.   <excellent for the health of the aquarium> I would like to attempt to replicate this color for my 55gal FOWLR + inverts.   <join the club... stand in line... take a number... easier said than done... if one train leaves from Pittsburgh traveling 50 MPH and another train leaves from Phili traveling... <G>> I have read your lighting articles, and I would like to verify my findings.  I currently have a couple of SmartLite PC lamps that are 1/2 10000K and 1/2 Actinic. <way too much blue... not even close to daylight here.> 1) To get the "sun color" I want I would have to replace them with 6500K's, right? <BINGO... right as rain... does a bear bring a readers digest into the woods... <G>> 2) No actinics needed? <Spot on... Si... right-O... bada boom bada bing> 3) Did I miss the point completely? <nope> Thanks, Rich <always welcome, my friend... thank you for the opportunity to amuse myself while sharing an opinion. Kindly, Anthony>

Reef Lamp Placement 4/22/03 Hi Anthony this is Genaro <cheers my friend> I have a couple of questions I have a 100MH and I have a660 ballast to run two actinics or one actinic and one 50-50 on a 55gal. MH is 6in a way from water and the fluorescents 4in. <the halide is at a fine and proper distance for this wattage... the fluorescents should be no farther than 3" off the surface of the water though in my opinion> I thank you again for all your great help. <always welcome :) Anthony>

- Lighting Question - Hi how is everyone a WWW today? <JasonC here - I'm pretty well, thanks for asking.> Good I hope. I have a quick question (Actually looking for an opinion). I am setting up a 55 gal. (55+ Oceanic 23 1/2" deep 60 gal.+/-) reef. My options for lighting are. 1. Ice cap ballast with 3- 95 watt URI 36" VHO lights one Actinic White 50/50 one Actinic 03 and one Aqua Sun Daylight total 285 watts. 2. one 48" Coralife strip with 4- 65 watt compact florescence 2x Actinic and 2x 10,000K total 260 watts. The tank will have some fish, Live rock, LPS etc. I don't think I would have Clams or SPS corals at any time. So that being said which would you recommend and why? <Hmm... I think either would accomplish your goals. As for a preference for one or the other, I really can't say which would be best - you might want to post this question on our forum [http://wetwebfotos.com/talk] where you could get a range of opinions from people who have used these products.> Would you recommend other bulb K combinations? <Again, either setup would work fine.> Dennis Vigliotte <Cheers, J -- >

He's In Overdrive (Experimenting With Lighting) Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> I have been experimenting with over driving (2-3 times ballast rating by using 2-3 times less of stated bulb length getting close to VHO output), cheap ($7.50) bulbs from Menards. The 6500K and the black light bulbs seem very close in nanometer output to the expensive marine bulbs. What do you think? Good for my 55 on the cheap with a plan of one tang, couple of small fish, shrimp, crab, heartier Inverts? <Well, an interesting idea. Without knowing the specs on your bulbs, it would be hard to determine if there is a benefit to overdriving them. May also shorten the useful life of the bulb...perhaps it may be more prone to spectral shift as a result of over-driving. This is one that you may need to consult a lighting engineer, or just glean from long-term experimentation by yourself...> Right now I am close to the end of cycling (1 month). <Now the fun starts!> 1/2" Live Sand (came in plastic bag at Petland, no sign of any small life I've seen) 55 lbs of Utah base 20 lbs live rock with purple coralline (not any other life seen, only week old) 1-2" Yellow tail Damsel 1 power head 1 powerhead protein skimmer 1 large capacity double filter, hang on the back Whisper with charcoal & clean 1 filter every 2 weeks <Good...Cleaning mechanical filters helps avoid having them become nutrient traps, and contributing to water quality degradation...To be honest, I'd attempt to clean/replace the filter media even more often (like weekly, or more frequently if feasible)...Makes a big difference when you are dependant upon one of these units> I use limestone well water that comes out clear, great taste, PH 8.2, 15 DH, 15 KH, 0 Phosphate, 30 Nitrate. I am presently in a diatom battle hoping the coralline spreads. <Well, you may want to do something about that nitrate. Starting off with 30ppm nitrate is not something that we'd want. Although not harmful in and of itself, nitrate accumulation can result in excessive growths of nuisance algae over time. Nitrate readings are a good water quality "yardstick" to get an idea of what's happening in your system. We always strive to keep nitrate levels at an undetectable level, if possible> GREAT site! Thanks, Levi <Glad you like the site, Levi! Good luck with your tank and your lighting experiments! Regards, Scott F>

Direct sunlight on marine tanks >Hello everyone! >> I wanted your opinion if I was flirting with danger. You see, I moved my 75 gal reef to our porch during the winter. >>YIKES! >It looks so beautiful and has been enjoying lots of sun. But as the season changes, it will be getting more and more sunshine, and later in the afternoon, bright light. I know the importance of good lighting in a system, and this is something that I have not invested too much $$ into. I have at the present time 200 watts of light, nothing special, with one of the bulbs being actinic. >>Actinic lighting is mostly for aesthetics, you can use VHO, power compacts, anything that has a proper Kelvin rating for the photosynthetic animals you're keeping.  However, what's also on my mind is where you are located that you tried this, and how in the world do you control temperature? >I'm seeing much more brown algae growing on the sand and glass, very ugly indeed. >>That's to be expected.  All of us advise people to NEVER put their tanks where they'll receive full sunlight, for this and an entire myriad of reasons. >I was hoping for a bit of greenery to start growing, but haven't seen much. So, my question is,... is this too much light? >>For an aquarium, YES. >In the am it gets about 3 or 4 hours of pretty direct sun. Then bright light all day after that.  Thanks everyone for your advice, Pamela >>Well, Pamela, are you able to invest in some lighting so you can move the tank back indoors?  I'm also curious as to how old the tank is, your experience level, etc.  Do you have any books on the subject?  If not, I'll suggest you pick up Bob's book, "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist", it's a very good starter book. >>It is very ill-advised to put something that requires such a balance of conditions as a reef system where it will receive such copious amounts of sunlight.  Since you speak of a change of seasons, I can only surmise that you do not reside in an equatorial clime.  The brown algae you see is most likely a diatom bloom.  You'll have to introduce either live rock that is already seeded with the greenery you wish to grow, or the greenery itself in order to set up this competition for nutrients (in the form of light here).  Good luck!  Marina

Naturally lit marine system >First of all, let me clarify something. My tank is NOT outside. It is on my porch which is enclosed as part of the house, and has heat.  So not to worry about the temp control. >>I see.  Something more akin to a sunroom or patio room, then.  Temperature control was my biggest worry. >Next, the tank is 3 years old. It contains 80 pounds of LR, and 4 inches of live sand. At the present time I have about 75 or so assorted turbo snails and blue and red leg crabs, along with several colonies of assorted mushrooms, soft and hard corals. The system is very stable as far as Dh. Ph, and alkalinity are concerned. All that bothers me now is the diatom bloom. I can control the sunshine with room darkening vertical shades.   >>Yes, much clearer picture now, thanks.  Ok, so, you see the diatom/algal bloom, and I think it would be safe for us to assume that it could attributed entirely to the new setting with that additional light.  Since the system is well-established, I think we can assume that you *don't* suddenly have nutrient export issues, the only change being the light, yes? >I really thought a bit of additional sun would benefit the inhabs?? They all look happy at present. >>I'm sure they are, as the algae doesn't bother them nearly as much as it bothers us, eh?   >I have an Aqua C Remora skimmer presently, but have been thinking of adding some sort of chemical filter. What do you think about that? My water changes are every 2 weeks of 25 gallons of aged, aerated, heated water. >>At this point, I think all you need to do is control the sunlight.  I'm assuming that the lighting you outlined previously is what's been on the tank from the get-go, yes?  If so, lighting isn't necessarily an issue for the inhabitants, so your best bet would be to address the additional light.  What I would try to do is close the blinds during the brightest hours of the day (if possible) first, if that's not sufficient, then increase the amount of time they're closed until you get a handle on it. >>I see no need to go to the additional expense of a chemical filter.  I've also done some research since yesterday morning, and learned that there are companies and private individuals that use sunlight.  Algae growth is an issue for the private individuals, the commercial companies are using this method in conjunction with metal halide lighting for photosynthetic flora/fauna grow-out systems.  As such, they do get diatom growth, but since their inverts are quite healthy, and they're using large vats/tubs, they don't have the same issues with the unsightly stuff.  They've recommended that you control the light, scrape the algae off the glass at the same time you do your water changes.  Again, if you wish to have "greenery" (we're assuming in the form of macro algae) you'll need to purchase and install.  I can't tell you for sure whether that will set up enough of a competition between macro and micro for the macro to "win". >Thanks for your help, Pamela >>You're welcome, I think you'll have good luck controlling the algae simply by controlling the amount of light during the day.  Marina.

Natural sunlight for marine aquarium illumination >Thank you Marina for your advise. I will definitely cut back on the natural rays!  Pam >>You are most welcome, Pam.  Marina

2000 gallon marine system lighting Mr. Fenner, I run a newsgroup on tropical fish on MSN, got an email from a member of the group that is planning on constructing a huge SW tank I answered the question but feel a 2000 gal reef tank is a bit out of my experience, so hoping that you may have some input here.  I have copied and pasted both his letter and my reply to him here.   Thank you for your time ~Angie Manager of Angie and Andrews Aquatics <Okay> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hi Angie, My name is Levi Herzog. I am wanting to build a large aquarium, but I have done some research and found that the lighting for the tank will require a lot of energy and money. I would like to know if their are alternatives if any to lighting a fish tank/aquarium that I might not know about. <Some natural sunlight might be a good idea here, otherwise if the water depth is more than 30 inches or so, you should count on using metal halides. Please see here re marine lighting: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/fixtures.htm and the Related Articles and FAQs linked, in blue, above> The tank that I am looking to build will be about 2000 gallons and it will be salt water. Hoping to have corals if the lighting is sufficient. Any suggestions about why you can't use sunlight would be helpful. Thank you for your time and my email is XXXX@ec.rr.com. Thank you again if you can reply I would be thankful. Hi Levi, First let me apologize for the delay in my reply, as you may be aware my assistant manager, Andrew has been called to active duty and is now in Iraq, leaving me to cover the newsgroup alone, so I've been quite busy, trying to keep up with active message board now averaging over 1300 posts a week! Honestly I have not personally worked with such a large SW tank, definitely would be a dream to have one day :-). I'll try to help you where I can here, and the first thing I suggest is to check out this site as you research http://www.wetwebmedia.com/index.html    one of the best IMO out there.   Corals are amazing animals and do require strong lighting, that mimics the sun, so the simple conclusion would be that why not use the sun it self to light the tank? Most of the corals we keep in our reef tanks are found very near the equator, at the equator the suns intensity is stronger than it is elsewhere, and a photoperiod of this strong light for about 6 hours of the day.  The further away you are from the equator the "strength"  of the sunlight and length of day varies so it is not sufficient to keep the coral alive. (But natural light might be useful in the refugium)  So you will have to light the tank with artificial lighting.  Without knowing the detentions of the tank would not feel comfortable recommending one lighting system over another, or number of lights you will need,  but can tell you with the metal halides cost is a factor to consider, as you would not only need the lights you'll need a cooling system too, as the metal halides get hot, VHO and compact lighting are a bit less costly. I am going to forward your letter to a few people that may be able to help you more than I can, I will also post your question (minus your email addy) on the community, might get some different opinions on this and a few more links by doing this. Hope I've helped some ~Angie <Well-stated Angie. Bob Fenner> http://www.msnusers.com/AngieandAndrewsAquatics

Lighting a 60g Reef   4/6/03 Hi there<Hey, you got Phil today!> this is Genaro I have a couple of questions i have a 60gl reef 48in tall 15 wide 18in tall I have 1 100MH and two 40watt actinic.<Ok> MH is 5 in away from water<Whoa... way too close.  MH should be between 8-12 inches from the surface.> and the actinics are 4in is this ok?<Still kinda close> and my other question is can i keep Acroporas with this kind of lighting.<Your going to need more lighting.  Please use WetWebMedia to find out more on reef lighting.> I thank you very much.<No problem, Phil>

VHO's And Halides Hi, I have a few questions: #1 - I am switching to VHO bulbs from regular fluorescents. Which are better,  Coralife VHO or URI VHO's? <Both are quality products, in my experience. URI seem to be more of the "industry standard" in VHO, but I like Coralife, too> #2 - I am running 2 X 175 watt 10,000K Ushio MH's. I want to increase the colours of my Acroporas. Should I go with 1 actinic VHO and 1 6500K VHO run on separate ballasts. I read that actinics do very little with 10,000K MH's except add a cool dusk effect? Or is it better to go with both actinics? Increased colour in my SPS's is my main objective. Thanks <Frankly, I'd go with two actinics. In this role, yes- actinics will mainly function as an aesthetic compliment to the 10000k's (which are essentially a full-spectrum bulb). If you're really after coral growth and color, I'd consider using 6500k Iwasaki halides. Yes, they may appear a bit yellow, from an aesthetic standpoint, but the actinics should compensate. This combination (6500k Iwasakis and actinic VHOs) is one of the best lighting schemes that you can employ in many SPS tanks. Of course, weirdos like me really like blue...so I run 20000k halides and nothing else- but that is not suited to all types of corals. Your proposed scheme or the one I discussed is probably a better all-around lighting plan. Have fun! Scott F>

Bad Ballast? I have had a salt water tank set up for 13 months.  I have a combination PC/metal halide fixture from Custom Sea Life.  The light fixture came with separate ballast boxes for the PCs and the MHs.  I run the lights off of separate timers.  Just yesterday, the MH failed to come on.  After much time spent checking outlets, times, cords, etc.  I feel sure I ruled out many problems.  The MH ballast box seems to be the problem as it is making sounds like it is having a hard time maintaining the lights.  Also, when I get one light to come on, if i get the second light, the first one that was one goes out.   I am waiting to hear back from CSL (emailed them yesterday).  I was just wondering what your take on this was and if you had any suggestions about replacing ballasts or what to do to remedy problems with them?  Thanks for your time, Abby Kengersky Also, how bad is it in the meantime for my poor fish and corals not to have their normal light.  This is now the second day and I really want to see it I can remedy the problem before shelling out major money for new ballasts or is the light shortage really going to wreck havoc on the tank?  Abby Kengersky <If this is with European bulbs I would suspect it is normal for an American magnetic ballast to intermittently start these bulbs. I would keep it running (they usually start after some time). This is a common problem with some MH set-ups using mixed ballast/bulb types (probe/pulse start).  Craig>

Lighting Hello. Is a 10000K bulb considered a full-spectrum light? <Depends on the actual bulb and light type. Most high quality 10K bulbs are full spectrum, some have spikes in various points on the spectrum, others more balanced.> Is that the only kind? <No.> Is a 50/50 bulb simply 1/2 full spectrum, 1/2 actinic 03? <Depends on the manufacturer. Usually 1/2 10K and 1/2 03 actinic. "Full spectrum" is relative to needs and rendition (how things look under this lighting spectrum.> If so, would you get pretty much an identical effect using 2 50/50 bulbs as using 1 full-spectrum and 1 actinic 03? Thanks, Warren <Honestly hard to say! In the ballpark, although there are recommendations available from many manufacturers as to which is best for various needs/inhabitants.  I would advise looking into URI bulbs and their recommendations.  Craig>

Temperature lighting questions Guys-- I've got what I thought was a basic question but despite lots of research on your site have not found an easy answer to.  I currently have a pair of 48" fluorescent lights on my 90 gallon marine aquarium, one actinic blue bulb and another for daylight.  The daylight bulb needs replacing and there are so many types to choose from I'm confused.  For a primarily fish-only aquarium, would you recommend a 5500-6500 range bulb, a 7500K bulb, a 10K bulb, or a 20K bulb to go with the actinic and why?  Are any of these "daylight" spectral ranges better for producing good algae in my tank, or is it simply a matter of visual color preference?   <For fish only, whatever looks good to you.> Would your preference change if I started adding anemones or corals as well? <Yes, each species needs to be researched to find appropriate lighting and feeding needs. Hope this helps, Don> Thanks for the help, -- Ed  

Metal Halides for Nano Reef I have a 12 gallon reef tank that has a water depth (from surface of water to top of sand bed) of about 15".  The dimensions of the water surface area are about 9.5" by 14.5".  Right now, I only have a Power Compact fixture putting out 36 watts (18 watts daylight, 18 watts actinic).  I read Anthony's article, "Lighting Your Marine Invertebrates:  Reef Lighting Without Controversy!", so I won't get caught up in the watts-per-gallon talk.  However, I do realize that my setup is somewhat underpowered.  This is evidenced by my faded and washed out looking squamosa clam.  Its colors used to be very distinct and bright, but now they have faded.  Also, nothing in the tank looks as if it is really thriving...just existing.  I really would like to upgrade my lighting, and I really want to replace my existing fixture with a metal halide setup.  I'd rather be limited by space rather than lighting issues as I want to be able to add just about any coral to my tank (especially those requiring high-intensity light).  Problem is, I don't know exactly what wattage bulb I would need and how high to place it given my water depth.  What are your recommendations?  If it makes any difference, I actually have a total of about 17 gallons since I incorporated a 5 gallon sump to hide the bulk of the machinery (heater, skimmer, etc.).  Initially, I was looking into getting a garden grow light, ballast built into the pendant ( http://dansgardenshop.com/sunsysiv100w1.html), that puts out 100 watts. Your thoughts?  Also, if MH isn't the way I should go, would it be advisable for me to double my wattage by putting another 36 watt PC fixture adjacent to the one I already have?  I was looking at a JBJ clamp on unit (http://www.jbjlighting.com/sys_clamp_on.html).  Will that improve my situation?  The tank I have is more tall than wide so it kind of puts me at a disadvantage in terms of finding a high PC wattage bulb that will fit over the tank and w/n my custom-built stand.  Any advice would be much appreciated.   <Hmm, I think the MH would be too much. Although I have seen some 70W MH and that would be more appropriate. If you do decide to go with the pendant you reference, then make sure the bulb is the proper temperature. MH would be mounted 8-12" from the surface of the water. I think the additional 36W of daylight (rather than half/half) is the way to go. The clam may take to being further up in the tank (closer to light source) and that will help. I would not recommend mixing corals with different needs in any tank. Stick to a group that has like habitat needs. They (and you) will be much happier> Hope this helps. Don> Sandy

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>

Reef Lighting and Plenums 3/14/03 Hello Anthony. I am new to Saltwater Reefs and just beginning to explore your WetWebMedia site, which I am enjoying and find quite helpful. <excellent to hear, my friend... there is so much to learn/read there> In reviewing some of the lighting FAQ's I see your point on knowing what you plan to keep in the tank, prior to selecting lighting. <quite correct... although we still can make some fair generalizations as per the lighting article posted there> I am buying a 120G All-glass (48x24x24)tank and have made my live rock which continues to leach for the next month and half. <be sure to clean use your protein skimmer very aggressively during this period especially> I am planning on buying the lighting and given the costs would like to make a good choice. I am not sure of the types of inverts I want to keep. My wife and I are long time scuba divers and have kept freshwater fish for many years. We always wanted a salt tank and having retired 2 years ago I now have the time to move into salt. <no worries... however strict some can be... all can be easy and low maintenance with your continued patience and good planning> Although I am a few months away from buying our first inverts I was hoping you might provide a more detailed list of your coral/creature suggestions which in your experience would provide visual enjoyment, educational interest and good odds of providing a good life sustaining environment. <let me suggest then that you stay with colorful soft corals. Nice polyp extension, hardy, tolerant to aggression and damage/propagation, etc. Avoid any stony corals for at least one year (sps or LPS)> Based on some of your writings I am leaning toward Mid to high lighting in this size tank and looking at a 4-96W PC from http://www.ahsupply.com/96watt.htm. (Your counsel would be appreciated). <I'm a staunch fan of metal halide for its overall value instead. Lamp life, trueness of color over time, penetration of water at depth, etc). Still... PCs work very well for corals... just expensive to replace lamps every 6-10 months for corals (years for halides). And the argument that MHs are more expensive to run is complete bunk. "Watts is Watts" and if you add enough PCs to match MH in intensity, you will use more power.> Possibly growing it slowly to a 6x96W PC if/as necessary. My current plan is to build my reef on a plenum ( http://garf.org/bulletproofreef/plenum.asp ) with 1"-2" sand with around 130lbs of my live rock(http://garf.org/class.html#mold ). Then seeding the rock and sand with live material like GARF Grunge, for curing over the next 3 months under two of the 96W PC blue lights. After 3 months I would add two 96W white lights and turn on the sump and a protein skimmer and begin to add a few fish and corals with the intent to add more inverts slowly over the next 3-4 months. Then to stop and work with the tank as is, building our experience and familiarity with maintenance. Take a check point at 9 month to a year and then start to propagate our corals and add to the tank as appropriate. Are plenums a good idea? When would they not be good to use? <I don't think they help or hurt much... I personally would not bother installing one. I would recommend deeper sand though (over 3")> If used should one expect they will need to be taken down and cleaned? If so, how often? <not necessary if the sand is deep enough or if you stir it regularly (for shallow beds 1-3")> Your response and guidance would be much appreciated. Many thanks. <kind regards, Anthony>

Lighting period Thanks for your help with my recent skimmer questions, very useful. It's now skimming o.k., but if anything stops it (e.g. a water change) then it takes a couple of days, and several scrubs of the cup, to get it started again. A trip to the LFS where it was purchased is in order I think. <Ok> Can I take up a bit more of your time with a simple(?) lighting question. My tank is 18 inches deep, 15 wide. It has 4 T5 tubes (3  x Aqua blue, 1 x actinic), fitted about half an inch above the water surface. Corals are mainly leathers, finger corals and mushrooms (there's one cup coral, bought in a mad moment because I was determined not to mix hard and soft corals). All the corals open well now (I'm sure this has something to do with the recent decision to remove the media from two canister filters) and all but one leather appear to be growing. (Another leather is growing so quickly it'll be too big for the tank soon). I'm getting  mixed views about lighting period. The commonest view is that in the tropics day and night are roughly equal, therefore lights should be on for twelve hours, maybe with a half hour blue actinic only either side. However it seems to me that this assumes that the tropical sun suddenly appears directly overhead, and stays there for 12 hours, before vanishing. Surely in the wild corals don't get 12 hours of direct sun, and if it's hitting the sea surface at an angle for some time, reflection off the surface must be increased, gradually reducing as sun reaches its zenith. <Agreed> This must affect the photoperiod in our tanks, even though the lights (even the best ones) can't replicate sunlight. Or have I missed the point altogether, and the lights need to be on for at least 12 hours, as I've been told. <I would have to weigh cost vs. benefit. There are very complex nature 'simulating' lighting systems out there. But with the type of coral you have I don't know that it would be worth it. Something to consider. I would stick with the 12 hour period. I have seen folks wire different timers into their lighting to bring tubes on in stages to simulate dawn-dusk.> Thanks <No problem, Don> Brian

Question on this light setup Hello Crew, I have many questions and as soon as I read more on your great site I will then be prepared to ask some more of them. I have asked a few in the past and appreciate the great advice I've been given. My question this time is around lighting. I have a chance to buy a >Coralife 72" acrylic blk finish light fixture with ballast from my local want ads. It holds eight bulbs (4) 48" and (4) 24" (not included) for $200.00. Is this a good buy? I have not seen the item, but is there anything I should look out for? I can't afford much right now and I thought that this may be better than the two Twin bulb All Glass fixtures that I was going to pay 150.00 for brand new without bulbs. What do you think? <If these are NO fluorescents I would pass unless you only want low-light corals/mushrooms/leathers.  Use the NO you have now for fish only and save your money for better lighting for a 180.> Should I just get the All Glass fixtures? Right now I will be setting up my 180 gallon as a FOWLR, but I will want to set it up as a reef system a year or so down the road. Also will these lights be more expensive to run than power compacts? Should I just wait and get power compacts? <If they are NO, then yes, they will use more power to produce less light compared to either power compacts or Metal Halides. Metal Halides are the most efficient.> Thanks in advance for any help you can give me! Dave <No problem Dave, best of luck!  Craig>

Reef lighting and skimmers Hello Bob, Steven, others I have been reading your web site FAQs and other people's questions and your answers and they have been a great help in answering a lot of my questions, but some of them are actually creating more questions. About 10 years ago, in my previous life I had a 75G reef, with trickle down filter, bioballs, home made skimmer, and MH light.  I would like to get back to setting up a reef system again, and I know a lot of things have changed, so have been reading up on your web site trying to figure out what are the essential equipments that I need to get. As far as skimmers, I have been reading favorable readings regarding the Aqua Medic Turboflotor, but also some negatives regarding fine tuning and pump problems, lots of bubbles returning to main tank, etc.  I read a little mention of Euro-Reef, but not much was said, as I believe it is more expensive.  Assuming I am willing to spend up to around $300 on the skimmer, will I be better off with the Turboflotor, or a Euro-Reef, and if Euro-Reef, which model will you suggest for a 75G.  Also I have noticed that you favor the Eheim 1060 for the Turboflotor.  Is that for the intake of the skimmer only, or is it also being used to return the water to the tank.  If only for the skimmer intake, any suggestion as which pump will be proper for return to tank? <Euro-reef without any hesitation. The new ES will work perfectly. About $198 retail.  Set and forget.> On lighting, I was reading lots of favorable comments by Bob regarding the Vita-lite full spectrum bulbs.  I was pretty much convinced that is the way to go, as my previous experiment with MH was not that great, with the expense, heat, and fan noise, until comments from Steven Pro praising MH is the best way to go for "bang for the buck", and referring to Joshi's articles.  Since I regard Bob and Steven as great experts, this has caused a great confusion.  Will you please advise and clear up the confusion.  At the time I was keeping a reef tank, there was a lot of hype about Ice ballasts.  Is there a ballast that you recommend?  I would also appreciate if you could suggest a brand name for the lighting systems, as there are so many choices available, one can easily buy a product that was marketed very well, but not the best choice. <Depends on depth of tank, desired inhabitants. Bang for buck/light output/spectrum is in favor of MH. Ice Cap VHO is also a great choice with little chance of photo-inhibition from overpowering in moderate depth set-ups. The choice these days are too numerous to mention, do shop for the best deal on a ballast designed to drive the bulb of your choice (spectral and rendition choice). These come in Euro type bulb/ballasts and American type. Use the proper ballast for each. You can purchase fixtures from Hydroponic outlets for less and proper bulbs from many on-line sources. For a 75, 2- Aqualine 175 watt MH's or 250's would be a good choice. I recommend traveling to a few LFS to "see" what the lighting "looks" like before you buy.> Thanks for reading my email, and would greatly appreciate your time in replying. Amir <Hope this helps Amir!  Craig>

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