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FAQs about Light and Lighting for Marine Systems 14

Related Articles: Marine Light, & Marine Aquarium Light Fixtures and Canopies, Lighting, Lighting Marine InvertebratesAnemone LightingAcclimating Symbiotic Reef Invertebrates to Captive LightingCoral System LightingMoving Light SystemsMoving 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 11, FAQs 12, FAQs 13, 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 LightingSmall System Lighting, Lighting Marine Invertebrates LR LightingTridacnid Lighting

Many fishes prefer diminished light conditions of places to get away

Making A Big Lighting Decision! Hi guys, <Scott F. your guy tonight!> I have a question about metal halide pc lighting/vs. straight power compact lighting. I currently have a 36''x12''x30'' 55 gallon tank. I know I know it is a weird size. I dislike the 30'' deep part, but I will be upgrading to a larger tank in the future. I currently using 2 96w bulbs over the tank which is fine for my few fish, crabs and snails. <Sure> I would like to try my hand at some corals/clams/anemones which require intense lighting. Anyways, since I have a deep tank do I need to get a 175w metal halide system with 2 65w power compacts to light the tank for a max of 305w of lighting. <In my opinion, a tank 24 inches deep or greater should utilize 250watt halides. This will give you maximum diversity and capability. The PC's would simply be for aesthetics, IMO, if you want them.> I keep reading that I need metal halide lighting since I have a deep tank. Or could I get away with 4 96w power compacts for a total of 384 watts with the extra wattage compensating? <You might be able to get by with that scheme...for a while. However, if you're going to be keeping corals and investing a considerable amount of money in the process, I'd bite the bullet and start with metal halide. It will provide you the flexibility and power that you'll need to be successful with many corals.> I realize lighting is expensive so I want to make sure I make the best informed decision. And with everything out there I keep waffling back and forth. I just don't want to throw away good money for something inadequate for my needs, or perform a sad losing scientific experiment. Thanks Rick <Exactly my point, Rick! I'd go for the halides and not look back! Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.> 

- Lighting Questions - Hello, I have an 110 gallon Oceanic reef tank that is currently lighted by 4 48" VHO florescent bulbs.  I am looking to add more corals and clams to my tank and need to know if it would be a worthwhile investment to change to Power Compact lighting. <For the clam's sake, your money would be better spent on metal halide lighting. Your clam will likely not fare well under any amount of fluorescent lighting over the long term.> The Ice Cap 660 ballast I have is rated to power up to 4x96W  bulbs. <Uhh... four VHO bulbs.> I am trying to avoid purchasing an entire retro-kit since I already have most of what I need. <It is my understanding that PC bulbs require PC ballasts.> Can you tell me who makes the actual terminal pieces (4 pin plug)? <All manner of folk... do get in touch with your LFS.> All I have been able to find come with a ballast that I don't want to buy. <My friend, please research this a little more... do think you will find the Icecap ballast a poor match for PC bulbs and as I mentioned before, your clam(s) will slowly starve to death under this lighting.> Thanks, Brian <Cheers, J -- >

More Light? More Skimming! I have just recently got a 15 gallon tank started two weeks ago, this is what I have setup: 24" 55 Watt CP 24 lbs. Jakarta LR Glass top canopy Zoo-med PS-30 powerhead (190Lph rated) 2" Aragamax sandbed 13 hermit crabs 1 Emerald crab 1 pink something starfish 2 true Clownfishes Anyway, my problem with the tank is lighting, because the light is heating up my tank, so I had to buy legs for it, and after that it cured the problem, but now I feel like there's not enough light in there, never really was satisfied with the light, so I am planning to return the light and get a new one, these are the two that I am looking at, either a double tube 1-65Watt True Actinic 03 Blue and 1-65Watt 10,000K CFs, or same fixture 2-36Watts, both by Coralife. Is there such a thing as too much light? <Well, some of my SPS-geek friends would say a resounding "No!", but it is certainly possible to over-light some organisms> Would I be better off going for 72 Watts total? <I'd get the 65 watters, myself- or even 96 watters, if your system can accommodate 'em> I am planning to add quite a few corals in there later too, and if any room, anemones but not a must. <Best to keep anemones in a dedicated system designed for their specific needs> Coralline algae is starting to appear, but not too quick. Please let me know about your thoughts... :) <I'd go for the higher lighting, myself, especially if corals are in your future. Better to have too much light (and you probably will not) and dim it then to not have enough> Other than that, I am pretty unsure about the need for a protein skimmer? Does it prolong water changes only, or does it improve the general appearance of the water (weekly water changes now), coloration, and water quality? <Well, water changes should be a regular part of your maintenance routine, regardless of whether or not you have a skimmer. Skimmers are your "first line of defense" against declining water quality. They help remove organics from the water before they have a chance to accumulate and degrade the water conditions. I think that a skimmer is an essentially part of any marine system!> (ammonia 0, nitrate 5ppm, nitrite 0, pH 8.3 now) Thanks for your time and attention... Cheers!! Jagryes <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F>

Lighting a 75G Reef (3/7/04) Hello Crew, <Steve Allen tonight. Sorry for the delay. One of the crew is out and I'm helping to clear his inbox.>   I am learning a lot from your forums, thank you! <A pleasure> Anyway I haven't found my specific answer as of yet, I am sure it is here somewhere, but I can't find it. <Actually not, because there is no one specific correct answer in this case.>  I have a 75 gallon reef ready and plan to have a full blown reef, with some anemone, Mushrooms, Zoanthids, and other Corals, not sure just yet. <Best not to mix anemones and corals. Also, anemones are very difficult to keep alive. Search on a anemone and "mixing anemones and corals" or some combination of those terms to learn more.>   What lighting would you recommend, I found a good price on a TekLight 48" 4x54 watt T5 hood, or a Aqualight 48" light with 2-65 watt Actinic and 2-65 watt 10,000k straight pin compact fluorescence, would either of these be a good choice or should I look into MH?  Thank you in advance, for your help!  Sincerely, John <John, few on the crew have much experience with T5, but I'd suspect that the wattage is a bit low if you want an anemone. I love the PC's myself, but I use 6X65W over my 80G reef as I found that 4 really didn't seem to cut it. MHs may be a better bet for you. Check out the Aqua SpaceLight MH/PC combo--pricey, but a great light. Do read the articles on lighting on the site. Great info there. Hope this helps.>

Time for a new timer! I have to tell you guys its great to have somebody to question! <Well I didn't do it, and I have never been there!  j/k, Ryan with you today> Thanks for the help!! I just sent you an email about my 210 with the tufts on my angels. <Cool> I took the fish out of my 80 gal and turned it into a reef tank. <Great> I have a Tidepool II on it and a chiller. <Very nice> My local pet shop told me to put 160 #s of live rock and I wouldn't need a skimmer? <I'm not sure I understand their logic...Perhaps they make more from the sale of live rock!  There is no substitute for a skimmer in my opinion.  Live rock certainly is the best in filtration, but it's even better in combination with a skimmer.  Live rock certainly does not remove dissolved organics from your water.  In an 80 gallon reef, I would purchase 100 pounds of live rock and a nice skimmer from Euro-Reef or Aqua C.>  and said I should keep the temp at 74 deg? <A little low, but reasonable depending on livestock.  I would aim for 77-78.>  I am using two moon lights with both high output 50/50s with blue actinic and of course the moon lights. <Very nice> Another question I have is during the day my timers for the 50/50s are screwed up and turn off the white lights for about an hour or so and them they come back on is this a problem? <yes, I would correct at first convenience.>  some stuff closes up with just the blues but opens again when the 50/50s come back on. Is this hurting anyone (corals, polyps, worms?) <It's creating unnecessary stress on your tenants.  The ten bucks spent on a new timer is well worth it.  Good luck, Ryan>

Light question 2/27/04 I have a 55 gallon reef tank with only a small stalk of Xenia, toadstool leather, and a few trees of Caulastrea (waiting until tank is perfect to load up on corals!).  I have one 10,000K 175watt metal halide lamp centered in tank about 8 inches off water surface.   <perfect> Also I have 2 power compact  65watt actinic and two 65watt 10,000K power compact lights but they're about  10 inches off water surface (mounted to top of DIY canopy while the MH hangs a little lower).    <holy cow... these are high! They are useful for aesthetics... but little else> My question is: Should I try to lower the pc's a few inches, (say 5-6 inches off water) and should I change the 2 10,000K pc's to make all 4 actinic pc's (2 10,000K pc need to be replaced anyway).   <to be useful for corals... these and any fluorescents need to be no higher than 3" off the water. If you have any doubts, buy/borrow a light meter and you'll be surprised to see the values of these lights at various heights> Is there a way to know if metal halides need to be replaced?   <PAR meter... they are incredibly useful instruments. Worthy investments... see Apogee brand> I bought it about 4  months ago used, and I'm not sure how long the previous owner had it. Thanks <no way for me/us to tell without a PAR or Lux meter reading. Best regards, Anthony> Lighting Solution? First off, thanks to everyone at WetWebMedia for having such a reliable, great source of information.  You've been a great inspiration for my wanting to try having a saltwater tank, and your book was amazing (I look forward to more!). <We're glad to have been helpful to you! Scott F. here today!> My question is this: With the growing popularity of the screw-in compact fluorescent bulbs, would four bulbs, in two incandescent hoods be suitable for a fish, live rock, and easy/beginner coral tank?  I have found bulbs in the 30-42 watts range, which seems to equate to 100-150 watts each.  These bulbs have a color temperature of 6500K, and even can be dimmable. I have a standard 55 gallon tank, with about 4-4.5 inches of sand, and 70lbs of live rock (Tonga branch and Kaelini, with some crappy Caribbean I'm already trying to get rid of).  Current stock is  as follows: 2 ocellaris clowns 2 yellow-tailed damsels 1 Banggai cardinal 1 sand sifting star 1 banded serpent star 3-4 turbo snails The tank is about 3 months old now and seems to be quite stable. I do water changes/tests weekly, and everything is going well. I would like to decide on a good lighting situation before even trying to purchase any corals.  I haven't made any specific plans on corals, but I would like to move into trying them to bring some color to the tank. Thanks for any advice! -Kellie <Well, Kellie- it's an interesting proposition. However, lighting is one area of the aquarium hobby where I'd be inclined to pay the extra $$ and get a system specifically designed for aquarium use. Of particular concern are the ability of the fixtures to stand up to harsh conditions, and the potential for "drifting" of the useful spectrum into something that would not be so effective. This is just my opinion, of course, but I think that you're better of in the long run investigating a more viable, flexible  solution, such as metal halide or VHO. Yep- it may not be as "cool" from a DIY standpoint, but it makes more sense to me! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Proper wattage/color temp for saltwater tank Hi there, <Hi> I have a question about the proper amount of lighting for my new saltwater tank.  I am new to the marine world (but very educated in freshwater) and want to start off on the right foot. <Sounds good.> I have a 55 gal. tank, measuring at 48"L x 12"W x 21"H with a water depth of 20".  The tank is currently cycling and i am wanting to put live rock, fish and some inverts in it.  I am looking into getting/making a compact fluorescent light fixture.  What amount of wattage and color temp. would be best to have the LR bloom very nicely and also keep my various inverts healthy? <I'm sure you would be quite happy using 4x 96wt Power Compacts or using 4x 110wt URI VHO's (either setup should be fine). If you eventually want to venture into keeping tridacnid clams or Small polyped Scleractinians (SPS), I would highly recommend investing some money into metal halides. As far as fluorescent lighting comes (Power Compacts/VHO's), I would recommend 2x 10,000k bulbs along with 2x "03" Actinics. This color combination should be nice, however, most of the color temperature is all based upon personal preference. Generally, there is no "perfect" Kelvin temperature for keeping corals (Although, the lower spectrum bulbs usually contain more Lux, lumens, and PAR values). You may want to buy 3x "03" Actinics and only have one 10,000k bulb, or you may want to use all 7,500k bulbs or 12,000k bulbs. Most of this is all based on personal preference.> Thank you, <You're Welcome. Take Care, Graham.> Lisa

Moving Water And Bringin' Up The Lights! Sorry I have two other questions...for water movement in my tank I had planned on putting the return in the back middle, maybe with a T since it will be constant. <Or, you could use an alternating current device, like the SCWD, which alternates the flow in two directions> Also, I had planned on buying 4 Rio powerheads. 2-200 and 2-600 and put them at opposite corners and heights of the tank. Then put 1 of each on one timer and one of each on another timer to come on opposite each other so there is some what of a variety of current. <Personally, I don't like the idea of running powerheads with timers. It's kind of hard on most of them, and the benefit derived may not be worth the hassle, IMO. Just run 'em all the time. You could, however, use external powerheads, such as the Tunze "Turbelle" models, which can be run on a timer if you wish. And, being external, they will not impart too much heat into the tank> My last question is regarding lighting. I plan on having 6 46.5" VHO lights which will be on timers in pairs to come on 2 at a time then go off 2 at a time to try to mimic the day. Would I want 3 actinic blues and 3 whites? Please let me know what you think. Thank you...Butch <Well, it really depends upon the life forms that you intend to keep. Mixing actinics and full spectrum is nice from an aesthetic standpoint. No right or wrong here. Just choose a lighting scheme that suits the needs of your animals, and go from there! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

-Aqua Medic AquaSpacelight- I am eyeballing an aqua SpaceLight from aqua-medic. <Purty and well made fixtures indeed.> it has 2-250 1000ok and 1 150 20000k. it is very sleek and has an internal ballast system. I have a 90 gal reef tank to be and want to know what you think of this light and is it too much light for Zoanthids if I put them on the bottom of the tank?? <I think it would be a bit much if this was going to be an all Zoanthid tank, but most should do well in the lower to middle sections of the tank after a proper acclimitization to your lamps. Aqua Medic makes great lights, you can't go wrong with it! -Kevin> Joe

Lighting Quandary (Pt. 2) Hi Scott F, <Hi there!> In a reply to Lighting Quandary on 2/19/04 you replied: quote: "I don't see any advantage to doing this with PCs. Some people run a "peak lighting" period (like noon time) with halides, where maximum lighting is in effect for a few hours. Interesting, but certainly not required. I'd just run 'em all at the same time" <Yep- that's what I wrote!> Are you saying that all the hype of dawn to dusk, separate ballasts, switches are not needed? Or is that just for CF? Should we run MH's for 12 hrs a day? Wouldn't this "nuke" the critters? Is it not beneficial to have a gradual increase and then decrease in light intensity to simulate a natural day? <To put it simply, my position on this practice is that it is not necessary. It certainly is not harmful to have a simulated peak lighting period, but hundreds of thousands of gorgeous, highly successful reef systems are maintained by hobbyists without doing this. I believe that we do not need to make the care of our systems any more complicated than required, and, in my humble opinion, this adds just another element of complexity (ie- yet another timer, another electrical connection) to the system. I believe that we should be more concerned about the quality of the light, its useful spectrum, and the consistency of the photoperiod than we should about simulating this type of lighting fluctuation. If you want to do this- by all means, try it out. I have done this myself in the past, and was not really aware of any difference in my animals' health and appearance. I do like the idea of "moon lights", run according to lunar phases, however. There may indeed be some benefit to that practice. As far as "just running metal halides for 12 hours a day"- this is not a safe general practice, either. Many corals and lower-light inverts cannot tolerate the intensity of halide lighting. PC's are outstanding, as are VHO's, T5s, and even NO fluorescents in certain situations. The bottom line- the one hard and fast "rule", IMO, is that lighting should be designed around the needs of the animals first, and our aesthetic sensibilities second.> Now I'm more confused then ever?? (LOL) Thanks for shedding some light on this.:) <Yikes! Sorry if I confused you with my opinions on this topic! Like every fish nerd, I certainly have my opinions on lighting!. I really see no harm in your idea of a peak lighting period. Just do what you feel will be appropriate for your animals without driving yourself crazy with timers, electrical connections, etc! One of the best things about our hobby is that there really is no one "right way" to do anything! We're all really learning, and what may work great for me could be absurd for you! Enjoy the experimentation, and do share the results with your fellow hobbyists! Any time you want to stir up passions and controversy among reef geeks, be sure to bring up the topic of lighting! :) Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F>

Proper Lighting for a 33 Gallon - 2/20/04 Hey guys. First off I want to commend you on a GREAT website! <Well thank you for being part of it all> I just discovered it a couple of days ago and cannot believe all the information you have covered on it. <And growing> Best and most thorough site I have seen so far dealing with fish, heck anything for that matter. <That is what we strive for. Our modus operandi so to speak> I am a new saltwater tank owner who has no experience with saltwater tanks whatsoever (though I have been reading up on them and asking the LFS a lot of questions the last couple of  months.) <Remember fish stores are trying to sell you something. Always look for truth all that hear> I have 3 freshwater tanks in my home and have had them successfully up and running for more than 8 years, <Sound like me> so am not totally new to aquariums & keeping fish. <Always helpful> I have a few questions on my new saltwater setup that I was hoping you could help me with, but will not throw them at you all at once (I will space them out over the week if it is easier.) My first question has to do with the lighting in my 33g setup. I have sent along a picture to show my tank setup. I have had it up and running for 5 weeks now and have a false Lemonpeel angelfish, <Too soon for this fish in my opinion> 1 turbo snail, and 8 blue hermit crabs in it, along with a Featherduster, 2 polyps, and 2 mushrooms that the LPS girl gave me to throw in as well. <That was nice of her> My water and salt tests have been perfect for the last 4 weeks and my temperature is a constant 79 F. <That is what they should be> My problem is that I have no green algae growth, other than on the glass, and quite a bit of brown algae growth on my LR and the substrate as evident in this photo taken this morning. <Remember that this is still a new tank, and for all intents and purposes, it will be a new tank for about year which is about how long it takes for a tank to fully mature and minimize die off of live rock and stabilize the nitrifying bacteria colonies> I know this is normal the first few months but was wondering if my lighting isn't strong enough to support green algae growth, <If you have some on the glass then I wouldn't worry much> not to mention my polyps, mushrooms and Featherduster. I have two 36 inch Actinic Spectrum bulbs sitting in my cover that came with the setup, a blue 30 watt (80 LUX) marine-Glo bulb near the back of the aquarium and a white 30 watt (135 LUX) power-Glo bulb near the front. <That isn't much lighting> I have them on a timer and they come on for 12 hours a day. <Good> Is this enough lighting for this size of aquarium? <Depends on what you plan to keep Corals and fish or more coral than fish or coral only or fish only?> I know we will be adding some more LR in the next couple of weeks (it does look like we need some more, doesn't it?) <Dunno? You didn't mention how much you have> and probably a couple of more fish so want to get the lighting issued solved by then. <If it is a fish only tank or mostly fish then don't worry about lighting unless the corals you plan to keep are more light reliant. I think mushrooms and Zoanthids will struggle, but for the most part likely be fine in you setup as it is, over time> Also, I was told by the LFS that the mushrooms and polyps would spread like wildfire in time but haven't. <Well, still need time. Wildfire doesn't mean overnight. It will take some time and remember you stated this is a new tank and it takes time to mature. You barely meet the lighting requirements for these corals. Research your animals, know their needs before purchasing or receiving, for that matter. Also, give them time to acclimate. This can take weeks or months in some cases.> Could this be a lighting issue also? <Truthfully, with these corals, you barely meet their required lighting levels. In my opinion, you could use an extra white colored bulb (50/50) if you want to stay with the NO Florescent bulbs. You could also upgrade to T5 or Power Compact or even halides if you plan to keep more light reliant coral. Otherwise, I would just give them some time and be patient> The Featherduster is always opening up and seems to be doing okay under these same lighting conditions. <Alas, the feather duster is not photosynthetic. It really could care less about the type of lights you have on the tank. Be sure to feed the feather duster. That is where it gets its sustenance from.> We hope to have a nice balance of invertebrate and fish down the road if this helps. <Depends on what type of invertebrates. Please read through our site on all the above questions for expansion. The information is out there for the taking> Thanks in advance and keep up the excellent work, <Thanks to you for being part of it all ~Paulo> Mike

- Lighting Question - Hi it's Jonathan, I would just like to say thanks for all you're help (Especially Anthony). I've pretty much made up my mind about getting a 90gal tall. I only have one question and it's about lighting. The 90gal has a light length of 48". The light hood take two 48" lights and My local pet store has gas a 50/50 reef sun lights. I was just wondering if you think they would be a good light. <I'm not familiar with this brand of light, but if this is to be a fish only tank, then this lighting will probably be fine.> I also have a few pictures that I took with my digital camera of my fish. I as wondering if you would like to use any for your site. <The best way to share these images would be to sign up for an account on our forum, http://wewebfotos.com/talk and then you can upload photos attached to your account for all to see.> They are Firefish, Clark's clownfish in anemone, glass goby and hopefully a good picture of a Blackray goby. I also have a chocolate chip starfish and a full size feather duster. <Cheers, J -- > New Neighbors-New Lighting-Old Dilemma! Helllooo again, <Heeeeey! Scott F. here today!> I just recently wrote you guys about some clownfish questions, particularly a mix of a Sumatra clown with a pair of true Percs.  Which I've decided against. <Not a bad decision, IMO!> Unfortunately, I now have to remove my two damsels which are causing too much trouble for the two Percs.  This brings up my newest questions.  What can I replace these guys with?...I have a 70g tall tank that is going to be stocked heavily with soft corals and GRUNGE from Garf.org.  I was thinking about adding a red mandarin (Pterosynchiropus splendidus var.),  perhaps a mystery wrasse (Pseudocheilinus ocellatus),  and lastly I'd like to add a Copperbanded butterfly.  The first two I can't really see a problem with.  The mandarin would a have good supply of natural food from my sandbed and GRUNGE.  The wrasse I've found to be reef safe as long as well fed. <Well, you seem to have answered your own question on these guys. I agree- if you have the food supply and environmental "infrastructure" for these fishes to settle in, they could be fine. The Mystery Wrasse is quite expensive; do make sure that you're up to the challenge!> The butterfly I don't know about and have heard mixed stories. <That's exactly my experience/opinion. Some thrive and some simply waste away. One thought: Copperbands do feed on some of the same dietary items as your Mystery Wrasse and Mandarin would. Having three micro predators in the same small environment could devastate your population of benthic creatures in no time...However, if you are inclined to try the Butterfly, do get one that was collected and handled well. A good source for quality fishes of known origin is Marine Center.> All of these fish don't sound too aggressive so I think they'd get along well.   <As above, I don't think aggression is really gonna be the issue here> My Percs seem pretty  mild tempered, and for a precautionary step I could rearrange the rockscape if you feel it necessary to add any of the fish. <Well, it's never "necessary" to add fish! Just fun! And rearranging the rockscape cannot hurt...> This next question is not so much related, but I thought I'd ask.  I'd like to upgrade my lights from 3 VHOs to 1 250w MH.  Is this enough light for a tall tank like this,  and would 20k's dispel too much blue light for what I'd like to keep? <I think you'd see nice results with the halides, particularly if you are leaning towards corals and other photosynthetic inverts in the future. As far as "too much blue light"- it all depends on the animals you intend to keep, and their specific requirements> If so what about some of the lesser colored lights (14k, 12k, etc.). <Actually, I think that you mean "whiter" lights, like 10000k or even 6500k (which is actually yellow in appearance). I find 12000k, 14000k, and even 20000k ranging from aesthetically stunning to extremely blue. Again, choose a bulb that suits the needs of your animals, and satisfies your sense of aesthetics (although that should be a secondary concern, IMO!)> I hope I'm not asking too much, but you guys have never steered me wrong and it seems you're one of the only places that has answers without a dollar sign hanging on it (damn LFS)!!  Either way thanks once again for the info. - Chris <Hey- that's why we are here! Glad to be of assistance!> P.S. last email someone told me to support your guys endeavors as much as possible.  What ways can I help you guys out? <You already have! Just enjoy the site, share with others, and tell your friends about WWM and our resources! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

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 I have a 125 gallon tank that Is fish only but I want to start corals. I was going to buy two 36 inch double bulbs power compact from coral life. This will cost about $400 total Is there a better lighting system in that price range? <That seems very expensive.  You will not be able to keep many corals with that lighting system either.  You would need a least double that to keep most of the  lower light corals healthy.  I would also do a ton more research before you spend any money.  I would first start with deciding on the type of corals you want to keep and then compare the different lighting choices available.  Check some of our sponsors for more options and good prices.  We also have tons of info on our site: www.wetwebmedia.com> Also I have a wet dry and was told to take out the bio balls with live rock?  I also have a H.O.T magnum running and was wondering is it was necessary with the wet/dry with protein skimmer.<I would replace the bio balls with live rock because the bio balls raise your nitrates and cause algae and the LR add more biological filtration.  Cody> Thanks Steve

More Light Required? Hi, guys...You've been very helpful to me on several occasions in the past, and I would like to ask you another question. <Sure- ask away!> I converted from a 65 gallon reef tank about a month ago to a new 140 gallon tank, and I used the old lights on my new tank.  They are four sets (two lights to a set), 96 watts, 10,000K PCs, a mix of white, blue actinic and a combination of both.  But the new tank's canopy is larger and can accommodate more PCs (I have decided, for now, to stay away from halides, as I don't expect to stock any sps or clams). My prior service guy suggested adding several more PCs, given the larger tank, but he changed jobs and I now have a new service guy.  The new guy came out to the house today, looked at the tank and said the corals look great (mainly soft corals, including leathers, etc., and several peaceful fish), and said I didn't need any new PCs (that the existing lighting would be just fine). Who is right?  I am worried that the corals look great now, but may deteriorate eventually if there's not enough lighting in the tank.  Should I worry, or should I assume that the new guy is right -- and that no new lights are needed?  I should add that the tank is quite deep (front to back), 24"; the length is 54" and the height is 24".   Thanks for any suggestions you might have. Best, Ralph (Block) <Well, Ralph- it sounds to me like the new guy is right! If your corals appear to be thriving, and everything looks good, I'd leave things as they are for now, particularly if you have no immediate plans to work with more demanding (from a lighting standpoint, anyways) corals. You can always upgrade the lighting as needed. Be sure to change the bulbs as they age, to make sure that they are always in top condition. Enjoy! Regards, Scott F>

More Light Required? Hi, Scott...thanks much for your quick -- and helpful -- response. <Glad to be of service!> I will definitely follow your advice, and defer additional lighting until such time as I go with more demanding corals (and I'll watch the age of the existing lights...they've been in for about 6 months, so they may not have more than another 3-4 months of life in them). Best, Ralph <I think that you're making the right move, Ralph. See how your animals are doing, then upgrade as necessary. this hobby is expensive enough without purchasing stuff that you may not need at this time! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Shocking reflector 1/12/04 hi,  I am hoping you can help with a question I have regarding halide voltages. I have just retrofitted my 46 gallon bow with 175w Ushios powered by a blue wave 2(ps) and 2 17000k 96 w pc's. I have noticed that if I contact the reflector and the water with a bare arm I get a small zap. I am an auto tech by trade so know something of electrical theory, be it 12volts dc. So I measured the ac volts between the reflector an the water and found around 22 volts ,obviously this prompted removal of the fixture and full investigation. It is definitely being generated by the halide (proven by switching everything else off) but I found no sign of a short. I ran a ground wire between an outlet and the reflector which had no effect. <Did you test the voltage between the water and ground?  It could be that the water is "hot" and you were getting shocked by the competent ground of the reflector.  Metal halide and florescent lamps are known to create and inductive current in adjacent conductors (salt water).> I have all this wired through a GFI but it is still concerning me where this voltage is coming from. The reflector is a PFO and came with the mogul installed, I just wired the sunlight cable to it, the ground for the cable connects to the reflector which seems normal. I do not know what amount of voltage is being produced by the ballast and am wondering if it is a significantly high figure is it normal for there to be some excess voltage produced just from the way these bulbs/ballasts work. I would use ohms law to calculate the voltage but I don't have enough parameters on the outputs of the ballast. Could it be possible there is a problem with the ceramic socket? <I would test several things.  First, measure the voltage between the reflector and ground with the lights running "on the bench" away from the tank.  If you do not measure a voltage, the fixture is fine.  I would also measure the voltage from your tank water and ground with and without the lights on.  A voltage here with the lights off indicates another appliance is leaking current (powerhead, heater, etc.).  With the lights, your lights are inducing a current in the water.  If induction is occurring, you can try raising the lamps or  wrapping the first couple of inches of the fluorescents in foil.> I have found your site invaluable over the two years.  I have been reefkeeping and am hoping you can help me shed some light sorry that just came out) on this problem, thanks in advance, Liam. <Glad that you have found the site beneficial.  Be glad we don't punish bad puns<g>.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Some Light Conversation...(Lighting Questions> Hi all!  Well, I have about half a dozen questions running around in my head and since you folks are my favorite source of information...here goes. <Scott F. at the ready...> Thank you ahead of time for your patience and wisdom!  I currently have a 55 gallon saltwater tank (~1.023-24SG), all the tests that I normally run (Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate) come up 0.  I keep maybe just a bit more than 60 pounds of live rock that I add to regularly as my finances permit and I have an ungodly amount of live sand (ungodly = 120 pounds dry and ????lbs wet)  Everything runs just beautifully (at least as far as I can tell)  As for the inhabitants, I have a few random inverts running around (in the form of red-leg hermits and a mix of snails) a flame angel, a maroon clown, two silver-tipped sharks (Arius seemanni), a target mandarin, a pair of scarlet cleaner shrimp and one peppermint shrimp...I think that's all.  Anyways, these kids get along great, my only complaint is that the clown is a bit nippy (but that's to be expected)  Anyways, everyone dishes it just as well as they take it and none are worse for the wear.  But this brings me to my first question -- I want to get a second maroon clown, I really love the attitude of these guys. But when I went to the LFS and saw some tiny little maroon clowns the guy that was helping me said every time he's tried introducing a new maroon to his old setup, the original maroon has killed it. <Not an uncommon occurrence, unfortunately> The little clowns at the LFS were so adorable, there's no way I could get one after that.  So I fished around on your site and I've seen some things that say it can be done.  The one suggestion that I remember most said that you should get a significantly smaller clown so that dominance is established quickly and no one gets seriously injured.  How much smaller is "significantly smaller"?  The clown I have now is about...oh I'd guess 2 1/2 to 3 inches. The ones at the store are a very petite inch, maybe slightly less.  Are they small enough? <Sounds about right. It is still a risk, though- so be prepared to take emergency actions if required...> Any advice on how to introduce a new maroon would be fantastic, I'm definitely willing to make the effort, but I don't want to take a big chance with the little ones life! <I'd follow the course of action that you're planning...> Ok next!  I recently got new lights, they're more than four times stronger than the lights I was running before (72 watts to about 440 watts!) and I've been carefully running the lights for a little longer every few days, no bleaching or anything, it's going really smoothly, so my question with this is with 440 watts, can I get a clam?  I was looking specifically at T. croceas and T. maximas.  My tank is about 12" deep and the lights are about 3" off the top of the tank, in my mind this seems sufficient, but I want to double check. <Well, in a 12 inch deep tank, this should do the trick. At last year's MACNA conference in Louisville, Barry (the owner of ClamsDirect.com) and I were checking out some exhibitor's displays with clams lit by T5's, and he was impressed...And he KNOWS clams! Normally, I'd be a it hesitant, but in a shallow tank like this, you should be okay...> Almost done!  Thinking still about lights, is this setup sufficient for a bubble tip anemone once (*if*) I get a second clown? <I'd be a bit hesitant on the BTA... T-5's are powerful lights, but I'd call this "borderline" for an anemone...I'd pass until you get a better idea of what these lights are capable of> And on that same note, Acroporas, I've seen varying accounts of how much light they need, would they work in my tank? <I'd give the Acropora a try. With the shallow tank, you could probably be successful with some of the less demanding Acropora species. Start off with captive-propagated frags. Supplemental feeding will help compensate if the lighting is not up to par...> Ahh, I'm all out, thank you so much for your help, I really appreciate it, you folks are the best! Rachael <Best of luck with your system, Rachael. Let us know how it goes! Regards, Scott F.> Lighting 2/8/04 I have a 140 gallon tank that measures 48" Wide x 27" deep (top to bottom) x 24" back.  I currently have a Blue Wave II 400W MH lighting on this system (recommended by my LFS, which I do trust more often then not) with 10k Venture bulbs.   <nice hardware... but rather bright unless you are specializing mostly in sps corals and clams. Else, too much light IMO> I have been reading on your FAQs all day, really wanted to make sure things are ok/going to be ok, and get your recommendation.  The lights are mounted on the canopy which is 10 1/2" from the water surface, and I have two fans mounted on the back.   <yes...this is appropriate (if not in need or being placed higher) for such high wattage halides. The result is that you are paying more for electricity to reduce higher wattage lamps than you need. You could pay less and get more bang for your buck from 150 watt HQI halides at 4-6" off the surface> I live in Fresno, CA. <Ha! I stand corrected... you are not paying more, you are getting hosed in electric costs (Cali utilities!). Really, my friend... the lights are more than you need. They are commonly sold and recommended not because they are the best lighting for reefs, but because there is high profit to be made on them. 400 watt halides are an industrial staple (construction, warehouses, schools, etc) and can be obtained for about $50 per ballast. Resold to pet fish/aquarium people... there is (lots) of money to be made. Yikes!> and right now the temps in my house are usually around 65-70 throughout the day, and my tank can reach anywhere from 82.5 to 83.5 depending if I have the front of the canopy open or not. <on the high end of comfortable, but tolerable> Personally this is a little to high for my tastes, but I am really worried about the summer time, when temps can easily break the 100 degree mark where I live on a very frequent basis.  I do have many coral in this tank, which I will list at the bottom of this Email.  I am also a little worried that I may have too much wattage from what I have been reading on your lighting FAQs. Below is a paste from an answer Anthony Calfo gave to a user that has me a little worried... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Metal Halide Hi guys, can I use a standard Hibay metal halide ballast and reflector for aquarium lighting, if so how many watts is too much, my aquarium is a 125 gallon reef and I have two 400 watt units. Thanks, jjk <I would never recommend it for most any aquarium, although I favor MH lighting. 400 watts is an obscene and potentially dangerous amount of light for aquaria less than 30" and for anything there except for some sps and clams. A few hardcore aquarists have lucked out with these lights but most aquarists struggle with stressed animals under these lamps. Even 250 watts if too much for most systems. There have been some complaints too about the industrial fixtures exploding some aquarium designer lamps or not firing them at all. Despite all of this, the light you pick ultimately depends on the livestock selection. You must pick your intended corals before you know how to light them! I personally wouldn't take this fixture for free... too many hassles. If your tank is simply 24-30" deep and you want good lighting... buy a 175 watt 10K Aqualine MH lamp for every 2 feet of aquarium length. You need no other bulbs/actinics, etc. Best regards, Anthony> So I guess my question is...do I have WAY too much lighting for my tank, and do I have my coral and other inhabitants in any danger.   <by the list of clearly low to medium light corals you have... yes. Way too much> Would I be better off with 250W halide?   <yes... or lower> Any answers and other insight would be GREATLY appreciated. <do look into lower wattage double-ended HQI lamps... outstanding value, quality and life> thanks for your great site, and help. Phil <best regards, Anthony> My coral...       Crocea Clam Blue (2)        Red Sea Pulsing Xenia (2)        Short Tentacle Plate Coral        Green Button Polyp (2)        Purple Mushroom        Red Mushroom        Yellow Toadstool Leather Coral        Orange Leather Coral        Green Flowerpot        Purple Flowerpot        Kenya Tree        Doughnut Brain        Daisy Coral        Elegant Coral        Torch Coral

Lighting 2/8/04 Hi it's Jonathan, Love your site read it everyday. One quick question I am upgrading to a 120deep reef tank. I  am not real familiar  with  the wattage that tanks need. For my forty six bowfront I have a 50/50 Reef Sun .I was reading one of your articles about a guy asking about lighting for his tank. I was wondering how many watts you need for every gallon in the tank. <we have extensive articles and FAQs here at wetwebmedia.com on the subject. Please do take the time to navigate the pages placed there for you and others like you my friend> I'm looking something fairly bright since I like to have coral and I love! anemones. <the two should almost never be mixed together. It is unnatural and even when not, is at least a recipe for disaster in he long run. Motile cnidarians should not be kept with sessile ones. Beyond our archives explaining why, any research you could make into the natural habitat and biotopes of anemones will reveal all to you> I have read articles where you have been to Fiji and other places and have meetings. <I am surprised, honestly, in light of your inexperienced questions (the last 3 you have sent). Much more to learn here my friend> I was wondering what else your group does, and where your located. Thanks for all your help <we are a volunteer group of enthusiasts, friends, content providers (articles, books, webs, etc) and adventure travelers. Our activities are mostly posted daily on the daily FAQ page here at wetwebmedia.com Anthony> Lighting/Lux meter 2/8/04 I would like to comment on a practice that has worked for me and am wondering why it is not more widely used. Most of the problem with lighting today I feel has to do with intensity, or lack thereof, than with the quality of light spectrum. Many bulbs today have excellent spectrums and you can educate your self on this point fairly easily. Its getting the right intensity on the different unique organisms that is tricky. I have found using a light meter to be extremely useful in this regard. The naked eye is a horrific judge of exactly how light or dark an area of a tank actually is. A method I have found works well for me is when I go to the local fish store I bring my light meter and a gray card with me. I simply place the gray card next to the coral I am interested in and take a light measurement. This gives me a general idea of how much light acclimation will be involved from there tank to mine. If the coral seems to be flourishing in there tank will probably put it in a similar metered area in my tank. Also, when replacing bulbs you can take a measurement before and after the bulbs have been changed to see how greatly your light has fluctuated. Generally when acclimating I always start with one f stop below what ever light they were under before and work up just to be safe. It is also frustrating when you talk to someone who has many species in their tank and all they can tell you is how many watts are in there overhead lights, this gives you no real picture of how much light is getting to the coral because the intensity of light can fluctuate greatly throughout a tank depending on its design. Also, you naked eye is a very poor judge on exactly how light or dark your shaded areas are( they can be vary deceiving). I know corals are able to adapted to many lighting schemes but I think as a whole we could be more accurate as a hobby in keeping light level parameters that are more accurate than the ones presently used. You can get a good light meter for $100 dollars or less and given the expense of the animals and other equipment in the hobby I don't know why they aren't used more. You can take reflective measurements through the glass or you can put you meter in a heavy duty Ziploc bag and take ambient light readings. I have lamented that mail order houses can't give you a light meter reading on the amount of light hitting the coral you will purchase in there tanks. Also, its so much more accurate than bright, somewhat bright, somewhat shady, or what ever those vague terms mean. Hobbyists could pool there readings and set up parameters for corals that where quite a bit more accurate in my opinion. Thank You Greg Kirton <thanks you very kindly for sharing your thoughts/experiences, Greg. They will be duly posted and shared for all. Best regards, Anthony> Lighting questions Hello, I have a 50-55 gallon tank that I will be switching my current 37 gallon eclipse system over to in a month or so. My question concerns lighting. The tank is about 50 inches long and only about 16 inches high. What kind of lighting would be adequate to keep some anemone in there? And if I were to move to coral later, what kind of lighting would I need in that event? Also underneath I have a 20 gallon tall that acts as a sump/refugium. It will only be a little over half full most of the time. I want to grow plants as well as other beneficial vegetation in there. How much light would I need for that? And could I put one together from a hardware store or do these specialty aquarium lights provide some kind of needed advantage? Thank you. >>Hello Brian. If you want to keep corals, you should invest in the best lighting you can afford. This will improve your chances in keeping them alive, and allow you a bigger choice of livestock. Minimum would be power compacts. Metal halide is always good. For anemone's, you need good lighting, for sure, although you will find many experts do not recommend keeping anemones and corals together. If you cannot afford metal halide, then I recommend you get some pc's and start with some lower-light soft corals, like mushrooms and colt corals, etc. You can go with regular to high-output bulbs in your refugium, depending on what you wish to keep in it. Specialty aquarium lights are made specifically for corals and marine life. Actinics and daylight bulbs, specifically. Go to your LFS and see what they have on sale :P -Gwen 

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

Beware the Light at the End of the Tunnel - It May be a Train!  Another Lighting Question Hey guys,  Just got my tank cycled and added 1 lemon peel angel. I also added 10 snails and 6 hermits and a horseshoe crab for good measure. My question is I have live rock and want to add some inverts, and corals. I bought a Coralife Aqualight with two 10,000k full spec and two blue actinic. Each lamp is 65 watts. The tank is 55 gals With 2 Fluval 404s and red sea skimmer and 300 watt Rena heater. Will I have enough light? Thanks. your advise was extremely helpful with selection and setup of my first marine tank.  <Hi Erik,  Your lighting sounds okay, although you will be limited when it comes to various species of stony corals. With your current lighting, you may be able to keep Mushrooms, Zoanthids, Palythoa, and other various species of single organism (colonial) polyps, Leather corals (such as Sinularia), Colt corals, Capnella sp., etc. Such soft corals should do fine in your setup, provided that water quality is good. Once you've seen those corals growth and thrive, you may want to start venturing into the large polyped Scleractinians ("LPS"), such as corals in the genus Euphyllia (including the frogspawn, hammer, Torch, etc.) I would stay away from any of the small polyped Scleractinians (SPS), such as Acropora, Montipora, Porites, etc. Good luck, and if you have any further questions please feel free to email one of us.>  Take Care,  Graham Stephan 

Lighting questions for a reef - 2/1/04 Hellooo there whoever this may concern, <Heylo> I'd like to start off by saying thanks for all the help I've written you guys before. <No worries. Be sure to support our endeavours whenever and wherever you can>  I have a new question that I can't seem to find any concrete answers on. <Let's see what we can do>  As of right now I have a 75g tall tank that has 3 three foot VHO's in it. <OK. Size doesn't matter....wait>  I'm looking to upgrade to a 175w halide retrofit kit into my canopy.  My question is what light combinations could I run? <Well, you tell me. It depends on what you plan to keep, your budget, and space in your canopy (and more specifically, how you deal with the heat)>  Specifically what color temperature combos work best between halides and VHO's. <oh, 6500 and 10000 are usually where people get beneficial spectrum and good visual aesthetics>  I'd assume it depends on what you're trying to grow. <Are reading as I'm typing??>  I'm ultimately looking to grow many varieties of xenia, Zoanthids, mushrooms, and sps corals (Acropora mainly). <You'll need a much higher light intensity. More like one you might get from a pair of 400W halides. Remember that you have a 75 tall. See here for more information on lighting: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm It's all in the articles and the links> From what I've heard most of these corals are fairly light dependent the exception of the mushrooms which will be placed low in the tank. <Yes indeed>  With those corals in mind what Temp halide would you recommend. <It isn't just the Kelvin output of the bulb, my friend. PAR saturation and intensity is the order of the day, and you will need plenty in a 75 tall. Please read through the lighting articles for more information. No need to re-invent the wheel> I love the look of 20k's with blue actinics from the VHO's but I'm afraid that might be too much blue. <The actinic means little in the scope of reef building. It is really more for human aesthetics and not for coral building per se. We, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, as well as the many personal tanks I own and help with, don't even use actinic light at all.>  Any suggestions on color temp and combos of lights would be GREAT. <Two 400w or one 250 and one 400 with 6500 and 10000k would look cool and be beneficial in growing coral, if I had to be forced to answer> Like I said you guys have helped me before and I'd greatly appreciate the help again.<Well, we appreciate your being part of it all> Your work is invaluable! Chris aka Fishtank <Well, thanks for the kind words and be sure to support our site!!! ~Paul>

Lighting 2/2/04 I have been reading a lot about lighting, and have been hearing a ton of different opinions.   <not much controversy needed if/when you tale the time to pick a compatible group of corals/inverts and then address their lighting needs. Shallow water SPS corals = bright, warm daylight (6k K to 7k K)... deep water Corallimorphs and LPS (moderate wattage cooler lamps (10k K range)... Metal Halides over 30" + deep tanks... fluorescents are fine over less deep tanks, etc)> I have a 55 gallon tank with a 2x65 watt Coralife Aqualight.  I am trying to do low-light soft corals for now and will eventually upgrade to a 4x65 watt light or a metal halide.  For corals I have some kind of colonial anemone (I think it is Palythoa - the store had it marked as Goniopora but it is definitely not), a green star polyp, and a tiny stalk of non-pulsing Xenia high in the tank.  Is my lighting adequate for what I have now? <It seems weak even for low-med light soft corals unless you can heap all within 10" of the surface> What other low light soft corals would you recommend for the setup I have?  I am trying to find something very colorful.  Thanks, Ken <low light soft corals tend to be brown my friend... because, in part, they do not need the colorful proteins to reflect excessive (not here) UV light. Your best bet for color in this case will be Corallimorphs and Zoanthids in my opinion. For a lighting upgrade, you would not be disappointed to add a single 150 watt double ended HQI lamp to the present outfit. Excellent all-around light. Anthony>

Lighting question 10k K vs. 20k K 1/30/04 Thanks for the quick reply. One last Q....I have 20,000K hi intensity white (fluorescents). What's the major difference between 10,000K and 20,000K...? <the cooler temp of the 20k K bulb indicates that it peaks high/excessively in the cooler (blue/violet, etc) end of the spectrum. This makes some corals look very nice, but is far more "blue-white" than needed by any coral. This color light is produced at the expense of warmer daylight which could yield better growth for you. I recommend 6500-10k K if good growth is a primary goal. Anthony>

Lighting Question III 2/2/04 So 2(Two) 20W 10,000K hi intensity and 1 20W 20,000K Actinic is the best way to go for growth....Thanks Jess <not exactly... quoting from our last e-mail: "I recommend 6500-10k K if good growth is a primary goal." And to be even more specific, lamps with colors over 10k K are frankly excessive it he blue spectrum. Use them only if you want/need them for aesthetics (a good reason... but not for maximum growth). Anthony>

Lighting...question IV 2/3/04 OK...one last time....sorry....What if I changed them to be all 50/50's....I'm looking for growth vs. aesthetics.... <your inexperience is shining through, and that's not a bad thing. But you simply need to do more reading/research before rapid firing questions or making impulse purchases. 50/50 is not a lamp color (as indicated by a CRI rating or a color temperature in Kelvin)... it is a marketing/trade name. For the 3rd time, my friend... seek bulbs in the 6500 0 10,000 Kelvin range of color for optimal growth of most popular corals. Speaking to the 50/50s you have seen... you need to discover if that particular lamp falls within that color range if you'll take my advice. Anthony>

Lighting (suggestions) discrepancies Dear Bob, Why does Anthony Calfo say to choose a light with a minimum 6500 K to 10,000 while you indicate that between 5000 to 6200 which is equivalent of our sun. Am I reading incorrectly? Anthony also indicates that below 6500 will allow growth of nuisance algae. I was set to purchase Vita-lite plus but now I am confused. Any clarifications would be greatly appreciated. Chris <Mmm, will have to ask Anthony here as well... my opinion is that most anything above 5,000 Kelvin is fine for most marine aquarium use... higher incandescent temperatures are fine... and though the light-extinction coefficient works against their penetration in water as well, do "look nicer" to many folks... do get more useful (PAR) light/lumens/photons down to photosynthates... One way I might put this apparent difference (if Anthony weren't about to respond), would be that he thinks starting with a higher temperature light source works better. Bob Fenner>

Re: Lighting (suggestions) discrepancies Agreed. The warmer/more natural Kelvin lamps are much better for growing most coral. Aquarists keeping shallow water species report better results with using lamps in that 6k K range. But do keep in perspective, Chris, that you need to choose your corals before you select your lamps (and before you hold anyone accountable for a necessarily generalized statement;)) If you end up keeping a mixed garden reef tank like most folks with (unnatural) mixes of corals/Corallimorphs/Zoanthids from rather deep and fairly shallow water alike, then you will need a more standardized lighting to suit all. And if the Corallimorphs and Euphylliids (octopus, torch, hammer, fox corals), e.g., do not wince under heavy daylight, they at least will look simply awful. They are some of the popular corals that favor a cooler colored lamp.  Add to this mix the too common reality of weak water changes and modest skimming in many aquarists tanks and you get a recipe for accelerated brown algae growth under very warm lights.  So either lighting scheme can work well with some finesse.  My hope is that you plan for long term success and make your list of corals in advance to replicate a more natural biotope (shallow water sps, deep water soft corals, gorgs of the Carib, etc) and do not make your hobby and more difficult by keeping unnatural tankmates.  Its much easier to tailor hardware (lights, water flow, etc) when you do this... and a much more attractive presentation IMO. Best regards, Anthony

Lighting discrepancies II 1/30/04 Anthony, Thank you for your quick response. <very welcome my friend>> I  have been out of the marine aquarium or about 12 years and have now a custom in wall tank of 280 gal. empty. <ah, welcome back my!> Lots have changed, or I guess I should say, lots of advancements since. <exactly... even in just the last 5 years. The commonplace breeding and rearing of seahorses... tangs being spawned... dwarf angles (Flame, Interruptus) being produced commercial/tank-raised, etc> Please do not think I meant any harm. I am overjoyed with the site. What an education you guys give.  <no offense taken at all, my friend... and my concise emphasis was intended to help you and in light of the number of questions we get on this topic. Its easy for one to get led astray. Moreover, lighting technologies evolve faster than most any other in our biz... thus, something written 6 months ago can easily be outdated. 'Tis the reason for evaluating your tank inhabitants needs before pondering what lights to buy. Else its like putting the cart before the horse> I am simply at a loss and wanted clarifications for my own info. I failed to mention that the tank will be a fish only (for now).  <ahh... all good. At this point, make your decision largely on aesthetics (liking more yellow/warm light or blue/cool whites). For like rock health, future  corals and a slight edge on nuisance algae... I still suggest you opt for a slightly bluer color (closer to 10k K rather than 6k K)> It is epoxied plywood three sides with the face side glass with synthetic coral also epoxied to the rear wall of the tank that in my opinion looks quit realistic. <sounds very neat> I hope to be able to keep it this way without having lots of algae cover them. They are colored very realistically. They cost a lot and have come from various sources. I even was even going to use a trickle wet dry filter that I purchased and now after reading about nitrates that result (also adding to algae) I have decided to use a large skimmer (aqua c I think) and in the sump add live rock or live sand.  <yes... agreed... live rock, skimmer, love sand and skip the trickle filter unless you plan to keep rather large fishes> Could I impose on you again? I read that Knop Aquarientechnik has a good air skimmer that supposedly accomplishes better results (that is, removes more bad stuff and less good stuff) than downdrafts and venturi. Is this true? <different styles of skimmer (air driven, various venturis... aspirated, downdraft, spray infection, etc) each do pull different components... each with advantages. My personal experience with many years of air driven 6' German-style skimmers in my greenhouse and personal displays sides with air driven models.  And Knop is an excellent brand> Could you help me with what size and type of skimmer is best? Money is not an option. <simply heed the manufactures advice and size up at least one model for room> Should I also put live sand on the tank bottom and if so how much? <in the display... 1/2 inch or less or over 4" for denitrification. You can also get denitrification from a deep bucket of sand tapped inline below with the sump/plumbing instead of a deep sand bed in the display> I really do not have a lot of room for much live rock in the tank with all the artificial corals. <this is clearly a big disadvantage. Perhaps keep a vat/vessel of live rock inline below with the sump/filtration> Should I put live sand or live rock in the sump.  <either or both. Do get out to see some local aquarists displays for perspective. Find a local or regional aquarium club (keyword search on the net, our WWM links, message boars like reefcentral.com) with forums. The experience and perspective will be invaluable> I am hoping to achieve good water quality with the protein skimmer and live rock/sand. I even am thinking of two skimmers. One for the skim layer of water and one to be placed in a sump. I simply want no ugly algae to form. <the algae is natural and inevitable. Can be controlled with aggressive skimming (two skimmers cleaned alternately are better than one... do consider)> I will purchase a RO/DI. Any recommendations here?  Kent has a model Max60HiS 4 stage that sounds good to me. <I am not a big fan of Kent products for many years. Do check the message boards here for consumer perspective on what's hot and what's not currently. My personal choice is a Kati/Ani 2-column deionizer (no waste water... a beauty). Drs Foster and Smiths are one of the bigger distributors of this model.> Thank you, Chris Drialo. <best of luck! Anthony>

Cloud cast dimming 1/30/04 I have recently read some info on the benefit of having a cloud cast dimming system for your reef, to simulate thunderstorms, passing cloud cover etc.. I have read that it can be really helpful in reducing oxygen toxicity due to oversaturation of coral tissue with photosynthetic oxygen. <interesting but debatable... to date, its only regarded as useful with sighted animals (fish and some invertebrates like shrimp) to manipulate breeding cycles mostly> It is unnatural for every day on the reef to be perfectly clear and sunny. What is your take on this? <agreed... but it must be kept in perspective: most reef tanks are an unnatural mix of animals from many different parts of a reef. Some are getting more light than they hailed form, others are getting less... and most all are simply adaptable to whatever is new, in time. Stating that variable lighting for over illuminated corals is beneficial presumes that you know the limits of your corals needs, history, and tolerances. And I do not know anybody that knows this info about the corals they keep. Not even most of the folks that collected their own. Short of knowing your PAR meter intimately, the theory is interesting, but purely pot luck style experimental> What is the best way to create these simulations. I have a PFO shimmer hood with 2 250 watt halide bulbs and 2 96 watt power compacts. would just turning of the halides for 10-20 minutes twice a day on a timer while leaving the power compacts on work. How hard would this be on the halide bulbs? <I strongly suspect you will fare better by concentrating on consistent, quality light and water clarity (daily ozone use and/or weekly carbon changes). Although corals may hail from areas with variable light from thunderstorms, that does not mean they will not fare better with more sunny days. Its the very thing that coral farmers and other indoor growers of a variety of farm products (hot house flowers, hydroponic veggies, etc) exploit - the optimal conditions that these organisms do not get in the wild. Because it is natural does not mean its optimal> Also can you create a good NNR filter filling a 5 gallon bucket with river gravel or sand and running water from the top down through a hole in the bottom? <It actually can be done simply by having a deep static bed (60lbs of oolitic sand in a 5 gallon bucket) with water passing slowly across the surface in a flow through design) Finally in my main tank I want to use a sugar fine sand that does not hurt the PH or quality of the water but also doesn't dissolve, preferably white in color and cheep. I will be using Aragamax in my sand refugium so that should help as a buffer as well as my calcium reactor.   <OK> Thanks, Greg Kirton <best of luck... Anthony>

Fluorex lighting for aquariums I ran across a new product to me. It is the Fluorex Lighting system. It claims to be as good as metal halides. But with no heat transfer. Have you heard of the product? And if so what is your option? They claim that if will produce 500 watt of light and give off the same blue wave that I need for my corals. Is this possible? <Mmm, well the light spec.s of these lamps are fine... but they do require specialized fixtures... and ones that aren't very saltwater resistant. Please take a look here re their manufacture, use: http://www.energyfederation.org/loa/default.php/cPath/25_173_481> I have a 500 gallon tank that I am thinking about using them instead of my metal halides. If the information is correct it sounds to good to be true. No heat. <I would keep searching... perhaps other fluorescent technology (T-5) will suit you... but I strongly suspect that for this time frame (as in now) and the size system you have... MH technology is the route for you to go... esp. if you intend to maintain, hope to grow high light intensity photosynthetic marine organisms. Bob Fenner> Thank you for all the information. Best Regards: Devon

Re: Fluorex lighting for aquariums Hi Bob Thank you for your response. I felt that you are right once I checked around and educated my self-a little more. I just wanted to get away from my metal halides. Best Regards: Devon <I hear you... MH's are expensive to buy, operate, produce copious amounts of waste heat... can be dangerous... but for deep and large systems they are the best available, most appropriate lighting technology (currently) for providing PAR and looks. Bob Fenner> Aquarium lights???? 1/30/03 Hello,  I have been into saltwater tanks on and off now for about 14 years.  I've been "on" now for the past year or so and loving it again! <Hi Dan.  Adam here.  Welcome back to the addiction!> I have a 46 gal euro tank. (bow front)   I currently have a 36" JBJ 96 watt light on it.  My tank is doing so well I'm starting to turn reef.......  adding corals and inverts.....  I just added some starburst polyps.  They were an awesome green in the store but look more brown in my tank. <Starburst polyps?  Not quite sure what these might be.  Please use scientific names when possible.  In any case, an immediate color change is generally just a change in appearance from being under different colors of light.  Gradual color changes are actual changes in the coloration of the coral and can be due to changes in the quality or quantity of light.> Some sun polyps, Yellow leather coral,  Kenya trees, a sponge and some other misc corals finish off the tank. I know  I'm at a point where I know I need more lighting....    I'm told that metal halide is the best way to go.... however I'm not ready to spend that kind of money. <This is understandable.  Metal halide lighting is absolutely NOT necessary for the maintenance of most corals, particularly in such a shallow tank.  Depending on many factors (the animals you wish to keep, heat control, long term operating cost) they may not even be the best choice.> I can get a  4x96W retro kit relatively inexpensively.   Is this the best way to go?  What would you recommend?  I'm really wanting the "best bang for the buck". Thanks for your input........ I appreciate it immensely, Dan <4x96w PC's over a 46 gallon tank is quite a bit of light, and will be plenty for any photosynthetic animal you wish to keep.  If you choose this option, please do increase the light slowly (perhaps 1x96w per week or two) to allow your current animals to adapt.  I personally am not a fan of PC's for their high replacement cost, multiple (and often confusing) wattages and pin configurations, and the presence of many cheaply made lamps on the market.  PC's don't offer any significant advantage or disadvantage in terms of the light that they provide or efficiency, so if initial cost is important they may be the way to go.  Hope this helps.  Adam>

Metal halide  and actinic lighting - 1/28/04 Hi to the experts that can shed some light, <Maybe> What is the average life expectancy of a 175MH bulb run on a conventional ballast. <The approximate time depends on the bulb but the average is about 12-15 months>  Or, when should they be changed to avoid color shift? <same> I have read anywhere from 6 mths to 2 yrs! <Two years is extreme maybe at most 15 months but that is very extreme> I realize there is variations with the brand, ballast, temperature etc, <Yes> but with all things being equal what would be a good estimate. <I think 12-15 months is about right> Also If I run 2 175MH 13k, is it necessary to supplement with twin 96 Watt actinics or is that to much blue? <the actinic color is more for the human aesthetic aspects than for actual coral coloration or growth. Not to say that there isn't some benefit to your corals but for all intents and purposes, it is minimal. We do not use them in the Monterey Bay Aquarium coral tanks or grow out tanks, nor do I use them in my tanks>  Should the CF be more like a 10K or even 6500 for good all around coral growth? <If for coral growth, then I wouldn't even worry about CF/PC at all. Save the money! Either use 10K metal halides or a mixture of 6500 and 10K. If you don't like the look then add the CF/PC actinics. I personally feel the 6500 and 10K bulbs look more natural to the true reefs I have had the pleasure of diving in. Hope this helps. ~Paul> Thank you for your assistance.

Reverse daylight question 1/28/04 Hi guys, Thanks again for all the useful info. <Always a pleasure!  Adam here today, BTW.> My question is on my refugium I am setting up.  I am setting up a display refugium that will sit next to my 75 gallon display.  Water is being fed from my sump to the refuge and back to the sump.  I have had a 20 gallon high drilled with 3 holes and bulkheads on the back and on the top.  2 - 1" for overflow and 1 - 1" for the return.  I have 60 lbs of Natures Ocean "Live" sand for my substrate.  I did not buy this overpriced stuff for any other reason than this refuge is being hooked up to a tank that has been running fine for years and I did not want to have a sand storm for days waiting for things to settle.  So I spent the money for "clean" sand. <Sounds like a nice set up.> Anyway my main question today is on my lighting.  I want to have macros and some LR in the refuge for nutrient export and food for my tank.  I have read allot about the benefits of running my lights on a reverse cycle from the main display.  I will have a PC unit I believe it is called Moonlight lamp.  It has 2 - 65 watt PC bulbs and two Moonlight bulbs.  Since this tank is in my office at work and located next to my display with it's 2 - 175 watt 14K MH and 2 - 40 watt 50/50 actinic / daylights it will never be dark during the day in the refuge.  Does this overflow of light cause problems that I should be concerned about.  I could possibly create a dark "boundary" between the two tanks however, room light etc will still be an issue.  Obviously, I may be worrying to much about this but in my quest to not have problems I figured I would ask the pro's... Thanks, Dave Thanks and have a great day! <I don't think you will have any problems.  I would recommend Chaetomorpha over Caulerpa for a wide variety of reasons including the fact that it doesn't crash, it makes better habitat, and it doesn't produce as many toxic metabolites.  If you are concerned, paints designed for glass are available.  Painting all sides but the front viewing panel will help keep out extraneous light.  Best Regards.  Adam>

- Light and Heat - Hello WWM crew. First off thank you for all the great advice over the past year. Depending on who is reading this you may or may not recognize the email address. I have finally completed the exodus of my 7 gallon "Nano" to a 34 gallon tank, with a 10 gallon refugium. I set up my 34 gallon tank about a month ago. I moved all my inhabitants from a 7, and a 10 gallon tank to much roomier confines, this past weekend (little over 3 week cycle time). NH4- 0, NO3- 0, NO4- 0. PH- 8.2, SPG- 1.025. The dimensions of the tank are 20"L, 19"W, and 23"Deep. Almost a Cube. I run a Emperor 280 for Mechanical filtration, a protein skimmer (Cant remember the brand, I bought it 4 years ago, but its a good one.. spent $225 on it, the label has since worn.) I get good amounts of "gunk". Its a hang on, I really don't have room for a sump. I have one Rio 600, and one Rio 200 Power head for current, They along with the skimmer out, and the filter out provide good current, but I would not say that the Current is super strong. I live in Fresno California, so the winters here are cold ant the summer hot. Temperature regulation on my smaller tanks was easy. This one though is seeming a little harder. I keep my heaters set at about 80 degrees F. this is due to the higher summer temps. easier to heat than to cool. I added a 175 Metal Halide to the 2 32w PC's I already had. my Hood is open in the back, and there seems to be good air flow for the hot air to release. I started running the PC's 1 hour before turning on the Halide and leaving them on 1 Hour after turning off the Halide with the Halide being on for 11 hours. with the PC's on the entire 13 hours. <That's a lot of light.> in the morning when before the lights come on I am at 80 degrees. But right around when its time for the Halides to go off I have noticed getting temps at 84 degrees. with the following critters would I be best only to run the halides for say 8 hours? <Or perhaps even less.> and the Pc's 13 hours? <I wouldn't light any more than 12 hours.> I don't have the money for a chiller. The halide is 8" from the water surface, there is no glass cover, and the compacts are 6" from water surface. Its a 12k Halide, would a 10k put off less heat? <Probably not.> would it still be enough of the "right" kind of light? 1 LT anemone (had one year, and its the centerpiece of the tank 2 Ocellaris Clowns (I think mated since they share the anemone with out any fuss) 1 Toadstool a few small rocks with various Ricordea Mushrooms 2 frags of xenia (5-6 small stalks), small frag 2" diameter green star polyps Fairly good size 5" diameter pipe organ coral Clean up crew of snails and crabs Coral Banded Shrimp Camel shrimp all but the xenia, star polyps and some of the mushrooms have been in my tanks for at least 6-8 months. I have not seen any real health change with the rising temp, but its only been about 5 days. <You are on the edge of trouble - a couple of degrees more and you will see the effects.> The xenia seems to retract at the end of the day, but not until the last hour or so. and the anemone also recedes a little, but it always did that at the end of the day, he only closes up completely about once ever couple months (I think this is due to a couple day lapse in water changes by my part, I usually do them about every 10 days... if I wait more than 14 he tells me its time..:) Basically is a four degree flux as bad as I have heard from some people? <It's not in your or your tank's best interest.> and is 84 really to hot? <It is about as hot as is practical - much more than this and you will start to lose livestock.> would a decrease in Halide time give enough light for my corals and still reduce temps? <You'll have to try and see... halide lighting over tanks of this size tend to heat the tank no matter what. You might want to experiment with some well-placed fans blowing over the tank or sump's surface to see if you can bring the temperature down.> one last thing, My Girlfriend has just gotten into the hobby she absolutely Loves Ostracion cubicus, or yellow boxfish. We found one at the LFS last night and put it into a 20 Gallon tank that has been Cycling since before Xmas. Right now its the only inhabitant, (damsels went back). its about an inch long. if that. LFS had him for about 3 weeks, and he is very active in his new digs. My worry is his size. I told her that he gets big, and the LFS told her it would take at least 2 years to outgrow the 20 gallon... is this true? <Depends on how much it is fed.> If so that's ok, because by then I will have a nice big tank for him. at least a 175. I am using an Emperor 280 filter that was on a tank recently broken down... (never stopped using actually. there is some macro algae on it and he seems to be munching on it with fervor. The LFS told us he has been eating Mysis. What would you suggest he be fed? <Mysis... really anything meaty is preferred - if it eats algae, that's not a bad thing.> She is going make the Tank into a FOWLR system, are there if any tank mates she could add in the future until he outgrows the tank? like grammas? gobies? Firefish? starfish? shrimp? <I wouldn't add more than one fish from this list - the shrimp will likely become food.> thanks again Aaron <Cheers, J -- >

CUSTOM SEA LIFE- GOING OUT OF BUSINESS 1/19/04 Effective immediately, Custom Sea Life (CSL) is going out of business. They are closing their doors, not because of bankruptcy or business problems, but due to a personal decision made by the owner. Through an arrangement with CSL, Champion Lighting will honor all CSL warranties on items purchased by Champion's wholesale, service, public aquarium and retail customers. This warranty will apply to all CSL products purchased in the past and for all current inventory, including refurbished items. As always, Champion will continue to inventory replacement parts for virtually all CSL products. This includes CSL PC ballasts, metal halide ballasts, fans, sockets, UV's, chillers, and lamps for both the Power Compact and Metal Halide fixtures.  We will continue to distribute and warrantee Velocity pumps. In the near future we will also be carrying replacement product lines for the PC Moon-Lite, Smart Lite, Power Compact line, Power Coolers, and UV sterilizers under the "Currents USA" brand name. We will continue to carry comparable metal halide hoods, retrofit kits, ballasts, etc.  Be assured that your Custom Sea Life fixtures, hoods, ballasts, chillers, etc. are not orphans. Customers that have purchased or are planning to purchase CSL products will be accommodated by Champion Lighting in every way. Feel free to contact us with parts needs or any concerns with CSL products. Champion Lighting and Supply Co. www.championlighting.com 800-673-7822 <Steve Allen called and spoke with Ken Wong of MarineDepot(.com) re CSL and they have closed their doors all of a sudden... they will continue to sell CSL's stock till it's all gone. Strange. Good bye Dennis and good luck. Bob F>

Lighting Question (1/22/04)    Help!  <I'll try.> after reading the articles & FAQs on lighting, I'm still having a hard time figuring out what configuration of bulbs I should use on a 4x96 W PC hood for a 125 gal (22 inches deep) tank.  I would like to grow soft corals and LPS.   I believe the fixture comes with 2 10000K white and 2 7100K blue. <actinic> Is this a good combo, or just what the manufacturer wants to get rid of?  which bulbs & how many of them should I switch out for actinics? <none> Is 1 actinic is enough? <Actinic is merely aesthetic. Not beneficial from a photosynthetic standpoint. I'd just keep the bulbs you have. If you don't really like the blue, replace with 10K whites.> if so, won't all the actinic light be on one side of the tank? (sorry if this is a dumb question).  what to use for the other lights?  keep both 10000Ks? or switch out for 6700 or 8800?  <I'd stick with either all 10K or half 10K half actinic. Be wise in your choice & placement of low- to medium-light corals and you should get by with 4X96W. Be sure to learn the feeding requirements of each.>    Any light you can shed would be greatly appreciated! Beth <Hope this helps. Steve Allen.> Choosing The Right Light! Hello Crew!!!  I love your site! A lot of great info! <Glad that you enjoy it! Scott F. with you today!> I have a 55g FOWLR at this point due to my poor lighting.  My LFS sold me a 55w 50/50 36inch when I setup the tank.  I'm told that that is sufficient for the Tomato Clown, Yellow tang and couple of Damsels that I can't catch to take back. <Well, not a problem for fishes, but for photosynthetic invertebrates, it may fall short...> I am thinking of upgrading to an Icecap 430 or 660 w/ 2 95w VHO actinic white and 1 95w VHO blue lights.  I want to get some anemone's, softies and maybe some LPS. Is this sufficient lighting for them to be happy? <Well, VHO lighting is great stuff, but for optimum health of anemones, you'd be best putting your $$ into metal halides, IMO. Sure, VHO will work fine with many corals, but halides offer greater flexibility, if you ask me (and you did!). I am told that this lighting setup would be at the low end of the spectrum.  Is this true? <Well, again- it depends what you're keeping. Plenty of people grow SPS corals with nothing but VHO, but in very shallow tanks. Again-for the anemone, I'd recommend halides> That would be 340w,which is 6w per 1g.  I thought that 5w per 1g was sufficient for a successful tank. <Honestly, I don't think the "watt per gallon" rule is really applicable to reef tanks, at least in general. Thousands of watts of the wrong kind of lighting will be, to borrow an Anthony Calfo analogy- as useful as the keys to a thousand cars in an empty parking lot...It really depends on the animals that you intend to keep, and their specific needs. Utilize spectrum and wattage of lighting that is most appropriate> If you have any other suggestions, I would greatly appreciate them. My budget is slightly limited.  I'm looking to spend less than $300.  Keep up the good work!!!!

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