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FAQs about Light and Lighting for Marine Systems 15

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 14, 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

Metal halogen question Hello everybody I hope all is well. <Hi Chris, MacL here> I had a question about lighting my saltwater aquarium.  I recently got a new job were we use low voltage out door lighting with mr16 halogen bulbs. I was wondering if I could use mr16 for my various tanks fresh and saltwater. <I believe that you can but you run several risks.  Metal halogen can explode if they get wet and I'm not sure they will have the correct spectrum.> Do they make bulbs for such applications? <You'd have to talk to the manufacture about spectrums that they have. I might add though that they did use halogen in Japan but they had them elevated WAY WAY WAY off the tank.>  I haven't been able to find anything out about this and I know you have way better sources of information than I do.  Thank you in advance for any help.  <Hope that helps MacL>

Lighting Change Hello, <Hi Jeffrey MacL here with you today. Sorry about the delay in your response.>  how are you today my lighting right now consists of a 20 watt standard tube which is going to be converted into 50/50 daylight actinic 18 watt. I also have a 18 watt standard tube which is going to daylight 18 watt, and I have 2 10 watt daylight bulbs. My question is what can I grow in my tank with those lights <Is your tank fresh or salt water.> my tank is a 30 gallon, 19 inches high, also I was wondering what NO lighting stands for. <It stands for Normal Output.> Thanks for your time, Jeffery

- Aquarium Lighting - Hello everybody I hope all is well. I had a question about lighting my saltwater aquarium.  I recently got a new job were we use low voltage out door lighting with mr16 halogen bulbs. I was wondering if I could use mr16 for my various tanks fresh and saltwater.  Do they make bulbs for such applications? <Not directly for this application, but that wouldn't stop you from applying them.> I haven't been able to find anything out about this and I know you have way better sources of information than I do. <Would probably be fine for general purpose lighting, but would not be a good replacement for higher intensity lighting like Metal Halide. It will really depend on what you're trying to accomplish.> Thank you in advance for any help. <Cheers, J -- >

Do I need halides, or are compact fluorescents enough? Dear WWM crew! << Blundell here. >>    While I'm in the process of tearing apart my tank and resetting it up with more live rock and reef-safe fish and inverts, I would also like to upgrade my lighting. A year from now I'd like to try out a few corals -mushrooms, leathers and star-polyps. Maybe some Zoanthids too..  The said coral will be within 15 inches of the water surface.  The tank is a 72G bowfront -22 inches deep.   Currently I have a Coralife single strip PC fixture with 2X65 watts 50/50 daylight/actinic bulbs. Here are my options. a)       Coralife dual strip PC lights -4X65 watts -130watts of daylight and 130 watts of actinic. Is this sufficient for what I want to do? << Yes, for lower light corals that is fine.  Not a bad set up, but if you do decide later on to try stony corals, you would need to upgrade again. >> b)       At twice the cost, Hamilton metal halide fixture with 2X175Watt 10K bulbs. Will this be sufficient without any additional PC/VHO/NO lighting? << Hmmm, well that is sufficient amounts of light, and I like the halides.  However, without some actinics I'm not sure I would go that route.  Two halides with two actinic compacts would be fantastic.  Or even two halides that are around 20k would be fine. >> c)       At even more cost, Hamilton MH 2X175W 6500 bulbs plus two 110W actinic VHO. Is this overkill for what I want? << That is awesome.  If you can afford that, you won't be disappointed.  It is overkill for the corals you listed, but it is great for stony corals if you do go that route.  So I guess the real questions are do you know for sure what you want to keep, and how much can you afford. >> I'm hoping to get away with just PC lighting if that is possible. << It is for those corals listed.  They'd do well, maybe even better with more lights, but it is needed. >> Thank you, and sorry for the barrage of questions over the last few days! Narayan <<  Blundell  >>

Lighting Question (PC to VHO Switch?) <Ryan today> hey I was wondering I'm using a PFO 13k MH, I was wondering is this brand a good brand metal halide to use or should I stick to Ushio bulbs. <Never heard any complaints about the brand, but not personally familiar.  Should be fine, depending on the animals you're keeping.> and also I'm using power compact should I change it over to VHO what do you guys recommend. <I don't see a big advantage over PC with VHO...T5 is nice, though.> please help thank you <Have a nice day, Ryan>

Lighting Upgrade Dear crew, <Hi Matt, nice to meet you> I have been considering a lighting upgrade for my 120 gallon ( 48x24x24 ) FOWLR tank for some time now as I want to start adding some corals, and eventually a couple of clams. I have been looking at the 150 watt DE HQI lamps for some time. However I have also noticed the price difference to upgrade to the 250s is quite small. I plan to mount the lights 8" above the water's surface. I am sure the clams would love the extra light but am wondering how lower light corals, like mushrooms, would deal with the 250s. <In my experience its better to get the 250's. You can always place the mushrooms lower in the tank.>  What do you think? If I keep the low light corals at the bottom of the tank would the be alright? <Generally people don't get high enough lighting and then have to upgrade. Its better to get lighting high enough to keep just about anything you wish to. MacL> Regards, Matt

How much light and water movement do I need? Hello, << Hi, Blundell here. >> I have found your site to be a vast store of knowledge and consult it daily for new information; I have several questions for you. First I have a problem with high calcium levels in my tank, which is a 72 gallon bow front with 50  pounds live rock , an Eheim 2227 wet/dry,  4 inches of live sand , a remora pro skimmer , 2 250 MH Ushio lights , soon to be also 3 32 watt pc antics, and a 1/10th pacific coast chiller. I also have a SCWD hooked to a via aqua 3600 for water circulation from two standpipes with flex tubing outlets. Also the chiller return from an Eheim 1060 goes to a spray bar, <enough circulation? > I have calcium levels in the tank of 500 ppm, I finally found the source of this to be my well water, as it has 240 ppm of calcium, and as I was replacing the evaporative water every fey days it keeps the calcium high, I don't want the hassle and waste of a ro unit so I am going to purchase a Kati ion unit, My question is do you need the Ani unit as well or just the Kati? I am going to plump the Kati and the Ani if I get it as well from an ice maker valve under a sink to them and then to a float switch in my tank to make an auto top off system? << You don't need both, but most people who are willing to put forth this much effort in purifying their water will just get everything they need. >> See any problems here? << I don't see any problems, others may not like the idea, but I'm fine with it. >> Second question is I keep having a problem with green algae on the glass and brown <diatoms maybe> on the sand, I have no detectable silicates or phosphates and no ammonia or nitrate-nitrates..? << I would increase water motion in that area, and also grow more macro algae to compete for nutrients. >> The other question is when I install the pc antic bulbs I know I need them closer to the water than the MH's but will the MH's shining on top of the pc's hurt them? << No, but I would just mount them together anyway, otherwise you will get a shadow from the bulb. >> If I put a reflector on top of them it will make a shadow in the tank wont it? << Yes, it isn't bad, but most people don't like the look. >> I currently have the MH's about 10 inches off the water but when I get my custom canopy , < I have a temp one now , bow front canopy's are expensive and hard to find> I was wondering about raising them, to cut down on evap and heat transfer, what is a good distance? << I like to have my halides about 2 inches above the water.  I want them as close as can be (with a piece of glass in front of them).  I would suggest the same, but add fans to reduce the heat. >> I keep them on for 12 hours a day 10 to 10. Is this too much or can I go more? << That is fine. I run my lights for 14 hours per day. >> I also have a under sink water filtration unit plumbed into my chiller feed line to serve as mechanical filtration, I was wondering if the 5 micron size was too much filtration or should I try to find a higher micron rating? << That is fine. >> Just trying to get everything stable before I add corals and more fish, I currently have a yellow tang and a clownfish. My sand and rocks look yellow brown and dirty no matter how often I water change or vacuum the sand, the tank is 8 months old. I have a good amount of skim mate, it drains into a collection container, so I don't know how often the cup fills up, and it is green in color. Temp is kept at 78 degrees. Sorry for rambling, I know this was a long email, << Not sure how much live rock you have, but you could use more. >> Thanks in advance << Good luck. >> Eric D Smith <<  Blundell  >>

Do I need to use the same bulbs as I already had? I recently purchased a 100 gallon reef tank (60x18x22) with two 250w metal halide and two 110w actinic VHO. Unfortunately one of the VHO bulbs broke while moving the tank. Now I am looking for the right bulb to replace it. The bulb was a Hamilton "super actinic blue". Should I replace the bulb with a Hamilton actinic or a Uri actinic? << I don't think it matters.  URI are probably more common right now. >> I will probably replace both VHO bulbs because they are about 8 months old. Also, the metal halide bulbs that I believe and was told are 10,000k, seems to have a slight yellow tint to them. << Most 10K are. >> My 10,000k NO bulbs on my 55 seem to be more of a cool white with some blue. Do you think the MH bulbs is 10,000k or something else, maybe 6,500k? When will the MH bulbs need replacing (they are also 8 months old)? << It isn't a bad idea after 8 months. >> I would like to keep some SPS corals and maybe even a Tridacnid clam. While my lighting be sufficient? << Keep the clam up near one of the halides, and you should be fine. >> What bulb combination would be right to keep the SPS corals healthy? Since I might just change all the bulbs would you replace some with 12,000k, 14,000k, or even 20,000k bulbs? << I think 10k halides with at least 2 VHO actinic is good, but trying getting 4 VHO actinics in there if you can. >> IMO, when the light is a cool white blue color it looks the best. However, my tank is not very deep so it might not be necessary to go with anything over 10,000k especially since I have the actinic. I do not like a yellow or pink looking light. I would like to know your expert opinion about what combination would be right. << Crap, you said expert, I shouldn't have answered because I'm definitely not an expert. >> Thank you so much and sorry about the length of this email, Andy <<  Blundell  >>

Combination Lighting Question Hi, <Hello, Ryan with you today.> Hope all is going well there. <Kinda foggy in SF!> I have a couple of questions please. I have a 75 gallon F/O NLR tank with a pair of false Perculas, a flame Hawkfish, 1 coral beauty angel and a royal Gramma. <OK> I am thinking of adding a wrasse, and was hoping you could recommend one that is pretty, easy to keep and will be compatible with the other tank mates. <An member of the fairy wrasse family is superb.> Are there any that could be kept in pairs? <Finding them in pairs is the tough part...The Marine Center is one of the only places I know that offers pairs of rare fishes.> Also, I have a lighting question.  I would like a suggestion on a bulb that will bring out the colors in the fish the most.  I am currently using GE full spectrum bulbs, but have read somewhere that a 50/50 full spectrum and actinic blue would bring out the colors more.  Please let me know what you think. <Yes, I think that a combo bulb is the best for bringing out color.  50/50 would work nicely!> Thanks for your help, James James Hall Lighting needs of Mushroom Anemones? Hey, how are you all? << I am well >> My lighting right now consists of 2, 10 watt fluorescents and one 20 watt full spectrum tube (standard) can I have any mushrooms in there with that low light level if not mushrooms anything else? << I think you can, but barely.  I would try a couple little mushrooms and see how they do, before investing in a whole colony. However, if you are planning on expanding your invertebrate selection (and I'm sure you do) then I would definitely recommend upgrading your lighting system. >> I have no problem with growing algae! LOL. My tank is 19 inches tall thanks for taking time to read this. << I'd stick with algae, it is much cooler than coral (don't tell Calfo I said this). >> Jeffery <<  Blundell  >>

How Much Light do I Need for a 30 gal? Hello WWM Crew, << Blundell again. >> In response to your advice I have been looking at a lighting upgrades for my 30- gallon reef tank.    I was looking at a 36" setup that could hold 8 HO output T-5 bulbs. << Sounds good.  I like that. >> This would give me 312 watts total but the cost is very steep (474.99)and the hood comes without the bulbs.  Whereas there is another hood that holds two 96 watt bulbs (192watts) for about half that price and comes with the bulbs. << This is okay for most soft corals, but it is pushing it for most stony corals. >>  Could you advise me as to what the best product are and where I could get them?  Also, as I am not the richest person just having graduated from college, what the best deal would be for my money? << The best deal is probably HO T-5's.  I like halides much more, but the bulb cost and replacement costs are a problem. >> I understand that this is a difficult question to answer but I am hoping from your vaster knowledge I can get an answer.   Originally I was not supposed to end up keeping the tank, as it was a project for my aquatic biology class.  Now though, as I ended up not selling everything, I would like to provide the best possible care I can for my reef. << I would also recommend looking at other similar sized aquariums.  See what you like, and what you want to have. >> Thank you Blundell for answering my last question, I would appreciate any help the Crew can provide on my problem. Regards Jess <<  Blundell  >>

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

Upgrading Lighting 7/7/04 Hi, I have a 55 gallon tank with very bad lighting its about 30 watts in total. <this is very low indeed if you are looking to grow string macroalgae on your live rocks, or keeping most popular corals or anemones> I need to upgrade it and am going to do so this weekend... the only problem is I don't know what to get. What is you advice? <a rough rule of thumb is 5 watts per gallon, your best value (lamp life, quality of light, "bang for your buck") would be a pair of metal halides... two 150 watt HQIs for example (6500-10k K). No other fluorescent lamps will be needed unless you want extra blue for aesthetics> I need some thing that is effective but cheap enough. the aquarium is a fish only but I hope to upgrade it to a reef tank. The tank is deep enough and fluorescents expensive enough to replace every 6-10 months that I feel best recommending MH to you. I'll be posting a DIY MH canopy article soon on this site. We have many other articles and information on reef lighting (use "reef lighting" in a keyword phrase from our home page wetwebmedia.com I the Google search tool... you will find much more information therein). If you are remotely handy, you can get the ballasts from a lighting supply company for around $40... ceramic sockets for around $10 each... wiring harness also quite cheap. And a length of 1"x8" pine plank for a raw canopy to be painted and polyurethaned for just a few tens of dollars. Look for other DIY plans for this on the web at big message boards like reefcentral.com or my fave DIY list at ozreef.org. Best of luck! Anthony>

- Jalli Web Site - Do you know how to get a hold of Jalli mfg. I have a Jalli a18 & the 1st section (switch or row of lights) went out. I'm wondering if any repair parts are available. Thanks ---- Corey <I'm not sure that they do, and if they did the likelihood that it would be in an Asian font is pretty good. I'd work through the folks you obtained the light from to get it either fixed or replaced. Cheers, J -- >

Needing your "bright" ideas Howdy y'all,     First of all, I love your site. It's great just to peruse the pages and pages of information. Many times I just type something I am interested in and see what pops up! Anyway, let me get to my questions. I have a standard 75 gallon tank that I am getting ready to set up as a reef. I have been learning since Christmas what it takes to be successful in this hobby and I think I am finally ready to get going. My first and most important question is a lighting question. I understand the "rule of thumb" regarding wattage per gallon but have read a few different answers to questions such as mine. I currently am setting up my tank with VHO lighting. I was originally going to set up 6 46.5" (48" won't fit in my canopy) but was told by my LFS that I only need 4. I know to begin with I will not try to keep any SPS corals because of their delicacy. << You can't have too much light.  I would suggest 6 of the 48" fixtures on a 75 gal.  Since they won't fit, I would definitely go with 6 46.5". >> I would like to have the ability to add them if I decide to. If I need 6 lamps for that It would be easier  put them in now rather than later. << Agreed, put them in now. >> So in your opinion would 440w be enough or am I better off with 660w or if I ended up adding SPS coral would I need to change to MH anyway in which case it would not be necessary to add the last 2 lamps now? << You wouldn't need to add metal halides, but I like the idea of it.  I would still go with 6 bulbs now.  If you end up switching to halides then you can always use these bulbs for other stuff. >> Also what ratio of bulb colors would you recommend in both scenarios? << I say half bright white, and half actinic blue. >> I also plan to turn these lights on and off in stages to help mimic sunrise/sunset yes or no to this? << I like this idea, I think it looks cool. >> My last question is a substrate question. I plan to have live sand as my substrate. I was looking today and saw that I could buy aragonite that is extremely fine (like beach sand) and what they were calling pink Fiji that was not quite as fine. Is there a rule as to coarseness of your substrate and can I buy half of it not live and seed it with live to save a little money and what is your recommendation on number of pounds to put in the tank? << Easy question.  I like some fine sand on the bottom (about 1/2 inch) then about 3 inches of coarse sand (like the Fiji Pink or even larger).  I would seed it with about 5 pounds of live sand from a friends tanks. >> As always I appreciate your knowledge and time….Thanks…Butch <<  Hope that helps, Adam B.  >>

Moonlighting Hello Crew, I am looking for some of your wise and insightful wisdom and advice. I am thinking of adding moonlights to my tank. Lighting in the range 470nm to 480nm.   I have a 125g long with 40g sump with macro algae, protein skimmer and a mag 2400 pump. 2 250W 10k metal halides and 2 95W VHO 50/50 bulbs, 100 lbs live rock, adding various corals and fish slowly. Sticking to my stocking plan (about 1/2 way through) that was shared with your crew and was given a ok with some suggestions that I have readily taken. The tank has been up and running for 6 months with no problems at all. Showing lots of growth and new life and your identifier page has been great finding all the new critters growing. ph is 8.4 and nitrate, nitrites and ammonia all 0. Calcium is `440 and alkalinity is 8.3. I have been doing some reading about moonlighting and the advantages it could have on the tank but I have also read that it has stressed fish and corals but some of this I read it sounded like to me they did not have the right light range and messed up in other ways as well. What is the crews advice on moonlighting. Looking forward to hearing from you. << I see very few benefits to moonlights, but I see no costs associated with them.  In other words, why not?  Moon lights may help prevent some fish from jumping out the tank, and they sure look cool.  I mean isn't that cool blue glow the reason we all want them?  So I say go for it. >> Thanks Norm <<  Adam B.  >>

T5 Lighting System Hi, how are you? << Very well, thank you. >> I plan to set up a 38g tank. I would like to keep some soft corals and small marine fish. I would like to set up a lighting system that allow me to select from at least half of the commonly available soft coral species (e.g. Leather, Colt, Xenia, etc.). I have a DIY canopy that is about 9 1/2" in height and will fit perfectly well onto the tank. I would like to get a 175w MH to fit into the canopy (with 2 fans) but I think I need more canopy height space for that. << Here is the good news, you don't.  I am currently running the HQI bulbs, and they are so small I can't believe it.  You can fit them anywhere. >> So, alternatively, I looked at T5 lighting system. Will you recommend the use of 4 X 75W T5 lighting system? << I like t-5 lights.  I especially like them for supplemental lighting, or for actinic lighting.  But I would still go with a halide for primary lighting. >> If I DIY the system into the canopy, this will leave about 3" space between the light and the water in the tank...Is this appropriate? I like my lights as close to the tank as I can get, as long as I have a piece of glass to prevent water and salt spraying on the bulb. >> Should I use a cover for the tank to prevent any possibility of water splashing? << Yep, I like the idea.  And a piece of glass is much easier to clean, then the bulb itself. >>  I can't really find a lot of information  about the T5 lighting system, what are the benefits and drawbacks of this lighting system? << The only drawback I know of is the actual intensity of the bulb.  Even though they have a high power rating (watts) they don't give off as many PAR per watt as other lights.  But they are way cheap, so you can't beat that.  I would recommend one halide with the T-5's. >> Thank you sooooo much! Leo <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Need advice for saltwater aquarium lighting Mr. Fenner, <Bob isn't available right now so you got me Jonathan>    I heard about your web site through Paul, whom I met at a fish store.  Anyways, I recently set up a 20 gallon  reef saltwater aquarium.  I have a ,live rock, live sand, a couple of small fish, CPR hang on skimmer and a canister filter. <Watch out for the canister and nitrates depending on filter medium in it.>  I bought a Coralife Aqualite with actinic and daylight lights. Its been only a couple of weeks and a bulb blew out.  <Not good, do you still have your receipt?  I'm thinking you might be able to get a refund from the store.>  I'm wondering what kind or brand of lighting you would recommend. <I don't mean to dodge your question Jonathan but in all honesty what you use for lighting depends on what you want to keep.  Whether its fish only or hard or soft corals and actually what types of these you wish to keep.> I hear hard corals need lots of lighting but I don't plan on raising any. thank you,    Jonathan Chang <Good luck Jonathan, when you know more about what types of creatures you want to keep don't hesitate to let us help you.  MacL>

Lighting 92 Gallon Reef Hi! Thank you for the incredibly vast amount of information available on your site. We have found just about everything that we have needed, so far.... Question: Our LFS contact has advised us that our 92 gallon bow front with a Coralife 36' 96w 10,000 daylight bulb and a 96w actinic 03 (both PC) is sufficient to support our reef system (mushrooms, polyps, Kenya tree, pipe organ, elegance, frogspawn, cabbage leather, tongue, star polyps). << If I am reading this correctly, that is two compact fluorescent bulbs.  Right?  If so, I would say that is no where near enough light. >> Being aware of the importance of lighting to encourage growth, what would your recommendations be if we are to upgrade the lighting system? << For a 92 gallon bowfront, I would suggest two 250 watt halides, and a pair of VHO tubes for supplemental actinic light. >> The current consideration is a single pendant MH at 175w or the addition of another 24' Coralife with 130w. << Given these options, I would go with the definitely go with the MH.  I believe 92 gal tanks have a plastic center support.  Because of this, I would not use one halide, but two, otherwise you get a really funny shadow right under the bulb. >>  If current lighting supports our selections we don't feel the need to spend unnecessarily. The water depth is 57 cm.  << Well in my opinion you can never have too much light.  The best thing to do is to see some other tanks and decide what lighting you think will look best in your tank.  For me, two halides seems like the way to go. >> All water tests are great! No worries there, but we recently modified the current which appears to have affected the star polyps, Kenya tree, and elegance. Since we changed it back to prior positioning they are all opening again. << Another thing to consider is whether or not you plan to add many stony corals in the future, because if not, you don't need the souped up lighting systems. >> The temp shot up to almost 85 which has us a little freaked, but it is slowly lowering (unexpected 90+ weather in Michigan). << Yes that is a definite concern when adding new lights.  Please watch that carefully. >> Thank you in advance for taking the time to provide a little of your expertise to our neck of the woods! << Hope that helped >> Todd & Jenn <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Time to rethink lighting? 6/9/04 Hello to all.  Anthony recently gave some much appreciated advice for my 20 gallon fish only tank.  Now I could use some for my reef.  I have a 240 gallon show tank w/ a 160 gallon sump.  Lighting is only on the main tank.  The main tank is 6 feet long by 2 feet wide by 2 1/2 feet deep.  When all is working well, I have 2x72" VHO (one actinic, one 50/50), 2 175 watt 6500 metal halide pendants, and a small blue lamp for moonlight.   <this al sounds quite fine to me> The VHOs are dimmed and all lights are controlled with a solar 1000.  I say that this is the set up when all is working well.  Unfortunately, that is not the current situation.  My IceCap 660 is on the fritz for about the fourth time in 5 years.  I have a backup ballast going in its place, run off a regular timer.  One of the Halides stopped working as well.  It seems like a short near where the wiring enters the pendant, but I have had trouble trying to solve it. <arghhh!> I see two solutions, getting the ice cap fixed and replacing the halide or scrapping the existing system in favor of a Power Compact system.   <yikes! I would not call that a step forward at all. PCs are very handsome in color and can grow corals well... but they are poor values versus halides based on bulb replacement alone. Furthermore, they cannot penetrate the water at depth like halides and as such are not as good of a "value" in terms of light produced per watt of light consumed. The halide gets my vote here> I am not keeping any SPS, generally sticking to soft corals and a few LPS (like candy cane, frogspawn, Fungia).  I would like to add a clam at some point, but have not committed to it yet. Do you think that power compacts would suffice for the size tank and purposes?   <could be made to work> What kinds of savings do you think I would see in operating costs?   <they would be more expensive: you'd need more watts of PC light to equal what you had with the halides, and you will have to change the bulbs more often. PCs are good values for small/shallow tanks perhaps... but not here> If you think they would work, is there a brand that you like in particular?  I think that I would need to have them on legs as I have kept the top of the tank open. <A bank of VHOs might be a more economical choice here if you must go fluorescent> What do you think about taking my existing VHOs and moving them to the sump on a reverse photoperiod and growing macro algae in the sump?   <helpful indeed> Sorry for the long post.  Thanks in advance for your help.  I really appreciate all of the wonderful information available on your site. Larry <very welcome my friend, Anthony>

Lighting a Reef Tank, VHO + Metal Halide Hello, <Hi! Ryan with you today> First off let me say that I really enjoy your site! <Thanks! Great to hear> I do have a question for you........ I recently purchased a used tank that I will be setting up a reef system in. The tank measures 72"L X 18.5"W X 22"D, what would be the best type and intensity of lighting? <Lots!  That's a nice, big tank you're starting> I think I would like to have metal halide and fluorescent but could use some guidance. What wattage MH bulbs would you recommend? How many of the different types? What type fluorescent would you recommend? <Are you new to keeping corals?  If so, I would highly recommend that you start with Octocorals (soft corals) and Corallimorphs.  This would require lower lighting than the super-demanding SPS/LPS family.> I will be stocking a variety of corals plus fish in the tank and want to try and set up the best lighting possible. I was considering using 3 - 175W MH + 4 VHO bulbs, would this be a good start? <Yes, I think it's great.  If you choose this route, the metal halide bulbs should be 10,000k, and the VHO should be actinic.>  I plan on installing 2 fans (one in and one out) for cooling. <Or, two in, simple vents for out.  Both will work> Are there any particular brand of bulbs that you feel are superior? <My favorite 175 metal halide is made by Ushio- 10,000k.  For the 72" VHO, I believe URI and Coralife both make this size, and produce a quality product.> How about fixtures, I think I would like to go with icecaps? <Yes, a good choice.> Thanks for any input. <No problem!  Good luck, enjoy the new project!> Doug Smith

Marine lighting I have a question about lighting I was hoping you could help me with. <Sure. Graham at your service.> I have a 90 gallon with 2x250 10000K MH.... The tank is obviously might white when the lights are on...   I wanted it to be bluer....( I should of went with the 12000K...) I purchased a workhorse fulham 7 and a super actinic VHO..... when it is on...it barely tints the tank blue...i want it bluer...so i will probably get another VHO...will that help? <VHO's will do very little when the halides are turned off. You mentioned that you're using 2x 250wt halides -- What ballast are you running the halides on? The 250wt 20,000k Radium sounds like it would fit your needs very well (as far as coloration comes). However, the downside is that if the radium is ran on a standard ballast it is often "too blue." I've found that it's best if the radium is driven on an HQI ballast. To add to that, the radium doesn't have much photosynthetically active radiation (Also known as PAR) and lumens as other halides have. Finally, the radium will need to be replaced roughly every 6-8 months (Depending on what ballast its going to be ran on). But, you'll find that the coloration of the Radiums are truly spectacular. If you're not interested in the Radiums, I would highly recommend adding on several more actinic "03" VHO's until you are able to attain the look you enjoy. On a side note, the 12,000k Bulbs may also give you a nice coloration compared to the Radiums. I highly recommend you find some aquariums in your area running different lighting schemes and find what you like best rather than use trial and error to find what you like best.> a minute ago...i purposely turned off the 2 MH's and only left the one VHO on.......  My xenia immediately contracted as if the lights where off...but so many other colors came out and made my polyps and fish look way better..... <During the night, many corals extend their tentacles. In the wild, there is considerably less predators to feed on the coral polyps than during the day.> from my research, i understand that I should have the 2 VHO's come on 1 hour before the MH's, and go off one hour later.... <It's really personal preference -- you don't need to have that, although it can be aesthetically pleasing to have a sunrise/sunset appearance.> my question is....is it common for xenia to do that....and will the second VHO really make that much more of a difference... <It's common for many soft corals to get smaller during the night, although many small polyped Scleractinians (SPS) and large polyped Scleractinians (LPS) extend their polyps most during the night. I wouldn't be worried at all. For your second question, you won't see a significant difference, although there will be some difference. Please refer to my reply above regarding lighting.> currently in my canopy, my MH's are about 12-15 inch's above the water, and the VHO is about six inches above the water.....is this about right?  <Sounds fine.> it was just weird that the xenia contracted immediately after the MH's went off? <I wouldn't be worried, nor do I find it very weird. The Xenia was most likely responding to the absence of so much intensity that the halides gave off, therefore when the halides turned off the coral shrank (As it would do during the night). Hope this helps! Take Care, Graham.> 

Re: lighting and PAR thanks for the response.... <No problem.> I currently am only running 1x250 watt 10000K and my blue VHO... and the color looks much better!!!...but is this enough light for a 90 gallon tank.... <Each bulb will illuminate roughly a 24x24" surface. Part of your aquarium will be quite dark compared to the other side.> I have heard the rule of thumb is 5 watts per gallon, although this is highly debated.....in the last few days, my corals seem to be doing fine.... <Watts per gallon is a very misleading rule. Intensity and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) is what really matters -- not watts. I hope this answers both of your questions. Graham.> 

Moving Up To More Powerful Lights Hi from Edmonton, Alberta. <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I have a 90 gal reef tank (approx 2*2*4 feet) with just over 110 lbs live rock and several fish as well as xenia, anthelia and large polyp stonies. I have also 4 sps frags (1 Acro, 1 Pocillopora and 2 bird nests). I currently have 2 Coralife Aqualights with a total of 520 watts of compact fluorescent lights (1/2 10000 and ? actinic). The big question: The system is only 3 ? months old and I am wondering if it would be a good idea to upgrade (already) to metal halide. I wish that the LFS had not sold me the Aqualights because it seems that for not much more money I could have had an Aqualine Buschke Aquaspace light. <A great fixture...> So, do I get rid of the $499Cdn (times2 ) Aqualights and get a $700US (~$1000Cdn) Aquaspace light? Or should I wait and see what happens with what I already have?? Ian <Good question, Ian! I guess the worst part of this hobby is that it often costs more to replace something that you felt that you shouldn't have purchased in the first place, huh? The PC's are fine lights for certain life forms. However, if you are going to be keeping demanding photosynthetic corals and other light-loving creatures, the more powerful lighting is a better long-term investment. I can see the "for sale" add already :"Barely used..." Good luck! Regards, Scott F> 

Sticking His Tank Where The Sun Shines! G'day Crew <Howzit?> Firstly Thanks for all the great information on your site, I am in the process of planning my first Reef tank and you site has been an enormous help.  <Awesome! We're glad that you've found it helpful! We love bringing it to you!> My tank is going to be 5'x25"x25" with a sump with a trickle filter, Aquasonic model 2 protein skimmer and I will be having approx 50kilos of live rock in the tank. <Sounds nice...> Now to the question, since I am having anemones and coral in the tank I have come to the assumption that fluorescents would not be enough lighting and I can't afford metal Halides (the wife is already upset with how much I'm spending). Can you recommend any other solutions? <Well, first off, you may want to reconsider this somewhat unnatural mix of animals. Yes, it can be done, and there may be instances where these animals occur in close proximity in nature, but in the confines of an aquarium, the potential for damage due to allelopathy ("chemical warfare") becomes a real hurdle to long-term success. As you often see in these pages, our recommendation is one or the other. That being said, if you are not opting for halides, then your best choices would be compact fluorescents or VHO's. Ultimately, if you choose to go with anemones, I'd wait until you can afford halides.> After posing this question to the owner of the LFS he has recommended skylights (and 2 blue fluorescents) above the aquarium especially since the ceiling is lowered in the area and is only 10 inches above the aquarium. The only problem I can see with this solution is algae - Would this be a major issue? <Interesting option, which many hobbyists don't have! Intense lighting in and of itself does NOT cause algae problems. Light, in conjunction with excessive nutrients does!> And is there anything I can do to reduce the algae problem? Obviously, I would be doing regular water changes. Thanks in Advance. Mark <Well, Mark, nuisance algae growth can be limited by aggressive nutrient export mechanisms, such as productive protein skimming, use of chemical filtration media (such as activated carbon/Poly Filter), and the aforementioned water changes with good quality source water. I hope that you enjoy much success with your new system! Good luck! Regards, Scott F> 

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

Lighting choices and recruiting WWM crew help 5/3/04 "watts is watts, my friend... " That's all I really needed to know. (gives me that sad but true feeling)  Dang financial difficulties! <not to worry, mate... we can make an honest argument for the use of most any lighting. We just need to finesse our species choices and placement in the tank for any photosynthetic organisms... or make compromises on our aesthetic preferences. One of my absolute favor and most successful reef aquariums was a shallow aquarium with 6 shop lights on it! (30 watt each). I compromised by keeping lower light species and all in the top 12" of water> I can't help but feel like a child when you respond (mostly about the anemone) but I understand what you and the rest of your team deal with on a daily basis.   <yes... truly so. And anemones are just one of those groups of animals that really takes it on the chin across the board: they have very weak sustainability to harvest (decades slow recovery for some species), they have high mortality on import and even higher mortality after they get into (usually inappropriate) consumer's tanks. Just not a species for casual use at all I'm sad to say> I currently own a Condy and I have dealt with the overflows trying to eat it.  Fun for sure.   <yes... common and frustrating> But fear not!  I know I can sound like I really don't know what the hell I'm doing, but I do.  I currently hide behind the name of pulldownyourpants @ WWF ( <no worries... I have faith beyond the fact already that you care to know and do ask. Kudos to you!> I doubt that means much- lol - tell Sea Maiden I said Yo!).   <will do... she places our FAQs and answers faithfully :) Yeoman's chores> (Maybe this will - Darwin is my friend!) I don't post much as it can get a little redundant.  My hats off to you for being able to deal with it all.  I guess me being a teacher is WAY out of the question.  ;-)   <not at all... are you interested in being a mentor with us, and answering WWM crew mail? We are not experts by any means... juts a group of sincere and empathetic aquarists trying to help fellow aquarists and saving creatures lives by their improved success. Speak up... do make it known if you'd like to help, my friend :) We are always in need of a helping hand.> Ah let me shut the hell up!  Damn short attention span! Thanks again!   <all good... be chatting soon! Anthony>

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

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

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

Question on Lighting Spectrum 5/1/04 I just had the opportunity to purchase a rose bulb anemone, E. quadricolor, at an amazingly low price. I decided to go ahead and not pass up this offer. For the occasion, I am going to put it in a 20G tank that is already started until my big tank (125G) is up and running in about 2 months. <good... much better than putting it in a tank with other stinging animals/corals... they fare best in biotope and species specific displays by far. Less room to roam and get into trouble too! <G>> To facilitate this anemone, I just purchased a major light upgrade to PCs, and there will be about 8.5 watts per gallon. My question is this, the fixture has two separate bulbs, both independently controlled. It came with one 10,000K bulb and one actinic bulb. Do I really need an actinic bulb since the depth is only 12"? Or would I be better off going with two 10,000K bulbs? <2 10k K lamps would be more useful by far> Finally, is it correct to assume that 8.5 watts of light per gallon in that shallow of a tank is acceptable? <for this anemone, yes... if acclimated slowly (using screen method, staggered light schedule, etc) to adjust from previous light scheme if lower (merchants tank, wholesaler's tank, etc.> It will be supplementally fed with seafood <very good... a variety of very finely minced meats of marine origin including Mysid shrimp and pacific plankton (tiny krill) would be very nice> and Mark Weiss ComboVital as well. <errrr.... interesting.> Thanks! <best regards, Anthony>

Looking for T5 lighting technology 4/30/04  Saw this on your FAQs this morning (4-29) and want to know WHAT and WHERE?  <T5's are the latest and (truly) greatest evolution in aquarium lighting to date. They have been popular in Europe for some years now and are finally breaking big in the US. You can find them at many of the big mail order companies like customaquatic.com, Marinedepot.com and championlighting.com>

-Lighting a 120-  I've learned a lot from reading here (thank you!) but I've not some across enough data to make me confident about my lighting choice. <I see, let me take a stab at it!>  I am in the process of converting a pair of 120 gallon (2' by 2' by 4') cichlid tanks to reef tanks. <I've got the same size tank.> The tanks are empty now (the cichlids have been moved to another, larger tank) and I am assembling equipment.  When the tanks have stabilized I want to keep corals, anemones and other inverts, as well as some as of yet unspecified fish, but I am especially interested in those that interact with the anemones. Having kept planted tanks for some years, I thought I had a lot of light ... Until I looked at what people use for some reef tanks. Wow! <Haha, yep, more often than not lighting is the most expensive part of the whole tank setup.>  Currently each 120 gallon tank ahs a pair of 175W MH lamps over them. I'm thinking right now that I'll put one 250W and one 400W over each tank, allowing a mix of very demanding species and those that cannot tolerate quite so much light in different parts of the tanks, and also allowing me to introduce new specimens in the less bright side of the tank. <A novel idea, the only downside to that would be the potentially obvious shift from the bright side to the 'darker' side.>  My thinking is that the 250W side will be appropriate for species with a "Medium" light requirement and the 400W side will be right for species with a "High" light requirement. <Most critters w/ a so called 'high' light requirement will do just fine in a 2' deep tank under a 250w MH. If you plan on doing mostly small polyped stony corals, I would suggest the 400's. If you'd rather do a mixed reef, you won't be skimping w/ 250's. I hope this is of some assistance! -Kevin>

-Lighting a 75-  Hello Mr. Fenner (or whoever is on the receiving end of my E-mail) <Kevin on this end today> I am wondering if a lamp that has two 175 watt halide bulbs and two 40 watt florescent bulbs. Is two much to put over a 75-gallon tank that is 20" tall, <That would depend on what you are planning to keep. You will be able to have a very diverse assemblage of critters w/ that particular lighting scheme.> I am planning to stock the tank with photo-synthetic invertebrates. I am sorry if there is insufficient information in this E-mail for you to draw a conclusion, and I am also sorry for taking up your time with my question. <Haha, that's just fine, it's what we're here for!>  P. S. am addicted to your site as much as I am to coffee  <At least WetWeb won't stain your teeth! -Kevin>

Doth the Light Shine Brightly Here? Dear Bob Fenner,  <Hey Rene>  I have a regular size 55 gal marine aquarium with a few fish, a 1.5" sand bed, and about 35-45lbs.  I have heard that you can use 40W 6500K Philips day light bulbs from Home Depot, but other sources have told that this will cause high allergy problems.  <Allergy? Do you mean algae? Not necessarily either>  My idea was to use 2 regular 48" $10 lamp from Home Depot and put 2 of these light bulbs, 1x50/50 and 1xblack light bulb. Can this be done, and what if I use 3 lamps and 6 bulbs?  <Can be done either way... I would leave off with the black light lamp... does not look all that great and does nothing for your livestock>  I have heard that I need 3-5 watts per gal, with a 55 gal tank this should be enough watts especially with the 6 bulbs. Please let me know your opinion.  <My opinions re light, lighting are posted in articles and FAQs archived on www.WetWebMedia.com.  You really need to determine first and foremost what sorts of livestock you intend to keep... what you want to "do with it"... and aspects of aesthetic appreciation... rather than following a formula for types, quantity of light for a given volume of water... Bob Fenner>  Thank you for all your help,  Best regards, Rene Karsholt

Choosing Lighting That Works Dear Crew, <Scott F. here today!> I have a regular size 55 gal marine aquarium with a few fish, a 1.5" sand bed, and about 35-45lbs.  I have heard that you can use 40W 6500K Philips day light bulbs from Home Depot, but other sources have told that this will cause high allergy problems. <Not sure about "allergy"...?> My idea was to use 2 regular 48" $10 lamp from Home Depot and put 2 of these light bulbs, 1x50/50 and 1xblack light bulb. Can this be done, and what if I use 3 lamps and 6 bulbs? I have heard that I need 3-5 watts per gal, with a 55 gal tank this should be enough watts especially with the 6 bulbs. Please let me know your opinion. Thank you for all your help.   Best regards, Rene Karsholt <Well, Rene- more important than "watts per gallon" is an understanding of the needs of your animals. Both spectrum and intensity are important. I'm a big believer in choosing lighting that is specifically geared towards the animals that you intend to keep. Most photosynthetic animals have certain ends of the spectrum (such as daylight, or blue light) that suit them best. Do a little homework, and you'll find out exactly what kind of lighting the animals that you're keeping need. Trying to get inexpensive bulbs is never a bad thing for the pocketbook, but it can be problematic in terms of providing the right light for the animals. I'd rather pay more and get aquarium-specific lighting. In the long run, it's bet for your animals- and you! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Lighting the ViaAqua Tank - Hello There!!!  I have a question regarding my tank... It is a "Via Aqua 468" tank.  I have searched all over Google for information about this tank and can't find it anywhere... If you know where to look for this tank, please let me know. <Have seen these tanks at wholesaler/distributors in LA, would imagine they are distributed all over.> This tank came with a magnetic ballast: specs are 18w x 2, LV-468, 120v/60hz and the light attached to this ballast consist of 2 lights.  First one is blue ( I believe it is called actinic) rated at 18w and 12,000k.  The second one is a regular fluorescent light rated at 18w and 7,100k.  The lights are held up by a two plastic arms attacked to the side of the tank which rises above the water line at about 5 to 6 inches.  The tank holds 10 to 15 gallons (not quite sure that is why I want to look for more info on it). <Multiply length times width time height and then divide by 231 - will give you the number of gallons.> Since I have 2 lights of 18 watts each, do I add those two watts and get a total of 36 watts then divide by the gallon of the tank to get the watts/gallon? <Yes.> I have read your site and you guys said that there should be 3 to 5 watts per gallon of water in order for marine plants to thrive. <Uhh, three to five watts per gallon is specifically corals which are not plants. Marine algaes could thrive with less lighting.> Also, by the looks of my lights and my ballast, can I upgrade the lights to higher wattage lights or do you think they are sufficient for marine plants such as the bubble tip anemone, mushrooms, polyps, soft corals, hard corals, etc. <Would probably work for some of the soft corals, but would be woefully inadequate for most small-polyp, stony corals.> I'm thinking that since my tank is small and the placement of any marine plants won't be too deep into the water (maybe around 6 to 12 inches from the water line on down) that these lights will do. Am I correct? <Partially... you should be able to keep some of the soft corals no problem, but others will require more lighting in order to do well. Cheers, J -- >

Sufficient lighting for a 46 bow front? - 4/12/04  Hi it's Jonathan. I emailed you about upgrading my lighting. <I remember> I found a light fixture on Championlighting.com and it is a CSL SmartLight current. <I really enjoy the Custom SeaLife line but with one caveat.... they are no longer doing business. Just something to keep in mind. <In my opinion, they have a highly reputable product that can be trusted and on price and quality.> It has 1-95 watt lamp and a lunar light. It has 10,000k ,460nm and is supposed to let of 3 times the amount of light than normal florescent light. <A great product indeed> This would be going into my 46 bow front its 36'' long and about 18'' deep. I am putting some corals in (brain coral, mushroom coral, leather coral, star polyps and maybe torch coral) that sort of thing. Could the light that I am looking at be sufficient for the corals that I mentioned, <I would to double or triple the amount of light to keep the corals from increasing zooxanthellae production thus turning the corals a browner version of themselves for survival. More zooxanthellae means more light receptors for photosynthesis which will help with supplying the coral which much needed nutrients. Also, be sure to feed fine minced marine foods to the torch, brain, and elegance for superior health and coloration. (will help to offset the lack of light in some cases)> and would that be enough light for some Elegance coral. <Maybe a little more if you can afford it. Do research more on the corals you plan for your tank and look at our recommendations for lighting and environmental conditions> Thanks for all your help don't know what I would do without you. <Thanks for being part of it all ~Paul>

Lighting question follow up 4/9/04 One more ? <Fire away!> Will I need to run actinics or any supplemental white lighting with the 20K XM or will it be fine by itself. I have seen some pics of 20 K but am not sure if it will be to blue by itself. THANKS <My impression of this lamp is that it is not quite as blue as a radium 20k.  The amount of blue you wish to have is very much a personal and subjective decision that may affect your personal viewing pleasure quite a bit, but probably make no difference to your corals.  A simple suggestion is to wait on purchasing the fluorescents until you have run the 20k for a week or so.  Decide then if you would like it to be bluer or not.  If you have to decide right away, I would suggest you choose based on your viewing preference.  Best Regards.  Adam>

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

Lighting color choice 4/9/04  Hellooo all, Thanks ahead of time for the help. I have a few lighting questions. Right now I'm using 4 3ft VHO bulbs over my tank (70g tall 36x18x24). There are 2 actinics along with 1 50/50 and one 10k spectrum bulb. One of my questions is should I buy more 10k or 50/50 bulbs if I want more usable light? I've read on this site and many others that the actinics don't really have much use to corals at all. Regular "white" spectrum lights have enough blue to provide for all the inhabitants. So, I was thinking to change my 2 actinics for a 50/50 and 10k. Then I'd have 4 "white" lights which I would think would be better for my tank, however, is four 3 footers enough for such a tall tank (24")? I was thinking of upgrading my lights to some MHs but wanted to consult you guys first. thanks again!! Chris aka fishtank.  <The color of the lamps that you choose is mostly an aesthetic choice. Whiter lamps may produce slightly more usable light, but not by a large margin. Four lamps over a 24" tank is plenty for a wide variety of animals, although some very high light animals (shallow water Acroporas and clams, mostly) may not hold their color or grow very fast. If you wish to keep some of these very high light animals, you may want to consider MH, otherwise, choose your florescent lamps based on the appearance that you find pleasing. As a side note.... Unlike with fluorescents, the general rule that bluer lamps produce less output is very true with MH. Best Regards. Adam>

Light fixture 4/7/04 Hi this is Jonathan I have a big problem. I have a 46 bow front salt water tank and when I got the tank I did not know much about light. So I was told by a sales person that wattage really didn't matter. So I got one  50/ 50 ref sun (6500k,420 phosphor) it only has 25 watts, it's a one only hood it  has a reflector.  Know I have to shell out some more  cash. I was looking at a 36" 4-39w HO Fluorescent T5's, from ReefGeek.com . I was wondering if you could tell me your recommendation a light and light hood. Thanks for all your help.  <there are many choices/possibilities for lighting your tank as you have seen. The best one for you is the one that satisfies the needs of your tank's inhabitants. You must first identify what you have or want to keep and what their needs are. If its colorful sps corals and clams, you may need a metal halide. If you want hardy soft corals and polyps only, then fluorescents will be fine. If the tank is fish only with rock, then very low wattage may do the trick. We have many articles and FAQs on lighting in our archives at wetwebmedia.com  Please do take the time to browse these for the very purpose (to help you and folks like you) that this site and archive was built for. If you just want an easy, all-purpose answer... my advice is to buy a single 150 watt 10k K metal halide bulb. Overall will be one of the best and longest lasting outfits for you on this particular tank - short and sweet. Best regards, Anthony>

- Lighting Questions, Follow-up - Thank you for your response to my E-mail. <My pleasure.> I understand what you are saying about metal halide being a superior light source for clams and such.  Perhaps Clams and some of the more difficult corals will not be possible for me.  If I could afford it, I would buy 1 or 2 metal halide lamps.  You never did say if Power Compacts would offer any improvement over the VHO lights I already have... <That might be because for the most part they are very similar to each other.> I was told (by the people at the LFS) that a 384watt PC system would be better than a 440watt VHO system. <Hmm... don't think I agree with that.> You mention also that the Ice Cap ballast I have would be a poor match for PC lights but this link http://www.icecapinc.com/biax660-4.htm shows how it should be wired and Ice Cap says it will work just fine. <So says the company that wants to sell you a ballast - do think that in most cases the IceCap ballasts will over-drive most all bulbs and foreshorten the life of the bulb - am aware that some folks out there also run the IceCap ballast with T5 lamps, but do think that over time the same people will realize that they are buying a lot more bulbs than makes sense. Do think you should stick with ballasts designed for PC bulbs.> All I need to do is find out what specific "manner of folk" sell the terminal connectors. <Encourage your LFS to explore their wholesale catalogs a little more - most companies that sell lamps also sell the parts. If that store doesn't want your money, take it elsewhere.> My LFS is about useless here, unless I want to dump $600 into a retro "kit"...  (I would buy a halide light if I had that kind of cash).  I try not to be too hard on the LDS folks as they are trying to make a living like everyone else but I've have found that I am better off to get a second opinion before I follow their advice.  Thanks for your help, Brian <Cheers, J -- > - Plumbing and Other Things - Hi, I had a few questions on plumbing.  I wanted to put both my FW and SW  storage trashcans in the garage and have/use a pump to pump the water from the garage to my SW tank in the living room.  I plan on having a 150 gallon tank with a 50 gallon sump/refugium.  My refugium will have three parts; the raw water from my tank overfill for the skimmer, a large refugium with macro algae and pod production, and a final chamber for water returning to the tank via a pump, in that order.  I will hardwire the pump in the garage to a switch in the tank room so I can just turn it on and off whenever I want to top off or do a water change.  Do you think this is a good plan? (feasible) <It is feasible.> Into what section of the sump should the water be pumped? <Don't think it really matters that much...> I also want to have another pipe leaving the sump that will be connected to a exterior drain so I can get rid of buckets all together. This will have a valve (or two) on it so I can just drain water from the sump for my water changes.   Which section of the sump should I have the water leave from? <Don't think this matters much either. Whatever works for your layout will likely be fine.> About how often will I actually have to siphon the substrate in the main tank?  <You should still do this regularly... perhaps once a month or so.> I plan on having a 1-2"  semi fine sand bed in the main tank with some corals and a fairly heavy fish load. <You might want to skip the vacuuming then and just try to have very robust circulation within the tank so that detritus and waste are suspended in the water column and hopefully taken downstream to your sump.> There will be Gracilaria in the sump along with a half inch layer of coarse or half in layer of very fine substrate along with some pod producers from IPSF.   I also plan on having the sump circulate about 7x's and the main tank circulate about 20x's per hour.   Thanks a million.   PS, I have been having a hard time finding plumbing sites/FAQ's. It is very overwhelming for a beginner. <Is very hard to nail down many specifics... just about every tank is a one-off, unique design which is seldom repeated exactly.> Have a good day/night.  Dan PPS.  Sorry, one more... Custom tank size.  45L x 35w x 22h.  Since most light manufactures sell hoods in even foot sections, can I get away with a 36" light hood on my 45" tank? <No hard set rules about such things. Aesthetically, might look a little odd, but would 'work' just fine. Would consider spending the money on something custom built to fit.> I was thinking a couple 150 HQI's with a couple T5 fluorescents.  I really like this type of setup, but if it will be too short for my tank, I could go with a couple of PFO mini reefs or something to that effect.  I just would hate to loose the fluorescent color enhancers.  What do you think? <I think it's your tank - do what makes you happy.> 45" is my max as it will be inside my staircase.   Thank you again... <Cheers, J -- >

Is This Love, Baby? Or is it Confusion? Let in Some Light!  >Hi,  >>Hello.  >I have read through just about all the lighting faq's and I think I am more confused than ever.  >>You, too? I thought I was the only one. ;-)  >I have a 120gal 72"l x16"w x 22"deep.  >>Righty-O.  >Inhabitants frogspawn, torch, brain and a couple different mushrooms. A pair  of percula clowns and a mandarin fish.  >>Mkay.  >I have 2 175W metal halides they are about 18" above the tank (should they move closer?) they came with the tank but I think they are only 4200K.  >>Yes, they really should move closer, or I think you might want to consider bumping up the wattage a notch. However, what's really most important here is how are these photosynthetic animals doing in terms of health and growth? If they're healthy, disease-free, and growing well, then I honestly wouldn't change anything, or, if I did do so, I would make small changes only (for instance, one light at a time). I'm not terribly familiar with metal halides in the first place, and to the best of my knowledge anything with a Kelvin rating of 4200K isn't even beginning to mimic daylight spectra.  >I have 2 40 watt Coralife actinics. Before the Coralife I hade 2 40W Philips 40w 03 actinics.  >>Alright. Actinics are really more for our pleasure than any needs of the animals.  >I would turn the Philips on about 2 hours before and leave them on 2 hrs after the MH. I liked the fluorescent green colors of my corals with the actinics on. I am not to happy with the Coralife 03 they barely light my tank.  >>So you're saying that the Philips 03s did a good job of both providing visible light and they seemed to provide strong light of the 420nm wavelength, yes? If so, then unless the fixtures don't fit the Philips, go with what you like. If you like the Philips enough to purchase appropriate fixture with which to replace them, then again, I don't see why you can't do this. They're both rated at 40W, and both are 03s, so beyond that it becomes a matter of personal preference.  >I want the fluorescent color to come out in my corals should I buy 10,000k MH bulbs and how close should 40 watt fluorescent bulbs be to the water?  >>10K bulbs will definitely give you a "bluer" light, especially compared to, say, 6500 bulbs (rather yellow as I understand it). The fluorescent bulbs should be as close to the water as you can safely get them, as artificial lighting, and fluorescent especially, loses a GREAT deal of intensity with each inch it is further away from the desired target.  >if I jump from my 4200K to 6,500 or 10,000k should I move some of my corals to a lower part of tank? will they burn the coral?  >>They absolutely CAN burn the specimens, and there are a few different methods to use to deal with this. One is to get in there and move the corals (least desirable in my opinion), another is to position the lights up high, then bring them down over a period of time (a couple of weeks, it's really best to watch the specimens and let them "tell" you what's ok). Another is to use layers of glass to block some light, and still another is to start with greatly reduced photoperiods (a couple of hours a day) then work your way up. Also, a combination of methods can be used. I would stick with the 175W for now, but bump up the Kelvin rating of the bulbs and go from there (assuming everything else is going well).  >thanks for your help, Zombie  >>Well, I hope I have been of help. Marina  Reef lighting recommendation 4/7/04  Hi Anthony I need some more help please. I have a 55gal, tank 18''tall 15 wide I have a 660 ballast all I want to do is to have low to medium corals in my tank. Mushrooms, Sarcophytons few fish... What can I do? Will a two 110 VHO, one 50-50,and one 03 URI be sufficient. or a 3 light bulb system be better? I thank you again. Genaro.  <if you truly stick with mushrooms, low light polyps/Zoanthids and tan/brown leather corals, then you will likely be fine with the 260 watts of light you have. It would still be best of you'd keep all of your corals in the top 1/3 to 1/2 of the tank. And extra pair of VHO bulbs would greatly increase the species options for you though :) Anthony>

Reef Lighting II 4/8/04  hi I am sorry this is Genaro this is for Anthony I did not understand you . you said 260watts but if it is a two bulb system it is only 220watts it is that ok .  <it will be OK my friend... I counted the extra NO bulb (40 watt?) on top of your 2-bulb VHOs for total watts. No worries :) Anthony>

Skimmer Choices and Light Height!  Thanks for the response.  <Your quite welcome>  Any thoughts on what skimmer I should use?  <Many good brands...EuroReef, Aqua C, Tunze, just to name a few...>  Been hearing a lot of good things about Euro Reef?  <One of the best skimmers out there, in my opinion. They are reliable, skim well, and produce large quantities of product virtually right out of the box>  How many hours a day would you run the below lighting?  <Depending on the animals you're gonna keep- I'd go for 10 hours a day, myself>  Would you put the MH's at that height?  <I'd mount them a bit lower, myself- maybe 8 inches off the water...Lots of view on this>  Thanks for all your help. Jimmy  <My pleasure, Jimmy! Regards, Scott F>

Light Meters 3/30/2004  Anthony: I am interested in a light meter to measure the various areas in my tank. I have a few goals in mind:  1) measure values over time to document life and approximate replacement needs of MH bulbs;  2) get a better idea on dirty lenses, yellowing water, etc. and their influence;  3) approximately judge the values that my inhabitants do best at when it comes to compensation, saturation, etc.  <it will help you to do all of these things and more>  Do you think I should get a PAR meter, or would a LUX meter do?  <the PAR meter is a slightly better measure for us>  I don't think I mind the extra cost for a PAR if it is truly the best way to measure for these purposes.  <yes>  I have seen PAR meters for $300 and up, and LUX for around $75. Any guidance is appreciated.  <good things are seldom cheap and cheap things are seldom good ;) Have you looked at the PAR meters from Apogee? Very nice units and popular with aquarists>  Thanks, Rich  <best regards, Anthony>

Quest. regarding Lighting and flow design 4/6/04  Just a quick hello to you all....  <how you doin'? >  Have bought some of your books...Coral Propagation....Aquarium corals...would gladly buy more if you can suggest  some others...one can never have to much information when it concerns healthy coral...  <agreed... and Eric's book named above is one of my absolute faves. Also, do look at Fabricius and Alderslade's 2001 "Soft Corals and Sea fans". This and many other unique books can be found at www.seachallengers.com >  You guys do an excellent job ,Thanks for everything..<a labor of love... but thank you for your regards, my friend>  I am stuck with lighting and circulation decisions for my new 120 Gal display, 65 Gal sump set up.. My problem is I love large polyp stonies as well as Mushrooms and Polyps and Xenia and Basically a lot of softs....  <all good... reasonably close in requirements>  But I also have a developing attraction to some SPS.  <Arghhh... a recipe for quite a challenge to coral health and water quality in the long run. Please (!) do resist mixing such unnatural groups if you want optimal success my friend>  Here is my Idea , please tell me if you think this  could work. Tank is 48"L X 24"D X 24"H. Sump is 36 " L X 22 " W X 18 " H and will house a Reef Devil Deluxe and also a Turboflotor 1000 fed by Dual 1 1/2 " O.D. Durso overflows through 50 micron bags.  <I frankly do not have much regard for either of these skimmers performance. Or rather, the Turboflotor can be made to work well with frequent tuning/babysitting or modification... but neither out of the box is consistent or reliable IMO for their price. There are much better skimmer values out there - see our archives for feedback on skimmers>  Overflow box in tank is 17 " long by 6 " deep centered in tank. After the skimmers there is a refugium for live sand and live rock only. Then baffles, heater etc. then return portion of sump which has 1/5 hp chiller fed through bulkheads and returned to same portion of sump. Return pumps are 2 dolphin 1200's used external at 1200 GPH at 24' of head, 3/4 " outlet. One pump runs the left side of the tank and one the right side, hard piped up through overflow box. All 3/4 plumping, each one teed in overflow box to return to each corner of the tank, two outlets each pump. one outlet on each is piped down and under sand bed to lower front corners of the tank pointing up and towards center of overflow box with a 45 elbow.. (hole drilled to break siphon, in case of power out) The other is located at top rear corner of each side. Questions are as follows.....Can I satisfy such corals stated above by utilizing a lighting fixture that accommodates on one side a 175 Watt Metal Halide 10 k and on the other side a 250 watt Metal Halide 6500 K and 2 4' VHO Actinics front and back  <the fluorescents serve little or no useful purpose for the corals (especially if they are more than 3" off the surface of the water), but do keep/enjoy them for aesthetics. The MH lamp suggestions are fine for a wide range of corals, allelopathy aside>  to keep a large mix of SPS , LPS and possibly a Clam as well as the polyps mushrooms and few softies that I love?  <it will work short to mid term... perhaps even several years with adequate water changes and ozone/heavy carbon to temper the excess allelopathy from unnatural corals stimulated in unnatural mixes. Still... I'd never advise such a large mix, rather focus on one group and enjoy (if you can) a teaser piece or two of the others>  Question number 2 is....Will this pump set up be sufficient as far as water flow is concerned?<it sin the ballpark. Fine for softies... light for stonies. Try to get closer to 20X turnover per hour>  Everything is bought and installed except for the lighting...Pumps can be changed if you suggest something other than the ones I have....No water Sand or rock yet but will have 6 " LS and about 80 LBS. LR in display and 40 LBS of LR and 4" LS in sump...Any help would be greatly appreciated....(as always :) )  Tank and sump was built by World Class Aquariums in Brooklyn NY....If this gets posted and anyone reads it and lives in NYC metro area.. great place to shop...!!!  <good to hear... and if you make it out to Long Island... do check out Country Critters for rareties. The prices are dear, but the selection is one of the best around>  Tank with 6" splash guards, Sump, overflow box ,standpipes and all  plumbing ,bulkheads, made to my specifications only 900 $( Their livestock is pretty well maintained and a huge selection as well. Sure beats the puny overflows in an AGA Tank as well as Oceanic. Not to knock those companies but if you can get a custom tank for the same price...well why not...  <yes.. agreed. Thank you for sharing!>  Thanks for helping guys...  Anthony Pastorelli NYC Fireman Bayside Queens...  <best regards, Anthony>

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

Finding the Sweet Spot Hello to everyone , hope things are going well. Sorry for the question but I need your opinion. I just purchased a new light system the AquaSpacelight, with 3 250wDE MH and 4 24pc actinic lights. The directions state that it should be hung 12 inches above the water, I have a 180g tank 24" deep. That means the bottom is 36" below the lights? Does that seem OK if I want to keep SPS and clams. Thanks <Mike, Ryan with you today.  Although I certainly would stick to the 12 inches above while the bulbs are "burning in," I think that playing with that gap a little bit in time may help your photosynthetic animals in the bottom third of your ecosystem.  In addition, much of the usable light is filtered at that point, so you may want to try and elevate your clams and SPS to a higher point in the tank.  Good luck, Ryan> Mike Winston

Natural Sunlight  I have been reading Coral Propagation by Anthony Calfo...and noticed that there are many propagation sites setup by natural sunlight in a greenhouse...  <more and more all the time :) >  Is it possible to have a reef tank by a window in your house and just use natural sunlight as the light?  <yes... is very beneficial, and aquarists have been doing it for decades>  I have never heard of this, and as expense as lighting gets, I would think there would be more discussion about this.  How does direct and indirect sunlight affect reef tanks?  <the question is of a scope to great to answer in the brevity of an e-mail. But you can imagine so much of it... quality of light for starters (inimitable). Read on in that handbook you have there <G> . Kind regards, Anthony>

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

More on lighting choices - 3/28/04 Hello and thanks for the great advice....and of course another question. I have been researching MH and based on your response below I wanted to go with two 250 watt 10000K MH's....I saw on diyreef.com they have a great deal on a DIY 250w Dual Pulse Retro Kit w/bulbs (http://diyreef.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=39&products_id=102)...this is a magnetic ballast and after reading some comments on your site it seems like you or some of your colleagues prefer magnetic ballast over electronic. <I would defer this opinion to Sanjay Joshi and his research on Metal Halide lighting and such. Check out the archives at reefkeeping.com> The bulbs are Coral Vue, do you know how these bulbs rate or have you ever used these? <no I don't. Search for them on Google and see what reviews the get or maybe the web boards reefs.org or our forums here at WetWebMedia for a real time report> The other alternative is a 250w Electronic Retro Kit (http://diyreef.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=39&products_id=83) that has a electronic ballast from CoralVite and CoralVite bulbs, this is a bit more but in your opinion or experience with consideration of electricity, bulb life and life of the ballast which type if any of these two do you find better? <Not familiar with any of these.> I hope that all makes sense, maybe I'm looking at the wrong type of MH systems and should be looking at others. Just came across this and thought it would be great to save money and get the job done, but if you recommend other systems and bulbs please do share. <I believe I stated what I use in my last email. We use PFO (personally and professionally but there are a few others out there that are worthy. Check through our FAQs on lighting for opinions from others. Or you could just try the DIY lighting fixtures. Too many choices to narrow down to one. Happy Reefing! ~Paul> Thank You, Jason

FluoreX lighting? 3/28/04 Hello All! I have been reading your FAQ and articles (as well as books and several different forums) for several weeks now in preparation to open the new 150Gal tank that has been sitting empty in in my living room for 2 weeks now. I had a very successful 55gal salt water tank for several years in the early 90's but had to get rid of it when I moved and just now am getting back into the hobby. The biggest change I have noticed is the ability to get information and details - it is close to overwhelming!! I have been looking for a light system to use on the tank that I would like to be able use with various corals eventually and found a reference on EBay for Flourex lighting (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2388527599 ) . After searching the forums and the web I have found a few references to this in the forums as a suitable light for refugiums and on a nano reef forum some acceptance as a suitable light for corals. It claims to have a color of 6500 and CRI of 84 (on the low side here maybe?) <yes...low> and the price is obviously very low - but will it work as lighting on a reef system? <if you keep shallow species and water. Not appropriate for a deep 150 gallon.> I did find a lot of references to a product (the same one I believe by the look) called LOA - Lights of America - where there were complaints about reliability but little on suitability. Any first hand or solid info on this product would be appreciated - bottom line - will it grow corals in a reef tank? <I think you will ultimately be dissatisfied with it. Do invest in a proper fixture for the task... really worth the peace of mind and reliability, not to mention the investment you will/have in $ and lives already in the tank.> Thanks for your time - and I did do a search on your FAQ and got two kinda references but no direct information - Thanks! Reuben <best of luck, Anthony>

CSL reincarnated 3/28/04 Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in his stead> I have a few questions for you before i decide to purchase a PC hood. Have you ever heard anything about the Current USA PC hoods? They are the company that took over CSL, I am looking into the 2x96w orbit pc hood. They say they use a dual daylight bulb that is 10000k and 6700k. And for the actinic blue bulb they use a dual 420nm & 460nm bulb. Do you know if these hoods are any good? Or do you suggest another brand of PC hood that i should be looking into? Thanks, Tim <we've heard that it was/is a close employee/associate of the former owner (Dennis) that has bought CSL. As such, you can expect similar product at least in the near future I expect. Anthony>

Lighting a reef - 3/24/04 Hello,       I've been reading over your web site a lot about lighting and am still confused on what system I should go with. MH, VHO's, Compacts, etc... <Depends on what you are going to keep, how much you have to spend, heat dissipation, space, etc.> I am currently setting up a new 72 Gallon reef tank that is 48X18X22 and I want to have the option of having any type of coral in my tank, soft or hard I'd rather spend the money now then regret it later). <Good attitude and one I wish I had thought about before putting together a few tanks> I read that anything over 24 inches deep will need MH and anything less will be good with VHO's. <Yes and no. I have seen some deep tanks with VHOs that have prolific growth and coloration. I have seen some shallow tanks (mine included) with Metal Halide with good growth and coloration output as well>  At first it seemed that your site recommended VHO's instead of MH's because of cost, uv rays, overheating, etc...but I found some recommendations to use MH's. <I am using MH on my 20 gallon> So I'm a little confused. I see that anywhere from 3-6 watts per gallon of water for the amount of wattage. <Wattage level is a weak if not oversimplified measurement for lighting requirements but I believe 6 watts per gallon is safe if using this measurement. Intensity, PAR, and spectrum are more important though> So if I'm at 6 watts per gallon 432watts. At first I was going to get two 175watt MH's at 10000K and two 03 Actinics at 40 or 80watts(not sure what I should use). <I like the 10000k bulbs myself from a quality manufacturer. I don't even use Actinics at all> Or go with 4 110watt VHO's and if you could recommend the type of bulbs I use I would appreciate that, I've seen Actinic White, Actinic 03, Aqua Sun, 10,000K Lamps and 20,000K lamps. <URI is a good brand of bulb with Actinic 03 and their 10000k being very popular. Based on what you stated above, I would go with 2 250 watt metal halide HQI PFO systems.> Not sure what would be best or what I would need with so many choices. <I really like PFO and use them personally. We also use them on occasion at the Monterey  Bay Aquarium> Also I read an article that 4 110watt VHO's would use more electricity than 2 MH and 2 03 Actinics. <Have heard and read the same. I have not quantified the statements though> Any idea on what would cost more to run? <I believe the VHOs but again, I cannot quantify the statement> I would have thought the VHO's would cost less. And finally sorry to make this so long but I am building the hood myself and based on the light configuration I wanted to know do I need to keep the MH's at least 8 inches from the water? <I would especially if the water could splash up on them. Usually, they also require a glass shield. You could just mount pendants into the hood if you have or can build room enough to do this> And should I cover the tank with some glass to protect them? <Ahhh, Ii am ahead of you. Yes as bulbs immersed with cold water can be problematic with shorting or even in some cases exploding> If I go the VHO route should I keep them about 3 inches from the water, <Yes> and do I need to protect them with something like glass? <I would but some don't. GARF is a staunch user and advocator of VHO use. Check out their site at www.garf.org> Your advice is greatly appreciated. <So are your questions. Thanks for being part of it all ~Paul> Thanks, Jason Halide induced nitrate reduction -3/24/04 Hi, I have a 2 questions, which may be related. 1. I've read a few times on this site, and a few people have told me, that systems with DSB+LR (what I'm running) have had a dramatic nitrate reduction when switching from fluoros to halides (which I cant yet afford to do), in the vicinity of 40ppm to <5ppm. Can you tell me or point me to where I can find info about why this is the case. <I have not run across this in my readings anywhere. I seriously doubt that there is any info based on any particular research> I guess that this has something to do with bacteria growth/effectiveness <Not likely>, but my main dilemma is this: most tanks I've seen have most of the LR and sand surface covered by corals, etc., so very little direct light gets to the surfaces which contain coralline, etc., so how does the light make a huge difference to nitrate levels when what I assume is reducing the nitrate gets very little of this direct light (e.g. deep in the DSB)? <One argument for sure. I don't believe any of the bacteria rely on photosynthesis> Am I missing something? <not likely but then again, I haven't read any of the articles with relating to halide induced nitrate reduction> 2. I've read and been told from day 1 that direct sunlight on the tank is a no-no, <Not necessarily but can lead to algae issues in some cases> and the generic answer is that it promotes unwanted algae growth. <Oh, right....> Is this the only reason? <Pretty much> The places I've read it have been referring to tanks in general (ie freshwater), is this rule the same for reefs, where certain algal growth is encouraged? <In my experience, the same would be true in reef tanks as well> Wouldn't the benefits to livestock and beneficial algae out-weigh the extra cleaning that may be required? <Could, but don't forget your tank is far from the biological processes of a true large body of water (read Ocean). You are closed system with limited predators and lack the completion to limit nutrient factors in most cases> Also taking into account my first question, where nitrate reductions are another benefit, and if like me, budgeting is an important issue, couldn't this help many of us poorer reefers? <Possible, but there are a great many things one can do to reduce nitrates in an aquarium. Check out some of our many articles and FAQs on nitrates> Also taking into account, that if you placed your tank in front of a window, a lot of the time you would be getting 4hrs/day tops direct sunlight. Is the problem because natural light has a full spectrum? <Try it and let us know. Some aquarists have had good luck with this method. Most times though, light supplementation is necessary> Is the spectrum in halide bulbs very exact like fluoros (My lighting knowledge isn't too strong, espec halides)?  <Not sure what you are comparing to, but the intensity, PAR values, and spectrum are enough for photosynthesis to take place in flora and fauna. Is it comparable to the sun? In my opinion no, but I cannot cite one place to back that statement. Just a few discussions and debates but compared to Florescent bulbs, Yes these are comparable to if not greater in the above values.> No one has given me a decent reason to this No Direct Sunlight rule in regards to reefs. <Unfortunately, I can't give you a good argument either. In my experience, algae growth tends to be more of a nuisance, temps seem harder to control, and in the end I needed light supplementation anyway. COST vs. Effort ratio just didn't add up> Thanks in advance, hopefully I've asked some decent questions that haven't been answered before <I think you have done well. Thanks for being part of it all> (I know we all hate when ppl do that). <Can be time consuming> Ivan. <~Paul>

Small tank lighting 3/22/04 In such a small tank, (10 gallons) what would you recommend for sand sifting? <good water circulation and occasional hand stirring alone may be enough> I don't mind doing it myself but I would much rather have some help naturally. <Hmm... the concern here is that not many things can survive on so little sand> Sand sifting star, <Yikes! Some of these starve to death in time in 100 gallon aquariums with deep sand beds. Not a prayer in a 10 gallon> some kind of snail, sea cucumber (yellow), or something else all together? (I prefer not to have fish) <no sea cucumbers for the same reason(s) as the sand star. How about a simple brittle or serpent starfish instead. They'll eat prepared foods too if the sand is not enough> Is it bad to NOT have fish in a ten gallon reef tank? <no... not if you can provide your corals an alternate source of nitrogen/food sans fish feces> Also for sps I'm going with a power compact 32w 10,000K, normal flor.15w  10,000K, and a power compact 32w actinic, ok? ( I haven't bought any bulbs for an existing fixture...yet) <all fine here> One last question... Is it harmful/ helpful to use a normal fluor. 15w Blue Moon bulb all night long? <no harm... and little to no help either. Only has an impact on sighted animals (modestly even then) and since you don't have/want any fishes... that really limits the impressed crowd> (They claim the bulb is great for night viewing, is it bad for sps growth?) <no harm that I am aware of> (Thought)....Can I use 2-power compact 32w 10,000K (for 8-10 hrs) and a blue  moon 15w bulb all day/ night <agreed> Sorry about the jumbled up questions just want the lighting to be correct, thanks in advance...again. <no worries... best of luck. Anthony> Lighting question 3/22/04 Crew, I am fairly new to the hobby, just passed the six month point. I try to read your postings daily and have spent many hours pouring over the vast amount of information in your archives. It has proven to be very helpful. <excellent to hear, my friend... do keep learning, sharing, and growing> I have a 120 gallon tank (24x24x48) currently a FOWLR setup. I am to the point now where I would like to start trying some corals. Initially some of the easier, low light kinds like mushrooms, leathers, etc. I own and have read Bob's Conscientious Marine Aquarist, Bob and Anthony's Reef Invertebrates, Eric Bornemann's Aquarium Corals, and am currently reading Anthony's Book of Coral Propagation. I know I need to upgrade my lighting, currently just have the two NO fluorescents, and I also know that my lighting needs are somewhat dependant on what exactly I keep. But what I do not want to do is invest in something that I may need to replace down the road. <understood> Initially I was looking at either 4x96 PC or 4x110 VHO. <VHO would get my vote here between these two choices... but T5 fluorescent technologies would be even better> I didn't think I wanted to go the extra bucks for MH, plus I wasn't sure I needed them with a 24" deep tank. <well... do consider that in terms of usable light (for corals) per watt consumed, halides are a much better value in the long run (efficiency, lamp life, lamp quality, etc). And they make 75 watt halides... 100's, 150, etc... some low wattage lamps that really do outperform most fluorescent lamp fixtures. Double-ended HQI lamps right now get the big vote as all-around best lights> Recently though I started looking at the MH prices and discovered I can get a 2x175 MH hood for about the same price range as the PC and VHO options I was looking at. <yes... and the lamps last 3 or more times as long> I guess my main concerns regarding the MH option are will they be too bright for the initial lower light corals I start out with and  possible heating issues? <no worries here... not for this size tank> Last summer my tank didn't drop below 80 with my current NO lighting. <add a fan or two. Evaporative cooling is amazing> Would you recommend sticking with the VHO or PC options, and if so would you recommend one over the other? <as per above> Thank you for your time and the great resource your web site provides the aquarium hobby! Matt <I hope that we and others can help you enjoy many many years of enjoyment of this wonderful hobby. Kindly, Anthony>

Lighting a custom size tank 3/22/04 My People, <Hmmm...  I've been referred to as Y'all (lived in Birmingham, AL) and Yinz (Western Pennsylvania), but never "My People"!  It does have an interesting ring to it<g>.> I have ordered a custom tank and waiting on its arrival to the LFS. It is 60 long, 24 front to back and 20 high (drilled of course). To me, the front to back space is important. I feel you can make some really nice aquascape with more surface area on the bottom. <Very strongly agree!  Deeper tanks (front to back) offer much more flexibility and help create a better visual perspective.> Now as soon as I receive my tank, I am going to start building my stand. I have had this tank in the plans for about a year, and still some time before its up and running but I'm not rushing anything. For once, I want to do it right the 1st time. <Kudos on the patience!> I am planning on a enclosed canopy. I was sold on VHO but I think I can swing MH lighting. I need to have my mind made up by the time I'm ready to build the canopy because from what I have read is MH need to be 10-12 inches above water surface, whereas if I went with VHO, the canopy would need to be shorter. I'm 80-20 sold on MH now though.   <MH do not have to be that high off the water.  I have run them as close as 6".  Higher placement means greater light attenuation = less light into the tank.  Closer placement does mean greater care to prevent splashing.  As for the choice between MH and VHO, it depends a bit on what you would like to keep, but in such a shallow tank, you won't have many limitations even with VHO.> I'm thinking about 2 250w MH with 3 actinic and 1 10k VHO to come on 2 hours before and 2 hours after MH's. Is this a bad idea? In this configuration, what K should the MH's be? Should I go with 175's? I have always wanted a Crocea Clam (and some SPS's) is why I am doing this, <I personally would most likely choose VHO, but if I did use halides, I would not go more than 175w.  This will be plenty of light for clams and SPS.  A very small number of the very most light demanding SPS may not hold their color or grow quite as fast.> if you were wondering....I will install fans or chiller if needed. Again, I want to do it right the 1st time. Any advice you can provide will be most helpful. <Leaving the top of the hood open will help a lot with heat and you avoid the noise of fans.  Adding fans (open or closed hood top) will help and may eliminate the need for a chiller (very noisy and create a lot of in-room heat).> Seems the closer it gets to "go" time, the more I think and plan and ultimately, get confused and undecided. ha-ha. <This is a very common thing!  Do go out and chat with other hobbyists, look at other systems and consider your priorities for cost, type of animals you wish to keep, noise, heat, etc. before making any final decisions.> On a totally side note. I use formula one, mysis, and prime reef foods. I supplement with VitaChem, Selcon, and garlic extreme. I squeeze the juice out of the food when it thaws then dose it with one of the 3 supplements. Is this wrong? Am I squeezing out the "good stuff" or just pollutants?  Best Regards,  Jason <Most of the "Juice" from frozen foods does not have any food value, it just ends up as dissolved organics.  I don't think that you are diminishing the food value of the food by doing this either.  This practice also leaves the food more able to absorb the supplements you are using.  Good luck!  Adam> DSB and light cycle ?? 3/13/04 I would like an expert opinion please.  Thought you folks might lead me in the right direction.   <Adam here today, and I will certainly try!> I am planning a 400 gallon mix reef/fish tank 96x30x36 tall.  I would like a fair amount of fish with plenty of open space for swimming.  For circulation I am planning a Amp Master 3000 for return and 4 Tunze streams to get me in that 10-20 times turnover zone or greater.  With that much water movement and the fair amount of fish waste produced can I still use the fine sugar grain sand bed in the display?   I am afraid I will have a sand storm if I really turn up the Tunze streams and my other concern is that the DSB will not keep up the fish waste pollution.  I have heard of DSB failure due to overstocking with fish.  I do not plan to over stock, but plan to have a fair amount of fish.  Need your opinion if a refugium based DSB would be best in my situation.  I also plan to do 10 gallon weekly water changes and use a euro-reef 12-2 skimmer.  If I have the room I wanted to run reverse lighting Gracilaria/Chaetomorpha fuges too. <You could still use the fine sand, but you may have to finesse the current devices so that they don't blow directly onto the sand.  You will also have to secure them well so that they can't be redirected by coming lose or being dislodged by snails or other inverts.  A healthy, very alive sandbed should handle any reasonable bioload, particularly with the other methods you plan on employing.  A remote sand bed/refugium is worth considering, but you will have to be very conscious of detritus accumulation in the display.  If you have a fine DSB in the display, brittle stars and sea cucumbers will do a lot of that work for you.  FWIW, I would aim closer to 10% weekly water changes rather than 10 gallon!> If I went to a refugium DSB how big of an area do you think I would need for good nitrate reduction for this size tank?  Also.....if I go refugium DSB what specific grade sand and depth would work best in the display tank.  I want to produce a lot of copepods/amphipods somewhere in the system for my fishes with medium course sand like CaribSea special reef.  Could this be accomplished with a 1/2 or less med-course sand in the display?  Need your suggestions please. <Ironically, I have found that CaribSea's "special grade reef sand" is the least reef tank suitable sand they produce, and is only useful for aesthetics.  Use a coarser substrate (crushed coral or Puka shells) to encourage pod populations and finer (oolitic, Southdown, sugar fine) for nitrate reduction.  Each of these must be managed.  DSB's must be kept "lively", and caution must be used that coarse substrates don't accumulate detritus.  A remote DSB 1/3-1/2 the area of the display should be adequate for nitrate reduction and should provide plenty of growing space for macroalgae.> For lighting I was contemplating 6 hr on-off cycles.  I live near the desert in CA and could keep my lights off during the hottest part of the day with this cycle.   I have heard of people do this with fish ok....but is it ok with corals too. <I would suggest that you have some light on throughout the entire photoperiod.  You could reserve your most intense lighting for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening to ameliorate heat issues.> That's all for now. Thanks!<Best Regards.  Adam>

- New Tank with High Alkalinity, Other Questions - HI. <Hi.> I have a 55 gallon tank, I am setting up a reef. Prism 100 skimmer. 70 pd.s crushed coral. 40 pd.s live rock, the tank has been running for 7 weeks, I think it cycled, not sure, might of missed it, is there a way to know if my tank has cycled. <Check for nitrates on the test kit - their presence means that the bacteria which fix ammonia into nitrite are present and as well the bacteria which fix nitrite into nitrate. That covers the nitrogen cycle.> I only have a couple of hermit crabs in the tank at the moment. ammonia- 0 nitrite - 0 nitrate - 0 PH - 8.0 - 8.2 I use Tropic Marine Salt. my question is that my calcium is at 200-250 ppm. (red sea test kit) my Alk is through the roof at 15 meg/l, not sure if it's my test kit. what is the best way to raise my ca, without raising my Alk, and why do you think my Alk is so hi? <Kalkwasser.> I think my tapwater is hard to begin with. <Quite possible.> better still should I lower my Alk, and how do I do that. <Hmm... most methods are of the don't try this at home variety... really wouldn't worry about this too, too much. Perhaps just let that alkalinity work on the gravel and rock work to free up some calcium that way.> I know I have a young tank, should I just leave things alone? and things will balance out. <I would.> is there something other than Kalk that I can use? <Kalk is probably the best choice right at the moment, but the better choice is to just let the tank settle down - seven weeks is not really a long time in the grand scheme of things so I'd be willing to wait a month or two more before I test for alkalinity or calcium again.> Also I plan on soft corals and some fish, what kind of lighting do you recommend other than halides (little expensive) I was going to get 110 watt compact fluorescent, and use my existing lights with 2 actinics total 40 watts. would this be enough light? <There are many soft corals which will do just fine under this lighting - fish certainly don't care - I'd go ahead and get those lights before you get any corals.> my tank is 20 inches high. If I were to keep hard corals how much light would they need? <Depending on the corals you select, you may need to at least double your existing plans and may also need to consider metal halide.> thanks for your help, I find your site great, very helpful. I was into marine tanks about 14 yrs ago for approx 7 yrs but moved a lot and now I've got the itch again, and  do not want to repeat my past mistakes but to learn from them. so I am showing extreme patience this time around. Thanks again hope you can help me. Val <Cheers, J -- >

Lighting II Thanks, what do you consider slowly, over a weeks time?<I could probably add a half hour a day until you get up to your normal photoperiod.  Cody>

Lighting a 90G Reef (3/7/04)   Hi Bob, <Steve Allen this AM. Sorry for the delay, one of the crew is out and I'm helping to empty his inbox.>   Thanks for the help on the ID of the Nudibranchs.  This WWM site has been an invaluable resource, thank you so much. <A pleasure for all involved. I've learned a great deal here too.> I have been doing research and have only become more confused. <That's often the case. So many different opinions.> I've searched the net on lighting requirements of the Candy Cane coral and have read anything from low to high. <How about "medium" then?> Could you help me out a bit here?? <Mine are doing fine in an 80G tank with 6X65W PCs.>   I was also researching lighting.  I would like to keep to fluorescent lights instead of metal halide (strictly due to cost - $1300 for MH - unless you know a much cheaper location) <Seems steep. Are you in the US?> and was wondering what would be a good combination? My tank is 90 gallons (48"x24"x18") and I was told that a 150 watt HQI 10K lamp would be sufficient by one of the crew. If I'm not mistaken this is a metal halide? <correct>   I would like to keep corals that require about the same lighting as the Candy Cane Coral as these are the guys I started out with.  I read about someone using 3 - 40 watt full spectrum and 1 - 40 watt actinic NO fluorescents -> would this be sufficient?? <I really don't think so. Have you read Anthony's WWM lighting articles? Check out www.marinedepot.com or www.drsfosterandsmith.com  I think you ought to be able to light your reef adequately for $500 or less even with halides. That's start-up of course; replacement bulbs and electricity add up. An initial investment around $800 will get you a great system that will serve you well for years. (Take a look at the 48" Aqua SpaceLight.) 4-6 65W PCs will handle most medium light corals, but will not be enough for clams or SPS corals. Do pay attention to where you place your corals in the tank.> Thank you very much, Todd Hawman <Hope this helps.>

Re: Ick, heat and lights Hi Graham, <Hi Nathan> You would go with a powerful PC even though it is only a shallow 20 Gallon Long tank? <You'll get the best "results" using power compacts.> She is trying to stay low budget. If she gets a single or double tube florescent or the PC what kind of "real" difference are we talking about? <Better growth, possibly better coloration, and overall healthier mushrooms. Many mushrooms, including various Ricordea, do best with slightly more intense lighting than other low light mushrooms.> Think about setting up three tanks, one with each light source and tell me what you think the "actual" difference would be in appearance and growth, etc...   <Under standard fluorescent lighting you won't see much -- probably just a group of several dozen slow growing mushrooms which are barley surviving. I doubt this is the aquarium she is going for. Power compacts will have much better results. Why? Because they have ample amounts of intensity and photosynthetically active radiation which the mushrooms will all thrive under. Because of this, the mushrooms will also grow much quicker and possibly show better coloration.> Remember this is not a public aquarium with an unlimited budget. It is just a friend experimenting with a mini-reef tank with mushroom corals and probably a royal Gramma. <I would not recommend "going cheap" in any situation -- this is what I've often regretted in my past years of keeping reef aquariums. Spending little extra is worth it.> The temp. of my apartment right now is not modulated so it has been a little cool. I went to home depot and bought a little square wooden dowel I am going to put on each end under the PC. I am hoping this will let air get under the PC and dissipate the heat a little. Right now the PC is sitting directly on the glass top. I don't have a canopy, don't like them. I can't get rid of the glass top. I will try this for now and hopefully it will work. If not, I will direct a fan on it.

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