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FAQs about Metal Halide & Halogen Lights and Lighting for 40-200 Gallon Marine Systems 2

Related FAQs: Metal Halides for Medium-Sized Systems 1, Large System Lighting, & Metal Halides for Medium-Sized Systems 3, Metal Halides 1, Metal Halides 2, Metal Halides 3, Metal Halides 4, Metal Halides 5, Metal Halides 6, Metal Halides 7, Metal Halides for Small Systems, MH for 200 gal. Plus Systems, Metal Halide Lamp Issues, Metal Halide Fixture Issues, Metal Halide Heat Issues, MH Repair Issues, Compact Fluorescents, Regular Fluorescents, Lighting Marine Invertebrates, LR LightingTridacnid LightingSmall System Lighting,

Related Articles: Metal Halide Light, & Lighting Articles, Coral System Lighting,

An Acropora close-up. 

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 2: Invertebrates, Algae
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2: Fishes
New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums Book 3: Systems
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

MH Lighting advice 04/21/11
I currently have a 120g saltwater tank, standard dimensions (24x24x48) but am growing concerned about the lighting since I am having a very difficult time keeping any corals-or even coraline algae-in the tank.
<Any kind of coral? There are several kinds of coral that will grow just fine in lower level light. So if even these fail in your system, I would suspect a problem other than lighting.>
My concern is whether the lighting is too strong/weak and whether the bulbs are too far from the surface. I'm currently using a Custom SeaLife 2x250W MH system with 2 65w actinic. The MH bulbs are 16-17 inches off the surface of the water.
<They don't need to be that high up off the water. You could lower them to a 10 to 12in above the surface.>
The bulbs are all in a single manufacturer-built hood that also houses a fan. The hood is open so the bulbs are all directly exposed to the air (I took off the "lens" after it started to melt under the heat of the MH bulbs).
<?! That shouldn't happen. I'd contact the manufacturer and complain.>
Are the lights too far off the surface of the water and/or do I have enough/too much lighting?
<It's hard to say if lighting is the problem without knowing what corals are failing under your light. If no kind of coral is surviving in your system, I'd suspect another problem (water chemistry, lack of nutrients, etc.)>
I had tremendous success with power compacts when I first started with a 55g aquarium back in the late 90's. I haven't even come close to success with the MH's though.
<Hmm, when it comes to marine aquariums, I tend to advocate a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy. If you had success with power compacts, you might consider going back to those.>
Any advice or recommendations would be very helpful. Thanks.
P.S. The hood can't be moved closer to the surface; it's built in.
<You could always built your own hood. ;-)
Sara M/L>

84 Gallon Reef Lighting 10/26/10
<Hi Blain>
I am going to set up a lighting fixture, buying retrofit kits and welding up the fixture. I have an 84 gallon reef tank, 6 ft 1/2 inch x 15 1/2 inch x 17 inch (LxWxH). I was planning on getting two MH 250 W bulbs with 4 - 3ft T5 lights to run along the front and back of the fixture. I plan on getting a retrofit bundle with a Blue Wave 2 Dual 250W ballast, with 2 CoralVue 250W 14k bulbs, and 2 spider reflectors with mogul socket. Haven't really research the T5 options but was thinking about getting 4 - 50W or so bulbs.
My questions are:
Is the above type of MH ballast and equipment a good brand? Total package is about $300. From my research it seems to be a good value but I am still novice in reef keeping.
<I haven't heard anything negative about them. I do know the ballast has been discontinued.>
If I am going to get the 14k MH bulbs should I make the T5 bulbs actinic or would that be "too much blue"? Due to the already slightly bluer tint from the 14k MH bulbs?
<Let me stop you here. With the length of your tank (72 inches), two MH lamps are not going to spread the light over the entire tank length. With tank depth of 17 inches, 250 watt lamps aren't necessary. My suggestion would be to go with three 175 watt 14K halides. If additional pop is desired, you can supplement with the very energy efficient LED actinic stunner strips. See here. http://premiumaquatics.com/aquatic-supplies/EX-8010.html >
The total wattage for the tank would be around 700W per 84 gallons, 8.3 watts/gallon. Is this a good value for a range of corals such as low light requiring corals (mushrooms) then going up to hard corals and clams?
<Stated above.>
Also if you have any suggestions on the T5 or other types of Fluorescent lighting to run along the back, such as type of ballast and wattage, I would love to hear your comments.
<My MH suggestion along with the stunner strips will provide all the necessary lighting you will need for corals/clams. The metal halides will provide all the PAR you need while the actinic LED strips provide a pleasing color accent.>
Thank you very much and I have always had a great experience with your website.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Lighting for SPS and Clams -- 01/27/10
I just got a custom 75 gallon aquarium; the dimensions are 24"W X 30D" X 24" H.
<<Interesting dimensions'¦the long depth should make for a very interesting 'view'>>
I plan on having a 6" deep sand bed, so the height will now be around 18". I would like to know what type of lighting will be best if I plan on keeping SPS and clams.
<<My fave is metal halide'¦though you could make T-5 HO work here as well>>
I will not run a chiller, so I'm wondering if a 150 watt MH will be enough?
<<Possibly'¦with a good reflector>>
My other option is 2 X 65 watt PC, with a 70 watt MH.
<<Mmm'¦this combo will likely give you better 'spread,' but may prove marginal for very high light-demanding species (e.g. -- Tridacna crocea). Much will depend on placement of the livestock. A higher wattage unit will give you more flexibility re>>
I have a 250 watt MH but I feel it might be too much.
<<Not at all'¦in my opinion>>
Can you please help me figure out which will be best?
<<For what you want to stock in this tank, I would use the 250w MH. Suspended above the tank in a 'large' quality reflector like the Lumen Max Elite from Sunlight Supply, or even the Lumen Bright from CoralVue, would make for a very striking display. The 250w lamp also gives you some flexibility re adjusting the height of the reflector up or down to control temperature or light intensity as/if needed>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

250 Watt Metal Halide 8/4/09
<Hello Mike.>
I am currently planning a 54 G. mixed reef (primarily SPS dominated). The dimensions of the tank are 38X27X22. Would a 250w Metal Halide unit be too much lighting for the tank?
<Not for what you are wanting to keep.>
I planned on having the fixture set about 6" above the surface; the highest point that I could place a coral in the tank would be about 10" below the surface. Would a 150 or 175 unit be a better choice?
<No, I would stick with what you have here.>
Most of the reading I've been doing recommends 250-400 watts for sps.
<Welcome, Scott V.>

MH Lighting for a 180 Gallon Reef 1/8/09 Hello everyone, <Hi Ryan, Scott V. with you. I added a bit more and resent this.> As always thanks for all of the help, your web site gets me through the work day. <Thank you, but through the work day!?!> Well I just upgrade my tank to 180 gallon AGA; I am going to be purchasing one of those Vortech MP40 to increase my turnover since the overflows can't handle my dolphin amp master at full throttle. So my question is about lighting I have put in about 10 hours of reading on your sight and am not sure of the path I should go. Realizing that lighting needs are based on the inhabitants of the tank let me start with that. I have polyps and soft corals, a couple of LPS corals as well. With the upgrade from a 70 gallon tank to this 180 I want to get a few more things. Oh ya, I have about 145 pounds of live rock, with a 1 inch aragonite floor bed. I plan on laying out a single layer of live rock 3 to 4 inches high on top of the 1 inch sand bed for the whole floor of the tank and then have a wall of live rock going up the back wall of the tank. <Sounds nice.> I would like to try my hand at SPS corals but the majority of my stock will be LPS, Soft Corals, and Polyps. So with that I was thinking of going with 3 MH, ICE CAP ballasts and pendants and getting Ushio 14K bulbs. I figure 3 of these will work great, but do I go with 175W or 250W MH. Is there going to be that much of a difference? <There is...depending on placement of livestock.> If I go with 250 can I forgo supplementing the MH with T5 VHO's? <You can forget the actinic either way. It is purely aesthetic, your MH will provide what the corals need. Now, will you like the look? It is up to you.> Or do I, in any configuration of MH's need the other lights? <No, but may prefer them.> I guess also I realize the 14K bulbs are more actinic but I like that look unless it will diminish the photosynthesis of my inhabitants? <14K with the livestock you list will be fine.> I decided to go with Pendant MH instead of the whole light bar kits due to the varying height over the water required by the different technologies, is that crazy? <No, nothing wrong with pendants.> Also is there really a benefit of double ended bulbs over single ended bulbs? <This can become a big argument quickly, but no when you consider the extra power cost. See Sanjay Joshi's site, he has actually quantified all of this. Do pay attention to the shielded vs. unshielded numbers. http://reeflightinginfo.com/Home.aspx> And lastly I read that with 250W bulbs there is no escaping the need for a chiller, is that true or with adequate ventilation with high CFM fans will I be okay. <There is no absolute need, but it does lead to the need for a chiller in many cases.> I live in Colorado but either way my wife keeps the house at 72 degrees year round. <You will likely be close, try it and see.> Thanks for the help it is because of your help I have stayed in the hobby for 8 years. <Welcome and thank you, happy the site has helped you so much! You can get away with the 150s if you place the more light needing livestock in the upper third or so of the tank. If you want to keep whatever wherever the 250s will do.> Ryan <Scott V.>

Metal Halides for 120 Gallon Reef -- 07/10/08 Hi Crew, <<Greetings Jeff>> Really enjoy this web site. <<Me too!>> It has been of great help as I learn something new every day. Many thanks. <<Ah good'¦and quite welcome>> I have some lighting questions and would very much value your opinion. <<Always happy to proffer my opinion, mate>> My plan is to have a 120 gallon acrylic reef tank (48x24x24) made by Tenecor. <<I have a Tenecor tank'¦you will be pleased with them>> I will have SPSs in the top half and LPSs in the bottom half, fish and no clams. I will do a retrofit style inside a canopy. I will put a fan on the left side blowing air into canopy and a fan on the right side blowing air out. <<Okay>> I have done some reading and think the following light system may work: (2) XM 175W 10K SE metal halide bulbs with an EVC 175W Electronic ballast. This combination was tested by Sanjay as having 70 PPFD, 11047 CCT and 181 power. <<These 'readings' are fine'¦and Sanjay has done some wonderful research'¦but don't get too 'caught up' in the numbers. Most any quality bulb/electronic ballast combo will do just fine'¦what you should really look closely at is the reflector you will use as a poor reflector will negate any research you've done for the 'best' bulb and ballast combo. If you have the room over the tank and the budget for it, I suggest a reflector from Lumenarc. Others will do, but these are among the very best>> I plan to use a Lumenarc III Mini MH Reflector to increase light to the tank without increasing heat. <<Ah! I should read ahead'¦ Excellent!>> This should be enough light (I hope). <<I do think so, yes'¦ Most 'die hard' SPS keepers would go with 250w bulbs/ballasts (some even 400w), but with the quality Lumenarc reflectors you are planning on using, the 175w should do fine in my opinion>> I will also have (2) blue T5s. The Lumenarc reflectors for the XM bulbs measure about 6.5 inches high. I am not sure how high the edge of the reflector should be from the water but was thinking about 6 inches. <<Can be, but no closer for sure. I would strive for about 8-10 inches from the surface of the water'¦less splash/dirtying of the bulbs and a bit less heat transfer'¦yet still plenty close>> This would put the bulb itself about 8 inches from the water as the bulb would be sitting about 1 to 2 inches inside the reflector. <<Ah yes'¦okay>> I will be sure to have the bulb over the open water and not over any of the acrylic cover for fear of damage to the tank and its support. <<Bulbs 'too close' to the acrylic can be problematic (I have seen ¾' acrylic that was soft enough to be deflected with a push of your finger'¦scary), but you have little concern at this distance and with positive air flow across the top of the tank. But still, better to position the MH lighting over 'open water' for the increased light transmission>> Questions and concerns: 1. Is this enough light to do the job? <<It is'¦ The 'light' is not everything though'¦you will need to feed your corals and provide optimum water quality and essential water movement for them to display at their best>> I really wanted to do the 250W XM but thought that would produce too much heat. <<In reality'¦is likely a small measure of difference overall>> Chiller does not seem possible for me right now. <<Do not discount the value of evaporative cooling'¦ Positioning fans to blow over the surface of the display tank as well as the sump and/or refugium can be very helpful here>> 2. Heat - Cannot use chiller (wife veto). I am thinking that can be overcome by the fans in the canopy and 1 fan within the stand. Also the room will be around 75. <<These will help'¦but do refer to my earlier comment re placing fans to blow on/across the water where possible>> 3. Am I correct in thinking that a 175watt metal halide SE would produce a good deal less heat than a 250watt SE? <<I have used both in the past (currently utilizing 250w DE bulbs) and both get 'very' hot. Logic dictates that the 250w system will emit more energy as heat than the 175w system, but whether this difference is 'sizeable' I do not know'¦nor do I know exactly how it translates in 'transferred energy' to the display. I think much would have to do with the lighting system itself (enclosed vs. open, distance from the water, et al). But I do think the difference in wattage could be 'handled' with some increased airflow (bigger/more fans), at the least>> 4. Will the light be even across the tank? <<Visibly, likely so'¦ and the Lumenarc reflectors will do much for this'¦though the wide acrylic braces across the top of the tank will impede light if/as they become obscured with salt buildup'¦but there will still be differences in PAR values at the differing distances and angles from the bulbs, regardless>> Little worried that the reflectors may cut down on the spread of the light. <<Actually'¦the ones you have chosen will probably give you the 'best' spread of light for a given distance from the water's surface>> Do not want to look at the tank and see dark, light, dark, light, dark. <<Two of these reflectors over a four-foot tank should be adequate'¦any 'problems' with light spread is likely due to their application (e.g. -- too close to the water's surface)>> Do not think this will happen but want to be sure. Also will the reflectors hurt the efforts of the fans as the air moving across the tank will hit the reflector and not the bulb? <<I do suggest adding fans positioned along the top of the tank edge to blow across the water's surface and 'under' the bulbs, as well>> I think the fans will still be productive as the warm air made by the bulbs will be moving on out of the canopy. <<This will help, yes>> 5. How many inches should the reflector be from the water? This is one of my main concerns...heat! Do not want it to be higher than it needs to be but for sure want it to be high enough. <<As mentioned'¦position the reflector to put the bulb 8-10 inches from the water's surface>> 6. Will the T5s work well being that high from the top of the tank? <<The Actinics only provide an aesthetic value to the system'¦will be fine. The 'blue' light needed by your photosynthetic organisms is provided in sufficient strength and quantity by the 10000K metal halide bulbs>> 7. What size area of open water should there be under the bulbs? Want to be sure none of the acrylic tank gets damaged. <<As much as possible. The openings that come standard with the tank will work'¦But I will state here that I think the wide top perimeter and cross bracing on production acrylic tanks, while necessary, are a real pain. Not only impeding light transmission but making working in the tank/routine maintenance a real hassle as well. If you have the resources, chat with the Tenecor engineer or sales person and see about increasing the thickness of the top to reduce the overall size of the bracing>> 8. Bulbs. Looking over the data taken by Sanjay the performance of the Ushio 175W 10K SE bulb was very similar to the performance of the XM 175W 10K bulb, except the CCT was 8136 for the Ushio bulb compared to 11043 for the XM, both bulbs were tested with the EVC 175W Electronic ballast. Is this enough of a difference in the CCT to notice? <<CCT stands for Correlated Color Temperature'¦is another way of stating 'Kelvin''¦ The Ushio bulb is a bit 'warmer' in temperature than the XM per Sanjay's findings, meaning it will appear more yellow to the eye. Considering the exceptional quality/reliability of the Ushio bulb, and the fact you will be supplementing with T5 Actinics, I feel the Ushio bulb to be the better of the two>> How would this difference affect the critters in the tank? <<The warmer bulb here will provide more useful light to the 'critters''¦and possibly an increase in growth/vitality>> I am thinking the XM would be more of a blue color. <<You are correct. The color spectrum of the XM bulb is fine'¦I am just not a fan of this brand (have seen too many burn-out prematurely), though many hobbyists do swear by them>> 9 Ballast - The performance with the XM bulb was the same with the EVC 175W electronic ballast and the Icecap 175W Electronic. Between these two ballasts which one do you prefer? <<I have always used/been a proponent of the IceCap electronic ballast'¦ But these components have come a long ways of late, and shopping for price where these devices are concerned may make more sense these days (heck, there's a chance the ballast you choose is a relabeled component of IceCap's manufacture)>> One very quick, off the topic, question. <<Okay>> I plan on getting a Euro-Reef skimmer <<Ahh, excellent choice! (Is the brand I use too!)>> but not sure which one would be best for my tank. I am looking at the RS100, RS135 and the RS180. Which one would you recommend among these three?? <<You can get by fine with the RS135'¦but I would be tempted to go ahead and get the RS180 now for that future tank upgrade [grin]'¦or if you are planning a very heavily stocked system>> Thanks for the help! Jeff <<A pleasure to share. EricR>>

Re: Metal Halides for 120 Gallon Reef -- 07/11/08 Thanks for the help EricR. <<Quite welcome Jeff>> I will put your advice to good use. <<I hope it helps>> I do have just a few more questions. <<Okay>> 1. What size and how many fans would you use in the canopy? <<I prefer 3' -- 4' 12v computer fans for this. They are easily found/acquired on the NET along with needed transformers, inexpensive, quiet (compared to 120v fans), and safer to use around water (one of my favorite vendors re is here: http://www.mpja.com/departments.asp?dept=46)'¦ Use at least a pair'¦more if they fit>> What brand would you recommend? <<Not important'¦but do choose those with 'ball' bearings>> I need a fan that makes the least amount of noise but also one that can do the job. (My wife wants the tank to be as quiet as possible). <<Been there myself>> Will follow your advice and put 2 in the stand. <<Excellent>> 2. I am having a very hard time picking between the 175W and the 250W. I am so tempted to go with the 250W but concerned that it could get me in trouble with the heat issue. <<Maybe so'¦>> I know you said that the 175W will do the job. <<Yes>> Maybe I am just thinking the old 'more is better" thing which can often lead to a bad decision. <<Sometimes, yes'¦if without forethought>> Which one would you go with? <<Considering the tank here (120g), for my money'¦the 250w system. It will offer a bit more flexibility re livestock choices (you already seem to be leaning towards those with high light requirements), it 'may' enjoy a slight edge in bulb type/choices/manufacturers over the 175w, the 250 e-ballasts will easily serve for DE bulb use should you ever decide to do so, the 250w system will easily grow/be of use if/when you upsize your display'¦and I don't think there is much difference re dealing with the 'heating issues' between the two. If the methodology employed is insufficient to mitigate excessive heat transfer on a 250w system, I doubt it will do much better on a 175w system. And also consider'¦'canopy' lighting systems are more prone to such issues due to their penchant for 'trapping' heat near the surface of the tank>> Thanks a million, Jeff <<Happy to help. Oh! '¦and just another thought'¦consider adding a pair of fans in the 'top' of the canopy to pull rising hot air out'¦while using those at the ends to blow 'cooler' outside air in. Cheers mate, Eric Russell>>

R2: Metal Halides for 120 Gallon Reef -- 07/11/08 Thanks a bunch EricR. <<Welcome, Jeff>> Another question about the fans. <<Sure>> What do you think of the following: Two fans on the left side of canopy blowing air into tank with 2 more fans on the right side blowing air out? Then two more fans on top of canopy blowing air out. That would make a total of 6 fans. <<Will provide some good airflow for sure>> Even using the quiet fans will this make much noise? <<Will make some, yes'¦but will depend greatly on the fans themselves. Generally the more air they move, the more noise they make. Some experimentation is with different fans (luckily they are pretty cheap) is likely in order to find the best combination of air displacement versus noise. The site I listed earlier makes this a bit easier by listing the noise level in decibels for each fan along with the amount of air movement (cfm)>> If so would 1 fan on each side and two fans on top do the job? (That decreases the total to 4). <<This is possible, indeed>> Oh just about forgot, are fans needed in the back of canopy? <<I think the ends and the top will serve best>> If so which way should they blow? (will my tank fly away?...hahaha) <<No worries [grin]>> I will go with your advice and choose the 250watt with the Lumenarc III Mini reflectors. I am thinking I will be able to put the lights a little higher with the 250W compared to the 175W and therefore less heat will reach the water. Is this correct? <<The added distance will likely mitigate any additional energy output, yes>> You mentioned earlier that if I went with the 175W you would put the 175W high enough so the bulb would be about 8 inches from the water. <<As a minimum'¦correct>> How much higher, if any, could I go with the 250W and still max out on the light advantage? <<About 10' above the surface of the water should be fine>> You have been a tremendous with your help. Thanks again. Jeff <<Always welcome. EricR>>

R3: Metal Halides for 120 Gallon Reef -- 07/13/08 Thanks Eric. <<Quite welcome Jeff>> One last question. <<Sure>> Should the fans run 24 hours a day or just when the metal halides are on? <<Is up to you, but I let mine run 24/7. It doesn't hurt to keep air moving around the tank and its components'¦and I actually think it adds to their longevity not turning them on and off all the time. I have a couple 4-inchers over my sump and refugium that have been running since November 2003'¦but these have been the exception>> Thank you, Jeff <<Cheers, EricR>>

R4: Metal Halides for 120 Gallon Reef -- 07/14/08 Eric, <<Hey Jeff>> I just had this idea. <<Okay>> Do you think this would work: a fan inside the middle section of the canopy, between the two MH blowing in the same direction as the two fans on the side of the canopy? <<Hmm'¦would increase airflow within the canopy>> Would this be better than a fan on top of canopy blowing air out? <<Not 'better,' no'¦I think pulling air out the 'top' of the canopy will be most efficient>> I would then have a fan on the far left side blowing into canopy then a third inside the canopy between the MH blowing the same direction toward the third fan on the right side blowing air out of canopy. I was thinking the fan in the middle would increase air flow. <<Would help'¦and is up to you. Feel free to experiment to find the configuration that best suits your situation. If a fan on top of the canopy doesn't work for you (excessive noise or light 'leakage') then try things without it first, and see if excessive heat transfer is still an issue'¦you can always add a fan to the top of canopy later if deemed necessary>> Thanks again. Jeff <<Always welcome. EricR>>

R5: Metal Halides for 120 Gallon Reef -- 07/18/08 Eric, <<Hey Jeff>> I have been researching cooling fans for my 120 gallon tank (48x24x24). <<Okay>> Would like your opinion on which one of the following would do best in my canopy. <<Sure>> Wanting to find the best mix of good air movement but not sound like an airplane under the hood. <<Understood>> I told my wife I would make my tank as quiet as possible. <<I feel your pain my friend>> Here are the ones I am looking at (all are 12v): No.1 CFM - 133.60 dB - 45.9 No.2 CFM - 33.5 dB - 8.7 No.3 CFM - 101 dB -37.0 No.4 CFM - 63.7 dB - 28.0 No.5 CFM - 44.44 dB - 19.81 I have looked at over 100 fans and these 5 seem to have the best combo of air movement and noise. <<Ah, some excellent research>> I know No.2 would be very quiet but not sure if 33.5 is enough CFM. <<Any air movement is going to help/make a difference, especially if you are exhausting hot air out the top of the canopy'¦but at less than 9 dB each you could easily 'double-up' if these prove inadequate and use a total of six units to double the CFM rate overall and still be quite'¦quiet>> I plan to follow your advice and use 3 fans, one on each end and 1 in the middle that would cover 48 inches. Would like to use the fan with 133 CFM but 45 dB may be too loud. <<I think three of them running in an exposed canopy would certainly get you a stern look from the missus>> I know it is hard to judge "noise" as what is noise for one person may not be for another. <<Not in this case, mate. My reef display and all ancillary equipment is in my living room (albeit built in to a wall)'¦I too had to take 'noise' from this in to consideration>> At the same time do not want any heat problems with the (2) 250 watt MHs. There has to be a combo that works best, just need to find it. <<I would be strongly inclined to start with fan #2 and work my way up'¦if needed>> Thanks again. <<Always welcome>> Your advice has really helped me put things together. Jeff <<It is my pleasure to assist. Eric Russell>>

Reef Lighting/Selection, 72 gal., MH  12/12/07 Hello, <Hi John> Im putting together a 72g bowfront reef ready reef tank. I plan to keep LPSs, sps, and clams. I would like to use 2 Viper 150w 14k MH units for lighting. Will this work for me? <I've heard from a reputable etailer that the Viper lights are troublesome. If you want a clamp on type light, I'd go with Coralife's Aqualight 150HQI. More money, but well made. Have one myself on a experimental tank.> Thanks in advance. Your site rocks! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Regards, John

Re: Limited MH Lighting Options Available...What's Best For 43' Deep Reef? -- 11/14/07 Hi Eric, <<Hello Marc>> Thanks for the detailed reply. <<Hope it was useful>> The MH bulbs I currently use are branded "Micron" and they appear to be intended for commercial/industrial use, rather than aquatic. <<This is not 'all bad.' Many 'Hobby' products started out as/have been adapted from 'commercial' gear>> A take what you can get situation I assume, as I did not purchase these bulbs myself but rather my previous aquarium supplier. <<I see>> I believe this is also why my rating of 25,000K does not appear very blue ... <<Hmm, yes...possibly a guessed-at or made-up rating even...or maybe these bulbs are VERY old>> likely this bulb has a very low CRI; similar to the cheap bulbs you see on eBay with CRI around 60. <<Another possibility, yes>> I will also check my ballasts as I believe the entire MH setup is of commercial/industrial intention. <<Even so, these should be fine...though some bulb brands may work better with than others...depending...>> I am thinking now of going with 4 x 400w 10,000k XM, Iwasaki or similar bulbs; <<If you can get them, Ushio gets my 'preferred' vote for this Kelvin temperature. You can get them online here for $70.00 apiece (http://www.businesslights.com/ushio-400w-10000k-mogul-base-metal-halide-lamp-p-853.html)...though I don't know if the shipping will kill you. I don't think Iwasaki offers a 10000K bulb (at least not here in the states), but if the XM bulb is all you can get that will be fine too>> then supplementing with some actinic fluorescents, as you recommended. <<Okay>> With the adjustment to the duration of the MH, this should also reduce my electricity consumption I expect. <<Mmm...do still plan on a MH photoperiod of at least 10-hours (12-hours is better, in my opinion) per day>> Do you think this would be a good route to go? <<Does sound 'like a plan'>> By the way, am living in Thailand. <<Ah! Quite a large 'Freshwater' ornamental fish industry over there, I believe...not so much geared toward 'marines?'>> Thanks again! Marc <<Always welcome. EricR>>

Perfecto 125gal and reef lighting Fish Stocking   4/21/06 Hello, it is Gary again.  I have a perfecto 125 gal reef ready aquarium.  I have tried, per your previous advice, to try and build my own sump system but had all sorts of issues.  I have decided to go with a LifeReef lf1-150 system.  I now am trying to decide about lighting.  I figured I would have about 4" of substrate and the tank height is 22".  This would mean that the lowest point would be about 18".  I would like to select a lighting system that would not limit me too much on what I could keep coral or anemone wise.  I was thinking three 250 watt HQI MH with 4 actinic T5s at 39 watt each.  Would this be ok or should I got down to 175 or 150s?   <I would use the small wattages> Next question is what is the difference between magnetic or electronic ballasts.  Is one better than the other? <The electronics are better> I am considering the ocean light fixtures.  Thanks again with your patience with me and all the questions. <Bob Fenner>

T5 VS. Halides...The Great Debate!   6/19/06 Hey everyone, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I am looking to purchase a new lighting system for my aquarium and wanted to ask your opinion. The tank I have is a 72 gallon bow front with 2x55W pc bulbs (quite poor lighting for my tank, I know).  The depth is ~19' from the water surface to the top of the sandy substrate.  It is a reef tank with live rock all the way from top to bottom so I can position my corals at various heights. My tank is mostly comprised of soft and LPS corals.  In my current setup, I have: 2 well established bubble corals (Plerogyra Sp.), 1 small Galaxea Sp., 1 Open Brain (Trachyphyllia Sp.) which is currently in my hospital tank, 2 Clove Polyps (Clavularia Sp.), 1 Leather Coral (Sarcophyton Sp.), Some green and brown star polyps, and 1 coral which you guys identified as a Stylasterina Sp. In addition to these, I would be looking at keeping Anthelia Sp. (I had one but I don't think my current lighting could cut it and it slowly died off) and Octobubble corals (Euphyllia Sp.). <Interesting mix...> There are two lighting systems that I have been trying to decide between, but any other input you may have would be helpful. I am currently looking at a T5 HO system by Tek Light, which has either 4 or 6 T5 HO 54W bulbs depending which one turns out to be better for my setup. The other lighting system I am looking at is a mix between metal halides and pc bulbs.  It has 2x150W metal halides in the center with 2x96W power compacts at the sides (which I would probably have as actinic bulbs).  This system also comes with 3x1W moon bulbs, but that won't do much for the corals (It's more for aesthetics).  The model I am looking at is a Coralife AquaLight pro. <Both are excellent systems from well-regarded manufacturers. They are different in terms of flexibility, though, IMO.> In terms of price they come pretty close (comparing the MH system with the 6 bulb T5 system), with the MH system costing a bit more (but not so much as to be my deciding factor). My local store owner says that the MH system would be of no more benefit than the T5s unless I am holding SPS corals. <I would tend to agree. T5's are amazing lights, and watt-per-watt are some of the most efficient available, especially in a well-designed reflector (like the SLS/Tek or Icecap units). However, I have seen a number of SPS systems maintained with T5's, and they are amazing. I suppose if you were comparing the T5 setup to a 250-400 watt halide setup for SPS, I would say hands down, go with halides. On the other hand, it's my personal opinion that a well-designed T5 setup can equal the efficiency of 150 watt halides, with less energy consumption and heat production. Sure, halides can do some cool things, such as provide "glitter lines", but the T5's burn cooler, are less expensive to replace, and offer an ever-increasing variety of bulbs. In your situations, I'd be inclined to go with the T5 setup, myself.> He recommends me to get the T5 system he sells, but I want a second opinion as he might just be saying that so I will buy the system from him. Much thanks for the input, John D. <I'll second the recommendation, for the reasons outlined above. Do ask around on some of the hobby message boards; ask to see some pics and hear some testimonials, but I think that you won't be disappointed with the T5 setup you're looking at! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Metal Halide Addition... Impulse Buying - 08/30/06 Hi, <<Hello!>> Looking for a quick opinion. <<I'm sure I have one>> I currently have a 75 gallon FOWLR tank (48x18x21).  I have an Aqualight that has 4x65w PC bulbs (2 actinics, 2 10000k).  I want to start adding some corals and such so I want a complimentary MH for my PC lighting. <<Mmm...have you researched/determined the corals you are adding will require this type/additional lighting?>> I basically don't want to be limited by my light if I'm in a fish store and something that catches my eye. <<Please do research your purchases "beforehand" to determine if you can provide for its needs and to ascertain its suitability for aquarium (your aquarium) life...impulse buying usually lands both you and your livestock in trouble>> I'm wondering if I should go 175w or 250w and what Kelvin degrees you recommend. <<For your tank size/depth, two 175w 10000K MH bulbs will be plenty>> I'm leaning towards a 250w pendant but not sure if I want 10000k, 14000k, or 20000k bulb. <<The pendant is doable if you want to spend the extra money (initial purchase and bulb replacement/electrical costs) as it can be easily adjusted for height, and the 10000K bulb is a good choice though this too is dependant on the species of coral you with to keep (deep water/lower light requiring organisms would appreciate the 20000K bulb)...no single lighting solution is suitable for everything that might "catch your eye"...is best to select/try to replicate and stock corals from a specific biotope or niche on the reef>> If I decided down the road to downsize to a 50gallon tank, would 250w be too much?? <<I've seen folks blast their 55 gallon tanks with 400w halides, but yes, in my opinion 150w or 175w is completely suitable.  I have an SPS dominated 375 gallon (30" deep) reef and my lighting consists of a combination of 175w (2ea.) and 250w (3ea.) metal halide lighting which provides me with great color and growth.  You don't have to "blast" your tank with light...water movement and proper feeding are big factors as well (and often ignored) to successfully keeping many coral species>> Thanks for all your help. Sara Kinnear <<I'm happy to assist.  Regards, Eric Russell>>
Re: Metal Halide Addition...Impulse Buying - 08/30/06
Hi, <<Hello Sara>> Thanks for your help. <<Quite welcome>> I did not mention that I definitely want a blue carpet anemone for my pair of clowns and definitely will make sure all my purchases are researched. <<Then you'll likely find the anemone is not a good mix with a FOWLR system but best kept in a species specific display designed/fitted to its needs>> I just want to know that if I do the research and decide I definitely want to add "whatever" - I can and would not be limited by my lighting system. <<I understand Sara and I'm not here to give you a hard time, my purpose is to help you to succeed...do be aware that lighting is only a portion of the equation>> I am going to purchase a 175w system and use a 10,000k bulb.  Much thanks! <<Please read here and among the indices in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/carpetanemones.htm >> Sara <<Regards, EricR>>

90 gallon Reef MH question, heat   9/5/06 Bob,     I have read a lot of your articles on WWM about the  Metal Halides and everything else.  I currently have a 90 gallon all glass  aquarium with a corner overflow.  I'm currently using a Aqualight Plus  Fixture contain 2 10k whites and 2 actinics all being 96 watts with the standard  wooden canopy above the lighting and the tank.  The tank without the use of  a heater stays around 77-78 degrees.  I'm playing with the idea of getting  the New Outer Orbit lighting system that contains 2 150w 10k  HQI MH and 2  130 watt PC Actinics.  With the tank being a taller tank and liking the  shimmering effect of the MH i wanted to know if there was a way to include the  canopy at least on the outside without worrying about the heat issue. <Fans... a chiller...> I  don't mind having an open top canopy but i would like to at least have some type  of a canopy so that i don't see the light fixture.  I was thinking about  installing two fans in the back on the canopy to blow the air out from under the  lights as well as drilling some holes on the outside of the canopy to allow air  flow thru the fixture itself that does contain an 3.5 inch fan always. <Better to blow in and out...>   I  just don't really like the fact going somewhere and seeing the lighting fixture  and the light peeking thru the sides between the light and the top of the  canopy, but i do understand that MH put out a lot of heat but i wasn't sure if  these HQI lights with the new design of ballast put out else heat.  But my  main issues is being able to put the light system on the tank without it being  too much light for the corals, LPS, Calms, SPS and zoos and polyps. <Won't be here>   And  having some type of a canopy around the sides so the tank looks complete like a  piece of furniture not just a tank please let me know Thank you Drew <Can be done... will likely need a chiller. Bob Fenner>
Re: 90 gallon Reef MH question.  9/6/06
With the MH being about 7 to 8 inches off of the water is this ok, or is it going to cause the light to be too intense for the tank. <Need to elevate this high or higher for light distribution and safety reasons... see the manufacturer's recommendations re>   Do you believe that with fans I can keep it cool or more than likely i will have to have a chiller, which i really don't want to purchase at all. Drew <More than likely the chiller will be needed if using 250 watt units or higher. Bob Fenner>

T5 or MH, Heat Issue...   9/2/06 Hello Crew,     I'm upgrading my 100 gallon tank into a reef tank. Currently I'm planning on removing my closed canopy and replacing it with an open lighting fixture. I've set my mind on either Metal Halide or HO fluorescent T5 lighting.     The thing is, I don't know which lighting will be better for my setup. My tank dimensions are 58" wide and 18" deep. I would like to keep Bubble-Tipped Anemones and Tridacnid Clams (I would place the clam at the bottom of the tank). My preference in Corals is still not clear, but I would like to be open to a wide range of possibilities.     I've read through your FAQs that Clams prefer MH (and so do I, due to the pleasing shimmering effect), but heat is an issue to me. My room temperature is 25 C, but my tank is around 27 C and I think it's mainly due to the trapped heat in the closed canopy (with three 40 watt fluorescent lamps, will remove soon). I'm also adding more powerful powerheads that will add up to the heat. I'm not sure if T5's will provide enough lighting for the intended inhabitants while emitting low heat, and need your inquiry. Thank you. Have a nice day. Mohammad <<Mohammad:  While there are some people who like T5's the vast majority of people that have anemones and clams (including me) have MH lighting.  If your canopy is open, I don't thing the MH lighting will significantly increase your temperature.  Some day, we may be able to light our tanks with LED's; but, the technology is still being tested.  Best of luck, Roy>>

Metal halide height above water 7/14/05 Hi. Sorry to bother you guys again, but I couldn't find the answer I needed on your online files. I'll be quick. I have a 92 gallon saltwater corner tank that has a 24" water depth. I have a 192 watt PC unit with a 96 watt 10000K and 96 watt actinic blue in it. When I purchased the tank, I had to ask about why my glass cover kept cracking, and you helped me out and now, no more cracked glass. Thank you so much!! I was cracking up dealing with all of that!! <I am surprised that pc's produced enough heat to cause the glass to break, but I am glad to hear that you fixed it!> Well, I wanted to upgrade my lighting and I am planning on purchasing a 175 watt double ended 20000K metal halide with 2-18 watt actinics in it. I want to use it with the PC I already have, however, I do not want more cracked glass. How high should it be hung over the water? The PC is about 3 or 4 inches above, and no canopy is used, just the glass cover. <I am curious about why you use the glass cover.  You would probably double the amount of light reaching your corals simply by removing the glass cover.  I definitely would recommend removing the cover if you are going to use a halide.  The glass will likely get quite hot, so your risk of cracking it is high.  Also, you will not be getting the full benefit of the upgrade if you are blocking light with the glass.  Also, a double ended fixture will have it's own glass cover (which must be used!), so your tank cover will be redundant.> I keep my house well air conditioned, around 74 degrees in the summer. Will I need a chiller? I like to keep the temp in the tank 76, but don't care to set it a little higher. <76 is pretty cool.  I try to keep my tanks close to 80, but they often get as high as 85 in the summer (not necessarily recommended!).  Another benefit to removing the glass cover is that the additional evaporation will offset the increased heat from the halide.  If you remove the glass cover and keep the ambient temp at 74, you should not need a chiller to keep the tank at or below 80.> Also, will the lighting combination I will have be way too blue in color, or will it look okay? Thank you so much, and maybe I will leave you guys alone for a long time after this one. Christy  <This is a very subjective question.  I personally find the combination of most 20K lamps with actinics to be unnaturally blue.  Try to see others tanks and replicate the lighting on the tanks you like.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Metal Halide height above water follow up 7/20/05 Thanks for your reply, but now I have further questions. You asked why I use the glass cover and it is mainly because I don't like the mess it makes when the tank is uncovered. My water return causes quite a bit of turbulence on the top of the water, which causes these tiny, tiny bubbles to jump straight up, coating everything with salt spray. As I mentioned, the corner tank does not have any type of canopy, so there is no way I can hide salt spray. <The problem of salt spray should be easily solved.  I run a 92 gallon corner tank with 1500gph+ of circulation with no salt spray problems.> Is there no way I can purchase a metal halide and still use a glass cover? <You can run the halide with the glass cover, but the glass cover will cut down on the amount of light that reaches the tank, especially when the glass is fouled by salt spray.  Keeping the covers also makes it more difficult to control heat.> As far as gas exchange goes, I use large bubble makers, and I run a protein skimmer 24-7. <Ah Ha!!!  The bubble makers are probably unnecessary, especially with a skimmer and strong water movement.  They are probably the source of 99/9% of your salt spray.  These can almost certainly be safely eliminated, allowing you to remove the glass covers.  The loss of the bubblers will be made up for by the amount of fresh air reaching the surface of your water.> As far as corals go, I don't have any yet, because I feel my current lighting is insufficient to sustain them, and I don't like to buy things I know I can't keep alive. The main things I am hoping to have are a few BT anemones and maybe a few other corals like hairy mushroom coral, Plate corals, and polyp corals with similar light requirements. Can a BTA live under my current lighting conditions?  The major thing I want is a bubble tip anemone. I just feel my tank is a little dark and could use the boost, and who's going to complain about glitter lines? <BTA's can be kept under fluorescent light if you have enough and there is no glass cover.  Halides are definitely recommended.> I do already have live rock and fish, snails, crabs, and shrimp. I am just totally confused now. I was supposed to get the halide for my birthday and now I don't even know if I can use one if I do. Please help me. I can hang the light any distance from the glass cover, or could you advise on how to not use a glass cover without having a huge mess on everything? <I didn't mean to discourage you from using a MH light.  I only wanted to point out that you will not get the full benefit with the glass cover in place.> I am willing to remove it, as long as it doesn't need wiping off in an hour. I don't mind wiping it weekly or every couple of days, but don't want to do  a huge cleanup every hour, and the way it is now, I would have to wipe it off every hour for it not to look gross. <See the comments above about the bubblers, and your wish will be granted!> I value your opinions at WWM and consider them the bible to saltwater fish keeping. I am sending a picture of the tank to help you help me. Thanks so much. Christy <Thanks for the very kind words.  Glad you have benefited!> P.S. The reason my glass had broke before, is I was placing it directly on the glass, not using mounting legs, which I didn't know I needed. It is funny now at how stupid I am at this great hobby. Everyone that knows me thinks I am obsessed with it. They are probably right. See ya.  <I don't see any indication of stupidity.  We all make such mistakes.  Enjoy your (all of our!) obsession!  Best Regards.  AdamC>

Metal Halides - 2 150's on a 90 Gallon 7/16/05 As I'm still in the setup stage and have time to plan, I'd be curious how you folks would come out on the following:  Specifically, how high would you mount two 150 MH's over a 90 gallon (standard 48x18x24). <About a foot above the actual water>   I plan on soft corals, and perhaps a few Acropora high up in the tank.  I'd say my house in the summer ranges from 72-74, maybe 75 for a few hours in the nastiest part of Tulsa summers which hit a solid 100F.  Just doing a test without water, I can really feel the heat pour down, primarily just directly down below the halides.   <Oh yes> Would your answer change if I was to place glass over all or a portion of the tank? <Mmm, no> How about just some glass (in addition to the glass tank brace) just below the halides? <Again, no... I would elevate the MH a foot above all regardless... for heat and light spread reasons> I realize the issue of aeration, but would a glass canopy be a bad idea to deflect heat (or at least deflect it so it can be washed away by a fan) inasmuch as there will be a sump with good air exchange there? <The glass unfortunately will do more... particularly changing the shift in spectral composition and blocking light penetration> I want to be able to avoid a chiller.  Surely that is doable with either fans blowing on a sump/refugium and/or through the canopy.  Btw, the light fixture is a Sunpaq Outer Orbit, so it has some built in fans.  Still, the heat comes down as noted above?  Thoughts? Thanks very much!     <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/mhmarfaqs.htm and the other Related FAQs linked above... and elsewhere on WWM re chillers, water cooling... You might want to set the light fixtures up in such a way that they can be adjusted for height, dimmed... timed to be off during the hottest days. Bob Fenner>

Re: Clams and Upgrading PC Lighting 8/6/05 Thanks for the response. I am not sure what is available to me so that I can use metal halide lighting with the setup I have. I have a Current Dual Lamp light. Do they make bulbs to replace the actinic and day light I currently have? If they do which one do I replace?<<You're welcome. MH lighting and PC lighting use different ballasts and fixtures so that simply replacing bulbs is not an option. You will need to research MH lighting and determine what is suitable for your tank. Considerations include the dimensions of your tank, what livestock you currently have and what you would like to add, hardware aesthetics (using a canopy vs. pendants vs. fixtures). Also, you will need to determine what MH bulb(s) you want to use. My friend, you have a lot of reading! The good news is that WWM has a lot of information to offer.>> If they don't make a metal halide bulb how do you suggest I add one (I have enclosed a photo of my tank). Would adding a halide light be too much for my corals?<<After determining what MH fixture, bulbs, etc. you are going to use, please search WWM on "acclimating corals to MH lighting" and read through the FAQs. Good luck - Ted>>

MH lighting help  9/2/05 Hello WWM,<Hello Cody> I have read several Q&As on your site using the search tool and threads on other sites and can't find a straight forward answer to my question.   My apologies if this has already been asked and I cannot find it. I am thinking of upgrading my lighting over my 75 gal (48x18x20H) from 4- T5 / 2-VHOs to metal halide. This combination gave me a nice blue look that highlighted the purples too.. but not purple like solely VHO tanks.  I think I'm going to miss the awesome color.  Since I already have the fluorescent Retros, I could use a single or 2 of them for enhanced color with the metal halide if necessary.. but I would like to keep the utilities down by just going with Halide if possible.  I plan to have a mixed tank...I love mushrooms and other softies, I have a frogspawn and Kenya trees, but I am taking a liking to more SPS corals. So here are my questions.. 1)  What would you suggest for my 20" deep tank x 4 ft long...(2) 175W or (2) 250W and why? <I would go with two 175's which gives you 4.6 watts per gallon, a good ratio for most corals and anemones.> 2)  If I went with the (2) 175Ws and added 1 VHO or 2 T5s for color, would that be suitable for growing SPS? <Yes> 3)  If I had to run (2) 250W halides, I would opt not to use the fluorescents...so is there a nice spectrum bulb that can be run without fluorescent supplementation?  A couple of bulb examples would be helpful.. maybe a couple of your favorites? <The 250's would be a little overkill and would add to water temperature problems.  20K bulbs (175's) have a nice blue accent.> 4)  If I ever went up to a 90 gallon tank (24" tall) would 175Ws work, or would I definitely need to go to 250Ws? <A 90 gallon tank really doesn't increase your livestock capacity since the surface area is relatively the same.  You would be much better off going to a five foot tank.  And, yes, you would probably need the 250's, and again adding to water temperature problems.> Thanks for your help...-Cody <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Forgot to add that my MH bulb will have to be about 8-9" off the water due to my canopy.  I'm not sure if that factors into your decision or not. <Not much Cody.  James (Salty Dog)>

Lighting A Shallow Reef Tank - 11/25/2005 Hi guys, I sure need help. <We all do now and then! Scott F. with you today!> I am setting up a 60gal. 48x15x16 long but not very tall. My dream is to make it a more SPS coral tank with a few leather corals that I have in a 15 gal.  Because the height of the tank is lower than most, I can't decide on the proper metal halide wattage. I was thinking 2-175 watts with 2 96 watt actinics. After 3 in. of sand and a short stack of live rock, maybe just 6-8in.high, would this be to bright and bleach the corals? <It could be too bright for some corals; in fact, and new coral needs to be acclimated to new lighting conditions. For greater versatility and energy savings, I'd consider going with two 150 double-ended (HQI) reflectors (like Sunlight Supply "Reef Optix III's or Aqualine Buschke or PFO pendants. They throw good light over a wide area. Most of the commonly encountered high light loving SPS corals should do okay under these lights in this sized tank.> And would it be to hard on a few fish that I want as well.  The lighting I looked at sits between 4 and 7in above the tank. <Depends on the types of fishes you intend to keep. Deep water fishes will require a dimmer setup or more rocks or overhangs to retreat to if the light bothers them. Also, consider heat issues in a shallow tank. Be sure to properly ventilate the canopy.> Thanks Bob Carter <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F.>

Re: Lighting (Boiling) Upgrade  12/15/05 Hi, <Hello.> Is a dual 400watt metal halide (PFO Brand w/10K bulbs) enough light to keep a crocea clam and Acro corals in a 70 gallon tank (15 inches deep)? <In my opinion, WAY to much light, x2, 150 watt would-be plenty for just about anything in this tank.> Thanks and I appreciate your assistance and website, <Quite Welcome.> Jose <Adam J.> Lighting? Hi, <Hello> I have a 65 gallon tank that is 48" and 15" in depth. <Interesting>   My question is that I am upgrading my lighting to dual 250 MH with 4X65 (actinic) PC's. <Mmm, I would use 150 watt MHs here...> Both lights are mounted at the same level and was wondering what height I should have them above the tank. <Posted on WWM... likely about a foot> I have two crocea clams (bottom) that are my only light intensive animals.  I also have frogspawn and a Monti cap. Thank you in advance for your recommendation. Jose <Keep reading my friend. Bob Fenner>

Lighting   1/18/06   Hello - compliments on the site,<Thank you> my foray into reefkeeping would not have been possible without it.  I have a 55 gallon tank, about 20" deep and I am running Coralife lunar Aqualights (192w).  I recently purchased an LTA which is being hosted by a pink skunk clown and seems to be doing just fine, but I am considering upgrading my lighting so that I will not have to worry about lighting requirements in the future.  I like the new Current USA SunPod fixtures (2x150MH) - would you recommend this unit?  it does not contain any actinics, is this a problem? <A very nice unit.  I own a Current fixture and I can attest to the quality workmanship they provide.  The two 150HQI's will be great.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, <Welcome> Chris

Are 150w HQI metal halides enough for my tank  - 01/23/2006 Thanks for the reply, James. <You're welcome> One more question: I was told 150w dual ended HQI's give off just about as much light as 250w mogul bases. <Don't believe this is true.> If this was the case, would 1 150w double ended HQI be enough over my 60 cube, or would you upgrade to a 250w double ended HQI? <As below, with the depth of your tank I'd go with the 250HQI for the critters you want to keep.  James (Salty Dog)>   Eric

MH vs. PC  - 01/24/06 Hey WWM crew <Hello.> Quick summary.... 55gal high (36w X 20h X 18d).  A friend of mine has to lights he wants to sell, just curious which one would suite my needs better.  I have about 60lbs live rock and about 1.5" sand (still cycling). I do plan on having 1 anemone and 1 or 2 soft corals with about 4-6 fish. The light specs are as follows: 280w Metal Halide 1- 155w HQI 20k <Are you sure it isn't a 150 watt or 175 watt bulb? Furthermore I would use a 10,000K bulb rather than a 20,000K bulb.> 2- 65w Actinic and 192w Power Compact 1- 96w Dual Daylight 10k & 6700k 1- 96w Dual Actinic 460nm & 420nm <Since you plan to attempt an anemone (and I urge you to be patient in trying such a sensitive animal) I would go with the more intense MH for your set-up.> I've heard stories of to much heat and light from a Metal Halide on a tank my size.   <If you suspend it at least 8 inches above the water, and have a small fan or two you should be just fine. Also look into a auto-top off system.> Both are same price, which do you think I should go with? <Given just these two choices I would opt for the MH, Adam J.>

Lighting/Inverts/T5 lighting for 180 Reef   2/22/06 Hi James, <Hello Roger.> After doing some additional research there seems to be varying opinions on T5 efficacy and I'd prefer to purchase a solution once given the expense.  Needless to say I also want what's best for the animals that will inhabit the tank.  Therefore I've decided to not step out of the box and go with tried and true MH.  I have a few related questions if you don't mind.  Any unsolicited advice is very welcome as well! 1.  I've read the rule of thumb is 1 fixture for every two linear feet of tank.  You'd mentioned two 250's but would 3 be more suitable? <Three would be more suitable if cost isn't a problem but if you went with two 250 watt HQI's placed on center 18" from each end (assuming a 72" long tank), you should have plenty of light.  Less light loving inverts can be placed on the ends.  Will only see some light loss on the last 6" of the tank.> 2.  10K bulbs seem to be the recommended frequency but there's different types.  One retailer alone sells Iwasaki, Ushio, Venture, Hamilton & BVL which vary by almost $40 in price.  Is there really a major difference between a $60 Iwasaki and a $95 BVL? <The more expensive bulbs usually produce a truer color temperature and a little more light output.> I'll be using an electronic ballast, probably an Icecap.  Not sure if that matters. <More efficient, bulbs last a little longer.> 3.  Strictly based on the bulb description the BVL sounds like it has more blue.  Does that negate the need for Actinics or are they still recommended?  Would a lower frequency blue be better either as an alternative or to augment the actinic? <In a mixed reef I would go with 10-14K lamps. Actinics aren't necessary with these color temperatures.> 4.  I'm going to be installing these in an 8" wood canopy.  What's the recommended ventilation scheme, number of fans, placement, vent holes etc? <Two fans, opted for the highest CFM you can get that will fit in the sides of your hood.   I'd place one drawing air and one exhausting air.> I'd really like to avoid buying a chiller but I don't want the canopy to sound like the inside of a data center either if I can avoid it. <Might consider Ice Caps temperature controlled on demand fans.> Also, should I add an insulating material between the pendant and the wood (it would seem wise) and if so what do you recommend? <I wouldn't, may melt/soften.> I apologize for dominating your time with all these questions but I'd like to preserve capital so I can afford to put something in the tank not just over it :) <I do recommend HQI, cleaner color temperature, bulbs last longer and takes up much less space in the hood.> Thanks so much, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Roger

Lighting/HQI  - 03/28/06 James, thanks for your timely reply and sound advice. <You're welcome.>  After visiting a couple of LFSs to demonstrate the difference between fluorescent and HQI lighting, I think she's convinced that's the way to go. However, most of the 48" HQI fixtures I see for sale feature 2 150W bulbs. Is HQI that much better that 300 total watts will be sufficient, or do I need to look around for a higher powered unit? Do you think it would be beneficial to look into one of the combo HQI/PC fixtures I have seen on the market? Finally, there appear to be 3 basic choices for HQI spectrum bulbs, 10, 14 and 20K, what would you recommend? <Watt for watt, the High Quartz Iodide bulbs are much more intense than fluorescents tubes.  What you have to decide here is what you plan on keeping.  Being the 90 gallon is a deep tank, stronger lighting will be needed if you wish to keep SPS corals and clams.  If that is desired, I would go with a twin 250 or a triple 150 watt system.  The twin 150 HQI's will allow you to keep soft corals and most LPS corals.  Additional fluorescent tubes are not required.  I like the 14K lamps.  Do read this article and related FAQ's for more info. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm Thanks again for helping us find our way. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Pearson Hurst.  

Lights for a 5ft tank hi << Hi there. >>  I have a 5ft, 70 cm deep marine tank and I  was wondering what would be the best MH for my tank (Kelvin, watts and how many) also I would like to keeps anemones and soft corals << I'm unsure if you meant 5ft deep or 5ft long.  Anyway the depth of the tank is the most important factor for this.  I'll assume your tang is 70cm deep.  I'd probably go with two 250 watt halides, and also a couple VHO bulbs for actinic light. Hope that helps. >> thanks <<  Blundell  >>

Wattage and Kelvin rating So what would be the best lighting only in MH for my 5ft L by 70cm H << I would probably go with two (or three) metal halide bulbs.  Each bulb being 250 watts, 14k bulbs. That is ideal for me.  That opinion will change as new products come out, but for now that is what I would use. >> (KELVIN AND WATTS) <<  Blundell  >>

How much light is too much Hi Everyone I purchased a dual 250 watt metal halide kit for my 110 gal.  show tank which is 31 in. tall. I got a great deal on a 157 gal tank and will be setting it up instead. This tank is only 24 in. tall, is the 250 watt 5500K setup too much for it? <No, it is not too much for the corals but I would change the bulbs to 10k instead of 5500k.  5500 is too much on the yellow side and you will get more algae growth in the tank.>  In going to the new tank I will need to add 1 more light since the 110 was 4 ft long and the new tank is 7 ft long. Should I sell the 250 watt kit and go with a triple 175 watt? <Proper light coverage is best.  I would recommend 3 MH bulbs or even 4 for a 7ft long tank.> Thanks Robert <No Prob. MikeB.>

48" DE HQI setup (Like Aquaspacelight setup) <Hello, MikeB here.> I currently have 55 gallon long reef tank for 4 years. My setup is of the following Since I have a question on light I will describe detail 2x ARO elect ballast with PFO pendant ICECAP 10k bulb and 2 x 54 watt T5 ATI Actinic bulbs they are all in my 10" high Canopy with 2 icecap fans.<Ok, sounds good.> Corals are growing fast and liked Icecap 10k bulbs but would like to add more blue so I am thinking about putting one more 150watt HQI in the middle (I have extra setup for one more 150watt HQI and do not want to buy 250watt setup) Putting 150watt in the middle is this bad idea? I know there is a fixture from Aquaspacelight 2 - 250 watt HQI Metal Halide with one single 150 watt 20K double ended metal halide mounted in the center.<No, not a bad idea, just put your higher light corals underneath the 150 watt bulb and your lower light corals to the outside of the tank.> I was thinking about putting 150watt HQI 20k Ushio in the middle with 2 x 150watt HQI 10k icecap and 2 x 54 watt ATI actinic bulbs. Any recommendation?<Uh, 450 watts on a short tank is a tremendous amount of light.  It would make your tank look awkward in my opinion.  I would take the 20K bulb and put it in the middle with one 10K on each side.> Tank: : 55gallon 48" length 13 deep TruVu Filtration: Custom build sump 30x 11 x 16 (small refugium mangroves with 27 watts 64k) Skimmer: AquaC Ev-90 Pump: Lifeguard 1140gph external pump Circulation: two 1/2 sea-swirl in the both comer attached to Lifeguard 1140gph pump one Rio SEIO 620 Overflow: CPR 102DX 1400gph in the middle Refugium: 10 gallon (20x10x16) custom made above tank refugium (CPR hang-on style) RIO 2100 from right side of main tank to drop left side of main tank Light: 2 x 150 watt HQI 10k for main tank 2 54 watt T5 actinic Chiller: CSL inline 1/4 HP Inline Chiller Live Rock: 80lbs Live sand: 70lbs in display tank and 20lbs in above tank refugium and 10lbs in sump. Corals: Ricordeas, mushrooms, buttons, sun polyps, leathers, brains, hammer, frogspawn, 2 squamosa, 3 maxima, 3 Crocea, Some SPS flags Chris Kim <Well you have enough filtration and I can see why the corals are doing so well.  Again, I wouldn't concentrate the light on one area of the tank.  Spread it out.  MikeB.>
Re: 48" DE HQI setup (Like Aquaspacelight setup)
Mike, thanks for your comment.<Sure, no problem.> I have current 2x 10k 150watt HQI located to cover 24" each and plan to put 1x 20k 150watt in the middle is this bad location? <I don't think so.  But if your tank has a center brace then some of the light will be diverted.> Or I should put evenly 3 HQI distance?<Do as you plan but you definitely want them even distance from each other. My pendant is about 9 inches so I have current setup like this 10"--- 9" (10k HQI) --- 10"---9" (10k HQI) --- 10" = 48" So my next setup was going to be 10"--- 9" (10k HQI) ---1"--- 9" (20k HQI)---1"---9" (10k HQI) --- 10" = 48" <I would do it this way from left (6"-light-5"-light-5"-light-6")> I currently have them about 6" from water (from water to HQI bulb not pendant end) should I raise little more? (Maybe I should so that middle 20k could cover more area...)<I would go at least a foot for the salt spray.  If any cold water gets on a hot bulb....no more bulb.> Oh, also some people suggest actinic light 12 hours... So after setup I was thinking following: 11 hours 2x T5 54watts 9 hours 1x 20k HQI (middle) 8 hours 2x 10k HQI 13 hours light refugium. Could you tell me your opinion? < you want to go dark to light.  So, when I would turn on the actinics first then the 20k then the 10k and when I turn them off I would go 10k to 20k to actinics.  As far as length of photoperiod you have to determine that by the way your corals react.  I would run the light on the refugium opposite of the tank.> Thanks <Good luck. MikeB>

Metal Halide Lighting 12/22/04 Hi, I have a 5ft L x 75cm H x 58cm W and was wondering how many metal halides to buy????? (I was told that 3x 150watts would be good). <The general rule is to cover about 2 ft per MH lamp, so your tank falls in the middle of two or three.  If you have center brace(s) over your tank, I would let that decide.  Never place a MH lamp directly over a center brace (acrylic or glass tanks).> I was wanting to keep soft corals and anemones and what is the best Kelvin for these species. <Two or three 150w or 175w lamps would be fine, but the anemones would have to be closer to the light.> Also with metal halide can you use cover glass??? (I was told that it blocks out most of the light) (but the fish might jump out) ???????  Thanks <Although fish jumping can be a problem, I would only consider tank cover glass if you are keeping notorious jumpers (jawfish, firefish, etc.).  Even then, the downsides (reduced evaporation, higher heat retention, light reduction) are great. Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Metal halides over the center tank brace All: < Blundell here tonight. >    Thank you for your valuable advice.  I am in the process of upgrading the lighting on my 125 gal. 72X18X22.  I will be going with MH mogul based in 20K.  I will be purchasing a new canopy in either 10" or 12" depending on your advise.  I wish to keep LPS, soft and limited SPS.  I will keep the SPS confined to the upper 1/3.  I know these are broad categories, but I will place specimens as needed.  My question is should I go with 3 X 175 watts in a 10" canopy or 3 X 250 watts in a 12" canopy? < With those options, I'd chose the later.  The more watts the better in this case. > I have never kept SPS but it is my understanding that 20K bulbs don't put out the same PAR per watt as say 6500 or 10K's.  < Very true.  20k have better color for the corals, but grow slower and don't look very bright.  I use 20k now, but will probably switch to 14k or 10k next time. > Also, there is a 12" 1/2" thick center brace that one of the three lights will be directly over.  Is 10" or 12" of clearance in the respective wattages safe?  < It is safe, but the shadow of the brace really cuts down on how well that bulb will work.  You may want to have that brace replaced with acrylic, or have your lights staggered so that the middle bulb isn't right over the brace. > The canopy will be well ventilated (fans. etc.)  Thank You! Ben <  Blundell  >

Upgrade to Metal Halides?  Good morning, <Hello Ralph> My reef aquarium has been up and running for a year and a half. Right now I have 260 watts of PC lighting and am interested in upgrading to Metal Halides. My question revolves around my beautiful cover of coralline algae. Will the sharp increase of light intensity burn or destroy the nice color or will it adjust to the new light intensity.<It will adjust, though I would recommend starting the halides at one hour and increase by one hour daily> The aquarium is a standard 75 gallon. Currently we house a variety of soft corals and mushrooms. We have a small Montipora frag we are trying to cultivate. Everything is happy and looks great but we are interested in taking things to a new level with some SPS coral. Will and additional 260 watt PC fixture have a similar effect to adding the metal halides.<Another 260W fixture would give you 6.9 watts per gallon which would be plenty.  I believe your 75 is 18" deep.  Halides generally penetrate the water deeper so you might want to try adding two 175W halides to your existing fixture.  Personally I like the effect 10K lighting does to the appearance.  James (Salty Dog) Thanks, Ralph

Re: Upgrade to Metal Halides?  Dear James, Thanks for your quick reply. Assuming I go with the metal halides, will I need to do anything special to protect the mushrooms. Currently they are deep in the aquarium (near the bottom) and off in the corners. I have read that mushrooms do not necessarily like the intense lighting halides provide.<No, just acclimate to the halides. James (Salty Dog) Thanks, Ralph

Juwel Trigon 190 Litre - upgrade to MH 1/16/05 First post - thanks for your site - great! <cheers... and welcome my friend> I have a Juwel Trigon 190 Liter bow fronted tank with 1 x 18W 24" Arcadia Marine White and one 18W 24" Arcadia Actinic. I am keeping a few polyps and want to house a greater selection of corals. The polyps seem to have lost their 'greenness' and are looking brown - although apart from that they are looking healthy and opening out. <the lack of UV and overall light intensity is the root cause here> I want to increase the lighting intensity and have been looking into an Arcadia 3 Series 70cm 250W HM bulb with 2 x 18W actinic bulbs.   <very fine choice> This unit hangs from the ceiling - which is necessary as other style units would not fit onto the bow front. Is this a suitable selection for a tank of this size (43 UK Gallons) <yes... quite fine. Its a touch on the bright side, but no worries... especially with the common tendency to use bluer lights> Given the existing lighting scenario - is there a significant difference between the light output of what I have and what I'm looking at - <yes... tremendous. Acclimate the present corals slowly to the new light by use of the "screen method" (do a google search of our website wetwebmedia.com from the index page to find more info on this)> and what height above the water should I have the MH kit before lowering it down for acclimatization. <about 25 cm. off the water surface or higher for its final resting place. No need to start it higher at first if using the screen method> Thanks for a great site. Tim - UK <best regards, Anthony>

MH question Hi, I have a 5ft L X 2ft W X 75cm H and was just wondering would 1 X 250watt metal halide placed in the middle be enough for soft coral and host anemones to live???? If not then what else would you recommend with out breaking my wallet???? <Dana, that wouldn't be enough unless you put your corals etc in the center of the tank. The ends of the tank wouldn't be all that bright. If money is the object you might be better off with a PC hood with four 65 watt tubes. These are $212.00 plus shipping from Drs. Foster & Smith and they have a built in cooling fan along with two lunar lights for a nice night effect. They are listed under the brand name "Satellite" although the units are made by "Current". James (Salty Dog)>

MH question more Follow-up Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2005 Hi, My Tank has 3 braces on it so how would you do it??  <You can use a retrofit kit and mount them in a hood or you have the option for a hanging pendant.>  Also how much are metal halides to run power-wise?  <Dana, that all depends on the wattage of the lamps and the type of ballast you are using. The electronic ballasts will use a little less current and extend the bulb life along with slightly increasing the intensity of the lamp. James (Salty Dog)>

MH question follow up 1/31/04 Hi, I live in Australia do you know somewhere I can get them from here, Also is 3 x 150 watts MH alright for my size tank? Thanks <I would suggest searching the 'net for an aquarium club in Australia. They will be able to give you better info on equipment availability than we would. I would suggest 2-3 lamps to cover your tank, and in my opinion, 150w is plenty for 90+% of the corals you will probably keep. Best Regards. AdamC.> 

Upgrading to halides in the UK Dear Crew <Hello Jim, Justin here.> After much deliberation and soul searching I am considering upgrading my lighting to a metal halide set-up.  After reading the conscientious marine aquarist I have a few pertinent queries for an old UK reefer like myself. <Sure will do my best> My current lighting is as follows: 4 58W Arcadia Marine whites 1 Actinic 03 1 T5 80w Totaling around 300 watts of light. <good setup but what sized tank?>  I currently keep a few hardy stony corals with some soft corals in a well pruned reef garden setup which consists of 2 Euphylliids 2 Caulastreas 1 Porites (growing very slowly under the strip lights) 1 Pavona 1 Montipora 2 Turbinarias Various Sarcophytons, cabbage corals, and polyps. These are placed as per the coral requirements around half way to within the top of the reef wall in my 120 gallon set-up. <Good to see and not a lot of light for a 120 at depth so good to see them being near the top.> This 300 watts has served me well and as you probably all know halides are expensive but remove the need for all my fluorescent ballasts etc. <Yes and no... You might keep the actinics to get the color you want, or go with 10,000k MH lights to get those blues as well, but that is based on your personal tastes.> I would like increased growth from the halides but I am worried about 'scorching' the corals with an upgrade to the Arcadia 400watt pendants (6 foot triple halide unit) <A concern yes, do acclimate them using short photoperiods, some grating to break the intensity down and lowering the corals some, as well as lowering the light unit very slowly to no lower than 7 inches. those 400's may need 10" height to keep things cooler. >  I am eyeing up. I can acclimatize the existing corals by shifting the unit away from the aquarium and bringing it in slowly. Also I am considering a fan for cooling, alas a chiller is well out of my cash reserves resource.  <Please do this as well as buying some egg crate to diffuse the lighting, read on the FAQ's for more info on that. Also you will need a lot more than 1 fan to cool things down. If you cannot afford a chiller maybe look into 250 watt halides that run cooler and use fans to cool the lights and blow across the surface water to cool it more.> Mr. Fenner seems Initially skeptical of halides in his book but I fear the stony coral growth is just too slow with strip lights for my liking. <Not sure on that as I have not read his book, however halides are not lights that people should normally use as they can be dangerous, can overheat the tank, and can scorch and bleach corals.> Wondered what our thoughts and recommendations are. Thanks Jim <Good luck on this as proper lighting is a tough question to decide. I would go with 250watt lights as a max, unless you can get a DIY chiller out of an old fridge or something as MH lighting can drastically raise water temps, very easily. Good luck and hope your stonies do better with these lights.> <Justin (Jager)> 

MH Lighting Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2005 I am really amazed by how much info you have on your website.  I am in the process of upgrading my 55 gal reef to 155 gal. I am planning on having soft ,SPS and some clams.  I had my soft corals now under pc lighting. My question is, what kind of metal halides and do I still need actinic lighting with that or not. I saw a guy who keeps his 155 gal reef under 3 HQI bulbs,250 watts each,13,000 k .What do you think of those??? He does not have actinics and his corals and really fascinating. Thanks.  <Hello Ramy, My suggestion is, for the corals and clams your interested in would be three 250 watt metal halides and two 96 watt PC actinics. This is assuming your tank is 60"x24"x24". As far as the HQI bulbs, I don't think they are any better than the standard metal halides, they cost a bit more. But, being you want to keep SPS and clams, you will need at system like this, especially if you get any T. crocea clams which do require very strong lighting, and are the least hardiest of the clams with T. derasa being the hardiest. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)>

VHO/Power Compacts VS Metal Halide  By spending an outrageous amount of money in this hobby I have learned a few things that have led me to believe that the simplest way to setup and maintain a Reef tank is to stick with the basics and not to go overboard on the vast amount of equipment available (I should write a book on what not to do in the Reef hobby). <Please do> Now with that being said, I was thinking about changing my current lighting from VHO/Power Compacts, 2-VHO/White/Actinic 1-VHO Actinic & two 96W 50/50 Total of 672W to a new Aqualight Pro, which has 3-MH, 4-PC & 3-Led lights giving me 834W. I have a 135g Oceanic with Sump, Remora Pro, two Mag 9.5 Returns and 3 Tunze 6060's... <Heeeee! A larger heater and you could make this into a Spa-bath!> ...with about 300 Lbs. of Live Rock and a 3-4 inch sand bed. I would like to know before spending this kind of money if I would be gaining that much? <That much.... for...?> I understand that I am increasing the amount of wattage, but am I also gaining a "new look" within the tank that I will be pleased with? I would appreciate any advice you can give me. Art McKinney <Mmm, not possible to render subjective evaluations for others... that is, what you might be pleased with is not within my domain of assessment... Depending on what you hope to "accomplish" functionally (boost growth? Color?) or aesthetically (again, up to you), you might be better off investing your funds in... a calcium reactor... an ozonizer... perhaps with a desiccator... A new refugium... another tank! Bob Fenner>
Re: VHO/Power Compacts VS Metal Halide and The Toilet Bowl Syndrome
Thank you for your quick reply, the Aqualight Pro runs about a $1000 for the lights and accessories. <Yeeikes! New idea... save this money up and come on out and stay with a bunch of the WWM Crew at out house... for a month, diving, hiking enjoying yourself in Hawaii... April... take a look for airfares... think of the enjoyment of just the anticipation...> I guess what I was trying to ask is if the light output from the Aqualight Pro would be better than the VHO lights. I am not sure what the Spectrum is for VHO's compared to Metal Halides so I am not sure if I would be gaining anymore than the wattage....Spa, funny, everyone says we should have flow within the aquarium, the sad thing is that all of my fish are plastered to the glass.  <I'll bet... AM serious re HI. Bob Fenner> 
Of VHO/Power Compacts vs. Metal Halide and Tax Returns
Again, thank you for your quick reply and the invite to Hawaii....When I see my Tax return I may have to take you up on this offer:) So, are you saying that I won't notice a difference going from the VHO setup to the Metal Halides? <I can only speak/speculate for myself... I would NOT be switching... unless there is some compelling reason you have... Bob Fenner> 

Lighting/MH First of all. I just found your site and think it is fantastic. I am relatively new to reef keeping and have a question about lighting. I currently have about 4 watts per gallon (PCs with actinic supp.) but was told by my LFS that in order to keep some of the clams and stonies I wanted I would need 8 to 9 watts per gallon. Without researching (I know. I'm an idiot) his claim, I went out and bought 2 x 400W 14000K Metal Halides (and all the fans, ballasts, etc) which will bring my tank to 8.6 watts per gallon. Now, having read a lot on your site, I am worried that I am about to bake up some livestock. For a 93-gallon tank, is 800 watts way too much? Or can I slowly acclimate the tank and get away with it? Thanks, Michael Stoner  <Mike, it's not an unusual amount of light for keeping SPS, LPS, and clams. As you say, slowly acclimate the critters to the higher intensity lighting. I think you will love the way it will look. I envy you. James (Salty Dog)> 

Lighting for S/W Hi there. Have just gotten new tank 32X18X18 (Inches) small I know, but it's custom cut for an alcove. Thing is it has a brace, 6" wide, across the middle, from front to back. Will this affect the lighting in this area of the tank. Am thinking of getting 150 watt MH. That's all for now.  <Yes, it will affect the light, Mark. If you're planning on SPS etc corals, I would go with two 150's and place them in the open areas. If no hard corals, two HQI 100's would be OK. James (Salty Dog)> 

Metal Halide question 3/30/05 Hello, I have read through all of your metal halide FAQ's with regards to a 90 gallon reef aquarium. My aquarium is 48"X18" by 24" deep. The tank has been running for a month now without lights and I'm now ready to install them. I definitely going with metal halides. I want to keep mostly SPS and Clams. What wattage should I be choosing? 175, 250 or 400W? Marine Depot is recommending 400W.  <400w would be overkill IMO. If you use quality reflectors and keep the clean and keep the water clear, I don't see any reason to go over 250w, even for SPS and Clams. In my experience with 400w MH, many corals had to be place very low or in the corners to prevent OVER illumination.> Also, should I be supplementing this with power compact lighting? I read about a lot of folks supplementing their MHs with power compact and wonder if I should be as well?  <This is purely an aesthetic question. I prefer VHO over PC, but actinic lamps in either format can be used to add more "blue".> Also, can you recommend a type of ballast, for example Ice Cap? <Icecap ballasts are great, and their customer service is very good. The premium price of electronic ballasts is quickly paid for in increased lamp life. If you want to save on up front costs, most companies use internal components from the same couple of companies, so shop customer service and price.> Additionally, do you prefer double ended over the standard bulbs? I will be installing these in a custom canopy that is 16" high. Should I be looking at retrofits or explore pendants? Many thanks in advance. -Brent  <The reflectors for double ended lamps generally reflect more of the light into the tank than those for single ended lamps. Do search the archives at www.advancedaquarist.com for Dr. Sanjay Joshi's studies on lamps and reflectors. The choice between retrofit kits and pendants is mostly a function of how handy you are and how frugal you are. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Metal Halide Question 3.25.05 G'day <Indeed! Ryan with you today.> I've just located your site which I might add I find fantastic. However I still have a lighting question. <Shoot> We are new to Marine Tanks after keeping tropicals for many years. We have a tank that is 500 litres (sorry for the Imperial measurements but I'm in Australia) the measurements are 30" Deep 30" Wide and 4' Long. Can you advise on the best lighting?  <Only metal halides create enough usable light in the depths of a 30 incher! I would recommend a pair of pendants.> We currently have 1 double compact with 1 white bulb and 1 blue bulb, 1 moonlight and dual 4ft fluoro being one blue bulb and 1 white bulb. All are around 37 watt (this does not seem high enough after reading your site?). We also seem to end up with a lot of yellow light in our tank that make the tank look dirty or "acidy". <And the water itself at this depth filters most of the usable light.> Our tank seems healthy and we successfully keep Leathers, Bubble Coral, Morphs, Cushion, Torch Coral or Finger's, Jardini's and soft tree's, we are unable to succeed with hard corals they all die Dunno why.  <Yes, you do! You have identified it in this email. Combine a new lighting system with proper calcium/alkalinity levels, and they will take off.> We are looking at MH Lights but find they are too expensive to purchase and run but we are unable to work out the best lighting for looks and for growth. Everywhere we go that have MH's their tanks look amazing and I say that's what I want but after reading a lot on your site I believe I can accomplish both looks and growth with less expense. <You can build your own metal halide for CHEAP. Are you handy? ozreef.org. If not, look for used lights- They are typically only in need of a bulb change, and you are back in action. Good luck, Ryan> 

Metal Halide Lighting Hello crew how are you tonight?  Well anyways I would like to ask you a question about metal halide lighting. I have a 60 gallon FOWLR that I would like to make a reef. Would 2 - 400 metal halide bulbs be over doing it? I think it may be a little overkill. On my calculator I punched in 400 x 2 equals 800, divided that by 60 and came out with a whopping 13.333!! That would mean I'd have 13 watts per gallon?!! Is that to much for corals? Also Ritteri and BTAs? Well I'm in a big hurry so if you would try to reply back soon.  <Chase, two 175MH"s would be plenty for keeping anything. That gives you 5.8 watts per gallon. I would suggest 10K bulbs. James (Salty Dog)> Thank your great crew!   Sincerely, Chase Simmons

Lighting for S/W Hi James. <Hello Mark>  I can only afford one 150w M/h (Arcadia Series 3) for my 32x18x18 tank. Which will put it directly over the brace (Great) Never simple, is it?. Do you think I need more light? I have a few soft corals. Planning on an Anemone and some hard corals in my new system (Miracle mud refugium too!) Local shop told me that I could put two 3" braces either side of the 6" brace in the middle, then take the larger one out. Can the braces be put at either end of the tank to form a square with the other braces running along the back and front panels. Why does the tank need these braces at all? 8mm glass doesn't flex, does it? (Sorry, rhetorical questions ...) This brace is driving me bonkers. Great site, thoroughly enjoyed. That's all for now.  <Mark, to protect the warranty of your tank, I would contact the tank manufacturer about the change in bracing you want to do. My thinking is the manufacturer isn't going to spend any money on materials if they aren't required. That would be enough light for one side of the tank, or the middle area, but not enough to place corals anywhere in the tank, they will have to be under the light wherever it ends up. James (Salty Dog)> 

Lighting/Metal Halides Hey Guys, <Hello Ryan> I am truly addicted to your site. I read this site and all of the FAQ's almost nightly. I feel like I owe it to my aquarium friends to provide the best light possible. I have one question in regards to an upgrade in lighting. I have been looking over MH and PC for quite sometime and have decided to go with the MH for multiple reasons; longevity, appearance, intensity and price I found to keep my first Anemone. I have an 80 Gallon standard tank 48X18X24" deep. If I get 2-250 Watt MH retros to install in my canopy will this be sufficient for mostly SPS and an Anemone?  <Yes>  Also where do you place these Retros for maximum light distribution? I thought perhaps just centered in the width and placed at 12" and 36" across in the length of my canopy. I hope my question makes sense and I would feel honored to have you write me back. I use your advice as fact. Thanks for everything, Ryan Willard in NORCAL. <Ryan, I would put them at 16" centers and would use bulbs in the 10-14K range. James (Salty Dog)> 

MH Lighting - The Maddox Take Hi, I've read your web page several times. I tried to read your MH FAQ, but man there are 100's and several of them say that "This is the way" and the next one is just the opposite. Don't get me wrong, I've learned that this hobby is just like Religion or Politics, "Every one has an opinion and almost always no 2 are the same. <Hmm...obviously I'M right and everyone else is wrong ;)> Now on with it. I'm putting together a 110g 30" tall glass tank, 48x18x30. Putting in a NNR sandbed which will reduce the depth to 24 1/2". The live stock that I would like to have (hope to someday get, 1 at a time) Open Brain, Green Moon, Moon Stone, Hammerhead Anchor, Green Torch, Galaxy, Purple Elegance, Tongue, and a Whiskers. As for the Leathers I like the toadstools. The Soft Corals are Colt and Finger. I like most of the Xenia's, Polyps, Sea Mats, Mushrooms and the Carpet, Rose and Flower Anemone's. <So much allelopathy in there you'll get cancer! ;) Give the LPS plenty of room between each other, and do run a lot of carbon. Also, I DO NOT recommend mixing anemones with corals - completely unnatural, most always leads to the death of the anemone - I've a very low opinion of those that attempt the mix, frankly. Set up a species tank for anemones, and leave them out of the chemical soup of an LPS\softy tank!> As for fish, I've looked at a pair of Gold striped Maroon Clowns, Regal Tang, Mandarinfish, Royal Gramma, Coral Beauty, and a Flame Angelfish. Plus the norm, Brittlestar, Shrimp and starfish. I will have a 75g sump with PC 96w Quads running at night. I got 2-250w Double end 10K Aqualine by Aqua Medic. They are small hanging pendants, that I want to put in a 16" hood. With 4-54w T5's, 2 Actinic and 2 10K., 2 Moon lights with 4-4" fans and slots in the top of the hood, with an open area in the back in the bottom. The plan is to have the Moon lights and the sump lights on at night. In the morning have the Actinic and the T5 10k on and the Moon/Sump go off. When the MH come on the T5 10K go off. In the evening have the T5's come back on as the MH go off. Then all the T5's go off as the Moon and Sump come on. Now that I read more and went to a Coral store and seen the MH, just like mine running, I really don't need the actinic lights. Please give me some input here as to your thoughts. I was worried about heat, too much light, the MH in a hood etc. I need the hood because the only place that I have for the tank is opposite my TV in the living room. The lights out of the hood, then you can't see the TV. I already have everything ready to go except the Corals and Fish. I have 2-1/4 horse drinking fountains that I will convert to Chillers if needed. Do I have an over kill on the lights? Are the 250w to much, I wanted 175w HQI DE but I don't think that anyone makes them as of yet. Anyway thanks for your time. <For an LPS\Softy tank I do think you have a bit much - you will have to be careful acclimating them to those lighting conditions, plus the excess electricity usage...is it possible to exchange them for 150 DE's? If not, I would either run just the halides (and maybe 1 actinic t5) or even just the T5s without halides. LPS\softies really don't require much light> Rick Johnson <M. Maddox>
MH Lighting - The Maddox Take II
So you're saying that I screwed up when I bought the 250's? I was looking for a pair of DE 150's but I could never get the matched pair and the 250's came along so I grabbed it. <Not necessarily screwed up, you still have a nice set of 250s, but for the species you're intending to keep they're just unnecessary> I have the set up for the T5's and an extra ballast for 2 more. I also have a setup for 4-110w VHO. <Well hey if you have those already, go with the T5's and VHOs and use the 250s for tanning ;)> This is my 3rd Reef tank that I am building in the last 10 years. The first went south when I moved. The second died when I went on vacation and my Great Niece threw a bottle of hair die activator in it. <Did you let her live?> So for this tank I was buying one thing at a time so that it would be right when I was ready to set it up. I'll see if I can sell the 250's or trade them for some 150's so if you know of anyone I'm here. <Could try the selling forums on ReefCentral, they get a lot of traffic> As for the Coral/Anemone set up, nothing has been bought as of yet. Yes and you're right in my last reef my anemones spent most of the time hiding in the L/rock except when I would feed them or up high on the side of the tank. The clowns and the Leather, Elegance, Frogspawn, Hammer or Anchor might work together instead of a Carpet. <Yep - and BTW those 250s are waaaay too much for that elegance> When I said that "these are the live stock that I want", that was a wish list. I know that with the size of tank that I have, that there is no way to have all of them. If I did they would all have to be small, but if you do it right, they some day will grow up and crowd each other out. <Just making sure :)> So back to the lighting. What would be the best lighting combo for this setup. 2-150w DE, The T5's and if the T5's were the chosen how many or VHOs and again how many? <6x55w T5s would work perfectly, or 3xt5 and 2x VHO, however you want to arrange it. A good amount of light, but without the massive intensity which isn't needed for the species you're interested in, and in some cases (like the elegance) would be downright harmful> Thank you for your time. <Sure thing> Rick <M. Maddox>

Upgrading to 180 gal from 90 - Lighting options Hi guys, <Hello there> Okay, I have a 90 gal mixed reef and I'm making lava. <Heee!> 2 400w AB 10k's w/2 110w 03 actinics. Before you share your shock, the tank has been in operation for two years and is booming. The SPS are beautiful and I shade the LPS under outcroppings. My yellow Fiji leather is tremendous. No casualties due to lighting so far. <Just strain on your heart when the electrical bill comes> I just purchased a 180 gal acrylic tank that came with 3 150w HQI pendants in the hood w/2 110w actinics. When I make the swap I want to know if you think the 3 150's with 2 -- 4 160w actinics would be enough light for the mixed tank or should I use 3 400w MH's (2 of which I currently have on my 90) w/2 160w actinics? <I would definitely go with the new, smaller wattage MH's. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Upgrading to 180 gal from 90 - Lighting options Thanks for getting back to me. <Welcome> Yes, my wife does my CPR with defib every time the electric bill comes in. <Heeee!> For the sake of my retirement fund, I was hoping you would tell me that the lower wattage bulbs would be okay. <Will be> Do you think the SPS corals will have any difficulty adjusting to 5 - 6 watts per gallon from the current 11 they currently enjoy basking (or is that baking) in?  <Will do so... I'd cut back the existing over a few weeks time, in anticipation> I have read everything I could find online regarding the lighting options for a 180 gallon tank. Most tanks I have read about are using 3x250w MH in one form or another. I just don't want to under light the tank (spoiled from having the sun in my living room. However, for safety sake, I do use welders goggles to feed the fish, and man, you should see my tan) and sacrifice growth. Does this make sense or am I just being paranoid? <Does make sense, but/and I assure you that the lower wattage is better for your livestock and you... Watch out for melanoma!> I am and will be using AB 10k bulbs (IMHO best bulb on the market) with 03 actinic supplementation when all is said and done. By the way, you guys are the best. I read as much as I can and value your expertise. Rock on! Scott B. <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Hi WWM Experts, <Hello, Chris> I apologize for asking the type of question you have probably been asked a million times. I'm on the verge of ordering lighting equipment from overseas (I live in South Africa) and I'm a little scared to order the wrong things (which won't be so great considering our exchange rate to the dollar !), so I was hoping you can give me your insight on this. The dimensions of my new reef tank is 64"x24"x24", holding around 150gallons of water and I would like to keep a mixture of soft and hard corals (we don't exactly have a wish list yet). After doing a lot of reading on your site and in Mr. Fenner's book I understand that I will need in the region of 3-5watts of lighting per gallon for my setup, which gives me 450-750watts. My understanding is that metal halide lights cover an area of about 2 feet with the 175W MH ideal for tanks up to 20" deep and the 250W MH to about 30". So in my mind the options are: a) 3x175W b) 3x250W c) 2x250W I have 2 questions - 1. Am I on the right track here in choosing Metal Halides? 2. Can you recommend one of the above 3 options, or perhaps something completely different? I'm leaning towards 3 x 175W plus a couple of actinics, but it would really be great to have some input from the experts here. <Chris, for hard corals and the possibility of clams, if the interest arises, I would go with the three 250 metal halides, nothing lower.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again for all your support. Chris

Fluorescent to MH blues... too much heat, vacillation in temperature in a SW 55 Hello all, I just purchased a new light for my 55 gallon reef tank. I went from a compact fluorescent which was about 130watts total to a metal halide system. I wanted to be able to get some of the cool corals. I already have a few corals and they seemed to be doing alright with the other light but figured they would love the new light. The new light is a Current USA Outer Orbit fixture 48'. It has 1x150W 10K HQI-MH 1/ 2x130W Dual Actinic & 6 Lunar Lights. I Have it mounted almost 13' over the tank. The problem that I'm having is that the temperature in my tank has sky rocketed. It's usually 76-78 and since I have added the light it's gone up to 86 which I know is on the high end. The fish and the corals seem to be doing alright but I don't know what the long term effect will be. I keep the AC in the house set at 70 and I still can't get the temperature down below 81. When the light comes on the temperature climbs to 86 before the light goes out. Is the light too much for a 55 gallon tank? <As it is, yes... you have too much thermal fluctuation for health and safety's sakes> I've looked into chillers and they're so expensive. The light cost a fortune. Is there anything that I can do to get the temperature down? <A few things... evaporative cooling by supplying fan/s to blow air across the surface would help... elevating the light even more over the tank... adding more volume... in a BIG sump/refugium elsewhere, that's tied in with the 55...> What's the long term effect? <Shortened life-spans for your livestock, big electrical bills... all that goes along with these> Set up is a 55 gallon tank set up in December 2004. Filtration - Eheim Professional II Canister filter up to 92 gallons. Protein Skimmer - Aqua C Remora with Mag Drive Power heads - 2-600, 1 1200 Maxi Jet, 1 Zoo Med Power sweep 228 Heating System - Hydor Eth 300 External Thermal heater 75 pounds of Fiji Live Rock, 60 LBS of Fiji Pink Aragonite Live Sand. Kent Marine Maxxima 35 Hi-S R/O / Deionizer 4 Stage Reverse Osmosis Unit. Current USA Outer Orbit Fixture -- 48' 1x150W 10K HQI-MH 1/ 2x130W Dual Actinic & 6 Lunar Lights Inhabitants -- 1. Purple Tang 1. Blue Damsel 1. True & 1 False Percula 1. Lawnmower Blenny 1. Dottyback Fridmani 1. Diamond Goby 1. Branch Coral - Paralemnalia or Lemnalia Tree Corals, Finger Leather, Branch, or Cauliflower Corals 1. Red Feather Star 1. Torch Coral -- (Brown) Large Polyp Stony 1. Red Star Fish Misc. Hermit Crabs Misc. Snails <Bob Fenner>

Adding MH Lighting 2/5/04  Hello again! You guts are great. Thanks for the help in the past.  <Hi Jim. Glad you have benefited.>  I have a 120 gallon tank that is 4'x2'x2'. I currently have 700Watts between PC and VHO. I want to get rid of the PC and change to a 250Watt 10K MH (I already have the MH). The problem/concern that I have is that I currently have my lighting under a hood. If the MH fixture can fit under the hood, will it be okay to run with two 4'' fans for cooling?  <It should be, but it is hard to guess. Depending on where you live, whether you run A/C in the summer, use a chiller, photoperiod, etc., the fans may or may not be enough to control heat.>  Will there be an issue with placing the fixture on top of the glass cover?  <If you meant the glass aquarium cover, yes. The heat from the lamp may dangerously overheat the glass cover if it is too close. Also, most reef keepers don't run glass tank covers because of the amount of light the block, even when clean.>  Another idea that I had was to remove the bulb from the fixture and mount it to the top of the hood with a piece of sheet metal to deflect the heat from the hood and still using the reflector. I would still use the fans to cool the light, but I am not sure if this is a good idea. Any other suggestions to improve lighting and still keep everything under the hood?  <If your MH is contained in a pre-made fixture, I would try to use the fixture as is. It should be at least a few inches from the water surface to protect it from serious splashing. I would consider cutting a hole (or other wise re-engineering the hood) and recessing the fixture in the top of the hood before I would dismantle the pre-made fixtures. Best Regards. Adam> Jim Martz Sr. 

Metal Halide lighting Hi Bob,   <Hi Larry.> I'm up grading my 30 gal reef tank to a 55 gallon.  I currently have hard and soft corals with a maxima clam.  I am trying to decide on whether to use a 260 watt power compact light fixture or a hood with 2 -175 watt 6500K metal halides and 2 actinic 20 watt fluorescent bulbs. My question is how often do the MH's have to be replaced and are they more cost effective in the long run. <Halides, (with the exception of 20,000k bulbs which are overdriven) on average, need to be replaced every 11-12 months. In the long run, halides are cheaper than fluorescent lighting. Watt for watt, they cost the same to run than fluorescent lighting. Watt for watt, halides emit the same amount of heat as fluorescent lighting does. As an example, 400wts of halides would have the same heat as 400wts of powercompacts would. <<Graham... not correct. The measure of wattage is consumption of electricity... the heat generated is far different. RMF>>   If you didn't already know, Metal halides release all of their energy in one small area which is why halides often seem hotter than fluorescent lighting. In the long run, halides can often save you money.> I like the shimmering effect of the MH's but the initial cost is twice of the power compacts which will have 4- 65 watt bulbs, 2 -10,000k and 2 actinic.  Also, if I go with the MH is there any benefit with going with the 10,000K bulbs vs. the 6500K  aside from the whiter appearance.   <The 6,500k bulb will have slightly more intensity, although overall, it won't make an extreme difference.> I feel the mixture of the 6500K bulbs with the actinic blue would give a nice appearance to the tank.  I appreciate your input and your web site which has been very helpful in the past.  Thanks, Larry. <I would actually recommend you buy 2x 250wt halides than 2x 175wt halides. The 250wt bulbs will give you much more intensity and will allow you to keep many more inhabitants, especially if they're going to be placed at the bottom of the aquarium. The cost should be about the same as the 175wt halides (of course, depending where you looked). However, Either choice would be good. Take Care, Graham.>

HQI For The Mogul Guy (Replacing Mogul Halides with HQI) Hi all, got a few questions and I know you guys are pros, so let the questions begin. <Scott F. at the ready today> I recently upgraded my lighting on my reef aquarium from 2 175 mogul base MH to 2 250 watt HQI bulbs, I plan on venturing in to the world of stonies and clams pretty soon even thought about an anemone to host my maroon clown... just needed assurance if that set up would be considered bright lighting for a 75 gallon aquarium... <For most SPS corals and/or clams, that would be a pretty bright lighting setup. For softies and some LPS corals, this could be way too much!> I was also reading and article, it stated that HQI lighting is significantly brighter that the standard mogul base MH lighting. <Not so much "brighter". It's also a function of efficiency...> The reading indicated that a 250 watt HQI is close or equal to a 400watt mogul base metal halide...is that true. <In some instances, yes- the PAR value of some 250 watt HQI bulbs in an efficient reflector is equal to or greater than some 400 watt mogul bulbs> Also, I just acquired a Condylactis anemone. He seems to be doing a lot better, purchased from a LFS that had a tank full of them under 1 NO light which I know is not enough light. <It isn't!> I was wondering, if I decided to add a BTA, or even a nice Green Carpet would chemical warfare be a problem. <It very well could be. I highly advise against mixing anemones in anything but the largest of systems. The potential for problems is just too great, IMO> From ya' boy ***Chris*** <Well, Cris- sounds like you're on the light track with the lighting...Good luck with your animals! Regards, Scott F>

Lighting Design Dilemma! Hey guys, I asked this question earlier this week but never got a response. I thought I should resend it incase it got lost in neverland. If you have it and are just busy or decided not to answer because of more important questions out there, I understand. Regards, Jason PS. I forgot to mention in the message that I was planning on using a DSB so the actual amount in the water column would be about 16 inches. Maybe 175's would be enough? <Hmm.. Don't know where it went- but I've got ya' now! Scott F. with you today!> My People, 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. <I agree! Tanks with wide front-to-back footprints are great to aquascape> 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. <Excellent!> 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. 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? <No- I think it's a great idea. HQI halide pendants can give you great flexibility and efficiency, and will work well in a canopy like this!> In this configuration, what K should the MH's be? <Really depends on the needs of the animals that you intend to keep, and your sense of aesthetics! I am partial to a more "blue" look, so I use mainly 20,000k bulbs, but I have planned my animal population around my preference. Most hobbyists seem to like a mix of 10000ks and actinic supplementing for more blue.> Should I go with 175's? I have always wanted a Crocea Clam (and some SPS's) is why I am doing this, if you were wondering....I will install fans or chiller if needed. <I'd go with 150watt HQI pendants. You will definitely need fans in the canopy to provide cooling, and a chiller may not be a bad idea> Again, I want to do it right the 1st time. Any advice you can provide will be most helpful. Seems the closer it gets to "go" time, the more I think and plan and ultimately, get confused and undecided. ha-ha. < Not an unusual occurrence, especially with lighting! I really feel that, if you plan your lighting package around the needs of the animals you intend to keep, you can't really go wrong> On a totally side note. I use formula one, Mysis, and Prime Reef foods. <All excellent 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? <If you give the food enough time for it to absorb the supplements, you should be fine. Better yet, thaw and rinse the food first, give it a little squeeze, and then soak with your supplement.> Best Regards, Jason <Glad to be of assistance! Scott F>

The Right Light? Dear Crew: <Scott F. your Crew member today!> Thanks again for the great website.  I have read your FAQ's and articles about MH lighting with great interest.  Here is my situation:  I currently have a 55gal (48x13x20) tank w/130W PC's.  I am going to get a bigger tank this year, probably a 125 (72x18x22).  I would like to keep some clams & SPS, so I am looking at MH.  Also, I believe HQI DE bulbs and fixtures will give me the best for my money. <I agree!> Now, according to Bob's response in one case, with "some" clams and SPS, I should be able to go with 175W lamps. However, I have only seen HQI in 150W and 250W flavors.  The difference in price is about $20, so it would seem wise to get the 250W.  However, I do not wish to have the extra light if I do not need it.  I could probably go with 2-150W lamps for the 55 now, and get an extra one when I get the 150gal.  I thought about 2-150's and then the one 250 later, but I am not sure how I would feel about the spotlight effect (I assume there will be one). <With well-designed pendants, such as Sunlight Supply's Reef Optix III's, or the new PFO mini pendants, the "spotlight effect" that you refer to is usually not noticeable. I use a mix of 150watt and 250 watt HQI pendants over a 20" high tank, and have been quite pleased with the results. It's never a bad idea to look into the 250 here. Clams do require intense light, so at least one 250 would be nice to experiment with!> Before I forget; I know some of you don't like to say, but which would you pick of the 2 choices I have for either 150W or 250W: 1) PFO HQI ballast, Aqualine10K DE HQI Bulb and PFO HQI Mini Pendant *OR* 2) IceCap Electronic HQI Ballast, Ushio or Aqualine (AB) 10K DE HQI Bulb and Sunlight Supply Reef Optix III Plus Horizontal Reflector. <I like #2, and use this combo myself> About choice #2, I have seen some vendors insist that the Sunlight Supply Reflector must run with Blue Wave Ballast.  If this is true, what makes the IceCap okay in this case?  Is there some sort of overdriving or trickery going on here? <Not true at all. Myself and many of my reef nerd friends use the RO III/Ice Cap combo with great results! I'm not sure if this is true or not, but somebody "in the know" within the aquarium halide lighting market told me that the Blue Wave ballast is essentially the Ice Cap in a different housing...Again, I don't have any verification of this, but it may be worth checking out> Hey, thanks a million, Rich. <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F>

Lighting upgrade for Reef Aquarium 7/31/04 Dear crew, Anthony answered my original question a couple of months back. First the background. I have a 120 gallon (48x24x24) FOWLR tank. I want to start adding some corals. Based on Anthony's response and some further research I did I was planning on upgrading my lighting to a pair of 150watt DE HQI mini pendants. However now that I am ready to order I have noticed that the price increase to go with the 250s instead of the 150s is not that large. I eventually would like to have a clam or two in my tank and I imagine they would appreciate the extra light. <depends on the clam species... but assuming you like the popular blue crocea or maxima varieties (versus lower light Hippopus, or Tridacna Squamosa or T. derasa types), then yes... a little extra light would be nice> What I wonder about though is how would my starter lower light corals, like mushrooms, do under these lights? <keep them in the bottom third of the tank and perhaps add a few layers of plastic window screen to the top of the tank (removing a sheet every few days until all cloth is removed over a couple weeks for a slow acclimation to new/bright light without having to alter photoperiod> Would it be too bright? <not bad at all... you are still close to the average (5 watts per gallon) for reef tanks> I plan to mount the lights 8" above the water's surface and the low light corals would be at the bottom of my 24" tank. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. <if you do 250 watt lights... you may want to go higher off the water... 9-12"> Regards, Matt
<kindly, Anthony>

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 2: Invertebrates, Algae
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2: Fishes
New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums Book 3: Systems
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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