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Orphek LED Photo Acclimation

Myth or Fact

 Article courtesy of Orphek LED Lighting,  www.orphek.com

James Gasta


Coral reefs are likely one of the harshest environments in the world in terms of the sun’s intensity and the UV/IR rays that are emitted.  Metal halide and HQI lighting can produce these same effects.  Although at a lower level than the sun, their emissions can still be dangerous to our coral inhabitants and our eyes without a means of filtering these rays out.  This leads many reef aquarists to believe that high intensity LED lighting can also be just as dangerous to their livestock without proper filtering of these rays.

Orphek has recently conducted a test with LPS and soft corals under our LED lighting for two months to disprove any of these theories.  This test involved using different spectrums with the intensity remaining the same.  The test system was also supplemented with essential nutrients that corals require for good growth rate and color.  During the two month test PAR was maintained at 1200 which is much higher than what most aquarists can provide in their reef systems.  At no time did any of the experimental corals show any signs of stress such as recession, bleaching or loss of color.  All corals continued to grow and display very good color.

There are reports from aquarists who switched to high PAR/PUR Orphek LED systems that report coral recession and/or bleaching.  This in fact is not directly caused by our high intensity lighting but more so the lack of availability of nutrients needed by the corals.  Orphek high PAR/PUR LEDs will trigger corals to accelerate their growth rate which in turn will exhaust necessary nutrients from the system if they are not supplemented and maintained properly. 

Corals need more than a proper light source and calcium to grow and exhibit stunning color.  They also require magnesium and carbonates to develop new skeletal growth.  These three elements are the foundation blocks for all stony corals and must be maintained.

Calcium: 430-460ppm

Magnesium: 1290-1380ppm

Carbonates: 9-12dKH

These three foundation blocks alone, although necessary, will not allow corals to exhibit their full color and allow for rapid growth.  Other elements are also required to sustain a healthy colorful coral reef.  Our coral care supplementation program consists of the following:

Iodine, Bromine, and Fluorine are halogens that act as both antioxidants and oxidative agents which reduce coral bleaching.  Because of their high oxidative abilities they are depleted quickly and must be supplemented on a regular basis.  Iodine is also very useful for clams and invertebrates with exoskeletons.

Potassium and Boron play an essential role in the transportation of coral nutrients within the coral’s tissue and this also includes the nutrients that are provided by the Zooxanthellae.  These two elements also help with the formation of aragonite in the coral skeleton.

Manganese, Cobalt, Copper, Aluminum, Zinc, Chrome and Nickel are considered light metals and assist with many bio-chemical processes within the coral including respiration and production of chlorophyll.  Orphek LED lighting has a profound positive effect on chlorophyll A and B reproduction and is one reason corals exhibit wonderful color under Orphek LEDs. 

Carbohydrates, Amino Acids, Fatty Acids, and Protein are directly absorbed by corals and are utilized in the process of coral protein production and tissue regeneration which helps the coral to expand its surface area to better absorb nutrients.

A good vitamin complex is useful for synthesis of chromo proteins and can duplicate the marine amino acids produced by Zooxanthellae.

Do not let this list of elements intimidate you; many companies are producing these elements already mixed in the proper proportions.  Red Sea is one example with their new Coral Program additives which include all of the above.  Above all, test for as many of these elements as possible.  Overdosing iodine, potassium, iron, and strontium can be detrimental to your reef.


Conclusions and Results of Test

·         Photo acclimation is not required when using Orphek LED systems.  Orphek uses no dangerous UV or IR emitting LEDs.  Both metal halide and HQI lamps can produce dangerous levels of UV and IR, even when using protective filters.  Orphek LEDs use UV and IR LEDs that are safe for all corals and invertebrates.

·         Light intensity in the wrong spectrum is detrimental to coral growth.

·         A PAR of 150-300 in the PUR spectrum is all that is needed for good coral growth.

·         Excessive use of green and yellow LEDs can have negative reactions with some corals and give false PAR/PUR readings.

·         Supplementing nutrients and trace elements are necessary for good coral growth and color.

To further back up our statements we will soon be publishing a video taken of soft, SPS, and LPS corals grown under LEDs generating a PAR of 1000.  This will testify that photo acclimation is not required with our LED lighting systems and is compatible with all types of corals.

 Our first post of coral color and fast growth can be read here.


Orphek’s goal is not only to provide you with high technology LED lighting required for growing colorful corals fast, but also to educate you on the subject of growing corals.  We will continue to provide new information on our site as it becomes available.

Our systems provide:

1.      No dangerous UV and IR light.

2.      Minimal use of green and yellow LEDs which falsely increase PAR levels while providing no useful wavelength for growing corals.

3.      No off the shelf white LEDs are used in our systems; we design our own 16K+ LEDs, the only true white LED that duplicates the Radium 20K metal halide lamp.

4.      High PAR/PUR.

5.      Most PAR per dollar.

6.      Most systems are upgradable.

7.      No wasted money on thunderstorm and disco effects or other selling gimmicks.

Orphek LEDs have remained on the market since their inception and is indicative to our success in LED technology.  Our goal is to continually improve our lighting and provide the lowest cost possible to our clients.  Our systems have been tested in over 1,000 different types of aquariums throughout the world.  Check our photo gallery and see the results for yourself.


Do take a look at our newest LED technology, the PR72, which we believe will be our best selling pendant capable of growing corals in depths up to 38 inches.  Two PR72 Pendants will cover a 48"x24"x 30" and provide a PAR reading of 150 in the corners.


This article is provided by James Gasta (sales-3@orphek.com ) who is employed by Orphek LED and generates blogs and articles for the Orphek website, www.orphek.com .  James also volunteers his time as a crew member for wet web media (crew@wetwebmedia.com ).

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