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Correct Spectrum and Amount
of Light is Needed for Good Coral Growth
courtesy of Orphek LED Lighting,
At 40 meters or less, Zooxanthellate
scleractinian corals are the major specie of corals found in well-lit
tropical waters where massive structures exist which provide a critical
habitat for the diverse abundance of reef fish and invertebrates.
Coral structures change considerably with
increasing depth which causes a decrease of Zooxanthellae.
Acropora, Pocillopora and Porites are almost non-existent at depths over
40 meters where the spectrum begins to rapidly drop at 500 nanometers.
Zooxanthellae have the major photosynthetic
pigments chlorophyll A and chlorophyll B with chlorophyll A being
greater. This along with amino acids and various nutrients and
trace elements combine and serve as major light-harvesting components
which in turn provide food to the coral by means of photosynthesis.
The above has been proven by a study undertaken by many scientists and
is available for a fee by going here;
http://www.int-res.com/journals/meps/. On the Hawaiian Reefs coral
skeletons were found to contain an average of 13.7% (μg cm−2) of
chlorophyll A and 2.6% (μg cm−2) of chlorophyll B. For some
unknown reason these levels are much lower in corals from the Red Sea
There are many species of corals
found at various depths on a reef and each has adapted to the spectrum
and intensity present at the depth they are found. In our
aquariums, deeper water corals and/or corals coming from estuaries or
turbid waters where light intensity is not as high as on pristine reef
waters will likely not fare well with corals being kept which require a
higher intensity of light and spectral range. This is why it is
important to plan your reef carefully by choosing corals that can
co-exist with the same spectrum and intensity of light. LPS corals
are generally found in deeper waters or shallower turbid estuaries where
many Euphyliids are found such as Elegance Corals.
Both water depth and clarity have
an effect on both intensity and spectrum. On clear well lit reefs
ranging in depth from 1 to 15 meters, the spectrum is relatively flat
from 375-600 nanometers at one meter and then gradually falls to about
55% of the surface irradiance. At 15 meters in depth, the
wavelength falls sharply after 500 nanometers.
Some corals can gather light more
efficiently than others. Thin plate corals such as plating
Montiporas allow light to travel through the colony and then reflect
back up from the background providing more reflectance to the corals.
What does this all mean to us
reef keepers? It means that to provide the best lighting habitat
for the types of corals we choose is to keep, the spectrum and intensity
(PAR/PUR) should be close to what the corals are exposed to in their
native habitat. If a mix of SPS and LPS corals is desired, care
must be taken in placement so LPS corals are in an area where the light
intensity is not as intense. Experienced reef keepers generally
will have either a SPS or LPS dominated aquarium which makes it much
easier to regulate the light and spectrum for that particular genus of
corals and greatly reduce allelopathy issues.
Our new Atlantik LED Pendant can
be programmed to control both intensity and to tailor the spectrum for
the coral species you intend to keep or propagate. There are four
individual channels of light and each channel provides seven different
programming points which allows for a wide range of spectral and
intensity options. Based on the above, the Atlantik will allow you
to program both the spectrum and intensity of the four different
lighting channels to provide the most suitable light for the types of
corals you will keep.
For aquarists with little reef
keeping experience, the Atlantik features eight pre-programmed
photoperiods with varying spectrums and intensities for different types
of corals and/or applications. Considering the high intensity of
the Atlantik, Orphek highly recommends that you start with the “Slow
Acclimation” program and then choose one of the more intense programs
once the corals have adapted to this new light. Once you gain some
knowledge and experience with the light spectrum and intensity and how
it affects corals, you can develop your own program(s) for the Atlantik.
The Atlantik is capable of storing up to three programs but an endless
amount of programs can be designed and stored in a folder on your PC
from where you can retrieve them and load into the Atlantik.
Further reading is suggested and can be found
This article is provided by James Gasta
(firstname.lastname@example.org ) 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