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FAQs about Coral System Lighting 1

Related Articles: Coral Lighting: what we know and what we don't know (mostly the latter) by Sara Mavinkurve
Lighting Reef Systems: Considerations, Organisms, Goals and Costs by Bob Fenner, Light/Lighting For Marine Systems, Moving Light Systems, Coral Feeding, LPS Corals, True or Stony Corals, Order Scleractinia, Propagation for Marine Aquarium Use

Related FAQs: Coral Lighting 2, Coral Lighting 3, Coral Lighting 4, & FAQs on Coral Lighting: Science/Application, Designs/Fixtures, Lamps/Bulbs, Quality, Duration & Intensity, Night-Time, Troubleshooting/Fixing, Makes/Models/Manufacturers, & Lighting Marine Inverts 1, Lighting Marine Inverts 2, Lighting Marine Inverts 3, Lighting Marine Inverts 4, Lighting Marine Inverts 5, Lighting Marine Inverts 6, & LR Lighting, Fluorescent Light 1, Actinic Lighting, Compact Fluorescents, Metal Halide Lighting, Lighting Marine Invertebrates Growing Reef CoralsStony Coral IdentificationStony Coral Behavior,

Will your lighting be "right", tolerable for all your livestock?

Small Marine Aquariums
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The Right Light For Beautiful Corals? 10/25/05 Hi, Guys <Hey there! Scott F. your guy tonight!> Love your site. A lot of good info. <Thanks! We're thrilled to bring it to you!> I have a question for you about lighting for my 90 gal reef tank. I currently have all SPS and Clams in my tank. "Oh" 2 LPS at the bottom. I'm currently running Hamilton 2- 250 watt 10k halides 2-110 VHO actinics. I have been buying a lot of frags on line. For some reason, the colors of the frags don't look the same as in the pics. Is this because I have 10,000 K bulbs? <It's certainly possible. If you look on many e-tailer's web sites, the corals are photographed under 20k bulbs, which definitely do effect the color of the corals. Some unscrupulous vendors may actually doctor colors with software. I would venture to say that this is not too common, though.> If it is it OK to go with 14k or 20k radium's. Will the corals be OK. <Sure, corals will be okay, but there are other factors involved in coral coloration and growth. Water quality, movement, etc. are all in play. There are many hobbyists who maintain beautiful coral-filled aquariums with 10,000k bulbs.> Also is it normal for the SPS to only come out at night? <Many corals put out polyps at night.> I do put bio plankton in in between actinics and moon lights. <A good time to feed your corals!> Thanks, Jay  <A pleasure! Regards, Scott F.> 

"Modest" Lighting...What's In A Name? Hello, <Hey! Scott F. here today!> First of all, I wanted to tell you that I stopped listening to my LFS advice after going through your site. <Well, there are many fine local fish stores with experienced knowledgeable employees out there! And we're not the experts on everything, but we do have a significant body of experience (learned the hard way!), so hopefully we can be of service to as many fellow hobbyists as possible.> Your site is very informative and very well put together. My question is about lighting. I have been doing a lot of research prior to purchasing my corals and I try to pay close attention to the lighting requirements. More often the lighting requirement I find are moderate lighting requirements. How do you quantify "Moderate"?  What does moderate mean? <Well, I'd characterize "moderate" as being corals that are not as demanding as high-light-loving Acropora or Porites, but not quite low-light-loving. Good examples would be some of the LPS corals.> I have a 46G bowfront tank with 2 96W PC light which comes down to roughly 3 - 4 watts per gallon. Is this moderate? <Well, watts per gallon is not a true measure of intensity, but based on the size of your tank, it sounds like this qualifies as "moderate".> I have a candy cane coral and a green bubble coral.  I would like to get either a Frogspawn or a Torch Coral but not sure.  The LFS told me that I need to get MH lighting for those animals but they are the same LFS that told me that 79 degrees temp is too hot and that I need a chiller.  Plus they sold me a Powder Blue tang and told me that it will be OK in my environment. <Okay...now I understand some of your skepticism. In my opinion, you could keep corals such as Green Star Polyps (Pachyclavularia), Xenia, Anthelia, etc.> Now that I am doing more research, Not quite as gullible.  Is my lighting enough to meet the moderate lighting requirements? <As above.> Also, have you ever heard of clown hosting a torch coral or frogspawn? <I've seen it a few times; not all that uncommon, actually.> Thanks! Louie <My pleasure, Louie! Keep reading, learning and sharing! Regards, Scott F.>

Lighting Hi <Hello DW> You guys are providing a great service to the aquatic community. <Much appreciated> I am confused on some lighting issues.  My tank is 96x24wx26h for 240g with a  center bar.  I will keep only SPS and clams.  They will be placed at  all levels. I have noticed a trend in your recommendations toward  higher wattage for SPS corals.  My choices are 4x400w, 6x250w, or 4x250w MH  in the range of 14K.  I will not use actinics.  The ballasts will be  IceCap. <For clams and SPS corals, I would go with the 6x250.  This will give you a little over six watts per gallon, and that should be great for your clams/SPS's.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you for the help. <You're welcome> DW

MH lights and coral growth 4/14/05 Dear Anthony <Cheers> I am upgrading to 250 watt halides (Arcadia series 3). These are going pride of place over my 130 gallon mixed reef garden setup. I have the following corals 1 Montipora 1 frogspawn 1 Euphylliid (hammer) 1 Montipora 1 Turbinaria several Caulastrea colonies 1 sun coral 1 Pavona various Sarcophytons <Hmmm... overall a moderate (light) needs tank. It will be good/better if the 250 watt lamps you use are 10k - 20k K in color> All are placed away from each other and at heights specific for the genus, allelopathy is reduced by regular weekly water changes and regular preening of the softies. My existing light setup is 5 60 watt VHO lights and 1 T5. My question is really what should I limit the halide photoperiod to? <6-8 hours will be fine here for MH> Water quality is fair and I get fabulous growth from the Pavonas and frogspawn and Euphylliid. Not so much growth from the SPS hence the reason for the halide upgrade. <Hmmm... you are a bit mistaken here, perhaps. Water flow (increase) and feeding (try DTs Natural Diet for your SPS corals) are much greater influences on coral growth. Increasing light alone will not improve growth in many cases> My wattage is essentially doubling so I know I have to go gentle with the adjustment. <For this gentle acclimation, do a key word/phrase search for "screen method" here in our WWM archives :) kindly, Anthony> 

Coral Lighting needs Crew, <Hi David, Don today> Would a 48" 4x55W Helios compact fluorescent fixture be enough in a 75 gallon tank for most corals?  Or is more lighting needed? <Well David, 'most corals' is pretty ambiguous. I would say OK for corallimorphs, many polyps, and some soft corals. Most LPS and SPS would be out. What lighting is needed? As written before here, you need to know specifics about what you want to keep. It is difficult (but not impossible) to keep corals that have strong light needs with those that need lower light in the same tank. Use available references to find classes of corals that have the same needs and then progress from there. You will be less frustrated and the corals you choose will be less likely to die from environmental conditions.> Thanks, David

Lighting a 65g for soft corals - 2/23/03 Good afternoon from rain soaked VA! <Good morning to you. Paul here.> I am trying to decide on a lighting upgrade for my aspiring reef tank. It is a 65 gal., 36Lx18Wx24H. I currently have one small Sarcophyton, one med. Sinularia, and a small frag of Sinularia dura. Also some Protopalythoa polyps. I intend to keep this tank limited to soft corals and mushrooms. <Very good> So here's the big question: I am looking at a few fixtures; one is a 3x96watt PC fixture, one is a MH + PC fixture - 150 or 175watt MH and 2 96watt PC's. <Well, the corals you have currently and based on your previous statement as to what kind of corals you plan to keep, they might do favorably (read OK) with the 3x96 watt. Now if you plan on going with different corals in the future.....more like clams and SPS, then maybe it wouldn't hurt to go with the MH fixture. If you acclimate your current livestock to the MH properly, I think all your corals will benefit from the stronger lighting. In any event, I would research the lighting needs of your corals you have now (I am sure you have) and for the ones you plan to keep, as related to their respective environment, and make the best decision. Either lighting system will do the job albeit, one will do it better.> Which one would be preferable, or would you suggest a different unit entirely? <I honestly like the 150w MHx2x96w PC as the best choice here. Definitely read through Anthony Calfo's awesome article on lighting invertebrates found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm> I appreciate the time you guys take to answer questions in this forum! You're a tremendous help! <Our pleasure. Thank you for coming to this forum to have your questions answered!> Thanks, Neil <Regards, Paul>

Natural sunlight really works! - 2/14/03 Hello crew & I hope Mr. Calfo- <cheers, my friend> I wrote some weeks ago about moving my tank near a window so that it will get about two hours of natural light. I did that three weeks ago and I just want to say it made all of the difference in the world. <excellent to hear> My softies are taking off. I am amazed at the difference. <it really is remarkable and algae growth will be no better or worse than without it> I don't know how it might have affected it but my pod population has exploded. Could the sunlight help them, if so how? <yep... some pods eat phytoplankton which is now growing better from the sunlight> One more question. My skimmer has slowed down some. I still get a lot of skimmate but I would say a 1/2cup less then before. <per day... per week?> Is that due to the new lighting? <not likely. And not a problem if that is per week. Else, there is a tuning problem> My specs are Alk 10dkh, Ca400, ph 8.3 No2 0 No3 0 Amm 0 Thanks Mr. Calfo, I enjoy your book and am looking forward to the new ones coming. <Thanks kindly!> Have a good Valentine's day. I had to send this letter out before I rush and get some flowers for my g-friend. Karl <cheers, Anthony>

Stressed coral - 2/12/03 Hi, <Cheers, bud> am curious if Mr. Calfo has ever seen anything such as the acropora in the link that I am sending.   <Too often> I bought the lil bugger because I was stunned by the color on the internet and have received it today.  Is this coral dyed?   <Dude... if you thought it was suspicious or dyed, why did you buy it before asking about it? Seriously... I don't want to pick on you but it is a valid question. No surprise here... for the sheer amount of e-mail we get like this, it breaks my heart to see people that seem to forget these are live animals... not just commodities. Research every animals before you buy it and be confident that you understand its needs and can provide for them. Else you support a bad aspect of the industry> I noticed polyps down around the base of the Acro but don't see any on the branches yet but the branches are the bright blue. <to answer your question specifically, the coral is not dyed but it will likely be "died" soon. If it survives, I can assure you it will be a different color. What you are seeing is a coral that has been over-illuminated (likely by obscene wattage halides over shallow water). In turn, it expelled most of its zooxanthellae and the sweet colors you are seeing are simply UV reflecting proteins. Since they cannot translocate carbon as the zooxanthellae did to feed the coral, and since the aquarium does not have a supply of nanoplankton, this coral will likely die within 6-10 months. It might hang on a little longer. To try top save it (in wait for the return of zooxanthellae) you will need to have a source of dissolved organics (even lingering nitrates in the tank may help). European aquarists have promoted dosing of a nitrate solution (in Daniel Knop's book and my BOCP1) or dosing with ammonium chloride. In time with more appropriate lighting, the animal may return to a more autotrophic existence. Sorry to be a buzzkill, dude... but it is what it is> Polyps may be still hiding I guess but I have never seen this color acropora before.  Any clues as to being dyed or not?  What type of lighting should it be kept under and what type of water current?  Please fill me in.  Thanks, Jeff <I can't say about lighting without knowing the depth of your tank. No worries, check out the reef invertebrate lighting article in our archives... there is rates lamps and species groups and water depths. Best regards, Anthony>

2/3/03 - Lighting and coral selection Hi there, <Howdy. Paul in the hizouse and messing it up after a few too many tacos for lunch......bad breath....I mean.> would 1 36watt PowerCompact and 1 55 watt power compact light be enough light on a 29gal. <In my opinion that is a very low amount of light for most corals. Without getting into the weak "watts per gallon" argument/theory/thing. I would like to see at least 1 more 65watt PC added to that. Anthony Calfo has written a pretty easy to follow and understand methodology for lighting (So have many others). Please refer to the following links as well as do a search here in the google WetWebMedia search tool: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/index.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm > tank for  toadstool leather <Maybe too little light for most of the Sarcophytons. Please look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyoniids.htm>....finger leather <depending on what is truly referred to as a finger leather the previous link also could apply>....mushrooms <I think you could get away with the lighting you currently have with the corals placed about halfway up your rock structure. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corallim.htm>....candy cane coral <Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/faviidae.htm>and green brain coral? <Definitely would need a bit more light as this coral should be placed on the substrate with adequate room for expansion. This coral will inflate itself to not only pan for light sustenance but also as a method of feeding on physical foods such as mysids and other small meaty food chunks. Check this area out for more info: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/trachyphlliidae.htm> if not which ones would be ok with that amount of light? <I really hope you can get more light. Why be limited by less light? Get the most out of the hobby instead of limiting/settling for a few corals at that light range. I have seen new fixtures for around 100 bucks or less through mail order or even DIY projects would be a bit cheaper many options here....since your tank is still cycling, maybe save some money for more light before spending on corals. If not I think the mushrooms and maybe a few zoanthids (beautiful animals can be had from LFS and mail order) may be your best bet. In some cases with inadequate lighting it is possible to keep a great many corals through a proper feeding schedule with proper foodstuffs. This is a more advanced technique and don't recommend to most aquarists. It is difficult to pull off and requires dedication and good water chemistry/husbandry practices. More light would be ideal for the corals you speak of with the exception being the mushrooms> and what's the highest the phosphate levels should be?<You would be better of reading our coverage on www.WetWebMedia.com. This is a rather large question that cannot be answered briefly in an email. The simple answer is to control their input into the tank, i.e. use purified water and not overfeed. I usually find that water changes with good quality source water, coupled with good protein skimming and the use of a phosphate-free activated carbon product, will really help control phosphate problems.> thanks allot, <Thank you Eric. Keep the questions coming and have a great day.> Eric

Species Selection and Lighting needs Don, since I wrote my first question I have learned more on how important it is to research animals and their required environment prior to purchase. <Kinda fun too> With the amount of light I discussed, 175 w MH and 2x36 PC actinic, would that be considered sufficient light for an animal requiring <are we talking corals?>'High Light', 'Medium Light', 'Low Light'?  <By placing at different levels in the water column, I would think you could do most any appropriate species.>What species would you recommend raising with this amount of light?<Oh, My that is pretty wide open. As per above, Research and find what you like/feel you can provide for. A couple of books to consider would be Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals" or Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation". There are good discussion about appropriate corals on the WWM Forum at http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk>  Also, I am now investigating the difference between 5000k, 6500k, and 10k MH lamps. <The tendency now seems to be 10K MH and this is what I am planning, with actinic for the next tank. Although species will determine as well. Some of this can be personal as well as the different temperatures give very different looks. Try to see other tanks with different bulb, temperatures, etc> Would one of those be better with the two actinics? <Not necessarily> With your experience, what combo would you install personally <as above>? <<Go slow, research, understand needs and have fun! Don>

New with corals Hi Bob thanks for the link just one more question. <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a 100gallon tank with 2 x 150w MH and 2 Actinic Fluorescents. What would be the best coral to keep? <my advice would be to focus on one specific group of corals and not to mix from an array of groups. Mixing causes too many long term problems from silent chemical warfare in the aquarium. SO, decide if you like the octocorals best... or the Euphylliids, etc. And stay with the family members in that group. That lets you specialize with a more compatible group of organisms while still having a tremendous number of species to pick from> I mean I read about guys with 3x400w MH etc and my light seems to be nowhere as good ... or is it? <those aquarists are often running commonly excessive lighting and most corals in such shallow aquaria (less than 75 cm) will suffer for it in time. Your lighting is fine my friend. Even if you want to specialize in high light SPS corals and clams, I would still not suggest more than 250 watt halides for this particular tank.> Werner Schoeman <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Corals In The Moonlight! Hello there, Could you please advise me on whether it is a good idea to leave a blue light, (marine Glo), on at night. I have left mine on for five months now, and the difference in the corals is amazing. There is plenty of cover for the fish. <I don't see the harm in this at all. Think about it- on the reefs, there is always some ambient light form the moon (except on moonless nights), and there are many interesting aspects to coral spawning, plankton upwelling, fish breeding, etc. that seem to be tied to lunar cycles. You may even want to try running the lights and/or diffusing them on a schedule that corresponds to lunar phases...could be interesting to see what happens. Good luck! regards, Scott F.>

Light Shocked Corals? Greeting and salutations <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> My problem is as follows setup: 300 Litres. Used to have 2 Actinic Fluorescents and 2 10000K White fluorescents -Recently changed the 10000k's to 2 x 150 MH and kept the Actinics . Power head driven protein skimmer which only does about 1 cup a week ??? Problem here ?? <Well, not a problem, per se- but try to adjust it to pull out a couple of cups a week, if possible> Fluval 404 Filter NO Calcium Reactor / doser My water parameters are good although monitoring my Calcium is a problem. I use reef life Calcium Supplements and Buffer tablets on a weekly basis. <Do try to monitor calcium additions closely...The calcium/alkalinity dynamic can get really out of whack if you don't test for these regularly> My problem is that about 2 months ago I purchased a small cluster of brown mushrooms and a tree coral . My tree coral was doing great all of his small little feelers where coming out and grabbing the water for food . Now 2 months later it hasn't opened up for about 2 weeks and my mushroom coral is dying . I do 10 % water changes every week , my lighting should be fine ...... Why is this happening to me ??????? Should I add iodine and all those other expensive supplements you find in the pet shops ???? Werner Schoeman <Well, Werner- it sounds like everything is in order here...However, it appears that the decline in the corals occurred about the same time you upgraded the lights. Mushroom corals, in particular, can be adversely affected by sudden changes in lighting (both intensity and spectrum). Anthony has a great article on this on the wetwebmedia.com site. Do check it out! I don't think that you need lots of supplements....just maybe a little patience, and some slight adjustments. Check all water parameters for any aberrations. then I think you'll see those corals come back! Good Luck! Regards, Scott F.> Werner Schoeman

Coral lighting hi there <Howdy partner>>I am setting my tank up for a reef.  its a 90 gallon tank.  what I would like to keep is mushrooms, zoos, soft corals, a bubble coral.  am unsure what I should do about lighting..... <low to moderate light animals... heavy feeders instead. Fluorescents will be fine> I currently have 2*55 watt Pc.s and 2*40 watt no actinics.   <more daylight color is needed here... not so much blue> I was thinking about adding another 2*55 watt pc retro....would this be enough for my tank???   <yep> or should I go with metal halide...... <good heavens no!> I was thinking the pc's because of the price.   <actually... metal halides are more economical when considering the lifespan of the bulbs and bang for the buck (usable light produced per watt consumed)> on the other hand I don't want to have to buy metal halides later down the road because my lights aren't adequate and feel like I wasted money on the Pc.s..... <then a fine compromise would be a 150 watt double ended HQI MH outfit> I do not want any clams, sps or anything that has real high light requirements.....what would u add if it was your tank?? <actually... if I had the money... the HQIs. More bang for the buck. Fluorescents have to be changed every 6-10 months. Some halides are good for over three years!> thanks for your time Matt <best regards, Anthony>

Re: coral lighting great I think I will just order another 2*55 watt pc.  so currently I have the 2 *40 watt actinics, 2*55 Pc.s (with a 6400K bulb) and am going to add an additional 2*55 watt pc.  what kind of bulb should I put in this.....the place am ordering from sells (6400, 10000, and 5300K) thanks again for all the help its really appreciated. Matt <The 6400K will likely serve you best. Strong daylight color though. If you prefer a blue hue, go for the 10K. The 5300 K are for shallow water species only and is a very yellow colored light. Anthony>

Lighting Up The Galaxy! Sorry, forgot to mention the galaxy/tooth coral and the pipe organ coral.   This is in reference to the 250 watt MH pendant and if these corals will be okay if placed out to the sides and nearer the bottom.   Thanks again! Arthur <Well, Arthur, these corals seem to come from areas that are rather brightly lit, yet turbid, so I think that your positioning idea is good. Good luck! Scott F>

Lighting question Hi all (or Anthony again) <I'm not high, but delighted to answer just the same> When I setup the 75g I found that my PFO hood won't fit inside the new hood. So, instead of a 175w MH 10,000, 2x24" actinic VHO's, 2x 36" 6500K VHO, and 2x 36" HO (overdriven on the VHO ballast) 20,000K's, I have only the 6500K's and the 20,000K lights. This is primarily an "LPS" tank, with Fungia, a brain, and a bubble coral (and most likely a branching hammer or frogspawn in addition). No SPS's. Is this enough light or should I sweet talk the wife into letting me get either 2x96w PC's (50/50) or 2 175w MH's with the 20,000K Radium with the additional 2 VHO's now running 10,000K (or actinic) instead of the 20,000K HO's. Thanks all! PF <as much as I would like to give a fellow aquarist an excuse to buy a new toy... I must admit that the lighting is not only enough, but rather ideal in color balance IMO. Even if not, LPS are so hungry and food so easily compensates for inadequate light in corals... no worries here. Anthony>

Lighting for Corals Hello, I have a 38 gallon and two 20 longs I hope to raise corals in. Low limited income forces me to stay away from MH lighting or other high output set ups. <actually its your tank size that spares you from the commonly used and abused MH lighting rage that too many aquarists are on> In my search I have yet to come across information regarding supplemental sunlight through an (East) window. <there is quite a bit of information on this topic on message boards, articles and in some books (my Book of Coral Propagation for a shameless plug). South facing windows are preferable, East is a good runner up.> I know glass does filter out some wavelengths but my house plants do fine. <agreed on premise, but a horrible analogy or line of thinking. Terrestrial plants have tremendously different needs (light spectrum and intensity) from light through air than corals in water> Why wouldn't this work ( with added fluorescents) for coral? David <it would work very well with supplemental fluorescents my friend. The LPS corals you have mentioned in your subject line would literally bleach and die in time (months) from photoinhibition under halides in a tank this small. Besides, these corals like most are actually very easy to feed (finely minced meaty foods almost daily)... and feeding can compensate for deficiencies in light (but the opposite is not true). Best of luck! Anthony>

Xenia needs Guys I have a quick one ...what are the lighting requirements for pulsing xenia...will NO fluorescents be fine?? <depends on the species. If we are talking about common brown fast pulse... yes, with proper acclimation. If you have a white or pom pom species... very unlikely (requires bright light)> I have had them under MH for some time ,but they are growing like crazy and I would like to share with a friend with NO 50/50 only. <keep them within 6-10" of the surface and they will be fine> Thanks in advance. Joe <best regards, Anthony>

Lighting/Stocking Question Hi Bob/Anthony/Steven, <cheers, my friend> I am setting up a new reef tank.  Need some advice on the lighting.  Firstly, tank specs: Tank size: 72" (l) x 24" (w) x 30" (h) Sandbed depth: 5-6" deep in most part of the tank, which gives an effective depth of 24" Corals intended: Mostly light loving sps e.g. Acroporas/Pocilloporas/Stylophoras.  Some light loving LPSs e.g. Favia/Favites.  And a few Trachyphyllia (which I intend to shield from direct exposure to MH with live rock structures) <all good... do resist too many LPS here though. Especially the lower light species> Light:  3 x 400W MH (2 Iwasakis 6500 + 1 Radium 20000 or 4 Ushio 10000, not decided yet) or 4 x 250W MH (2 Iwasaki 6500 + 2 Radium 20000) <Yowsa... 250 lamps at most here please. Even with sps. Tank is too shallow (under 30")> It seems like I am sitting on the border between 250W MH and 400W MH.  I have listed my considerations down below a list seeking your treasured opinions: <easy one here> 1.  Sps will be sited from top of the tank to near the sand bed.  I estimate greatest depth will be around 18-20".  Likely it will be the Pocilloporas at the deeper end.  With this in mind, is the 250W MH enough at the greater depth?   <yes... its all about water clarity. Weekly carbon and or daily ozone in a perfect world. Yellow water and 400 watt MH will not be as good as 175 watt MH is ozonized water at 18-24"!> I intend for them to retain their colorful appearance. 2.  400W MH will be 6" from water surface, <Jeez?!?! Making lava, bub? 250W MH will be 7" from water surface.   <OK... getting better> The different height is due to the bulk of the 400W lamp holder. My concern is the presence of a central brace of the tank.  It seems that a 3 x 400W configuration will mean a MH light have a sitting above a 1/2 inch glass which I believe reduces its efficiency.   <oh, ya!> What is your take on this?   <the 400 watt metal halide rage is a joke perpetuated by an industry of rank amateurs. Ha! Ahhh... I'm not shy about an opinion here. What you have are a lot of SPS keepers keeping (and yes growing very well) sps corals in shallow water under 400 and 1000 watt halides, and then finding another reason for the deaths and bleaching events for specimens after 1, 2 and 3 years when photoinhibition is a strong factor. You will be hard pressed to find an aquarist with 400+ watt MH over shallow water (less than 20") with 5+ year success. A lot of folks under 3 years preaching though.> Offsetting the "middle" 400W MH is not an option IMO as I like both ends of the tank to be equally illuminated. 3.  Yet all the hardcore sps/clam guys are campaigning for the 400W bulbs, (I seem myself moving a little more towards sps already, though not clams), are 400W bulbs an overkill in my tank? <yep... you need 30" plus to make this argument> 4.  I read that many of the colorful coralline algae do not do well (bleach) close to 400W bulbs, in the event that I do go for 400W, at what depth will I start seeing colored corallines? <agree in premise, vigor by species. No rule here> 5.  I intend to shield my Trachyphyllia from direct MH lights, if you think it cannot be done, then I will drop the idea of keeping Trachyphyllia geoffroyi.  It should be a major facture in lamp selection. <they will be fine on the sand bottom under 250 watt. Just acclimate slow (see my fly screen method in the archives under acclimating corals to new light) or in my coral prop book> 6.  The top of the live rock structure will be populated with bushy Acropora.  I understand with 250W MH, I can put them close to water surface (give couple of inches for water changes), but what about 400W MH, can they be kept that high (if placed immediately below the MH bulb)? <most can be acclimated to the brighter light. Some will not. All can be acclimated to "lower" light if fed well> 7.  I will be installing a 8 gallon dump bucket fed solely by my sump return pump.  Estimate dumping frequency is about one every 45 seconds.  Please advise how much more water movement do I need in such a tank, assuming somehow I managed to keep water movement well spaced and random. <for sps, aim for a 20X turnover with random turbulent and or surging flow. No wave-timers please...a  waste of money> 8.  Do you know of anybody willing to ship pink Goniastrea?   <nope... requires Extreme (!) high light that will kill most other corals> I really appreciate your opinion call on the above, especially the MH. Thanks in advance Edwin <save some money bud... definitely 250 watts. You won't be disappointed. Best regards, Anthony>

Lighting Confusion I have a 125 Gallon reef with mostly LPS.  Its been up and running for 6 years.  I have decided its time to get some SPS.  I would like to up grade my lighting from  700 watts of VHO to MH.  I don't know how much MH to go with.  I' m going back and forth between 175 watt and 250 watt ballasts, and to add to the confusion do I get two or three ballast and bulbs.  The water depth is 18 inches to the top of the sand.  Which way would you suggest I go.   <unless the tank will only have sps and clams, go with the 175 watt lamps at one per 2 feet. 250 watts of light over many soft corals and mushrooms can harm them in time (photoinhibition). Many LPS corals will outright bleach. 10K Aqualines get my vote. Ushios are quite good here too. No actinics needed. Do read more here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm best regards, Anthony>

Re: help! I'm worried about future LPS corals! Hi WWM crew? How's it going? <Pretty good so far> Okay, I have 4 40 watt NO bulbs over my 40 gallon long. It's 15 inches deep. That's 4 watts per gallon. BUT I have them in a shop light (looks pretty lab. like I think) but that light hangs 7 inches above the tank rim and lights up the whole room. Will this affect the light INSIDE the tank? I know I can keep all softies, but can I keep LPS with this setup? and which ones can I keep? Can you give me a full list? That 7 inches has me worried... <Hi Clint, You can keep almost anything under NO light if the light is close enough and the water shallow enough, but that is hard to do in a display aquarium. A thicker substrate (DSB) and live rock can help you place corals closer to the light. HO, VHO or PC lighting would be a good idea (along with good full coverage reflectors in any case) if you want more light demanding corals like LPS, or placement as close to the NO lights as practical. Check out the lighting pages at WetWebMedia.Com under marine set-ups for more info on lighting.  Have fun!  Craig>

Lighting Hello, I have a 48"L-18"W-28"H tank and would like to make it a reef tank. Right now, it has a 110 watt PC light. I need to know an economical way of getting the proper wattage to provide a healthy environment for both soft and hard coral. <Wow, there is not much more of a broad description than soft and hard coral. That covers just about anything and everything and as such I cannot honestly recommend a lighting solution for you. Any reef tank needs to be designed around the particular needs of the corals desired. You need to narrow your focus for me to be of any real assistance.> Thank you for your time, Kevin <Feel free to reply back once you settle on what you want to keep. -Steven Pro>

Re: <sigh> Change in lighting required? Hi again...I wrote: >>I was getting disillusioned with the lighting - the 10Ks were very, very white in the tank, even with the actinics on. And you responded: <<that's just an aesthetic preference. Even the 10K lamps have more blue than corals need. Higher Kelvin lamps are worse. You will go blue at the expense of coral growth and in some cases coral color (accuracy of color that is)>> <yep... I was getting ahead of you seeing/sensing you liked a bluer lamp. Not uncommon... but not ideal for many coral either. Of course, it depends on the corals kept, specifically, how bad if at all that is> So does the use of 20K Radiums severely affect the corals' health?   <no, my friend... you've misunderstood. They will not harm corals at all... they just may not help as much as it could. Corals otherwise are quite adaptable within a reasonable range. I would also need to know your primary goal for keeping coral to recommend a bulb color. For those that want max growth at all costs: 6500K daylight (Iwasaki). For other aquarists that want the truest maintenance of natural (imported) coral color: 10K Ushio or Aqualines. And for Aquarists that adore (like myself) heavy blue lamp colors (even at the expense of some growth or effecting changes in natural tissue color): 20K Radiums. These are generalizations anyway and are dependant upon the species kept. That's why I recommend that aquarists pick their exact list of coral species before even beginning to talk about lighting and lamp choices. Most corals can adapt to all of the lights mentioned above. Its just that if most coral favor daylight for growth (6500-10K), then any lamp (like 20K) that has more blue than daylight in its spectrum could possibly be a slight impediment.> You've seemed fairly positive on them in the past.   <Agreed... I personally love the look of 20K Radiums. But I usually recommend 10K Aqualines or Ushios as a compromise between true color and good growth. While 20K Radiums bring the colors out in some coral species better than any other (like Montipora species and Fungiids), they can wreak havoc with Faviids and many Acroporids turning everything to green for example. That is not categorically the way it will go, but with many it does.> I know that they (SPS) grow better with 10K, but is it that much of a difference?   <nope... not that big of a difference. But if you have a habit of buying pink and yellow and odd colored sps, be prepared with straight 20K to see some crazy (and possibly undesirable) color changes> And would it negatively affect LPS's?   <nope again... 20K is even better for most LPS in my opinion> I put the 10Ks back in for Sunday, and noticed that the brain corals seemed to respond better, and it looked like the elegance came out more...should I stay with 10K, or put back the 20K?   <determine your primary goal as per above, pick a bulb and stick with it. Toggling is dangerous to coral health. A lot of personal preference here> Very confusing.  I like the look of the 20Ks much better (of course), but if the 10Ks are much better for the health of the corals than 20K, I can live with the aesthetics.   <then go 20K... this is not about health... it really is about color changes in coral pigmentation and aesthetics> <<if the elegant has a conical skeleton it needs to be in the sand. Heck... even if not... under these excess MH lamps, you may need most all LPS in the bottom third of the tank anyway>> The elegance is already in the bottom third - it's actually a horseshoe shape, <no worries then... the horse-shoe shape has hard substrate collected and can live on your rocks. Cones must live in sand> and I have it mounted above the sand, but horizontal, not vertical.   <really needs its natural orientation for long term success/survival (vertical here)> The hammer coral is around halfway, and it was doing well under the 10K, less well (but not sickly) under the 20K.   <simply an adjustment period... can take weeks> The open brains are about halfway up, and they seem to be blooming just fine.   <I promise they will die if not kept on sand... living maybe 12-18 months for you. Trachyphyllia must be kept on sand for many reasons> I don't have room for the bubbles anywhere but in the top half, and they seem to be sagging, I just don't know to where I can move them.   <no worries (other than limited space) here... bubbles are extremely adaptable. Please be sure that you are feeding all of theses LPS almost daily or they starve very slowly over time (and swell while panning for light in the meantime making you think they are growing!). See my feeding article here on WetWebMedia or in the book> Mushrooms, polyps, etc., seem fine, up and down the tank.  Clams in the sand are happy as a...well, as a clam. :) Arthur <keep on rockin in the free world, my friend. Anthony>

Light, Porites Hi all, Do you think a bright yellow Porites coral gets adequate lighting if approx. 10 inches straight below a 150W AquaLine HQI bulb? <likely yes... close if not. Very shallow is necessary for this species... and very strong random turbulent water flow too. The color will be the indicator... they turn golden brown if they do not get enough light> That's about 3-4 inches below water surface (total tank 100gal has 300W, using an Aquastarlight fixture). I had read that Porites were abundant in nature, hardy and moderate in lighting demands so I bought it a few days ago. <no way dude... literally ankle deep water in the tropics!!! Equatorial sun> Then I searched your site only to find that the yellow is a particularly demanding type of Porites when it comes to lighting. <actually... just in color rendition. They are adaptable and will survive lower light... they just wont stay yellow> I'm not sure what this means, but I assume it implies a 250-400W metal halide fixture range. <no way! 400 watt halides are rarely necessary. Perhaps the 250s though if you have a deeper tank and want the coral deeper> Given that all other water conditions are good (high movement, good skimming, quality RO, etc.) does it stand a chance or do you think that I should give it away before I kill it? <I believe it will be fine> Thanks so much, Adam <best regards, Anthony>

Re: pH, Xenia, Lighting, Reefing Hi again <cheers> So they don't really rely on blue light for photosynthesis and use other colors of the daylight spectra as well? <most popular corals get too much actinic in captivity and all MH lamps over 10K have been shown to contain excess blue regarding PAR activity in corals. Blue is necessary... just not to excess> If I use only daylight lamps (6500K) the corals can still survive even if the water is pretty yellow though. <the yellow color is only a problem for some aquarists that have a blue aesthetic preference. Corals live naturally in shallow daylight flooded water with the exception of some deeper species.> So blue lamps are for aesthetic only. <not only... as above> I was thinking of putting as many blue lamps on my tank but now a change of mind. <you can enjoy  a lot of blue light on a tank as long as you have enough daylight too to keep corals alive. 20K Radium halides would suit you well... no actinics needed either. Very blue white light> And also can deep water corals survive in Daylight lamps only? <yes... if we are talking about 7500-10K daylights> My pH is still low though. I have read in WWM FAQ's pages about aerating the tank water to increase the pH. If I aerate my main tank during the night would the pH increase? <likely yes... but aerate at all times... not just at night> My pulsing xenia is still the same. What I did was I sprayed it with fish meat. I took some tank water in a cup and mashed the fish meat in the cup. Then I filtered all the chunks and feed it to my corals and fishes. The remaining liquid in the cup is what I sprayed onto the xenia. Is that ok? <yes... all seems reasonable> Iodine source? <a little> I'm thinking of using Kalkwasser for my maintain my calcium and to increase pH. <that is highly recommended!> And baking soda for alkalinity. Is that combination ok? <yes... and you may not need much baking soda if you have enough aragonite sand in the tank and use Kalkwasser faithfully. Let your test kits guide you to dose> Or leave the baking soda and look for other buffers on my LFS? <no need... some of these buffers have too much borate in them> For now I still don't have the Kalkwasser, what could be other ways of increasing the pH of my tank to save my pulsing xenia. <do try the aeration and baking soda> Thank you very much again. Mr. Anthony and sorry for giving you a lot of questions. <no worries at all my friend. It is our pleasure to help>

Corals Under NO Fluorescents Hi to you guys there at www.WetWebMedia.com. I hope you all are well. Two months ago, I started my saltwater fish tank and I'm very interested in putting corals in, but I have 5 fluorescent tubes (2 Sylvania coral star blues, 3 normal daylight tubes) all are 36 watts measuring 180 watts of light over my 55 gallon tank. <Ok> I have been told I can put in mushrooms, zoanthids, Sinularia, Sarcophyton, Lobophytum and some other soft corals. Is this correct? <Yes> Some other websites say that you can also put in brains, candy, torch coral and tongue corals with my levels of light (somehow I don't believe this). <It will depend on exactly what you mean by these common names. Take brain corals for example. I house a Trachyphyllia under 160 watts of NO fluorescent in a 55, but I would not attempt a Favia or Favites (also referred to as brain corals). The Caulastrea (Candy Cane coral) and many of the Euphyllias (Torch, Hammer, and Frogspawn) would also be ok. Let me suggest you get a copy of Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals" as a reference. It is excellent.> So, guys could you please give me a few species of corals that would live under my lighting levels. I wish you every fish keeping success. Cheers, Brendan <Have a nice weekend! -Steven Pro>

Mushroom/Soft Coral Lighting Dear WWM crew, My 30 gallon FOWLR tank has been set up and running for 3 months now and so far everything is going great thanks to your amazing site which has helped me immensely during the whole process. The tank is currently stocked with the following: 2 tank bred Clowns 1 Flashback Pseudochromis 1 YTB Damsel 1 Coral Banded Shrimp 1 Red Star Fish 3 Turbo Snails I have 1 x 30 watt & 1 x 8 watt daylight N.O. fluorescent and 1 x 30 watt actinic (all with reflectors). I know this lighting is extremely weak by reef standards but I was wondering if I could keep any mushrooms or soft corals under them and if I could, what types? <This seems too weak for me. If you add another 30 watt full spectrum in place of the 8 watt unit, I think you would have enough for some mushrooms.> My water quality is very good and the coralline algae on the live rock seems to be doing well. I have also got about 8 small anemones growing on the rock. I think they may be glass anemones. They are about an inch across, start off translucent but turn more brown in color as they grow and have around 15-20 3/4" tentacles. <They sound like Aiptasia.> I always thought that anemones needed huge amounts of light or are these a lower light variety? <The latter, Aiptasia can live in low light. They are most dependent on food. They will eat little bits of food and absorb nutrients from the water. Please see www.WetWebMedia.com for additional information. -Steven Pro>

Coral Lighting Bob, Great site.  <thanks kindly> I have a 75g tank (48x19x20) currently with an Ice cap system. 1-Actinic blue and 2-actinic daylights (46.5" 110 watt bulbs).  <still... corals must be kept in top 10-12 " for best health> I have about 60# of Fiji rock and about to add 20# more prior to adding coral. Is this lighting adequate? I was thinking of adding one more bulb possibly the URI actinic sun. What do you think? Is more better? <to some extent... but it still doesn't change the fact that fluorescents do not penetrate very deep... no matter how many lamps are above. See here for more information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm > thanks DJ<best regards, Anthony>

Lighting for corals Hi Bob (and all the other good folks!) With your advice and some wonderful references, I now have two thriving reef aquariums- one 55g and one 10g which is a constant source of amazement- it is literally TEEMING with life forms, with new creatures being discovered daily. <awesome to hear!> With this success behind me (wink), I am considering moving on to corals (in the big tank, although it looks like a tree-like coral is growing in the small tank). Having read most of the literature on lighting, I am confused on some things. 1) Light is preferred at 1-2 watts/gallon, so it seems, yet much of what I read would indicate double that requirement- is more better? I don't want to burn them... <the watts per gallon rule is complete bunk. I explain it and likely most of what you are wondering here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm do follow up with questions if necessary> 2) Metal Halides seem to be preferred, yet one source states they are unnecessary if the water is less than 18"  <agreed essentially> and another source claims they need remain on no longer than 2-4 hours daily... <disagree here... MH lamps are ideal lights for tanks over 24" deep and they are in fact the most economical light (bang for your buck). Shallow tanks simply may not need them and no discussion of water depth is relevant without first identifying the corals that will be kept. We must ID our corals on a guest list or wish list before we can buy lights to suit their needs. Do your self a favor and try to stay with one main group of corals and not mix a little of everything. There are many complications with the typical mixed garden reef that has LPS, SPS, soft corals, Zoantharians, etc all mixed together. Stick with Soft corals only most likely> if I keep soft corals, within 6" of the water surface, do I require them? I have 1 actinic 40w bulb, 1 daylight (10,000k ?) 40w, and two 15w standard aquarium fluorescents- 110w total. <2 175-watt 10K Aqualine MH lamps would be ideal IMO if you like higher light animals (colored leathers, clams, sps). Or, if you stick with hardier medium light animals... 4-6 110watt VHO bulbs will serve you well> Once again, effusive praise and accolades...but seriously, I DO appreciate both your wisdom and your timeliness on responding- I could not have made the 55g a success, let alone the 10g, without your guidance- that goes for the whole team. Gerry Sames <wishing you the best! Anthony>

Lighting Hi everyone, Bryan Here. <Good day sir! Hope you are having a pleasant holiday weekend.> Question about lighting for reef tanks. I have a 75 gallon that I am thinking about keeping some soft corals since I am a beginner in reef setup. Looking at about 260 total watts of lighting, still not complete because I am still researching and haven't decided exactly what I want to add. My question is this, I have been looking at the 48" JBJ Power Compacts. I have read somewhere though that VHO can give a more blue/fluorescent look and the corals really stand out. <IME, VHO actinics are superior to PC blue lighting. There are supposedly better PC actinics on the market now.> I personally like the blue look and was wondering if this is true (about VHO). And if so, can the power compacts give off a more blue with the right bulbs? <Yes, perhaps now with true PC actinics on the market.> Last question is, do you want/or is it healthy for the tank to have a more bluish feel/look with the corals. <It really depends on the corals. Deep water LPS corals do benefit from actinic lighting, but it can be of little benefit to shallow water corals. All things in moderation and you should be ok. No more than 50% of your lighting in actinic for deep water corals and closer to 25% maximum for shallow water species.> Thanks for all your help. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lighting upgrade question Hello Gentleman, <cheers, mate> My 75 gallon reef tank currently has two lighting hoods on it. 1) JBJ Formosa Deluxe 4x65 PC (2 7100 + 2 10k). 2) A plain old 40w NO fluorescent with a Coralife 6700k bulb. I want to replace the 40w NO with a Custom Sea Life 2x65 PC SmartLite system. The 4x65 Formosa will remain, giving me a total of 390w of PC lighting. I have four corals in the tank: One piece if live rock covered in metallic green mushrooms, one short tentacled tongue (plate) coral, two brains -- one red and one greenish / purple. <all low to med light animals that require regular feedings (3-5 times weekly... or tiny bits daily for optimal growth> The tongue and brains are on the substrate,  <excellent and as they should be> the mushrooms are about halfway up the water column along the back of the tank. <OK> Should I be concerned with any light acclimation issues, or is this proposed upgrade 'safe' as is? <reasonably safe indeed... fluorescent lamps just don't have that much punch (good and bad) and the upgrade here is not severe> Thanks in advance. Sincerely, Mark Schwartz<do look here for further "illumination" of the subject (sheesh that was cheesy :p) http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm  and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm best regards, Anthony>

Lighting for SPS Hi <cheers> I am thinking of keeping some sps frags and will like to double-check with you if my lighting is good. I have 6 tubes of 55W PCs (1/3 actinic, the rest white that are supposedly at 10,000K, brand Aqualux) evenly spread out over a 2 foot by 2 foot top area, mounted 15cm above water (I cannot lower the light unfortunately)  <wow... that is a huge problem for starters! Fluorescent lamps of any kind mounted more than 7-9 cm above the surface are dramatically diminished! A light meter (lux or PAR/better) will confirm this> and the entire 2ft by 2 ft top is covered with a reflective surface. I read that PCs have lower output at higher operating temperature, so I have a fan blowing on them when the lights are on and the ballast feel warm (not hot), I will say maybe around 40deg C. The tank is actually much bigger and there are lights over other parts of the tank, but the sps corals are placed directly below the listed lights at the following depths, I will appreciate your comments baring in mind that I hope these corals will retain their color morphs and not turn brown. If the depths are off, please advise on alternative depths: <as above because of the height of the lamps off the water, you have a challenge already. In fact, even with the lamps close to the surface (5-7 cm) you would still need/want all colored sps within the top 25cm/10inches of the surface for optimal pigmentation> (PS: perhaps another indicator of my lighting will be that I have good coralline algae growth even at depths up to 22inches, some of my base rocks are completely covered with a purple type of coralline within 2 months. But the best coralline growth zone appear to be from 5in to 14 in depth. The top 4 inches have low growth, even lower than areas close to substrate.  <yes... but lighting is only one part of the dynamic for growing corallines. In fact, most grow better in low to moderate light> I read somewhere that too high lighting prohibits coralline growth, is it true?) <to some extent yes> Montipora digitata, orange, 6in below water Stylophora Pistillata, yellow with green polyps, 5in below water Seriatopora, pink, 3 to 4in below water Porites cylindrica, yellow, 14in below surface Psammacora contigna, green, 14in below surface Montipora Capricornis, purple, 2 to 3in below surface Hydrophora rigida, light green with dark green polyps, 18in below surface Stylophora Pistillata, pink with some purple, 4 to 6in below water <advice as per above with a note that the yellow finger Porites and possibly the Hydnophora will have trouble at the depths suggested> I can upgrade to MH if need be, but then the corals will still have to stay around the above locations as I have no other place to mount them. <in truth... if good color is your goal... 10K Aqualine MH lamps are your ticket. If growth is more important, 6500K Iwasakis IMO> Also, I will like to check with you, I have a Scolymia under the same lighting but at about 24 inches from the water surface, sitting on gravel substrate, low water movement.  <appropriately so... a rather low light coral> I bought it as a red morph (actually rust red with two 1/2in bright orange strips running from the center outwards) 3 weeks ago, but now I am seeing it start to turn green, with the green creeping in from the fringe areas of the coral. <likely getting too much UV radiation. Red corals are collected at depth and often turn green under excessive radiation. You could try placing a small glass or acrylic lens just over the Scolymia below the light canopy. May be a simple solution to keep the red color> Is there anyway to retain the original red color without compromising on the coral's health? I have been feeding it between 2 to 3 times weekly with blue mussel/white shell meat chopped to 1/8in cubes. Will rotate the food once current stocks run out in 3 weeks time. <good feeding and sizes my friend> My other piece of Cynarina which came in deep red in color 1 week ago, kept in similar conditions, except at half lighting, is also beginning to show fluorescent green spots on its body. The 1mm diameter green spots appear on the body rather that creep in from the edges, and actually look quite neat :)  <same as above. Like green Trachyphyllia from moderate to shallow water taking MH lights but Red Trachyphyllia burning under MH> But again, I will like to double-check if there is cause for concern or if the coral is merely acclimatizing like what I suspect my Scolymia to be doing. Last but not least, I read in your site that Nemenzophyllia turbida feeds by absorption.  <indeed... it has no significant digestive system. A low light coral indeed and very dependant on feeding by absorption> I will like to share with you my 2 specimens of fox, appear to react to light. They are placed under the same lights (as the sps) but at 12in and 18in depths. The polyps expand the most when lighting is at peak intensity (I turn on/off the lights sequentially by timers) so there appears to be some form of photosynthetic activity.  <yes... they are indeed photosynthetic, but depend more on alternate sources of carbon than some other corals. The cultivate masking pigments (brown tinges) when exposed to excess daylight or inadequate actinic> These are cream/brown morphs (though again the one at 18in depth appear to be turning reddish-brown, why???) and I am thinking of buying another 2 green morphs. <heavier actinic blue will easily give you the green color you desire on the Nemenzophyllia> Thanks in advance for your reply and of course for listening. Edwin Lam <best regards, Anthony Calfo>
Re: Lighting for SPS
Hi Anthony <cheers, my friend> Thanks for the reply. I will follow your advice, retain the PCs but position all the sps within 6inches from the water surface when they arrive. Will let you know in a few months time how they are doing. <excellent. While artificial lighting is still frontier for research some commonalities seem to hold true. I feel that keeping most of your sps in less than 12" under fluorescent lighting, most will fare better for you. If you notice that many turn green, experiment with various lenses (thin acrylic, glass, etc) to filter enough UV to maintain desired colors. Also, emphasize more daylight than actinic for shallow water sps corals 6500-10K is the target. Over 10K is likely too blue.> Regards, Edwin Lam <kindly, Anthony>

Corals Wasting Away Hi: New here but was referred to this site by a friend. I have a DAS tank 56 gal. for about 4 years now. Everything seemed fine, a few coral died but that is normal I suppose. <Not really. There is some reason for it, perhaps unidentified but there is one.> I have tangs, angelfish, gobies, cleaner shrimp, etc everything seemed fine. I add RO water to top up, I have been changing about 1 gal each week approx. <Rather modest amounts> All of a sudden about 2 weeks ago, I noticed a big decline in coralline algae, the corals also seemed to close up. <Best guess, you reached a critical threshold with pH, alkalinity, calcium, allelopathy, etc. Something has built up or decreased overtime and now your corals are signaling a problem.> I run a 56 gal. DAS system, only add RO water to top up. Everything seemed to be going fine. My four year old elephant ear coral was a show piece. Now however its shrunk to a mushroom. My blue mushrooms have even shrunk more! I am completely baffled what is happening. My fish seem to be fine! I have VHO lighting and add calcium, strontium, and CoralVite since the beginning of my set up. I change about 1 gal of water per week, not always regularly. All my chem tests seem to be online......always online since I started the set up. <Without actual values I am severely hampered in helping you.> This is the first time I have run into a serious problem. I did have a Cyanobacteria problem at one time but cleared that up. I use the coral supplements very limited as this can cause a Cyanobacteria bloom. However getting back to what is happening now. I have changed 30 litres of water last night, and I am doing the same tonight. I hope tomorrow will bring some results. I have a lot of money invested in corals, the fish are fine. I run a Fluval filter, which I use Black Diamond carbon. I also have a Fluval filter just for bacterial correction. What should I do! <The water changes are a good idea. So was testing the water, but without the results, I cannot advise you further.> I hope this was enough info to give me some advise. <Not really> Hope you will respond. I had a friend called Tangster 1 on the salt water aquarium site, but he had been sick and unable to respond. Please let me know, OK? Will really appreciate some advise....I run VHO bulbs so lots of light........yours truly, Bev Parker <I would be glad you help you if you respond. -Steven Pro>

LIGHTING??? I wanted to know your opinion on Ice Cap VHO lighting? <A nice product and lighting format.> I am setting up a 55 gallon reef tank. I also wanted to know why do they sell lights that are 46.5 and lights that are 48 in length? <48" is pretty standard, but sometimes will not fit inside of a canopy for a 48" tank.> Which ones do I get? <The larger ones if they will fit.> It seems that the 46.5 would be fine and so would the 48's? Also, if I use this type of lighting what is the minimum and the maximum wattage I can use? <Depends on what you want to keep.> I would like to fill my tank with mushrooms, polyps, soft and hard corals! <Hard corals is a rather large and diverse group. If you stick with what you mentioned and LPS hard corals, two 110 watt VHO's should be fine.> I want enough light to start out with to get what ever I would like in the future. <Impossible> Is there such thing as too much light? <Yes> One more? Again with the VHO there are three kinds of lights: URI Actinic white URI Aquasun URI Actinic 03 What is the difference and what would you recommend for my 55 gallon reef tank? <The Aquasun is a full spectrum lamp, actinic 03 is a blue lamp, and white actinic is a combination of the two. One Aquasun and one Actinic 03 should be good.> Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, Nattalie <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lighting a 180g Tank Guys, I wrote about a month ago about lighting my 180g tank. Bob encouraged me to look into halide lighting for hard corals and tridacnids. After much reading and talking with lighting guru's, most recommendations point to the use of double ended (HQI) bulbs powered by electronic ballasts. There were many claims that the double ended bulbs are much more intense per watt than traditional, single ended bulbs. I have not found any articles out there, that have done any technical test to prove that claim. <Take a look at the articles written by Sanjay Joshi, a professor Penn State. His website is here with links to several of his works http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/s/b/sbj4/aquarium/aquarium.html> If any, what are the benefits of double ended bulbs. Would you consider 3 250W @ 10000K (with actinics) be sufficient for the more demanding hard corals and tridacnids? <Sounds like more than enough.> It is also my understanding that double ended bulbs do not have a U.V filtering, outside envelope. <Correct> In a DIY project, how would one come by UV filters. <See if Sanjay mentions it in his piece. Most units I have seen come with the filter built in.> Thanks again for many answered questions. I'd give away my mom's Chitins 'n' Hot Sauce recipe to be able to get the reef lighting right the first time around...JS <Have a nice weekend. -Steven Pro>

Lighting Hi guys! I have another question as usual. When I want to purchase a coral for my tank, I look to see if I can meet it's lighting requirements. How many watts of light is "low light" or "medium light" or "high light?"  <there is no hard and fast rule about it... all depends on water depth and lamp intensity. Still... halides over shallow water (24" or less) is high light. VHO or PC over 24" or less medium. NO under almost any circumstance is low light> I have a 120 reef tank with 220 watts of PC and 80 watts of NO. Is this considered low to medium?  <agreed> Right now I have a colt coral, some yellow colony anemones, a few different mushrooms, and a bubble tip anemone. Everything seems to be happy. Sometimes I wonder if the BTA has enough light.  <also agree and a little weak for the colt to. You are feeding the colt phytoplankton? If not, scrape algae off glass often, consider a seagrass refugium and some form of phyto feeding (phyto reactor or properly used/misused bottled substitute> If I had to judge by looks, I'd say yes.  <keep your bulbs clean often> Thanks lots! -Becky <best regards, Anthony>

Lighting SPS's Hey guy's, bet you've never heard this one before, but here it goes anyway. I am breaking down my 75G reef tank and moving it to my 135G fish only. Obviously, I have found a home for the fish). I currently illuminate the 75g reef w a 175W-10k MH horizontal pendant (Approx. 18" x 12") along with 2-40W actinic fluorescents and 4x55W PC 10k. I have recently discontinued using the pc's as I saw no additional benefit after a couple of months. My Acros & SPS's are growing very well, but with little coloration. the tank is 48" L so I suspected from the get-go that I was under illuminated for these corals. <You are correct, sir.> My question(s) is this: I have acquired 2 additional MH pendants (10K) and plan to use over the 6 ft. long 135G tank. I also have 4x30W fluorescents that I plan to use. In your opinion, will this be enough to color them up--if not, what would you recommend? Your comments are greatly appreciated. Fred Evans, Dallas, Texas <That should be sufficient lighting. I would strongly suggest using Aqualine-Buschke or Ushio lamps, either in 10,000K, versus whatever you are currently using. -Steven Pro>

Lighting SPS and Maxima Clams  All and extra info is appreciated. I have found out from numerous sources that 440watt VHO is not enough to support sps and maxima clams for my 75gal 21"deep tank. Is this true?  <borderline leaning toward true depending on the species of sps kept and the depth in the tank at which you keep them> If so I will invest in metal halides. Do you suggest 2 250watt bulbs or something different?  <way too much light unless you are keeping the most delicate/difficult and demanding shallow water species. If instead you are happy with hardier Montipora species and common Acroporas (brown, green, tan with some colored tips) then you will be safer and happier with 2-3 175 watt lamps (10K Ushio or AB recommended if not 3-150 watt 6500 k lamps). Your tank isn't deep enough to warrant 250 watt lamps for fear of bleaching any LPS and soft coral you may want to keep as well> Do I need to supplement with fluorescents or is the metal halides more than enough?  <more than enough blue in the MH lamps... add only for your aesthetics> Do I need to hang it from the ceiling or rest it on a canopy?  <better light from a horizontal mount in a canopy... pendants focus/waster light> All and extra info is appreciated. <best regards, my friend... Anthony Calfo>

Low Light Corals? Hi guys. How are you? <very well, I hope you are the same.. Anthony Calfo in your service> I've had marine aquariums for about eight years now. And I've had a lot of success keeping fish and various creepy crawlies: hermit crabs, snails, starfish, sea urchins, etc. I'd like to try something a little more challenging in one of my tanks.  <how about an octopus...hehe> It's a 30 gal long, and with the under gravel filter and crushed coral substrate it's about 10 inches deep. The under gravel filter is powered by a Whisper 3 power filter and a 400 gal/hr powerhead hooked to two Bio Wheel Pro 60's. My lighting is only two fluorescent bulbs. 1 20watt daylight and 1 20watt actinic. My fish are a spotted hawk, a skunk clown, a blue velvet damsel, and a neon worm goby. I was wondering, are there any corals that will live in my low lighting?  <yes... a few> Or do I need to get mercury lights, etc. to keep all of them? <not at all... there are a wide range of invertebrates with a wide range of needs, many of which will burn under Metal Halide lamps> I'd rather not have to get more complicated lighting because of this tanks location. It's in an old wooden entertainment center turned book case/aquarium stand. (ventilation isn't the best in this setup) I'm afraid the mercury lights would generate too much heat in this confined space. <yes. perhaps... but you could upgrade to power compact fluorescents and keep a wider range of animals> I would greatly appreciate any info you could give me. Thanks, Kristin <if you choose to stay with your current lamps... make sure they are new and changed every six to ten months. Best bets for low light corals and inverts include: Plerogyra bubble coral, Nemanzophyllia Fox coral, Cynarina button coral, many mushrooms corallimorphs, many palythoa button polyps (P. grandis being one of the lowest light but toxic), some open brain species (Trachyphyllia greens if well fed). A key to many of these low light creatures is feeding them weekly to compensate for lack of nitrogen not produced by zooxanthellae in brighter light. Best regards, Anthony>

Shocking Corals Well, I bought a compact light for my 29 gal. reef tank today, and I think I almost shocked my corals. I have a 29 gallon reef, however, when I put the compact lights on everything kind of suck up and shriveled. I put the two strip lights, (1) 10,000K daylight and (1) 50/50 back on after about 10 minutes and everything that shrunk up was looking good again. The compacts had 50/50 lights and all the color seemed to disappear from my tank. I have relatively low light corals, mushrooms, leathers and yellow, green and brown polyps, watermelon mushrooms. What would I be better off using? Would the double strip light serve me better so I can put the kind of bulb they are used to in and take up less space? Thanks for any input. <The various wattages would have been helpful. I am guessing you currently have 2 20 watt normal output fluorescents and you exchanged them, temporarily, for a 55 watt compact fluorescent. The change from 40 watts NO to 55 watt PC would be fairly dramatic and needs to be done carefully. Everything you listed can and will adapt to brighter light (they may even grow better), but it needs to be done slowly. Shielding/shading some of the light or raising the PC fixtures up off of the tank somewhat is in order. We have discussed this procedure in changing from VHO or PC to MH's. Please look through the archives for a more in depth discussion. -Steven Pro>

Anemone and Coral Lighting Hey Anthony... Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ <Buon Giorno, Eduardo!> I have been reading your Daily Q&A's for about a week now, and I even submitted my own question concerning my anemone and lighting. Today I noticed a little 'dig' in one of your responses concerning the 'Jersey Shore'. Something about needles in the sand, plastic and garbage. We may not have coral, but to our credit we do have Bruce Springsteen, Atlantic City, The Sopranos and about every 3rd male in our population who share the same name as you. LOL <Heheh...joke as I may about 'Jersey, you are correct... it is really a gem. Hey, and don't forget about Jon Bongiovi (punk took the stage name of Bob Jovi... like that is much different?!?) But indeed, The Boss was worth it alone. And... there's nothing better than picking up my grandparents and taking a drive down to Cape May and Atlantic City. Imagine my surprise each time, though, when I discover that we're not the only Lincoln with black windows full of Italians pulling into the Taj. Ha!>  On a more serious note, you recommended I go with a 175 W metal halide for my 60 hex (to replace my 2 15 watt fixtures) in order to keep my anemone happy (or happier). I am going to use a pendant and I was told to be concerned with the heat from the MH.  <truthfully not a good way at all to orient a halide. Vertical orientation of MH lamps focus (read: waste) light. This may be of little matter since our target is an anemone, but if it is/becomes a full reef... it is a very big deal. Horizontal lamp orientation is the ticket. The claim about heat dissipation is really moot too. Don't believe the marketing. Yes, MH lamps are hot. But so are VHO lamps at 2-3" over the water in a tight reflector like they should be. Basically, all bulbs will have some heat issue that needs to be assisted with ventilation. Just buy the best fixture for your specific needs. If you doubt that this tank will become a reef in there next five years, say, then I have no problem with the pendant especially if you like the mount better> Someone advised me to use no canopy at all in order to dissipate the heat. What are your thoughts on this?  <total bunk in a well made canopy> It is not a reef tank, but I would like to add some live rock and corals... <definitely a canopy with muffin fans on the same timer as the lights> do I need to be concerned with any fish jumping out??  <it does happen. Use egg crate if heat becomes and issue or a glass canopy (keep clean for light penetration... a big deal)> I currently have 2 Green Chromis, 1 Blue Dot Puffer, 1 Tomato Clown and 1 Coral Beauty. <overall reef safe... but watch that puffer in the long run. They have a reputation for nibbling on invertebrates eventually. They are particularly known for rasping the mucous off the base of anemones... although carpets are too aggressive for most fish to get near> Thanks and keep up the good work! Regards, Edward P. Kelly <thank you my friend for the compliment and being a good sport from Jersey <wink> Anthony>

Anemone and Coral Lighting II Re: Hey Anthony... Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ Hi Anthony;  Ahhh, the black Lincoln with black windows! Nothing says 'Welcome to the Garden State' better. <it brings a tear to the eye <smile>> Needless to say, I am really confused on what to do. I don't want to turn this into a full-fledged reef tank, but rather somewhere in between.  <really a very challenging place to be... harder than a fish only or reef only by far> Nonetheless, 30 watts of light is unacceptable in either case.  <agreed> What makes this difficult is that this tank is a hexagon. All of the fixtures I have seen are larger than the width of my tank.  <yes> My tank is about 20 inches across. I was led to believe that one MH at 175W would be acceptable, and I wasn't going to include any other fixtures (actinic, 50/50, etc.). <I agree completely, but resist the highest Kelvin bulbs...poor performance. There is more than enough blue in AB or Ushio 10K lamps (see Yoshi studies)> If this were a standard rectangle, I would just build/buy a nice canopy for it. But since it is a hex, I can't find a canopy on the net, nor can I handle all of the intricate cuts to construct my own canopy. I have also looked for DIY tutorials on a hexagon stand/canopy and I cannot find any. If you had this tank in your living room, how would you handle the lighting dilemma?? Thanks for your time! <a single Ushio 10K pendant over a tank with beautiful rock, fish (smart enough to avoid the anemone...hehe... it WILL eat a fish eventually) and a green carpet anemone that will fill the tank magnificently in 1-3 years. Forget about the corals for now. Kindly, Anthony>

Floating Corals <Anthony Calfo with the follow up, my friend> Thanks for your response. I already a pretty good Hagen test kit that includes all the kits you mention. I will start using the full suite. I am curious about you comments of having all LPS's floating upside down in Styrofoam? Does this refer to how they are kept at the store prior to purchase?  <nope... but how they are packed and shipped for you to take home. If your LFS simply throws and LPSs in a bag of water for you to take home it is a sign that someone could use some advice. Many LPS corals damage easily with their sharp and exaggerated septa ("teeth" on the skeleton) and need to be protected in shipping with a wrapped plastic buffer sheet or floated upside down on a Styro raft so that their soft tissue doesn't get crushed against their own skeleton on the ride home> Also I need some assistance on the placement of these type of these of corals, I have heard low and high? I have a JBJ Formosa Deluxe CF light system. Thanks in advance for your assistance. <with all of the species available from a wide range of lighting on the reef, it would be impossible to generalize. Given to choose, though... less is better with LPSs corals. Halides will bleach many such species. Your 75 gall is getting just deep enough that you don't have to keep your LPS corals all on the bottom. Mid way under CF lights and some at the top will be fine. You really need to research each species needs before you buy it (like Purple tipped Elegance are very deep water, but bright green specimens are more shallow, etc). I am the author of one of the books Steven mentioned (book of Coral Propagation). The other book, by Eric Borneman, Aquarium Corals is excellent and packed with colorful photos. My book is a hard core reference at 450 pages of mostly text. If I may say so, they are complimentary. They are even sold on Amazon.com in a pair linked on my book's page for a slight discount... so at least some other aquarists must agree <wink> Kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

SPS lighting Hello Mr Fenner, or whom ever answers :) <Steven Pro tonight.> I have had so many mixed opinions about the kind of lighting I need for my 75 gallon tank (48X18X22). I want to have SPS at the top of my rock work. I have this cliff made up and I thought it would be lovely to have a mixture of SPS there. They would be about 8-12" from the lighting. I want to have all verities of clams as well. I would also like to have at the dimmer and shady spots of the tank a few (frogspawn, bubble, open brains) LPS. I have heard that 2 175watt MH 10K & 2 X 110 VHO actinics will not give all varieties of SPS the light they need. I have heard that I would be better off with the 2 250watt MH 6,500k w/ PC 96 watt actinics or 2 x 110 watt VHO actinics. If I were to get the latter I fear burning the LPS. <I agree. A real concern.> I am more crazed with the SPS (addicted more like it) and they would be my main focus. As well as the clams. I guess (though it makes me sad) that I could do without the LPS if it would be the best for them. I guess I am asking is if for a clam and SPS dominated tank, the 175 watter would be to weak. My tank specs are; 75 gallon drilled, 20 gallon sump with an Euro-reef skimmer, a 20 refugium on 24/7. 5" DSB and 100lbs LR. Ammo, Nitrites 0, 5-10ppm of nitrates, pH 8.3-8.5, Ca 450, alk 11dkh (good old calcium reactor!!) temp. 79 degrees, I use only RO/DI water. The tank is 15 months old. I have two clown fish, three cleaner shrimp, snails and my DSB dit-kit (worms-o-plenty) and a pajama Cardinal. I hope this helps and you won't mind putting up with yet another lighting question. :) Gracie <It is my opinion that most people that need to opt for higher and higher wattage lamps are using lousy bulbs with a poor spectral distribution. I think the 175's with 10,000K Aqualine-Buschke lamps would be plenty. The best tank I have ever seen uses this setup. -Steven Pro>

Acclimating Coral to New Lights Hi SteveAnthonyBob! <yes...we have now merged into one big beer-swilling entity. Anthony> Not sure who I'll get so I want to cover all bases. Ihave a 35 g. hex reef that I'm about to move into a 55 g once it's done cycling. I currently have 56w of PC lighting for my three corals (on at 2:30PM and off at 12:30AM). The branching frogspawn is at the top (about 4 inches from the lights), the torch is about 8 inches from the lights and the hammer is about 20 inches from the light source. My new hood will be 4x96w of PC. Should I put them all on the bottom of the tank and only light for 6 hours/day and increase lighting weekly? Will this be enough light? I've heard of corals being "burned" from too much light but I don't want them to sit in darkness all day either. Can you recommend a good course of action? <yes... maintain a normal photoperiod with the new lights but prop the fixture up 4-6 inches higher than the present lights. Lower the fixture one inch per week until it rests at the same low level as the current bulbs (hopefully within 3" of water surface)> Thanks a lot! Take care, Ted <thank you kindly, same to you. Anthony Calfo>

400 Watt Metal Halides hi there thanks for the response No I am not making lava, Ha HA! And I am not the victim of a clever sales man either.  <Walter, I thank you kindly for your sense of humor!> I had my tank running for about a month now. I have Red sea xenia which has gone bonkers with the open close open close rhythm, <unrelated to lighting...definitely a dynamic of fluctuating pH/alkalinity. I have cloned more than 10K frags of Xenia in my greenhouse in the past decade and found this to be one of the few truisms of reef aquariology> small acropora frag. that seems to be doing fine  <indeed...better suited to the lighting> a couple of leather corals ( yellow ) A green lobo. piece small <the Lobophyllia will not survive long under these lights...six months to a year max if direct. Do try to shade or filter light with an outcropping> one huge Sinularia one small green finger coral 2 colts one may have be affected by the light, <almost certainly... Colt Corals (Alcyonium) are deeper/turbid water> green Starpolyps about half way in the tank and a green tip torch coral fully open.  <same as Lobophyllia> What can I do to maybe lessen the amount of light so my corals don't get hurt in the future  <do not play with photo period or cycle so much... better to leave on 4-7 hours daily, but screen the canopy with a filtering mesh or like product to reduce but not block all light (like plastic fly screen). You can add layers to get the desired effect> or maybe other thing I may put in there Like clams,, acropora etc....... Any suggestions from a pro??? <now you are talking, bud... when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade! Clams (Blue maxima and crocea in particular) and shallow water sps corals would be the ticket. Avoid most all brown pigmented corals (tend to be deeper water). Good coral choices for bright aquaria include Pink/Orange Montipora, Yellow Finger Porites, Goniastrea closed brain corals, Yellow Leathers and colored Porites. Study photographs in Veron's works of shallow/tidal corals and research the availability of ones that attract you. Best of luck to you, Anthony Calfo>

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