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FAQs about Soft Coral System Lighting

Related Articles: Soft Coral

Related FAQs: Soft Coral Systems, Cnidarian Systems, Soft Corals 1, Soft Corals 2, Soft Coral ID, Soft Coral Behavior, Soft Coral Compatibility, Soft Coral Selection, Soft Coral Feeding, Soft Coral Health, Soft Coral Propagation, Alcyoniids, Nephtheids, Dendronephthya, Paralcyoniids, Nidaliids, Xeniids

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1: Invertebrates, Algae
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2: Fishes
New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums Book 3: Systems
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Lights for a new 65g reef tank      4/1/14
What an awesome website!! Love the personalities on here also!
<Heeee! Oh yes; some characters for sure!>
I have read on here when needed for a year. I'm upgrading from a 20g reef with a Eheim canister to a 65 reef/sump-refugium. I have everything bought except for lights...Ughhh. I am beyond confused. On my 20 I have a two light compact that is working for candy canes(just split) Rhodactis, mushrooms, Zoas, open brain, etc. I am willing to spend what's needed but I don't want to over spend just because price may assure better lights?! Not sure if I want a canopy only because it will look bulkier where I have my tank at, but I can if need be. LED looks so simple and long term cost efficient. Retro fit if need to (husband electrician!). My son has a 120g and keeps pushing me towards T5's or the expensive Radions. I'm so confused after reading so much. My tank is 36x21x20 w/overflow centered on back glass. Was also told I need to cover overflow with something as to not grow algae in it.
What lights do you suggest?
<Depends on what you want/intend to keep and what you want to do with it/them... I assure you, most systems are over-lit... and that there is a
huge difference between lighting looks and lighting functions... You could get by on boosted fluorescents here.. yes; even with a twenty inch depth
(less with substrate natch). LEDs might be nice, but currently are a bit more expensive up front. Unless you like pretty blue, skip any expense
having to do w/ actinic...>
Another concern is not having a lid will have a lot of salt residue on lights and fish jumping out but will a lid lower the lower going into tank?
<You can fashion a canopy or a simple all-plastic screen if concerned>
I want to do this all as right as possible and not have to repurchase correct lighting in a few months. Sorry so lengthy! This has caused me to
drink...not that it's a bad thing lol. Thanks!
<Really... take your time. No need to rush... Peruse the many articles and FAQs files we have here on WWM re light, lighting... for various type
systems... Until you can decide for yourself. Am important choice in terms of purchase, and more so in the way of operation. Bob Fenner>

Lighting/Reef Lighting 9/13/12
<Hello Kay>
 have 2ft x 2ft cube marine lots of soft corals a few fish. What lighting do I need to use? Some say t5 and some say t8 and some told us led. Would like to try hard corals, which system would be best and what is the difference.
<The first question is your budget allowed for lighting.  LEDs are initially more expensive but return the investment by lowering energy use considerably and eliminating yearly replacement of lamps.  They also reduce heat entering the aquarium by a considerable margin. If cost is a factor, then T5 technology is the way to go.  Most LED systems provide a much better PUR spectrum than other lighting technologies because they can be fine tuned much easier than other formats.>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re Lighting/Reef Lighting 9/15/12

Thanks for your advice think will go for led Kay
<You're welcome Kay.  Have you read here and related articles/FAQs found in the header?
James (Salty Dog)>

Lighting/Softy Coloring  4/2/12
Dear Crew,
Thanks for all the expert help passed on throughout the years. I have a quick question on lighting bulb selection in order to bring out the green in my leathers, polyps and mushrooms. The red, yellow, purple and pinks of others are lovely. However, the green colors are tan/ brown during the day but beautifully green under just the actinic bulbs.
<Mmm, yes; may only be/appear so under these wavelengths>
The also receives a lot of direct natural daylight. The fixture is a  four bulb t 5
<The brand/make of lamps can be important. Do read here:
with separate timers for two daylight bulbs, two actinic bulbs and led moonlights (aquatic life). The bulbs came with the fixture new 3 months ago. The 10k are in the middle with the actinic bulbs in front and back.
Any suggestions to bring out the greens?
<A review of our and others (bb) input re bulbs/lamps used... ones w/ lower K value (6 or so) might well look more green>
Thanks for all of your help.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Lighting help, sm. SW, Corals  2/23/2010
<Hello Michael>
I have a 29 gallon tank that is 30x12x18deep.
It is hard to find a 30" fixture. I have narrowed my choices down to the AquaticLife clamp on 150w MH fixture, or the AquaticLife 30" 4x24 T5HO with moonlights and timer. I would like softies and LPS, but I don't want to limit myself to just those.
<I really would pick one or the other as your main focus. You will have more success in the long run>
I may want sps too. Can I support sps with 96 watts if they are high in the tank?
<What type of SPS? This designation is not helpful. Yes, there are 'sps' corals that will be fine under this light, not all need to be zapped with millions of watts>
I have a 4" sand bed, so there is really only 14 inches of water.
What route should I go? Right now I'm leaning toward the MH.
<I think that either of these could work here. If you do wish to keep more light demanding Scleractinians then you will be better off with the MH fixture. I do also think, though, that you should 'limit' yourself to just 'something' and not try to pick a light that will let you keep 'everything'. Trying to keep everything usually ends up with animals
dying, especially in small water volumes. See here:

80 Gallons of Lighting
Lighting Questions for Soft Coral 80 Gallon Reef  2/11/10

Good Afternoon,
<Good'¦well it's 2am, so good morning Bobby; Adam J here with you.>>
First I want to say that the site has helped me a lot in setting up my 80 gallon reef aquarium.
<<We appreciate the feedback.>>
I have a 30 gallon aquarium set up and running already with clown fish, damsels, peppermint and cleaner shrimp, snails, and hermits and it is going great!
<<Good to hear.>>
Now on to the problem I am having now. I just set up my 80 gallon aquarium and I have 150 lbs of primo live rock on its way.
<<A very generous amount.>>
Now I am looking into buying a lighting fixture for the 80 gallon setup. I will be keeping mostly soft corals for now with my fish being transferred into the big aquarium. I am confused on what type of lighting I will need. I have read all over the web and now information is going into one ear and out the other. What would you recommend as lighting for my 80 aquarium? Power compact? Actinic? Lunar lighting?
<<Well this will be a very vague generality because you weren't specific with the tank dimensions or the exact targeted photosynthetic species (feel free to respond back with that if you'd like). Having said that, I would think a form of fluorescents would suit your needs just fine, and make managing temperature much easier. Compact fluorescents are okay, but the bent back on itself arrangement cause the bulb to literally cook itself and it's par ratings significantly decrease after six months. I would look into a T-5 High Output system. For what you specifically need I'll point you in the direction of a few articles;
http://www.manhattanreefs.com/lighting  .>>
Thanks for your help! It really does take a load off my shoulders.
<<Let me know if you need any clarification.>>

Lighting for Soft Corals 6-15-2009
WWM Crew,
<Josh here today.>
First, let me say thank you for what you do. This is extremely helpful to a novice like myself, and it is certainly appreciated.
<Your very welcome.>
Now, down to business...
I've had a 26 gallon FOWLR tank up and running for a few months now.
However, I quickly figured out (much to the chagrin of my wife) that I was going to need a larger tank.
<Ah, I bet you will do this again, this hobby can be very addicting.>
So, I purchased a 55 gallon tank ( 48x12x21), which is currently cycling with about 60 pounds of live rock. I'd very much like to keep some soft corals, but don't want to break the bank for lighting purposes. My LFS said I could probably keep some mushrooms and zoos under a
2x65 watt 50/50 power compact. Do you think that would be sufficient?
<I do actually. PC lighting will likely limit you in he long run to a softy tank by making the keeping other more light demanding corals slightly more difficult. But for most common soft corals it should be adequate.>
If so, are there some specific species that you could suggest?
<There are really endless possibilities, please look through the species here and their requirements: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/soft.htm >
Also, for that amount of lighting, do I need to keep whatever I get near the top of the tank?
<Most softies should be fine throughout the tank. Although if you use all daylight PC bulbs it would provide more usable light for the corals, although it could be less aesthetically pleasing depending on your tastes.>
Thanks again so much for the help.
<Your welcome.
Josh Solomon>

Reef Lighting Selection/Leather Coral 1/27/09 I have a Leather Coral that seems to be lethargic. Could you tell me any specific needs it might need me to provide. Also, I have a 55 gallon aquarium and am preparing to build a canopy and install metal halide lights, currently there are two 50/50 24" actinic. Could you tell me the typical wattage. I want to supply enough light for whatever I may decide to add to the tank in the future. Could the lights be a factor with the leather? <Yep. You did not state the type of lighting. Are they PC's or standard fluorescent tubes? If they are PC's we are looking at 130 watts of lighting, and is not enough light for the Leather Coral as they require moderate to high lighting. My suggestion for lighting for your 55 would be two 175w, 14K halides. Do read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm As to specific needs for growing corals, read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/growingcorals.htm Thank you very much for your advice. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Pat

Softy lighting 12/8/08
Hi crew,
<Hello Marc.>
Thanks for taking the time to keep this site up and running, it's a lot of help.
<A collaborative effort/labor of love.>
I have a question about lighting, I've done a lot of reading, about everything, but their seems to be different opinions on lighting depending on when the information was written.
<Indeed, just about everywhere.>
So I just have a quick question. I have a 75 gallon soft coral tank, mostly mushrooms, just a couple of leathers. I have a t5 unit with two 55 watt bulbs, and a t5 unit with two 27 watt bulbs. Both units came with one 10,000k bulb, and a actinic bulb. I went out and purchased a Pro Glo 55 watt, 18,000k bulb to replace the 55 watt actinic. My question is this still going to have enough actinic?
<Surely you will.>
Is there really a need for actinic, or is just a personal preference?
<Purely aesthetic preference. What your corals need for survival and growth is close to natural sunlight. Your lighting is on the low end. Do consider running 10000K bulbs for the 55W and your bluer, 18000K or actinic in the 27's. Even then I would personally like to see all in the 10000K
spectrum, your lighting is on the low end.>
Thanks for the help again.
<Welcome, Scott V.>
Re: Softy lighting 12/9/08

Thanks for the help.
Actually, that's what I thought I was doing by replacing the actinic bulb with the 18000k bulb. They had two to choose from at the store, a 6700k, and the 18000k, which was labeled as a SuperBright. Now after reading your
email, it sounds like the 18000k still has a lot of blue spectrum, is this true?
<It does.>
And do you believe I'm better off with the 18000k rather than the actinic?
<Oh yes, it is better than actinic in your case, more usable light for the corals. Just not as much as the lower K bulbs.>
Thanks again.
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Lighting... Growing, reading about Soft Corals   6/4/08 hello all. I am sending this from my phone so sorry for any errors! I purchased &eBay metal halide bulbs for my soft coral reef twice. That is all that has been lighting my 65 gallon for over a year now. I have had very little growth. <Other factors have severe influence... water quality, foods/feeding... the presence of other types of life...> My water is in great shape. Maybe too good for softies. There are no nitrates or phosphates. <Both are necessary, essential nutrients, in small quantity...> Ph and everything else is good. Calcium at 380, but getting good coralline growth. 104 lbs of live rock, DSB, algae based (Chaeto) refugium and no fish. I feed the tank flakes twice a week for all my pods. <... what do you feed the Alcyonaceans?> My lights are 10k 175 watt bulbs. Two of them, the tank is two ft deep and three ft long. Is this enough light? <... should be, yes> I was under the impression that there are only a few manufacturers of MH bulbs. <Mmm, yes... but there are MH lamps made for other purposes... ones that produce minimally bio-useful photonic energy> Some are just sold cheaper under other names. Is this wrong? And could this be a reason for poor growth? <Possibly> Another question, my tap water a has high iron content. <How high is high?> I use a six stage R.O. filter, will this remove the iron? <Should, yes. Just test for free ferrous ion...> I have no way of testing it. <There are simple colorimetric assays...> Thank you much, and again sorry for any errors! <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm The first "Coral" subindex... Bob Fenner>
Re: lighting... Growing, reading about Soft Corals  6/5/08
Hi Bob, &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <... what is it with the HTML tags here?> thanks again for your response. I hate to keep bugging you! I read the link you forwarded to me. I read through the FAQs and some articles. I am getting mixed information though. Many say that the&nbsp;alcynonaceans are primarily photosynthetic, <Too broad a statement. There are many that are way to either end of some scale here...> and any needed nutrition should come from a fish less algae based refugium. <... Mmm, no... very few consume such algae in any quantity> I have that, but judging by the lack of&nbsp;growth, and the fact that you asked me what I'm feeding them. Leads me to the fact that I should! I added a small yellow tang today (I am upgrading to a 150 gallon in eight months after a move) in hopes of adding some nutrients. I would like to add a pair of false Perc. clowns and a six lined wrasse. So with these added nutrients I will probably see a difference. On top of this, and my refuge, do you recommend the feeding of D.Ts or the like? <Not generally, no> Again, sorry to keep bugging you, but there's so much information out there that contradicts itself, I would rather get it from a source I trust!&nbsp; Thank you for being patient! Rob <Glad to share. BobF>

Re: 120 Lighting for Softies 4/29/08 Hey guys, I have a lighting question. <Hello again John.> I am currently shopping for a light for my 120 gallon tank. I am starting with stocking my tank with approx 100 lbs of live rock. I'm confused about what type of light to purchase since I am new to a reef set up I would like to be prepared. I am probably going to do soft corals. <The first thing to decide. Are you set on soft corals, or do you just want to start with soft corals? What you plan to keep down the road has an impact on the lighting decision.> I was talking to a local fish store, they have a orbit extreme 48"520watt (4-130 watt) not HQI. Or 716watt(2-250wHQI;4-54WATT T-5 HO). Or 516WATT(2-150W HQI;4-54W T-5HO). Or 560watt(2-150w;HQI,2-130w)or 492w (2-150HQI ;2-96W). I know this is a lot of choices but this is why I'm so confused. Do I need the HQI or just the higher out put pc. <Just the power compacts for soft corals, although the MH will give you more stocking options down the road. One of the fixtures with the 150W HQI bulbs will give you a nice balance between PC's and full blown 250W halides. Do consider the 250's if you have any inkling towards SPS or clams down the road.> Thanks, John. <Welcome.> Any suggestions would be helpful. My Euro Reef skimmer RS 180 is on the way. <Good choice in skimmer.> Can you suggest a wattage that would be good for this application from actinics to day lights and if HQI if I need? <My personal choice for a tank like this would be the third of your options (2 X 150 HQI and 4 X 54W actinic) above, perhaps with only using two of the actinic bulbs. The daylight to actinic ratio is something you will have to just see for yourself and decide what you like.> Like I said mostly easier soft corals to start with. <Good luck and have fun, Scott V.>

120 Lighting for Softies 4/29/08
Hey Scott, I'm going to start with soft. I probably would like to start with soft. I guess I should have more flexibility in lighting now just in case. <Yes, our wants and desires change with time and experience.> So I will probably will go with the light you suggested. The 529watt 2x150wattHQI4x54 actinic. <I think you will like this fixture very much.> Yes, the skimmer is the one you recommended. <A fine skimmer.> The sump/refuge is running great so far all smooth. <Great!> The Durso pipes are nice and quiet. I just put in ocean direct sand in main tank approx 80 lbs. ready for another 40 to 80lbs. <It is awesome to hear all is going so well. Thanks for the update, good luck with the rest, Scott V.>

General Question about lighting, Soft Corals  -- 03/10/08 Hello and congrats on a great source of info! <Thank you> First of all, this is an absolutely great site with an unbelievable amount of information! I have a general question about lighting. My wife and I have a 56 gallon display aquarium that is 30" wide x 24" deep and 30" high (I know, this was her pick that offset my $$ spend on equipment). My primary question is deals with lighting. The tank came with a single 20 fluorescent lighting fixture and we have a Corallife 2x65 watt 30" fixture (New 1 actinic 65 watt and 1 10,00k 65 watt w/2 moonlights) is this enough light for soft corals or leathers? <Mmm, no... not nearly intense enough... There are some relatively low light groups, species of Alcyonaceans... and you might "get away" with positioning a few more light-needing species higher up, on your rock... And I would definitely switch out the one actinic lamp for another "white"... Much of this is gone over (and over) on WWM... I would either settle on the three 65 watt "white" lamps and the arrangement of life as stated, or look into adding, switching out this fixture for about twice this wattage... The "better" response might well be to encourage you to ask around at your local fish stores, marine clubs to see if they have a PAR meter for loan... and actually measure the useful photonic energy of all here... at various depths... and/or to encourage your regular use of GAC, ozone... to enhance useful photonic energy transmission... or...> Your insight, as always, would be appreciated... Tank set-up now, 56 Gallon w/actual 48 gallons water (DO w/IO SW mix), 7 months old, 62 Lbs live rock, Remora skimmer w/1200 MaxiJet, 3 MaxiJet 1200 powerheads for circulation, 1 TopFin powerhead for circulation, Fluval canister w/polyfoam, PhosBan and ChemiPure 3/4" CaribSea live sand 1- 2" Flame Angel 2- Ocellaris clowns 1" & 3/4" 1- Bicolor Blenny 2" 1-Royal Gramma 1 1/2 " 1- 1 1/2" six line wrasse 2- Peppermint Shrimp 20- Assorted hermit crabs and snails. 0-ammonia & nitrite 5-10 nitrate (reading before weekly water change) PH 8.3 Salinity 1.024 I'm waiting for my Salifert test kit for Ca, Alk. (I'm in Hill Country Texas ...mail order only!) Weekly 8 gallon water changes w/DO and IO sw mix (aged one week) Canister cleaning each week. <Sound/reads very nice indeed> 40 years experience with fresh water aquariums and I had a prior 400 gallon saltwater aquarium when the only source of saltwater was at Scripps Institute in San Diego. <Ahh, I do remember... still live in SD... in East La Jolla, okay... Mira Mesa> Thanks, Jim Ferguson <!? Any relation to friend Mark Ferguson? Bob Fenner>

New marine aquarium advice 8/1/07 Hi Crew, <Alex> I've used your advice and information many times with my current 4X1.5X1.5ft marine aquarium and am very grateful for all your efforts. Well, it's now time to seek your help again as I'm upgrading to a 4(l) X 2(w) X 2.5(h) ft tank, with a 3X1.5X1.5ft sump. I plan to keep my existing fish (few damsels, a tang, a Hawkfish) and corals (3 soft/leathers). <Sounds good> I have a few main questions as follows: 1. Lighting: I can either go with 6 X 54W T5 tubes. (2 x 10K, 2 x 20K, 2 actinics). OR for similar wattage (therefore power bills) I can go with 2 X 175 metal halides @ 15000K. I'm after a bright white look with a hint of blue. What I'm really after is human perceived brightness, so whichever one that will intensify the color of my fish/corals is more ideal. Also given that my new tank will be 30inches tall, which one will penetrate deeper to the bottom. Please recommend which one to be more brighter for human eyes, and also which one to be more beneficial for coral life. <The MHs hands down... I would definitely go with the latter> 2. I'm unsure about how powerful I should go with my sump return pump. I am keen on getting a Laguna Maxflo 7500 (7500lph). As there will be only one return pipe from the sump to the main tank (coming from a rear top corner), is this too much flow in one direction? <Mmm, yes... I'd for sure split this up... with a manifold... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/pbh2oret.htm and the linked files above> I plan to only include one other circulation pump in my main tank which will be a Tunze Stream Kit (2500-7000lph) - apparently its supposed to create pulse/wave like flows. What are your thoughts on this circulation system plan? <Is a good one> 3. What corals will I be limited to with this new configuration? <Just by crowding, allelopathy...> Thanks for your time and very much appreciate your input. Cheers mate! Alex (from down under) <BobF, in HI presently, pulling weeds>

Soft Coral Lighting/Allelopathy - 03/30/06 Hi crew, <<Hello Mohamed> I am having problems with my soft coral.  My SPS has tripled in size in the past year and LPS opens to amazing sizes.  All my test results are positive meaning nitrates 0, calcium 400ppm, dKH 9, etc.  My tank size is 250cm L x 35cm H x 75cm W, the light are 4foot T5's 20cm above the tank. (3 x 10K and 2 x blue on the left of the tank and the same on the right of the tank).  My SPS and LPS are placed higher than the soft corals. (On plastic pipes).  All soft corals are at the bottom, 50% opens and 50% opens once a week. My light reading at the bottom of my tank is 40 to 50. ((PAR) Quantum light meter)  I have taken a reading of some LFS where I buy my corals and the readings are from 15 to 30 but some of the lights are 4 months old. <<Indeed...would expect these to be higher...may be using NO fluorescent lighting here.>> Soft corals:  Helioporidae Caerulea, <<Heliopora caerulea?  This is a "stony" coral.>> Cladiella, Lobophytum, Sarcophyton, Sinularia, Nephthea, Xenia, Zoanthidea and mushrooms.  From each species some opens and others not.  What PAR reading do you get from your light meter on the placement of your soft corals? <<Have never checked...but would expect something in the area of 175+ microEinstiens (µE) to be adequate.>> Must I raise my light or increase my light? <<I would place the lights closer to the water (6cm-8cm) to start...but this may not be a matter of lighting at all, it may be more an issue of allelopathy...you list some pretty noxious organisms.  I recommend adding some carbon and/or Poly-Filter to your filter path and make sure your corals are spaced adequately apart (minimum 6" separation), and that you have vigorous water flow/movement.>> Please advise; your input will be appreciated. Thanks Mohamed. <<Regards, EricR>>

The Right Light? (Lighting Query)    1/19/06 Hi WWM Crew! <Hey! Scott F. with you tonight!> Just a quick question about lighting a 120 gal for soft corals.  Is 520 watts of PC enough for this tank?  Four would be 12,000 K and the other four would be actinic.  The tank is 48x24x24. Have a great night! Mark <Well, Mark, I tend to shy away from "watts per gallon" figures, because there are many other factors involved. Generally speaking, however, it sounds like you're talking about a quantity of light that will work for most of the more common soft corals. I have found over the years that PC's are really effective for growing softies, provided the other parameters (water quality, etc.) are okay. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

T5 Lighting For Soft Corals? - 07/17/05 Hi, <<Hello>> We are wanting to add some soft corals to a 150g tank (only clowns, a yellow tang, red legged hermits, and turbo snails in at the moment).  Apologies about not being specific about the type of soft corals however am still unsure which ones. <<okay>> Our current lighting I know for sure is insufficient however I'm looking to buy some T5's.  Metal halides systems are out of the question due to weight as we can't suspend. <<Mmm...what about propping/supporting on the tank itself?  Not all halide fixtures are pendants ya know.>> We currently have the old T8 2x38w tubes. <<You're correct, insufficient for coral keeping in this tank.>> My tank depth is 30" and the simple question is would a T5 4x54w (3 white 1 actinic) system be enough to grow a range of soft corals ? <<Depending on the specie/light requirements and where/how high in the water column it's placed...maybe...but I'm skeptical about what you would be able to keep in the lower two-thirds of this tank.  Due to the depth, I would rather see 4x96w PCs here...or even better, 4x110w VHOs.  More bang for the buck over PCs in my opinion.>> Many thanks, Paul <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Lighting for soft coral tank - 1/19/05 Hi <Hey there> I have a question regarding lighting. <Lots of info on lighting and choices available regarding specific set-ups but go for it anyway> I have a 75 gallon reef and I plan on keeping soft corals and polyps and some Shrooms. <OK> I was wondering if power compact lighting would be enough for them. <Definitely, in my experience> also would it be better to go with 4 x 96 watt or 6 x 55 watt? <I would actually like to see 6 x 96 watt if you could afford it but I like the 4 x 96 watt as opposed to the 6 x 55 watt. More light would be better in this instance>  Thanks  <My pleasure ~Paul>

Leather Coral Lighting Dear Wet Web Masters from Wet Web Media, <Hey! At your service> Great people, and great site, which I personally regard as the reefing Bible. <Great to hear!> I've got some hitchhiker, a snail, and a crab (almost certainly came from the leather coral that I recently got), and I need advice from you guys whether to keep it or not. The pictures are attached, sorry this is the best that I can get as it is so tiny (both about a centimeter across). <Gotcha> The snail has a long feeler, white and dark brown coloured. Is it a Nassarius snail? It should probably reef safe right? <Yes, I'm sure it's fine.  Do look at the predatory snail pictures in "Reef Inverts" by B&A just for a second glance.> The crab's carapace is white based and has some orange patches, the legs and pincers appears to be all orange. Its carapace is relatively large and its limbs are relatively short. As most if not all crabs are not trustable, should I keep it out of my main tank for fear that it would feast on my leather coral? Or it would make a good infauna? <I would take him to the pet store, give him away, etc.  You don't want him in your reef, he'll eventually kill something.  You don't want him in a sump/fuge, he'll be a problem.> And since I'm already writing this mail, may be I'll just add on this one how helpful is it for me to feed the leather coral with Marine Snow from Two Little Fishies? Or is it better for me to let it feed on light and tank's organic material? <The latter.  Leathers feed on particles that are much smaller than "Marine Snow," so it is of little benefit.  Photosynthesis and the natural processes are plenty to make these guys thrive.> If it helps how often and how much should I feed (it is about 3"x5" in size in about 40 G water volume)? It is currently 12" deep directly under 36 watt PC, thinking of getting 2 x 55W soon. What do you think of the chances is if I do not upgrade the lights? <Slim to none.  With under one watt per gallon, he'll eventually die, as the zooxanthellae will not produce enough energy to sustain itself.  PC/VHO would be a great choice for soft corals.> Thanks so much for answering my queries for umpteenth times. <Keep 'em comin!  See ya, Ryan> Wid.

Soft Corals with VHO Hi, Thanks for the great website. I have a 180 gallon Reef tank, 7ft long.  The tank has been up for 3 years now with two leather corals for about 9 months; it was fish / invertebrate before that.  My lighting is 440 watts of VHO, 2 Aqua Suns and 2 Actinics directly over the middle 4ft of the tank.  It gives the affect of a bright reef in the middle with "shadowy" retreats on each side of the reef.  My leathers have been doing fine and I was wondering what other kind of soft corals (low light corals) I could add just on the border line of the 4ft light hood?  I have no lighting on the 2 ends of the tank. <You have a good question! Some species of soft coral which you should be able to house under the 4' of the aquarium (which is lit) include Sarcophyton sp., Sinularia sp., Capnella sp., Studeriotes sp., Cladiella sp., Alcyonium sp., Lobophytum sp., etc. Some corals which would require less lighting include Zoanthid sp. and Palythoa (which are both species of  colonial polyps) and some species of mushroom coral, including Actinodiscus sp., Ricordea sp., Rhodactis sp., and Amplexidiscus sp. For the non lit sides of your tank, corals such as non photosynthetic gorgonians including Diodogorgia sp. could be added. When keeping non photosynthetic animals, it's important to keep them properly fed with foods such as baby brine shrimp, zooplankton, and other meaty foods. Hope this helps and if you have any further questions, please email one of us back. Take Care, Graham.> Thanks for your advice. John

Lighting and Cladiella 10/18/03 I have a 72 gal reef tank with soft corals; colts, leathers and mushrooms. I have just add a small refugium with Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria.  All my softs have done very well for the last 6 months and still are. I added one Cladiella 3 weeks ago and it hasn't done well at all. It constantly has dropped over. It has never stood erect. <often a lack of adequate water flow... have you achieved 10-20X turnover in the tank?> I carefully place in he tank and have never moved it. Most of the time it has it polyps extended but every once in a while it will puff up. It is at least 6 inches from any colt.  I was told that Cladiella are a beginners coral and easily kept. I also use Phytoplex twice a week. <Hmmm... I have serious doubts about any product that is sold warm and without a date/expiration... especially food products. Do consider culturing your own phyto, or buying a product that is sold refrigerated and dated (DT's. etc)> This would be my second failed attempt with a Cladiella. I am not sure what I am doing wrong? <not sure... were they both from the same supplier?> Also, I 440 watt of PC lighting 4-55watt 03 actinic and 4-55watt 10k. I was wonder if this would be a bad thing to done or not. I was consider running 6-55 03atinincs and 2-55watt 10ks. <the heavy blue is not needed or useful other than aesthetics. Daylight 6500-10K is best> The reason I ask is because I prefer the purple look of the 03 actinics compared to bright white of the 10ks. <agreed... but the corals/zooxanthellae service on the PAR of daylight> I would not want to do this if it was bad for overall tank. Or will I get a more purple out of my 03s if I used them with 6500K instead of 10K? <I don't expect you would> Please let me know your thoughts -Ron <best of luck, Anthony>

Sarcophyton elegans (Yellow leather) under PC lights 10/14/03 I recently made a purchase before researching.   <grumble, grumble...> I bought a yellow leather.  I currently have 130wts of pc light and the leather is 3-4in under the lights I wondered of this would be enough light since he is so close to the lights.   <Hhh... now worries. Not so bad at all. This coral will be fine here because of your wise placement of it in shallow water> Since I put the leather in the tank he seems to be slouching and shedding some white material.  I don't know if this is common or if it is not enough light.   <unrelated> Also the polyps are not coming out.  I have only had the leather two days but still am worried.   <no need to worry... this is a very sensitive leather coral species. Do refrain from physically touching or moving it ( a sure way to kill it). Simply leave it in place with very good water flow and wait for it to adapt (weeks)> What do you suggest feeding him (phyto).  I hate when I don't research first. Thanks in advance, Jeremy <very few corals actually eat phytoplankton... and many of those that do like some Alcyoniids eat very little at that. In this case, rely on a good fishless refugium for producing natural plankton and go easy on the bottled supplements (generally fuel for nuisance algae). Best regards, Anthony>

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>

- 250's Too Much for Softies? - Hi guys,  Thanks for the help in the past. <Kevin here today, ready to help again!> I have a couple of lighting questions.  I have a standard 75g which houses mostly soft corals with a few LPS.  I'm currently running 6 * 65 W PC's (mix of actinic and 10000K).  The tank has been running  for over 2 years with no signs of trouble.  I'm interested in moving on to SPS so am in the process of upgrading my lights to MH.  Another big factor in this decision is having to spend almost $300 every 6 months just to change the PC lamps. <Yes, lamp changing isn't the best time of the year, but depending on what kind of PC's you're running, you may be able to safely stretch that o 8-10 months.> Regardless of what the manufacturer says, I notice a significant difference in the amount of light after the 6 to 7 month mark. <Oh, never mind, there's your answer.> Anyway, I just ordered a MH dual 500W ballast (250W*2).  After reading a bit on your site I realized that 2 250W metal halide lamps may be too much and burn some of my softies that I've grown to love (mauve finger leather, devils hand, colt, Capnella, various mushrooms, and polyps. <If you stick the lamps right on top of the water with a full 8 hour photoperiod you will, but if you simply acclimate everything to the lighting you will have no problems.> I'm thinking of going with 2 175W lamps coupled with 130W of PC actinic just because I like the blue hue in the tank.  My order may have shipped already which means I'm stuck with the 500W ballast unless I shell out the original $50 for shipping plus the additional cost to send it back then an additional $50 to get the dual 175W ballast.  Can I still use the 2 250W bulbs but mount them higher in the canopy (10" to 12"), maybe use 20K bulbs and exclude the PC actinics? <Regardless of which lamps you choose I'd start the lamps at 20+ inches off of the tank on a 2 hour photoperiod, and over the course of a few weeks, slowly changing to your normal 8-10 hour photoperiod. After that the lights can be lowered at an inch or so per day until it is at the desired height. No biggie, as long as you take it slow you won't have to worry about UV burn, active O2 poisoning, etc.> Can I use 175W bulbs in the 250W ballast or is this dangerous play?   If so will it consume just as much electricity as the 250W bulbs? <They won't work> The last questions I have involves retrofitting a 48" JBJ strip light.  I'm sure you are familiar with the JBJ Formosa 48" light.  I was thinking of removing one strip (2 PC lamps) and mounting the two MH lamps in it's place.  I would then take the acrylic/plastic lens to a glass shop and have them cut a piece of tempered glass to replace the original lens in order to shield off UV rays.  The strip light has two fans in it already.  Do you think it's worth a try or just a stupid idea. <It would melt down, don't do that!> I could keep the other 2 PC's for actinic or remove them as well depending on which bulb I use for the MH (either 1000K or 20000K).  Any advise would be appreciated. <I'd go with 10k lamps, you'll lose much of the intensity if you choose a higher Kelvin lamp. Retrofitting PC actinics somewhere will work on the blue for you.> You guys are doing a great thing for the hobby.  Reef keeping seems to be booming and you are providing a great service to both people and ultimately the animals they keep. <We hope so! Good luck with the new lighting and I wish you great success. -Kevin> Thanks, Ralph

VHO Lighting Would 2 95w VHO bulbs be enough to keep soft coral alive (in the 40 gallon, just under 5w per gallon)? <Yes, for most all species... you likely know some are not photosynthetic, and there are genera, species that prefer dim light... so do investigate further. Bob Fenner> Thanks,

Small Marine Aquariums
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ook 2: Fishes
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