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Aquarium Lighting Guide – What you need to know about fish aquarium lighting, LEDs and coral lighting.

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With the advent of newer and better technologies, increasing intensities and a growing spectrum, there are many options to consider for marine reef aquariums and coral lighting.

Many, if not most aquarium corals contain within their tissue the symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae that the corals utilize for food. The challenge for the marine aquatic hobbyist is to provide enough light to allow photosynthesis to maintain a thriving population of zooxanthellae in a coral tissue. Though this may seem simple enough, in reality this can prove to be a very complex task.

Some corals such as mushroom and polyp corals require very little light to thrive. Conversely, large-polyp or stony corals such as brain bubble coral, elegance coral, cup coral, torch coral, and trumpet coral require moderate amounts of light, and small polyp stony corals require high intensity lighting.

Of the various types, most popular marine reef tank or saltwater aquarium lighting systems comes from: Metal Halide, Very High Output (VHO), Compact Fluorescent, LED Lighting Systems and T5 High Output fish aquarium lighting systems. Although they were once widely used, many reef tank aquarists have abandoned T12 and T8 Fluorescent aquarium lighting systems due to their poor intensity, and mercury vapor due to its production of a limited light spectrum.

Recent advances in lighting technology have also made available a completely new technology for aquarium lighting: light emitting diodes or LEDs. Although LED aquarium lighting systems themselves are not new, the technology has only recently been adapted to produce systems with qualities that allow them to be considered viable alternatives to gas and filament based aquarium lighting systems. The newness of the technology does cause them to be relatively expensive, but these aquarium lighting systems bring several advantages over traditional lighting. Although their initial cost is much higher, they tend to be economical in the long run because they consume less power and have far longer lifespans than other systems. Also, because LED aquarium lighting systems are made of hundreds of very small bulbs, a microcomputer can control their output can be controlled to simulate daybreak and sunset. Some systems also have the ability to simulate moonlight and the phases of the moon, as well as vary the color temperature of the light produced.

________________________Aquarium Lighting FAQs_____________________________

What type of lighting do you recommend for a Reef tank (Corals)?

Corals, anemones, etc. require much lighting. The best light to supplement a healthy marine environment is Metal Halides and Compact Fluorescent (or T12 Fluorescent tubes). This combination of lights will also allow you to create a dawn and dusk effect to your tank, and will most naturally simulate natural sun.

What type of lighting do you recommend for a Saltwater tank (Fish)?

Metal Halides are not necessary, but they would make a better crisp appearance in the tank along with a rippling effect to the water. The Blue Compact Fluorescent bulbs in the ABS systems & retrofits, and the Super Actinic Blue in the Fluorescent Deluxe Aluminum Lighting systems & retrofits bring out the fluorescent vibrant colors of your fish. LED Aquarium Lighting System are best overall lighting for algae control and power efficiency. Marine Reef Aquatics highly recommends LED Aquarium Lighting for your Marine Reef Saltwater Aquarium for reduction in algae, longevity and low power consumption..

Which bulb is better: Compact Fluorescent or (T12) Fluorescent?

The Compact Fluorescents are better because they are MUCH BRIGHTER than the VHO’s and they hold their spectrum longer. The Compact Fluorescent bulb is a new technology, and you only have to replace them every 14-16 months while the VHO’s need to be replaced every 4-6 months.

What type of lighting do you recommend for a Freshwater tank (Plants)?

No Actinic Blue lights are necessary. Use only Metal Halides or Compact Fluorescent. Do not go any higher than a 10K bulb. LED Aquarium Lighting is highly reccomended for reduction in algae, longevity and low power consumption. – US Aquarium Fish Tanks and Aquarium Supplies, Aquarium Lighting, visit us at


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