[Coral-List] Suitable lighting for coral maintenance in the aquarium

Capman, William capman at augsburg.edu
Tue May 30 11:28:27 EDT 2017

People are having good results with both LED and T5 lights (and sometimes
with combinations of the two!).

Personally, my favorite lighting for small polyped stony corals is metal
halide - this is tried and true lighting for stony coral aquaria that can
give really excellent growth.  I have used 6500K bulbs as well as 10,000k
bulbs - the 6500K bulbs give excellent growth (some folks have told me they
feel 6500K bulbs give the best growth), though corals do fine under the
10,000K bulbs and when appearance matters the latter look nicer.

A rough rule of thumb from Delbeek and Sprung's wonderful book "The Reef
Aquarium" is 3 - 5 watts of light per gallon (those recommendations were
from the days of metal halide and fluorescent lighting - I don't know how
to translate that into LED lighting).  Personally, when using metal halide
lighting I have tended to use roughly 6 to 10 watts per gallon (e.g. a 250
or 400 watt metal halide over a tank as small as 40 gallons), and have had
excellent growth with the likes of Pocillopora and various Acropora species
(I imagine this would be too much light for some deeper water corals

LED lights have the ability to be dimmed, and colors can be manipulated
(assuming you have some basis for deciding what color balance is good!).
Metal halides can create heat problems (not an issue though if you have
good temperature control in the room with your tanks).

There are many different lighting options here, and what you go with will
likely in part depend on what you have available in your area.  Note that
one needs to be careful about changes in light intensity, in particular
making adjustments to higher light gradually.

If there are any good quality coral reef aquarium shops in your area I
would visit these and see what they are using and what they recommend.

Even better:  See if there is a local coral reef aquarium hobbyist group in
your area - in the U.S anyway, I have found some of the members of our
local marine aquarium society to be *extremely* knowledgeable and
experienced, and this would likely give you the opportunity to see a
variety of fully functional coral reef systems in person.  This is
important because the lighting is only part of what it takes to keep corals
healthy and growing - the lighting is important, but there is so much more
to system design than just the lighting.

Also, there are some wonderful online forums, such as

There is a wealth of information already in the discussion threads at such
forums (if you have time to wade through the many *many* threads and posts
and find the information relevant to you!), and there are many helpful,
knowledgeable people who could answer questions. And you could probably
find local coral reef aquarium hobbyists in your area through such forums.

Even though you are apparently wanting to grow corals for research, *don't
underestimate the value of making connections with the reef aquarium
hobbyist community, since quite a few of these people are extremely
knowledgeable, very sophisticated aquarists with great skill in growing and
propagating corals.*  Some of the most amazing, sophisticated coral reef
aquarium systems (with healthy, thriving, live corals) I have ever seen
have been in people's homes, and quite a lot of what we know about how to
grow corals in aquaria was initially figured out by advanced hobbyists.

I hope this helps (and I apologize for not making the metric conversions!).


On Mon, May 29, 2017 at 7:18 PM, Zachary Ostroff <zachostroff at gmail.com>

> I suggest reaching out to the public aquarium industry. They can help you
> select appropriate equipment for the dimensions of the system you need to
> illuminate, and what you desire to grow in it.
> Zach Ostroff
> Marine Exploration Center, St. Petersburg FL
> www.mecstpete.org <http://www.mecstpete.org/>
> Facebook.com/MECStPete <http://facebook.com/MECStPete>
> >
> > Message: 2
> > Date: Thu, 25 May 2017 15:58:11 +0000 (UTC)
> > From: SIVIWE ELVIS <siviweelvis at yahoo.com>
> > Subject: [Coral-List] Suitable lighting for coral maintenance in the
> >       aquarium
> > To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> > Message-ID: <1657713927.1964449.1495727891410 at mail.yahoo.com>
> > Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
> >
> > Dear fellow Coral Reef researchers
> >
> > I am interested in conducting aquarium experiments with corals
> (Pocillopora and Anomastrea species) to be collected from the wild
> (inter-tidal and sub-tidal zone). This is to inquire about the best lights
> to use which would produce the natural day light spectrum to mimic the
> natural coral environment, achieving optimal growth for these coral animals
> while in maintained in glass tanks.
> >
> > I am not good with lights but I seemingly need to make a choice between
> either T5 (fluorescent tube) or T8 (LED strips tube) lights for coral
> maintenance. Any advice and suggestions or references in this regard will
> be highly appreciated.
> >
> > Thank you
> >
> > Best regards
> >
> > Siviwe Babane (MSc Marine Biology student)
> >
> > University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN)
> > College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science
> > School of Life Science
> > Biological Science Department
> > Westville, University road
> > Durban
> > 4000
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

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