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Old 12-11-2008, 04:10 PM   #1
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Post Beginner Soft Corals for my tank?

I have a standard depth (24") 90 gallon aquarium.
My lighting is two tube flourescent bulbs, one daylight (around 5400k), the other actnic (10,000k).
I have moderate water flow provided by a Koralia 3, my return sump, and an Eheim 2217 canister filter.

My livestock consists of:
1 - Blue Tang
1 - Clown
1 - Foxface
1 - Sailfin Tang
1 - lawnmower blenny
1 - urchin
1 - cowrie
3 - blood shrimp
10+ - various snails (nasirrus, turbo, and unknowns)
10+ - Hermit crabs (blue legs, red legs, lots of legs...)

My tank is newly established (a few months old), though when I purchased my LR it came with a whole bunch of mushrooms on various pieces of rock, a very large kenya tree, and some unknown tree-like things. Everything is thriving and slowly growing happilly. They're all brown (boring) corals though, and would like to add something to add some more color to the aquarium.

What can I safely add to my system that is hardy, and colorful? I'm aware that the foxface may pick at zoo's. Currently none of my livestock harm any of the current corals though I heard that urchins, cowries, and foxfaces may harm some...

Any ideas? Are there any colorful pulsing xenias?
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Old 12-11-2008, 05:00 PM   #2
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What type of lighting are we talking? NO (normal output)? VHO (very high output)? Compact Fluorescent? Also... how many watts? Kind of need to know that before we can really give good suggestions.

Also - the 10,000k bulb isn't "actnic". Both the bulbs you've listed are considered "daylight" bulbs. Both bulbs are white - the 5400k being a little yellower, and the 10,000k looking more white.
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Old 12-11-2008, 05:55 PM   #3
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I agree we need to know more about the lighting.
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Old 12-11-2008, 09:10 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Kurt_Nelson View Post
What type of lighting are we talking? NO (normal output)? VHO (very high output)? Compact Fluorescent? Also... how many watts? Kind of need to know that before we can really give good suggestions.

Also - the 10,000k bulb isn't "actnic". Both the bulbs you've listed are considered "daylight" bulbs. Both bulbs are white - the 5400k being a little yellower, and the 10,000k looking more white.
The 5400k is pure white (no yellow at all, pure sunlight registers at 5500 kelvin without atmospheric interference such as during sunrise/sunset), the 10,000k is indeed actinic peaking at 420nm, but bleeding deep into 200nm. Which is within the UV spectrum of 100nm - 400nm (by definition I believe). It is very deep blue, with a hint of purple as expected, the only visible light to my eye being from 380nm to 420nm.

Together the give the aquarium a bright purplish white light (visible).

They're both T8 fluorescents, 48" each standard 32-40w peak. By no means powerful, so I will be looking into low-medium light soft corals.

Both bulbs are centered above the aquarium around 1.5" above the water with a glass sheild between the bulb and water to minimize heat transfer.

My current lighting schedule is 8 hours per day. (2pm - 10pm). The aquarium resides in a basement, so there is not much ambient light during off hours.

Hope this helps explain my current lighting setup. All help is appreciated...

Thanks..
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Old 12-12-2008, 12:50 AM   #5
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Sounds like you're pretty much left with mushrooms and low light corals with that lighting configuration. Usually "colorful" implies at least moderate lighting, but I think you may be able to do some of the leathers. I'm not familiar with those, but I'm sure others can help there.

Regarding your lighting, sorry... but a light labeled "10,000k" is not an actinic light. But if you're seeing blue/purple, then it's definitely an actinic... but definitely not 10,000k. Just look at any place selling bulbs and you'll see what I mean.
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Old 12-12-2008, 03:26 AM   #6
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I would guess that any corals you put in there are going to eventually turn more brown and lose their color. You just don't have strong enough lighting to support vivid colors in most cases. If your really looking to add more "bright and colorful" to your tank i would start by saving up a bit of money and upgrading your lights. You may even find that when you upgrade some of the corals you have in there now will color up and start to look nicer.

As kurt said, your looking at mushrooms and a few low light softies that will do ok under those lights but they won't bring much color in most cases.
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Old 12-12-2008, 09:54 AM   #7
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I agree that your lighting is not enough. Regular flourecents will not cut it in that tank. Definitely not enough for leathers.
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Old 12-12-2008, 12:23 PM   #8
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Thanks for the input everyone.

Well it looks like that is on my extended to-do list down the line. The primary reason I stayed with T8 flourescents is simply because they're energy efficient. The aquarium is set up in an area of an old house where the wiring has not been upgraded, and no plugs on a different circuit nearby, so I need to be energy conscious for the time being. (between lighting, power heads, sump pump, overflow pump, skimmer, canister, uv light) all on a single outdated power outlet---plus the lights for the room (10 potlights!) all on the same circuit.

I would love to upgrade the wiring and fuse box in the house to support higher output lighting... but I'm just renting at the moment, so I don't have a lot of options.

The soft corals currently in the tank are growing and replicating (I noticed a new Kenya tree branch starting yesterday), but indeed they're all dull and brown.

I do have a separate third T8 flourescent fixture that is currently not set up, perhaps I should put it on a timer to come on for 4-5 hours, at which time the UV light and one of the power heads will turn off to minimize load on the circuit. Not in hopes of having new corals, but just to help the current ones develop a little more color.
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Old 12-12-2008, 12:48 PM   #9
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OKay, as everyone has already said, you don't have enough lights for much, but you do for mushrooms. There are lots of different color sroo's aroung. Try those in the time being. Also you may not need a power(cannister) filter running all the time if you have enough LR's. You may need a skimmer instead.
Hope i am of some help...
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Old 12-12-2008, 01:23 PM   #10
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Thank thincat, definitely still helpful.

I have a skimmer running as well (although maybe a bit small for my setup). The canister is filled with live rubble for the time being. The primary reason for the canister is it is a leftover item from my original freshwater setup, with the proper water flow for my in-line UV light. So it's used mainly for water movement, and for the UV light. If I were to put my UV light on my sump hoses I think it might cause a bottleneck in the waterflow unfortunately.

But you're absolutely right---in time I plan on retiring the old faithful eheim and opt for a UV light that will fit inline on my sump lines instead.
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