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Old 09-11-2012, 08:40 AM   #1
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Lighting for Coral

Does anyone know what sort of lighting you have to have for coral in a saltwater tank. I've been told to use led lighting but I can't justify spending $250 on a light.....
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Old 09-11-2012, 09:07 AM   #2
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What size is your tank? Honestly $250 isnt very bad at all to light a reef. I have about $700 worth of lighting on my 3' tank. The light you need can also depend on the stock that you wanna keep (softies-low light, lps- medium light, sps- high light).
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:23 AM   #3
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You don't "need" LED's to have nice corals IMHO LED's are nice and are still new to the hobby. You can use the old tried and trusted T5's and metal halide lights.

LED's are cheaper to run, will last longer and produce less heat but it's not set in stone that you "need" to use them.
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:24 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrc8858
What size is your tank? Honestly $250 isnt very bad at all to light a reef. I have about $700 worth of lighting on my 3' tank. The light you need can also depend on the stock that you wanna keep (softies-low light, lps- medium light, sps- high light).
If you get adjustable leds theres no limit to type of coral you can keep
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Old 09-11-2012, 02:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antman1975 View Post
I've been told to use led lighting but I can't justify spending $250 on a light.....
Convict is correct, you don't "need" LED's for a reef, but you are thinking short term initial cost. Yes, you can get T5HO's or metal halides cheaper than LED, but when it comes time for your annual bulb change, you can easily spend another $100-$150 for bulbs (or more)..... EVERY YEAR. Once you begin figuring in this cost, the energy savings of LED, plus they run very cool, it becomes a no-brainer for me.
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:01 PM   #6
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It's only a small tank to start off with. Maybe go bigger down the track. Its only about 30cm, or 1 foot. We were told that if we wanted coral, we needed LEDs
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:12 PM   #7
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For that small of a tank, they aren't completely wrong...but im sure they are trying to sell you something way overpriced.
If the tank truly is 1foot across, there aren't really good T5 fixtures and metal halides will overheat the water quickly. You can get compact florescent bulbs, but they degrade quickly and aren't great quality to begin with.

If you are handy, a small DIY LED pendant would be the easiest way to go if you want coral. You can wire up a couple CREE 3W LEDs to a small computer heatsink and fan and get a lot of power. There are some premade things like PAR38 bulbs that fit into normal light bulb sockets (just look for ones that are for "aquarium use" or have a good mix of white/blue.)

Bottom line, don't pay $250 for anything for that small of a tank. DIY something or look for other pendant or LED bulb solutions. If that doesn't appeal to you, I would upgrade slightly to a 20g tank that has 24" across and then you can get a good T5 fixture for that length.
If you post some more information about your tank and what type of coral you'd like to keep, we will be able to help you more.
HTH.
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Old 09-11-2012, 07:12 PM   #8
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It really all depends on what type of Coral you would like to keep. LEDs are an excellent choice for most applications. Metal halides and t5s tend to run hotter, especially metal halides, which can require the use of a chiller as well. LEDs run with almost no heat, and are very energy efficient. LEDs will pay for themselves with the energy savings. The LEDs also magnify the flourescence of the corals, thus making people say that it makes the colors of their corals "pop". Once you get over the initial cost, you will not be dissapointed, especially if you are keeping easier corals, like mushrooms, zoanthids, palythoa, and other LPS corals. I keep clams under my LEDs as well as some SPS corals, though it seems that acropora need something stronger. The LEDs that I have aren't the greatest, and the technology has improved greatly since I purchased mine.
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Old 09-12-2012, 12:01 PM   #9
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This is the project I had in mind. Very low cost and makes a nice pendant.
http://www.nano-reef.com/forums/inde...owtopic=203706

3 LEDs ~ $10
Fan & Heatsink ~ $15
Driver ~ $20
Power Supply ~ $10
You could save yourself some money by trying to harvest an old laptop power supply and digging a small heatsink and fan out of a computer tower. Either way, you are looking at under $75 roughly. You can add 6-7 LEDS per driver as well, so if you wanted more then that project its just a slight price increase up to 7 LEDs.
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:58 PM   #10
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I prefer t5 ho, I use fishneedit on my reef tank.
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