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Old 01-15-2012, 05:23 AM   #1
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Upgrading Lights

So, I've been operating with the standard T8 that came with my hood, and I want to upgrade to T5 HO for my corals, and also so that I can have a greater variety of corals.
My question is one of acclimation. Everyone in the tank is used to the T8. Is the switch from one 48" T8 to 2 48" T5 bulbs going to be so dramatic as to require moving the corals lower for a while, or should they do ok with the sudden change in intensity? I want to upgrade ASAP, even though there are more responsible ways I could spend my money. *sheepish grin*

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Old 01-15-2012, 06:20 AM   #2
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What corals are you currently keeping and how long have they been under the current fixture? The short answer is "better safe than sorry".
How deep is your tank top to bottom and how close to the fixture are the corals?
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Old 01-15-2012, 06:31 AM   #3
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Ok, so first of all, the tank is not completely full. I have two fish that are known to jump, so until I get a versa-top or something similar, I'm playing it safe.
That puts the lights about 4 inches from the water's surface.
All the softies (zoas, mushrooms, nepthea tree) are about 8-10 inches below the surface.
The Bubble Coral, candy cane frag, and Galaxea are about 6 inches below the surface.
Torch coral and Duncan are in the sand, so about 13-14 inches below surface.
And... I was bad. I admit it. I bought a green Birdsnest coral *before* upgrading the lights. This does kind of light a fire under me to do so now, though. To compensate for the lower light, I have that one up higher. It's only about 4 inches below the surface.
They've been in there ranging from 1-6 weeks. Zoas and mushrooms were first, followed by the torch and duncan on the bottom. Birdsnest is newest.
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Old 01-15-2012, 06:32 AM   #4
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Oh yeah, tank is about 18 inches from lights to sand.
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Old 01-15-2012, 06:35 AM   #5
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If you want to keep sps, I would suggest more than a 2 lamp t5 fixture. 4 or even 6 lamps would suit you better. I would move some of the higher stuff down just to be safe.
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Old 01-15-2012, 06:39 AM   #6
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Yes, eventually, I hope to have much better lighting, but for budget reasons, a two lamp T5 will have to do for the moment. If I have to, I'll find a way to get the birdsnest higher until I can get a bigger fixture.
Thanks for the advice! I hadn't seen any threads about increasing the overall lighting for a tank without shocking the inhabitants.
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:40 AM   #7
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I don't know what your budget for lighting is but this site has reasonable quality lighting T5-HO Light I went from compact fluorescent in my tank, I used screen over my frogspawn because it was to close to the light I felt in the beginning. I started out with 3 and every week I took one layer off.
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:52 AM   #8
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Would one watt per gallon be enough to support anemones with supplements?
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:01 PM   #9
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Watt per gallon is a useless measure. Spectrum, spread & intensity are what matter.
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:27 PM   #10
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Anemones don't need supplements. Just good water conditions and quality lighting. I don't think spectrum matters much at all, except from an aesthetics point of view. All the lamps we use in the hobby are full spectrum, so photosynthetic creatures are able to get what they need from all the spectrums available for this hobby.
Intensity/efficiency and ability to penetrate, along with PAR is what's important as far as I'm concerned.
1 watt per gallon of any type of light isn't enough IMO/IME.
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Old 01-15-2012, 03:59 PM   #11
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What type of anemone? Things like maxi minis don't need nearly the light that a bta does from what I can tell in my tank. You will get better light if they bulbs have individual reflectors too.
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Old 01-15-2012, 05:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joy13 View Post
I don't know what your budget for lighting is but this site has reasonable quality lighting T5-HO Light I went from compact fluorescent in my tank, I used screen over my frogspawn because it was to close to the light I felt in the beginning. I started out with 3 and every week I took one layer off.
Thanks, but I'm *hoping* to find something a little cheaper, just to start off with. Summer is the busiest time for a landscaper, so I'll be able to get all sorts of fancy fish toys then. For now, I just want to increase the lighting as cheaply as I can. I've found a few fixtures for under $100, and I'm going to look into them. Quality is obviously a factor at that price, but again, it only needs to last a few months.
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Old 01-15-2012, 08:49 PM   #13
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Ok, so what I ultimately decided to do was upgrade the lights one bulb at a time. So I have a T5 fixture that currently has only one bulb in it. Should be a gradual enough increase not to shock anyone. Then in a few weeks, I'll add the second bulb. And so on. So far (less than an hour) the corals seem to be digging the new light.
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:19 PM   #14
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Thanks!
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:52 PM   #15
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Just be careful, different technologies generate more or less light for the watts they burn. LEDs are the most efficient, followed by florescent technology, then metal halide. Using MH numbers, many say as much as 6 watts per gallon for clams and high light SPS corals. As little as 2-3 for many soft corals. So for a 50 gallon tank that is for SPS, that's up to 300 total watts of MH, or about 150-200 watts of fluorescent, or as little as 100-150 watts of high output LED. Using broad spectrum lamps , tubes or emitters with spectrums in the 10K plus really don't need actinics except many like the way their coral glows. Most reefers do use quite a bit of blue light to color balance their systems as everything tends to a yellow cast without them. Reflectors and lenses (in the case of LEDs) really make the difference if you have a deep tank. Just IMO.
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:56 PM   #16
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When I get the second bulb in, that will bring my total wattage to 108, and it's a 45 gallon. I really need to get a PAR meter eventually, because the wattage per gallon formula has some severe limitations, some of which you very effectively illustrated!
For the moment, this T5 bulb (increase to 54 watts over the previous 32 watt T8) seems to be doing quite nicely. I'll see how everything reacts when I get the second bulb in.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:05 PM   #17
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I think you may be okay except for some SPS and clams if the tank is deep.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:07 PM   #18
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Thank you. That's my hope. The tank is about 18 inches deep. I do eventually hope to have a collection of SPS and at least one Tridachna (I like blue). However, this is in the future. For the moment, I'm going to dabble with a few SPS that are suited to moderate or "moderate to high" lighting, and keep them high in the tank.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:08 PM   #19
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At that depth I would guess you are fine.
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:53 PM   #20
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Thanks. Next question on this topic. For the second bulb, I want something actinic to bring out the colors, but as I understand it, actinic bulbs don't really do anything for the corals themselves. Would a 50/50 bulb (half full spectrum 6,500k, half actinic) provide the desired effect of assisting photosynthesis and helping the colors pop?
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