New 55g tank, Help with lighting options...

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Aquarium Advice FINatic
Dec 20, 2005
Warrensburg, IL
Hey all,

We are upgreading to a 55g tank, we will be purchasing the tank and accessories in the next week or so.

We will have Fish, Inverts, and we hope to get an anemone or 2 for our clowns.

The LFS said we will need a Compact Fluorescent light to maintain the Anemone's.

I know there are other ultra bright type lights as well..

We don't need a $1000 lighting system. We will save that for our inwall tank in a few years.

What lighting optiosn do we have? What would work best for us, and what kind of money are we talking?


Is that a 48" tank????? Depending on how much light the anemones will need is how u will decide on which light u should get. Compact Fluorescent would probably work if you had enough wattage and enough light for the anemones but im not a lighting specialist lol
Hopefully someone else will jump in here and give you some more detailed advice :)

Your lighting options are as follows. You can go with VHO, T5 florecent, PC florecent or what I would recommend MH.

If you want to keep an anenome you need to be willing to put the funds into the lighting. indeed you dont need to drop a grand into the lighting setup but I can easily see it running in the $500 range for ample lighting. On the 55 I would suggest a dual 175W MH system with a single 4' 110W VHO actinc bulb. I would say the MH bulbs can be either 20K or 10K depending on your visual preference.

I had a captive rased bubble tip anenome in my 75 gal tank that had 4 X 110W VHO bulbs. Two 10K and two actinic. Now I have the anenome in a 20 gal tank with a 250W MH 20K bulb over it.
After looking into alot of lighting over the past coupld of weeks, and doing a little more research as to what the anemone's need, From what I understand 5-7 Watts Per Gallon will make an anemone thrive.

We were considering a Bubble tip anemone, and a Blue carpet anemone.

We were looking at the CoraLife 4x65 PC light for about $225, but that would only give us 4.727 watts per gallon.

The next step up is the CoraLife 4x96 PC light for about $510, that would give us the preferred 6.981 watts per gallon.

Of course the later is over 2x the price!

I looked into a MH but those are even more expensive! There are some cheaper listed on eBay made by companies like Jebo, SeaLife and many un-named brands, but Its pointless to save $100, even $200, if it costs you 2-3x that in the long run if the units are cheap, and break.

Before we spend $500 on this light, are there any other lights that you guys can suggest that may be a little cheaper, or better for the same price?

I've also seen some T5 fixture's that are about the same price, but I assume the PC's are better!?

Thanks for the help,

I will honestly tell you I have been looking into the lighting fixtues myself because of what my lfs said. They said I needed a fixture for about $1400.00. I have looked everywhere. I have priced all online sites I can find went to lighting/electrical supply stores (everywhere)
even priced DIY lights retrofit kits. and it is still gonna cost me $700.00-$900.00. For your setup I would say you will need to budget at the very least $500.00. If it was me I would follow what fishfreek said with the dual 175 mh ans single 110w bulb. That is a good choice for lighting on that tank for your corals and such.
I don't plan on having any corals.

I have not found a dual 175 MH and a single 110 PC Fixture, Most of the MH fixtures were about $700. That is too much for me.

have you checked some have had good results, some bad. anemones need high lighting like corals from my understanding. could be wrong though.
You could try to have the clown host to a different species. My percula hosts to a toadstool leather and a frogspawn. The light requirements are a lot less for these vs an anemone.

I started my 75 gal with a JEBO 4x55 PC fixture I got from Ebay for $80.00. It was not the best but did very well for the year I had it. I upgraded to MH's after that. I had a lot of different softies and some LPS with that light.

Just a thought.
do you have a canopy? if so you could try a retrofit kit. you wont find a dual MH bulb itself. You will have to go with two seperate MH bulbs but you can get a dual MH 175w ballast. You could just get the PC'S for now and then when you get ready to add corals add your MH. What are your plans for this tank when you get your wall unit done? Because if you are planning on putting everything that is in your current tank in your wall unit you can shop now with the idea of what you would need in the large unit and swap everything without buying everything twice. for example if you know you are gonna need 2 or more MH for the wall unit then go ahead and get the dual ballast instead of a single. that will save you some money in the long run.
If you want the proper lighting for Anemone's, I would suggest MH as well. Although they appear to be more expensive up front, wait until you replace the bulbs in a pc, which is typically every 6 months. The MH are good for at least 1 year. 2 MH lights = 2 bulbs per year. I found a place online that sales them for $50 each..14K. You will replace your pc bulbs twice a year. I also have the Coralife retro 4x65w system for dusk to dawn effect, which costs me an average of $240 (4 bulbs x 2) a year for replacement bulbs. The total cost of the retro kit was $180!

If cost is a factor, MH retrofit kits are cheap enough. I bought my set complete 250w x 2 with bulbs for $360 for the pair. 500w total. The only downside is heat, and you would need a tall enough canopy to house them in. Other than that, you would not be as limited on your selection either. :) HTH - Just my .02 cents

I don't think there's a way around anemone. I'd rather not get an anemone if I am not willing to shell out money. Some may tell you that yes you can get anemones with PC lighting of about 6500K/10000K Daylights and actinics powering 5W per gallon. But if you make short cuts, you'll get cut short.

In my honest opinion, a clown doesn't have to host an anemone per se. I've seen clowns hosting leather corals or bubble corals, plate corals, even some types of mushroom corals. Those corals are the rather easy-to-moderate difficulty level. You do need prestine water parameters, good calcium, and a good PC lighting.

Check this out. I am preparing this 55G 4-ft tank for corals. I am chasing numbers right now but am getting there really really closely.

Calcium @ 370, Nitrates at 10, kH at 350, pH at 8.1, and lighting at 260 watts. I am not expecting anemone or soft polyp stonys here. But I am looking at bubble coral, mushrooms, polyps, and a plate. I may even be lucky with pulsating xenia. But I don't want to play with that specific coral just yet.


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