Beware the Blue!

By Michael Rice 10 years ago5 Comments

Some of the trends I’ve noticed at various shops and frag shows are disturbing at best. There has been a lot of talk lately about the questionable Photoshopping techniques used by some online coral vendors, but what about the in-person deception that can be found with some vendors? Tanks flooded with blue actinic lighting designed to make corals “pop” unnaturally, unlike your home lighting is becoming common place in the industry, so we should all be armed with the tools needed to look past it. When shopping for your next coral, the first thing that should be considered is the lighting over the tank. Look up at the lighting and try to figure out how much bluer or whiter it is than your tank.  This can usually help to avoid disappointment when you see a new coral under your own lighting. I also encourage everyone to speak out against the over-bluing of coral tanks for sales purposes. Sometimes all it takes is enough people asking, “Can I see this under white lights?” to bring about change.

All images on the left are under heavy actinic lighting. All images on the right are under full spectrum lighting.

  Corals, Industry, Opinion

 Michael Rice

  (67 articles)


  • Amphibious says:

    Thanks Michael, for pointing out this egregious use of “enhanced” lighting to make corals more salable. Experienced reefers are aware of this attempt to deceive, it’s the inexperienced and Newbie that should be made aware of this practice.


    • Michael Rice says:

      Totally agree with you. Most of us have had to learn through bad experiences. Hopefully this will help some new people miss out on that experience.

  • pecan2phat says:

    I agree that the “tidy bowl blue” is over done. Blue spectrum is appealing to a degree, but definitely way abused!

  • CraigBingman says:

    I think that all of the three corals in the above examples look better under daylight spectrum lighting. I am much more likely to buy WYSIWYG corals from a site where the white balance is reasonable in the photographs, and “vibrance” isn’t maxed out. When the white egg crate is blue, and there a blue and other oddly colored flecks in the background gravel, it is a dead giveaway that the lighting is strange and that the photo has been tweaked.

    • Michael Rice says:

      Very true, but the scary thing is that anyone who knows a little about Photoshop can tweak color without touching the background. WYSIWYG corals have just become a trial and error thing IMO. If a company sends you something that was not as pictured, that should be a sign not to buy from them again. This is just another area where the LFS can really shine through for you.

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