Interesting Coral Formations in the Maldives

I’ve always been interested in how corals grow with – and very often upon – each other in the wild.  As we all know, reefs are dynamic places, where change is commonplace.  Here are a few shots that I’ll use to explore my...

The Deep Dive on Reef Aquarium Lighting, Part 2: Lighting Technologies

I get asked fairly often what light is the best light. Unfortunately, there is no right answer. First off, there is the difference in aesthetics. That is a purely subjective decision that only hobbyists can make for themselves. Most of the time hobbyists gravitate towards the blue end of the spectrum because it is very flattering to corals that fluoresce brightly.In terms of coral biology, the type of lighting that will work the best for your tank will depend a great deal on what animals you intend to keep. As I mentioned in Part 1, corals will adapt to lighting by regulating their zooxanthellae, so most coral will grow under any of these lighting technologies. Having said that, it is also entirely possible to have some corals take on a desirable appearance while other corals become less attractive under the same light. Such is the price to be paid for a mixed reef tank

Special Considerations for Soft Coral Placement

Pulsing Xenia, a wanderlust of a coral, requires some forethought on your part to keep the colony only where you want it in your aquariumIn discussions of coral placement in reef aquaria, topics such as spacing between colonies, distance from the light source, level of water flow, sweeper tentacles, and coral chemical warfare (allelopathy) often predominate. But there are special considerations beyond these that one must take into account when determining the best placement for certain soft corals and polyps. Here are just a few examples: Major tissue expansion and contractionWith many of the SPS corals, the difference in the size of a colony between its expanded and contracted state tends to be fairly negligible. On the other hand, with certain soft corals, such as Sinularia, Lobophytum, and Sarcophyton leather corals, this difference can be quite dramatic, with colonies in their fully expanded state easily doubling or tripling their size when contracted. The degree of a colony’s expansion can vary not just based on daytime/nighttime, but also the system’s lighting, water flow, water quality, and other factors. If you don’t take this into consideration when placing a new colony in your system, a neighboring colony that has plenty of “elbow room” (corals have elbows, right?) today might be overshadowed tomorrow. The cascade effect Some soft corals have a nice compact tree-like growth habit when they’re relatively small, but as they grow, they tend to become more loose and top-heavy and then ultimately lie over, oftentimes cascading down the rockwork (depending on where they’re situated, of course).

Reef Threads Podcast #259

Sanjay’s 500-gal reef aquarium.

We’re back, this week with returning guest Sanjay Joshi. While our focus was on his LED experiences with his 500-gal. reef, we also talked about water flow, tank heating, coral growth, closed-loop systems, and the reef-system rebuild at the Penn State Univ. student union. This is a good one. Don’t miss it. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Gary and Christine

Sponsor: Rod’s Food
Rod’s Food website

Sanjay’s 2-yr. LED experience
Sanjay Joshi, 2 years with LEDs

The Penn State student union tank in its rebuilt infancy.

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