The Deep Dive on Reef Aquarium Lighting, Part 1: Zooxanthellae, Color Temperature, and Light Intensity

LEDs continue to gain a loyal following as a capable reef lighting technologyLighting is important because it directly affects how we visually enjoy the hobby and, more importantly, the vast majority of the corals in our tanks are photosynthetic. In this two-part article, we will first cover some of the basics of the light itself and then discuss the various lighting technologies people use to light their reefs. Coral and zooxanthellaeCoral as we know it is a symbiotic relationship between the coral animal and dinoflagellates called zooxanthellae. Zooxanthellae live in the tissue of the coral and are like algae in that they contain chlorophyll for photosynthesis. The byproducts of photosynthesis are things like simple sugars that the coral hosts can use as an energy source. It is for this reason that coral are often described to the layperson as having traits of both plants and animals. The color of zooxanthellae is varying degrees of brown. However, there are over 80 known varieties of zooxanthellae

Kessil A360W LEDs Don’t Disappoint!

LED lighting is the latest addition on my reef aquariumRegular Saltwater Smarts visitors may recall that back in the spring of 2015, I closed down my 75-gallon reef tank and converted my 125-gallon (then) FOWLR tank to a reef system with the addition of some invertebrate livestock from the 75 and a Current USA metal halide/T5 combo light fixture donated by Caribbean Chris. Fast-forward to May of this year, and it was time to consider new lights. I was really pleased with the look of the lighting that the Current USA fixture produced. However, it did have a few drawbacks.For one, it was really heavy and required two people to remove for water changes and other tank maintenance. Also, the rather flimsy support legs used to mount the fixture on the tank weren’t really up to the task and broke quite easily. (Suspending the fixture from the ceiling was not an option and, according to my wife, could cost me my life.) Another issue was that the fixture—which, though new for me, was actually rather old by most people’s standards when I got it—was getting a bit buggy, with the switches failing one by one and some of the T5s working intermittently. Last but not least, running all those lamps and the fan to cool them was adding a considerable sum to our electric bill each month.
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