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

Salty Q&A: Bay Window Reef Lighting?

Sunlight passing through a window generally provides very directional, odd angle lightingQuestionI’m setting up my first reef aquarium and want to keep my approach as natural as possible. The room where I plan to place the tank has a really big bay window in it, and succulents and other sun-loving houseplants really thrive there. Is there any reason I can’t take advantage of all that natural sunlight for my corals instead of using crazy expensive artificial lights?” – Submitted by CZ Answer Though you would save a bundle if such a plan were feasible, I would discourage relying on window lighting to illuminate your reef system for several reasons. First, the amount of sunlight passing through the window is going to change throughout the year as the sun’s position shifts and the days get longer or shorter with the seasons. That won’t bode well for tropical corals, which demand 10 to 12 hours of direct sunlight per day. Second, the sunlight passing through the window will reach the tank at an odd angle and from only one direction. So even if you could get enough sunlight of sufficient intensity to pass through the window and onto your tank on a consistent, year-round basis, your light-hungry inverts would always be shaded on one side. Third, placing an aquarium too close to a window—especially one that lets in a lot of direct sunlight at certain times of year—can make it difficult to maintain a stable, appropriate water temperature, which is stressful to the inhabitants
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