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

Tridacna derasa: A Good Excuse to Clam Up!

The smooth giant clam (Tridacna derasa)Of all the Tridacna spp. clams available to hobbyists, perhaps the hardiest and easiest to maintain of them all is Tridacna derasa, the so-called smooth giant clam. This species is so smooth, in fact, that amorous, gold-chain-wearing male specimens have been overhead in bars making comments like, “Say, did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” and “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put ‘U’ and ‘I’ together.” Okay, maybe T. derasa isn’t that kind of smooth, but its shell does lack pronounced ridges or scutes, making it relatively smooth to the touch. So, that’s probably where the name actually came from (though you have to admit my explanation is much more fun). It’s a fast-growing species when given proper conditions and a great choice for first-time clam keepers who have the tank space to spare.Physical traits T. derasa is the second largest of the Tridacna clams, potentially reaching 18 inches to upwards of 2 feet in length.
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