Reefs are aglow with fluorescence!

by | Jun 7, 2011 | Advanced Aquarist | 0 comments

Reefs are aglow with fluorescence!

The fluorescence of what appears to be a Plate Coral (possibly Fungia sp). (c) Keith Ellenbogen

What is fluorescence?

Adam Blundell, M.S. writes about ‘The Seen and Unseen World of Coral Fluorescence‘ in Advanced Aquarist’s June, 2005 issue:

Fluorescence is a process whereby a matter of energy is absorbed by a substance, and then released by that substance with less energy. In this case a light source of high energy (lets say blue light) is absorbed by a substance (a coral) and then released with less energy (i.e. green light or red light).

Dana Riddle writes what may be the most comprehensive series of articles on coral coloration & fluorescence:


  1. Coral Coloration: Fluorescence: Part 1
  2. Coral Coloration, Part 2: Fluorescence: Pigments 510 – 565 and Notes on Green Fluorescent Proteins
  3. Coral Coloration, Part 3: Pigments Responsible for
  4. Coral Coloration, Part 4: Red Fluorescent Pigments, a Preliminary Report of Effects of Various Environmental Factors and Color Mixing
  5. Coral Coloration, Part 5: Non-fluorescent Chromoproteins (CP-480 to CP-562)
  6. Coral Coloration, Part 6: Non-fluorescent Chromoproteins (CP-568 – CP-610) And A Newly Discovered Colorant
  7. Coral Coloration – Part 7: Coral Reflectance, Chromoproteins and Environmental Factors Affecting Non-fluorescent Pigmentation
  8. Coral Coloration, Part 8: Blue and Green Coral Fluorescence: Environmental Factors Affecting Fluorescent Pigmentation
  9. Coral Coloration, Part 9: Tridacna and Other Photosynthetic Clam Coloration, With Observations on Possible Functions


Fluorescence in Fiji

This summer, a team of scientists set out to Fiji to capture the amazing fluorescence of marine life in the wild using blue lights and special filters.  Here are some of the photos they reported back via National Geographic.


Special underwater photography equipment is used to capture fluorescence. (c) Keith Ellenbogen



We all know Acropora can fluorescence … (c) Keith Ellenbogen



… but did you know fish can as well?! (c) Keith Ellenbogen



Chitons too! (this time in red) (c) Keith Ellenbogen



The sea is teeming with fluorescence! (c) Tali Treibitz

  • Leonard Ho

    I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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