Why a good lighting system?

A good lighting system duplicates the different lighting spectrums in the ocean. A good lighting system allows corals to open more frequently and to show their natural color. It also encourages the corals to grow in your tank.We recommend that you should have your lighting system powered on for about 10 hours a day.

Why replace your lights?

In any fluorescent light, there is only a certain amount of Argon gas contained. Burning the Argon gas inside the light produces a given spectrum. When the argon gas insides the light is used-up, a different spectrum will be produced. In saltwater aquariums, however, we only want the correct lighting spectrum to be present. So when the chemials inside the light are used-up, you must replace it with a new one; otherwise the incorrect lighting spectrum is going to give you algae problems.

Temperature and Your Lighting System

Temperature is usually briefly mentioned in saltwater aquarium books. However, it is actually quite important to keep a suitable and stable temperature level in your tank. In the case of corals, we usually see the corals to have lost their colors completely or only left with the white skeleton of the corals.

An abnormally high temperature and a high UV-radiation are closely correlated with the coral bleaching. In order to protect the corals from the excess UV-radiation, there is a certain amount of the active forms of oxygen molecules in the water that block the harmful UV-light. This is really the same idea as having our atmosphere to protect ourselves from the excess UV-radiation from the Sun. High temperature level provides the living conditions for some types of hormones that can break down these oxygen molecules. When the hormones begin to break down the active oxygen molecules, there are less active oxygen molecules to protect the corals from the UV-radiation. The excess UV-light kills off the pigmentation tissues in the corals and the corals in the water appear pale. Losing the pigmentation tissues is the same as to have no protection against the harmful UV-radiation and this kills the corals. As a general rule, the water temperature should be between 23 to 27 oC.

How does the temperature related to the lighting system? To keep your tank in a suitable temperature range, you must consider the amount of heat generated by the lighting system and the heat loss from the evaporation. The main source of heat in saltwater aquariums is the lighting system since almost all lighting system is installed directly above the water surface. On the other hand, the water molecules carry a certain amount of heat with them when they are evaporated from the water surface. You should keep these two factors in mind when you are installing a new lighting system or to readjust the lighting system already installed. Besides the heat loss issues, you should also think about whether the current provides a gradual change of temperature so that the temperature near the surface is not much different from the bottom of the tank.

On the right is a little electronic thermo-sensor for you to consider. This inexpenisve and easy-to-use thermo-sensor is very useful for you to measure the temperature constantly. All you need is to submerge the probe into the water and let the meter sit outside the tank. The probe can be stuck to the glass with the suction cup included.

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PHASE IV System (alt-q)
Power Compact System (alt-w)
Aquastarlight System & Moonlight Option (alt-e)
Installing Your Own Lighting Systems (alt-r)

Here is more information about aquarium lighting systems. The tank is the same as the bottom tank shown on the Aquarium Technologies page. But this time, we have changed the lighting system to a Phase IV system rather than two identical sets of Power Compact system. On the right hand side, however, we still use the same Power Compact system. This makes the comparsion between the different systems easier.

Phase IV System

These two pictures show the new Phase IV system. This system includes 4 light bulbs; two of them are 6700K Osram Day Light and the other two are 10,000K Actinic Blue. Comparing with the previous system (on the previous page using only the Phase II system) which only has day lights installed, this Phase IV system gives a result that is much closer to that of a Metal Halide Light.

But remember the huge difference in prices! A Metal Halide Light normally costs $1200 CAN or more depending on the types of light. This Phase IV unit is $800 CAN with all light bulbs included. The light bulbs for the Phase IV system should be replaced every 8 months. Each bulb costs $70 CAN and it is the same price for either Day Lights or Actinic Blue bulbs. Using this system, corals are much more active (i.e. they open more often) than using the Phase II system as shown on the Aquarium Technologies page.

Power Compact System with only Day Lights installed

This picture is to contrast with the above sample pictures. Here we only have Day Lights installed. Compared with the top one, you can see that the Day Lights give a yellowish tone. On the other hand, the top system is more natural looking. However, Day Lights are necessary for tanks with live rocks.

Why do you need live rocks? Live rocks, in fact, serve the same purpose as your biological filter. It is the "biological filter" from the ocean. Compared with the biological filters available in the market, live rocks, however, is much faster in establishing the suitable living conditions for your fish and corals in the tank than your biological filter.

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Aquastarlight Metal Halide Light System with Moonlight Option

If you have visited our customers' gallery, you will probably recognize this picture. This is a picture taken from our customer Doug Einarson's home. This Aquastarlight Metal Halide System is made in Germany and it is one of the best lighting products in the market right now. This system is a 48 inches long unit. It has two 13000K light bulbs.
Features of this Metal Halide Light System:

Advanced Option

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Installing your own lighting sytems

If you are interested in installing your own system, here is a piece of equipment very handy for you. This set of electronic ballast is from Coralife and it is a very popular item for poeple who like to do their own work. If you are interested in getting a Moonlight system also, you can also purchase Aquamoonlight unit and a timer to make a wonderful and inexpensive system.

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