Best lighting for coraline algae growth
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Best lighting for coraline algae growth

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Best lighting for coraline algae growth
Old 07-21-2010, 07:23 AM   #1
 
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Best lighting for coraline algae growth

We may or may not end up keeping coral, but we've added some live rock to the tank and plan on adding more and we'd like to beautify the rock with coraline algae if possible. As far as I know, the single fluorescent bulb All-Glass fixture that we've been using for our until now fish only tank won't cut it. Can anyone recommend the best type of lighting and bulbs for coraline algae growth?

Also, I need to get a fixture that will be able to fit beneath our canopy. There are 5 inches of free space to work with from the glass over the aquarium water to the top of the canopy. I noticed in the product pictures on a few retailers' sites that many of the fixtures are up on little legs as depicted in the picture below, as opposed to resting on a glass cover.



Does anyone know if the height dimensions of the fixtures that most online retailers display include the height of these little legs? I would hate to order something and have it arrive only to learn that it won't fit beneath the canopy once the legs are attached. I plan on inquiring about it with a retailer before I make a purchase, but I am afraid they simply may not know unless they took a fixture out of its packaging, attached its legs (assuming they don't come attached) and measured it.

Thanks!
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:15 AM   #2
 
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well you could write the dealer and ask about the size of the legs. another option would be to suspend the fixture inside your hood.... small screws with zip ties work well as an example.... each manufacturers legs are a bit different in height from what i understand....
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:24 AM   #3
 
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I will measure mine when I get home. I have a Nova Extreme Pro T5HO 12 bulb fixture. I have a lot of coraline. Sometimes it becomes a nuisance because I have to scrape it off the front glass almost weekly. I prefer T5HO fixtures, but others prefer Metal Halide when doing coral. It is a matter of what corals you want to keep and where you place them in the tank.

Good Alkalinity (8-12 dKH) and Calcium (400-450 ppm) are more powerful accelerators of coraline growth than light. Don't get me wrong, light helps, but keeping those two levels in check is more important for that coraline.

I have a friend that tossed the legs and screwed the light fixture to the top of the canopy...if that helps.
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:34 AM   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wake49 View Post
Good Alkalinity (8-12 dKH) and Calcium (400-450 ppm) are more powerful accelerators of coraline growth than light. Don't get me wrong, light helps, but keeping those two levels in check is more important for that coraline.

I have a friend that tossed the legs and screwed the light fixture to the top of the canopy...if that helps.

i too am a fan of t5s because they dont get as hot ( they still do but not AS hot ) and you can change 1 or 2 bulbs to get the colors you want.

i also second the alk, cal and mag too since the 3 are related. get liquid test kits for these three, as well as suppliments to dose for them.

some fixtures legs come off, some you have to put on yourself, some dont come with them but since your putting this into your canopy i would look into a retrofit t5 setup personally. icecap makes a nice one, theyre simple to put together and you wont see it since its its mounted in the canopy.
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:42 AM   #5
 
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Thanks, guys. I heard about retrofit setups where the canopy effectively becomes the fixture. I think I would rather have an actual light fixture, though. My canopy has an open top but does not open from the front the way I've seen some do. I therefore have to remove the canopy and then the light fixture in order to service the aquarium. Having the light built into the canopy would make removing the canopy each time that much more precarious. I would rather be able to remove the canopy with ease and then worry about carefully removing and setting aside the light fixture the way I do now.

I am definitely going to try to get a T5HO. Do you guys think 2 bulbs should be sufficient for my 55 gallon tank? Would you get 1 white bulb and 1 blue actinic bulb to best promote the growth of coraline algae?

Quote:
Originally Posted by onefish2fish
some fixtures legs come off, some you have to put on yourself, some dont come with them
Does this mean the legs aren't necessary, then, and the fixture can sit directly on top of the glass cover the way my fluorescent fixture does now? I assumed all of the pictures showed the fixtures with legs because they were necessary. That would be great if they aren't - I could get one with measurements that fit my canopy without having to worry about whether or not the measurements include the legs so long as the legs are optional.

I definitely plan to get calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium tests. I am hoping API sells them individually to supplement the API Saltwater Master Test Kit I bought recently. I'm sure they must.

Thanks again for your help, guys!
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:14 PM   #6
 
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it wouldnt say it does mean they could be if they dont have legs. i think thats more for those who are hanging it above the tank or mounting into the upper side of their canopy.
my freshwater tank has a 2 bulb fixture sitting on the glass though with no ill effects to date. it still gets very hot to touch. i always kept my saltwater tanks open or canopied without glass to allow for better gas exchange as well as a cooler running tank ( esp. during these summer months )

the actinic wont add much in terms of light availability to a coral besides the fact it makes their colors "pop"
if your going to be putting some money into a nice fixture i want you to really think about where you think youll tank will be a year or even two from now. do you think it will be upgraded? downgraded? the same one? id hate to see you spend $200 for lights for you to decide you love saltwater and want a larger tank which = larger lights. im going to again suggest a local reef club in hopes you can pick up a used light fixture there cheaper.
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Old 07-21-2010, 03:08 PM   #7
 
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Thanks, Jon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by onefish2fish View Post
it wouldnt say it does mean they could be if they dont have legs. i think thats more for those who are hanging it above the tank or mounting into the upper side of their canopy.
my freshwater tank has a 2 bulb fixture sitting on the glass though with no ill effects to date. it still gets very hot to touch. i always kept my saltwater tanks open or canopied without glass to allow for better gas exchange as well as a cooler running tank ( esp. during these summer months )
If I understand you correctly, you feel that just because a fixture's legs are detachable doesn't mean the fixture is meant to operate sitting on the glass cover without the legs, so it's inadvisable, but you've done just that without any issue? Is the fixture you've had sitting on the glass cover a T5HO?

Quote:
Originally Posted by onefish2fish
the actinic wont add much in terms of light availability to a coral besides the fact it makes their colors "pop"
If actinic light won't actually help the coraline algae grow and isn't necessary then I'd just as soon not have it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by onefish2fish
if your going to be putting some money into a nice fixture i want you to really think about where you think youll tank will be a year or even two from now. do you think it will be upgraded? downgraded? the same one? id hate to see you spend $200 for lights for you to decide you love saltwater and want a larger tank which = larger lights.
If it were up to me I would have a 180 gallon saltwater tank right now, but I have the laws of physics, my building's super, and my wife to contend with. I say physics because we live several floors up in an apartment building, and from what I understand a saltwater tank properly stocked with live rock weighs an average of 10 pounds per gallon. Even if the 1800 pound aquarium didn't crash down into the apartment below ours, I'd probably lose a lot of sleep thinking about the possibility. I mention the building's super because I don't know if an aquarium of that size would even be allowed, and my wife because the several pieces of live rock I've brought home now have already been an issue (she's convinced based on what she's read that live rock isn't necessary to maintain good water quality). For these reasons, swapping out our 55 gallon setup for a several thousand dollar 180 gallon setup isn't possible at least until we move many years from now. I realize you didn't say anything about 180 gallons, but where I've already invested a lot into this setup, it doesn't make sense to me to upgrade the entire setup unless I can go big. Until then I want to try to make the best of what I have.

That said, do you think a 2 bulb T5HO fixture would be enough for coraline algae growth? Could I get away with a single bulb unit so that it would be less wide and I could still flip up the front half of the glass cover to feed my fish instead of having the light cover the entire glass cover which would require me to drop food through the narrow space in the back where the glass cover stops so the u-tube can enter the water?

Quote:
Originally Posted by onefish2fish
im going to again suggest a local reef club in hopes you can pick up a used light fixture there cheaper.
While I would really like to be a part of something like this, my situation really just won't allow for it.

Thanks again for your help!
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Old 07-21-2010, 03:34 PM   #8
 
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it is a t5ho fixture sitting on glass ( not that it matters but its a freshwater tank ) however im sure some brands get hotter then others which i know you wont melt the glass ( maybe the plastic strip on it ) but the fixture is what i worry about. i wouldnt want that to overheat and not work or worse, cause a fire. im sure you'd be fine but i want you to be aware.
the actinic bulb isnt as effective as say a daylight bulb in the 6500K spectrum but the blue the actinic puts off will make corals literally glow in the light ( the actinic light that is ) and opposite in the lower spectrums like a 6500K bulb would produce brown looking corals regardless of the color of the coral. which just since we are talking about this topic, people fall in love with a coral at the store ( usually have no clue what it is or how to care for it which is a shame ) and get it home to their tank only to see its not the same in coloration, because of the lighting its under. the 1x actinic and 1x 10k would provide a easier to look at tank then one with 2x 6500K bulbs that would appear more yellow and more likely promote algae growth. i guess its a catch22 there with only 2 bulbs and i wish you had experience seeing what they looked like lit up to know what coloring best suits your eyesight. 2x 10K may work well or even 2x 12 or 14K if you can find them.
i understand a 180 cant happen i just wanted you to think about it before investing so much into this one but it seems this tank will be around for a few more years atleast ( before that 180 that im looking forward to ) but i thought the same with weight of a tank. my father even helped me put extra supports in the ceiling beneath my tank just to be safe but someone once told me to think of the weight of your refridgerator and how it has a smaller base then most tanks ( more distributed weight with the longer tank ) and that i would be fine with going against the beams below. i guess ill never know because i went with the beams and also doubled them up for my big tank but that seems logical to me.
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Old 07-21-2010, 04:50 PM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onefish2fish View Post
it is a t5ho fixture sitting on glass ( not that it matters but its a freshwater tank ) however im sure some brands get hotter then others which i know you wont melt the glass ( maybe the plastic strip on it ) but the fixture is what i worry about. i wouldnt want that to overheat and not work or worse, cause a fire. im sure you'd be fine but i want you to be aware.
Thank you for alerting me to the potential issue, Jon.

Fortunately it looks like I may not have to rest a fixture on the glass after all. According to Dr. Foster and Smith, they have a T5 that comes in at under 5 inches tall even with the stand. It doesn't look like it's T5HO, though. Does that matter? What's the difference?

What do you think of this?

Quote:
1 54 watt 10,000K
1 54 watt 460nm actinic
No fan
http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.co...0&pcatid=16770

Since it's only two bulbs it should fit over the rear of the glass cover so I can raise the front of the glass cover to drop food into the tank.

Would 1 10,000K bulb and 1 460nm actinic bulb be enough for good coraline algae growth and bring out the colors of the fish (and possibly corals in the future) in the tank?

Hopefully by the time I am able to get a 180 I'll know about lighting and everything else saltwater aquarium related inside and out. In the meantime, I appreciate your guidance.

I'm glad your father was able to help you put extra support beneath your tank. Is it on the first floor over a basement, then?

Your referencing the weight of a refrigerator got me thinking. I looked up the average weight of a refrigerator, though, and it's apparently 200 pounds. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_d...igerator_weigh, http://answers.ask.com/Home/Other/ho...igerator_weigh, http://www.doityourself.com/stry/wha...gerator-weight. You also have to consider the fact that the spot in the kitchen meant for the refrigerator may have been built with extra support for that purpose, whereas the random corner of a living room probably was not. Anyhow, it looks like the average refrigerator is 1/9th the estimated weight of a fully stocked 180 gallon reef aquarium, and that's assuming the estimate takes into account the weight of the stand, canopy, etc.

Their fish room was on the second floor on the left.

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Old 07-21-2010, 05:04 PM   #10
 
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a 1x 10K and actinic should provide enough light for your needs but again the most of the work is going to be keeping stable alk, cal and mag levels. it shouldnt be to hard with no corals to use up these minerals but that is what is going to promote the growth of it. scraping some from a nice piece of live rock will help seed the coraline algae spores in your tank too.
my tank is on the first floor above a basement. wish i put my sump down there as i could have gone with a much larger one but i put a 40 breeder under the tank hidden in the stand ( with alittle view window of the refuge ) instead. im glad i did re-inforce the floor though as your quick google search turns up a frige only being 200 lbs. its also good with the re-inforcing as to not let the wooden floors sag in the spot the tank is over time. unfortunately i moved though and this tank i speak of was left with my father.

thanks for the house picture.. thats pretty funny, and to think they only kept a 10 gallon nano tank.
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