Many of my clients find themselves making the switch to a saltwater tank sooner or later. While freshwater tanks and their inhabitants are beautiful and fascinating as well, a reef tank is even more mesmerizing to view.
A custom reef tank is one of the most beautiful things you can add to your home or business. The sheer multitude of sea-creatures and the marvelous colors offer a breathtaking view. To ensure that your reef tank will bring you many hours (or years) of joy, it has to be properly maintained.
However, many reef tanks can be complex microsystems and every component you add to the tank can enhance or impair the performance of your tank. One of the most debated and controversial components of your Gilbert saltwater tank is its lighting. There is no true and tested system that allows for a one -size -fits- all approach, rather it requires a keen sense of aquaristic understanding and experience to ensure your saltwater tank will get the lighting that is right for it.
Here are some great considerations that will help you to better understand the ins and outs of saltwater tank lighting:
In saltwater tank lighting color temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin. The higher the color temperature is, the bluer will the bulb and the light emitted appear, while low temperatures appear red to the human eye. Which temperature is right for your individual tank depends on the sea creatures and corals you have living in it. The challenge lies in striking a balance in finding lighting that is beneficial for the fish and corals in your tank, but also make it joyful for you to observe.
Generally speaking, blue-green lighting makes the tank look good and is beneficial for most corals’ health.
For the last decade or so, most saltwater tanks have been featuring a set of white and blue lighting. Blue lighting is considered to aid in the growth and photosynthesis of corals and other sea inhabitants. However, its main purpose is to evoke a biological response in the animals to produce colors, which is also called termed actinic.
Blue light can be responsible for some truly fascinating effects. Corals, can appear fluorescent under blue light, which has lead to a new trend among coral fans. By being mainly exposed to blue light, corals often emit green, red or orange light that looks fantastic and alien at the same time. While it is not a natural look, it is something that many hobbyists enjoy and are fascinated with.
Green light works surprisingly similar to blue light. In fact, oftentimes corals that look “boring” and average under blue light will appear fluorescent and magnificent under green lighting. I advise my customers to use both color options in their reef tank to ensure they are not missing out on half the beauty of their custom fish tank set-up.
That is a common question my customers ask me and the answer is that it all depends. It depends on the size of your tanks, what creatures and fish you have in it? Deeper tanks will need stronger lights as the depth of penetration is much deeper than in shallow tanks. Also small polyp stony corals need more light than big polyps and soft corals.
In order to not overheat the tank and shoot your electricity bill through the roof, use the lowest wattage possible that will still provide sufficient lighting for your tank. Some aquarium experts play with reflectors to direct light that shines away from the tank back to (and into)it. This will not only increase the light exposure of the tank, but can efficiently lower your power bill.
Yes, you can add lights on the outside too. If you are working with a tank that features mangroves, for example, a great way to illuminate your aquarium and give its surrounding a fascinating appearance is to hang bulbs above the tank or have it around it in fixtures. There are many other situations where low wattage outside bulbs can be beneficial for the health of your reef tank and make it look stunning to boot. Ask me about what works best with your particular tank.
This type of lighting up your tank is usually only used for aesthetic purposes and is still mostly home made. While most consider underwater lights to be unnecessary and even detrimental to the health of a reef tank, others love the color variations and artistry they can add to an already fascinating coral reef tank. It is essential that you keep them clean and use the lowest wattage possible as to not disturb the environment and life cycle of your tank and its inhabitants.
Other lighting options include spotlights which are centered on a certain animal or coral. Until recently they were not a favorite of many tank lovers, but they are slowly gaining popularity as LED lighting can provide some serious lighting power for certain areas of a reef tank.
Natural light such as sunlight or moonlight and also be used to light up your tank. While some worry about algae and shy away from placing their tank near a window, others are aware that natural sunlight can be exceedingly beneficial for a saltwater tank’s health. It helps corals grow and makes the aquarium look bright and naturally shiny.
Moonlight is also useful as it can stimulate the inert luna cycles of the tank which also contributes to its healthy development. Additionally, some claim that the moonlight successfully simulates the color scheme you would find under the surface of the ocean.
No matter what lighting option you choose, I always recommend you consult a Gilbert professional aquarium builder and repair technician to ensure that you have the best possible lighting for your individual tank set up. And never forget to maintain lighting. Just like every other tank component it requires regular maintenance, inspection and cleaning.
The Happy Fish has been providing stellar custom reef tank services to Gilbert and surrounding areas for years. If you have any questions about your fresh or saltwater tank, contact us today. We are happy to help.