• Reef Aquarium Lighting

  • The choice of lighting for a reef tank will have a significant impact upon coral growth and coloration.

    When selecting a lighting system for a reef aquarium, the main factors to consider are:

    • Light Intensity
    • Spectrum
    • Tank Inhabitants

    Light Intensity

    The intensity of the light depends upon the type and wattage of lighting, depth of the tank, and distance of light source from the water surface. Metal halide lighting will penetrate the water deeper than fluorescents will.

    Fluorescent light intensity degrades quickly as distance to the water surface increases, and therefore should be placed as close to the water surface as possible.

    Two factors should be considered when determining metal halide lamp distance to the water surface: the first is heat transfer, and the second is the possibility of water splashing on the bulb causing it to explode.

    A splash shield is recommended for all metal halide lamps. A ventilated lighting system with a splash shield would allow the metal halide bulbs to be safely placed as close as possible to the water surface with minimal heat transfer.


    In order to begin to understand the available spectrum choices of lamps suitable for aquarium use, we must first analyze how light naturally penetrates water. Red light is the first to be filtered out and can only penetrate a short distance. As light waves penetrate deeper into the water, orange and yellow are lost next. Of all the colors of the spectrum blue light penetrates the deepest.

    Light spectrum is measured by the Kelvin scale. Natural sunlight on a clear day registers at 5500 Kelvin degrees. Kelvin temperatures less than 5500 become more red and yellow and the higher the Kelvin temperature the more blue the light is. Photosynthetic invertebrates should be kept under lamps rated at or near the Kelvin temperature where the invertebrate was collected. Shallow water species should be kept under 10000K lamps while deep water species would prefer 20000K lighting. Longer photoperiods will not compensate for incorrect light spectrum or intensity.

    Actinic Lighting

    Actinic lighting peaks in the 420 nanometer range and emits a fluorescent blue light and is usually used as supplemental lighting. Not only is actinic lighting beneficial to photosynthetic invertebrates, it is also aesthetically pleasing to the eye when used to supplement daylight lighting.

    As a general rule of thumb, actinic supplementation should be used with 10K metal halide lighting but is not necessary with 20K.

    Refugium Lighting

    Refugium plants benefit from lighting with a Kelvin temperature in the range of 5500 - 6500 degrees.

    Coral Species Light Requirement Chart

    Species Intensity Water Column
    SPS Corals High Upper
    LPS Corals Moderate-High Middle
    Soft Corals Low-Moderate Lower
    Corallimorpharians Low-Moderate Lower
    Anemones Low-Moderate Sandbed
    Zoanthids Low-Moderate Lower


Our Policies

    To best serve our clients, we've created the following policies:
  • Free estimates and consultations on system design, construction and installation, and maintenance
  • 24 hour emergency availability
  • Fish sold are quarantined in medicated water for 3-4 weeks to prevent parasites and bacterial strans introduced into your show aquarium. These fish must eat aggressively before being delivered.
  • One month unconditional livestock guarantee
  • Limited lifetime warranty on aquariums and cabinetry
  • No delivery charge for livestock, pumps, lighting, food, etc.
  • Fully insured and bonded