away from the tank. A well-designed reflector system is
critical in directing stray light onto the corals where you
want it, and off the glass where you don’t.
TOP: AXEL FINKEL/GIESEMAN AQUARIS TIC; BELO W: TROPICMARIN
LEDs pose a whole set of new challenges. LEDs can
use reflectors or lenses, or for very shallow tanks, the
primary optic that usually comes with them is sufficient.
Lighting reef tanks with LEDs is still an emerging art
form, and I hesitate to say which type of light-directing
method is best in this instance. We have lots to learn
about LEDS but it’s clear, at least, that you should not
use narrow lenses for shallow tanks or try lighting a deep
reef with bare LEDs.
If you are investing in new lighting, be sure to investigate the reflectors used. Some deliver much more light
to your corals, day in and day out, with no additional expense after the initial investment. If you are considering
downsizing your metal halides, a simultaneous switch to
superior new reflectors can be a very important part of
T5 TACTICS & LED PROMISES
Along the same line of fine-tuning your lighting com-
ponents to get the best of both color spectrum and in-
tensity, using LEDs for supplemental actinic lighting has
come a long way. LEDs have been very efficient in the
blue spectrum for many years now, but in the last year
we have seen high-quality blue and royal blue LEDs show
up in strip light units that are very easy to add to existing
set-ups. A four-foot ( 1. 2 m) strip of LED actinic supple-
mentation might cost $250 and consume 24 watts of
power, but it should last a solid four to five years. That
actinic LED striplight will be every bit as bright as a 54W
T5 lamp that consumes twice as much power and re-
quires frequent replacement. The choices get more com-
plex all the time.
LED lighting options for aquarists are coming
from all directions, some mostly decorative
but others starting to pack enough power to
grow stony corals.