It is common to have many people looking for ways to create the right environment for better coral growth. Most of the time, many aquarists would invest a lot of time and money into making the best composition of the tank to ensure that coral growth is better.
They all have one thing in common, which is to neglect the type of lighting used for the reef tank. The type of light you get to choose plays an important role in providing the best light spectrum needed for coral growth.
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So what would be the best light spectrum for the marine organisms?
For coral growth, you will find different types of marine organisms existing in the reefs. Finding the sweet spot for the right light spectrum is important to ensure you get the organisms growing right. Once you get to know more about the best spectrum, then you can generate similar conditions for your coral growth.
What you have to know is that the different coral species would be living at different depths under water. Some might be living in the shallow waters, while others would thrive better in the deep corals. Close to 20 percent of coral species are non-photosynthetic in nature thus they do not need light to make their food.
With only 20 percent being non-photosynthetic, you are still left with 80 percent photosynthetic corals. These are the ones you should find most in most home aquariums.
From the various studies on the light spectrum, it has been deduced that lights with wavelengths between 370 to 500nm are great for penetrating deep into the water. Such type of light in this wavelength range includes violet and blue parts of the light spectrum. These two should easily penetrate the seawater to get to the coral reefs for better growth.
Which one is the worst? The green, yellow, and orange light are the worst when it comes to penetration of water. The red light comes with wavelengths that are longer than 600nm. Such a wavelength would be only good penetrating the shallow water and it is still limited.
What most people do not know is that the marine organisms have also undergone evolution over the years so that they can best utilize what is available to them. For better photosynthesis process, these organisms have adapted to utilize the blue and violet parts of the light spectrum. The reason is that these two will easily penetrate deep into the water making it available for most marine organisms.
The corals found deep in the water will not be sensitive to the red light. The red spectrum will be utilized well by the terrestrial plants. So, if depending on the type of corals you intend to have, you should by now getting an idea of the best type of light spectrum to focus on.
As much as the light spectrum is important for coral growth, the coloration is not going to be same as the conditions for better growth are always going to vary. Even with years of experience, most reef keepers have admitted that it is not always possible to end up with identical conditions in the aquarium as those in the sea. Leave alone comparing to the sea conditions, even having two identical conditions in two different aquariums in near to impossible.
The coloration of the same coral can depend on three main factors namely;
- The light spectrum and intensity
- The food available
- Water purity
As suggested earlier, you always have to ensure you have the right light spectrum for impressive coral growth. The blue and violet light spectrums have proven to be the best over the years with scientific backing. Having the right light is always good for the health and coloration of the corals.
Controlling water purity is not going to be a problem for most people. You just have to make sure that the water purity is maintained within the acceptable ranges. You have to always clean the water when it is the scheduled time without any delays or this could further make the water less useful for the corals.
The amount of food is crucial for the corals. The best part is that you can always land yourself the best coral food, as several types are available today. Just make sure that the food is high quality before using it for the corals. Some aquarists have argued that the corals could benefit from the food particles that remain after feeding the fish in the reef aquarium. As much as it is debatable, some agree that fish poo can be food for the corals.
Sometimes you can provide these perfect light conditions, but there is the difference in the look of the corals. The reason is that these corals are different in various ways, which includes having different chromoproteins. The chromoproteins are the proteins important for determining the coloration. The same can easily be compared to the human eyes. We are all the same species, but we have people with different eye colors.
This difference in the coloration in the corals is what we call coral fluorescence. These corals would be absorbing the light in a certain wavelength in the spectrum, but will radiate it in a different wavelength and thus the difference in coloration.
The coral fluorescence is important to provide beauty to the reef tank. Studies show that you will have the strongest fluorescence for light in the range 400 to 450nm. It is therefore advisable to supply a light of 400 to 500nm range to promote fluorescence and the marine photosynthesis in the tank.
LED light technology
Over the years, different types of lights have been used to deliver light to the aquariums. Nothing has found so much traction and favor than the use of LED lights. These lights are designed to offer the right light spectrum important for coral growth. It is the reason you should find them common in most reef aquariums today.
For most manufacturers, they realized there is no use for the orange, green, or yellow spectrum. You should get such spectrum eliminated or kept to a minimum. The problem with such spectrum is that it will create a perfect environment for algae to flourish. This is something you do not want to experience.
The corals will definitely look great under the blue light but do you understand what the Kelvin rating on the light means. The light color produced by a lamp will be measured in degrees Kelvin commonly abbreviated as K. For most people, they tend to confuse the value of K for being the brightness. Even with a great value of K, it does not mean that the LED will be brighter.
The K ratings are the color temperature. Having more value for K means that you will have more of the blue light spectrum. A low K rating means that you will be dealing with the yellow to green spectrum. The blue light spectrum will work better for a model with about 20000K lamp rating. Even you will note the difference when these two lights are on.
There are a number of advantages that come with the use of the best LED reef lights for generating the light spectrum for your aquarium. Here is what to expect with LED lights.
1. Better efficiency and less heat
When you get to compare LEDs to the conventional fluorescent tubes, you can easily notice that they are efficient when it comes to turning the electric energy into light. The LEDs will also just radiate in a single direction and thus will not end up blocking the light generated. If you have the right lenses, you have the LED light being focused in a single place with ease.
The lenses used in combination with LEDs are also seen to be compact and thus will not take up a lot of space. This should help with transferring up to 90 percent of the light to the water. The conventional bulbs would transfer only 40 percent of the light generated. This by far makes them unreliable.
Even when kept on for long, the LED lights will generate about 5 times less heat as compared to the other sources. You can now install them over your aquarium without worrying about installing an additional expensive chiller to keep the lights cool. Some LED lights come with a cooling mechanism to further save on heat dissipation.
2. Extended life span
The design of the LEDs is that they are a solid-state light source. This eliminates the need for having moving parts that wear easily. The moving parts can be found in the incandescent filament. This build type for LEDs should make them degrade slower than conventional lighting options. If the figures provided by the manufacturer are something to go by, these LEDs will last for thousands of hours before they have to be replaced. If you get to compare that to some of the conventional bulbs, it is a lot of time.
With an extended life span, then you do not have to worry about having to replace them anytime soon. You get save on money over the years as other aquarists keep on changing their lights every few months.
3. Adjustability options
With the advancement in technology, you can now get LED lights having dimmable drivers. This should make the LED lights easily adjusted depending on the needs of the aquarium. It is the reason you can have some aquariums simulating a sunrise and sunset with the controller. There is a lot you could with such adjusting options when it comes to coral growth.
Apart from adjustability, it is still possible to have an easier upgrade with an LED light package as compared to the other types. An upgrade might be necessary when you have to use the light for a large tank or any other purpose that needs more light.
Maybe before it was hard to figure out what you needed for your coral growth, but now you should have an idea to get the best light spectrum. The blue and violet light spectrum should deliver the best conditions so that your coral life can thrive. Just remember that many things will also come into play to make sure that you end up with the best-illuminated coral reef tank.