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Best Color for Coral Growth???

  • All blue

    Votes: 7 20.0%
  • All white

    Votes: 1 2.9%
  • 50/50

    Votes: 20 57.1%
  • Other

    Votes: 7 20.0%

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Harrisonjc8

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So to start off, I am no expert in keeping reef tanks and I have only kept them for around a year. I have heard of people saying that they get very good growth from 6500k lighting but it really browns out the corals and of course is very unappealing. On the other hand, the majority say that a heavy blue spectrum is the best for coloration and to really make corals pop. This is also what most people tend to run on their own tanks as well. IDK about everyone else but I would like to have both, really good coloration and fast coral growth so I thought why not use both. So I set up a experimental tank with new frags and a condy anemone which runs 6500k light from 10am to 5pm. Once the white light turns off at 5pm I then have it switch to a very heavy/all blue spectrum until 11pm (turns off). I am not sure if this is new or not but I can not seem to find anyone who has tried this or has had success doing this. My thought behind this is getting the best of both worlds, fast growth and great coloration from my corals. Even though it may sound like a dumb idea, I figured I would try it out for my self because I can not find any information on it. Since I am a broke college student, I don't have much money to spend on corals or equipment so it is a really simple setup with also simple corals. So to make this experiment as diverse as possible, I am trying to get one or two frags of almost every species of corals that I can to see how each reacts to this type of lighting setup.

Current Stocking:
Condy Anemone
Pulsating Xenia
WWC Midnight Daisy Polyp
Purple Polyp Birdsnest
Meteor Shower Cyphastrea
Toxic Waste Leptoseris
Eagle Eye Zoa
Orange Leptoseris
Red Encrusting Montipora
...(More will be added soon)

I have been adding corals slowly with the past month so it is too early to tell from a growth perspective how they are doing. I have taken pictures of how they all started off once they have acclimated to my tank and each month I will take more pictures to have a accurate documentation of the growth and coloration. Having said that, so far everything seems to be responding very well IMO. One thing I am really surprised about is algae growth in this tank. Many people say that white light only grows algae in a reef tank, and in my case that has been proven false. The only algae I have had is diatoms with lasted for 1 week, now I have started to seen a explosion in coraline algae growth after the diatoms went away. So for me white light does not lead to an increase in nuisance algae like GHA.( I know every tank is different so that may not be the case for someone else.) Another observation I have made is how brightly the corals fluoresce once the whites turn off and the blues come one. I have kept 3 mixed reef tanks over the years, all successfully, but I have never seen corals fluoresce to this extent. Now it could also just be the type of blue lighting I am using on this setup compared to my pervious 3, so I wouldn't attribute this to the experiment that I am doing. On the bright side, there has not been a DECREASE in coloration due to this experiment, so that is good lol. As I said earlier, I can not speak on growth as these corals have only been in the tank for a little more than a month. But as for right now, there is no browning of corals or issues with them and everything seems to be doing well.

As you may have noticed I have not gone over the specifics of my lighting or equipment cause I do not feel as that is really necessary. Also, no offense to any reef keepers, but some can be real snobs when it comes to that sort of stuff and as mentioned I am a broke college student so my equipment is not the best lol. But it works and has worked for the past year on different tanks so if you would really like to know just ask. It is a lot of diy stuff, but easy to replicate if any of you are in the same financial situation as myself.

SOOO other than that I will keep this thread frequently updated, especially if there is an interest in it. If anyone has any question or helpful info, pls feel free to leave it below as I love to learn new things.
 

90's reefer

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I ran a 7k ushio MH on my frag system with no blue supplement.
It was 600 watts. I started at 300 then 450 then 600 on the adjustable electronic ballast.
I had no algae isssues with the 7k.
I have a thread on it.
Growth and polyp extension was off the chart at 450-600. Coralline growth too.
I have since reduced it to a 250 watt 14k as running 450-600 watts on a 36x24x12 frag system was overkill but a fun test.
I may use them on my display upgrade with Orphek light bars to balance out the colors.

Differrnt blue leds make a huge difference.
On my 120 I just replaced the Or3 blue plus with a blue sky.
The blue plus will be added back when the hardware arrives next week.
Colors are enhanced with the blue leds even on MH systems.
 

Dkmoo

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Coral zooxanthellae has 2 peak spectrums for growth - between 400-550 nm (purple to cyan) and 620-700nm (orange to deep red).

Its actually a misinformed generalization to say that 6.5k grows better and blue color better.. This is from the early days of reefing of which other factors are at play - the 6.5k grow lights generally had a broader spectrum and covered more of the reds so it had a bigger PUR. "Blue light" LED, back in the day, is mostly the narrow band actinic, and because of it, it had less useful spectrum from that end (smaller PUR).

Google PAR vs PUR if you are not familiar.


As for "blue colors better", this is the case for mostly 2 reasons (one of them has nothing to do with corals) - 1) what gives coral color is the color pigments and flouresence proteins. The purpose of the colors is actually to convert less useful spectrum into more useful ones. A number of CFPs activate specifically in the blue range, thats what gives the flouresence. 2) blue light, as a short wavelength, generally reflect a "sharper" image bc it is able to reflect more of the features of surfaces. This is partly what makes it pop

The modern "blue" isn't just the narrow band Actinic. Most reef led lights covers the entire useful range on the blue side, so its PUR output is just as well, if not more superior than 6.5k. Plus, they also color better than the old actinic bc it covers a bigger blue spectrum that can activate a wider range of CFPs for wider flouresence. T5 and MH, as full spectrum, covers both the blue end and red end so its PUR output is better than all except the highest end of the reef LEDs for growth, while it lacks in the color "pop" department. This is also why hybrid setup with both T5 for fill light /growth and LED for POP is becoming more popular.


One down side of 6.5k is that many algae's PUR range is also the red end so I think in the long run you will have a hard time with nutrient control to deal with algae.

The above points are some of the reasons that modern commercial set ups use either nature sunlight (WWC) or wide spectrum blue (coral lab ab+) to maximize both its color and growth.
 
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Harrisonjc8

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I ran a 7k ushio MH on my frag system with no blue supplement.
It was 600 watts. I started at 300 then 450 then 600 on the adjustable electronic ballast.
I had no algae isssues with the 7k.
I have a thread on it.
Growth and polyp extension was off the chart at 450-600. Coralline growth too.
I have since reduced it to a 250 watt 14k as running 450-600 watts on a 36x24x12 frag system was overkill but a fun test.
I may use them on my display upgrade with Orphek light bars to balance out the colors.

Differrnt blue leds make a huge difference.
On my 120 I just replaced the Or3 blue plus with a blue sky.
The blue plus will be added back when the hardware arrives next week.
Colors are enhanced with the blue leds even on MH systems.
Did the 7k mh cause major browning of your corals or loss of color?
 

dedragon

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interesting but i think this has already been addressed with halides and t5 bulbs in the past. A popular t5 in 8 bulb fixtures was the GE 6500k (i believe that was the exact kelvin rating), but this is mixed with many ati blue plus and other bulbs to create a more blue heavy spectrum overall. Dkmoo stated it perfectly, but simplified we are targeting a certain spectrum specifically to be utilized by corals and not lead to any excess algal growth
 
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Harrisonjc8

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Coral zooxanthellae has 2 peak spectrums for growth - between 400-550 nm (purple to cyan) and 620-700nm (orange to deep red).

Its actually a misinformed generalization to say that 6.5k grows better and blue color better.. This is from the early days of reefing of which other factors are at play - the 6.5k grow lights generally had a broader spectrum and covered more of the reds so it had a bigger PUR. "Blue light" LED, back in the day, is mostly the narrow band actinic, and because of it, it had less useful spectrum from that end (smaller PUR).

Google PAR vs PUR if you are not familiar.


As for "blue colors better", this is the case for mostly 2 reasons (one of them has nothing to do with corals) - 1) what gives coral color is the color pigments and flouresence proteins. The purpose of the colors is actually to convert less useful spectrum into more useful ones. A number of CFPs activate specifically in the blue range, thats what gives the flouresence. 2) blue light, as a short wavelength, generally reflect a "sharper" image bc it is able to reflect more of the features of surfaces. This is partly what makes it pop

The modern "blue" isn't just the narrow band Actinic. Most reef led lights covers the entire useful range on the blue side, so its PUR output is just as well, if not more superior than 6.5k. Plus, they also color better than the old actinic bc it covers a bigger blue spectrum that can activate a wider range of CFPs for wider flouresence. T5 and MH, as full spectrum, covers both the blue end and red end so its PUR output is better than all except the highest end of the reef LEDs for growth, while it lacks in the color "pop" department. This is also why hybrid setup with both T5 for fill light /growth and LED for POP is becoming more popular.


One down side of 6.5k is that many algae's PUR range is also the red end so I think in the long run you will have a hard time with nutrient control to deal with algae.

The above points are some of the reasons that modern commercial set ups use either nature sunlight (WWC) or wide spectrum blue (coral lab ab+) to maximize both its color and growth.
That actually makes a lot of sense, thanks for the reply. One question I still have is why algae seems to be such a big topic in reef aqariums compared to planted tanks. It seems like the reef keeping community worries alot more about algae compared to in freshwater. Is it that reef tanks are more susceptible to algae growth compared to fresh water???
 

90's reefer

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Did the 7k mh cause major browning of your corals or loss of color?
Colors were off and skewed to brown. I think blue leds would have restored the colors though.
Here is the link.
This is a pic of the frogspawn after going to 14k 250 watt vs the 7k in the link.
 

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Harrisonjc8

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what is the light fixture(S) you are using in your testing?
I am using 2 led flood lights that I got from the hardware store that covers the 6500k white period. Then for the blue I use 2 ATI blue+ bulbs and the blue leds from the flood lights (they are color changing led flood lights). The flood lights I image have a very narrow blue spectrum so that's why I supplement it with the 2 ATI blue+ bulbs.
 

dedragon

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That actually makes a lot of sense, thanks for the reply. One question I still have is why algae seems to be such a big topic in reef aqariums compared to planted tanks. It seems like the reef keeping community worries alot more about algae compared to in freshwater. Is it that reef tanks are more susceptible to algae growth compared to fresh water???
GHA and other algaes are a PITA to remove and they can easily start suffocating and killing other corals. Thats what im concerned about with algae. Plants can get choked out but usually much slower
 

dedragon

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I am using 2 led flood lights that I got from the hardware store that covers the 6500k white period. Then for the blue I use 2 ATI blue+ bulbs and the blue leds from the flood lights (they are color changing led flood lights). The flood lights I image have a very narrow blue spectrum so that's why I supplement it with the 2 ATI blue+ bulbs.
If you decide to change leds though, there are cheaper options out there that you can run with the 2 t5 you already have
 
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Harrisonjc8

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Colors were off and skewed to brown. I think blue leds would have restored the colors though.
Here is the link.
This is a pic of the frogspawn after going to 14k 250 watt vs the 7k in the link.
Without a doubt it looks way better under the 14k lighting. Great test tho!!
 
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Harrisonjc8

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If you decide to change leds though, there are cheaper options out there that you can run with the 2 t5 you already have
I just find it odd cause with planted tanks we run a full spectrum light for 12 hours and algae is not really an issue. But in saltwater white light (full spectrum) just causes major algae outbreaks for some. Maybe those people just have too much nutrients in there systems?? Also what leds would you recommend??? I am in the process of setting up a 40b mixed reef and have been looking into different lighting options but compared to t5's, LEDs are just way to expensive for me.
 

Dkmoo

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That actually makes a lot of sense, thanks for the reply. One question I still have is why algae seems to be such a big topic in reef aqariums compared to planted tanks. It seems like the reef keeping community worries alot more about algae compared to in freshwater. Is it that reef tanks are more susceptible to algae growth compared to fresh water???
There are more evidence that algae growth, by studying the algae in the natural coral reefs, has less to do with excess nutrient but more to do with localize growth conditions such as rotting coral flesh and available real estate.

One mechanism that was discovered via lab testing is that algaes, a part of the photosynthesis, release localized disolved organic compounds. This DOC feeds the thousands of different types of bacteria in coral surfaces, this process consumes oxygen and quite literally suffocated the corals. This happens mostly in the algae/coral boundaries. Healthy corals, plus a natural balance of grazer, will be able to control this and encrust over the algae to take back the available real estate. Unhealthy corals will start to die and recede, leaving behind more real estate and dead/rotting flesh that further fuels this downward spiral.

This is why its such a big deal.
 

90's reefer

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I just find it odd cause with planted tanks we run a full spectrum light for 12 hours and algae is not really an issue. But in saltwater white light (full spectrum) just causes major algae outbreaks for some. Maybe those people just have too much nutrients in there systems?? Also what leds would you recommend??? I am in the process of setting up a 40b mixed reef and have been looking into different lighting options but compared to t5's, LEDs are just way to expensive for me.
Take a look at the OR3 light bars.
On a 40B you could start with 1 reef day and 1 blue sky and add as needed.
I am setting up a 40B with 40B sump and am going to use 4 OR3 light bars with just 2 to start.
Each OR3 bar is equal 2 2 T5's.
 
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Harrisonjc8

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So to start off, I am no expert in keeping reef tanks and I have only kept them for around a year. I have heard of people saying that they get very good growth from 6500k lighting but it really browns out the corals and of course is very unappealing. On the other hand, the majority say that a heavy blue spectrum is the best for coloration and to really make corals pop. This is also what most people tend to run on their own tanks as well. IDK about everyone else but I would like to have both, really good coloration and fast coral growth so I thought why not use both. So I set up a experimental tank with new frags and a condy anemone which runs 6500k light from 10am to 5pm. Once the white light turns off at 5pm I then have it switch to a very heavy/all blue spectrum until 11pm (turns off). I am not sure if this is new or not but I can not seem to find anyone who has tried this or has had success doing this. My thought behind this is getting the best of both worlds, fast growth and great coloration from my corals. Even though it may sound like a dumb idea, I figured I would try it out for my self because I can not find any information on it. Since I am a broke college student, I don't have much money to spend on corals or equipment so it is a really simple setup with also simple corals. So to make this experiment as diverse as possible, I am trying to get one or two frags of almost every species of corals that I can to see how each reacts to this type of lighting setup.

Current Stocking:
Condy Anemone
Pulsating Xenia
WWC Midnight Daisy Polyp
Purple Polyp Birdsnest
Meteor Shower Cyphastrea
Toxic Waste Leptoseris
Eagle Eye Zoa
Orange Leptoseris
Red Encrusting Montipora
...(More will be added soon)

I have been adding corals slowly with the past month so it is too early to tell from a growth perspective how they are doing. I have taken pictures of how they all started off once they have acclimated to my tank and each month I will take more pictures to have a accurate documentation of the growth and coloration. Having said that, so far everything seems to be responding very well IMO. One thing I am really surprised about is algae growth in this tank. Many people say that white light only grows algae in a reef tank, and in my case that has been proven false. The only algae I have had is diatoms with lasted for 1 week, now I have started to seen a explosion in coraline algae growth after the diatoms went away. So for me white light does not lead to an increase in nuisance algae like GHA.( I know every tank is different so that may not be the case for someone else.) Another observation I have made is how brightly the corals fluoresce once the whites turn off and the blues come one. I have kept 3 mixed reef tanks over the years, all successfully, but I have never seen corals fluoresce to this extent. Now it could also just be the type of blue lighting I am using on this setup compared to my pervious 3, so I wouldn't attribute this to the experiment that I am doing. On the bright side, there has not been a DECREASE in coloration due to this experiment, so that is good lol. As I said earlier, I can not speak on growth as these corals have only been in the tank for a little more than a month. But as for right now, there is no browning of corals or issues with them and everything seems to be doing well.

As you may have noticed I have not gone over the specifics of my lighting or equipment cause I do not feel as that is really necessary. Also, no offense to any reef keepers, but some can be real snobs when it comes to that sort of stuff and as mentioned I am a broke college student so my equipment is not the best lol. But it works and has worked for the past year on different tanks so if you would really like to know just ask. It is a lot of diy stuff, but easy to replicate if any of you are in the same financial situation as myself.

SOOO other than that I will keep this thread frequently updated, especially if there is an interest in it. If anyone has any question or helpful info, pls feel free to leave it below as I love to learn new things.
Also what are everyone's thoughts on the lighting periods I have and the possible affect on the corals. As mentioned I run only white 6500k lights for around 6 hours then switch to an all blue spectrum for the remaining 6 hours of the day. Its been around a month in and everything is responding quite well and colors and growth is good with no issues. Can a split photoperiod cause ill effects longterm? Even though this is a test, I would of course love to keep these corals healthy and move them to other tanks in the future..
 

dedragon

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Many cheap options like Nicrew, Noopsyche, and even blackboxes. A bit higher quality (brand wise) would be orphek or3 led bars, nice thing is the OR3 bars you can buy more later to add more light when you start getting more light demanding corals like acros.
if you are testing cheap option lights though please test these, someone has to finally
i honestly think they just found the noopsyche chinese factory and ripped off the whole led fixture
 

90's reefer

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Also what are everyone's thoughts on the lighting periods I have and the possible affect on the corals. As mentioned I run only white 6500k lights for around 6 hours then switch to an all blue spectrum for the remaining 6 hours of the day. Its been around a month in and everything is responding quite well and colors and growth is good with no issues. Can a split photoperiod cause ill effects longterm? Even though this is a test, I would of course love to keep these corals healthy and move them to other tanks in the future..
I run both systems at 8-9 hours.
8 hours on my frag system and 8hrs MH and 9hrs OR3 blues on my 120.
 
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Harrisonjc8

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There are more evidence that algae growth, by studying the algae in the natural coral reefs, has less to do with excess nutrient but more to do with localize growth conditions such as rotting coral flesh and available real estate.

One mechanism that was discovered via lab testing is that algaes, a part of the photosynthesis, release localized disolved organic compounds. This DOC feeds the thousands of different types of bacteria in coral surfaces, this process consumes oxygen and quite literally suffocated the corals. This happens mostly in the algae/coral boundaries. Healthy corals, plus a natural balance of grazer, will be able to control this and encrust over the algae to take back the available real estate. Unhealthy corals will start to die and recede, leaving behind more real estate and dead/rotting flesh that further fuels this downward spiral.

This is why its such a big deal.
Ohh, I get it now. Thankss
 
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DO YOU CARE WHAT THE CORDS AND CABLES LOOK LIKE AROUND YOUR REEF TANK?

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