Help with an age old debate - MH or T5?

Dana Riddle

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Dana, regarding LED's, you wrote, "....I won't go there," but I wish you would! :)

After using halides for 20+ years, I would love to be happy with LED's. 7 months ago I set up a new cube (170L) with two G5 XR15's and 30+ SPS frags as an experiment to see if I could make myself like LED's. After 3 months, I was not getting any growth and felt like I was struggling to just keep them alive, which led me to replace the XR15's with a halide/T5 hybrid.
I know I didn't give the XR15's a fair chance because there were so many negative variables: new tank, small tank, 70% artificial rock, first time with LED's and a tin problem so I went back to the halides to eliminate the LED "learning curve" variable. But I am curious to what your experience has been with LED's vs halides in regard to growth rate and coloration (and ignoring cost factors).
I do plan to go back to my XR15's some day, after I have a more "established" tank, or after my house sells and I move and set up my "dream" SPS system.

Thanks for helping!
There aren't any poor aquarium lights (within reason) but there are many poor applications. Ove the years I personally used RO, HO, VHO T12, T8, and T5 fluorescent lamps. As for metal halides, everything from 175 watt 4300Ks to a 400w lamp rated 50,000K. At the coral farm, we used Iwasaki 400w daylight lamps in pendent fixtures. All achieved good to outstanding results. We even tried a Fusion sulfur lamp where microwaves bombarded a golf ball-size globe that was rotated to keep it from melting. I always wondered what the maximum reading was on the Li-Cor quantum meter I had - this lamp pegged the meter at over 20,000 umicromol/m2/sec - a magnitude greater than sunlight on a clear day. Back then (the late 90's) we thought corals could use as much light as we could give them. WRONG! LOL. Fortunately this lamp was on loan to us, and I tested it and shipped it back. A few years later, a fellow sent me a small LED array using white and red LEDs, and he wondered if there might be an application for aquaria. Frankly, the spectrum was not very appealing but it got me interested and I built some LEDs arrays that could be used underwater and published the results in 2001, if memory serves. Then PFO introduced their Solaris LED lights, and so it went. There would have to be a compelling reason for me not to use LEDs. The tank I have now uses two LED fixtures and I am happy with coral growth and coloration. The problem I see with current LEDs on the market is that they have the potential to make too much light and without a light measuring device it would be quite possible to over-illuminate a tank. Another issue is the programming - in some cases it is too tempting to change spectrum, especially if the 'significant other' doesn't like the way the light makes then carpet appear. LOL - it happens (based on an email I got a few years ago.) Based on some experiments I did, I don't think LED spectra plays much of a part in coral growth, especially if light intensity is high and the coral/zoox has reached photosaturation. However, coral coloration is a different story. Violet light can cause color shifts, yellow can increase the red color of some corals, and so on. In short, LEDs work for me - high output, programmable intensity/spectrum, low energy consumption and heat output.
 
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Dana Riddle

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Let me modify my earlier statement - stay way from too much red light. Red light should not exceed 15-20% of total output, IMO.
 

Dr. Jim

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There aren't any poor aquarium lights (within reason) but there are many poor applications. Ove the years I personally used RO, HO, VHO T12, T8, and T5 fluorescent lamps. As for metal halides, everything from 175 watt 4300Ks to a 400w lamp rated 50,000K. At the coral farm, we used Iwasaki 400w daylight lamps in pendent fixtures. All achieved good to outstanding results. We even tried a Fusion sulfur lamp where microwaves bombarded a golf ball-size globe that was rotated to keep it from melting. I always wondered what the maximum reading was on the Li-Cor quantum meter I had - this lamp pegged the meter at over 20,000 umicromol/m2/sec - a magnitude greater than sunlight on a clear day. Back then (the late 90's) we thought corals could use as much light as we could give them. WRONG! LOL. Fortunately this lamp was on loan to us, and I tested it and shipped it back. A few years later, a fellow sent me a small LED array using white and red LEDs, and he wondered if there might be an application for aquaria. Frankly, the spectrum was not very appealing but it got me interested and I built some LEDs arrays that could be used underwater and published the results in 2001, if memory serves. Then PFO introduced their Solaris LED lights, and so it went. There would have to be a compelling reason for me not to use LEDs. The tank I have now uses two LED fixtures and I am happy with coral growth and coloration. The problem I see with current LEDs on the market is that they have the potential to make too much light and without a light measuring device it would be quite possible to over-illuminate a tank. Another issue is the programming - in some cases it is too tempting to change spectrum, especially if the 'significant other' doesn't like the way the light makes then carpet appear. LOL - it happens (based on an email I got a few years ago.) Based on some experiments I did, I don't think LED spectra plays much of a part in coral growth, especially if light intensity is high and the coral/zoox has reached photosaturation. However, coral coloration is a different story. Violet light can cause color shifts, yellow can increase the red color of some corals, and so on. In short, LEDs work for me - high output, programmable intensity/spectrum, low energy consumption and heat output.
Thank you for all your info, Dana.

As I mentioned, I do plan to give the XR15's another chance after I resolve my tin and other SPS problems, but am a little more optimistic now.

One other thing I wonder.....when a coral appears to have better color under LED's (compared to halides), is it because the coral has actually developed more, (nicer), color or is it just because of the LED colors striking the coral? (Hopefully that was clear).
 

Dana Riddle

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Thank you for all your info, Dana.

As I mentioned, I do plan to give the XR15's another chance after I resolve my tin and other SPS problems, but am a little more optimistic now.

One other thing I wonder.....when a coral appears to have better color under LED's (compared to halides), is it because the coral has actually developed more, (nicer), color or is it just because of the LED colors striking the coral? (Hopefully that was clear).
No pat answer here. The quality/quantity of radiation can cause the coral to express coloration (usually violet/blue light with a report here and there stating UV-A is the cause.) Once the coral produces fluorescent proteins, the light quality that makes the coral 'pop' comes into play. Fortunately, it seems to be the same light that made the coral produce the proteins in the first place. In the case of non-fluorescent proteins (usually blue, purple reds), these simply reflect light hence a full spectrum light containing blue and red is important.
 

Bpb

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Let me modify my earlier statement - stay way from too much red light. Red light should not exceed 15-20% of total output, IMO.
Now is that referring to light up over 600nm entirely or are we getting as specific as the common 660 no “photo red” diodes that popularly occupy most aquarium fixtures?
 

Dana Riddle

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Now is that referring to light up over 600nm entirely or are we getting as specific as the common 660 no “photo red” diodes that popularly occupy most aquarium fixtures?
That's a good question so let's look at it from different angles. If we're looking at absorption of chlorophyll a, the peak is at about 660-670nm. If absorption of chlorophyll c2, it's 628. If absorption of Pigment 680 in Photosystem II, it's, well, 680. Pigment 700 maximally absorbs at 700 but can be stimulated by 730-740. So, it appears that pigments can absorb at about 610nm up to at least 730/740nm. So, broadband red light can be utilized by zoox photopigments.
 

Dana Riddle

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oreo5457

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One really smart guy was the OP on that one. LOL and JK. What we don't know about zoox clades' ability for state transitions, spillover, and uncoupling of photopigments from reaction centers would fill volumes.
Add the fact that you are also dealing w/ 2 (or more) species gets to be quite the challenge.. ;)
 

Dana Riddle

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Just to be clear I meant 2 or more species in one species..
I haven't checked lately, but I think there are at least 15 Symbiodinium species and around 200 clades.
 
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Well had to take one BB out to change out a bad diode. Hmmm..... hope this is just a coincidence.
 

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I'm amending my earlier answer to MH + LED. Reef Brites or similar. They have controllability and color on their side, and you just can't beat MH for your primary light. Especially if you want a more natural 10,000k type color. :D
 
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This question is for the SPS junkies.

Just as the title states, this is another one of those which light is better threads. I have a 150 gallon Acro dominate tank currently running (4) Mars Aqua black boxes with upgraded LED's for better spectrum and (2) 80W ATI Blue+ T5's. I am getting good color and ok growth. However, I feel it just isn't the same as MH or T5's.

I plan on upgrading my lights around OCT/NOV this year. When it comes time then I am not going primary LED anymore. It will be either MH with supplemental LED, MH with supplemental T5, or an 8 bulb T5 fixture.

What would you recommend for this size tank and for an Acro dominate system?

Recent FTS for reference.

P7250360.jpg
I am aiming for this as well on my IM 150int I am setting up. Going to follow this thread
 
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JCOLE

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Ok tossing around a couple ideas. I was going to go with the CEBU system from Hamilton but after some reviews I am not going to go that route because the bulbs dont have a great position. I would want to be able to mount the bulb in the middle of each 3 sections of the tank.

I currently have 2 80w LET T5 Retro kits and thinking of picking up two more kits so I can make an 8 bulb setup with all ATI bulbs. That would be the most cost effective route.

Or thinking of pick up 3 MH pendants and adding 1 or 2 LET kits.
Screenshot_20200823-092953_Chrome.jpg
Screenshot_20200823-092905_Chrome.jpg


@jda what are you recommendations for a 26" deep Acro dominate tank?
 
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Bpb

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Ok tossing around a couple ideas. I was going to go with the CEBO system from Hamilton but after some reviews I am not going to go that route because the bulbs dont have a great position. I would want to be able to mount the bulb in the middle of each 3 sections of the tank.

I currently have 2 80w LET T5 Retro kits and thinking of picking up two more kits so I can make an 8 bulb setup with all ATI bulbs. That would be the most cost effective route.

Or thinking of pick up 3 MH pendants and adding 1 or 2 LET kits.
Screenshot_20200823-092953_Chrome.jpg
Screenshot_20200823-092905_Chrome.jpg


@jda what are you recommendations for a 26" deep Acro dominate tank?
I know you asked @jda, but if it were me I’d get the largest reflectors you can without getting larger than the tank itself. My chief complaint about the lumenbright minis are how narrow the spread is. They punch so deep but have a narrow light cone. As bad as a black box. Also the cayman sun mogul choice doesn’t have an adjustable socket. Meaning depending on your bulb choice you could get some goofy intensity distribution. Just something to think of.
 

Dr. Jim

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Ok tossing around a couple ideas. I was going to go with the CEBO system from Hamilton but after some reviews I am not going to go that route because the bulbs dont have a great position. I would want to be able to mount the bulb in the middle of each 3 sections of the tank.

I currently have 2 80w LET T5 Retro kits and thinking of picking up two more kits so I can make an 8 bulb setup with all ATI bulbs. That would be the most cost effective route.

Or thinking of pick up 3 MH pendants and adding 1 or 2 LET kits.
Screenshot_20200823-092953_Chrome.jpg
Screenshot_20200823-092905_Chrome.jpg


@jda what are you recommendations for a 26" deep Acro dominate tank?
If you decide to go with SE halides (instead of DE), I would highly recommend the large Lumen Brite reflectors (if you don't care about appearance). I doubt there is any reflector or pendant that will give as good a spread as those. Will give a pretty good, uniform spread over a 2' x 2' area. They are my favorites. (No glass though, in case that matters.)
 
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