Lighting spectra, Photosynthesis, and You

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jedimasterben

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The brightest coloration, judging from examples posted online, is freaky looking - too purple, too red or colored by crayons - and obviously not very natural. I wouldn't describe 20K halide or my 2B:1CW LED's that way.

While Radiums (or 20K lighting in general) took lighting more toward "natural" (and I don't think anyone from pre-20K days would argue it) then I would argue the trend we're talking about which started in T5's and has translated to LED is going "away from natural". Do we care about that? Maybe, maybe not (personally, yes)....but from the photo-evidence it's true.
There are a lot of brightly colored corals in nature, but most of them are rather dull-looking. Those aren't the ones collected for the hobby, though. ;)

Like I said earlier, we really can't get 'natural' without significant costs associated.

No, incorrect to say it's missing something unless you can define what perspective you're coming from. Compared with nature, it's missing very little to nothing. Arguably some sub-450nm light, but which - if any - and how much are very much open to debate. Of course I'll concede if we're just talking about personal opinion on favorite colors to bring out....but I'm really comparing to nature to the extent possible. I don't know what other "standard" there is. (And opinion is fine as long as you know what you like and like what you have!)
If you're going for natural, you are, indeed missing something - violet light. Just as much power is put out into violet light as is 'blue' light by the sun and on both the reef crest and deeper waters. In the article you linked to above, it specifically mentions that you'd need roughly 45W/m2 of 400-440nm light to be close to natural, and 40W/m2 of 440-480nm. Lemme tell ya, it takes a crapton of violet LEDs to get close to nature ;)

Actually some discharge lights have come really close to the spectrum of sunlight....is plasma more than vaporware? Anywho...I don't think anyone in the hobby has been heavily involved with emulating daylight since the Iwasaki+03 days. The reason? Most corals we keep these days are not corals from surface waters. Those using actual daylight (solatubes, greenhouse, skylights) are the only real exception I can think of. Should be interesting to the "full spectrumers" to see the results those people get. (Both the good and bad, of course.)
Yep, most people only want that blue color. While I like the natural tones sunlight gives, I don't want exactly that over my tank. ;)


And as mentioned, if you take a red coral, it probably doesn't look red in nature. Adding red light is OK as the camouflage probably isn't needed in captivity anyway, but steps away from the natural setting and ignores the reason for the the red coloration in the first place. :)

-Matt
There are lots of red corals in nature. Acans are a big one off the top of my head. I wouldn't really consider the color to be camouflage, more like a sunscreen.

P.S. Thanks for the continuing discussion! This is great, and the one of the main reasons I like hanging out here! :)
Hey, someone's gotta keep me on the straight and narrow. LOL :)
 
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There are lots of red corals in nature. Acans are a big one off the top of my head. I wouldn't really consider the color to be camouflage, more like a sunscreen.


Hey, someone's gotta keep me on the straight and narrow. LOL :)
That red color doesn't come out in nature in many, many cases as all the red light is filtered by water. No red light in water = no red light reflecting off the coral to be seen.

In that natural circumstance red "looks" grey or even black.

I forget the name of the pigment/which chlorophyl, but the stuff in orange M. digitata is one of the exceptions where red light is not required for the the red color. (Acan's have this too? If so blue light should make them glow/appear red.)

Maybe an interesting case in point that I sorta forgot about is the (again not to promote or bag on anyone in particular...I'm not a "fan" of them or their equipment necessarily, but they make a great example to look at) Vivid Aquariums LED/Radium comparison. It's very possible to get a "well colored" LED display without the purple, red or crayola effect. Would like to see more people trying to acheiving in DIY what Vivid appears to have with their gear.

Would also really like to see that tank in person...vids and pics can only give so much of "the picture". Perhaps that would change my mind, but from afar their tank and corals don't look much different than mine.

-Matt

P.S. We should all be kept in line with some regular good discussion! Self most emphatically included! :)
 
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mcarroll

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I'll be darned if not more than 10 minutes after posting about vaporware (see above), I run across this thread where a dude is deploying a plasma setup. LOL. Karma!!!

-Matt

P.S. Looks like he switched to 2b:1w chinese LEDs before anything got deployed and the project was temporarily scrapped. Ah well.
 
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mcarroll

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Blogs were temporarily offline or I was gonna post this earlier. Has some (fairly bad) pictures of/from my spectrometer. Way cool to see first hand the spectrum coming out of your lights. Seems to me a practical too for what we're all doing...surprised they haven't caught on.

They will still give you an idea of what the spectrometer does, but between color correction and IR filtering in the camera, the photos are actually not accurate. What you actually see through the spectrometer is very clear and much more complete.

Here are a couple of Spectrometer samples since the R2R Blog has gone by the wayside:

A warm-white CFL:


A cool-white LED:


And here's the Spectrometer:



(If you can make out the scale, you'll notice the effect of the 650nm IR filter. Anyone with tips on how to use a point-n-shoot camera or iPhone to get better shots? I'm all ears!)


-Matt
 
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mcarroll

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Must have!

SpectralWorkbench

They will be selling DIY webcam-based spectrometers next month (among other options) to work with this site. Amazing stuff, if maybe still a bit buggy/leading edge. (The ProjectStar I mentioned earlier is all-manual, so it works without bugs, but no frills.)

One person's sample upload from a cam they built.

I hope this catches on!

-Matt
 
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jedimasterben

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Must have!

SpectralWorkbench

They will be selling DIY webcam-based spectrometers next month (among other options) to work with this site. Amazing stuff, if maybe still a bit buggy/leading edge. (The ProjectStar I mentioned earlier is all-manual, so it works without bugs, but no frills.)

One person's sample upload from a cam they built.

I hope this catches on!

-Matt
Unfortunately, the same issues that plague cameras with taking pictures under LEDs will plague webcams looking at LEDs. The RGB filters are just not accurate enough, even on ultra high-end webcams.
 

mcarroll

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The limits for digital imagery are fairly well known and this is not a brand-new project. :) Did you get a chance to read about the project and how it works, BTW? The folks involved may also have considered the limits. (No, it's not a perfect device yet...what is?) They do have you remove the IR filter on the kit's camera, for example, which is a huge gain. Between that and disabling color-correction on the camera (not their only "tricks"), I don't see why satisfactory results could not be achieved.

Check it out! Lots of good reading, free software, free DIY spectrometer patterns, as well as the inexpensive webcam+spectrometer kit I mentioned.

In spite of stated doubts/known limitations, I recommend a read through to anyone who likes the idea of being able to actually see how their lights are performing. My guess is that it would be a great reference. Just as Salifert test kits aren't all that accurate but make a great, highly useful reference.

With prices ranging from $40 down to $free, I don't see why anyone experimenting with lighting would go without some form of spectrometer. :)

-Matt
 
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Updated images I finally got around to making (and posting LOL) of the spectral absorbance of the photopigments.

Chlorophyll a


Chlorophyll c2



Peridinin (neo-peridinin is similar)



PCP, peridinin-chlorophyll-protein complex, made up of eight peridinin and two chlorophyll a molecules


Dinoxanthin (dia-dinoxanthin is very similar)


Beta carotene
 

KologneKoral

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Nice to see this discussion!

I would like to point out a few items. First, the data in the named report is quite old and only encompasses a small part of coral pigments and their developement. Photosynthetic pigments, to be exact. We need to keep this in context. Other than many pigments not being photosynthetic, we need to keep in mind light does more than just promote photosynthesis.

Second, as mentioned attenuation reduces red light (over 600nm) to almost nil at less than 5m depth. This is an interesting situation, as we do know that most zooxanthellae are capable of utilizing red light. The question that has not been answered is, do they!? Consider, red corals may contain a variety of pigments in the red optical area. Some fluoresce, some do not. The deeper water reds (10m zone) tend to fluoresce, which is dependant on blue light generally. Not red! Corals on the reef flat often have non-fluorescent pigments in the red area. As we know that a non.fluorescent pigment creates its colour by reflecting BACK the colour we see, it would seem these corals are using red pigment to protect themselves from red lightwaves. They apparently do not want them! At least not in quantity.

Now, does red light effect red pigment production? Maybe. If it is not a threat to the coral, it will not attempt to protect itself by reflecting it away. Thus enough red spectrum to activate this protection response may be important. The amount needs to be determined. I suspect other mechanisms come into play, such as genetics, available raw materials, local predation, etc.

Fluorescent and deeper water red, why do we even have them? Well, this one is easier to explain. At depths poor in red light, they tend to blend into the background very well. Although they are emmiting a red light, it is pretty weak (they do not appear very red in the sea, the elevated blue spectrum in our tanks makes them glow) and, this is the very interesting part, most marine life, especially fish, have very poor vision in the red area. It would seem this is another protection, but this time against predators, not light.

There are various mechanisms at play, which we do not fully understand and, as there really is no money to be made researching these areas, the bit of work done is often superficial and not well distributed.

One interesting item on red Kaede pigments, they start as greens and, in the presence of sufficient 405nm light, convert this permanently to red. If this wavelength is missing, they will pale as they grow, as they cannot synthesise more of the kaede red.

One can assume (always dangerous) that other pigments are equally bound to certain types of light.

By the way, the UVA and lower wavelengths are, also, attenuated much as red. Just not as dramatically. This leaves the main area of usefull light once again between 490nm and 520nm at about 10m under the water surface.

Some salt for the soup!

Jamie
 

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Nice to see this discussion!

I would like to point out a few items. First, the data in the named report is quite old and only encompasses a small part of coral pigments and their developement. Photosynthetic pigments, to be exact. We need to keep this in context. Other than many pigments not being photosynthetic, we need to keep in mind light does more than just promote photosynthesis.

Second, as mentioned attenuation reduces red light (over 600nm) to almost nil at less than 5m depth. This is an interesting situation, as we do know that most zooxanthellae are capable of utilizing red light. The question that has not been answered is, do they!? Consider, red corals may contain a variety of pigments in the red optical area. Some fluoresce, some do not. The deeper water reds (10m zone) tend to fluoresce, which is dependant on blue light generally. Not red! Corals on the reef flat often have non-fluorescent pigments in the red area. As we know that a non.fluorescent pigment creates its colour by reflecting BACK the colour we see, it would seem these corals are using red pigment to protect themselves from red lightwaves. They apparently do not want them! At least not in quantity.

Now, does red light effect red pigment production? Maybe. If it is not a threat to the coral, it will not attempt to protect itself by reflecting it away. Thus enough red spectrum to activate this protection response may be important. The amount needs to be determined. I suspect other mechanisms come into play, such as genetics, available raw materials, local predation, etc.

Fluorescent and deeper water red, why do we even have them? Well, this one is easier to explain. At depths poor in red light, they tend to blend into the background very well. Although they are emmiting a red light, it is pretty weak (they do not appear very red in the sea, the elevated blue spectrum in our tanks makes them glow) and, this is the very interesting part, most marine life, especially fish, have very poor vision in the red area. It would seem this is another protection, but this time against predators, not light.

There are various mechanisms at play, which we do not fully understand and, as there really is no money to be made researching these areas, the bit of work done is often superficial and not well distributed.

One interesting item on red Kaede pigments, they start as greens and, in the presence of sufficient 405nm light, convert this permanently to red. If this wavelength is missing, they will pale as they grow, as they cannot synthesise more of the kaede red.

One can assume (always dangerous) that other pigments are equally bound to certain types of light.

By the way, the UVA and lower wavelengths are, also, attenuated much as red. Just not as dramatically. This leaves the main area of usefull light once again between 490nm and 520nm at about 10m under the water surface.

Some salt for the soup!

Jamie
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I use a single circuit with CREE Violet which I believe run at 420 and some Philips Rebel Deep Red 660s in a 6 violet - 2 red ratio. I run it normally through the day to provide further spectrum but then use it as my moon light at night. It's KICKER.!!! The red casts just enough light for you to kinda see what's happening and the violets with their 'can hardly see that wavelength' don't provide much more visible light but WOW do the corals pop… It's a kick'n moon light and although it is not a great reproduction colour wise, it is nice to look at, it is not red, kinda soft purple and even at very low dimming levels the corals really glow.
 

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Lots of good and confusing info in here:) I would like to see pics because ANYTIME I see someone offering info and advice on what is best I say "show me". Often it is not what we know but who we know and how we apply it ! Soooooo.......where the pics at?!
 
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Welcome KologneKoral,

I would like to point out a few items. First, the data in the named report is quite old and only encompasses a small part of coral pigments and their developement. Photosynthetic pigments, to be exact. We need to keep this in context. Other than many pigments not being photosynthetic, we need to keep in mind light does more than just promote photosynthesis.
The data set is, indeed, old, but is correct and is still referenced to this day. I can't find any data on more photosynthetic pigments that have been found in corals, do you have links to at least abstracts? Preferably one where you don't need university/paid access so that others can read them too :)


Second, as mentioned attenuation reduces red light (over 600nm) to almost nil at less than 5m depth. This is an interesting situation, as we do know that most zooxanthellae are capable of utilizing red light. The question that has not been answered is, do they!? Consider, red corals may contain a variety of pigments in the red optical area. Some fluoresce, some do not. The deeper water reds (10m zone) tend to fluoresce, which is dependant on blue light generally. Not red! Corals on the reef flat often have non-fluorescent pigments in the red area. As we know that a non.fluorescent pigment creates its colour by reflecting BACK the colour we see, it would seem these corals are using red pigment to protect themselves from red lightwaves. They apparently do not want them! At least not in quantity.

Now, does red light effect red pigment production? Maybe. If it is not a threat to the coral, it will not attempt to protect itself by reflecting it away. Thus enough red spectrum to activate this protection response may be important. The amount needs to be determined. I suspect other mechanisms come into play, such as genetics, available raw materials, local predation, etc.
Though zooxanthellae from deeper-collected corals may not have access to absorb red light, their chlorophyll a content is identical to that of shallow water corals and has that red absorption maxima, so it can use the light, but whether or not the pigments of the coral allow absorption is another story. Also, if they don't have protection it can definitely harm them, which is why it is best to, in general, not have too much red light - but since people used 5500 and 6500K halides for so long (and still swear by them), I'm not sure how valid of a statement that truly is. The 6500K Iwasaki emits immense amounts of green and red light.


One interesting item on red Kaede pigments, they start as greens and, in the presence of sufficient 405nm light, convert this permanently to red. If this wavelength is missing, they will pale as they grow, as they cannot synthesise more of the kaede red.
Very interesting - I'll have to do some research on this pigment :)

By the way, the UVA and lower wavelengths are, also, attenuated much as red. Just not as dramatically. This leaves the main area of usefull light once again between 490nm and 520nm at about 10m under the water surface.
UVA (and UVB, UVC, etc) are attenuated - but really at 400nm is where that sharp attenuation stops. See figure 4 of this article: Feature Article: Underwater Light Field and its Comparison to Metal Halide Lighting ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

I use a single circuit with CREE Violet which I believe run at 420 and some Philips Rebel Deep Red 660s in a 6 violet - 2 red ratio. I run it normally through the day to provide further spectrum but then use it as my moon light at night. It's KICKER.!!! The red casts just enough light for you to kinda see what's happening and the violets with their 'can hardly see that wavelength' don't provide much more visible light but WOW do the corals pop… It's a kick'n moon light and although it is not a great reproduction colour wise, it is nice to look at, it is not red, kinda soft purple and even at very low dimming levels the corals really glow.
Cree does not make any LED under 452.5nm.

Violet LEDs are PAR monsters - I'd be wary of running them at night to risk throwing off the circadian rhythm of your corals, which are set according to the amount of blue light that they're hit with.

Lots of good and confusing info in here:) I would like to see pics because ANYTIME I see someone offering info and advice on what is best I say "show me". Often it is not what we know but who we know and how we apply it ! Soooooo.......where the pics at?!
Pics of what? Photosynthesis? ;)
 

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Pics showing application of violet, deep red, and cool blue being most important in coral pigment. If this is accurate and u so strongly believe in it u must have some insane sps growth and pigment. I've been toying with the idea of violet on my fixture as that spectrum is not in my tank BUT don't want to add a string new driver etc...without A. Knowing how many I should add to 120. B. Proof of a change or someone that has had practical experience with applying them. I have too much $$$ in sps to risk an experiment. So I'd like to see pics of why you feel so strongly about these led spectrums and their benefits on your tank versus when u had the standard royal blue to cool white. ;)
 
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KologneKoral

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First, thanks for the welcome.

On photosynthetic pigments there is still very little accessable new data (you have to pay for it), but the basic information is in the previously named article. With pigments, there is a great deal more to understand, as the photosynthetic pigments play a reduced role in the actual colours of a coral, especially in the aquarium, as we do try to reduce the number of zooxanthellae and achieve 'unnatural' colour effects. Be as it may, many of the pretty pigments are not in the zooxanthellae, rather in the corals tissues themselves, often stratigically placed to take best advantage of the available radiation. There is very little information published in this area, although some interesting work from Dana Riddle can be found in AA magazine. (I would highly recommend following his current tiadal pool project. It is revealing a good basis for the current understanding of how much light corals actually need).

Here are three articles that deal with photoinhibition, which lead one to the conclusion that we tend to over-light our corals in a tank, thus setting them under stress. This may be linked to the sudden coral death we see in otherwise healthy aquaria. (these can be a bit heady, so read them through a couple of times. there is a lot to extrapolate)

http://www.int-res.com/articles/feature/m313p001.pdf

http://www.marine.uq.edu.au/marbot/publications/pdffiles/litreviewtracey.PDF

http://www.int-res.com/articles/meps/183/m183p073.pdf

This thread is dealing with photosynthesis and I do not wish to drive it off path, however, many (if not most) of the pigments aquarists treasure are not connected to photosynthesis. I think this is where many get confused. The idea that zooxanthellae are necessary for colourful corals is simply not quite correct (and we know too much gives us brown). Zooxanthellae have only certain pigments in their tissues, while the others (non-photosynthetic) provide the bright colours of most corals. These two classes need to be considered seperately, despite them being strongly tied via the metabolism of the coral. Again, lots of info on AA mag, generally from Mr. Riddle.

On UVA attenuation, the graphic below, from an interesting article this last Winter in AA shows the below 400nm atteneuation tendency. As you can see, it is pretty extreme (no as much as red).

There is still a great deal to say in this area, unfortunately, I have little time for making comments, but will continue to take part, here, as I can. Thanks for starting a really interesting discussion.
 

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Pappy

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Here let me help....these are pics I took today! Mind you I have no uv over my tank BUT should I? will it really help with pigments?

meat-feeding.jpg
viper.jpg
agave-grow2.jpg
blue-rhino-grow.jpg
 

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Nice corals. Of course, the photos are under strongly blue light, but this is what many aquarists strive for and the colouring is beautiful.

As i first started working with LEDs we only had white and royal blue. Shortly after blue at 470 was added. I found this combination allowed for excellent growth and pigment development. Many aquarists were not achieving these colours, which seems to have lain with a variety of other troubles, not of least was nutrient control, followed by crap LEDs (biggest issue in my book). Yes, you can grow great corals with the basic three.

After adding red to the spectrum, it became clear to me this was mainly of aesthetic value. Most corals did not react at all to the red and some (under extreme red) suffered. Yes, it makes the tank look differently, but a strong influence on pigment development was not seen.

Adding violet (420) and UVA (390-400nm) brought out more pigments and finer nuances. Although they clearly influenced pigment develpment (some corals more than others), are they required? Probably not, but they are very desirable. Also, some clones with specific colours may well be dependant on specific parts of the spectrum, as well as specific trace elements. We do not know.

If you consider the typical spectrum found at say 10m under the surface, there is very stron light between 395nm to about 520nm, with regular plateaus around 420 through 480 nm. As we have never really covered this range properly until recently, but still managed to maintain corals, clearly the corals are quite capable of adapting to available light for their basic metabolism. In this sense, we do need to reconsider what is required and what is adavantageous, plus what is simply for our eyes. Regardless, we come to the same distillation, what do you want?

A stange thing, choice. It is like leading the horse to water. Drinking it is a personal choice.

just some thoughts,

Jamie
 

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Pics of what? Photosynthesis? ;)[/QUOTE]

Sooooooooo is that a no?!....any pics showing practical experience of what this article is about? Uv, red, neutral white etc...promoting better photosynthesis and better pigments....I created an led growth thread if you don't want to post here.
 
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jedimasterben

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Sooooooooo is that a no?!....any pics showing practical experience of what this article is about? Uv, red, neutral white etc...promoting better photosynthesis and better pigments....I created an led growth thread if you don't want to post here.
Do you have a PAM fluorometer I can borrow? Then I'd totally measure photosynthetic efficiency of various spectra :)

If you're unsure of these colors producing pigments, I'd have you look at the work of Dana Riddle. You can take the data presented and can figure out what is necessary from it. It's a little... uh, lengthy. ;)


His 'Coral Coloration' series:
Feature Article: Coral Coloration: Fluorescence: Part 1 ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and BlogFeature Article: Coral Coloration, Part 2: Fluorescence: Pigments 510 - 565 and Notes on Green Fluorescent Proteins ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Coral Coloration, Part 3: Pigments Responsible for ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Coral Coloration, Part 4: Red Fluorescent Pigments, a Preliminary Report of Effects of Various Environmental Factors and Color Mixing ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Coral Coloration, Part 5: Non-fluorescent Chromoproteins (CP-480 to CP-562) ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Coral Coloration, Part 6: Non-fluorescent Chromoproteins (CP-568 ? CP-610) And A Newly Discovered Colorant ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Coral Coloration - Part 7: Coral Reflectance, Chromoproteins and Environmental Factors Affecting Non-fluorescent Pigmentation ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Coral Coloration, Part 8: Blue and Green Coral Fluorescence: Environmental Factors Affecting Fluorescent Pigmentation ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Coral Coloration, Part 9: Tridacna and Other Photosynthetic Clam Coloration, With Observations on Possible Functions ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog



His 'How to Make Corals More Colorful' series:
Feature Article: How to Make Corals Colorful, Part One: New Information, With Particular Attention to Blue-Green Fluorescent Pigments ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: How to Make Corals More Colorful, Part Two: New Information! Green Fluorescent Pigments, Pigment Clades, and Photoconversion from Green to Orange/Red ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: How to Make Corals More Colorful Part 3 - New Information: Red Fluorescent Pigments: DsRed-type ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Aquarium Corals: Making Corals Colorful: New Information on Acropora species ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

A few misc pieces of note:
Feature Article: How Much Light?! Analyses of Selected Shallow Water Invertebrates' Light Requirements ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Spectral Data from a Shallow Hawaiian Tidepool ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Lighting by Number: "Types" of Zooxanthellae and What They Tell Us ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: An Update on Zooxanthellae (Symbiodinium spp.) What a Difference a Year Makes! ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: A Different Look at Lighting: Effects of Prolonged Photoperiod, Spectral Quality, and Light Dosage ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Getting Really Up to Date on Zooxanthellae (Symbiodinium spp.) ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Glitter Lines: More Than Aesthetic? ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Lighting the Reef Aquarium - Spectrum or Intensity? ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Too Much Light! ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

Feature Article: Playing With Poison - Ultraviolet Radiation ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog
 

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CWT Aquatics - Acrylic Sumps, Tanks, and More!
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