Selecting the right reef LED solution

Today we laser target an LED solution for a new saltwater tank, not just selecting the proper light. The real details and getting it set up perfectly so lighting will never be an issue. As well as a few lighting pointers that every reefer needs to know. This is a step-by-step guide to putting up your first successful reef tank. This is episode thirteen, and it’s time to talk about reef tank lighting. There are four things we need to know to get this right.

First and foremost, light is here to provide energy to the corals and is their primary source of nutrition. So any discussion about reef lighting should begin with coral health. Second, and just as importantly, we own saltwater aquariums because we want them to look cool. So the light must make the tank and corals look awesome.

One of the most well-known reef lighting alternatives, aqua illuminations, offers all of the necessary spectrums for coral growth. The size or wattage is adjusted for a tank to size, which means you’ll have enough power without going overboard. I can certainly say that this light is appropriate to the purpose of the types of corals that we want to buy. It is also upgradable down the road if you want to add additional pucks and space them closer for more advanced corals.

The spectrum that the AI prime emits also enhances the natural glow of the corals. Resulting in a visually appealing tank with significant contrast. We went with the fixed mount here because it looks sleek. And low-profile lights are what highlight the outside of the tank. So the entire thing looks great for roughly $200 a module. They’re not free, but they’re far less expensive than many other popular solutions.

You won’t have to shop for life with the Red Sea e170 because it comes with its own reef LED and mounting kit. Because it’s closer to a square, it can be lighted with a single, higher-powered light. Included equipment like lighting is one of the reasons why all-in-one tanks like the e170 end up being not all that much more expensive than their regular equivalents.


The easiest way to set up lights like the reef LED and AI prime is to listen to those who have gone before you and learned the hard way. In this case, I’ll just give you the exact settings for this spectrum and intensity. I would use for both the Red Sea and AI Prime’s in this case two of these specific tanks for the type of corals. Lighting will not be a problem on these tanks if you tune these lights to these settings in around a 10 hour light cycle.

Blues are often one of the dominant lights because that’s the spectrum peak that matters the most to the corals. Add white until it looks good to the eye. I’d be careful with the reds and greens. They can end up unnaturally high most cases no more than 20%. That depends on the light notice the photoperiod ramps down at both ends.

That’s not because the cores require that gradual change but done so you can see the tank longer at lower intensities. That’s not because the cores require even some interesting visual effects like moonlight or dusk. If this is your first tank and you’re doing a different shaped tank, new lights. Different corals, the best advise is to rent a par meter, which measures strength and light for $50. Tune them wisely rather than guessing.

Tuning with a tool to measure to a goal has a far higher success rate than guessing for the first time. Avoiding typical pitfalls With LPS corals polyps and similar to what we’re doing here. The sweet spot is often between 75 and 150 par and as much of the tank as possible. When you’re ready for more advanced corals like SPS. The sweet spot is often between 250 and 350 par and as much of the tank as possible.

I do have some that I can use for lighting. First, par is not horsepower; in fact, you’re a hundred times more likely to die from too much light than from not enough, so resist the urge to ride the edge; the edge isn’t leading you anywhere. Second, par is not something you can accurately measure with the human eye; the spectrum of light that the human eye perceives as brightness and what is usable par for corals are completely different, and the human eye also auto irises to brightness.

Some reefers get close by luck, intuition, or sound advice. It’s far from easy for a new reefer to estimate par with a human eye. That said, you can guess and watch what the corals tolerate, and even though it’s a lower percentage path. It’s by far the most common path. If the light is too bright or the par is too strong, the corals will shrink up in your tracked tissue to protect themselves from the intense light. The best advice here is to just start low. If you don’t have enough light, the corals will puff up, reach out, and expand to try to create more surface area to capture more light.

If you only hear one thing today, let it be this because it will help you more than anything else. As my good friend once told me, corals are amazingly adaptable creatures that will adapt to almost any of our mistakes if you just let them be. Success comes from leaving things alone, not from tweaking them, so fight the need to fiddle with them and then set it and forget it.