Reef Aquarium Lighting Guide: What Is The Right PAR For Vibrant Coral Coloration and Growth?

Reef Aquarium Lighting Guide: What Is The Right PAR For Vibrant Coral Coloration and Growth?

– Properly light a reef
tank is one of the most important considerations
when planning a new aquarium or upgrading your lighting set up. (bright music) Hi, this is Wayland from Marine Depot and thanks for tuning in. There’s a lot of
information to sift through if you’re looking for
lighting answers online. The science of light and
corals is very complex and can get very confusing, especially when you’re looking for
straightforward information. At Marine Depot, we get thousands
of questions every month. Reef lighting is certainly
at the top of the list. We are commonly asked
what type of lighting do I need for good coral growths? And which lighting fixture
is right for my tank? Although there can be a simple
answer to these questions, it’s important to understand the science that informs these decisions as well. Pretty much everyone knows
that light is critical for keeping SPS and LPS corals. Many new reefers though,
tend to blast the corals with as much light as
possible, which research on captive coral show isn’t ideal. In the early days of
reef keeping, aquarists bought the biggest, brightest
light they could find. Everyone knew coral reefs
thrived on direct sunlight, so DIY reefers were trying to hang the power of 100 suns over their tanks. That’s what the public
aquariums were doing, so why not try the same thing at home? But it didn’t always work. The light overheated the
water, some corals stopped growing and others were burned. When it came to light, more
definitely was not better. Today we understand a lot more
about lighting requirements of corals and other
photosynthetic invertebrates. We tried to distill all this
information down for you to make choosing a light
less of a headache. The major factors to
keep in mind when looking for a light are wireless controllability, programming modes and a sleek form. However, the king of all these
factors is the light’s PAR, which is the first thing
you should look at. PAR stands for photosynthetic
active radiation. It is the range of light
waves used by symbiotic algae living inside of coral tissue. PAR is the engine that
drives photosynthesis and it’s photosynthesis
that feeds our corals. If your lighting rig
is bright, but doesn’t provide the right light spectrum, all you’re doing is burning electricity. Quality beats intensity. PAR covers the visible lighting spectrum but is heavy in the blue
400 to 500 nanometers, and the red 600 to 700
nanometers wavelengths. It is possible for a light to
be bright but not provide PAR. PAR is measured in units of micromole photons per square meter per second. Thankfully there’s no math involved in figuring out a fixture’s PAR rating. Most of today’s top LED
light manufacturers provide PAR specs for their fixtures,
making life a lot easier. They get these measurements
by using a PAR meter. The sensor is first placed
in the water under the light. Readings are then taken at
various depths and distances from the center of the LED array. PAR readings are then plotted
to show how the intensity of the PAR drops as you
move further from the light. You can use the manufacturer’s PAR data to get a rough idea of the amount of light your tank will receive with
a particular light fixture. You can also take your own
measurements with a PAR meter. PAR meters are a little
pricey, but they do let you see the PAR measures at different
levels in your reef tank. It’s very helpful for
determining where to best place your corals, or to make
adjustments to your light. So what’s the right amount
of PAR for your corals? Marine biologists have
conducted PAR measurements on tropical reefs were
SPS and LPS corals thrive. The PAR levels range from
around 150 to over 450 across the reefs of the
world, but what level will most satisfy corals
in a home aquarium? Captive coral research
Dana Riddle discovered that the ideal average
PAR range for corals is somewhere between 100 to 200 PAR. Too much PAR is both ineffective
and actually it inhibits photosynthesis, potentially
damaging corals as well. 200 to 400 PAR will bring
up vibrant coloration but sacrifices a little coral growth. Research suggests that
corals may even develop brighter pigments to protect
against excess lighting. The big takeaway is
captive corals are happiest with moderate light intensity. Too much light will
inhibit or harm the corals. There’s no absolute rule on
the perfect PAR for all corals, but a good starting
point is 150 to 250 PAR. So how do you choose a right
light fixture for your tank? Start by looking at the PAR specs. They’ll give you an idea of the maximum PAR at specifics depths. There’s also nothing wrong
with going with a more powerful fixture as long as you can dial it back, which is especially helpful as your corals acclimate to a new lighting system. If you can’t find PAR data
for a particular light, search online and see how other
aquarists are using the fixture. Learning from the experience of others is always helpful and valuable. If you still aren’t feeling
too confident on lighting, feel free to give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you out. Please share this video
if you found it helpful, and don’t forget to
like and comment below. As always, take care
and happy reef keeping. (bright music)

10 thoughts on “Reef Aquarium Lighting Guide: What Is The Right PAR For Vibrant Coral Coloration and Growth?

  1. Very interesting video, my lighting is programmable, it has white light, blue light and red, all LEDs, I have struggled with algae forming on rocks and glass, I have tried turning all colours down low, didn’t make any difference so tried turning white lights down and blue up high, still no difference, my lighting is a V2iLuminAir 900/1200, in the instruction manual it suggests all three light spectrums for daytime duration at 28, from memory the highest number is 30, so to my mind that is way too high ! Any suggestions ? My tank is 4ft long x17inches wide x 2ft high.

  2. I'm sorry MD but the manufacturer's specs for PAR cannot be trusted, they post the par numbers – out of water – with all channels on at 100%, very few people run their lights like that.

  3. im have a kessil a80 tuna blue if I add a second one will it increase my par or just bee adding more light?

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