~ The 5 Most Common Mistakes You Shouldn't Have To
Ever Make - Mistake #4: Incorrect Lighting ~

by Eric V. Van Der Hope

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The 5 Most Common Mistakes You Shouldn't Have To Ever Make
Mistake #4:
Incorrect Lighting
by Eric V. Van Der Hope
Copyright 2006 ReefKeepingBasics.com

How important is lighting in a saltwater tank? It is crucial. It will make it, or break it. Why? It is imitating the natural sunlight that these tropical creatures need to live and flourish. You will very likely want to have corals and anemones in your tank. Most of these creatures need the proper type of lighting in order to grow and prosper without difficulty.

One of the decisions individuals base their choice on when purchasing the types of lighting they need - is the cost of how much that lighting can be!

That's already the wrong thinking!

If the proper research is done prior to maintaining a reef tank - you'd already know what kind of lighting would be needed and therefore be aware of how much it would cost.

Certain types of lighting can be very expensive though - that's for certain!

However, this shouldn't be a reason to not use the necessary lighting for the aquarium - for it could mean life or death for your precious tank-mates!

From the initial purchase of the tank - you should already know what type of system you will maintain.

Corals and anemones often show brighter colors when exposed to the proper light. The proper type of lighting means that it has to have the proper spectrum or quality and it must have the proper intensity as well.

Light is generally measured in terms of wavelength and frequency. The algae that lives within coral generally needs light from the blue end of the color spectrum. Blue light has a short wavelength and a larger frequency, which enables it to penetrate the water easily. Therefore, blue light is a common choice for tanks. However, choose your lighting carefully, depending on what livestock you plan to have in your tank.

If you are planning on a fish only tank, you know it wouldn't be necessary to purchase sophisticated lighting arrangements -they don't need light to 'grow'! However, this doesn't mean you should be leaving them in the dark!

Corals, sea anemones and molluscs are dependent for the most part, on the production of food and on the removal of wastes from a specific species of an algae, commonly known as zooxanthellae. You've probably guessed it already - yes, zooxanthellae depends on the correct intensity of light and the specific wavelength.

So - if zooxanthellae is not able to grow properly, your tank inhabitants, specifically your corals, sea anemones and mollusks will eventually die!

Obviously not something you want to experience.

It is also important to change the lights in your tank regularly, about every six months. High output lights are the best for your tank, yet if you do not change them regularly, they will not have the intensity needed for the health of your coral and anemones because the intensity of the lights fade over time. In other words, do not wait until the bulb burns out. By then it will be too late to save the life in your tank. Your set up will either include a tank cover that houses your lighting system or ballast units that will hold the lights. And by all means, ensure the lights are not too hot and your tank has sufficient ventilation, or you may risk cooking your fish!

Do the necessary research before you get too seriously involved in something you don't understand well. Continually ask knowledgeable hobbyists questions and learn to take some of the advice that's given. It'll literally pay off! :o)

This leads us to the 5th and final mistake that we will discuss in this series of 5 articles - that hobbyists tend to make often. Don't always take the first piece of advice you get -  treat it like a grain of salt! This will be discussed in my next column due out soon. Stay tuned!

Eric V. Van Der Hope is the Publisher and Author of the book "Reef Keeping Basics - Successful Reef Management" as well as the editor of the popular and informative newsletter "Reef Keeping Basics - the eZine/Blog" - A Newsletter For The Serious Reef Keeping & Saltwater Fish Hobbyist. Would You Like to Discover Exactly How to Build A Perfect Aquatic Life Environment For Your Marine Fish Pets - Without Having to Do It the Hard Way!? Then simply visit his website and learn how you can:

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