RSS How do you light a 20,000 gallon reef tank?

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  1. MASA Admin

    MASA Admin Moderator

    8 May 2007
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    If you saw our rave “review” of Joe Yauillo’s magnificent mini-ocean he calls a reef tank yesterday, or have seen the tank in person and wonder “How it’s Made?”, then you’re going to love this multi part installment where we go over the primary aspects of this triumph of reef building.

    The first question most reefers will have about such a stony coral-dominated 20,000 gallon reef tank, it is how much lighting it takes to keep and grow such a luxurious stand of stony corals. The short and simple answer is, it takes roughly 25,000 watts of lighting to light up 20,000 gallons to a “comparable” level of a shallow water reef.

    [​IMG]It takes a lot of cabling to hang upwards of 25,000 watts of lighting over such a very large reef aquarium.

    The more interesting answer is how that 25,000 watts of light is distributed over the tank, with just about every kind of lighting technology being employed in some way or another over this tank. Of course you would expect there to be 1,000 watt metal halides over a reef tank like this, but there’s also a smattering of 400w halides as well and they all play different roles.

    [​IMG]One of the things that makes Joe Y. a “real reefer” is that despite the size and scale of his tank, he still approaches it like a home aquarium hobbyist, except that everything he uses is bigger, and he uses more of them. For example the 1,000 watt halides are evenly split between daylight and bluish halide lamps. Meanwhile most of the 400w metal halides seem to employ more familiar brands and colors of lamps.

    [​IMG]The size and color of the lights used on the crown jewel of the Long Island Aquarium is only half the story, we are particularly impressed by Joe’s installation of a bank of 400w halide pendants along the front of the tank. This row of high intensity discharge lighting is angled towards the face of the reef so that visitors can have the best possible view of beautiful and colorful corals.

    [​IMG]Now just because Joe goes way back, doesn’t make him an old-schools stalwart. More recently Mr. 20K Reef Tank has begun experimenting with some of the larger form factors of LED lighting pendants. When we visited we had the chance to observe and evaluate how well the MaxSpect 300w and 500w Multi-LED (not multichip) pendants can hang with the brightest of conventional halide lighting technology. We also spied a new Orphek Atlantik Pendant delivering 240w of lighting power in a wholly different way from the MaxSpect version, and we’ll follow up with a closer look at each of these.

    [​IMG]The 400w blue metal halide that serves as a moonlight for this large reef aquarium display

    As a final coup-de-grace, the moonlight on this huge of a reef tank is an old blue 400w metal halide that goes off last, and which we’ve used to observe and document some abundant twilight captive spawning of reef aquarium fish, like that one time we caught a scopas tang spawning with a yellow tang while a purple tang was trying its best to break it up.

    Check back soon for our overview of the flow and filtration of this massive reef aquarium display.

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