By Bob Goemans
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Bob Goemans corresponds with Louis Ugalde

Louis Ugalde writes...

Hi Bob,

You've helped me in the past and again ask for your advice.

I'm setting up a 300-gallon aquarium and need your advice with lighting. I want to use Lumen Bright reflectors but the problem is with the choice of ballast and bulbs, as I want to use 250W SE bulbs. I have read some about Coral Vue dimmable ballast and their 12K bulbs. Will I need supplemental T5 actinics if I go with the Coral Vue setup? I love LED setups but they are still too expensive. I hope they get better and more affordable since my tank is 8 feet long. Also, what do you recommend to light up a 180 gallon sump? One section will house a 16 inch diameter Warner Marine Cone Skimmer K7. I will also setup a section to keep macroalgae to help with filtration. What depth sand should I keep in it and what size grain? The display tank will have a 3 inch sandbed. My tank will end up being a mixed reef tank with soft corals, sps, lps, and lots of fish. In fact I'm looking at putting about 8 tangs in the aquarium. How in the world do you quarantine that many tangs all at once, and wrasses and other fish?

Thanks again in advance for your support.

Louis Ugalde

Riverside, California

Bob replies...

Dear Louis,

Thanks for the update and yes, I recommend using the actinic lamps if choosing the excellent Coral Vue equipment, as they can be utilized separately for sunrise/sunset lighting if needed or additional blue spectrum is desired to bring overall spectrum nearer a 14 - 18K range, which in my opinion might be better suited for the mix of corals that you have in mind. And as to LED's, once their initial price comes down somewhat, the fact their lamps last for 50,000 - 100,000 hours will make them less expensive in the long run than metal halide or fluorescent lamps, which need the be changed about once per year. Having a light fixture that lasts for 10 - 20 years without a lamp change is my idea of the perfect light fixture!

As for lighting a sump to grow macroalgae, my preference is a chamber with no sand as it's a collector of detritus, and then filled it with Chaetomorpha instead of Caulerpa. I think this type alga is far superior to Caulerpa for this purpose. Furthermore, common household fluorescent lamps in the range of 5000 - 7500K are 'perfect' for this application, as 'algae' like more reddish wavelengths; therefore, expensive lamps used for reef aquarium corals are not necessary. Consider GE Chroma 50 or 75 lamps, as they would suffice nicely.

As for quarantining, I would suggest buying the most timid species first, and then quarantine those in a separate tank, possibly the sump tank. When ready add those to the main tank, and then add the more aggressive species to the main tank. But if all need to come at once, then all could go into the main tank with no corals that contain zooxanthellae and no algae anywhere in the system and wait 40 days. If everything goes well, then add corals and algae. If all does not go well and fish parasite treatment is needed, then contact me and we can discuss chloroquine phosphate usage, which could then be added directly to the main system as it does not yet contain corals or algae.

Hope this helps,




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