Lighting And SPS Coral Color

lightingsamplesI keep rambling on about the importance of lighting, yes?  I’ve been conducting a little experiment with my SPS coral.  My 30g tank is by far my prettiest tank – it’s been established for two years this October and the livestock is healthy.  Except for my bestest friend in the whole wide world, peyssonnelia, the tank makes me happy: a mated pair of black clowns, a coral beauty angel, and various assorted cleanup crew are active around an overgrown forest of sea matts, zoanthids, and some SPS frags that are just now starting to take off.

Remember back at the beginning of May when I said the 30g seemed a little off and I was changing the lighting from Metal Halides back to T5s?  I’ve been taking pictures of how the SPS frags have reacted to the changed lighting.  These images are of SPS frags on a frag rack placed high in the 30g.  The focus of these four images is an Aqua Delight SPS frag and how it has changed over a 5-week period (now that I look at it, the second and third pictures should be labeled “Early May,” then “Mid-May.”  Oops.). If you can’t find it at first glance, the Aqua Delight is the greenish frag that’s closest to the center of each image with two separate branches.  It’s also the one that could also be used as a study in the explosive growth of green bubble algae… I swear, let the emerald crabs form a union and that’s the last you see of them until it’s time to review their dental contract.

The frags around the Aqua Delight start out with some purple in them and the polyps are green, but their base color is browned out, as is the Aqua Delight itself.  In the second picture, taken only a few days after the lighting was swapped out from MH to T5, the Aqua Delight has gotten a little more green in it, but the surrounding purple frags have started to brown out.  I expected this – SPS coral despises changes in lighting, and I was a little suprised to see the Aqua Delight respond so quickly and start getting some desirable coloring.  Around this time, I started pulling some frags off of the frag rack and sticking them to the rockwork, so the extra-super purple ones have moved to a new home.

Fast-forward another two weeks.  In the third picture, the Aqua Delight has started to darken and get some teal highlights.  The other frags around it have also started to stabilize a bit…   If you look closely, you can see that there has been increased growth in some of the frags, especially around the bases.

The fourth image is the one I took tonight.  Bam!, right?  There has been obvious growth in several frags, especially in the trunk of the Aqua Delight, and the coloring is starting to stabilize and become more vivid.  Oh, and you can’t tell from the picture but there are now multiple extra-purple frags in the rack – while cleaning the skimmer pump, one of the frags on the rockwork was shattered into three pieces.  Damn.  Oh well, instead of having one 2-inch high frag, I now have three 3/4-inch baby frags.  Making lemonade from lemons and all that.

While the Aqua Delight seems to love its current placement, some of the purple frags might show deeper color if they were placed further away from the light.   I have a few other frag racks in the tank and have placed two frags in a lower, slightly darker location.  Both of these are clones of frags found on the upper rack so there’s a control to show how color and growth changes with placement.  I’m looking forward to following up on this over time to see which SPS frags look best under specific lighting conditions.

~ by KBSpangler on June 5, 2009.

One Response to “Lighting And SPS Coral Color”

  1. Well done there. I had a similar tank, lit by HO T5 lights then changed over to a KR91 LED lighting system as I was told it would do a better job with SPS. However, I dont think it gives enough light. How many T5s do you use, and are they VHO?Regards,

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