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Aquarium Lighting: Am I Too Intense?

Date Published - 8th June 2015 - Published by - iQuatics Ltd

Owing to the veritable range of products on the market, tank keepers have never before had so much choice when it comes to their aquarium lighting; some systems have twelve tubes whereas others have four, almost all models now allow you to adjust the height with the twist of cog, you get the picture. The thing is, with all this choice comes responsibility; the responsibility to manage your aquarium lighting properly. We get a lot of customers who come to us with wilting and discoloured coral and asking for a reason why – the answer? You’re probably being too intense.

A Lighter Touch
To get a bit science-y on you (skip down a few paragraphs for the nitty-gritty advice), when your corals absorb the light diffused by your tank lighting systems, they produce these things called zooxanthellae cells, which give them that illustrious colour and provide them with a source of food. The amount of zooxanthellae cells your coral produces is directly proportional to the amount of light they receive: thus, the stronger aquarium lights, the more zooxanthellae cells – still with us? These cells, which in all honesty are difficult to pronounce and even harder to type, then react with chlorophyll, providing food for sustenance and pigmentation for protection.
O2 Much of a Good Thing
The by-product of this process is oxygen, which, as we all know, is necessary to maintaining a balanced, healthy tank. Research also indicates, however, that too much oxygen can actually be harmful, and the oversaturation of it throughout your tank can lead to drastic consequences for your plant and coral products. Long story short, subjecting your aquarium to prolonged periods of intense light can actually poison your tank if left untreated.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel 
Don’t despair just yet, however, if identified early enough, the effects of excessive light damage can be addressed. One of the earliest warning signs to look out for is a distinct brown colouring beginning to spread across your coral. Zooxanthellae cells are, by nature, yellow/brown in colour, so as your coral starts to produce excessive amounts, you will start to notice a change in its overall pigmentation. At this point, it’s probably advisable to either switch your aquarium lighting system off altogether, or increase the distance between it and the tank. If you find that this continues to happen on a regular basis, it could be time to invest in a less powerful aquarium lighting rig.
As always, the iQuatics team are happy to offer impartial advice and recommendations, just get in touch with us at our live chat window – we’re always ready for a good aquarium-based chin wag.

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