New Lighting Technology at our Aquaculture Facility

by Kevin Kohen on February 28, 2011

Drs. Foster and Smith’s Aquaculture Coral and Marine Life facility is continually testing new technologies in an effort to reduce our energy consumption, while providing the best possible environment for the animals in the facility to grow and thrive.

We are currently testing a new lighting technology that is showing very promising results. We have employed Ecoxotic Cannon LED Pendant lights on one of our 6’ x 3’ coral grow out raceways, which were installed a few months ago. There are three 50- watt cannon lights mounted on a moving light rail (2- 453 nm Blue “Actinic” and 1- 12K) over a coral raceway containing mostly LPS corals such as several species of Chalice, Blastomussa coral, and Acanthastrea corals.

It’s pretty incredible to see a dramatic change in the coloration of the corals in such as short period of time, as some really “pop” now with glowing red, blue, greens, and pinks! The corals appear to be growing at the same rate as before, which is impressive to see, considering this raceway was illuminated previously with a single 400- watt 20K metal halide unit. We hope to continue testing and utilize LED technology more in the future.

Ecoxotic Cannon LED Pendant lights Ecoxotic Cannon LED Pendant lights

Want to know more about our facility in Rhinelander, WI? Take the LiveAquaria tour with our video series.


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About the author: Kevin earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Wright State University, and is an avid marine life photographer, lifelong aquarist, and marine fish enthusiast. He has worked in the aquarium industry since 1983. He launched the web site in 2000 and designed and oversaw the installation of the Drs. Foster and Smith Aquaculture Coral and Marine Life Facility, which opened in July of 2005. Kevin is currently the Director of LiveAquaria at Drs. Foster and Smith. See more articles by Kevin Kohen.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben Zimmerman March 1, 2011 at 8:22 am

Very nice. Have been experimenting with LEDs for some time myself and am seeing pleasing results as well.

Erik October 9, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Cool article!

bill czelusniak February 1, 2015 at 1:16 pm

I have a small salt water aquarium, I have well water which has hard water. I also have a water softener. I always use the hard water for water changes because I thought the minerals would be good for the tank. Am I wrong? I just ordered a R.O. unit. Should I connect it to a hard water supply, or after the water softener? Also do I need to add anything to the R.O.water, or is reef salt all I need?

Briana J. February 2, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Hi Bill. In general, water hardness is a good thing for a saltwater aquarium. However, since most people do not know what type of minerals are in their source water (and in what concentration), RO water is preferable to ensure proper amounts of desirable minerals and to eliminate unwanted dissolved solids. (Using RO water allows better control since everything is stripped out.) You should connect the RO unit directly to the water source. With a RO unit installed, the use of a water softener will not be necessary. Synthetic salt mixes are carefully formulated to provide the necessary elements for marine aquariums to thrive. Most hobbyists require only prepared saltwater made from RO water and a synthetic salt mix blend to enjoy a successful setup. (Advanced hobbyists caring for sensitive livestock or with special needs will use supplement to address specific needs). Here’s a great article for more information on reverse osmosis:

Bob H. April 17, 2015 at 11:23 am

After 25 years of fresh water aquaria I am going to try salt water. I have a standard 75 gallon glass aquarium that I would like to set up as a soft coral reef tank. I do believe I would like to use LED lighting but am totally confused as to the wattage/size/lumens/ect. I need.
Can you recommend a manufacturer and their size or model that would give me optimal results?

Briana J. April 21, 2015 at 7:59 am

Hi Bob! For a 75-gallon aquarium (48″ long x 18″ deep x 21″ tall) with soft corals and other hardy, less light demanding corals, we would suggest one of the following:

– Item #87700 Quantity 2 – Current Orbit Marine Lights
– Item #89466 Quality 2 – Marineland Reef LED strip Light
– Item #85950 Quantity 2 – AquaIllumination Hydra LED w/AI Rail and Hanging Kit for 48″ Tank
– Item #88261 EcoTech Marine XR-30W G3 Quantity 2 – Hanging Kit or Rail Kit Depending on canopy style and mounting preference

Quinn McNabb September 5, 2016 at 6:27 pm

Hi I’m just about to start a new aquarium using an old tank that I’ve had for a while and I’m looking into starting a Saltwater rather than my usual freshwater. I have a friend who has had a saltwater for quite some time but is no longer in the hobby. A few questions I wanted to ask were about fish I could keep and lighting I could use. My tank is a 15 gallon tank however is is taller rather than long Petsmart advertises it as a column aquarium and I wanted to know what I could keep in it I do like clowns and firefish but i’m also looking for interesting suggestions. I have a National Geographic LED light with blue and white lights it is a high power light but I wanted to know if it would be alright for coral growth. I have read a few steams that have said it would be great but I want to be sure. Also any suggestions for colourful either small or just tall coral would be greatly appreciated!

Scott December 13, 2016 at 3:20 am

I bought a 1 current orbit Marine light (24-36) from you guys . I have a 30 gallon long tank, 36″ long X 18″ tall 12″ deep. I was wondering if the one light would be good or not? I usually just have fish in the tank, but I wanted to start getting into coral. I’m new to the whole coral idea, but I have had fish in the tank for over 7 years now. Since I’m in the military my biggest challenge is just moving the tank all over the country. With that, what would be the best way to transport the coral?

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