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    Coral Magazine Jan-Feb 2009 Issue – New Site, Aquascape Contest, No T5s?

    This past weekend I had the opportunity to sit down and read the January/February  2009 issue of Coral Magazine. (If you are not subscribed to Coral, I strongly suggest it. I would not hesitate to say that Coral is one of the top reef publications–both in print and online.) In typical Coral/Koralle fashion, this recent issue is […]

    This past weekend I had the opportunity to sit down and read the January/February  2009 issue of Coral Magazine. (If you are not subscribed to Coral, I strongly suggest it. I would not hesitate to say that Coral is one of the top reef publications–both in print and online.) In typical Coral/Koralle fashion, this recent issue is loaded with quality images and information.


    The descriptive writing and photographs of Marlen Hundertmark and Christian Hepperger sealed the deal on a future trip to Madagascar… and Mauritius. Knop’s piece on Triggerfish  shinned a bright light on a group of fish that are often ignored. While Wittenrich increased my affection for Mandarin Dragonets and Calfo highlighted the flaw in many reef lighting discussions that occur among aquarists.

    Coral also had a one page ad to spread the word of their 2009 Marine Aquascape Contest. Possibly the first for the hobby, the grand prize winner will be presented with a Goldern Staghorn trophy at this coming MACNA in Atlantic City. In additon to the trophy more than $10,000 in cash and reef keeping prizes can be won. Judging will be based on one high resolution digital photograph of the aquarium. For more information head over to the brand new Coral Magazine US website: CORAL Aquascaping Contest. 

    (Note: The main photo CORAL uses is of Iwan Lasser’s reef back in 2005. It depicts the “T5 effect” well which I touch on later.)

    Overall the issue was another one worth adding to the bookshelf for future reference, but after reading Calfo’s piece  titled A New Perspective on Reef Lighting, I was left wondering why T5s–arguably the most energy efficient reef lighting currently available–were completely left out.

    Before delving into the T5 omission, I must applaud Calfo for bringing up species specific lighting and photoinhibition. Although some may deny it, not all hard corals do best when blasted with 400w Metal Halides! This is an area where we can take notes from the Japanese. There, lighting intensity and spectrum is dictated by the specific animal and the environment from where it was collected. Some Japanese bulbs don’t even include kelvin, instead they list the water depth that the spectrum best mimics.

    Back to T5s. With the current line up of  T5 fixtures available that incorporate individual parabolic reflectors and active cooling, it is difficult to compete against them from an efficiency perspective. One large benefit that T5s have is in their placement. They can be placed extremely close to the water surface, reducing incidental light that is cast outside of the aquarium, and instead focus it downwards into the tank. Aquarists are noticing less T5s can achieve coloration and growth beyond what you would expect from their increased luminous efficacy. Without a doubt there is a pastel effect from T5s which needs to be researched more until we have a firm grasp on exactly why. 

    Nonetheless, T5s are making waves and I was surprised to not find a mention of them in this issue. With Mr. Calfo’s arrival at IceCap I would have placed money on their inclusion before reading his piece!


    Fauna Marin’s new Star Fire unit boasts SLRs & active cooling

    A similar omission was included in Fenner’s write up on the captive care of Bubbletip Anemones. While he does state that,  “fluorescent bulbs would suffice” he went on, “Metal Halide or intense LED lighting is advised for water over 24in. in depth.” Yes, the point source nature of metal halides and LEDs (with appropriate optics) allow them to penetrate well, but we have seen many tanks over 24″ that have adequate par on the sandbed with T5s only. These are not the same Triton tubes we used many many years ago. T5s can pack a serious punch, even at depths if the proper amount of bulbs and single lamp reflectors (SLR) are used. All to often aquarists underestimate their intensity and come home to a “burned” reef after just one day of T5 use!

    Energy consumption is currently a concern to nearly all aquarists and for this reason I would encourage aquarists to consider T5s when applicable. Not only are they extremely efficient, they are packaged in some of the best looking fixtures aquarists can buy. 

    Overall this is another great issue from CORAL, that seemed to go flawlessly as they switched publishers. Get working on your aquscape and remember more watts does not always equate to healthier animals.


    1. mcliffy2
      March 2, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

      Thanks for pointing out the one ommission I saw in an otherwise GREAT publication. The statement that you would “typically” put FOUR metal halides over a six foot tank struck me as a bit odd, but suggesting reducing that to two with a light mover was on point (although how about one 400w MH with some high PAR blue T5 supplements, all on a light mover).

    2. Jeremy Maneyapanda
      March 2, 2009 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

      While this can arguably be pursued for all lighting methods, it seems that the “bugaboo” with T5 is that the combination of ballast and reflector is what causes such polar differences between mediocre T5 use and spectacular T5 use. Like I said, I do believe that this is also true of MH, but perhaps not to the degree of the T5. Along with that, it would near, if not completely, impossible to account for such a seemingly infinite combination of permutations to address. I am not saying that T5s should have been left off, but I think unless appropriately address, it is a misleading application.

    3. March 3, 2009 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

      @Cliffy, I found the 4x MH a bit odd as well; 3 have always sufficed. I have even used 2 with Lumenarcs for adequate coverage. I completely agree, T5s are particularly useful as supplements to metal halides. While they do lack the pop of VHO Actinic, they can provide useful PAR while simulating sunrise/sunset.

      @Jeremy, Truthfully I believe the ballast reflector combination is more important for Metal Halides, but I do see where you’re coming from. IMO a simple T5 with individual reflectors covers the area well. In either case, it’s difficult to give full information without including a particular brand or specific product.

    4. Nicholas Sadaka
      March 3, 2009 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

      I just want to say that I absolutely LOVE Coral magazine and read it cover to cover. I subscribe to a lot of aquarist magazines, but Coral magazine is the only one that I keep with my aquatic literature…all my other mags are eventually given to kids at the library. The photos are stunning and I would say that there hasn’t been an issue yet where after I have read it, hasn’t inspired me to try something different or start a new type of tank. I don’t have the money or space for more tanks, but I’ve certainly though about and designed plenty in my mind. More than anything, I find Coral magazine to be…inspiring! Not too many magazines have the ability to have that kind of affect. With how many different aspects of reefing there are, I’m a little surprised that Coral and Anthony’s quarterly (I believe) magazines are the only strictly reefing mags available to us in the US. I’d love there to be more, but Anthony’s alluded in Editor’s Notes that running a mag is a really tough business, so I guess that’s probably why. I think a lot of reefer’s overlook Coral because of the price and the frequency it’s put out. Let me just say to those people, it is WELL, WELL worth it…I’d pay double without blinking.

    5. Jeremy Maneyapanda
      March 4, 2009 at 11:42 PM | Permalink

      Eric, while I think ballast and reflector combos will make a big difference with MH, I guess my poorly stated point was that, with MH, it will rarely make the MH a poor light choice. even a poor refelctor and poor ballast will still provide valuable light with a MH setup. However, with T5,s a poor ballast and poor reflector can almost render a fixture useless, while a good reflector and ballast can make it the polar extreeme opposite, and make it phenomonal. Its the realtive scale I was referring to.

    6. Jeremy Maneyapanda
      March 4, 2009 at 11:44 PM | Permalink

      I, too, am glad Calfo, et al, took it over. I had let me subscription lapse when it was under the control of Ecosystems. I felt it was quite lacking then, with marginally inofrmative articles and features. It was almosts a periodical advertisemnt for Ecosystem. I ws pleasantly surprised by the last issue, and renewed my subscription.

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