One of the most controversial issues that have plagued me and many others in this hobby is lighting. My intention from the beginning, was to create a farm run on natural light. From what I had read this could be done in North America, but first having seen other operations first hand, they too were using supplemental lighting for some species.
None the less, I was determined to make it work. Many things were working against me from the start which I had soon realized would make this goal impossible. For starters my home did not run East West, which is perhaps the largest of the problems. Secondly, the roof of the addition which houses the coral farm is not at the peak of the property or the home, so early and late day, the light is obstructed by the home placing the roof in a shadow. I knew this would be a slight problem going into the process so I made the roof of the farm higher for this reason, as well as to cool the room by allowing the excess heat to rise up.
The vaulted ceiling and North West placement of the home gives me direct
sunlight for a portion of the day. Another problem is that I had wanted the addition to blend in as part of the home since I don’t plan on staying here forever and can’t create a monstrosity. The roof has three medium sized skylights which do not permit enough natural light to enter the home. In the photo to the right you can see the unfinished room with two of the skylights intact.
The ploy board to follow would add a lot of needed reflectivity in the room, but still no where near the amount I needed for winter months. I can say during the summer the room did provide ample illumination to grow coral, but no enough to keep the high impact colors everyone favors. With the onset of fall and winter many of the species began tissue recession, and the need for supplemental light became a necessity.
Having to move forward with supplemental light I decided that I wanted to have a combination of all the different technologies on the market to gain experience from. Here you can see two of my systems, one illuminated by a dual 40 standard fluorescent strip light and the other by a VHO fixture with four foot 110 watt bulbs.