Acclimating Corals to a New Light

Congrats on your new light!  Today, we are going to talk about keeping your corals safe when upgrading your lighting. Typically, people choose to upgrade because they do not have lighting powerful enough to grow the coral they wish to keep.  This blog is going to address upgrading to lighting with higher output. 

Why Is Acclimating Important?

The corals and other living organisms in your tank have grown accustomed to the amount of light produced by your old lights. If you throw them under a new light that is brighter than the current light without properly acclimating them, they are going to have a difficult time adjusting to the new amount of lighting.

What Can Happen If You Don’t Acclimate

  1. Loss of Color
  2. Loss of Tissue
  3. Death

Proper Way To Acclimate

As we have mentioned in previous articles, nothing good happens fast! Therefore, when you bring home a new light it’s important to take into consideration how this will impact the world your corals live in. 

The goal is to mimic / match the output of your previous light to the new light. To do this, we recommend measuring the output of the original light at 3 different spots at the water level and then doing your best to match this output. Ideally, these measurements are done using a PAR meter. However, even a LUX or light meter app on your phone is much better than taking no measurements at all as our eyes are a terrible judge of output for something like this.

In most cases the output of the new light is going to be higher than the original light, so you will need to reduce the output of the new light. This can be done several different ways. (A combination of 2 or 3 of these options can also be used.)

  1. Raise up light significantly higher than old light. This will spread out the light and reduce the overall intensity at any one spot.
  2. Add layers of egg crate or window screen to prevent some of the light produced from reaching the tank.
  3. Dim down your new light using it’s control interface, for example with our ATI Dimmable Sunpower or with most LED lights on the market.

We recommend running the new light at the original intensity for two weeks. If your corals are looking healthy, then you can gradually increase the intensity by 5% every 2 weeks and give your corals more of what they crave… more light!

Most corals can take nearly as much light you can throw at them, if (and that’s a big if!) you give them enough time to adjust to the new intensity. Slowly adjusting your output over weeks or even months will ensure your corals remain happy and healthy.

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