L.E.D. lighting systems are the latest addition to reef lighting, and they
are destined to become the most popular type in the future.
and then moved up to a 125-gallon tank with metal halide and
V.H.O. lighting shortly after. This was certainly sufficient, but there
were far fewer choices to be made when it came to buying metal
halide bulbs relative to what hobbyists have to choose from today.
There are definitely more brands available now, offering a wider
variety of bulb colors/temperatures. Power compact fluorescent
lighting also increased in popularity for some time, although
their use in the hobby has waned significantly since the arrival
of T-5 H.O. fluorescent systems. Their arrival has been the most
significant change in lighting, in my opinion.
In a relatively short time, T-5 H.O. fluorescent lighting has
exploded, with several companies offering a spectrum of bulbs,
fixtures, and retrofit kits. These are exceptionally efficient and
bright, especially when used with the right reflectors, and when
an appropriate number of bulbs are used, their output can be
sufficient to keep most any light-dependant corals and such alive
and well. They’re also relatively compact in size, meaning more of
them can be employed in a given space compared to other types of
fluorescent and metal halide bulbs.
There’s also one more type of relatively new lighting to bring
up. Purpose-built L.E.D. lighting fixtures have become available
in the last few years, which may be the direction that everything
goes in the future. Like so many other things electronic, they’re too
expensive at the time for most hobbyists, but they’ll probably get
cheaper and cheaper as the years go by. The hardware is likely to see
continued improvements in design and efficiency as well. They’re
definitely bright, so if their prices become less of an issue, I think
these have the potential to become as popular as (or even more
popular than) anything we’ve used to illuminate tanks to date.
Lastly, if I can come up with one specific thing other than
information that has really made a fundamental change in the hobby,
it’s the skyrocketing popularity of fragging corals. When I got started
in the hobby, I’d never even heard of breaking or cutting up a coral
to make more, and I certainly hadn’t seen any such things for sale.
That’s definitely changed now, however, as any hobbyist with some