How to Properly Set Up a LED Light - A Case Study

Aquarium, reef led light

Table of Contents

This article is probably the most interesting one from the whole series about light that I have written recently. In this step-by-step, practical guide, I will explain my light settings and justify why I set up the light in this particular way. Will my settings be the best for you? I assume that it will work well for some tanks, and not for others, but perhaps let’s go through this case study first and then think about whether this setup is right for you.

Articles worth reading before diving into this case study:

Aquarium light, reef led light

The Importance of Light in a Saltwater Aquarium

In the article, you will find information about various aspects related to light. It is worth reading and understanding this most important area in a marine aquarium.

As I mentioned in previous articles, corals exhibit adaptability and can adjust to different light conditions. Scientific research and observations suggest that corals adapt most easily to the blue and violet spectrum, ranging from 400-495 nm. Personally, I also set my LED light to full spectrum for a few hours a day.

Why? During the studies conducted at Crazy Coral, when we developed a method for rapid coral growth under artificial conditions, we compared corals kept under “blue” spectrum light only and under full spectrum light only (without changing ranges throughout the day). The coral kept under blue light had more vibrant colors, while the one kept under full spectrum had thicker and more stable branches. In the case of corals kept under blue light, their stems seemed to be growing more in the light direction, while those under full spectrum appeared more nourished.

Below is a comparison photo of two corals from this study. On the left side is the coral maintained under the “blue spectrum,” and on the right, the coral under full spectrum.

koral światło

That’s why I personally set my light to provide corals with blue light for most of the time and only for a short period with full spectrum. I consider this a fair compromise: providing more energy with full spectrum (so that the coral can realize its photosynthetic potential), while offering a large amount of valuable blue light, which makes the coral beautifully colored and visually appealing.

TIP: What is important, if we want to achieve better results with the blue spectrum compared to the full spectrum, we need to provide an adequate amount of PAR consistent with the coral’s demand.

Setting Up a LED Light

Below, I present four screenshots from the Smart Reef from the light panel management. In the first image, you can see my light settings. I marked three key lighting points.

Jak ustawić lampę LED

  1. The first stage is full-spectrum light, ranging from 400-700 nm.
 Ustawienie swiatła
  1. Then we move to the “blue” spectrum, covering the range of 400-470 nm.
Ustawienie lampy LED
  1. In the final stage, corals reach their photosynthetic potential, and I provide a lower PAR power. Corals still receive energy from photosynthesis, but since they have already reached their photosynthetic potential, they don’t need to receive a large amount of PAR; they can efficiently cleanse themselves even with lower circulation and present themselves most beautifully to my eyes. At this stage, I mainly provide light in the range of 400-450 nm, with a small contribution from the 470 nm range (this is my favorite setting in terms of coral appearance).
Oświetlenie akwarium morskie

My philosophy is to: provide a large amount of energy with full spectrum (1) so that the coral can feed through efficient photosynthesis; provide only the “blue” spectrum for the coral to feed more slowly but with valuable light spectrum, making it easier for them to function (2); then reduce PAR so that the coral can continue feeding but also cleanse and regenerate after intense lighting (3).

TIP: An important tip: if you increase the lighting power, as I do in point (1), you should also increase the circulation power. I wrote about this in previous articles. If you don’t do this, the scheme may lose its meaning, as the coral must cleanse itself faster during more efficient photosynthesis.


Is this my final light setup? I don’t think so. I will definitely continue experimenting. Is this setup perfect for everyone? I doubt it. My goal was not to create the perfect light setting for everyone, but to show how to experiment with light settings to adapt them to the specific requirements of corals. 

My request and advice: before you start experimenting with your light settings, please read the previous articles about light. They will help you understand the aspect of light from a broader perspective. My request is motivated by concern for your aquarium and corals.

The articles about lighting that it is worth to read:



About the author

Picture of Marek Protasewicz

Marek Protasewicz

Reefkeeping has been my passion for over 10 years now. I love learning. The hobby has taught me many valuable lessons, patience being the best example. Combining work and passion is my path. I run Crazy Coral, a marine aquarium shop, for a number of years. Building this business from the scratch I learnt from my own mistakes at a heavy cost.
Later I managed a project aimed at development of methods for quick growth of Corals in non-natural conditions. The project was carried out by Get Sales, Poland. Presently, I am responsible for distribution strategy at Reef Factory, of which I am a co-founder. The company produces smart devices for marine aquaristics. The last projects I have been involved in are Social Reef and ReefPedia.

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