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Conserving Energy in a Reef Tank






The increasing concern of energy conservation is also a major issue for reef keeping hobbyists. While freshwater tank consumes energy through pumps and a small part through lights, saltwater tank, mostly coral keeping ones, can’t do without high intensity lights. And the wattage consumed by pumps are much lesser compared to those consumed by high intensity lights used in reef tanks. Every conscious aquarist must be somewhere dealing with a problem calling energy conservation which is somehow responsible for the high electricity bills. I thought of writing about this as winter is approaching and yet heater shall be running all the time to keep temperature in check. The question is can we make some efforts in making the reef tank somewhat energy conservative? Yes, definitely there are some ways to tackle the problem.





  1. While choosing lights for your tank, first determine how much of light exactly your tank is going to need. Accordingly get a light that will provide that much intensity of light only. Just don’t go by the design and brightness of the lights. Metal Halide as we know is the latest trend though they are cost you more wattage. Check if your corals really need that much of lights or will they do well in a normal LED light? Another option is T5 lights that are also gaining recognition these days. T5 lights consume less energy than Metal Halides. Unless you have a very big and deep reef tank, don’t opt for MH. The best way to conserve energy consumed by aquarium lights is the use of LED lights. They not only consume less energy but also last longer and are being made available in various design and power. Also regarding ballast instead of magnetic ballast you can opt for electronic ballasts as they are far more efficient and cost a bit less to run.
  2. Since the pump runs 24hours a day it is also very important to determine how much energy it is consuming. The external (outside the sump) magnetic drive pumps conserve too much energy so it is better to do away with them. Submersible pumps are a better option than magnetic pumps as they consume lesser energy but the drawback is the heating effect. The heating effect can be used as a boon in winter but it is important that you keep the temperature constantly in check. The TEFC motor driven pumps are some of the best pumps as far as noise and flow for the power used in reef tanks. Another way is using a closed loop using any of the pumps or via powerheads in the tank. With a closed loop there is a cleaner look to the tank and consume less energy. Buy pumps that are known to last longer.
  3. Protein skimmers are energy consuming equipment which you cannot do without. To lessen the cost on power consumed by protein skimmers, always use the right size needed for you tank. You skimmer might be consuming more energy than required for the size of your tank or the quantity of livestock. There are controversies regarding which is the skimmer available. The point that needs equal consideration while choosing skimmer is the wattage it is consuming. The best skimmer for your tank is the one that does the job well while also consuming lesser energy.
  4. Whichever equipment you purchase for your tank, always remember to check the label for power consumption rating. Use this to calculate how much it will cost to run in your tank:

Device Wattage/1000 X Cost per KWhr = cost to run the device for one hour

Some manufactures do not list wattage for the product, but do give an amp draw. You can use this to figure the wattage:

Amps X Volts = Wattage

This way you can check how much a particular product is going to cost you in a month. Compare with various other such product options available and get the one that is most energy conservative. You can also use ampmeter to find the total energy consumed by your tank.

With just a few analyses on the equipments you are using in your reef tank, you can help cut down your electricity bills. If you don’t want your hobby to burn down a hole in your pocket you better keep a check on power consumption that regret later.