Acclimating your coral to lighting

How to acclimate your coral to your lighting system

When bringing any new coral home to your aquarium, it’s important that you follow adequate acclimation procedures. Many people are familiar with the importance of acclimating to water temperature and quality, but did you know it’s important to acclimate your coral to your aquarium’s lighting system too? 

Coral light acclimation

Coral are very sensitive creatures. Even a small shock during a move can leave your coral reeling for weeks, or worse, dead. Most hobbyists are very diligent about ensuring that they properly acclimate their coral to their aquarium’s temperature and water chemistry, usually through drip acclimation. But what about lighting type and intensity? Lack of light acclimation can leave your coral shocked, bleached, burnt or even severely damaged. 

It can be exciting to place your new coral in the brightest spot possible, hoping that the intense light will coax your coral to come out and enjoy its new surroundings. However, corals are very sensitive creatures, and your lighting system is probably much different than what they’ve become accustomed to at their previous location. No two lighting fixtures are the same, and your coral was probably under much different lighting conditions at the pet store or online retailer you purchased them from. It’ll have to gradually adjust to the lighting in its new home before it can thrive. 

How to light acclimate your coral

When you first bring your coral home and you’ve completed your water acclimation procedure, place it at the bottom of your tank while they adjust. If your system uses metal halide lights, make sure you cover your coral with a screen for the first few weeks, like egg crates or a fiberglass mesh. This will provide some level of protection from the intensity of your lights and reduce the likelihood of light shock. 

It’s also important to cut back on your photoperiod by a quarter during the first week and slowly begin increasing it by an hour each week after that. Once your coral has expanded and begins to present its full coloration, you can begin inching it towards your preferred location. The whole acclimation process should take up to a few months to ensure healthy, happy corals.