There are tons of choices when it comes to lighting in this hobby and depending on when and how you got into the hobby, it may tell what kind of lighting you have. Lighting is essential for the health of your coral and getting too little or too much can be fatal.
There are primarily four types of lighting: LED, compact fluorescent, metal halide, and T5 fixtures. Each have their benefits and different types of coral will favor each one. LEDs or light emitting diodes can really make coral’s colors pop. The quality of LEDs varies tremendously so it can be difficult to decide where to place your corals.
You generally want to have your SPS at the top of your tank, LPS in the middle (with some exceptions), and soft corals at the bottom. Since most LEDs are dimmable, you can change the intensity to adjust to your coral placement.
Compact fluorescents are becoming less popular which is understandable since they limit your coral selection. With compact fluorescents you can place your coral almost anywhere in the tank; LPS corals should be placed on top with soft corals everywhere else. SPS corals should be kept out of tanks with compact fluorescents.
Metal halides are a favorite among SPS junkies. They can be used with any coral and they are known to grow coral quickly. Metal halides are powerful so be careful to ensure you do not burn your corals.
For any lighting it is advised to start with lower light then slowly move your coral to its final space. For metal halides SPS should be placed middle to top with LPS and soft corals on the bottom. T5 fixtures bring both color and growth to your tank. They can grow any kind of coral and are often times dimmable.
Like most lights, place your SPS corals closest to the light, LPS corals in the middle, and soft corals near the bottom under your T5 fixture. The color of the bulbs will also determine the intensity of the light; most people tend to have more blues than whites and pinks.
Each light has a unique aspect that benefits particular corals and can be specific to the type of aquarium. Be sure to adjust your coral placement to the type of light you have to ensure they thrive.