How much light do I need for a saltwater aquarium?
Lighting a saltwater aquarium with fish can be accomplished using fairly inexpensive fluorescent lights or low wattage LEDs. The color spectrum and intensity of the light is not as important as it is for reef aquariums. However lights that give off a warmer spectrum (below 10,000k) can promote faster algae growth.
Coral tanks require a stronger intensity and a predominantly blue spectrum. Soft corals are generally the easiest usually requiring low light (50-100 PAR) Large polyp stony (LPS) corals have a demand for a moderate light (100-200 PAR) Small Polyp Stony (SPS) corals require high light and can tolerate a wide range (150-400) some staghorn acropora can even appreciate intensities pushing past 500 PAR.
It is important to note that all of these intensity suggestions for coral are based upon the broad generalizations of what defines LPS, SPS, and Soft coral. There are exceptions to these suggestions so it is always best to do your homework before purchasing any animal.