Lighting For Aquariums

freshwater lightsDifferent lighting for aquariums is dependent upon the type of fish tank that you have. Choosing the right aquarium lighting can not only enhance the colors in your fish, invertebrates or corals, but it can limit the amount of undesired algae and promote proper growth of freshwater plants and saltwater corals. Fish only freshwater tanks typically only require a full spectrum bulb or a color-enhancing bulb to bring out the colors of the fish. Freshwater tanks with live plants utilize plant bulbs that have the spectrum required for photosynthesis. Saltwater fish only tanks normally use full spectrum, color-enhancing or 50/50 bulbs that have blue wave lengths along with white wave lengths to bring out the truly vibrant colors in saltwater fish. Saltwater reef aquariums require more intense, more specific spectrums to encourage the growth of corals and anemones. These saltwater light bulbs range from 50/50 bulbs to 10,000k bulbs, actinic bulbs and high intensity metal halides.

So many manufacturers make so many light bulbs that being too specific will be nearly impossible. Though the names of the bulbs may be different depending on the manufacturer, most will list the spectrums and wave lengths on the side of the bulb sleeve along with the corresponding type of aquarium that would benefit from them. Many manufacturers sale light fixtureslighting fixtures that house the light bulbs in an enclosure to be placed on top of the tank or even hung above the tank. The nice thing about these fixtures is that they have heat removing fans and often built in timers. For reef fixtures, many units include led accent lights that can be ran at night as moon lighting. Other units are completely made up of multiple strips of led lights that are made of particular spectrums for freshwater as well as saltwater and reef tanks.

Even as led lights become more and more popular, the jury is still out as to how well they duplicate the spectrums led lightsneeded for coral growth. As a recent conversation I had confirmed, one manufacturer admitted that in their test tanks, growth under led lights is either stagnant or negative compared to similar setups with T5 bulbs. It won’t be long before this isn’t the case, but for the price of led lights it might be better to wait a while longer till the cost comes down and the results get better. T5 lighting for now is the safest bet with the most bang for the buck. The various T5 bulbs, ballasts and end caps are readily available at most fish stores and online retailers. Even though T8 and T12 bulbs are still available, most manufacturers have limited production or stopped it all together because of EPA regulations.

Metal halides are not limited to large tanks, but are typically used for them. They offer high intensity light for deep aquariums with live plants in Metal Halidesfreshwater aquariums or especially in reef tanks for corals and anemones. The bulbs come in various spectrums from 5000k to 20,000k to simulate different lighting at different depths and for specific needs. Metal halides range from 150 watts to 1000 watts. They tend to cause quite a bit of heat transfer to the tank even if they are in enclosures with fans. The majority of aquariums that utilize metal halides also must run a chiller to counter the heat that is caused in part by the lighting.

Choosing lighting for aquariums doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth. Research online and ask plenty of questions at your local pet store or fish store before you make the decision. This article is intended to point you in the right direction. Unfortunately, lighting for aquariums is similar to computers or cell phones. Well, maybe not quite as bad. But the reality is that lighting and fixtures that are bought today will be out dated within a few months to a few years. Lighting is definitely getting better and more affordable which is a good thing. Hope this article helped.

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Lighting For Aquariums
Lighting can make or break a tank (figuratively). It's important to know what you need to have a thriving aquarium.

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