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Aquarium Lighting: Which is Ideal for my Tank?

Once you decide to bring an aquarium into your home, you will put a lot of time, energy and money into creating a masterpiece aquarium. You have carefully selected the right style aquarium for your taste and placed it in just the right spot in your home. You spent countless hours researching saltwater fish, coral and other marine life to create a balanced and serene aquatic environment.

You’re proud of the masterpiece that you have created and now you should show it off. Lighting is just as important for the aesthetics as it is necessary for your aquarium to grow and flourish. You will want to carefully select it and knowing all of your options will aid you in making the right decision for your aquarium.

Lighting Options

Before you can select lighting, it would be helpful to understand what is available and the advantages and disadvantages of each. In order for your aquarium to thrive and looks its best, it is important to select the lighting that is recommended for your individual underwater community. In this case, one size doesn’t fit all.

Fluorescent Lighting

The most common type of aquarium lighting is fluorescent. One reason for its popularity is that it is the oldest technology available for aquariums. Secondly, it is less expensive than other types of lighting. Not only do they cost less, but they have a low operating cost and emit less heat than other bulbs. However, most fluorescent lights are not compatible with marine life. Full-spectrum fluorescent lights are the only fluorescent lights that can provide the necessary light for a healthy aquarium.

LED Lighting

LED lighting is the newest lighting technology and much more superior to any other lighting on the market. First, the LED bulbs produce considerably less heat than other bulbs and operate at a fraction of the cost of other bulbs. Additionally, these bulbs can last significantly longer than traditional fluorescent or metal halide bulbs. Some people will shy away from LED lighting because the bulbs can be more expensive than other bulbs; however, LED bulbs are the best lighting option for your saltwater aquarium. The LED lights will provide your plants and coral with a good supply of strong light so your aquarium can grow to its full potential. Another benefit to LED lighting is how your aquarium will look. LED lighting will make your whole aquarium seem brighter and colors will be sharper. If you are going to spend the time and money creating your aquarium, don’t you want to show it off in the best way possible?

Metal Halide Lighting

Metal Halide (MH) lights are amongst the strongest marine aquarium lighting available. Metal halides are ideal if you plan on keeping corals that require very high lighting. Metal halides are particularly effective when combined with other types of fluorescent lighting. MH lights are also ideal for deep aquariums because the light can penetrate approximately 24 inches deep. However, MH bulbs tend to produce a great amount of heat and may require that you use a chiller. If financial investment is a concern, it is also good to know that MH bulbs are expensive to purchase. So unless your specific aquarium requires these types of lights, it may be more economical to choose a different type of lighting technology.

There are many aquarium lighting options to choose from. It is important to consider lighting as a factor when purchasing an aquarium. Do your research. Decide on marine life you would like to keep and design your lighting scheme to allow your marine life flourish.