Saltwater Aquarium Lighting Guide

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Lighting your saltwater aquarium can be one of the most difficult tasks for new hobbyists. Many people planning their first saltwater aquarium suffer from analysis paralysis. They get hung up trying to figure out what light fixture will work best for their aquarium. They consult their local fish store and then online forums, but are oftentimes lead down the wrong path.

In 2010, there are really only a few lighting types you should consider. If you plan to keep just fish, also called a fish only aquarium you will be fine with the standard stock lighting that comes with your aquarium. If you plan to keep a reef tank with living coral, then consider the following options.

Power Compact was definitely the most popular lighting solution from 2000 to 2005. It provided a substantial upgrade from the normal output lighting. It is still featured on many tanks today, but there are better and more cost effective options.

VHO or Very High Output lighting. Do not even consider purchasing this type of light. The technology is outdated. Parts and replacement light bulbs are becoming more difficult to find.

Metal Halide Lighting is still a very popular option. It provides an attractive shimmering effect that allows you to grow almost any type coral. The disadvantages of Metal Halide lights are the amount of energy required to run the fixture and the amount of heat they produce. These lights can be expensive to run ten or more hours per day and you may have to purchase a chiller to keep your aquarium cool if you live in a warmer climate. Metal Halide bulbs should be replaced every six to twelve months.

T5 Lighting has quickly become the top choice for most saltwater aquarists. The bulbs can be as intense as Metal Halide, but they only use half the energy. They also produce less heat and each bulb needs to be replaced once per year. Another major advantage is you are able to control the color of the light spectrum because you have multiple bulbs that can be replaced to make your aquarium bluer or whiter.

Finally, you have LED Lighting. In 2010, this technology is still too expensive for the average hobbyist. It provides the power and shimmer of metal halide without the heat, and the ability to control the color of bulbs like T5 Lighting. In the next ten years, LED lighting will be the standard in the saltwater aquarium hobby.

Depo is an expert with saltwater lighting and you might enjoy his article about coralife aqualight lighting for your power compact needs.

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DepolanMila has 1 articles online
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Saltwater Aquarium Lighting Guide

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This article was published on 2010/12/28