With the number of available options, finding the right aquarium light for your tropical fish tank can seem daunting, but it does not have to be. There are a few general guidelines based on tank size and the plant and fish life that will be added that can significantly narrow a search. It is common for beginner aquarists to overlook the importance of good, consistent aquarium lighting for a tank, but the impact of the right, or wrong, light can have wide reaching consequences. For first time fish tank owners, it is always best to start simple, introducing more complexity as confidence is gained.
Small tanks that will only host fish present the most options for aquarium light bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs, aquarium LED lighting, and even filament bulbs can all be viable options. The least expensive bulbs are often fluorescent or filament. However, filament bulbs will generate a lot of heat, which may create problems. LED bulbs are more expensive but are far more energy efficient, so for those who are eco-conscious or interested in reducing utility bills, these are the best choice. The mark of a good aquarium light bulb is its ability to burn for more than 2,000 hours and not negatively affect a tank’s temperature controlled water.
Tropical fish are not used to prolonged periods of absolute darkness. For optimum health, aquarium lights that recreate nighttime conditions should also be purchased. Any DIY aquarium lighting plan should include a lunar light that runs on a timer. These lights should be used for 12 hours each night, or anytime a house is dark. Lunar lights generally fall into a blue color spectrum and the effect of a dimly lit tank at night can be breathtaking.
The most ambitious aquarists add reefs to their tropical tanks. Saltwater, reef containing tanks require special reef aquarium lighting to flourish. Lighting must be high intensity and fall into a very specific color spectrum. Experienced tank owners swear by metal halide aquarium lighting for its ability to dutifully recreate reef conditions. A metal halide aquarium light will be more expensive than most of the other options on the market, and will require more labor to install. However, this cost is a necessary expense to maintain the health of a reef ecosystem.
The right aquarium light will make caring for your tropical fish easy. Online instructional videos are available that can take anyone through the simple systematic installation process to help you put your light to immediate use.