Aquarium Lighting - The Type of Lighting in an Aquarium Affects its Inhabitants

Aquarium Lighting - Introduction
Aquarium Lighting - Incandescent Lighting
Aquarium Lighting - Fluorescent Lighting
Aquarium Lighting - Power Compact Lighting
Aquarium Lighting - Metal Halide

Aquarium Lighting - Introduction

All forms of life in an aquarium environment require some sort of lighting. The level and types of lighting in an aquarium affects its inhabitants, such as fish, in several ways, for example, its health, coloring, stress, photosynthesis and reproduction.

Standard fluorescent and incandescent lighting are suitable for most aquariums. There is a high demand with today's technology on aquarium lighting. This is especially the case with the popularity of fresh water live plant and saltwater reef aquariums. To determine the lighting requirements of the aquarium, one needs to check the light spectrum requirements of the specimens to be kept. There are some inhabitants that come from shaded regions where light is less abundant. On the other hand, there are inhabitants that come from shallow topical regions. These inhabitants are exposed to intense full spectrum lighting from the sun for long periods of the day and they require it to live.

Currently, there are a number of lightings available for aquariums. They are incandescent lighting, fluorescent lighting, compact fluorescent light, and metal halide lighting.

Aquarium Lighting - Incandescent Lighting

For decades, incandescent lighting has been a popular choice as aquarium lighting. They offer different colors and bulb strengths. They are also inexpensive, which makes them a very versatile light source for both large and small aquariums.

It is worthy to mention that incandescent light generates a notable amount of heat. Therefore proper ventilation may be required when using incandescent light bulb. The other disadvantages of using incandescent lights is that the bulb life is short and they are inefficient when it comes to high lumen output in deeper aquariums.

Aquarium Lighting - Fluorescent Lighting

They are probably the best all-around lighting to use for aquariums. They generate very little heat compared to incandescent bulbs. They are also inexpensive and have a relatively long bulb life.

Fluorescent light bulbs are basically long glass tubes that contain bits of phosphor. When an electrical current passes through the glass tubes, these bits of phosphor heats up and emits light. The amount of phosphors inside the glass tube governs the spectrum and intensity, which results in different colors. There are three main forms of fluorescent bulbs and are classified according to their amp output. They are regular, high, and very high output. Ballast is required for each fluorescent bulb. They are designed to transform electrical energy from power outlets to the fluorescent light bulb.

In order to function properly, high output and very high output fluorescent bulbs require special ballasts and end-caps, which is different to the ballasts used on regular bulbs.

In order to increase the overall lighting lumens, it is common to mix fluorescent light bulbs with other light bulbs such as metal halide and power compact bulbs.

Aquarium Lighting - Power Compact Lighting

Power compact bulbs are commonly referred to as compact fluorescent lighting. They are the new technology in the field of aquarium lighting. Compared to the traditional fluorescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent light bulbs generates considerably more light, uses less electricity and are smaller in size, which makes them very economical for long-term use. These light bulbs are also known for their depth penetrations, which makes them suitable to use in deep aquariums.

Aquarium Lighting - Metal Halide

Metal Halide bulbs are high-powered bulbs and require special ballasts and reflectors. Metal halide bulbs are available in a range of different wattage, which determines the brightness of the metal halide light bulb. They are mainly used in saltwater reef tanks where corals, anemones, and clams are kept.

Unlike fluorescent light bulb, metal halide light bulb is a pinpoint source of light rather than spreading the light out over the entire length of the light bulb. This also means that heat is generated in one spot. These light bulbs generate an intense amount of heat. To avoid overheating the tank, these light bulbs are suspended up off the water surface.

Source: AZoOptics

Date Added: Oct 11, 2007 | Updated: Oct 3, 2014
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