Few of us realize the importance of aquariums lighting. Most of us are more concerned with changing the water, and ensuring that fish don’t die on account of toxic wastes. We don’t realize that fish, even though in an aquarium, will require lighting that is close to their natural environment.
Two points must be kept in mind while selecting aquariums lighting. The first is the size and shape of the aquarium. Based on this the wattage should be determined. The use of high watt lamps increases the temperature of water, affecting fish and plant life. The second is the kind of plants used in the aquarium. You must remember that plants too need the full spectrum of light for their optimal growth.
Fortunately, you have a wide choice when it comes to aquariums lighting possibilities. There are four basic lighting systems available based on the wattage they provide and their temperature rating in Kelvin.
The very basic ones are the Regular Fluorescent Lights whose wattage ranges from 15-40 watts and have a temperature range of 3000-10000K. They are very affordable and require no external cooling.
The Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs come in the range of 10-100 watts and have a temperature range of 5000-10000 K. They even heat up the hood and should be used with fans.
High Output Fluorescent Lamps require a T5 power supply but they do last longer and give out 20-60 watts. An improvement on these is the Very High Output Fluorescent Lamps which are of 75-160 watts and hold 10000-20000 Kelvin ratings. These lamps increase the water temperature so it is necessary to install a chiller along with fans.
In case you are looking for reproducing the light given out by the sun, it would be best to go for Metal Halide Light bulbs. These aquariums lighting systems provide a spectra similar to that of the sunlight and keep the fish most happy. Also, this lighting is most suitable for those who want to have plants in their aquariums.
A rule of the thumb is that there should be 2-5 watts of aquariums lighting for every aquarium gallon.