There are many different types of aquarium lights on the market today. Most lights are included in an aquarium hood. There are four main types of lights: incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, and high intensity discharge. Lighting is very important in your tank, especially if you are going to grow live plants. Too much light will cause an overgrowth of algae, and not enough light will cause your plants to fail to grow. The correct lighting for your tank will contribute to the over-all health of your tank.
The most common type of lighting sold in aquarium tank kits is the incandescent light. This light is fine if you are not planning on running it all the time. The same is true for halogen lights. Both of these light types will increase the temperature of your aquarium, especially if it is a small tank. Also, these two types of light increase algae growth significantly. However, if you are having trouble with plant growth, incandescent or halogen lights will help your plants grow better.
Fluorescent lights are great lighting for your tank. Not only do fluorescent lights not have as much effect on the temperature of the aquarium as halogen and incandescent lights, but they also can cause the colors of your fish and decorations to look more vibrant. Fluorescent lights are more expensive than halogen or incandescent, but they are worth the price. Be sure to replace your fluorescent tubes at least once a year, because they loose output, even if you cannot detect it. There are many different types of tubes on the market. Regular fluorescent tubes are fine for the normal freshwater tank. A full spectrum tube is the type that comes as close to natural sunlight as possible. If you are wanting to grow plants, look for a tube that has red or blue spikes in it.
Halide lighting is the most expensive light source available, and produces an intense light that is great for plants. Buying 3-5 Watts per gallon is a good rule of thumb if you want to use Halide lighting in your tank. Do not overdo it, as too much light will increase the temperature of the tank, as well as encouraging the growth of unwanted algae.
Lighting should be run as closely to the natural habitat as possible. Turn the light off at night, as your fish need the chance to rest. You will not fry your fish with too much light, but they may hide in order to have the chance to rest. You may want to consider buying a timer if you are prone to forgetting to turn the light on and off.
Lighting in your fish tank makes a very pleasing effect. It will allow you to enjoy your fish much easier. Buy as high a quality light as you can afford. You will be pleased with the lack of algae growth and the pleasing ambiance of your tank. Make sure the light hood you purchase is compatible with the type of light you want to have. By adding light to your tank, your fish will be happier too!