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Aquarium Lighting; types of lighting - by Carl Strohmeyer

In this article I will discuss the types of Aquarium lights available. This is a growing list as newer bulbs at often lower costs that actually do more are coming out all the time. The new SHO power compact are a good example, these bulbs are amazing especially considering their low price and high output in a 6400 K bulb that is great for plants and fish alike.

Common fluorescent bulbs include the:
*T-12; a standard pin, 1-1/2” wide bulb. This bulb will generally use more watts

*T-8; a standard pin, 1” wide bulb. As compared to the T-12, a 48” T-12 will use 32 watts, while a 48” T-8 will use 32 watts.

*T-5; a mini pin bulb which generally uses even less watts than T-8 bulbs.

*VHO; this stands for “Very High Output”. These come in T-5 thru T-12

*PC; this stands for “Power Compact”. These bulbs come in straight pin arrangements, square pin arrangements, and the ever more popular self ballasted standard incandescent fixture “screw in” type. These bulbs along with T-5s tend to be the most efficient.
Aquarium SHO power compact bulbs, VHO A new Power Compact that in my opinion is awesome for planted aquariums and even for reef aquariums (as an addition to LED or Metal Halide) is the self ballasted SHO PC bulbs. The 105 Watt SHO Daylight bulb puts out 6300 lumens and is comparable to a 525 watt Standard bulb (click on the picture for a link)

*Metal Halide (MH); These are the raining “Kings” of reef aquarium due to depth penetration, output, spectrum, and over all beauty and amount of coral life they help support. Even the newer T-5 lamps cannot achieve the depth penetration and overall output of these lights.
Metal Halide work via a gas mixture of halides and other elements. The actual light production comes from the small bubble of gas that is held in place by metal wires and/or supports. The electricity running between them and the small gas bubble, heats them, similar to an incandescent filament. This is one of the reasons that Metal Halide bulbs give off more heat than other bulbs.
The downside is the heat that MH lights produce, often resulting in the need for hood fans and even chillers. Two sizes I most often have used are the 10,000 K 175 watt and the 20,000 K 250 watt for really deep tanks (over 30”)

*LED: The new reef compatible LED are likely to take over the market as they become more readily available and the price comes down. These lights do not have the heat problems and are very compact. LED lights are most suitable for aquatic life tank-lighting and reef tanks because they offer superior flexibility when compared with traditional fluorescent lighting. When LED lights operate, the photometric radiation remains within a narrow band on the electromagnetic spectrum. Specific photometric wavelengths are often beneficial to some aquatic plant life and reef tanks. Controlling specific wavelengths becomes possible through a basic network of colored LED lights connected to a digital LED controller. Since LEDs emit light only in very specific direction, the installer has the option to illuminate a precise area by simply rotating the polycarbonate tube casing. The water resistant casing also provides the LED circuitry with adequate protection against moisture and chemicals found within the fish tank or reef tank.

The Rio Mini sun are a small version for marine and freshwater tanks under 10 gallons:
Aquarium LED light fixturesLED Aquarium Lights; Rio (Taam) Mini Sun Lighting Fixture

For my article which includes many more resources and pictures, plus more about what is important in aquarium lighting such as Nanometers,  Kelvin, PAR and more, please visit this URL; http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/Aquarium_Lighting.html

Professional aquarium maintenance experience since 1978 as the owner of one of the larger aquarium maintenance companies in LA, CA.

I have been in the hobby since 1969.



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