Aquarium Lighting Options

Choosing the correct lighting for your aquarium is very important. Not only does good lighting improve the visibility in your tank, but can also encourage plant and healthy algae growth. Aquarium lighting is also essential for some pets, such as turtles which require heat and ultraviolet light to maintain health. There are many different options and each type has advantages and disadvantages. The following guide will help you to choose the best light source for your aquarium.


An incandescent light is a standard light globe that most people are familiar with. These provide good quality light and are available in different tints. They are also the cheapest type of lighting that you can purchase. However, they are not overly energy efficient and make a relatively poor choice for aquarium lighting.


Halogen lamps have become very popular in the aquarium scene in recent years. They are a great source of light and are relatively efficient, but have the disadvantage or running very hot. They are being replaced by low energy (and far cooler) LED lights in many aquarium applications.


A fluorescent aquarium lightThis is the most common technology used in aquarium lighting. There are many different types of fluorescent globes, but some of the most commonly used for modern aquarium purposes are T2 and T5. T8 and T12 are also commonly used, but many people no longer use these globes because they contain mercury and have relatively poor intensity. High intensity and high output fluorescent bulbs have also become more common and are popular because they encourage plant growth.


An aquarium with LED lightingLED is a relatively new option to the aquarium scene> These globes have been around for a long time, but they have become more affordable in recent years. For example, Fluval have recently replaced their Halogen globes with LED lights on their EDGE series of aquarium. They are popular because they are very energy efficient, do not run hot and are available in a wide variety of colour and tint options. The downside of LED lighting is that it is still relatively expensive.

Plasma Lamp

High-efficiency plasma lamps and external electrode fluorescent lamps are two types of plasma lamps used in the aquarium industry. They are not common for home use, but some people choose to invest in this light source for their tropical aquarium.

Metal Halide

A metal halide bulbThese are high intensity lights that are best known for their use in sporting fields. They are also commonly used for tropical aquariums because this type of lighting best simulates the bright tropical sun shimmering over a coral reef. They can also be used for growing aquarium plants. The downside of metal halide globes is that they produce excessive heat and use more electricity.

Heat Lamp

A heat lamp is a device used for reptiles, such as turtles and lizards. These animals are cold blooded and require a source of heat to regulate their body temperature. An incandescent bulb is a very simple, yet effective heat lamp.

Ultraviolet Light

Reptiles also require a source of full spectrum UV light. For example, turtles require UV light to produce enough vitamin D. Without enough of this vitamin they are likely to develop serious health complications. Special UV lamps are available at all good pet stores.

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