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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Light Up Your Aquarium

Light Up Your Aquarium


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Proper lighting is essential when setting up an aquarium. Every aquarium needs a hood, a canopy and light in order to:

  • reduce water evaporation
  • help maintain a consistent water temperature
  • keep out normal household pollutants
  • keep the fish from jumping out (and the cat from jumping in)
  • provide necessary light needed for fish
  • enhance the colors of the fish and make the aquarium more attractive
  • allow for photosynthesis in live plants.

There are two types of lighting available for aquariums: incandescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes. Incandescent bulbs are less expensive than fluorescent tubes. However, they produce more heat and less natural light. Incandescent bulbs are generally found only on 10-gallon tanks and smaller.

Fluorescent tubes produce a more natural light and much less heat. The fixtures for fluorescent tubes are also much more flexible and will allow you to pick the best type of light for your aquarium.

If you have an aquarium with live plants, you should only use a full spectrum fluorescent bulb. Fluorescent lighting best simulates the light given off by the sun.

Intense lighting, which plants grow best with, can be increased by using bulbs that emit more watts. Heavy plant growth can be achieved by increasing the lighting to 60 watts of fluorescent lighting for every 12 inches of tank length. While more expensive to purchase, fluorescent lights are less expensive to operate.

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