View Cart You may change your account settings, including your Billing & Shipping Addresses, Credit Card Information, as well as Express Checkout status.
Doctors Foster and Smith LiveAquaria
  Welcome to LiveAquaria.com! 
HOME    HELP    CONTACT US    MY ACCOUNT    SIGN IN
LiveAquaria.com - Quality Aquatic Life Direct To Your Door. LiveAquaria.com - Quality Aquatic Life Direct To Your Door.
SEARCH

Free Shipping on Orders Over $225
Diver's Den - WYSIWYG Fish, Corals, Inverts & More
Weekly Specials
Aquarium Supplies
LiveAquaria.com Rewards Program

resources
Shipping Rates & Info
How to Order
We're here to help:
- Email Us
- 1-800-334-3699
100% Guarantee
Compatibility Chart
Acclimation Guide
Ideal Water Parameters
Always Quarantine New Arrivals
Articles & Information

features
Beginners Area
Build Your Own Reef Cleaner Packages
Certified Captive Grown Corals - 30 day guarantee!
Collector's CornerĀ®
FREE Catalogs
Email-Only Specials
YouTube Twitter Connect with Us!
Facebook

Video Center
Freshwater Fish Pond Fish Pond Plants Live Foods Freshwater Inverts Freshwater Plants
Marine Fish Corals Live Rock Reef Cleaner Packs Marine Inverts Marine Plants

Aquarium Lighting: Systems and Bulbs - Part 1



Aquarium Lighting: Systems and Bulbs - Part 1
When shopping for a lighting system, pay close attention to the following system characteristics: bulb type, initial cost, operating costs, and the amount of heat produced by the system.

Incandescent Lighting Systems
Incandescent Most household general-use bulbs are incandescent. An incandescent light consists of a filament encased in a glass bulb. When electricity is passed through the filament, it heats up and glows, producing light. Incandescent lights are very inexpensive, have a long life, and come in a variety of colors. However, their use in the aquarium hobby is limited due to their low light spectrum and the amount of heat they emit. Because incandescent bulbs are offered only in low wattages, they are useful only for small, fish-only aquariums which do not require a wide light spectrum or high light intensity.

Fluorescent Lighting Systems
Aquarium Lighting: Systems and Bulbs - Part 1 Because of their wide variety of sizes, wattages, and spectrum ranges, fluorescent systems are today's most popular type of lighting system. Fluorescent light bulbs are simply gas-filled glass tubes. When electricity is passed through the tube, the gasses within the tube heat to the point where they give off light. Fluorescent bulbs are coated inside with different blends of phosphors to achieve different spectrums of light. As the light passes through the coating, the phosphors produce colors based on their chemical makeup. However, regular use, along with the passage of time, degrades the gas and coating within the bulb, changing both the intensity and spectrum of the light produced by the bulb. Because of this, it is important that fluorescent bulbs are changed on a regular basis.

Common fluorescent systems include:

Standard Fluorescent Systems
Standard A standard fluorescent system includes a ballast designed for use with bulbs from 18" to 72" long. Standard fluorescent bulbs are offered in different diameters. The diameter is defined by the bulb's T-rating, which is based on a scale of 1/8" (a bulb with a T-rating of 8 has a 1" diameter). The most common diameters for standard fluorescent bulbs are T-8 and T-12. Most fixtures will accept either of the two. Two bulbs of the same length with different diameters will have different wattages - the bulb with the smaller diameter will have a lower wattage. For example, a 48" T-12 bulb produces 40 watts, whereas a 48" T-8 bulb produces only 32 watts. Standard fluorescent bulbs also offer a wide variety of spectrums, ranging from fish-only beauty lights to specialty plant bulbs and actinic bulbs for saltwater aquariums.

Standard fluorescent systems are a good choice for both freshwater and saltwater fish-only aquariums. Multiple-bulb systems can also be used for aquariums with live plants and corals that require only low levels of light.

T-5 HO And VHO Fluorescent Systems
VHO T-5 High Output (HO) and Very High Output (VHO) fluorescent systems are similar in design to standard fluorescent systems, but they offer higher light output. T-5 HO and VHO systems require different ballasts and end caps than those used with standard fluorescent systems. VHO and HO bulbs cannot be used with a standard fluorescent ballast.

T-5 HO and VHO systems are typically used for saltwater reef aquariums. At one time, the spectrum available for these systems was typically in the higher Kelvin range. However, T-5 HO lamps are now available in a greater spectrum range, perfect for fresh and saltwater aquariums.

Compact Fluorescent Systems
Power Compact Compact fluorescent systems operate under the same principles as the other types of fluorescent systems. However, their appearance varies from standard, T-5 HO, and VHO systems. Instead of using one glass bulb, compact fluorescent systems incorporate bulbs with a twin-tube design. Wattage ratings on these bulbs include both tubes in the total output of the bulb.

Compact fluorescent systems are commonly available in two designs: square-pin and straight-pin socket bases. Sockets have been designed for the pin layout of the specific bulb type (square-pin or straight-pin). Therefore, bulbs cannot be interchanged in the sockets.

Compact fluorescents are an excellent choice for any type of aquarium due to their low operating cost, bulb longevity, and wide variety of spectrums. Low Kelvin-rated power compact bulbs work well for freshwater planted aquariums, while higher blue spectrum bulbs are effective on saltwater reef aquariums.

Part two of this article will discuss metal halide and HQI aquarium lighting systems.

 

Click here for a more printer-friendly version of this article.   Click here for a PDF version of this article.   Bookmark and Share

 


 

 
FREE Email Newsletters - Sign up for weekly email-only specials & more:
help
CONTACT US
SHIPPING RATES
SHIPPING SCHEDULE
HOW TO ORDER
TRACK YOUR ORDER
REWARDS PROGRAM
 
about us
WHO WE ARE
AQUATIC SPECIALISTS
CUSTOMER COMMENTS
100% GUARANTEE
DIVER'S DEN HELP
 
services
GIFT CERTIFICATES
BUSINESS PARTNER PROGRAM
EMAIL NEWSLETTERS
PAY PAL CREDIT    PAY PAL®
WI Facility OPEN HOUSES
   
Visit our other websites:
DrsFosterSmith.com
PetEducation.com

bizrate Customer Certified Site - LiveAquaria.com Reviews at Bizrate Drs. Foster & Smith BBB Business Review McAfee Secure sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams

Visit our Retail Store  |   Tell a Friend About Us  |   Link to Us  |   Site Map  |   FREE Catalogs
Freshwater Fish | Pond Fish | Pond Plants | Brackish Fish | Freshwater Inverts | Freshwater Plants
Marine Fish | Corals | Live Rock | Tank Cleaners | Marine Inverts | Marine Plants | Diver's Den | Collector's Corner |

Copyright © 1997-2014, Foster and Smith, Inc. - 2253 Air Park Road, P.O. Box 100 Rhinelander, Wisconsin 54501 All rights reserved. Read our Terms of Use here. See our privacy policy here.
DFS21