Marine Aquarium Lighting

Marine aquarium lighting is essential for your fish tank because it is used to simulate day and night. This allows the fishes and invertebrates to establish a routine, take a rest and feel more secure.

Various light sources include natural sunlight, fluorescent, VHO (very high output) fluorescent, T-5 fluorescent, compact fluorescent, LED and metal halide. They all vary in cost, efficiency and longevity. Let us take a closer look at each kind.

Natural Sunlight

This is the simplest type of lighting source. However, this is only applicable for areas where there is much sun. In other places like those countries which are far from the equator, using natural sunlight may not be applicable.

Different Types of Marine Aquarium Lighting

Incandescent Lighting

This kind of lighting which makes use of incandescent lamps has been phased out. Incandescent lamps waste a lot of energy, thus burns out frequently.

Standard Fluorescent

This kind of marine aquarium lighting makes use of fluorescent lighting tubes that you can find in commercial ceilings.Standard fluorescent tubes are more suitable for marine aquariums than incandescent bulbs.

They also provide efficient lighting. However, standard fluorescent lights can not penetrate in deeper and larger aquariums.

Higher Output Fluorescent

There are three kinds of high output fluorescent technology.

  • VHO (Very High Output) fluorescent lamps have high power level which can run 3 times more than the regular lighting. These kinds of lamps have a high light output but the diameter of the bulbs is also big which can sometimes make the bulbs too big for the aquarium.


  • Another high powered fluorescent lighting is called PC lighting. The tubes are thinner so they easily fit the contours and design of the aquarium. Make sure to change the tubes every six months as the light spectrum diminishes over a period of time.


  • The newest variation of fluorescent lights is the T-5 HO lights. They run at a higher level of power than standard fluorescent lamps though they are much thinner. This kind of lighting may exceed the output of the above-mentioned high output fluorescent technology. For this reason, the T-5 HO light is the most expensive kind of fluorescent light available in the market today.


  • Metal Halide

Metal Halide lights produce about 90-100 lumens per watt of power, making it more expensive than fluorescent systems. However, there is a reason for the difference in price. Metal halide lighting allows point source lighting which gives light concentration output on one part of an aquarium which makes metal halide light penetrate to the bottom level of the aquarium, giving a rippling visual effect.


  • LED
    LED fish tank lights are the newest addition to aquarium lighting technology. This is considered as the most efficient kind of aquarium lighting as it is advanced. It can also last for 7 years.

If you are unsure if what kind of lighting is best for your marine aquarium, click this link below to find the right lighting system for you!

marine lighting

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