For free-standing tanks, the most decorative approach to lighting is an enclosed hood that matches the cabinet. For growing plants, up to four fluorescent lamps can be hidden inside the hood. Metal halide lighting can also be used, but this is overkill on anything under about seventy-five gallons, unless the tank is quite deep and you want to grow plants that demand high light levels. One drawback to any type of enclosed lighting hood is its bulkiness. The thing needs to be moved out of the way in order for any work to be done in the tank. Another issue is heat. While not a problem with fluorescent lighting on a small tank, metal halide lamps and multiple fluorescent ballasts may require forced-air ventilation of the hood to avoid overheating. This is accomplished with one or more small computer fans installed in the hood, adding to both cost and weight.
84 Saltwater Aquarium Models
Some people may find the audible whirr of the fan annoying. If you are using plastic plants, lighting can be selected for viewing only, and you need nothing more complicated than the traditional single lamp fixture. You may want to review the discussion of lighting in chapter 2, "Bringing out the Best in Saltwater Aquariums," before shopping for equipment.
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