Lighting Requirements

With the setup nearly complete, you need to consider your near-term and far-term lighting requirements. If you plan on having a fish-only tank forever, then you only need a single full spectrum bulb. However, if you plan to advance in your hobby and keep more sensitive animals such as anemones, you must carefully select your lighting (and filtration as well). Anemones require very strong, full spectrum lighting, supplemented with actinic blue. The general rule of thumb is a minimum of 3-4 watts per gallon, with the higher values for deeper tanks (greater than 18-24 inches). The standard Perfecto hood will not provide enough light to keep anemones alive (or other light-loving invertebrates for that matter).

For a beginning aquarist, fluorescent lighting is probably the best. Metal halide lighting is really for reef keeping and heavily planted freshwater tanks. In any case, if you want or will need something more than a single lamp, your choices are limited. The best thing to do is to build your own hood with custom lighting, or buy one through mail order. Fish store prices usually preclude aquarists from getting proper lighting.

If you select a custom fluorescent hood, then you will have to choose between normal output (NO), high output (HO) and very high output (VHO). Most people with fish-only tanks stay with NO lamps. Both HO and VHO lamps require special ballasts, are more expensive than NO lamps, and need to be replaced more often (more $$).

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