Aquarium lighting is essential to the health of your fish and other aquatic life. Aquarium light can be harsh and fluorescent, but aquarium lighting uses metal halide bulbs are much more pleasant. Understanding the differences between metal halide bulbs and fixtures will help you make the right choice for your aquarium.
What differentiates commercial and residential aquarium metal halide aquarium lighting is the range of wavelengths their light produces. Metal halide bulbs produce light in the green spectrum (i.e., daylight). Compared with standard fluorescent or incandescent lighting, metal halide aquarium lighting has a higher lumen per watt rating.
Why would you choose metal halide over fluorescent bulbs? Metal halide is an economical alternative that consumes only half as much electricity as incandescent bulbs. This is important for keeping the cost of running the aquarium’s lighting system low. Many reef aquarists are under the impression that incandescent bulbs use far more energy than metal halide. In actuality, both types of lighting are comparable in terms of energy consumption.
One way to save even more money is to make sure you buy compatible fluorescent tubes. You want to buy tubes that are made to fit the specifications of the manufacturer and aquarium. Some manufacturers of metal halide aquarium lighting will only work with certain tubes, so it is important to read through the documentation that comes with the lighting units. You should also ask your retailer if they carry any specific models that may be more suited to your needs.
The truth is that metal halide aquarium lighting is available in many different wattages to match the needs of many reef aquarists. The amount of watts needed will depend on how many fish you plan to keep. Keep in mind that the intensity of light produced is directly proportional to the bulb’s voltage in megawatts. A higher voltage produces a brighter light, but it uses more electrical power. A lower voltage produces a dimmer light but it uses less electrical power.
When using metal halide aquarium lighting, you can turn down the lights as needed to prevent overheating. You also want to make sure that your aquarium is not exposed to direct sunlight all of the time. Aquarium lights that are exposed to direct sunlight may create problems with your reef aquarium plants because they can die. The best solution is to have your lights at an angle that reduces the amount of sunlight hitting your aquarium.
Many metal halide aquarium lighting systems include a ballast. The ballast serves as a stabilizer. It stabilizes the voltage and the light output at various levels. There are two types of ballasts available: active and passive ballasts. An active ballast is designed to be switched on and off by turning a switch. A passive ballast is usually a built-in fixture with glass panels that can be manually turned on and off.
Make sure that your bulb is the right type for the job. There are specially made ballasts for fluorescent aquariums and low-voltage marine tanks. If you do not have a ballast, the standard ballast that comes with most systems consumes less than one watt of energy. If you have a system that consumes more than one watt, you should purchase a high-rated bulb so that you get the brightest light possible.
There are a few things you can do to conserve energy when using metal halide lamps in your aquariums. You should try to keep the tank full so that the lamps do not have to run constantly. You should also set up the lights in areas where they will not have direct sunlight all day long. This saves on the batteries being used and keeps your aquariums operating efficiently.
One thing to note about using metal halide bulbs is that some varieties require a longer lamp life than others. The longer the bulb, the less energy it consumes. The most energy-efficient bulbs are the pulse start bulbs and the probe start bulbs.
The most efficient aquarium lighting system combines metal halide lighting with a magnetic ballast. There are several types of ballasts available today, and you can even purchase them together for one low cost purchase. A magnetic ballast is simply a piece of metal surrounded by a magnetic field that is supplied by a light bulb. Magnetic ballasts can be installed underwater too. When used with metal halide bulbs, the magnetic ballast helps regulate the amount of light emitted by the bulb and also helps to keep the interior of the tank clean.