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Aquarium Lighting Accessories You Didn’t Know You Needed

Aquarium lighting can involve more than just the hood or canopy and the bulbs that come with it. See what other components may be necessary when making your decision on aquarium lighting.


aquarium xs 6119838When you are first setting up your freshwater tank, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of equipment you need to keep it running. Not only does a freshwater tank require a filter and a heater, but you also need a quality lighting system to keep your tank healthy. If you purchased an aquarium starter kit that came with all of your basic supplies, it probably also came with a hood and a standard fluorescent bulb. While this type of lighting is certainly adequate, somewhere down the line you may want to consider upgrading to a higher quality system for the benefit of your live plants and other tank inhabitants. When you do, you should also consider what aquarium lighting accessories might be useful to you.

Power Cords and Ballasts For Aquarium Lighting

PowerStripCorallifeBecause running an aquarium requires the use of several pieces of equipment, it is essential that you have a high-quality power strip. Having a power strip will prevent you from overloading your wall sockets, a condition which can be very dangerous. Power strips will also protect your aquarium and your expensive equipment in the event of a power surge or short circuit which could fry your equipment if it is simply plugged into the wall. Modern power strips are not just good for plugging in electric equipment – they can serve additional functions such as that of an automatic timer. Some power strips come with a built-in automatic timer feature which shuts off power to selected outlets at a certain time of day. This feature is especially useful for aquarium lighting – it will save you the hassle of having to remember to turn your tank lights on and off at certain times every day.

Depending on the type of aquarium lighting system you are using, you may need to purchase a ballast. A ballast is simply an extra power source that some high-power lighting systems require. These devices serve to stabilize the current produced by gas-conducted lighting systems. Metal halide lighting systems are the most likely to require a ballast, but many VHO and SHO systems are likely to as well. Ballasts come in various wattages and are designed to accommodate different intensities of light, so be sure to purchase the right ballast for your particular lighting system.

Mounting Hardware For Aquarium Lighting

light xs 16465665Unless you are using standard or compact fluorescent bulbs, you may need more than a basic aquarium hood to mount your aquarium lighting. Aquarium hoods are often only equipped for tube bulbs with a contact pin on either end and are thus completely incompatible with high-power bulbs like T-5, VHO and metal halides. Some aquarium light bulbs can be screwed into lamps and suspended over the surface of your aquarium. Before you purchase a lamp, decide what type of bulb you plan to use so you can be sure the two will be compatible. SHO, super high output, bulbs can often be screwed into standard incandescent light fixtures but compact fluorescents and other bulbs may require specialty fixtures. Depending on the type of lighting system you select, you have many options when it comes to mounting hardware. Mounting legs can be used to suspend a long lamp directly above the surface of the tank and suspension kits can be used to hang lights from a rod or rail installed above the tank.

Cooling Fans For Aquarium Lighting

If you have ever tried to change a light bulb while the lamp is still on, you know that light bulbs can get very hot. While this may not be an issue with most standard and compact fluorescent bulbs, certain high-output lighting systems produce a great deal of heat while they are running. To prevent this heat from affecting your tank temperature too drastically, it is wise to install a cooling fan. Cooling fans come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can often be clipped directly to the side of the tank. If you are using metal halide or VHO lighting in your tank, consider installing a cooling fan or chiller to counteract the heat produced by the bulbs.

Other Aquarium Lighting Accessories

Chiller Aqua EuroFor the aquarium hobbyist who has a demanding or inconsistent schedule, automatic timers are a very useful accessory. If you do not want to use a power strip with a built-in automatic timer, you can purchase a separate timer and plug your aquarium lighting system directly into it. Automatic timers make it easy for you to regulate the amount of light your aquarium gets – this is a great way to prevent excess algae growth resulting from too much light. Another accessory you might consider is a water chiller. Water chillers can be used to regulate the temperature in your tank if you are using a high-output lighting system such as metal halides. These lights produce a great deal of heat and, depending on the size of your system, a cooling fan may not be enough to prevent your tank from overheating.

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