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Aquarium Lighting - High Output Lighting is Best

Like today's smart phones in the world of communications, high output (HO) fluorescent lights have become the norm in the aquarium world because they bring many technological innovations and practical advantages. 

Better Lighting Technology
HO bulbs emit high lighting intensity yet radiate relatively low amounts of heat; they're comparatively inexpensive when you consider their long bulb life; and they're available in many different colours, wattages and lengths. 

In short, they're generally more efficient, reliable, and durable, providing the best all-round lighting for aquariums.

Bulb Types Based on Diameter
HO bulbs are categorized according to their diameter. A T5 bulb is 16 mm in diameter, a T8 is 25 mm, a T10 is 32 mm, and a T12 is 38 mm.

The two most common and widely available bulbs used these days are T8 and T5 lights. 

T8 HO lighting provides excellent energy efficiency combined with powerful light output. For higher lighting potential, T5 HO lights are very efficient high output fluorescent lights that deliver superior lighting intensities required by many reef and planted aquarium owners.

In terms of lighting/space efficiency, two T5 lights can occupy approximately the same area as one T8 bulb and emit more light at slightly warmer temperatures.

Here are some guidelines regarding what type of light you'll need for certain situations.

For Freshwater Aquariums with Fish Only
For this type of situation, an easy and relatively accurate way to determine the amount (wattage) of lighting required is to allocate 1 to 3 watts of light per gallon (4 L) of water. Use either T5 HO or T8 HO fluorescent lights. 

For Freshwater Aquariums with Plants and Fish
For aquariums containing slow to medium growth type aquatic plants, supplemented with "natural type" carbon dioxide systems, allocate 2.5 to 3 watts of light per gallon (4 L) of water. Use either T5 HO or T8 HO fluorescent lights.

For aquariums containing mostly rapid growth aquatic plants and supplemented  with pressurized CO2 systems, allocate 2.5 to 3 watts of light per gallon (4 L) of water. Use T5 HO fluorescent lights.

Marine Aquariums
Marine aquariums usually require more lighting, generally a suggested range of 2 to 4 watts per gallon (4 L) of aquarium water. Marine reef-type aquariums featuring predominantly soft corals can do well with a combination of Life GLO and Marine GLO T5 HO bulbs. This will provide these fascinating animals with the right light spectrum to ensure their continued growth and condition.

As for marine lighting systems that require high light levels (when keeping SPS coral) and are usually equipped with metal halide lighting in the typical 10000K colour temperature range, Marine GLO T5 HO lighting is highly recommended to deliver the key acitinic blue portion of the lighting spectrum, which is key for the growth and aesthetic fluorescing of these corals. This not only provides the required additional blue spectrum many corals require, but acts as an excellent dawn and dusk natural light condition simulator.

Fluorescent lights need to be installed in appropriately sized ballasts, which transform energy from the electrical outlet to the bulbs. There are specific ballasts available for each type of bulb size.

If you're planning to buy a new aquarium, most setups include a tank with a light and ballast system. In all cases, it's best to consult with a qualified expert to determine the best lighting option for your aquarium setup.

GLO HO aquarium lights are available in different spectrums, each designed to meet specific fresh and saltwater aquatic lighting requirements. For complete details about aquarium lighting and the full range of GLO aquarium lighting*, see the GLO Aquatic Lighting Guide.

*Some items not available in the UK, see website listing for full range