Aquarium Light Bulbs

Whether you have a freshwater, saltwater or reef aquarium, the one thing they all have in common is they need some type of aquarium light bulbs to light the tank. Fish tank light bulbs can be used to illuminate a tank for our viewing pleasure, to grow live plants in a freshwater system or corals in a reef tank and to help bring out the color inside our aquariums (like actinic light bulbs can do for corals).

The most popular and common types of bulbs and fixtures available to light your aquarium include LEDs, metal halide bulbs (mogul and HQI bulbs), T5 aquarium bulbs (T5 HO bulbs), Power Compact bulbs (PC), Very High Output bulbs (T12 VHO bulbs), and Normal Output fluorescent aquarium light bulbs (NO). For aquariums requiring high intensity lighting (like a reef tank), we recommend looking at a metal halide bulb system, LED system or a fixture that contains T5 bulbs (or a combination of these). For a fish only system, you can choose any type of fixture you choose with Normal Output fish tank bulbs being the most common.

Read More: Lighting: What To Know Before You Buy & Replacing your Reef Tank Bulbs

Bulb Replacement Guide

Bulb Types Life of Bulb*
Normal Output Fluorescent 6-12 months
Very High Output 6-12 months
Power Compact (PC) 9-12 months
T5 High Output (T5HO) 9-18 months
Metal Halide 9-12 months
LED (non-moonlight) ~5 years (50,000 hours)
*Manufacturer recommended

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