The best way to choose an aquarium light is to start by determining the type of water you will have in your tank.  If you have fresh water, then you can use different types of light than salt water.  The other consideration is if you will have live plants in the tank.  Plants need sunlight to grow, so your light must offer them lights that are close to natural light.  This is not a feature of the light but is based upon the types of bulbs you use in your light.

Which Aquarium Light Bulbs work for Which Tanks

You may have purchased a lighting hood, but you also need to know what types of bulbs work best for your tank.  There are three types of lights available.  For tanks with no plants, you can use fluorescent lamps.  For tanks with plants that are less than 24 inches deep, your best choice is to combine fluorescents with actinic blue lamps.  If you want the highest quality light or your tank is more than 24 inches deep, you need metal halide lights.

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