Heating and Lighting


Most fish will do well in an aquarium that maintains a temperature between 76° and 80°F. This will require a heater and a thermometer. Aquarium heaters are available in hang-on and submersible varieties. Submersible models are attached to the aquarium glass with suction cups. They tend to be more expensive than hang-on heaters, but they also are generally more reliable and accurate. To make sure the tank is evenly heated, place the heater horizontally on the back glass of the tank, just above the bottom and just below the filter return.

The wattage of the heater you choose for your tank should be determined by the size of the tank and the location of the tank. For example, if you have a 50-gallon tank, you can use a 150-watt heater or two 100-watt heaters if the tank is kept in a location that can become cool; if your tank is 29 gallons, it will need a 100-watt heater or two 75-watt units if it is kept in a cool location.


There are a variety of aquarium lighting options to choose from. The lighting you choose will depend on the type of tank you have: aquatic garden, fish-only, or low-light plant. If you have an aquarium with a variety of aquatic plants, your tank will require a substantial amount of lighting. If your aquarium is not going to include any plants at all, a standard light fixture will do, which will usually house a normal-output fluorescent tube light. This type of lighting will enhance the beauty of your fish with a fairly low, standard wattage.

A low-light plant aquarium will require dual-tube fluorescent lights, which can fit in the same space in a hood that would house one regular single-tube light. These lights can provide plenty of illumination for your tank with only about 2 watts per gallon. They should be full-spectrum bulbs that are specifically manufactured for use with aquatic plants. 

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