The lighting I'm using in my aquarium exist of three fluorescent lamps of 60 cm long (18 Watt) with reflectors and start-up boxes that can be placed in the cabinet under the aquarium. Two of the lamps and reflectors I use are from the manufacturer of the aquarium. The third lamp I placed in a later stadium above my aquarium to increase the lighting for the plants.
When I had only 2 lamps above my aquarium I always used one daylight lamp and one warm white lamp (with a high red light spectrum). Personally I prefer lumilux fluorescent lamps with a 30% higher amount of light than standard fluorescent lamps, but unfortunately my aquarium shop doesn't always have these lamps. When I can get my hand on lumilux lamps I use the Sylvania lumilux color number 184 as daylight lamp and the Sylvania lumilux color number 183 as warm white lamp. When I have to use standard fluorescent lamps I use the Sylvania standard number 154 as daylight lamp and the Sylvania standard number 129 as warm white lamp. As a third lamp I'm now using the Syvania aquastar which should give a natural tropical light, but I myself aren't very fond of this light color.
The lighting above my aquarium is on 12 hours a day. The two lights on the backside of my aquarium turns of a half hour sooner. This is to dim the light in the aquarium for a bit before turning it of. I've chosen to turn of the light on the back sooner than the front light because this gives a nice to look at shadow in the aquarium. For a while I've used the lighting of my aquarium only for 10 hours a day, but after a read that this can harm some plants I switch to 12 hours a day. Since I've done this the plants actually last longer, although this can also be because I've less algae's in my aquarium.
The time that it takes before lamps must be replaced I'm not really sure about. Some people say that within 6 months the lamps must be replaced because the yield of the lamps will be too low after this time to fulfill there task above the aquarium, while others say that fluorescent lamps can be used for a period up till 2 years. I myself use my fluorescent lights for a period of one year before I replace them. I only replace one lamp at a time, because if all lamps are changed at the same time it can harm sensitive plants (for example crypto's).
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