Metal Halide Lighting


Metal halide lighting offers a beautiful and intensive lighting source for the aquarium.  This form of lighting has become popular in the aquarium hobby, especially by the reef or plant enthusiasts.  They produce a truly "sun like" effect on the water, and will create a dancing, rippling reflection of light in the tank unmatched by any other current aquarium lighting.

There are many options to consider when metal halide lighting will be purchased.  Keeping in mind what will be kept in the aquarium first, you then need to decide how bright the bulb should be, and what color light you desire from the bulb.

The metal halide bulb is now sold in many different wattages, and temperatures.  The most common wattages found include 50, 150,175, 250, and 400 watt bulbs.  The wattage basically will determine the brightness of the bulb.  

There are also a variety of temperatures to choose from.  The common choices 4500, 5500, 6500, 10,000, 120,000, 15,000 and 20,000K bulbs.  The K represents degrees Kelvin.  The lower the degree K, the whiter or more yellow the lamp appears, the higher, the more blue the lighting appears.  Many freshwater plant enthusiasts prefer a lower Kelvin bulb (around the 5500-6500 K range) for freshwater plants.  Saltwater reef hobbyists use bulbs in the more blue range (10,000-20,000 K range).

Metal halide lighting also puts out heat and will raise the Fahrenheit/Celcius  temperature of the aquarium water.  Care needs to be taken that the aquarium is  in a well ventilated room.  Some tanks, especially reef aquariums require a chiller unit to cool the water, especially the aquaria with strict temperature parameters.

The lights come in many different forms as well, some include, pendants, independent bulb hoods,  ventilated hoods, combination (fluorescent, compact, halide) hoods, hi-tech hoods, retro kits, and other do-it-yourself type kits.

A ballast may be required to run your lights.  The ballasts convert the electrical energy into bulb energy.  Some systems come with their own ballast, some require the separate purchase.  There are many good ballasts available.  Electronic ballasts are the most efficient, and versatile.  However they are more expensive than the former tar style ballasts.  

6500 K Bulb

Not all aquariums are suitable for metal halide lighting.  This is a very luminescent light that may be inappropriate for the specimens in your aquarium.  Bulbs are sold in different color grades.  The higher the degree K, the bluer the bulb


Pendant lamps offer a simple, and all complete system.  Most encase one bulb and come in a variety of sizes and wattages.  These are very versatile in fixing above the aquarium.


Combo hoods combine metal halide lighting with compact and/or fluorescent lighting.  Most manufacturers include a built in fan and UV absorbent filter.


Hi Tech lighting hoods are sleek in design,  and offer compact and efficient design.  The downsides are that they are expensive, and most have custom bulb sizes, not found just anywhere.

Pendant Lamp

Combo Hood

Hi Tech Hood

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