what is the differance between and aquarium florecent light bulb and a florecent light bulb that you buy at home depot
You can replace aquarium bulbs with the cheaper bulbs from hardware store and save money.
For tank's with live plant's, Would look for bulbs 5000 k to to 8000 K Kelvin rating, which should be stamped on bulb somewhere.
This range will be suitable spectrum for plant growth.Most folks look for 6000 K to 6700 K rating Full spectrum bulbs for their planted aquariums (or at least I do).
Yeah...if no live plants any light will do. Live plants need a temp. range above 5000k like 1077 stated. Most common "daylight" bulbs are 6500k or 6700k. They are not hard to find and usually around $10 or less for two tubes. That's for the standard T8 or shop light type bulb. If you are looking at T5 bulbs, they are more expensive and require special fixtures. THey are the preferred lights for planted tanks.
Also if its a non planted standard aquarium bulb these usually run in the 8500k range to visually make the fish look better. Anything above 7k can become a pain to find at the hardware store, but if you ask me 6500k looks just fine on my fish.
There is a flip side. My 60g ensemble came with two T8, 15w, 18" lights in the hoods - Not stamped but I think they are 4100k~. Not much light for a 48"x24"x24" tank. So on the one hand, these lights would stink for plants. On the other hand, my plastic plants don't need much, the lighting is great for viewing, I never have any algae really and the tank is lit about 10+ hours a day.
But I'd agree that you'll likely pay a premium if you get lights at the fish store. The big box, hardware, or wally world will have the day bright lights at a much better price - as mentioned, 6500K + is about right. Some are actually labeled as aquarium plant lights, but always good to check the kelvin value to be sure.
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