During the early days of marine aquaria, saltwater was collected at local beaches. Natural saltwater contains many unwanted organisms and pollutants. Aquarium literature of the time suggests that the most commonly kept marine fish were the , , small, and , , and . Aquariums were equipped with large , and were heavily and (primarily with , a norm for some time).
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You can run the light for a few hours when you spend time in the same room the aquarium is setup in. Provided the aquarium isn’t in complete darkness otherwise, there is no need to run 8, 10, 12 hours of light. That will only increase algae growth in the tank and fish in nature aren’t exposed to that much intense light anyway. Aquarium lighting, with the exception of plant and reef tank, is more for the benefit of the observer rather then the fish.
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When considering lighting for an aquarium, there are generally two factors to consider: wattage and color temperature. Depending on the type of lighting (i.e. fluorescents, metal halide, etc.) the wattage of light emitted may vary considerably, from tens of watts to several hundred watts in a lighting system. Wattage, while not indicative of color, is equivalent to power and essentially determines how brightly the light will shine. Due to the scattering of light in water, the deeper one's tank is, the more powerful the lighting required. Color temperature, measured in (albeit slightly unrepresentively) refers to the color of light being emitted by the lamp and is based on the concept of radiation. Light from the sun has a color temperature of approximately 5900 K and lighting systems with color temperatures >5000 K tend to be best for growing plants in both the marine and freshwater setting. 10,000 K light appears bluish-white and emphasizes coloration in fishes and corals. Higher up on the spectrum there are 14,000 K and 20,000 K bulbs that produce a deep blue tint which mimic the lighting conditions underseas, creating an optimal ambience for invertebrates and livestock present.
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