Fluorescent Lighting for the Planted Aquarium.
When you walk into a dark room you turn the lights on to see what is going on. In an aquarium you are going to need to have some solid lighting to see what is going on in you underwater ecosystem.
Lights can really make a tank and can also hurt a tank.
The easiest type of light that I recommend using is florescent. They are cheap and easy and come in nearly all the spectrums you could ever possibly want . (ok almost) But they are darn good.
They come in all kinds of sizes to fit any application too. I won’t get detailed about the color spectrums yet. But if you are looking to keep plants you want the majority of your bulbs to be “pink” that is that they look pink when you turn them on. This is the best light for freshwater plants. They love it. A lot depends on the set up of you tank and what you are trying to do when it comes to the lighting. Obviously a simple 10 gallon with just a few fish doesn’t need much lighting. However the deeper and the bigger the tank, the more you are going to have to light it.
Fluorescent lights are the cheapest way to go and are currently what I use on 90% of my tanks. I recommend building a canopy yourself or searching around on craigslist for people selling their tanks. Used stuff can be had for 1/8th of the price of new. Even if you need to replace the bulbs, you’ll still have a great housing.
The best use I have made is with my 6 foot light setup. I used 2 ballasts made for 4 4foot 32 watt bulbs. This would give me 256 watts (8 x 32 watts each) I used this over my 125 for about 4 years and loved it. If you hunt around you can get cheap bulbs at Home Depot and Lowes. This is the way to do well and stay on a budget. (save your money for wild fish and plants, not equipment if you can)
When you have lighting you HAVE TO USE TIMERS. Fish love timer plants love timers and you will love timers. The goal is to simulate nature. With that said, currently I am running my tanks off the timers to enjoy them on the weekend longer. But I always switch them back to timer mode.