An aquarium is a glass-sided tank that serves as a place for fish or other aquatic animals and plants to live, but it can play other roles as well. In modern homes and other environments, an aquarium can also be a striking element of the interior decor. Therefore, it is essential to design its lighting according to the particular setting. It is best to create the kind of lighting that is as close to natural sunlight as possible, in order to allow the plants to photosynthesise. Besides incandescent and fluorescent lights, some people use LED lights, or light-emitting diodes, that they make themselves. Waterproof LED bulbs and other equipment is necessary for this, and fortunately, everything required is available in specialty stores or on online retail sites such as eBay.
First, before even starting to build an LED light fixture, it is important to know how many LED lights are necessary. For this, there is more than one formula. One of them involves multiplying the length of the aquarium in cm with the width of the aquarium in cm and then dividing by 56. Aquariums with SPS, or small-polyp scleractinians (corals) use the following formula: multiply the length of the aquarium in cm by its width in cm and then divide the sum by 116. Freshwater aquariums or aquariums with plants use the following formula: multiply the length in cm by the width in cm and then divide by 228.
A heatsink is a metallic heat exchanger that is responsible for absorbing and dissipating any excess heat that may form while the LED lights operate. It is essential to have a thermal compound between the heatsink and the lights for proper thermal conductivity, in order for LEDs to stay in working order for extended periods. Some grease on the back of the LEDs is sufficient for this task. The heatsink should be waterproof in case it gets some splashes on it. Typically, the light fixtures are located out of the water and above, rather than inside, the aquarium, but it is best to be careful, as some water may still reach them.
Generally, two types of LED arrangements exist, namely, the strip and the tile. As strips, the LED lights are in rows, while a tile arrangement is more of a single unit.
The wiring between the LED lights should be in a series and by strings. Each string forms a series circuit and connects to either the plus or minus side on the LED light, depending on where the starting point is. There are two wires coming out of each LED light. All the LEDs connect to each other, and then two LEDs connect to the driver's minus and plus poles. Wiring the strips is easier, as they already have interconnections.
The driver functions as a transmitter of electricity between the power source and the LED lights. The wires on the driver connect to the AC power adapter, which plugs into the socket. If the driver comes with dimming capability, meaning that the brightness of the LED lights is adjustable, there may be some extra instructions to follow. The order of the wires is generally not important because the AC power alternates, being, by definition, an alternating current.
When the LED light fixture is ready, mounting it to the aquarium is the next step. Brackets and screws are helpful when attaching the lights, and with these, it is possible to put the lights over the aquarium. Modular, readymade mounting systems are also available for convenience. To keep some distance between the lights and the water, it is best to use the canopy method, which is relatively simple. Perhaps the simplest way is to locate the lights over the plastic or glass top of the aquarium. If necessary, one can also build a special rack, upon which to place the fixture.
On eBay, many top-rated sellers, who have gained positive feedback and high ratings from other community members, offer the equipment necessary for assembling LED lights for an aquarium. You can find drivers, lights, and mounting equipment by using the search function. Try with different keywords, or click on related searches, if the first search does not yield useful results. Always read through the detailed item listing to ensure that the items are suitable for building the kind of lighting fixture you require. If necessary, you can contact the seller for more information or advice.