Before LED was invented, fluorescent light and metal halide lamps had been the most commonly used aquarium lighting. The light of the metal halide lamp is almost like natural sunlight and is the most suitable light for growing aquatic plants. Moreover, it displays the aquascape like an actual view of scenery underwater. The gorgeousness of plants and fish swimming under a metal halide lamp is no like any other planted tank with LED or fluorescent lights. However, there are some disadvantages that you need to understand. So, let’s take a closer look and see if metal halide aquarium light is the best choice for you.

What is a Metal Halide Lamp?

Metal halide lighting works by passing an electric arc through the tube filled with gasses. The average life expectancy of metal halide lamps is 20,000 hours. This means that you need to change the light bulb every few years. The history of metal halide aquarium light is much longer than that of LED. In 2002, ADA (Aqua Design Amano) released their very first metal halide lamp called SOLAR 1 and it became their flagship lighting product until they had released SOLAR RGB in 2016.


Is LED Superior to MH?

Sadly, the metal halide aquarium light is totally outdated. LEDs last much longer and are more energy-efficient. Also, LED lights are very small and light. To be honest, there is no reasonable rationale to choose a metal halide lamp over LED at the moment… However, from certain points of view, metal halide lights are the best choice to display your aquascapes especially Nature Aquarium-style scapes. The lights will create natural shadows of waves and fish, which is impossible to achieve with LED or fluorescent lights. It depends on which you prefer but personally speaking, metal halide lamps make more natural appearances. 

Should You Still Buy MH in 2021?

The short answer is ‘yes’ if you can cope with the disadvantages I listed up above. If you have a tank larger than 60P and looking for a light look just like the sunlight, go for it! However, if your tank is small, and you want to keep the whole system as simple as possible, I would recommend purchasing an LED light. Put simply, metal halide lamps are for advanced scapers. In general, I think it is safe to say LED is the best choice in 2021.