Rift lake cichlids like relatively bright light. I usually keep mine on 8 to 10 hours a day. You will want full-spectrum bulbs to bring out the irridescent colors. Shallow tanks like the 40 gallon breeder can use two 40 Watt bulbs such as an All-Glass Twin-tube fixture. For anything deeper, I recommend four 40 Watt bulbs such as a Phaser IV, or single bulb compact fluorescents such as a Smart-Lamp fixture made by Custom Sea Life. If you want to keep plants, you will need slightly brighter lights.

I usually build my own larger fixtures out of wood. Sylvania makes some excellent actinic and full-spectrum T8 bulbs in 36" and 48" lengths. I recommend Coralife marine endcaps and a polished aluminum reflector. Use Motorola electronic ballasts because they're relatively cheap and excellent. Build the fixtures out of hardwood and finish with marine grade waterproofing varnish. You can find marine varnish at boating supply shops since all boats need to be waterproofed regularly. Polyacrylic also seems to work fairly well when at least three coats are applied.

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Last modified at Sunday, April 19, 2015