Actually LED lights are probably going to be the next big thing for keeping planted and marine tanks. They produce the broadest spectrum of light and they are energy efficient and don't throw nearly as much heat as fluorescents or metal halides do. The problem is that in order to get LEDs that are powerful enough to beat out a fluorescent, you usually have to have a custom made fixture or you have to shell out a lot of cash. I think eventually LEDs are probably going to be one of the best options, but the technology just isn't there yet to make them cost effective. My brother has one of those LED strips on his reef tank, but I'm disappointed with it--his corals would do better with a T5HO fluorescent fixture because the LEDs aren't very powerful. If you just have one of those itty bitty LED fixtures that came with the tank, I wouldn't expect it to cut the mustard.
I have a few tanks that didn't come with lights, but I overcame that by getting a floor lamp from target for like $20--it has a lot of heads on the top that you can position any way you want. Put a fluorescent bulb in each of the heads and point it at the tank--just make sure it is far enough away that it won't heat the tank.
Wait, so if I got the 10 gallon tank kit from walmart with the fluorecent lights for the hood, should I not use them, because when I turned the lights on to see if they worked, I did notice that they made a lot of heat...
Kboone: .... if it's white light, then it has the whole spectrum, so basically everything I should need for the plants. The specially made ones are very expensive, and I'm hoping the few hardy plants I'll put in there will be alright.
People are allowed to stray slightly away from topics, it won't kill a person. Besides, it is related. If the lights got hot enough, and heated the water too much, obviously that'd be bad for fish, and for plants. :P There is no need to be rude, it was completely unecessary.
JK, you are incorrect. I used to raise reptiles and worked as a technician at an exotic animal clinic. There is a vast difference regarding spectrum with flourescent bulbs. Though flourescents do generate a much broader spectrum than an incandescent, each spectrum (UVA and UVB) of light can vary several degrees depending on the bulb. The regular flourescents that come in the kits often lack the proper UVB needed for plant and animal care.