Choosing an Aquarium Hood That’s Right for You
Unless you purchased your aquarium as a pre-selected complete kit, then you’ll also need to acquire an aquarium hood. Aquarium hoods are not only an attractive topper to finish the look of your aquarium, but they also serve practical purposes as well. They add protection from foreign objects falling in the tank which could kill your fish, and they hold the upper lighting for the aquarium.
Aquarium hoods also keep wayward pets such as ferrets and cats from making an afternoon munchie of your aquarium denizens. Dust, smoke, pet dander and other airborne pollutants are also held at bay, helping to keep the tank water cleaner for a longer period of time. Of course, hoods help prevent your fish from leaping out of the tank and onto the floor to their death. We can’t always be there to scoop them up immediately and return them to the tank, therefore an aquarium hood is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
You will find that aquarium hoods come in all standard sizes and that custom sizes can be found at some retailers. Generally you will find that when ordering a custom built aquarium or aquarium hood, the price usually runs around 25% higher than the closest size to the custom piece.
Aquarium hoods are predominately made from either wood, plastic or metal. You may also find hoods which may incorporate one or more of these materials. Each type of hood has its own advantages and drawbacks.
Wooden aquarium hoods can be made to match almost any décor and are very sturdy, however if they get wet they could suffer water damage. Wooden aquarium hoods may be made of fiberboard, or they can be constructed of purely solid woods. Either way, wooden aquarium hoods are much heavier than the plastic and metal hoods. One major drawback of solid wooden aquarium hoods is they can warp if they are not properly constructed and protected. The very moist heat rising from the tank beneath can ruin a wooden aquarium hood if it is not of quality construction.
Being made by the injection molding process, plastic hoods have the advantage of being lightweight and cheaper, but they also almost always look less appealing than those made of metal or wood, and are also not very sturdy. Plastic aquarium hoods can be used on both fresh and salt water tanks without having to worry about the aquarium hood suffering from moisture or corrosion damage. This type of aquarium hood also lends itself to being easy to modify by the owner, if there needs to be extra lighting or fixtures attached.
Metal aquarium hoods are generally powder coated aluminum. This type of coating gives the hoods a very pleasing finish which also provides excellent protection from corrosion. These metal hoods can be used for either fresh or saltwater aquariums.
Aquarium hoods will differ in features and in quality of construction depending on the price range you are willing to use. Lower priced aquarium hoods will be very basic, and have little more than a lighting fixture pre installed. As you go up in price range, the features and materials will change to more features and sturdier materials. By getting the more expensive models you can get an aquarium hood with extra lighting, recessed or hidden switches and feeding hatches. The higher priced hoods will of course look much more refined and compliment your fish tank.
If you’re purchasing an aquarium hood for a pre-existing tank, you’ll need to insure the hood you purchase will fit properly. Even if you think you know what size fish tank you have, measure it anyway. You’ll find that the time it take to measure is a lot less than the time it would require for you to return a hood that you were certain would fit, but didn’t.
If that isn’t reason enough, some aquariums may be of the same capacity, but have different dimensions. Sure, you may have a 30 gallon tank, but is it a 30L, or a regular size 30 gallon tank? You see, the 30L is six inches longer than its standard 30 gallon counterpart. It is also two inches shorter, thus the volume remains the same. By measuring before you purchase you can alleviate the headache before it begins, and get the correct aquarium hood the first time.