Many of your choices in both the hood and type of build you use for your aquarium comes to personal taste and experience. One person will swear by one type of setup while another will prefer another.
Aquarium Lighting When choosing a hood type for your aquarium lighting you have the choice of standard full hoods and strip lighting. They both have their positives and negatives. There are some new options that combine both the filter and lighting but are very niche and expensive.
The most common way to light your aquarium is through the use of a regular hood that covers the top and contains one or more bulbs for lighting. I prefer this type of aquarium lighting because it covers the top of the tank. There are fish that can sometimes jump. The standard hood prevents these fish from jumping out of the tank. You could also purchase hoods with fans in them. These are helpful to keep the best water temperatures and can also extend the life of the bulbs you use in the hood.
Strip lights are basically the light fixture part of the standard hood without the rest of the hood. These can be used instead of a hood or in addition to the hood to provide extra aquarium lighting. The major benefit to strip lighting is that you are not limited to placing the light source at just the top of the aquarium. Strip lighting allows you to experiment with where you want to place the light source to you aquarium.fluorescent bulb
There are more expensive lighting options that combine the filter and lighting. They have the benefit of having no equipment and wires hanging from the side so you can display in the middle of a room. The major down side is you have to remove the whole hood to gain access to the tank and they are not available for bigger aquariums.
When it comes to choosing the type of bulb you will use for your aquarium you have even more choices.
The best all around bulb for your aquarium lighting is the fluorescent bulb. These bulbs give of an even spectrum of light, do not emit a lot of heat, last a long time and are relatively inexpensive compared to other bulb options for your aquarium. You will find a fluorescent bulb that will fit any type of aquarium system you have decided to set up.
There are many other more special bulbs you can choose from such as Metal Halide that give a pretty effect to the water because of their high yellow and red spectrum light they give of but are very expensive. You can also use High-powered Mercury Vapor lights that can keep their brightness for many years. Another option is Actinic Blue bulbs that are phenomenal for plant life. The problem with these bulbs is that they promote algae growth.
Incandescent bulbs should be avoided at all costs for your aquarium. These are the same type of bulbs you use for your household lamps. You will see these bulbs in your local pet store. Very often in multiple types of colors. These bulbs give off excessive heat, distribute light unevenly, do not last very long, and promote excess algae. DO NOT buy incandescent bulbs for your aquarium lighting. Your fish will thank you.