Picking The Perfect 10 Gallon Aquarium Hood

This is where it all begins. We’ve purchased a nice 10 gallon tank and are gathering all the equipment we need. Normally this means a filtration system, heater, and method of aeration. All of this has to sit underneath our 10 gallon aquarium hood. The problem is not all equipment fits into the cutouts provided. This can be solved with the use of power tools and workbenches, but honestly it is much better to get the right hood in the first place.

So how can you find the best 10 gallon aquarium hood? first you need to recognize your tanks needs.

    • What are the dimensions of your tank?For this page we will be focusing on the standard 20″ x 11″ x 13″ 10 gallon tank.


    • Which fish will be kept in the tank?Not all fish require the same things. For example goldfish do not need as much heat as other fish and won’t require the best heat locking aquarium hood.


  • How big is your equipment?Large equipment can be a problem when it comes to the normal 10 gallon aquarium hood. The cut out for the equipment can only be so large before the hood is no longer structurally sound. Try not to use oversized equipment unless you have very specific plans for them.

The Ideal 10 Gallon Aquarium Hood

For the perfect hood reasonable sized cut outs and lighting are our key factors. Combining these two allows us maximum heat retention, evaporation prevention and a hassle free tank setup. Additionally when a hood is set up properly cleaning and feeding will be far easier. Don’t allow yourself to “deal with” a slightly annoying feeding time. The annoyance of a difficult feeding time will not wear off over time.

Marineland LED Light Hood

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Here we have the most widely used 10 gallon aquarium hood in existence. This didn’t happen by accident. The Marineland LED light hood has every feature an aquarist could want built in.

The hood fits tightly over a standard 10 gallon tank, sealing in heat and severely cutting down on water evaporation. While this may sound like a small perk, experienced owners will be happy (or unhappy) to tell you just how much of a hassle evaporation can be. Heating the water, agitating the surface and housing live plants all increase our evaporation rates, so much so that most large aquariums feature an automatic top off system to deal with evaporation. The cost of treating new water can add up, and topping off the lost water will not reduce the toxins your tank. We want most of our new water to be a result of planned water changes. Simply put this hood will pay itself off in less than a year by limiting new water to water changes.

The heat retaining design on this hood will also save you quite a bit of money in the long run. Over winter times when our homes fall a few degrees is when our tanks get the coldest. Usually this means near non stop use of the aquariums heater. Locking in this heat not only gives the heater a break, it also increases the heaters longevity. Needless to say extending the life of our equipment is a huge benefit in both cost and convenience.

Rather than being clumsily placed on top like most hoods, the Marineland hood comes with two attachable hinges that swings the entire hood up. This design gives owners the easiest access to the tank out of any hood design. Sure simple feeding can be done with a small opening compartment but the full swing hood lets you really get at the tank. Substrate siphoning, rock rearrangement and equipment maintenance are all far easier thanks to this hoods design.

Light Strength
If you have read my first take on this hood over on my freshwater aquarium lighting page You will notice the light strength. The LED bulbs are really quite bright, illuminating all corners of the tank fantastically as well as the inhabitants. This is no surprise seeing as the light comes with 36 bulbs. The only down side is that the lights are not strong enough for the more light demanding plants. For those who need exact numbers the hood puts out 5000k. While this does limit the option of plants it also reduces the light available for algae. If you cannot go without high light demanding plants don’t worry, we will cover a stronger lighted hood next. For most plants however this light is the perfect choice.

To finish up on the best 10 gallon aquarium hood I would like to mention its longevity. After extensive testing the bulbs have been tested to last 50,000 hours on average. That means running this light for 12 hours a day, which is more than recommended, will result in a lifetime of over 11 years. Replacing florescent bulbs once every two years easily exceeds the cost of this entire hood, making the Marineland LED hood an absolutely perfect 10 gallon hood. Add on the amazing customer service provided by Marineland and this hood can’t be beat. In fact if you have any problem at all the company will likely fix or replace your hood free of charge!

All Glass Aquarium Fluorescent Deluxe Hood

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A more traditional hood, the All Glass Aquarium hood features an 18″ florescent bulb that can be selected to suit your needs.

The hood features a more standard design. The back portion of the hood is stationary and holds the light strip casing. At the very back are break away sections that can be used to accommodate any equipment you may need. Typically only one section will be used for my 10 gallons as a power filter allows high filtration without taking up a lot of space.

Combine this single break away section with the small u shaped section on the opposite side of the tank and you will be able to fit all your equipment and wires into the tank without drawing too much attention to the machinery.

The middle section that holds the light strip features a glass splash guard which allows the light full protection from any mist or evaporation. A key feature as many other hoods often run into rust problems. Over time this glass will likely build up algae so be sure to give it a quick wipe down every week or so. When I first had the hood I did not do this until there was a green tint over the tank, which took several months to show. After two minutes of cleaning with just water and paper towel the glass looked good as new. Remember to never use any cleaning agent on your aquarium equipment. no matter how much you rinse it off there will still be some amount of residue. Better to skip the soap than have sick fish.

The light strip casing holds the 18″ florescent bulb. It only rests on the hood which makes more the easiest light bulb changes imaginable. Simply lift the lid and swap out the bulb, after unplugging of course. On the top of the light strip casing are two vents for the little heat that is generated via the bulb. A small note here is that the light strip can fall off when moving the entire hood. Take care and make sure you grasp the hood and light strip together when moving, or move the light strip first.

The front portion of the hood simply swings upward to allow feeding and limited tank maintenance. For the more hands on jobs such as siphoning and equipment adjustments you will likely need to remove the whole lid. Just have somewhere to set the lid and you’re good to go.

Light Strength

The nice thing about customizable light bulbs is there is no set strength to the lighting. If you need to power high light level plants there are very specific bulbs you can choose from. Even The more powerful bulbs on amazon are only just above $10. For medium or low light plants the bulbs will typically cost around $5. Pretty cheap but an on going cost of bulb lighting. If you need a strong light for high demanding plants then this is a great, low cost option. If however you are using medium to low demanding plants I would recommend the LED hood for the long term savings.

The hood itself will show almost no wear from normal use. After all it just rests atop the tank. It is the ballast that hold the light bulb that we should discuss. When put to long term use the ballast are actually quite solid. They hold firm for over two years of use when used with high flow tanks. If there is little to no splashing or mist then the light will work for over 3 years with ease. Still not as long as the LED but a really long time for the low cost of the hood.

All in all this is the best 10 gallon aquarium hood with florescent lighting. For high demanding plants you can substitute in more powerful bulbs, while less demanding plants can use more budget friendly bulbs. This allows you the freedom to put whatever you want in your tank without worrying about restrictions a non upgrade-able LED hood brings.

In Closing

If you have no high demanding plants and are in the hobby for the long run get the LED hood. It has a much lower cost over time and only a slightly higher entry cost.

The Bulb hood can provide strong enough light for even corals if you choose the right bulb. Over 4 years The bulb hood will cost about 5-$15 more due to bulb cost. After that point the Hood itself may break down due to rusted ballast. Typically if you have been in the hobby for 4 years you will want to get a larger tank anyways so I don’t feel that is an issue.

If however you only want a display tank and never need to upgrade from a 10 gallon lighted hood then the LED hood is your best bet. It’s up to you to compare the pros and cons to find the right aquarium hood with light combination.

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