Picking The Best 20 Gallon Aquarium Hood

So you have a 20 gallon aquarium and need a hood and light to go with it? sounds pretty familiar. When I bought my own tank I found a used 20 long. As I already had plenty of fish keeping experience it didn’t take long to have my tank fully up and running with the best 20 gallon aquarium hood I could find. For this guide I will be focused on 20 longs, 30L x 13W x 13H, and 20 talls, 24L 13W 17H. I personally like to give my fish more width to watch them swim but tall tanks allow for different designs and beautiful plant/coral displays.

What Makes The Best 20 Gallon Aquarium Hood?

The traits we will be looking for are almost universal to all tank sizes. The main difference is 10 gallon and smaller are almost exclusively freshwater tanks. If you are keeping saltwater fish, high light demanding plants or corals then you will need a strong light.

Additionally corals and saltwater fish face the new challenge of salt creep. This can damage poorly protected lights and adds another layer of defense we must seek.

Finally we need to be sure all of your equipment will fit into the hood. Many large hang on back filters or surface skimmers won’t fit into normal hood cut outs, making glass hoods with plastic cut away sections the better choice. That being said there are still some hoods that cover our needs.

Previously Covered

As covered on my 10 gallon aquarium hood page, the same LED light fixture and bulb hood are still strong candidates. It should come as no surprise that the same company covers multiple tank sizes. With new dimensions come a few different notes which we will discuss. For the rest of the reviews please check out the previous reviews.

Marineland LED Light Hood


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This hood comes in both 20 gallon Tall and Long sizes. To recap my previous views on this lid quickly:

  • The hood swings open allowing for complete tank access
  • The LED bulbs last for over 11 years with normal, not constant, use
  • The hood is attached at the back of the tank via two clip on hinges
  • The light is strong enough to support up to medium light demanding plants
  • Excellent customer service assists with any faulty parts

The more specific elements I would like to discuss are the new depths that 20 gallon tall tanks can bring with them. The deeper the water the less light the bottom of the tank receives. Unless you use this on large scales you will easily be able to see the bottom getting bathed in light. In fact it is unlikely you will notice a difference in brightness from a 20 gallon long and 20 gallon tall tank. The key here is your plants will notice the difference. The light loses some of its strength as it travels deeper into the water.

This is taken care of by the hood. The Marineland LED hood actually solves the deeper water problem by adding in more LED bulbs. The additional strength they provide is enough to reach the bottom of the tank with the same strength. The 30 inch long hood, designed for 20 gallon long tanks, comes fully equipped with 45 LED bulbs. This produces 5500k which is a 10% increase over the smaller LED. This also applies to the 20 gallon tall tank but the increase in light strength is not quite enough to match the depth. If you do choose to use medium light demanding plants in a 20 gallon tall tank I suggest you give it a bit of an elevated substrate mound or pick a taller plant.

All Glass Aquarium Fluorescent Deluxe Hood


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In changing from the 10 gallon hood into the 20 gallon hood there is very little difference.

The special note here is that the bulbs accepted are now 24 inches long for the 20 gallon long tanks. For the 20 gallon tall hood light bulbs remain 18 inches. Because you are able to select your own bulbs there is no light issue with plants. New bulbs range from $5-$12 depending on the quality and can be expected to last between 6 months and a year. For longer bulb life keep the bulb well protected and clean it regularly.

Other Options

When both LED and fluorescent hoods do not meet your needs you’re probably ready to take the next step in aquarium lighting and fixtures. I’m talking about lighting strips. Both suspended and resting above a glass top. These two options are used in serious fish stores world wide as they are cost effective and provide even lighting.

2 thoughts on “Picking The Best 20 Gallon Aquarium Hood

  1. curtis halvorson

    I need a replacement hood for my fish tank. I’m not sure what the size of the tank is but the dimensions are 25″ H x 13.5 W x 13.5 L. I think that it might be a 15 gallon tall tank.

    Reply
    1. Joshua@themandaringarden Post author

      Hey Curtis,

      that sounds like the aqueon 15 gallon aquarium kit. I would contact aqueon about this, as there are not many options open for this irregular shape aquarium. You could also see if a local store like home depot would custom cut some acrylic or plexiglass for you. The one near me did it when I asked them, I just had to buy the whole thing they cut it from.

      Reply

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