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If you keep your lights close to the waters surface, you should use a glass top.

My lights are roughly 12" above the surface of the water, to allow emergent growth. Obivously no glass tops are used. The lights themselves are covered by acrylic shields, they are the Coralife Aqualight units.
 

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IF you want maximum light penetration you would want the lights sitting directly on the glass.

However many of us find it easily within our means to provide more then enough light intensity, and therefore maximum efficiency is not required.

The reason many people use no top and suspended lighting is to allow the plants to grow emersed and flower. This is the exact reason I do it. Love them flowers :D

My local climate is not what you would call tropical up here in Vancouver BC Canada. Despite the fact I have an open top, I also have a 80% enclosed wood canopy upon which my lights sit. The sump also has a Automated topup system from Tunze to ensure Osmotic Balance. Evaporation is the downside of having an open top. :)
 
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