Choosing the Correct Lighting for Your Aquarium

By Leonard Boyler

All aquariums require lighting. It not only enhances the look of your aquarium, including the dcor and the fish themselves, but it is also necessary for the ecosystem in your tank, especially if you have live plants.

The easier way to set up an aquarium is to get the full tank setup. This usually includes the lighting, along with the other necessary equipment. Although this setup might be cheaper, it is much more advisable to choose your own lighting so that you can customize it according to the size of your tank and the needs of your selected fish and plants.

The power of the aquarium lighting should be around 2 to 3 watts for every gallon of water in the tank. Keep in mind, however, that the lighting requirements for the aquarium with live plants would be more than that of the same aquarium with artificial plants. Be careful though, because more light is not always good for all fish. Some fish thrive in a brightly lit habitat, while some are bothered by too much light and end up being stressed. Furthermore, an environment with too much light causes algae to grow much faster.

There are two types of lighting to choose from for a freshwater aquarium. You can have either an incandescent or a fluorescent bulb. Incandescent bulbs are more appropriate for smaller tanks and generally cheaper than fluorescent bulbs. But the yellow color of light they emit is not at all similar to natural light. They also heat up the water so you have to regularly monitor the temperature.

If you have live plants, you'll need an aquarium fluorescent light. Available in the form of tubes or compact fluorescent bulbs, their light is much brighter and does not give off any heat. The fluorescent light can be used by your live plants. If your tank is very heavily planted, you may need more than 3 watts per gallon. A compact fluorescent bulb will fit into any fixture designed for incandescent bulbs, while fluorescent light tubes need to be purchased at the correct length for your aquarium hood.

Some fluorescent lights come in specialized spectrums, though you can use an ordinary household fluorescent light. "Full Spectrum," which contains all of the necessary wavelengths of light, is the best choice for brightly colored fish and healthy plants. Different parts of the spectrum have different effects on your aquarium. Purple-tinted lights will bring out the colors in bright tropical fish; the blue area of the spectrum increases algae growth. Orange-red light is ideal for your aquatic plants.

Although a lot of fish are nocturnal, it is still important for the main aquarium light to be turned off at night to imitate the natural order they are used to. The use of submersible LED lights will allow you to watch your fish when the main aquarium lights are off. You can use different colors to highlight the dcor or the fish. To watch the fish without disturbing their daily routines, use small red or blue LED lights.

Replacing your aquarium light bulbs is an inevitable part of aquarium maintenance. Regardless of whether the light is still working, replace the bulb every year, because they grow dimmer over time.

If you choose the right aquarium light, it will not only add color and artistry to your aquarium, it will also serve you well in keeping your fish and plants healthy. - 32185

About the Author:

Sign Up for our Free Newsletter

Enter email address here