There are tons of aquarium lighting options out there, from bulbs, fixtures and hoods to light strips and tubes. The right lighting is an essential aspect not only to the aesthetics of the tank, but to the health and happiness of the fish as well. This basic aquarium lighting guide will give you some useful and unique ideas to help get you started on choosing the right lights.
Aquarium Lighting Selection
- Incandescent Lights
Incandescent light fixtures have the cheapest initial cost, but you should avoid them for several reasons. They burn out faster than other types, so you will need to replace them more often. They use more electricity than other types and will unnecessarily drive up your power bill. Finally, they produce a lot of heat which interferes with the tank’s water temperature regulation. If you purchase a smaller starter aquarium kit it will likely come with an incandescent fixture. You can easily replace this fixture with a more efficient one that will cost you less in the long run.
- Fluorescent Lights
Fluorescent fixtures are most commonly used for aquarium light settings. The fixtures and the bulbs are more expensive than incandescent ones, but you will not have to replace them as often and they cost less to run. Standard fluorescent lighting will get the job done for most any aquarium, but there are other types that are better suited for certain environments. Very high output (V.H.O.) fluorescent lights are great for large/tall tanks, reef aquarium lighting, or those with densely packed plant life. They produce as much as three times the amount of light as a standard fluorescent bulb. Power compact fluorescent lights are another option for plant and reef fanatics. They give off a little more light than V.H.O.s and some can fit into regular incandescent fixtures, just be careful not to exceed the fixture’s max wattage allowance.
- Led Aquarium Lighting Guide
Using LED lighting to simulate moonlight is a captivating way to illuminate a tank at night without disrupting the routine of the fish. When done properly it can even stimulate more healthy growth and activity during the night time hours. Blue LED lighting with a spectrum of 470 nm to 480 nm is optimal for moonlight simulation. They create a soft blue glow that makes the tank look fantastic and you should see an improvement in vegetation growth with no difference in the energy level of the fish. Try having them come on about an hour before your day time lighting goes off and shut off around three or four in the morning.
For more on moon lighting have a look at our post: DIY Aquarium Moon Lighting To See The Fishes At Night
Fish alone do not need a particularly well-lit tank. In fact, most generally prefer just enough light to be able to tell the difference between day time and night time (and for you, enough to be able to adequately see the fish). Putting the lighting on a timer is the easiest way to provide them with the recommended 10 to 12 hours of light each day. Tanks with live anemones, corals, and/or plants crave more intense lighting and should receive around 12 to 14 hours of light per day.
image credits: Pete Brown