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Finding the right aquarium lighting is extremely important for your plants and fish to thrive. Your aquarium will fail if you do not match the aquarium lighting to the plant and fish species that you keep.
Aquarium lighting is needed to create a comfortable and suitable living space that mimics their natural habitat.
This also means that your aquarium can only house species that live in similar waters.
So, how do you decide on which LED aquarium lighting is the best option? Well, the best way is to first understand how aquarium lighting affects the species inside the tank.
Understand Your Aquarium Species
The first thing you need to do is develop an understanding of the underwater plants and fish inside your aquarium. In fact, do this before you even purchase the plants and fish.
Choose species that naturally live in the same habitat for a successful aquarium. Since the aquarium is a limited confined space, species that live in different habitats cannot coexist.
A fish living in tropical waters won’t survive in the same aquarium as an Arctic fish, for example. Tropical fish are accustomed to about 12 hours of sunlight while for cold water fish the amount of sunlight they receive changes with the seasons.
Aside from water temperature, think about the number of sunlight hours that the different fish species need. Some fish also prefer having a dark space between the plants to hide in.
For plants specifically, the color spectrum emitted by the aquarium lights is an important factor. Check which colors in the spectrum are needed by the plants you keep so you can buy the right lights.
Aquariums Need a Nighttime Mode
Out in lakes, rivers and oceans, the fish are acclimatized to having daylight sunlight and darker nights where there is only moonlight. Fish in aquariums also need to alternate between bright days and darker nights, known as the day to night cycle.
There are two ways to do this. You can either buy aquarium lights that have a setting for nighttime light or use a timer or simply turn the aquarium lights off at night.
Another option is buying two sets of aquarium lights; one daylight aquarium light and one moonlight aquarium set. However, there are plenty of LED aquarium light models available that have a wide variety of settings available for mimicking the day to night light cycle.
A nighttime mode is the preferred option because this is most similar to the natural conditions that the fish live in. Plants also benefit from a nighttime mode because non-stop light is not healthy for their growth either.
Brightness Affects the Aquarium Plants and Fish
Aquarium lights have different brightness levels and intensities.
Be sure to check how bright the light is in the natural habitat of the fish and underwater plants.
Aquarium lights are generally brighter than regular home LED light bulbs and have different color ratings compared to home lighting, a color temperature of 6000 kelvins is classified as a daylight temperature but certain LED aquarium lights go up to 8000 kelvins or even more.
There are several reasons why a bright light is necessary. One of the reasons is to your personal advantage – bright light also brightens up the colors of the fish scales, giving you an electrifying sight.
However, don’t directly switch to a very bright LED aquarium light because fish need time to adjust to the brightness. Some more advanced LED aquarium lights have a special setting to gradually increase the brightness over time while simpler models have a dimmer for manual adjustments.
Another reason for buying high brightness aquarium lights is for the tropical plants. Tropical plants and water plants that live near the water’s surface require higher intensity aquarium lights for their photosynthesis.
Remember that different plant species also have different light requirements.
Keeping plants that require high light intensity in your aquarium automatically means that you cannot keep plants that live in dark conditions near the bottom of the water body.
Don’t Worry About Algae in Bright Light
Unfortunately, algae is unavoidable in an aquarium. Algae grows in aquariums because of the nutrients available inside in combination with the bright light.
This means that when you install a bright LED aquarium light, you are likely to have to battle algae inside your aquarium. However, it is not as disastrous as you might think.
There is an adjustment period for your aquarium after you install a bright LED aquarium light. Though the conditions are ideal for the algae to grow (i.e. lots of nutrients and light) the conditions are also ideal for the growth of your plants.
A good trick to save your aquarium from algae is to choose plants that grow quickly in their beginning stages.
As the plants grow, the nutrients inside the aquarium drop which stops the algae from growing as rapid.
So, you can choose to let the problem solve itself naturally since the algae will probably reduce over a few weeks. The other option is placing an ultraviolet sterilizer in the filtration system.
Don’t Use Hot Aquarium Lights
Be careful when choosing the type of aquarium lights because incandescent bulbs and halogen lights heat up which affects the water temperature. With lights that heat up the upper level of the aquarium has warmer water than the bottom which affects how the fish behave.
LED lights are the safest option for aquarium lights because LEDs do not become hot when in use. This way, all parts of the aquarium can be kept at a uniform temperature so it is safe for the fish to swim everywhere.
These are the key aspects to remember when deciding on what type of LED aquarium light to purchase.
Remember to do your research on the needs of the water plants and fish you like to keep. Also, only group together species that are naturally living in the same habitat.