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Important Points To Consider When Choosing Aquarium Lighting

The options for aquarium lighting seem virtually endless! Learn important points to consider when choosing aquarium lighting so you can make an informed decision.


aquarium plants xs 20135952When you look at a well-maintained freshwater aquarium, one of the first things you are likely to notice is the way the aquarium lighting reflects off the scales of the fish as they swim and how it illuminates the live plants and other tank decorations. The lighting in an aquarium can mean the difference between a tank looking dull and drab or looking vibrant and healthy. Aquarium lighting serves to do more than just enhance the appearance of your tank, however – it also serves an important biological function. If you want to cultivate a beautiful and healthy freshwater aquarium you need to carefully consider the type of lighting you are going to use. Before you can make this decision, however, you should understand the importance of aquarium lighting and learn the basics so you can make an informed decision.

Functional Purposes of Aquarium Lighting

aquarium s 20136012When it comes to the functional purposes of aquarium lighting, the most important thing to mention is that lighting is necessary to sustain numerous biological processes within the aquarium. Aquarium lighting provides the energy photosynthetic organisms need to thrive and grow. In the freshwater tank, these organisms may include plants and algae which utilize light as an energy source in the process of converting carbon dioxide into oxygen through photosynthesis. In order to thrive, plants require lighting of a certain intensity and spectrum. While tanks housing only fish may get by on as little as one or two watts of lighting per gallon, planted tanks need between 2 and 5 watts per gallon. Aquarium plants should receive between 10 and 12 hours of light per day and full-spectrum lighting is recommended.

Aesthetic Purposes of Aquarium Lights

gourami golden xs 23232838One of the main functions aquarium lighting performs is to increase the aesthetic appeal of your fish as well as the tank itself. Certain types of lighting have been shown to enhance the coloration of aquarium fish and also help to promote healthy plant growth. Aquarium light bulbs are available in a variety of different styles which emit light at different wavelengths. Full-spectrum bulbs emit light from all wavelengths of visible light, approximating the effect of natural daylight. Bulbs designed specifically to enhance the coloration of fish typically emit light from the warmer end of the spectrum – namely red and yellow light. Some species of fish have reflective or metallic coloration which shows best under bright light while others are more likely to thrive under dim lighting.
Making the Right Choice

In order to get the most out of your aquarium lighting you need to choose the right type of lighting for your particular tank. The factors to consider when selecting tank lighting are the size of your tank, the type of tank and your tank inhabitants. Some types of aquarium lighting, such as standard and compact fluorescent bulbs, can be adapted to a wide range of tank sizes while others, such as metal halide lights, are only recommended for large tanks. The type of tank – fish only or planted – should also play a major role in your decision regarding aquarium lighting. Planted tanks require higher wattages of aquarium lighting and certain lighting systems are recommended to provide for the needs of aquarium plants.
discus 000014836719xsmallFinally, you need to think about the requirements and preferences of your tank inhabitants when selecting an aquarium lighting system. Certain species of fish like Loaches and Discus fish can be intimidated by intense lighting, while other fish show better in bright lighting. Before you make a decision, research the needs of the fish you plan to keep in your tank in order to ensure that the type of lighting you choose will fulfill those needs. Keep in mind that there are things you can do to alter the lighting in your tank regardless what type of lighting system you purchase. Adding floating plants can help to diffuse aquarium lighting and installing pieces of driftwood can help create shaded areas where fish like Loaches may feel at ease.

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