Planted Aquarium Lighting Guide (Colors, Types, Systems Explained)

Plants in your aquarium may be just as essential to some people as the fish are. Not only do they serve an important purpose, but they can also be extremely appealing if they are planted and placed in the appropriate manner. In the article, we will focus on FAQs about planted aquarium lighting design.

Do I need a light?

Although fish do not need artificial illumination in an aquarium, it is advantageous for a variety of reasons. To begin, illumination is required if you wish to cultivate living plants. Indirect sunlight or room lighting does not give enough light for aquarium plants, while direct sunlight promotes algae development. Second, effective aquarium lighting considerably improves the aesthetic of an aquarium. Aquarium tubes not only offer a perfect spectrum for growing plants, but they also highlight the colours of the fish.

What is the Amount of Light Needed by Planted Aquarium?

You need to strike the perfect balance between the amount of light and nutrients for your plants to thrive in the aquarium. The majority of aquariums only have a single light tube, and while this is sometimes insufficient for the plants to grow with, having too much light can encourage excess algae growth. Striking a balance between the two can be challenging due to the fact that most aquariums only have a single light tube. The use of nutritional supplements or fertilizers might be of assistance in achieving this equilibrium.

Never leave the light on for more than 12 hours a day; not only does this waste a lot of electricity, but it also encourages the development of algae in the tank. When you are planting your new tank, you should try to put in some fast-growing plants first to get a base established before any algae can set in. You may also want to get some algae-eating fish, such as Otocinclus species (catfish), to help with this because they won’t eat your plants but they will eat the algae. You may also use some floating plants to create shade in places that you’re not planting in. If you have fish in your pond that like the dark, such as catfish, they will be very grateful to you for doing this.

What type of lighting is best?

Fluorescent lighting is almost usually the best option for aquarium lighting. Incandescent globes are sometimes used, although the spectrum of light they create is not suitable for plants or displaying fish. Furthermore, they generate a lot of heat and are not particularly energy efficient, costing more in the long run despite their lower initial cost. Fluorescent tubes emit minimal heat, are energy efficient, and suitable aquarium tubes are available. Standard home tubes have a spectrum that is too yellow for aquarium usage, which promotes algae growth and gives the aquarium a murky look. For the greatest results, use suitable aquarium tubing.

Aquarium tubes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Standard aquarium tubes (for example, Aquaglo) typically feature a moderate brightness with a light spectrum that is mostly red and blue (although this appears a warm white to the human eye). These provide a gentle, natural light that enhances the colours of most fish and is suited for most aquatic plants. These tubes are appropriate for almost all aquariums.

Higher intensity tubes (e.g. Powerglo) are available if a stronger light is necessary, such as in a very deep tank or in marine aquariums. These are brighter and have a somewhat sharper, cooler appearance. These are also great for plants and bring out the colours of the fish. They are usually a bit more costly than ordinary tubes, but they are just as appropriate, if not more so.

Compact fluorescents are much brighter. They, like other fluorescent tubes, operate cool and are cost-effective. Compact fluorescent light fittings are somewhat more costly than regular fluorescent light fittings, however, the tubes themselves are around the same price. There are several spectra available, but bright white is the best in most instances – it has a spectrum close to a high-intensity normal fluorescent. There are also actinic compact fluorescents available.

The spectrum of actinic tubes contains a lot of blue. These tubes are mostly used in marine aquariums to supplement other tubes in replicating the blue-ish light observed on coral reefs. They may be used to produce a dawn-to-twilight look in any aquarium. The actinic, with its faint blue light, is set to turn on an hour or so before the other aquarium lights and turn out an hour or so after the main lights go down. Actinic is not suited as an aquarium’s only light source.

Tri-phosphor tubes are sometimes used in aquariums. These are bright tubes with minimal yellow in the spectrum that provide a beautiful look at a reasonable price. Their range, however, is not perfect, and they tend to foster the development of unwanted algae.

Mercury vapour and metal halide are two more forms of illumination. These lights are much brighter than compact fluorescents, although they are more costly. They also use more energy and generate more heat. These lighting systems are often used in extremely deep-planted tanks or for serious reef setups.

What Sort of Effects Do the Different Colors of Light Have on the Plants?

The lights put out a whole spectrum of light, which includes hues that aren’t visible to the human eye as well as those that are. The development of the plants in your aquarium will be affected by this light in a way that is specific to the plants you choose to have there. However, although red and blue light is often the most effective in stimulating photosynthesis, there are a number of other spectrums that can do so as well. If you do not adjust the lighting appropriately, your plants may never reach their full potential for growth.

My Aquarium Plants Are Dying – What Am I Doing Wrong?

There is a wide range of potential explanations for why the plants in your aquarium are dying. The most common oversight is purchasing aquarium plants that are not suited to the environment of the water in the aquarium. It may come as a surprise, but plants kept in aquariums may be rather particular about both the water and the temperature. There are certain plants that need a specific kind of light, which can only be delivered by the higher-end models that have been discussed before. Before you purchase any aquarium lights, make sure you conduct the appropriate amount of research.

Should I Switch Off the Light?

This question has more than one solution, and the correct one will depend on the kind of aquarium lighting that you choose. If you go with a fully automated model, you won’t ever have to turn it off because it will naturally mimic the conditions that plants and fish encounter in their natural environment. This means that you won’t ever have to worry about whether or not your aquarium is properly caring for its inhabitants. If you decide to go with a less expensive model that doesn’t switch off by itself, the ideal setting is one that alternates between darkness and light for a total of 24 hours.

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