Types of aquarium lighting to illuminate fish tanks

Types of aquarium lighting to illuminate fish tanks

Firstly there are several factors to consider when selecting the most suitable lighting for your aquarium, different types of aquarium lighting all provide light, but having said that it is important to determine the best option for your individual aquarium.

Key points to consider

  • Type of fish tank freshwater or marine.
  • Would the aquarium be for fish only or will it also be supporting plant life or coral.
  • Size of aquarium length, width and depth, deeper water may require brighter lighting!

When lighting an aquarium, we are trying to accurately simulate the lighting fish would encounter in the wild.

It is important to control the amount of light the aquarium receives, if too little is provided, plants and corals may not survive, if too much light is supplied, the aquarium could soon become overrun with algae.

Whilst it may be as simple as providing set hours of day and night (light and dark) for a fish only setup, specific light spectrums are essential to the continued health and growth of plants and corals.

 It is recommended around 8 to 10 hours of light per day is recommended for freshwater planted tanks, or 10 to 12 hours per day for reef setups.

There have been many advances in aquarium lighting technology in recent times, helping us achieve different types of aquarium lighting conditions.

Colour temperature is a term that is often encountered when choosing lighting for specific aquariums.

Light is made up of seven colours, and sunlight emits all seven colours, making the light appear white.

Light also changes the further it penetrates down into the water, so depending on the size of an aquarium more powerful lighting may be required especially if planted with live plants.

Types of Aquarium Lighting

Below there are some different types of aquarium lighting including – fluorescent, LED and Metal halide lighting.

Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting

The most common type of aquarium light, fluorescent lighting is available in the form of long tubes, either T8 (old style, larger diameter) or T5 (newer, narrower diameter). The tube/s come in a variety of lengths and sit inside the hood of the tank.

Light output can be enhanced by the use of a reflector placed behind the tubes to reflect more light into the aquarium.

Fluorescent lighting is available in many different wavelengths, including a warmer reddish light to show off fish colours in a tropical fish tank, daylight simulation bulbs good for growing plants and lighting a fish tank and also marine blue bulbs.

This type of lighting will require the tubes to be changed after a period of time as they lose effectiveness.

Interpet Tropical Daylight Fluorescent Tube for Planted Aquariums, 15-Inch, 14 W
Power-GLO T8, 30W Fluorescent Aquarium Bulb with Free Aqua-GLO T8, 30W Fluorescent Aquarium Bulb
Interpet Community Daylight Fluorescent Tube for Tropical and Coldwater Aquariums, 42-Inch, 38 W
Description
Interpet Tropical Daylight Fluorescent Tube for Planted Aquariums, 15-Inch, 14 W
Power-GLO T8, 30W Fluorescent Aquarium Bulb with Free Aqua-GLO T8, 30W Fluorescent Aquarium Bulb
Interpet Community Daylight Fluorescent Tube for Tropical and Coldwater Aquariums, 42-Inch, 38 W
Interpet Tropical Daylight Fluorescent Tube for Planted Aquariums, 15-Inch, 14 W
Description
Interpet Tropical Daylight Fluorescent Tube for Planted Aquariums, 15-Inch, 14 W
Power-GLO T8, 30W Fluorescent Aquarium Bulb with Free Aqua-GLO T8, 30W Fluorescent Aquarium Bulb
Description
Power-GLO T8, 30W Fluorescent Aquarium Bulb with Free Aqua-GLO T8, 30W Fluorescent Aquarium Bulb
Interpet Community Daylight Fluorescent Tube for Tropical and Coldwater Aquariums, 42-Inch, 38 W
Description
Interpet Community Daylight Fluorescent Tube for Tropical and Coldwater Aquariums, 42-Inch, 38 W

Last update on 2021-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

LED Aquarium Lighting

LED lighting is relatively new to keeping fish and, due to having so many advantages, is fast becoming the aquarium lighting of choice.

LEDs generates a consistent colour spectrum with a penetrating light, a huge benefit over fluorescent lighting which will require frequent replacement due to colour shift after a period of time.

LEDs are compact and easy to fit onto any aquarium.

The initial cost of LED aquarium lighting is normally higher than fluorescent lights, but low operating costs and not needing tube replacements will more than cover the extra cost in the long run.

LED lights do not generate heat and can be controlled remotely in most cases, also lighting can be adjustable to suit your needs.

DOCEAN GreenSun 18CM Aquarium Light RGB Remote Colour Changing LED Fish Tank Light Underwater Submersible Crystal Glass...
IREENUO LED Aquarium Light, Full Spectrum Fish Tank Clip on Light with Remote, Color Changing Lighting for Reef Coral...
GreenSun LED Lighting 5.8W Submersible LED Aquarium Light, 12V 27 LEDs 5050SMD Underwater Strip Light for Fish Tank,...
Description
DOCEAN GreenSun 18CM Aquarium Light RGB Remote Colour Changing LED Fish Tank Light Underwater Submersible Crystal Glass...
IREENUO LED Aquarium Light, Full Spectrum Fish Tank Clip on Light with Remote, Color Changing Lighting for Reef Coral...
GreenSun LED Lighting 5.8W Submersible LED Aquarium Light, 12V 27 LEDs 5050SMD Underwater Strip Light for Fish Tank,...
DOCEAN GreenSun 18CM Aquarium Light RGB Remote Colour Changing LED Fish Tank Light Underwater Submersible Crystal Glass...
Description
DOCEAN GreenSun 18CM Aquarium Light RGB Remote Colour Changing LED Fish Tank Light Underwater Submersible Crystal Glass...
IREENUO LED Aquarium Light, Full Spectrum Fish Tank Clip on Light with Remote, Color Changing Lighting for Reef Coral...
Description
IREENUO LED Aquarium Light, Full Spectrum Fish Tank Clip on Light with Remote, Color Changing Lighting for Reef Coral...
GreenSun LED Lighting 5.8W Submersible LED Aquarium Light, 12V 27 LEDs 5050SMD Underwater Strip Light for Fish Tank,...
Description
GreenSun LED Lighting 5.8W Submersible LED Aquarium Light, 12V 27 LEDs 5050SMD Underwater Strip Light for Fish Tank,...

Last update on 2021-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Metal Halide Aquarium Lighting

Metal halide aquarium lighting produces powerful illumination via an electric arc passing through a bulb containing a gaseous mixture of mercury vapour and metal halides.

This high-intensity light penetrates deep into an aquarium giving a similar shimmer effects to LED lighting, is long lasting, and maintains low running costs.

The bulbs and their units can be expensive compared to other lighting types, and as this kind of lighting generates a lot of heat, a chiller may be required to keep the water temperature to an acceptable level.

Metal halides with a colour temperature of 5500-6000K replicate sunlight perfectly for freshwater planted aquariums.

Bulbs with a colour temperature rating of 10000-20000K are perfect for marine reefs, promoting coral growth.

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Conclusion

When lighting an aquarium we are trying to accurately simulate the lighting fish would encounter in the wild.

There are 3 main types of aquarium lighting commonly used when keeping fish.

Different types of aquarium lighting are available including fluorescent, LED and Metal halide aquarium lighting.

It’s important to determine the best lighting options for your individual aquarium.

Lighting recommendations are around 8 to 10 hours of light per day for freshwater planted tanks, or 10 to 12 hours per day for reef tanks.

Lighting makes your aquarium and fish look good and pleasing to the eye, it is also important for sustaining a natural environment for your fish and live plants.

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