Do Aquariums Need Special Lights?

If you are going to set up an aquarium, it is important that you have the proper lighting. This can be a crucial aspect of caring for your fish properly.

 Not all fish require the same lighting set up, so you need to educate yourself beforehand.

Consider the Species of Your Fish

Before you purchase any lights for your aquarium, you’ll need to consider the species of your fish. The fact is that some fish need special lights, while others do not.

If you have fish that are native to freshwater bodies like rivers, lakes, or streams, you will need to provide them bright lighting in their tank. This helps with replicating their natural environment, which is important for keeping them healthy overall.

When you have a tank setup with bright lighting, you’ll have to give your fish numerous places to hide out. This includes caves as well as plants. This will allow the fish to get away from the light when they need to.

If you have fish that are native to murky, darker bodies of water, you probably shouldn’t install bright lighting. It doesn’t have to be completely dark, but you need to keep the light to a minimum.

aquarium with extra lights

How Lighting Affects Your Fish

The lighting that you use with your aquarium can have a very noticeable effect on the behavior of your fish. If the lighting is either lighter or darker than their species is used to, they can turn aggressive quite fast. It might also cause them to hide out most of the time, especially if the lighting is too bright.

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One of the biggest concerns regarding inadequate lighting in an aquarium is how it can affect your fish’s eating habits. It is likely that your fish will barely eat, if at all. This will obviously take a toll on their overall health very quickly.

How Lighting Affects Your Plants

You also need to consider what sort of effect your aquarium’s lighting will have on the plants you’ve put in it. Pretty much all plants need at least some amount of light to grow and thrive.

Just like with your fish, you will need to consider the species of the plants when trying to determine how much light they require. If the plants in your tank are not doing well, they will not be able to adequately oxygenate your fish’s environment.

Plants that have leaves or stems with red on them typically need a high degree of light for a good portion of each day. You’ll need to do your homework before putting certain plants in. This will help you understand what their lighting requirements are, so you’ll be prepared.

underwater world

Types of Aquarium Lights

Before you can buy any lights for your aquarium, you’ll need to explore your options. We have listed some of the most common lighting options below.

1. Standard Fluorescent

Many people put standard fluorescent lights in their aquariums. This is a popular choice, as it works for many different species of fish. You can install them on the hood of just about any tank. There’s also the fact that these lights are available in a wide range of colors. The one catch is that you’ll most likely need a hood on your tank, as the bulbs are pretty big.

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2. Incandescent

Incandescent light bulbs are much less common than standard fluorescent lights, but they can work well for some setups. This can be a good choice if you have a relatively small aquarium. The sheer amount of heat that these bulbs generate makes them in appropriate for most tanks. If there is too much heat coming off your lights, the fish will suffer as a result.

3. Compact Fluorescent

If you are looking for an energy-efficient way to light your aquarium, compact fluorescent bulbs are excellent. These lights are available in a wide range of wattages, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting what you need. They do generate a significant amount of heat, so an extra fan might be prudent.

4. LED

LED lights are relatively new and a bit pricey, but they will help you save some money on your electric bill each month. They are also very bright, so you need to keep that in mind. This is a great choice for most freshwater fish that require bright light.

Lighting and Algae Growth

While bright light may be good for your fish, it can also encourage algae growth. This is not the only factor to consider, but it is an important one nonetheless. Keep in mind that you will notice the most algae growth when you first set up your tank. Once the tank has cycled, the algae will grow back at a much slower rate.

One of the biggest issues with bright aquarium lighting is green water algae, which can grow very quickly. If you use bright light with your tank, you should have at least one or two algae eaters in it. There are plenty of different fish that are known for their uncanny ability to devour tons of algae in a matter of hours.

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Conclusion

  • The species of the fish in your aquarium will play an important part in the type of lighting you should use.
  • Most fish that are native to freshwater bodies tend to thrive in bright light.
  • If you have fish that are native to darker, murkier water, you should keep the lighting to a minimum.
  • The lighting that you use in your aquarium can have a profound effect on your fish’s behavior.
  • Inadequate lighting can cause some fish to become overly aggressive or reclusive.
  • If you are using very bright lights with your tank, you’ll need to provide your fish with numerous places to hide out. This includes plants and caves.
  • Standard fluorescent lights are very popular and a good choice for most freshwater fish.
  • Incandescent bulbs can work well for some setups, but they do generate a lot of heat.
  • Compact fluorescent lights are energy-efficient and work very well for most tank setups.
  • LED lights are also great for saving money on your energy bill, and they last a long time.
  • Keep in mind that bright lighting can encourage algae growth. It’s a good idea to have at least one algae eating fish in your tank.
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