Aquarium Lighting: Balancing Beauty and Practicality
Introduction: Aquarium lighting serves both as a design feature and a practical necessity. The soft internal glow of a lit aquarium adds a beautiful element to room decor, while the fish and live plants within require light for their growth. However, determining how much light fish and plants need and controlling that quantity can be a bit tricky.
How Much Light is Needed? In general, most aquariums require 10 to 12 hours of light per day (8 hours is a good starting point), provided by aquarium lights. However, the exact duration your aquarium lights need to be on each day depends on several factors:
- The quantity and type of live plants in the aquarium.
- How much ambient lighting already exists in the room.
- The types of fish in the aquarium.
- The level of algae in the aquarium.
- The light requirements of live aquatic plants.
The primary reason for supplementing aquarium lighting is to provide essential light for the photosynthesis of live aquatic plants. Similar to terrestrial plants, aquatic plants use light to synthesize food from carbon dioxide and water, obtaining this light from ambient room light and supplemented aquarium lighting.
If your aquarium contains live plants, you may need to maximize the supplementary lighting time. Plants typically require up to 12 hours of light per day, but the exact duration depends on the aquarium setup and plant species. On the other hand, if your aquarium lacks live aquatic plants, your lighting requirements reduce to what is necessary for the fish.
It is generally recommended that aquatic plants in the aquarium match the type of fish you are keeping: tropical plants for tropical fish aquariums and temperate/coldwater plants for aquariums with coldwater species. The choice of lighting levels should also mimic the natural environment of the plants.
Room Ambient Lighting: Determining the length of time to run aquarium lights will depend on how much ambient light already exists in the room. Even if the room already has plenty of light, you still need to run aquarium lights every day, as ambient room lighting is usually indirect, and regardless of how much light already exists, you don't need to run aquarium lights for 12 hours.
During winter, when there is less natural light due to seasonal reasons, keeping aquarium lighting on for a longer duration is beneficial. This promotes better growth and healthier aquatic plants. As the days lengthen, the lighting time for the aquarium can be shortened.
Lighting Requirements for Different Fish Species: Regarding the fish themselves, aquarium lighting is more about you than them. While aquarium lighting allows you to see and appreciate the fish more easily, it generally doesn't have a significant impact on the fish. Most fish are accustomed to receiving more light than they would in their natural environment due to the nature of aquariums with four glass sides and relatively small size.
Some species, like angelfish and discus, thrive in lower light conditions. For these species, excessive supplemental aquarium lighting may have a negative impact.
When determining how much additional lighting is needed (if any), consider the conditions the species experienced in the wild. Tropical fish evolved in conditions where approximately 12 hours of light was available daily. Therefore, logically, an aquarium with tropical fish may need to combine ambient and aquarium lighting for about half a day.
On the other hand, coldwater species like goldfish, minnows, rice fish, and zebrafish come from temperate climates where daylight duration varies with the seasons. For these fish, you might want to change the light amount throughout the year to create a more natural environment, matching the lighting conditions they would experience in their native habitat.
Controlling Aquarium Lighting: The biggest obstacle to maintaining consistent lighting in an aquarium is that owners often find it challenging to turn the lights on and off at the same time every day. Fortunately, Seaoura's aquarium lights can address this issue. Set the on and off times to achieve the desired lighting duration. It is highly recommended for all aquarium owners to use a timer switch.