Proper lighting is one aspect of aquarium maintenance that often goes overlooked. Not only does lighting enhance the visual appeal of your tank, but it also ensures the health and well being of your fish and other living organisms that call your aquarium home.
Though different organisms may require different lighting, a general rule of thumb is the deeper the tank, the more intense the light source; this is because rays of light do not penetrate easily through water. In order to offer the most suitable conditions for your fish or any other organisms you keep, it is important to understand their lighting needs and the specific aspects of the light spectrum that will allow them to thrive. The visible light spectrum, what we see in a rainbow, combines to form white light. In general, plants use the red-orange end of the spectrum, while invertebrates, common aquarium varieties being anemones and corals, do best in the blue to violet range. Other organisms do best with full spectrum lighting. Here are a few popular types of lighting and what they can offer your aquarium.
Looking to highlight a particular part of your aquarium? Halides will give a spotlight effect, which can be very beneficial to corals that thrive on intense lighting. It’s important to note that if you are utilizing a halides lighting source and it is close to the water surface, you will need a cover to filter out the UV portion of the light and to protect the bulb from splashing water and potential breakage.
While Halogen lamps can be economical, they are best suited for outdoor environments such as ponds or to set the mood for outdoor waterscapes. By nature, they run hot, and can heat the tank to undesirable levels. They also lack the ability to provide the correct spectrum of light making it difficult to sustain long lasting plant life in your aquarium.
Fluorescent lighting for aquariums is popular because it is versatile and relatively easy to utilize. These lights come in three basic types and can meet a variety of requirements you may have.
§ Color-enhancing Lights:
Designed to showcase the variety of colors in your fish, they generally have a yellow or pink hue and complement the full spectrum better than lights with a basic white appearance.
§ Actinic Lights:
By giving off a blue hue, these lights meet necessary growth requirements of coral by providing the correct spectrum for proper photosynthesis of symbiotic algae in corals.
§ Full Spectrum Lights:
These lights are designed to simulate maximum daylight. Intensities may vary depending on whether it is intended for fresh or saltwater aquariums. Freshwater plants requite a full spectrum, while reef aquariums need an intense amount of full spectrum light in combination with actinic blue light.
Aquarium owners who wish to minimize energy usage may find that compact fluorescents are the right lighting choice. These lights can provide the proper amount of lighting while efficiently utilizing both space and energy consumption.
Choosing the right type of lighting for your tank is an essential part of aquarium maintenance. Understanding the specific lighting needs for your fish and other organisms such as plants and corals, can help you create a safe and healthy habitat for these captivating creatures.