Choosing the Right Lighting for Healthy Fish and Plants

Getting the lighting right in a fish tank is probably one of the trickiest parts of having an aquarium yet it is crucial for each one. Incorrect lighting can greatly affect the health and behavior of the fish. There are several types of lighting systems on the market, from traditional to cutting-edge LED. Here are some basic guidelines to help you choose the system that is best suited to both your pocket and the fish in your tank. 

Image by Jeremy Bezanger
Image by Claudio Guglieri

Stick to Fish

Consider starting by having just fish in your tank rather than aquatic plants as well. Aquatic plants have an additional range of needs that vary from plant to plant. Plants can be a wonderful addition but only once you are more comfortable with having and maintaining an aquarium.

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Get the Right Balance of Light 

Too much light can cause excessive algae growth, but too little light can make your tank look dull and prevent your fish from thriving. Remember that lighting also affects plants, corals, and other inhabitants of the tank such as invertebrates.

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Start with LED lighting

There are many long-lasting LED light options available on the market. They are easy to control and suitable to just about all types of fish. Incandescent lighting can work, but it produces heat that could interfere with the maintenance of ideal temperatures. LED lights also last longer. 

Image by Евгения Пивоварова

Don’t Leave the Light on All the Time 

Like any other animal, fish need to rest, and this should ideally take place at the same time every day. In order to remember to do so, think of the aquarium as a light that has to be turned off with other lights in your home every night. Better yet, install a timer. If you eventually do place plants in your tank, bear in mind that they typically need around eight hours of bright light every day.