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About Lighting for Freshwater Aquariums
Imagine, you are a colorful tropical fish. You swim in warm water, with lot of plants, in which you can
hide and of course you know where are you swimming. Do you know how this paradise may exist? It
is because of the sun. Sunshine is a perfect light. Thanks to the sun the life exists on the Earth's
surface. Thanks to the sun I can write this article now. As you all know, it is because of the
photosynthesis. So you see, that the light is very important. And an aquarium needs it too. That is the
reason why you have to buy a specialized aquarium lighting.
When you are buying an aquarium lighting, you have to choose it carefully. The right type of the
lighting is very important for the aquarium. It is because plants depend on it. If you choose a wrong
type of the light, it may cause that your plants will not grow, but algae will. But it is important in the
fish-only aquariums too. It is because fish need to see where they are swimming to and what they
are eating. Fish should have from 10 to 12 hours of light trough a day. If you shut down the light
suddenly, fish may be scared. The best way how to shut down the light in the aquarium is to shut it
down few minutes before you shut down the light in the room. And before you turn on the light in the
aquarium, turn on the light in the room, if you have a darker room. Some aquarist have a night light
in the aquarium. It is called lunar light too. In the nature, such light is normal for fish because at night
it is not as dark as in a room.
There are two things that are important when you are choosing an aquarium lighting:
color spectrum and brightness of the light.
Manufacturers makes lights in some color spectrum variants. The best color for plants are red and
blue parts of the spectrum. But if you have a fish-only aquarium, you can choose a yellow-green
part of the spectrum, but the best is a full spectrum light. The aquarium will look more heater. The
brightness of the light is more difficult to choose. It is because you have to know how much light
plants will need and how big will your aquarium be. You need to know exactly how deep and wide
will your aquarium be. It all affects the brightness in the tank. The more deeper your aquarium is,
the more stronger light you need. Generally, a tank should have got from 0,0015 to 0,0022 W on
a square centimeter.
The best way how to measure how much light you have in your aquarium, is with luxmeter. The
intensity of light is measured in luxes. Freshwater aquarium plants need maximum 5 000 lux and
saltwater plants, sea-flowers and corals need more than 6 000 lux. It is very important to know how
much light need your plants, because if they have more light than they need, they will not be as
pretty as they can be and algae will grow in your tank. So here are some examples of how much light
need some species of plants: Cryptocorinae and Vesicularia need maximum 500 lux. They like mild
light. Anubias, Echinodorus, Sagittaria and Hygrophila need 500 – 1 000 lux. It is a gentle light.
Bacopa, Ceratopteris, Egeria and Ludwigia like quite shine light 1 000 – 1 500 lux. Vallisneria,
Cabomba, Myriophyllum need the most light – over 1 500 lux.
The most common lightings are Fluorescents tubes. They can be made in many colour spectrums and
many sizes. They lasts for about one year. They also can simulate daylight. Tungsten and Halogen
Lamps are used in some cases, but they are not a good choice. They are maybe cheaper, but they
need more energy and lasts for a short time. They also heat up the aquarium and they have not the
right color spectrum for growing plants. This is also the the cause why normal lamps can’t be used.
By the way, unlike like lamps specialy made for aquariums, ordinary house lamps would not light up
the whole aquarium the same way. Compact Fluorescents are like fluorescent tubes, but they last
longer. They also need less energy even if they make more light. This can be possible because it
looks like one long fluorescent tube shaped to U. Most lightings need more space, but this don't.
Compact Fluorescents and Fluorescents tubes.