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The Importance of Aquarium Lighting

Sep 13, 2008
Most basic aquariums come with lighting already installed, but you can also buy lights if you want something different. For a novice the lighting in your aquarium should be sufficient if it's fluorescent, however, this only applies to freshwater tanks. If you plan on setting up a saltwater aquarium, better lighting is a must.

Fluorescent lighting keeps fish the healthiest because it most closely resembles natural light - and it makes your fish look better! Don't use candescent lighting in an aquarium, as it gives off a lot of heat and has a tendency to warm the water, possibly causing harm to your fish. Luckily, incandescent bulbs are easy to replace with fluorescent ones.

For fish only aquariums, use 3 watts of lighting for every gallon of water in the tank. This amount of light will control algae perfectly - anything stronger and you may notice green algae starting to form. Remember to change the lights once every 8 months to keep a consistent light level going.

For aquariums with plants, the lighting requirements are different. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes with lighting, causing their beautiful aquatic plants to wither and die in the span of a few weeks. But if you know what amount of lighting to use to keep plants alive, they will flourish, and stay vibrant and colorful. Install a tri-phosphor tube or full spectrum fluorescent bulb to supply the plants with the full spectrum of light they need to grow.

Although the lighting you employ depends on the type of plants you have in your aquarium, a full spectrum bulb that covers the red, blue, and green parts of the light spectrum should work for most setups.

A fluorescent bulb should do the trick for saltwater tanks containing only fish, but if you're going to add other elements to the mix, such as coral or live rocks, everything changes. This type of aquarium needs more light. If you plan to start with just fish, and then expand to add other features, purchase an aquarium with space for two tubes so you have room to add more lighting as your needs change. Corals require large amounts of light, between 5 and 8 watts.

Setting up an aquarium and keeping fish can be a lot of fun, and it makes a great hobby. As long as you research your lighting needs ahead of time and know exactly what your aquarium needs to keep the fish, plants, and other features alive and well, you'll be able to enjoy your aquarium for years to come.
About the Author
Richard Gilliland writes articles on Aquarium Supplies. Other articles written by Richard Gilliland related to Prodibio and Protein Skimmers could be found on the net.
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