Mostly pet fish is kept indoors and in all probabilities where the ambiance is with low intensity or subdued lighting effects. Therefore the lighting is more important for your aquarium as you would like to make your pets most comfortable, capable of being admired, and maintain a healthy life span. Remember that this health aspect is required for nearly 12 hours per day for keeping the environment as natural as possible, supplying necessary medium for growth or manufacture of natural chemicals etc. A ready made aquarium light accompanies a completely assembled fish tank and in order to ensure the amount of natural light simulation, you only have to install a suitable timer. This way you are satisfied that neither too much nor too little light is available to your fish and they will have a healthy existence. This also is valid for the live plants, live coral and rocks you have for decorative effects.
Which type of aquarium light is best?
There are basically two types of lights available for aquariums. These are either incandescent or fluorescent lighting systems. The experts and experienced users always show a preference for the latter type of aquarium light as it comes nearest to the natural illumination. This apart the assembly must be of the hood type as that helps in not only keeping the tank clean, but also ensures that the fish cannot jump out or the aquarium!
The incandescent light is not really suitable and the one with halogen lamps should be completely avoided as it can give hot spots in the fish tank resulting in damage or death of the sensitive types of fish you have.
Requirements of aquarium light by plants and other living organisms
Generally a thumb rule for aquarium light is that you should be able to provide about 3 watts of light per one gallon water – thus around 30 watt for a normal size aquarium. The live items other than fish such as plants, ferns, rocks and coral etc also need proper aquarium light to survive and one must judge the total hours of lighting needed through experience. If you are noticing growth of algae then the light is too much and if you find that the ferns are loosing color, the light needs to be increased. Keep track of the deterioration in the intensity of light as bulbs (incandescent and fluorescent) loose their power over a period of time.
Other factors in providing aquarium light
Some salt water fish tanks require a different arrangement of light bulbs or tubes and one must properly design the hoods so that they can be flexible for both saltwater fish and fresh water species. Double tubes or bulbs are suitable for general saltwater fish variety.
Finally one must not forget that keeping fish is a pet hobby and everyone desires their fish tank to look attractive and better than the neighbors or friends! Aquarium light that is specifically called “designer’s lighting” has become popular in recent times and is installed inside living rocks, gravel, between ferns etc to give an attractive effect that is pleasing to the human eye – though the fish may not totally be in agreement with this observation!
By Thomas Bladecki