A few months ago, I went to my friend’s house. My friend was happy to introduce with the tiny friends, the fishes, and plants of his aquarium. It was an entirely new experience for me. I have never seen such a beautiful water tank.
Then, I asked him about the steps of making a planted aquarium. He suggested to me the entire process. I found the LED lighting part as an interesting and vital one. I have been being quite satisfied with the lighting of my aquarium. I would like to share with you my experience.
The planted aquarium is the tiny mirrored image of the sea-surface. And lighting an aquarium is a vital part of keeping the inhabitants healthy and lively. It keeps the plants in the best color and position.
Have you ever read any extraordinary “planted aquarium LED lighting guide”? In this article, you will learn about those things that complete the guide.
Planted Aquarium LED Lighting Guide Key Facts
Most of the time, a similar question comes to our mind. What light should be the best for the planted aquarium? LED Lighting an area depends on three critical things:
- Power or strength of the LED Appropriate color spectrum or light density
- The spread of the light
Power or Strength of the LED:
The strength of the LEDs is measured in the umols of PAR. PAR stands for photosynthetically active radiation. It is a more accurate indicator than lumens and watts of light.
Photosynthesis is the regular biological term of plants or trees. It helps them to grow accordingly with the help of the light. In most of the branded lights, the PAR numbers are given to elaborate the strength of light. If you do not see the numbers, you can notice if the condition of the aquarium is okay or not with the given light.
You can call any white light as full-spectrum (the sum of red, green, and blue wavelengths). If you think of lumens, lights of the higher lumen values may have heavy green wavelengths. It is suitable for human eyes as they have sensitivities to the electromagnetic light spectrum. Plants are likely to use red and blue lights more than the red one. So, lumens cannot be a sufficient meter of photosynthesis.
In the case of watts per gallon, it measures the amount of electricity a light would spend in a specific duration. Input is getting more importance here instead of the output. The output may not be satisfactory, depending on plants’ needs.
So, what would be the suitable PAR for a planted aquarium?
- If the PAR value is within 20-30 umols, there will be low lighting in the aquarium. This kind of light is right for shade aquarium plants. A fish tank containing Anubias, Java moss, Cryptocoryne, etc. needs low lighting.
- Lights having less than 80-90 umols would be in medium strength. Lilaeopsis, Green Tiger Lotus, Pygmy Chain Sword, Anubias, etc. kind of plants grow well in medium lighting. It is suitable for planting commercial aquarium plants and carpets.
- Lights more than 90 umols can provide high brightness. Planting red or colored aquarium plants need heavy or high lighting. It helps to spread dense and self-shading lights. Baby tear, Glossostigma Elatinoides, Amazon Sword, Elodea Densa, African water fern, etc. kind of plants grow well in massive lighting.
If you provide strong or heavy lighting all the time, there will be possible high algae growth in the aquarium. Sometimes, it becomes a tough task to control them. One more thing, if your tank is under weak fundamentals, you cannot avoid the chances of having algae. So, we suggest you start with plants requiring low or medium lights to faceless obstacles.
Appropriate Color Spectrum
Think of the restaurant and the health clinic. Both places have a different light spectrum. Restaurants may have mild warm or cool color temperatures while the clinic requires sufficient bright lighting. KELVIN or K is the unit of the color spectrum. Usually, the range of aquarium LED lights is within 2000-8000K. The more Kelvin LED you to choose, the brighter light you get.
The visual look of the aquarium is also essential as it is a piece of art. You may look out on the web to see the choices of the color spectrum. Usually, the Kelvin rating defines the hue in color. When you want to buy a LED light, you can see the color spectrum chart of the manufacturer.
Soft, warm table lamp may have units of 2700K, whereas cool white light for shop or large area may have more than 8000K. When you are an aquarium lover, you should keep the color spectrum balanced. Lights having 6500-8000K produces light like it is daytime.
Many experts prefer more robust reds and blue light because they are favorable for planting most of the water plants.
If it is neutral white light, it will have blue, green, and red spikes in the chart. If you want purple light or reddish hue, then the chart may have blue and red spikes only without green. The table works in this way.
Higher red and blue spikes provide good color contrast. Plants may have better pigmentation due to these lights. If the light spectrum contains too much blue, it would be a cause to raise saltwater corals.
CRI or color rendering index is related to the lighting matters. Yet, it is not so crucial as color saturation. Experts speak about high color contrast and saturation superior to color accuracy (CRI). CRI rating can be lower though it can give lovable color saturation and contrast views.
The spread of the Light
It is a vital fact of using a light for a planted aquarium. You should be careful about the fixture spread. It should be a perfect match with tank dimensions. It refers to the distance or area coverage of light.
You may have one question right now. Why is the light spread important for LED lights?
Many aquarium owners use such lights that can cover 12” spread areas. Usually, there remain shades where light cannot reach. These places are usually under the direct reach of the light. The plants outside the window remain darker, and they cannot complete proper photosynthesis.
Poor spread or insufficient light spread has high PAR value differences in different areas. For example, low spread light can make the tank corners shadowed. Even the pebbles and other things may block the light to reach targeted spots.
In another case, if you choose regular residential lights, they may spread excessive lights inside the planted aquarium. Experts suggest using LED lights having 12-24” spreadability. You may choose two 12” spread lights for the aquarium.
Besides these three key facts, there are few features or topics you should understand to use an LED light.
- Timer Settings: A timer can save you time. Some modern LED lights come with timer settings. It helps to arrange consistent photoperiod for the plants. It also helps you to light the plants automatically. You may not need to switch on the lights timely. Besides, it helps to light the plants with perfect timing and duration like 10, 20, or 60 minutes.
- Tank size: In most cases, taller tanks require more power and lights. If the LED has low spreadability, you may need more than one light to cover a bigger aquarium. But you must keep in mind; powerful light may need fertilizers and enough CO2 for plantations.
- The number of plants: The color spectrum or strength of light depends on the number of plants inside the aquarium. If they are high in number, you should possibly keep the indicators higher.
Benefits of Proper LED Lighting
Lighting the aquarium can be done with regular lights too. But they are not feasible for the greeneries. They may restrict the proper growth of the plants. Also, the living animals inside the water may have versatile difficulties. LED lighting is the best idea for a planted aquarium. Here are some of the blessings of installing the LEDs:
- LED lighting consumes less power than fluorescent or other regular bulbs. It also gives the surface enough light while costing less energy.
- T5 or fluorescent lights can produce more heat than LED lights. The internal environment below the clean water becomes friendly and likable to the inhabitants with LEDs.
- A standard LED light can last up to 50K hours (4-6 years). This is undoubtedly a longer lifespan than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. They have an average of 3-4 years maximum lifetime.
- You can control the light intensity or density of LEDs. They are programmed in such a way to fit in any ambiance. You can dim the light as well as increase the brightness for the brighter area. Some modern lights have functions to operate with remote or smartphone.
- The versatile light spectrum of LEDs is great for specific plants or animals in the clean water. The spectrum defines how much white and colorful lights would be.
- These lights are good to spread the light in a wide area. You may need one or two lights only to cover the whole fish tank.
When you are planning to start the project, think about the information used in this planted aquarium LED lighting guide. It can be a helpful asset to the coloration of the water aquarium at home. Have a beautiful day!