Have you ever stopped to think about the lights that you put into your aquarium? Believe it or not, choosing the right aquarium lighting can make all the difference between a thriving miniature ecosystem, and having to constantly buy new fish every few weeks. There is something of a trick to getting the right kind of aquarium lighting, though once you know what it is, the process can be remarkably easy to get the right kind of lights for your aquatic friends. Here are some rather simple guidelines that you can use to get the right kind of lights for your needs.
- Know your fish. It shouldn't be a surprise to many people (but is for some reason), not all fish will have the same light requirements. This only makes sense considering that not all fish live in the same type of water, at the same depth, or even with the same type of plants around them. All of these factors will change the way that the light is perceived by the fish, and even whether they receive any light at all. Do a bit of research into the fish that you will have in your aquarium, and try to have them all be from the same type of ecosystem if at all possible.
- Learn the Kelvin rating. All lamps have a Kelvin rating, and you should know what it is. Kelvin ratings are used to measure the color temperature of light. Typically speaking, most types of aquarium lights will have a Kelvin rating of at least 5500, which means that they will help promote algae growth. Those lamps that have a rating between 5500 and 6500 should be used in most freshwater aquariums. Lamps that have a rating of 10,000K will have a really bright white light that has an almost bluish tint to it. These types of lights that usually live along reefs (such as saltwater fish). If you have fish that live in really deep water, then you will want to use some lamps that have been rated to at least 20,000K.
- Know your lamps. Another key element to choosing the right kind of lighting is to know the lamps used. These lamps are incandescent, fluorescent, compact fluorescent (CFLs), metal halide, and HQI halides. Incandescent light bulbs are the traditional type of bulbs that you see around your house every day, and they have a color spectrum that is rated between 2700K and 3000K depending on the type used. These lamps usually also have a high heat associated with them, so should be used primarily for terrariums. Fluorescent lights are the most common kind that are sold along with most aquariums. If you are going to use one of these for your aquarium, make sure that it is made to be used around water. CFLs are pretty much the same as a fluorescent bulb, and are becoming more popular as the years go by. Metal halide lamps are typically used for larger aquariums, and will put out a huge amount of light and heat. In fact, it is so much that it will burn you if you touch it less than an hour after turning it off. HQI Halides are typically used at the same as fluorescent lights, and don't filter out UV lights so can cause sunburns if you aren't careful.