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Light in the aquarium for plants

maintenance, care, compatibility

In order for the aquarium to develop properly, and the plants in it develop well, it is necessary that it is illuminated correctly. Light is needed not only for flora, but also for fauna (fish).

Lighting allows them to develop properly. Light regulates vital activity, but correct lighting intensity does not always occur.

Too much light can cause intense algae growth and algal blooms in the tank.

For an aquarium where different types of plants live, a light period of 10-12 hours per day is suitable. The plants need a change of day and night, but in some tanks they artificially increase the light period, in an effort to accelerate the growth of the flora.

The natural alternation of day and night helps regulate the life rhythms of living plants. With too long or short coverage, they begin to stress, the regime changes and diseases can develop.

The difficulty is that for some aquarium plants you need a lot of light for development, but this can harm the fish, since most aquarium fish species are used to living in shaded areas of the reservoir (in the wild). Too long and bright lighting affects the appearance of the inhabitants of the aquarium.

Fish may fade, lose their brightness and hide from the light.

Problems with improper illumination of the aquarium are found in non-standard containers, the height of which is more than 38 cm. In high reservoirs, plants growing on the ground have a lack of illumination.

Sometimes they try to solve this difficulty due to the intensity and duration of the artificial illumination. The desire to improve conditions for undersized soil seedlings leads to errors. Too bright lighting adversely affects the fish and the microclimate of the reservoir.

The inhabitants of this aquarium are inactive, because all the time they need to be protected from bright light. Fish tend to hide from the bright light, so aquascape seems unpopulated.

In such conditions, diseases often appear, and water begins to bloom.

Watch the video story about lighting in the aquarium.

What light is needed for those aquariums in which aquatic plants do not live? In such tanks it is necessary to reduce the intensity of light.

To do this, you can take a lamp of lower power. For containers 30 cm long, the lamp power should not exceed 10 watts. With such lighting, the movement of fish will be visible, and the inhabitants of the artificial home pond will feel comfortable.

When choosing the intensity of illumination, you must consider the breed of fish If albino fish live in an aquarium, then even a level of light would be dangerous for them.

For comfortable illumination in an aquarium with a green flora that does not cause stress in fish, a lamp with a length equal to the length of the aquarium is suitable. This is the best option for selecting lighting for shallow tanks. For deep tanks, it is better to select a certain compromise that would create comfortable conditions for both flora and fauna.

There are several solutions to this problem.

If there is not enough light in the tank for aquatic verdure, then fish species should be chosen from shallow reservoirs that are accustomed to bright light. In this case, the fish will not be dangerous bright light, and it will be useful for plants.

You can choose the types of underwater flora that do not need too bright light. Such varieties are well combined with the content of deep-sea fish.

They allow you to create conditions for life, close to natural.

You can pick up seedlings with leaves that can float on the surface of the aquarium and consume the right amount of light. The leaves will create a shade in which the fish will feel comfortable under intense light. In this case, the arrangement of the aquarium should begin with the cultivation of underwater plants.

As soon as comfortable conditions for fish are created in an artificial reservoir, it will be possible to launch them. Then, in bright light, fish will be able to hide in the grown leaves of algae floating on the surface of the reservoir.

Usually the plants grow to the desired size in two months. For better growth of plants, while there are no fish in the tank, you need to add fertilizer to the soil or water.

When arranging an aquarium, you can pick up high and low species of plants, evenly distributing them in the pond. For starters, choose unpretentious representatives of the aquatic flora: anubiasa, cryptocoryne, elodea, javanese moss, vallysneria, aponogetony, riccia, bacopa, limnofily. You can make such an arrangement only in large aquariums.

For small volume tanks this option is not suitable.

Watch the video about unpretentious aquarium plants.

When setting the illumination, you can adjust the direction to which the light will go. The lamp is best sent to the places of intensive plant growth.

So you can equip the backlight in large containers. Water areas free from aquatic flora should be decorated with snags or stained oak, which will create shaded “islands” that are close to the natural habitats of fish.

For comfortable conditions of plants, you should create a twilight mode, which happens in the wild. This is the time when the sun sets slowly, peculiar to different climatic regions.

Even tropical species of flora need twilight. Too abrupt transition from light to dark causes stress in seedlings.

In wildlife, the processes of lighting and darkness smoothly transform into each other. This must be taken into account when creating the illumination of domestic aquariums.

If the light is turned off and turned on abruptly, then the plants will drastically change the mode, they will not have time to adapt to new conditions and will change their appearance. Many species, even photophilous, need shading for a comfortable life. They are often in bright light trying to roll the leaves, and fall into the shadow of the aquarium.

It should be remembered that harsh darkness is also dangerous. If night shade-loving species can survive the day in the shaded corners of the reservoir, then light-loving ones simply cannot develop in dark water.

Therefore, it is necessary to consider a smooth transition from light to dark.

To create twilight conditions in the tank, turn on the room lighting before turning on the lamp. 15 minutes is enough for the plants to be able to go from day to night to living. For rooms with good natural lighting in the summer, this is not necessary.

When observing the aquarium at this time, you can see how some species of plants are activated in a state of twilight. When the light appears, the bakopas begin to turn the leaves and blossom.

The best kind of lighting for aquarium is natural. If the container is standing next to the window, then the plants in such an aquarium look very beautiful due to the fact that they have enough natural light. But natural light of a temperate climate zone is not suitable for all types of flora.

Tropical plants will definitely need a regulated additional lighting – side or corner. The number of light days for light-loving species – 11-12 hours.

It must also be remembered that the sun does not always shine equally brightly. There are cloudy days, and the light then falls.

When the light of the sun is too bright, it is also not very good. The water is heated in the sun, and the plants feel uncomfortable.

In the strong light of the sun, the water in the aquarium may bloom, the plants will begin to grow strongly, taking away free space from the fish. In the evening the sunshine will also be missed for lighting the aquarium.

Regulate the natural light you need with the help of artificial lamps. It must be remembered that the main part of the light in an artificial reservoir must fall through the top.

With proper alternation of natural and artificial lighting of the reservoir, it is possible to create comfortable conditions for both fish and aquatic plants.

So, acquiring an aquarium, it is necessary not only to have knowledge about maintaining water temperature so that the fish would be comfortable but also to know and understand exactly how to feed and care for the bottom inhabitants. Also, it is not unimportant to have knowledge about the lighting in the aquarium.

In ready-made aquariums purchased at points of sale, namely, in markets and zoological stores, they are supplied in lamp kits of the aquarium spectrum corresponding to the normal life.

Remember that any lamp can not be screwed into the aquarium. Not all of the white light emitted by a lamp can have a beneficial effect on the life of plants and inhabitants.

Everyone knows that white color consists of a whole set of colors, such as red, blue, yellow, green. The predominance of any of the constituent colors affects the light.

Based on the above written, it is necessary to make a choice what kind of light is needed for the aquarium.

For plants, as well as possible, suitable lamps emitting white light. Of the spectral component and the predominance of blue and red. This is necessary so that the plants do not die and become covered with unpleasant green mucus.

Therefore, when choosing a lamp, if the previous one has burned out, study the information provided to the manufacturers on the characteristics of the work of this production site.

You can also ask the professional breeders what kind of lamp company they prefer to use when maintaining and lighting their aquariums. If you are constructing a lighting with your own hands, choose fluorescent lamps in the light of which the colors of the red-blue spectrum predominate.

So, what kind of light is better for an aquarium, we understand on the basis of the proposed information.

But the conversation was mainly about fluorescent lamps, it is also necessary to pay attention to energy-saving lamps. They are gaining particularly strong popularity in recent times with a number of positive qualities and advantages over ordinary lamps.

Choosing an energy-saving lamp, pay attention also to the spectral indicators.

This type of characteristic is suitable in which the lamp should emit light in a red and yellowish gamut. In addition, plants lining the bottom of the aquarium need ultraviolet light in order for photosynthesis to occur at the pace they need. UV lamps are different.

It is necessary when choosing to pay attention to the characteristics of the lamp and choose those that emit a soft, non-aggressive ultraviolet, which has a beneficial effect on all life.

DIY Aquarium Lighting, LED Lights in Aquarium

What do you need to create lighting in the aquarium with your own hands and how much will it cost?

Trying to provide comfortable conditions for the inhabitants of domestic aquariums, we, willy-nilly, strive to reproduce in it the conditions that are characteristic of the natural habitat as accurately as possible. One of the most difficult tasks in this regard is to provide a normal light mode.
It would seem, what is simpler: he took the light bulb, hung it near the aquarium and – let there be light! But no. You see, a week later, either the water began to bloom, or the walls were covered with algae, or the plants that looked handsome from their former owner, suddenly took on a very deplorable appearance.

So something is wrong. You need to buy specialized lamps for the aquarium, giving increased radiation in the blue and red parts of the spectrum.

As an example, we give Osram-fluora and Sylvania Gro-Lux. Sometimes, in order to get well developed plants and beautiful looking fish, it is necessary to combine different types of lamps.

That would not mess with the inclusion of lighting in the aquarium manually. You can instruct this automation. The photo sensor in the room will monitor the general level of illumination and in summer, when there is enough light, turn off the backlight.

A daily timer completely de-energize the lamp for the aquarium at night.


LED lighting type more and more enters aquarism, which is greatly contributed by changing the LED market.

Light Emitting Diodes (LED))

Light Emitting Diodes (LED)) become brighter, consume less electricity and have an increasing radiation spectrum …

LED lighting for aquarium appeared about 10 years ago, abroad. We, in Russia, still prefer traditional lamp lighting.

A couple of years ago, several companies producing aquarium equipment, decided to produce and equipment based on LEDs. The idea was to replace the traditional aquarium metal halide lamps on the market with more economical and durable LED arrays.

Red radiation in combination with Orange (Orange) is the main form of energy for photosynthesis of aquarium plants. This light enhances the formation of carbohydrates during photosynthesis, as it is extremely well absorbed by chlorophyll.

The zone of these radiations is one of the most important for all physiological actions in plants.

Radiation purple and blue (Blue) LEDs are needed to suspend the growth of stems, leaf stalks, plant plates. That is, this light makes your plants more compact, this in turn allows you to improve absorption.

Such rays stimulate the formation of proteins and organic synthesis in aquarium plants. The blue and violet part of the spectrum is almost completely absorbed by chlorophyll, which in turn creates excellent conditions for maximum photosynthesis intensity.

Green (Green) LED You may need to, if you need to give your aquarium plants a pronounced green color. Since its radiation actually passes through the leaf blades without being absorbed by it.

The latter under their action become very thin, and the axial organs of plants stretch. The level of photosynthesis in this case is very low.

Yellow LED creates a glow as close as possible to natural lighting. Yellow radiation, unlike warm white, does not reflect from the surface of the water and its light penetrates deep into the aquarium, allowing you to create an effective lighting as close to natural light as possible The intensity and type of lamps affects the health, color, photosynthesis and reproduction of aquarium inhabitants.

Pick up the light with all the preferences of the fish and their natural habitat. Many tropical species are not familiar with bright light even on hot sunny days, so an excess of light can cause them stress and deterioration in their well-being.

Some organisms need powerful rays of light, as a rule, they are inhabitants of shallow tropical rivers, where the water is clear and the sun sends out rays within 12 hours. Coral reefs in wildlife have settled in shallow bodies of water, so they also need to ensure good and bright lighting.

UV radiation is very important for corals, the rays pass into the depths of the water, where corals and invertebrates are already waiting for their arrival, since ultraviolet light activates the process of photosynthesis.


If you have only fish in the aquarium, for example, African cichlids, and there are no live plants, then everything is simple. You only need light to make you comfortable. Of course, you should not go too far and put a 1000W arc lamp from a nearby parking lot because the lamp went cheap.

Fish too bright lighting no good – it will only cause stress to them and, as a result, illness and other problems – remember the detective stories where the main character is kept alone with a bright lamp on the ceiling around the clock. Usually you will be enough of the lamp, which is included in the kit aquarium. You can put the lamp with any spectrum.

In order to have a more natural color reproduction of fish coloring (and who knows which color is natural?), Put a lamp with a wide spectrum (full-spectrum) or three-phosphate (trichromatic, triphosphate) – not necessarily Triton. Very good lamp GE Chroma-50, which is very inexpensive.

Lamps with a lot of blue light in the spectrum reveal the color of fish due to the “glowing” of fish scales (although is it natural?) – for example, in an aquarium with African cichlids – pseudotrophia, aulonocardia, etc. you can put a lamp with actinic light – the blue color of the fish will look very beautiful. In general, the choice of lamp is determined by your taste and financial capabilities.

For a plant aquarium – It is more difficult. As always, planning first. Consider the lighting system in advance, so that you don’t have to think about how to place extra lamps or paint over with extra black paint.

The planning of the system includes not only a trip to the nearby shops. Think about what plants you will grow – Javanese fern and Anubias do not require a lot of light, and cabomba will require bright light.

You may want to use carbon dioxide and fertilizer to improve plant growth. In this case, you need a lot more light. Conversely, a bright light, in the absence of fertilizers and carbon dioxide will only lead to the development of algae.

It does not make sense to spend all the money on a super-duper lamp and not to think about fertilizers, it does not make sense to install a cylinder with carbon dioxide and put an old lamp. If you do not have the opportunity to purchase good lamps, then it will be much more difficult for you to grow plants, although it is quite possible – after all, aquarists grew them 50 years ago, when only incandescent lamps were in use.

If you are going to seriously deal with plants, then it makes sense to think about the use of modern lamps – high power (HO, VHO, SHO), metal halide (H /

Metal halide lamps, such as DRI, are practically not made small power (due to problems with arc discharge at low current and low luminous efficiency). It makes sense to put them if you need a power of 300-1000W.

For them, it is necessary to think over the cooling system of the fan, since all the heat emitted by them is concentrated in one place.

If you install expensive lamps – then think about the electronic ballast for them, which is much preferable to conventional ballast.

Use a reflector – a well-designed reflector to increase the efficiency of using lamps. The reflector is effective with compact lamps – if you have 8 T12 lamps in close proximity, then the reflector will not change anything.

Consider in advance the electrical connection scheme, especially if you collect everything yourself. It is impossible to joke with electricity, especially in a humid environment. Be sure to use grounding and fuses that cut off power in the event of a leakage current to an earth wire. Plan how you will do the cover, ventilation, what kind of wires you will use – from the ballast to the lamp there can be a considerable current, many ballasts can not be placed at a considerable distance from the lamp.

The ballast, especially the choke, is very hot, so place it so that it does not heat the lamps, the light output of which decreases with increasing temperature.


Consider the size of the lamps, especially if you buy an aquarium with a finished lid. If any rare lamp is installed there, then it will be difficult to find a replacement later.

Remember that a 40W lamp is much more common and costs (standard, not aquarium) several times cheaper than a similar 25W lamp.

Remember to regularly replace the lamps, as their light output decreases with time. Therefore, it makes sense to use PC lamps, for example, having a longer service life.

Lamp spectrum selection

Regarding the choice of the spectrum all the time there is a dispute among aquarists. Especially it is fueled by advertisements about the need to use the very best spectrum of a company.

As stated above, there is no spectrum that “helps” plants and “interferes” with algae. If you have a sufficiently “good” spectrum, then intensity is more important to you than spectrum. If you have enough light, then the spectrum is not very important, and if you do not have light, the spectrum will not help you.

This is evidenced by the successful cultivation of plants in the light of ordinary lamps – LB (Coolwhite) or a combination of LB / LD (coolwhite / daylight) with electric lamps.


In short, aquatic plants are the most important element of an aquarium, and proper lighting is the most important condition for their existence. Thus, the light is actively involved in creating the necessary balance of a closed aquatic system, which is precisely the aquarium.

Artificial light day trying to bring as close as possible to the natural as the spectrum of light, and the duration of illumination. For example, the length of daylight hours in the tropics and the equator is approximately 12 hours, and owners of tropical aquariums know this.

Conversely, an excess of light will in no way positively affect the cultured aquatic vegetation, but the rapid growth of green and blue-green algae will be provided.

At the dawn of aquarism, the question of artificial light sources was not acute: aquariums were usually placed near windows. Then people began to use incandescent bulbs, but soon abandoned them because of the large heat transfer.

Fluorescent lamps appeared, which, as it turned out, are perfect for small artificial ponds. Economical, with low heat dissipation, of various shapes and capacities – these lamps instantly gained immense popularity in aquarism, for a long time becoming irreplaceable sources of light.

Currently, in addition to ordinary fluorescent devices, manufacturers of special aquarium equipment produce fixtures of other various types: organic mercury, metal halide, LED, and others. Sometimes it is difficult to figure out which particular lamp is suitable for a particular aquarium, and in this case several factors must be taken into account:

  • the volume of the “can” and its depth;
  • species of aquatic plants that are planted in a home pond.

If the aquarium is high enough (50–70 cm), then it makes sense to use the mercury-organic light source, the rays of which reach almost the very bottom. This is very important for the development of the plant landscape. Such lamps have a large light output, but there is also a drawback: a long period of ignition and exit to a stable mode.

Manufacturers produce these two types of lamps: with a capacity of 125 W and 80 W.

Metal halide lamps are used when you need to light an aquarium with a depth of 1 meter. They have a higher light output (up to 90 lm) and intensity, excellent color rendition, but they are also more expensive than the previous type of lamps, not to mention conventional fluorescent ones.

Separately, should consider the requirements for lamps, depending on the type of cultivated plants.

Recommendations for choosing lamps for aquarium vegetation

There are aquatic plants that do not like intense, powerful lighting. If, for example, Blass, Griffith cryptocorynes, Javanese moss, cryptocoryne cordata or fernite bolbitis are planted, then the luminaire power of 0.3–0.4 W / l is quite sufficient.

When it is necessary to create a tropical forest landscape, it is enough to install a lamp (or several lamps) with a power of 0.4–0.5 W / l. In this case, the vegetation will be pulled up to natural light.

For most aquarium plants, luminaires with a power of 0.5 W / l to 0.8 W / l are used. It is in this case that they develop normally, acquire a coloring inherent in them from nature.

By the way, there are many species of aquatic flora that change the color of the leaves, depending on the power of the light source.

If the aquarium is planted with dense vegetation (the so-called herbalist), then it is better to use a lighting device with a power higher than 0.8 W / l.

Of course, these are general recommendations, and in each particular case a particular type of luminaire should be chosen. And vice versa: if you purchased an aquarium with an integrated lighting system, then you should pick up such plants that will feel comfortable in it.

Many experts say that the fitolamp (a special lamp for aquarium plants) is the optimal solution for a herbalist. Companies Osram, Sylvania, General Electric, Philips produce a large range of such devices.

Given the specific features, you can choose a great option in which the vegetation will develop normally and live long in your aquarium.

Video: how to make phytolamp yourself:

Herbal Aquarium – a natural aquarium with live plants do it yourself with a useful photo video

This issue is a priority, and without solving it, it is impossible to go further. For an aquarium with live aquarium plants, you can derive the formula:


Lighting is the most important element, without it the plants will not grow, the process of photosynthesis will not occur, without it, no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, all works will go down the drain.
My notes and results of the work done, I stated in these articles: LAMPS FOR THE AQUARIUM AND ILLUMINATION OF THE AQUARIUM BY YOUR OWN HANDS.
Here I will note that the standard lighting, the one that is under the standard cover, is not enough. For an aquarium tightly filled with plants, and even more so for a “herbalist” with a ground cover, you need lighting of 1W per liter, or even more. In addition, you need to understand that Watts are not everything, quality lighting characteristics are also important, such as the spectrum of light, Kelvin.

In addition, it is important to understand and study the characteristics of a particular light source: the discreteness of the light, the suites, etc. And, selecting this or that light, it is important to proceed from the height of the water column of your aquarium.

The higher the pole, the more powerful the illumination should be in order for the light to penetrate the water column and reach the bottom, to the ground cover plants.

What else. The “legend of omnipotent lamps for aquarium plants” roams the Internet.

We are talking about fluorescent lamps with a special spectrum, with peaks of red and blue light. These lamps are presented as a panacea and an easy way to deal with the cultivation of aquarium plants.

However, it is not. It is a pity that it leads many people astray, so I want to debunk this mythical legend.
In fact, aquarium plants absorb the entire visible spectrum of light — from red to violet; plants need a full spectrum, not a cut-down one. Why, then, do they make and sell lamps with a red and blue spectrum?

The fact is that it is scientifically proven that plants need more red and blue spectrum, but this does not mean that they do not need another spectrum.
Now imagine a newcomer replaced the regular lamps with special ones and waiting, waiting, waiting … and when his plants grow! And they do not grow … Yes, as an evil, instead of plants, flooded algae.

Disruption of the sea: the money paid, but the effect is mute! Why all?

Because there is a shortage of watts, the spectrum is not full, and besides, the red and yellow spectrum is loved not only by plants, but also by algae.
Conclusion. Do not try to compensate for the lack of lighting power with special lamps.

Such lamps can be used only in combination with other lamps, for example, with fluorescent lamps marked “full spectrum”.
No matter what type of light source you choose: fluorescent lamps, LED lighting or metal halide, carefully study its quality characteristics – not only Watts, but also suites, Kelvin, spectrality, Ra, etc.

Still. Critical about information on the Internet, recheck it.

For example, often in the network you can read that LED lighting is not suitable for aquarium plants. However, it is not!

Look at the date of publication of articles. Technical progress does not stand still and powerful LED strips and projectors have already appeared that meet the necessary requirements. See details

LED tape in the aquarium.

Try to think about lighting your aquarium, so that it mimics the actions of Mother Nature. Namely: imitated dawn, zenith and sunset sun.

For good growth and well-being of plants, it is not necessary to “fry them under monotonous lighting” for fifteen hours. It is enough to give a peak of powerful lighting for 3-4 hours, and the rest of the time to keep moderate lighting.
This can be achieved by a combination of light sources. For example, Amano in his lamps ADA uses metal halide lamp in combination with fluorescent lamps.

In my “herbalist” I use two LED spotlights of 30 Watts + LL T5 24 Watts (full spectrum).
And also – pay attention reflectors.

Soil and substrate for herbalist and aquarium plants

Despite the fact that there is already a nutrient pad in your tank, you should also use liquid fertilizers containing micro and macro elements. In this case, it is desirable to separately have not only complex Udo, but also preparations containing individual elements.

At the moment, I have a separate bottle of UDO Ermolaev iron and iodinol, which contains potassium.

Studying the information about the arrangement of the herbalist, I read somewhere that in such an aquarium there should not be a strong filtration. Why, it was not specified.

Thinking it over, I came to the conclusion that strong streams of water will take down the plants, and, moreover, a dense “herbalist” needs nitrates, if the filtration will remove them, the plants will “starve”.
Given this, I’m 110l. Aquarium took external filter JBL CristalProfi e401 greenline – 450 l / h. And what do you think!

His really missing.
Moreover, he noted that in the place where the flute is directed from the filter, the cube chemianthus and other ground cover is not growing.

It is worth noting that at night I additionally turn on a small internal filter. It basically works as an aerator, but it helps a little with filtering the herbalist.

Therefore, the recommended power range of the filter 450-600l / h for herbalist per 100l.

Once the biobalance is established in the herbalist, it becomes easy to care for him:

– daily need to make liquid fertilizer, to monitor the supply of CO2

– weekly you need to make an easy cleaning of the aquarium, cutting plants and replacing 1/4 -1/2 of the water.

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