Dear colleagues! What is the role of lighting in a plant aquarium?
That’s right, the key! After all, if the light is not enough, then no plant will simply survive in it.
But in order for plants to survive this is not enough, we need them to actively grow and develop, and not just try to survive. In order for your underwater garden to please the eye with greenery, we will analyze today what the aquarium lighting should be.
Aquarium lamps are selected based on which species of fish and plants live in your tank. In addition, factors such as: fish health and color, plant growth intensity, the presence of a balanced process of photosynthesis and reproduction of higher plants and their direct competitors – algae – depend on the type of aquarium lamp. As an example, let’s take a look at the marine aquarium.
Imported tropical mushroom-like sea anemones, it is very difficult to tolerate intense daylight. But the mollusks of the order Tridacna and most of the corals in nature live at shallow depths under intense twelve o’clock coverage of a wide range.
Moreover, some species of deep-sea fish and corals require blue actinic radiation, since such light contributes to the photosynthesis of algae from the order Zooxanthellae.
Given the above factors, an aquarist should responsibly approach the process of selecting aquarium lamps, and take into account a lot of the most important factors. Of course, in the minds of beginners and inexperienced aquarists a quite relevant question can be born in the head: “Why not put an aquarium near the window and do it in a hat?” But there are a lot of tricks, the first of which is an algal flash, which you can read about article.
The second reason why you can not place an aquarium by the window – overheating of water in the warm season. In short, there will be a lot of problems, so it is better to use artificial light sources that mimic daylight with a similar spectrum and wave of radiation.
In addition, there are certain specifics in night lighting. In nature, there are no open-air reservoirs that are in total darkness, especially with regard to the oceans and the open sea. Night illumination will allow the aquarist to observe the nightlife of the aquarium without disturbing the inner peace of a closed ecosystem.
But the main theme today is not the night lights, but the usual daytime lighting and the right choice of lamps for the aquarium.
- The first place, but not the most important, we will focus on incandescent bulbs. Halogen lamps that are not recommended for use can also be attributed to this type, since their color spectrum is 2700K – 3000K, and this provokes algal outbreaks in the aquarium. The second reason why incandescent bulbs are not used in aquariums is high heat emission. It is not suitable for an aquarium, but just for setting up a terrarium. And the third reason is that they do not produce actinic light. The only advantage of these lamps compared to the others – low cost and availability. In very rare cases, incandescent bulbs can be used to illuminate an aquarium, but only for a short time.
- The second place, and perhaps the most important, is occupied by fluorescent lamps, which are used in modern aquarium lamps. These lamps have a number of advantages:
- Wide range of spectral radiation (from 5500K to 10000K);
- They produce little heat;
- Allow to cover a large surface area;
- They have actinic light in their spectral radiation;
- On sale there are special aquarium lamps with high luminous efficiency. Marking of such lamps has the following abbreviations: VHO – Very High Output and HO – High Output.
HO and VHO aquarium lamps are used to illuminate marine and tropical freshwater aquariums with a high concentration of vegetation. Experienced aquarists recommend using their T5 lamps in their luminaires for their novice comrades, since they have high luminous efficacy and spot light emission with a relatively small diameter.
3. Metal halide lamps are highly valued in aquariums, as they can create a “sparkling light” effect in an aquarium that creates the sun in shallow water. The power of such lamps is large enough, so they need special lamps and appropriate ballast.
But they have one major drawback – just like incandescent lamps, gas-discharge lamps emit a tremendous amount of heat that needs to be done somewhere. To prevent the water from overheating, in aquariums you have to use special cooling systems and additional cooling fans, and so turn off the lamp for at least an hour a day.
Such light sources are often used in reef aquariums with shallow mollusks, corals and sea anemones. The disadvantages of such lamps include the high cost and difficulties with their purchase and installation.
When organizing lighting for your aquarium, it is very important to take into account the power of the lamps. The basic rule of a plant aquarium is that the luminous flux should not be less than 0.5 W per liter of water.
If more is good, less is bad. Depending on the power of the lamps, they are divided into several groups:
Lamps with power from 39 to 58 W
Such lamps are used in banks whose length exceeds 1 meter and a depth of more than 40 centimeters. Lamps of such power provide optimal and uniform illumination of the entire volume of the aquarium.
These light sources emit soft daylight that does not irritate aquarium fish.
Lamps from 25 to 38 W
They are used in aquariums whose length does not exceed 1 meter, as they allow to provide uniform illumination over the entire area of the aquarium. They do not emit a huge amount of heat, so are the best option for lighting plant aquariums.
8 to 24 W lamps
Such light sources are used to illuminate shallow aquariums with a length of up to half a meter. But these lamps have in their spectrum lilac light, which provokes the development of algae.
Light does not diffuse or generate excess heat.
Selection of lamps for the lamp from the accounting of their color temperatures
When selecting lamps for the luminaire, it is extremely important to select the light sources according to their color temperature. This parameter can determine the emission spectrum of any lamp:
- 5500K – 6500K – used to illuminate shallow tropical freshwater aquariums, much less often to illuminate a reef aquarium;
- 10000K and more – are used for lighting reef aquariums, deep-sea plants and fish. They have a white-blue tint in their spectrum, which noticeably underlines the natural color of fish and corals;
- 20000K and more – are used when lighting deep-water aquariums, as they have a high intensity of light transmission.
In addition, in the market of aquatowers you can find lamps with actinic emission spectrum, which is not measured on the Kelvin scale. The unit of measurement of such light is in “nm”, since such light is close to ultraviolet radiation.
Such light sources are used when illuminating tropical aquariums with corals, since the light they emit emphasizes the contours and colors of fish and reefs.
Not so long ago, aquarists began to use LED lighting in their aquarium lights, since moonlight LEDs are blue with a low intensity of the Kelvin scale. Such lamps are used to create a light lunar lighting aquarium, which has a positive effect on the breeding of fish.
And finally, here is a useful sign that you can use when choosing lamps for an aquarium: