What are the best lighting options for aquariums

Aquarium lighting has moved on leaps and bounds from the standard fluorescent lighting strips to the more widely used LED or light emitting diode we see nowadays.

The great thing about LED lights is that you have much more control over what the light does. This includes varying colors, brightness of the light, and the period of the time the light is on. This is because most of the led lighting systems now have control processors that you can programme, usually with a remote control. They also last a very long time compared to standard lighting, such as fluorescent, which doesn't have a long lifespan compared to LED.

Fluorescent lights

fluorescent lighting

There are many different types of fluorescent lights. The majority of lamps sold for aquarium use are made for use with guppies and goldfish, not marine saltwater fish. Plant-growing, warm and “broad” spectrum fluorescent are not a good choice for marine livestock and plants. When buying basic fluorescent, you only want full-spectrum lamps. Keep in mind, however, that full spectrum lights still provide the most biologically effective lighting power, and the actinics may be doing more for your eyes than for your specimens.

LED lights for your aquarium

led reef aquarium lighting

The choice of led lighting, for your aquarium, is vast with the improvement in technology and cost. The features they have to how many different light spectrums and the par rating. A lot depends on the type of aquarium the lighting is for. Some LED lighting is more suited to planted tanks, while another spectrum of light and different par is more suited to non-planted tanks. We will go through all the options to help you decide with led lighting is best for your aquarium.

Aquarium size

The size of your aquarium is a factor when deciding which led lighting to buy for your tank. The bigger the aquarium the more widespread you will want the lighting to be. Some led lights have a narrower beam which is fine for a smaller tank, however, for a larger tank you will want the led lighting to have a wider angle.  This is so the corner of the tank also get a share of the light.

LED Lighting spectrum PAR rating

Lighting is very much a science with PAR rating (photosynthetically active radiation) and trying to understand it can lead to needing a science Ph.D.

We've tried to break down the important parts of understanding lighting and what effects it has on your aquarium residents.

When looking at the options that are available for your aquarium, with LED systems there is a wide range of color spectrums and intensity.

Lighting for planted tanks

PAR means the radiation or light that's used by plants for photosynthesis. Put more precisely it's this section of the spectral range of light between 350 to 750 nanometers which are needed by plants and corals for photosynthesis.

Factors to look for when buying new LED lighting.

longevity and build quality

If you're going to invest and buy LED you want it to outlast the tank.  If it breaks, loses 60 percent of its output or changes color spectrum within 3 years you're going to be pretty angry.  A quality active cooling system brand, types of LEDs used to power supplies, and quality of design materials used are absolutely critical. External visual appeal is extremely important.  Your tank is going to be in the place where you spend time.  As a result, it absolutely has to look as sharp as possible.  I often think of a aquarium as a painting where, no matter how nice it looks, it can be an eyesore if the frame is wrong. In the case, your tank, the lighting,and other equipment found outside of the tank are frames.  This is what classifies as visually appealing, though is different for each one of us. Cost per led and having various colors included are also a consideration. Dividing the total LEDs by the cost of the lights gives you a general idea of where the fixture ranks in terms of value.  You can then compare costs across the lights available.

Features of LED lighting

One of the other important factors when deciding which lighting system you want is the features they have. Higher end LED lighting systems do come equipped with inbuilt timers, with remote control and the option of a gradual sunrise and sunset. This feature gives the option of different spectrum of light and high and low intensity. You can also programme them to suit your aquarium lighting needs.

The last and the most important factor is your budget. There is absolutely no need to worry, as the range of LED light system prices is huge, so everyone can find what they need within their budget. Each has a different set of features.  This allows you to choose a system with the features you really want without having to pay for bells and whistles that you don’t need. LED lights provide wonderful efficient functionality for your aquarium, at a price you will find very affordable. The best part is that the range of features and prices makes this product available to everyone in a way that fits into their budget.