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What Kind of Lights Do Fish Need?

White betta fish

You may have seen various aquarium lights available at the tropical fish store and wondered which lights, if any, your fish need. The answer depends upon whether you have live plants in your tank and what type of fish you have, as well as the aesthetic you want for your aquarium.

If you don’t have live plants, your fish don’t really need any tank lighting at all, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have lights anyway. Here’s what you need to know about lighting for fish tanks.

The right light can ease aquarium maintenance

Lights that are too bright can actually increase algae growth in tanks. So, it’s best to go with dimmer lighting if you don’t want to be scraping the tank constantly. That being said, live plants are obviously going to need fairly bright light.

The good thing is that if you have plants in the aquarium, you’re less likely to have an algae problem from the lights. Basically, the more plants, the brighter the lights you will need (and can get away with).

LEDs are great for planted tanks

LED lights give off less heat and are less likely to dim over time than fluorescent bulbs. They also last longer, meaning you’ll get more out of the investment in LED lights. If you’re trying to keep plants alive in your tropical aquarium, LEDs are usually the way to go.

Tropical aquarium fish

It’s also important to note that fluorescent lights can heat the water, potentially making the temperature less than ideal for the tank inhabitants.

Something like the Aqueon Planted Aquarium LED Clip-on Light is a nice option that looks good and is easy to install.

Quality lighting can enhance fish colors

Having some lighting in the aquarium can help you showcase your fish and show off their coloring better than if they’re shadowed in a dim aquarium. You probably know that lights can come in a range of warm to cool tones (also called color temperature).

Tropical aquarium fish

Thinking about what tone of lighting would best complement the fish in your tank can help you get the look you want.

Avoid colored LEDs

You may like the idea of rainbow lighting flashing around your fish tank, but your fish are unlikely to appreciate it. In fact, it will probably stress them out and end up causing health issues. Keep it simple with lights that replicate the spectrum of natural sunlight.

Colored light beams

The bottom line is that aquarium lighting is mostly for the benefit of you or any live plants in the tank. The fish don’t really require anything special. If you do prefer to light your tank for display purposes, it’s a good idea to provide plenty of hides, whether you use live plants or artificial décor, to provide the fish with places to escape bright light if they prefer.

Come into The Tye-Dyed Iguana in Fairview Heights to check out our aquarium lighting options for planted and non-planted tanks.