Aquarium Lighting

We would like to discuss two main types of lighting, and a third newcomer, that would bring a new dimension, look, and appeal to your aquarium. First we will discuss the need for the correct lighting in your aquarium. Whether you choose to have a “Fish Only with Live Rock”, or a “Live Coral Reef Aquarium” you will want to choose the correct lighting. The main difference between the lighting is spectrum. See chart/image Below.

Think of it this way, household plants, grass and algae above land need warm light {3500k -10k} to photosynthesis as represented by red, orange, yellow in the picture. As you go underwater the warm colors disappear as the dominant colors {12k-20k} greens, blues, violets continue. When you go diving, or snorkeling you notice that everything under water has a blue or green tint to it, this is why. What does this have to do with an aquarium you may ask? Great question. The answer ties in with choosing the right lighting. Many lighting companies build their lights to mimic full spectrum, as others actually separate the full spectrum by allowing the colors to be controlled separately {LED}. This is important! Remember previously we mentioned about photosynthesis? If you buy a light {LED} that is full spectrum and is not individually controllable you could potentially be fighting a losing battle with algae outbreaks in your saltwater aquarium as you cannot control the amount of non-needed color spectrum that feeds photosynthesis which is what the algae utilizes for growth. Some manufactures use a multi-purpose chip to keep costs down, which are inseparable. Again if you cannot control the spectrum you may have spectrum for growing unappealing algae. Now let us discuss some lights.

LED Lighting

The First type of lighting we will discuss is the Led lighting. There are many choices out there based upon budget, type as well as quality. We are going to use the fine products manufactured by Ecotech Marine as well as Aqua Illumination for example. These are great examples of how a light is full spectrum, and fully controllable. These type of LED fixtures can be programmed to simulate a sunrise to sunset effect as well as the color spectrum controllability, intensity of each color. They use blending lenses to achieve a smooth color rendition.  They are also energy efficient, using very little power which equates to more money savings in electricity. 

In a nut shell, you can lower the intensity of the “Warm Light” and still have use of it for full spectrum. Without growing the nuisance algae. (Image screen shot of Aqua Illumination)

T-5 High Output Lighting

Next we will discuss the T-5 High Output bulb. These are light bulbs that can be purchased in different color spectrums to match individual needs of the aquatic environment you are trying to achieve. Most fixtures can be purchased in an array of between 2-8 bulb configurations. Therefore, a limitless build to achieve the perfect color rendition as well as color spectrum. Advantages over LED’s are the output blend of coloring is a fuller light across any given depth of tank, without shadowing that some led manufactures on the entry level price point have not been able to overcome due to none use of blended lenses. This perfection of light does have some draw backs though. Power consumption, cost of replacement {every 6 months} while this is usually not a big factor, it is a consideration. Bulbs have a tendency to fade out of color spectrum over a period of time thus affecting the color which is called Phase shifting. When a bulb has some use, it tends to burn a different color with age, example a white 10k bulb over 6-9 months can be burning at the end towards a 7500k rating thus growing algae, {referring to our chart previously with the lighting color} and not noticeable to our eyes.

Hybrid  Fixture Lighting

Now for a twist, a relatively newcomer to the market is the hybrid fixtures. They utilize the best of both worlds. The fixtures use t-5 high output bulbs for the fuller light across the aquarium with a Led strip for accenting the colors of the fish and coral. These are relatively efficient because they use less bulbs for more light dispersion, therefore using less electricity. ReefBrite {as shown in picture} gives you even more flexibility by allowing you to choose the type of led color to fit your aquatic environment. So as you can see there are many choices in the lighting area. Research what fits with your expectations as well as what you want to achieve and you will be on the road to enjoying the addictive hobby that we all enjoy, our Aquariums.

Atlantis Coral
Address:      701 JC Center Court Unit 8
Port Charlotte, FL  33954
Phone: (941) 743-3474
Email: [email protected]
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