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Aquarium Lighting: How to Choose a Color

Choosing lighting for your aquarium can almost be more daunting than choosing the fish themselves. Do you choose standard fluorescents or LEDs? Color enhancing or full spectrum?


Choosing the color and type of bulb largely depends on what type of tank and fish you have as well as what you want to accomplish with your lighting.


Fish-only systems need just a simple lighting setup, appropriate to the depth and size of the tank. Color enhancing bulbs are a wonderful way to highlight and enrich the colors of your fish. Full spectrum bulbs are closest to natural sunlight, blending all colors. Both fluorescents and compact fluorescents will work with fish-only tank systems in either fresh or saltwater.


If you have a mixture of fish and aquatic plants, you’ll need lighting that stimulates plant growth. Blended 50/50 or actinic white bulbs encourage photosynthetic coral growth and work well with reef aquariums. There are also specific red and blue plant bulbs that encourage plant growth. High intensity white-blue lights mimic conditions similar to deeper water depths.


What about LEDs? LED lighting is a viable aquarium solution and the energy savings make it advantageous as well. If you have plant life in your aquarium, be sure to look for PAR LED lights. These Photosynthetically Active Radiation lights are necessary if you decide on LEDs. LED lights come in white, royal blue, magenta and combinations, letting you control which colors in your tank are enhanced.


There is no right answer in which color to choose for your tank. Just be sure you’re choosing the right type of bulb for your fish and decide on what you want your aquarium lighting to accomplish.

About Jon Wolf

Servicing Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana & Michigan, Blue Planet Aquarium Services has been the most trusted name in aquarium design, installation and maintenance since 1999. A company large enough to be dependable but small enough to still watch out for your best interests, Blue Planet is the only company to call if you are planning to install an aquarium or have one maintained.

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