Best Light Spectrum for Aquarium Plants

Light Spectrum for Aquarium Plants Aquarium enthusiasts are fun of adding ornate in the underwater ecosystems. They invest a lot of money in purchasing the best devices and chemicals to make sure the bio-network is running smoothly. The essential part of every ecology is the light source.

Finding the best light spectrum for aquarium plants is more complicated than you thought it is, especially if you don’t have any idea what to look for. Also, if you get the wrong information, you might end up buying the faulty product. At present, electronic products are the usual victim of misrepresentation.

So, to help you in finding the best light spectrum for aquarium plants, we have written this article.  In this article, we will tell you the right factors you should be looking for to end up with the right light spectrum.

Factors to Consider in Choosing the Best Light Spectrum for Aquarium Plants

Choosing the right light is one of the hardest parts of having an aquarium. It is also quite confusing, especially for new aquarists. Deciding on the light fixture will depend on the animals and plants you will keep in the tank. Also, it plays a vital part in your selection process is the size and dimensions of your fish tank and the price. Before choosing the appropriate light for your planted tank, there are things that you need to consider:

Types of Plants

The underwater plants are categorized based on their position -they are Carpeting, Background, and Midground. You might be interested in getting all the types of plants for your aquarium and fish. But, you don’t choose the one you like, you should decide which is beneficial for the creatures in the tank. Also, the quality of the water matters for maintaining the tank.

Carpet Plants

Carpet plants or foreground plants are used to cover the ground. These types of plants grow wide instead of growing tall. But it serves as a green grass bedding for your fish tank; thus, it is called carpet plants.

Mid-Ground Plants

Mid-ground plants are low maintenance plants with exciting look. You can place them anywhere you want to. The leaves are thick and are semi-striped and come in bunches.

Background Plants

Background plants, on the other hand, conceal fixtures and provide a hiding place for your freshwater fishes. These plants require less care and can be spread out in the tank at the bottom of the aquarium.

Fish and Plant Needs

The main reason why it is vital to choose the light on your aquarium is to make it an enjoyable sight to look at. Also, the fish need to see what is around them, to look for food, and interact with the other fishes. However, there are other things that you need to consider, live plants and fishes have specific light requirements.

Some fish live on open water in streams, lakes, and rivers, where it is mostly bright during the day. Others choose to live on dimmer places like under overhanging vegetation or fallen logs. It is the same with plants.

A number of them grow in open or shallow water, where light is bright and abundant during the day. Some live in a deeper part of the water. Others are hiding on the taller plants or overhanging trees and shrubs. It is a must that you select the light that is right for the type of plants and fish you keep.

Light Intensity and Spectrum

Lights are not created equal. They differ in intensity and spectrum. Intensity pertains to how bright a light is while spectrum is a manner of describing the combination of different colors – or wavelengths the light generates. The light spectrum is measured in Kelvin, or K. Lights with low Kelvin rating emits yellowish or warm effect. The majority of the freshwater fish tank lights are rated between 5,500 and 8,000 K.

For artificial plants, the spectrum and intensity are less essential in aquariums, although some lights will look better than others. Algae will grow more on the fish tank with too intense light, particularly in non-planted aquarium. Where live plants are concerned, spectrum and proper intensity can make a difference between failure and success.

Also, a vital factor is water depth. Some wavelengths, mainly blue, can go deeper into the water as compared to others, and this can be crucial to living plants. You should inform your local dealer on your tank’s height and the kinds of plants you want to get advice on the light fixture for your fish tank.

Day/Night Cycle

All living things need to have a regular day/night cycle for healthy growth and well-being. In the tropics, where the fish and plants usually come from has 12 hours of photoperiod or light and 12 hours of darkness in a day for the whole year.

Planted fish tank do best with twelve hours of light. While those without live plants usually have lesser algae with a photoperiod of around eight to ten hours. It is best to install a timer on your aquarium light so you will have a consistent cycle. Position your aquarium away from the windows, if you want to enjoy it at night and set the timer accordingly.

Algae Growth

It is a common belief that aquarium with too much light supports algae growth. The algae help in purifying the water and are a natural component of an aquarium. In reality, the nuisance algae are not caused by lighting but by the nutrient build-up.

Aquarium owners with live plants may clean the tank occasionally despite using lighting with high output. It’s because the plants utilized the nutrients easily, thus providing less food for the algae. The best thing to manage algae growth is through regularly changing water, not overfeeding the fish, and chemical filter media, together with providing the right amount of light.

Light Spectrum for Aquarium Plants

Nutrients in aquariums pertain to phosphate and nitrate, which usually come from fish waste and food. But, some are not aware that tap water is also another source of these nutrients. Tap water contains a high level of these performing water and impurities, converting them with phosphate and nitrate.

Laden water will not reduce levels and could cause them to rise. If your tap water has higher nutrient levels, use deionized (DI) or reverse osmosis (RO) added to fill your aquarium and carry out water changes.

Choose the right light to improve natural beauty and make sure your fish, invertebrate life, and plants live longer.

Types of Lighting System

Standard Fluorescent

This is also one of the popular types of aquarium lighting. The wattages are available between 15 and 40, having various sizes and color options. Standard fluorescent is the type of lighting used in aquarium kits that is available with a hood light. Lights of this type are inexpensive, readily available, and ideal for simple tank setups.

Compact Fluorescent

This is a smaller type of light, but it generates a higher intensity of light. The compact fluorescent is available up to 130 wattages. Compact bulbs can last longer up to 28 months without the need for replacement. It is available in various wavelengths like actinic or daylight.

T-5 High Output (T-5 HO)

Also known as T-5 HO. This sort of lighting is an advanced form of compact fluorescent, and it can last from 16 to 24 months. The bulbs produce high-intensity light, but they do not run hot, unlike other lighting systems.

Very High Output (VHO)

This light produces wattages between 75 and 165. VHO produces high-intensity light that easily penetrates deep water. It is three times as intense as compared to standard fluorescents, but it does produce too much heat. So, you a chiller or fan to keep the temperature at the right level.

Light Emitting Diode (LED)

LED is the latest type of aquarium lighting. This type is very efficient and easy to customize, which makes it very popular these days. It consists of small bulbs that can generate high-intensity light with less energy requirement and emitting less heat. The LED light comes in distinct colors, standard daylight wavelengths, and a nighttime option that imitates natural moonlight.

Metal Halide

A high-powered lighting for your aquarium with as low as 70 watts and as high as 1000 watts or more. The bulbs can last for 18 months and produce bright light with deep penetration. The systems run very hot so you will need a chiller or fan to keep the temperature low and avoid overheating.


Now that you are aware of what light spectrum can do and the role it plays in keeping the aquarium plants, you can make an informed decision about the best light spectrum for aquarium plants. You need to keep with the required maintenance by your lighting system to make sure that it will last longer. You can set up an automatic timer to make sure your tank will get the right balance of daytime and nighttime hours. For inquiries about the topic, feel free to comment below.