How to choose the best led lighting for your aquarium
You put a lot of time and energy into your aquarium – choosing fish, plants, substrate, ornaments, and many other things. But have you considered lighting and the led aquarium lighting benefits?
Good lighting is one of the most important aspects of an attractive aquarium.
The way you light your tank can play up certain features, highlight your fish, and have a real impact on the way it looks in its setting, whether that’s at home or work.
But how do you know which lighting is the best fit for your tank?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the best LED lighting.
LED lighting doesn’t have to be overly expensive to set up – and it’s definitely inexpensive to run. It works just as well in freshwater aquariums as it does in saltwater and reef tanks.
WHAT IS LED LIGHTING?
LED stands for “light emitting diode” – in the most technical sense, it’s a semi-conductor that emits light when electricity is passed through it.
LED lighting has stormed onto the lighting scene over the past decade as the demand has grown for efficient, inexpensive lighting options. LED light bulbs last longer than traditional incandescent lighting, they’re more durable, and they can be adapted to produce many different kinds of lighting qualities, including colors and special effects.
How efficient are LEDs? They use up to 85% less power than incandescent or halogen bulbs – which means it costs less to run them – and they last 25- 50 times as long. This makes LED lighting a real product of choice for homes, businesses and industries across the world.
Depending on the type of bulb, the estimated product lifetimes for LED lights are approximately:
·LED: 25,000-50,000 hours
·CFL: 8,000-15,000 hours
·Halogen: 1,000-5,000 hours
·Incandescent: 1,000 hours
LED AQUARIUM LIGHTING BENEFITS
LEDs have a range of benefits when compared to traditional choices of lighting such as halogen or incandescent bulbs.
LEDS ARE MUCH SMALLER THAN TRADITIONAL LIGHTING
they’re really tiny – about the size of a grain of pepper.
LEDS USE A MIXED LIGHT SOURCE
instead of using a single bulb to produce white light, as incandescent bulbs do, LED lighting uses a mix of red, green and blue LEDs to create a white glow.
LEDS ARE DIRECTIONAL
LEDs emit light in a specific direction. This means they can be angled and pointed in a way that traditional lighting can’t be, and where a reflector would be needed to achieve the same effect. This makes LEDs a great choice for things like recessed downlights, cabinet lights, holiday lighting or for lighting specific objects – such as aquariums, for example.
LEDS ARE MUCH COOLER
LEDs are much cooler, as in “less hot”, than traditional lighting, because they’re more energy-efficient. By comparison, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat. If you’ve ever touched an incandescent lightbulb in a lamp while it’s on, you know how hot they can get. But in LEDs, this lower heat emission makes them a good choice for lighting an aquarium where sensitive water temperature needs to be considered .
5 IMPORTANT POINTS YOU MUST CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING LED LIGHTS FOR YOUR AQUARIUM?
When you first start looking at LED lighting you might get overwhelmed by the vast array of LED aquarium lights, types and products on the market.
Don’t despair! By following a simple checklist, you can narrow down the many different choices in order to find the lights that are best for your needs.
1. HOW BIG IS YOUR AQUARIUM?
First of all, how big is your tank? This will be the most important factor when choosing the LED lights that are right for you.
If you’re running a m5-gallon tank of bettas then LED lighting isn’t going to be at the top of your list.
However, the larger your aquarium, the more lighting you’ll need – and if you have a monster tank, you’ll need to choose a light system with a wide coverage and a consistent intensity.
2. WHAT KIND OF PLANTS DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR AQUARIUM?
If you’re planting out your aquarium then you’ll need to choose a different kind of lighting than if you have a very simple tank. Whether it’s fresh or saltwater, the plants (or corals) in your aquarium will have different growing phases, and they will require different levels of light intensity than they do at other times during their life cycle.Different kinds of plants have different light requirements , and there are LED systems to suit each kind.
3. WHAT COLOR AND INTENSITY OF LIGHT DO YOU WANT?
When it comes to LED lighting, there are many different choices of color and intensity that you can choose for your aquarium. You can specifically tailor the lighting level to suit your plants, fish and corals, whether it’s across their growing phases or on a more daily basis.
There are two key elements to think about:
INTERNAL VISUAL APPEAL
what colors do you want to see in your tank? Have you seen some unusual color combinations that you’d like to recreate? Do you want to highlight certain colors of your fish stock?
EXTERNAL VISUAL APPEAL
is your aquarium in the living room or office – or in a quiet bedroom? Where your tank is placed will have a big impact on the lighting that works best for it. You may not want a disco ball in your bedroom (or maybe you do), but it could work in another setting. And you probably want to choose an LED system that is slim and doesn’t hang over or outside the tank in a big ugly frame that will detract from the beauty of the tank itself.
These excellent references can help you understand how to use LED lighting to its best effect in both freshwater and saltwater tanks.
4. HOW LONG WILL THE LIGHTING SYSTEM LAST?
Because there are so many LED options out there, you can easily buy a cheap system for your aquarium. But is this the best choice? Of course, you want to get value for your money, but ideally you also want a lighting system that is going to go the distance.
It’s important to choose a product that isn’t going to break, lose output or change color spectrum as it ages. This might cost a little more upfront, but it will save money in the long run when you don’t need to keep buying replacement parts and bulbs. The good news is, there are lots of good-value products in the $50-$250 range.
5. WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?
This is probably the most important consideration when you’re choosing an LED lighting system for your aquarium. Set yourself a realistic budget and stick to it – it’s easy to get carried away with a huge variety of options that increase in technicality and price. You can easily spend thousands of dollars on vastly complicated systems that you might not actually need.
If that’s too expensive, you can always build your own LED lighting set – here’s a great video that shows you how to do it for less than $25.
Keep in mind too, that LEDs cost far less to run over their lifetime than traditional sources of lighting. This handy table shows how costs compare over 50,000 hours.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR
LEDs can be a great choice for your aquarium. Here’s a short list of Dos and Don’ts that can help you keep your LED system in top condition:
DON’T USE LEDS UNDERWATER
Even though LEDs are generally waterproof or labelled as water resistant, you shouldn’t use them underwater. Don’t submerge them unless the instructions specifically say you can! It could damage the equipment and could also be dangerous.
DON’T LET LEDS GET HOT
Make sure they’re not mounted too close to other types of lighting, especially metal halides, as that can significantly reduce their lifespan.
DON’T LET SALT BUILD UP
If you have a saltwater tank, watch out for salt and mineral accumulations that can cause corrosion. Keep your lights clean.
DON’T BURN YOUR CORALS
LED light changes can sometimes cause shock corals and cause them to bleach. Make sure you introduce LEDs slowly to your corals so that they have the chance to get used to them.