Fish tank with blue aquarium lighting

Proper Aquarium Lighting

Aquarium lighting is about so much more than showcasing your fish and their beautiful home. The right light for your aquarium helps your fish navigate their tank, nourishes the plants they swim through and even impacts the health of your aquatic companions.

Lighting, just like water type and temperature, is a fundamental component of marine life. It’s also a crucial factor in cleanliness and wellness. In the wild, lighting varies immensely by hue and intensity, which are impacted by the depth of the water a fish lives in and the density of the fauna surrounding them.

Choosing the right aquarium light may seem tough, especially if you’re new to keeping fish, but we’re here to help. We’ll cover all the basics you need to choose the perfect light for your aquarium.

Aquarium Lighting Basics

Before looking for specific bulbs and fixtures, we have to understand how lighting affects the environment in your aquarium, and how your fish will respond to it.

The first thing you’ll have to consider before choosing any light is the species in your tank. Different species have their own needs and preferences when it comes to the intensity and color of the lights you install.

In addition to your fish and plant species, you’ll also have to consider your tank size. Using a bulb that is too strong for your tank could raise the water temperature to dangerous levels; a bulb that’s too small won’t provide enough illumination for fish to thrive and plants to photosynthesize.

If your tank doesn’t have plants, or you only use artificial ones, then ultra-bright lighting could also promote the growth of algae, which depletes oxygen in the water and can jeopardize the health of your fish.

There are two main elements to consider as you choose your perfect aquarium lighting:

  • Intensity: This is how bright a light shines, and it’s measured in Kelvin. For most freshwater aquariums, a light between 5,000 to 8,000 Kelvin is ideal.
  • Hue: The color of your light will influence plant and fish life as well as the visual appeal of your tank. Freshwater and saltwater fish with white and warm tones.

There are also several different types of lights you can purchase. Fluorescent aquarium lights are the gold-standard for freshwater and saltwater tanks. They come in a variety of sizes and intensities and only need to be replaced once a year.

To save energy, you can consider installing LED aquarium lights. LED fixtures can produce brilliant hues at varying levels of brightness for far less energy. This means they not only last longer but provide more reliable, consistent lighting for your aquarium.

It’s also crucial to make sure your light has a built-in day/night cycle. This will prevent your fish from becoming overtired or disrupting their natural biological clocks. Plants, too, are affected by how much light they receive. The cycle of your light will ultimately become a key player in your aquarium’s ecosystem.

Have questions?

We can help! Send an email to with the size of your aquarium and any fish and plants you have. Our team can help guide you when making a decision for lighting your tank.