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The purpose of underwater aquarium lighting with answers

by Albert

Introduction

Humans have always enjoyed a fascination for fish. It may well be that in a strange way we might even envy them their freedom, even those who live in a fish tank don’t seem to have it too bad. Fed and pampered by their owners, and free of the dangers of being way down the food chain.

There is something very tranquil about watching a goldfish or a flock of guppies swimming effortlessly around in an aquarium. This is why so many people enjoy having a home aquarium. And there is no doubt that it has become an increasingly more “user friendly” hobby that it was even ten or fifteen years ago. Advances in technology has meant that acquiring an aquarium is in reach of us all, and there is such a wide variety of accessories that can make placing an aquarium as a center point of attraction in your front room a very attractive prospect, both for the owner, their family and their guests.

One aspect of home aquarium management that has improved immeasurably over the last while is the underwater aquarium lighting that is now available, either on line or at a pet store, if there is one near where you live. There is no doubt that the internet is becoming the main source for accessories to make your aquarium a more interesting place for you and your fish. Very few pet stores even the largest superstores, can and want to compete with the wide selection available on line.

To create the ideal environment for your fish, proper and regulated light in the aquariums is of premier importance. Fish thrive under proper light but in relative moderation. This means that considerable thought and a modest investment will be required to keep your tank well lit, both for your pleasure as well as the fish.

The light in an average home is generally not enough for the fish living in an aquarium. Living all day and all night in that environment will not be conducive to the fish’s health or even their temperament. Like humans, fish thrive in a warm and pleasant atmosphere. Statistics definitely prove that fish living in a well lit aquarium certainly live longer and appear to be more energetic which must cause us to assume that they are happy.

Experts say that fish in an aquarium need to be exposed to light twelve hours a day. This will encourage their growth keep them in the “finest of fish fettle”/ the problem is that the twelve hours should not be continuous, and should be at and ideal ratio of three hours on and three hours off. What this fact means for the aquarium enthusiasts is that a small timer will need to be acquired to operate the underwater aquarium lighting in phases. Most of the newer tanks supplied these days come with some standard lighting. However it is fairly basic, both in design as well as in limitations. Older aquariums need to have lighting added. In both cases, aquarium owners are opting for underwater lighting operated by a fairly sophisticated timer system. By doing so the aquarium owner are making sure that the fish in the tanks as well as any live plants or coral are getting all the light they need when they need it. At the same time if you want to play around with lights and colors, the aquarium enthusiast can create some fairly impressive light shows and special effects for their pleasure.

These sets of underwater lighting systems are very easy to add to your aquarium, they will come with their own transformer so that the correct wattage is reaching the lights and this will normally just plug into the power socket giving you instant illumination in the tank, once you have positioned your lights exactly where you want them, they can be secured by means of the suction cups provided or simply place them on the substrate near any ornament or plant that you wish to be illuminated.

Once the sensible decision has been made to add some light to your aquarium, the next question is “how much?” The simple equation is that three watts of light should be applied per gallon (3.79 litres) of water in the tank. Generally a thumb rule for aquarium light is that you should be able to provide about 3 watts of light per one gallon water - thus around 30 watt for a for a normal size aquarium of around eight gallons (30 liters). Less is not good for the fish or the natural plants, and too much is also not desirable. One indication of if you are giving too much light is that if you begin to notice a green, scaly moss like substance forming on the surface of the water. This is Algae, which can be a major nuisance. The first step is to remove all traces, and secondly reduce the light intensity by changing the bulbs till you get it right. If you find that the ferns in the aquarium are beginning to lose color, then this is a sign that the bulbs are not providing sufficient light, and their power needs to be increased. The same rule of thumb applies if you notice that the bulbs are losing power, you need to be ready to change them to maintain the optimum light levels.

There are now various bulb colourations that you can fit into your aquarium, mixing some of these colours can even give you a rainbow effect to look at and enjoy, the most common colours that I have personally seen are the clear white, yellow, red and blue. Obviously a mix of these in the aquarium can give a movie like effect to the tank and surprise your guests and family when they all click on at the same time.

The aqua colour underwater lights can also create a unique effect as they give off a faint blue glow, if you use these once the main tank lights have switched off; it gives the impression of moonlight hitting the water and if they are left on for the rest of the night it ensures that the fish are never in total darkness.

Underwater lighting systems will not be capable of supplying enough illumination to your aquarium on their own; they will need to be run side by side with a standard lighting system that is mounted in the lid or in a luminarie that stands on the top of the tank via brackets.

On the market today are two different choices of light systems for aquariums they can either be incandescent or fluorescent. The general consensus among those who have been breeding fish in aquariums for some time is fluorescent is preferable for the simple reason that it comes nearest to what is “natural light.”

For many the limitation with fluorescent lights is that they need to be fitted on the aquarium’s lid as they will not operate underwater. This fact, for many, spoils the dramatic yet pleasing effect of having underwater aquarium lighting within the tank. That is why people may go for the incandescent option for underwater aquarium lighting. Again the experts say that this form of lighting may upset the fish, but as yet, no one has been able to prove the fact conclusively. That the fish live longer and are happier in an aquarium where light has been supplied and is properly monitored both in terms of strength as well as in time allocation is beyond doubt. Installing underwater aquarium lighting may be a bit of an indulgence for the owner. However it is a very pleasant one.

Underwater lighting will not affect the health of your fish, the individual lights are mounted in a water tight casing so there is no chance of the power ever hitting the water, all electrics to the aquarium should be fitted with a circuit breaker anyway so that all of the power is shut off if there is any risk of electrocution.

There may be some of you that, in a bid to try to save pennies, will attempt to make your own underwater lighting system. This is not to be advised as all of these units have to meet each countries safety regulations for a reason, it guarantees that they are safe to use, trying to construct your own underwater lighting can prove hazardous especially if they are not completely water tight.

Suppliers of underwater aquarium lights

http://www.thatpetplace.com

This company based in the US have a choice of three colours for your underwater lighting. The units are produced by Hydor and are available in blue, red and green. The blue lighting units sell for $19 and the red/ green units are available at a price of $12.50. The units are all sealed and do not require a bulky transformer to operate them.

http://www.petworldshop.com

Another US company that offers a different choice of units, these are sold under the brand name of Hi-lite and each pack contains two modules, one blue, and one green. They attach by means of suction cups and the different colours can be purchased separately. The price of these units is $9.99 and the actual lights are small enough to fit into aquarium ornaments if you require.

http://www.aquariumsdirect.com

For a different angle on the lighting, this company supplies their underwater lighting in the form of artificial plants that glow in the aquarium. There are several different plants to choose from by teach is capable of adding a warm glow the aquarium. They range in price from $7.99-$9.99, a relatively small price for something so unique.

Further reading about Lighting

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