Flat $7.99 Shipping, Orders over $60, ship free.

Choosing the Ideal Lighting for Your Planted Aquarium


You love having a beautiful planted aquarium in your home.

But you also know that keeping your plants healthy and happy requires more than just water and fertilizer. You also need to provide them with the right lighting.

We're going to share with you some tips on how to choose the ideal lighting for your planted aquarium, and how to prevent algae growth.

First of all, why is lighting so important for plants?

Plants use light as their main source of energy to perform photosynthesis - the process of converting water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugars. Without enough light, plants will not be able to grow and thrive, and may even die. On the other hand, too much light can also be harmful as it can cause algae growth, which can compete with plants for nutrients and space, and make your tank look dirty and unsightly.

So how do you find the right balance of light for your plants? 

Here are FIVE factors to consider:

#1 The type of plants you have

Different plants have different light requirements, depending on their natural habitat and adaptation. Some plants are low light plants, meaning they can survive with minimal light, such as java ferns, anubias, and mosses. These plants are ideal for beginners or for tanks that don't have a lot of light. Other plants are high light plants, meaning they need a lot of light to grow well, such as dwarf baby tears, glossostigma, and red plants. These plants are more suitable for advanced aquarists or for tanks that have a lot of light.

#2 The size and depth of your tank

The larger and deeper your tank is, the more light you will need to reach the bottom. This is because light loses intensity as it travels through water, so the deeper the water is, the less light there is. For example, a 10 gallon tank that is 12 inches deep will need less light than a 55 gallon tank that is 24 inches deep.


#3 The duration of lighting (or the photoperiod)

The length of time you keep your lights on also affects your plants' health and growth. Generally speaking, you should aim for around 8 hours of lighting per day for most plants. However, this may vary depending on the type of plants you have and the amount of natural light your tank receives. You can use a timer to automate your lighting schedule and ensure consistency.


#4 The color temperature of lighting

The color temperature of lighting refers to how warm or cool the light appears, measured in Kelvin (K). The lower the Kelvin rating, the warmer and more yellow the light is. The higher the Kelvin rating, the cooler and more blue the light is. For planted aquariums, you want to choose a color temperature that mimics natural sunlight, which is around 6500K. This will provide a full spectrum of light that will support plant growth and enhance their colors.


Now that you know what factors to consider when choosing lighting for your planted aquarium, let's talk about the different types of lighting available and their pros and cons.

Fluorescent lighting 

Fluorescent lighting is one of the most common and affordable types of lighting for aquariums. It comes in various shapes and sizes, such as tubes (T5 or T8), compacts (CFL), or linear (LED). Fluorescent lighting is easy to install and maintain, and provides a good amount of light for most plants. However, fluorescent lighting also has some drawbacks, such as low energy efficiency, short lifespan (around 6 to 12 months), and heat production.

LED lighting

LED lighting has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years or so. It uses light emitting diodes (LEDs) to produce light that is bright, energy efficient, long lasting (up to 5 years), and cool running. LED lighting also allows you to adjust the color temperature and intensity of the light according to your preference and needs. However, LED lighting can also be expensive upfront, difficult to replace if damaged, and may cause algae problems if not used properly. These drawbacks are not serious enough to stop LEDs from being the most popular lighting option in the hobby.

Incandescent lighting

Incandescent lighting is an old fashioned type of lighting that uses a filament to produce light when heated by electricity. Incandescent lighting is cheap and easy to find, but it is not suitable for planted aquariums. This is because incandescent lighting has a low color temperature (around 2700K), which is too warm and yellow for plants. It also has a low energy efficiency, a short lifespan (around 1000 hours), and a high heat production.

Solar lighting

Solar lighting is a type of lighting that uses the natural sunlight as the source of light. Solar lighting is free and eco-friendly, but it is not reliable or consistent for planted aquariums. This is because solar lighting depends on the weather and the season, which can vary greatly in intensity and duration. It also has no control over the color temperature or the spectrum of the light. Solar lighting can also cause algae problems if not balanced with other types of lighting.


As you can see, there are many types of lighting to choose from for your planted aquarium, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. You should do some research and experiment with different options to find the best one for your tank and your plants.

Next, let's talk about how to prevent algae growth in your planted aquarium. Algae are microscopic organisms that can grow rapidly in water that has excess nutrients and light. Algae can be harmful for your plants because they can block out the light they need, consume the oxygen they produce, and release toxins that can harm them. Algae can also make your tank look ugly and dirty.

There are several ways to prevent algae growth in your planted aquarium:

💡Choosing the right lighting: As mentioned before, too much light can cause algae growth. Therefore, you should choose a lighting system that matches your tank size and plant needs. You should also avoid direct sunlight or artificial light from other sources that can increase the light intensity in your tank.


💡Controlling the nutrients: Algae feed on nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that are present in the water. These nutrients can come from fish waste, uneaten food, tap water, or fertilizers. Therefore, you should control the amount of nutrients in your tank by performing regular water changes (around 25% every week), using a good filter system that removes organic waste, feeding your fish moderately (only what they can eat in a few minutes), and using fertilizers sparingly (only what your plants need).


💡Adding algae eaters: Another way to prevent algae growth is to add some algae eaters to your tank. These are fish or invertebrates that feed on algae and help keep your tank clean. Some examples of algae eaters are otocinclus catfish, siamese algae eaters, amano shrimp, nerite snails, and bristlenose plecos. However, you should make sure that these algae eaters are compatible with your other fish and plants, and that they have enough space and hiding places in your tank.


💡Using algae treatments: If all else fails, you can use some algae treatments to get rid of algae in your tank. These are products that contain chemicals or natural substances that kill or inhibit algae growth. However, you should be careful when using these treatments, as they can also harm your plants and fish, and especially snails if used incorrectly. You should always follow the instructions on the label, and test the water parameters before and after using the treatments.

We hope this post has helped you understand how to choose the ideal lighting for your planted aquarium, and how to prevent algae growth. Remember, lighting is one of the most important factors for your plants' health and growth, so make sure you choose wisely and adjust accordingly.

Happy planting!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published