Saltwater Aquarium Lighting

What’s going on salt-nation, Jeff Hesketh here, and Today I wanted to talk about saltwater aquarium lighting. There is a lot of information available to hobbyist when it comes to lighting.  I hope this article helps inform you as well as simplifies some of this advance topic.

Saltwater Aquarium Lighting 

Light is important for saltwater aquariums in many ways. Light, not only provides good ambience and pleasant views to the aquarium, necessary for viewer appreciation, but more importantly, it also plays crucial role in ecological functioning of a saltwater aquarium. Let’s have a look on why lighting is so important.

Lighting Impact on aquarium’s inhabitants 

Light is a natural resource needed by most species on earth to grow naturally and the same is important in the saltwater aquarium. Corals and invertebrates also need light for their growth. Specific light intensity and spectrum, which may vary with species, clubbed with longer photoperiods has indicated improved coral growth in various studies.

Light impacts Fish, corals and invertebrates coloring as well. Color is a property of any object or living being which is visible only in presence of light. They depend on light for color enhancement. Coral color is aesthetically important for  many hobbyist in their home aquariums. Prolonged absence of light may result in reduced coral color and they can even die.

Not only the presence of light, but the photoperiod, the duration of light exposure throughout the day, is also an important consideration. Coral need a healthy day-night cycle. A constant absence of light is as much discouraged as constant availability. A balanced photoperiod enables fish to work their way, move around in the aquarium and search for food. At the same time, the dark period is used by fish for taking rest and energizing themselves for the next daylight tasks.

Aquarium Lighting Color Temperature

Saltwater aquarium hobbyist often refers to saltwater aquarium lighting in two main topics. The first one is Kelvin scale which refers to the color of the lighting and the other is photosynthetically active radiation or PAR which is the useable energy the lighting provides.

Kelvin scale: The spectrum or “temperature” of light is measured in degrees Kelvin (K). The Kelvin scale describes the color of a light source when emitted from an ideal blackbody. Color temperature does not represent the temperature of the light source. It merely defines the color given off in comparison to a blackbody radiating at the same temperature.

The Kelvin scale ranges from 1,700K˚ (flame for a match) to 27,000K˚(clear blue sky). 6,500K˚ is consider daylight.

saltwater aquarium lighting

Aquarium Lighting Intensity

There are many misconceptions when you’re talking about lighting intensity. Especially when it comes to wattage. Wattage is the amount of power the aquarium lighting needs to work, not the intensity of the light itself. Lumens is in which light intensity is measured.

Photosynthetically active radiation or PAR: PAR is important because it is roughly the measurement of how much usable light energy is available to your corals, anemones, algae and clams in your saltwater aquarium It’s also one of the easiest ways for you to measure the exact amount of light your saltwater aquarium is getting, which is useful because too little and too much light is bad for photosynthetic invertebrates and corals.

PAR meters are relatively inexpensive but accurately measure saltwater aquarium lighting, that is available for photosynthesis. This information can be useful for aging lights that may or may not need to be replaced do the their ability to provide the correct amount of saltwater aquarium lighting .

Types of Aquarium Lighting 

There are two categories of lights commercially available:

  • Beginner level lighting: T5 and Power Compact Fluorescent
  • Advanced level lighting : Metal Halides and LED Lights

T5 lighting is a slim fluorescent tube which is powered from two ends. These compact tubes can fit in very well in aquarium tops, without consuming too much space and can be cleaned or replaced easily. Metal reflectors with more than one tube can be used to increase illumination. Some ventilation may be needed for the heat it generates.

They’re popular with aquarium enthusiasts as it is easy to handle and comes handy as an affordable solution to produce decent lighting. These tubes generally last about 1 year without too much degradation in quality. These are however not ideal for large aquariums due to their limited ability to penetrate deeper water levels.

Metal halides are high power and high intensity lighting systems, which come quite close to natural sunlight, when it comes to saltwater aquarium lighting. These are best choice for live salt water plants. Metal Halide bulbs produce light by means of an electric arc, created through a mixture of mercury and metal halides, under high pressure and heat. Being an excellent choice as far as quality of light is concerned; these lights are preferred in large aquariums as it can penetrate quite deep into aquarium waters.

LED’s have been introduced in domestic and large scale lighting in recent years and has found use in salt water aquariums also. An LED lamp is made up of several light emitting semiconductors and is capable of producing the desired spectrum of light needed for optimal plant growth. Though, LED lights can be initially of high cost, but they utilize very little power compared to their other counterparts. These light also produce very less heat.

For more information on saltwater aquarium lighting, follow the link.

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