How to Balance Aquarium Lighting to Grow Healthy Plants (and Avoid Algae)
A brand-new planted tank always looks so beautiful and pristine, but if the tank is unbalanced, those same plants may become sickly-looking and overrun with algae within a couple of months. Both plants and algae use the same resources – light, nutrients, carbon dioxide, and carbon dioxide. Therefore, the goal is for the tank to be balanced so that plants grow stronger and can outcompete the algae. For instance, too much
too little light can cause algae growth, so we need to fine-tune it for optimal plant growth. This article will discuss how to balance lighting to ensure that the right amount of light is available for your tank and plant selection.
Be aware that plants are living organisms. It takes time for them react to changes in light and to show improvement. For low tech aquariums without CO2 gas injection, we recommend making one adjustment at a time and waiting two weeks before making the next change. Otherwise, if you make multiple changes all at once, you have no idea what worked and what did not.
You can control the lighting by not putting your aquarium in direct sunlight. You may need more sunlight than you think, especially if your plants are low-light. You also have to consider the unpredictable weather. It may be sunny one morning and cloudy another. Each season is different. Yes, some experienced hobbyists can manage planted tanks that get sunlight, but for most of us, the fluctuating changes make it difficult to balance the aquarium because the plants are getting widely varying amounts of light every day.
To create the ideal environment for growing an underwater garden, we recommend getting a light specifically designed for aquarium plants. Many aquarium kits come with too dim lights. Cheaper shop lights, or other DIY solutions, may not distribute the light correctly or produce a good color temperature. A planted tank light makes it easier to grow aquarium plants. The best lights have the right brightness, good spread that won’t shine into your eyes, and a natural color spectrum that makes fish and plants look their finest.
You can use a timer for a set schedule to control when the light turns on and off every day.
3. Light Duration
Put your light on an electrical outlet timer so it turns on and turns off at the same time every day. Timers are far more reliable than people so your plants will receive the light they need, even if you go on vacation or get sick. In a newly planted aquarium, we recommend starting with only 6-8 hours a day because the plants will need time to get used to their new surroundings. As the plants grow larger and require more light, increase the amount of lighting to 8-12 hours per day. If algae starts getting out of control, then decrease the duration again. Some hobbyists like to split up the timing of the photo period with an “afternoon siesta” so it turns on in the morning while you’re eating breakfast, turns off while you’re at work or school, and turns on again at night when you’re back.
Reminder: Do not leave the lights on at night even in blue moonlight mode. Every night, plants must go to sleep in order for them to receive oxygen and sugars. Even if you leave the light on 24/7, they will not photosynthesize during the respiration cycle, so algae will take advantage of the excess photons and take over your aquarium.
4. Light Intensity
Nowadays, most planted tank lights are equipped with LED technology. They are strong enough to grow low- and high-light plants. A light intensity of 100% may cause algae growth depending on the plant you choose and the tank height. Start with a lower light intensity around 20-40% brightness and gradually increase the intensity if there is no algae growth. The brightness should be decreased if an algae bloom is observed. If the dimming setting is not programmable, you can raise the light or use black electrical tape to block out the LEDs.
Aquarium lighting in different brightness levels and color modes
Even after you balance the light duration and intensity, remember that aquariums are ever-changing ecosystems and therefore may need further adjustments in the future. Because the plants are still growing and small, a newly planted tank requires less light. In contrast, mature tanks may have huge plants that shade out everything, so you may need to prune back the leaves or increase the lighting. To balance planted tanks, it is helpful to keep track of your lighting settings over time in an aquarium journal or spreadsheet so that you can identify the most effective values.
What is the Best Lighting for Plantted Aquariums?
There are many choices when it comes to aquarium lights. They can be very expensive or extremely high priced. You need to choose the features that are most important to your needs and the type of plant tank you want. You want to choose a high-quality brand that lasts, not the cheapest that comes with a short warranty or LEDs that fail after only a few months.
Easy Plant LED
In our search for an affordable yet long-lasting light that makes plants look amazing, we ended up designing our own Easy Plant LED. It features all of our favourite features like:
– The 3-year warranty and lights rated for 50,000 hours of operation – The high-quality, energy-efficient LEDs that bring out the stunning colors of fish and plants while reducing power usage by 10-50% – The highly water-resistant IP67 rating so it won’t fail from accidentally dropping in water or getting splashed by an air stone – The easy-to-use controller for changing between white Daylight and blue Moonlight modes – The dimmable light settings that allow you to adjust the brightness from 10-100% to grow both high and low light plants – The extra-long, 12-foot power cord so you reach even the furthest outlet in the room – The extendable sliding brackets to make sure you get a snug fit and prevent light from bleeding out – The thick aluminum frame to dissipate heat from the LEDs and prevent bowing in longer models
Our goal is to make the fishkeeping and planted tank hobby as easy as possible, which is why we created the Easy Plant LED as a dependable, all-purpose solution that produces excellent plant growth. This light, paired with our Easy Green and Easy Root Tab fertilizers, is our answer to making the ultimate Easy Planted Aquarium.