The latest way to light up an aquarium is with LED bulbs, both because of their longevity and small carbon footprint, and because of the wide variety of spectrum options and intensity now available in LED bulbs. Below are some tips on how to choose the right LED lighting for your particular aquarium setting.
Consider the Organisms You Support
The types of organisms you raise in your saltwater aquarium can help you determine what kind of LED lighting you need. For example, if you have clams, coral or some types of plants that grow at somewhat deeper ocean depths, these organisms have adapted to the blue and white wavelengths of light, and the choice of LED bulbs should reflect this.
For aquarium setups with vast amounts of plants, blue and red wavelengths are the most crucial for the plants to effectively photosynthesize and live healthy lives. But with LEDs, you can also literally have your cake and eat it, too, because they allow you to create a natural looking light that mimics both sunlight and moonlight, while providing your organisms what they need for a proper environment.
Choose the Color for the Effect You’re Looking For
Once the light needs of your organisms are met, you get to play with a whole spectrum of colors, depending on the way you want to present your aquarium. For example, if you want a true realistic water shimmer in your aquarium, concentrate on white LED bulbs that give your setup an appearance of being in the sunlight.
LED lights in the blue spectrum, such as actinic LED bulbs, can really bring out the details and beauty of your living coral reef. LED lights that enhance the color of the water from the warmer end of the spectrum are very good for bringing out the best in livestock when all your aquarium holds is fish.
Other Considerations When Choosing LED Aquarium Lighting
In the case of LED lights for saltwater aquariums, the best rule of thumb is to buy the best system of lighting you can afford, and any LED lighting system you buy may have a hefty price tag. But the more expensive LED lighting modules can come with some very nice options.
For example, you can buy a setup that contains three full rows of full-spectrum LED bulbs. Because these bulbs are so small, you don’t notice them as part of the whole aquarium experience, and their small size makes it easier to move them out of the way to work in your aquarium. Another option is an automatic timer that changes the LED bulb intensity to mirror an actual daytime/nighttime event, without you needing to remember to manually dim the lights.
One important consideration when choosing the correct LED lights is to calculate the amount of heat given off by the bulbs. LED lights emit much lower amounts of heat than the traditional fluorescent or Metal Halide bulbs, which means that LEDs do not contribute to the heating of the water. But the LED bulbs do release heat upward and out of the aquarium. The heat doesn’t harm your aquarium organisms, but it can reduce the lifespan of your LED bulbs, so consider adding a fan if you plan on having a large array of LED lights in your saltwater aquarium.