How crucial is aquarium lighting to your tank largely depends on what you have in there. Honestly, if all you have in your aquarium are artificial plants, fish tank decor and of course your fish, then you don’t need any fish tank lights at all. Just some good old sunshine is sufficient. But if you are having an aquarium with aquatic plants, having the right kind of aquarium lighting becomes crucial.

Though your aquarium may be filled with artificial decor, you may still want to add some lights to it to enhance the aquarium theme that you painstakingly designed. In this post, we’ll look at fish tank lighting suitable for artificial tank decor as well as aquatic plants.

Why Are Aquarium Lights Important?

For a tank with aquatic plants, the importance of tank lighting is obvious. Plants, whether aquatic or on dry land, require sunlight to perform photosynthesis. In the absence of natural sunlight, you would have to provide them with some form of suitable lighting so that they can still perform this function. Lack of proper lighting will cause the plants to lose luster, wither and die.


For aquariums with fully artificial fish tank decorations, lights allow the theme to look more intriguing and realistic. Having a Halloween Themein your tank with eerie blue lighting will make the tank look spookier. Cartoonish themes such as the Spongebob Theme needs bright lights to make it look vibrant and fun. Furthermore, what is the use of going through all that trouble and money creating a super awesome aquarium theme if it can only be enjoyed in the daytime when most people are not around anyway.

Types Of Aquarium Lighting

I’m not going to go into a tech rant and spout out specifications and light emission measurements. There are loads of other websites that tackle these techie stuff. What we will look at is the basics that you would need to know to choose the right kind of aquarium lighting for your tank.

While they are literally dozens of different types of aquarium lights, they basically fall into three main categories: standard fluorescent, compact fluorescent and metal halides.

Standard Florescent Lighting

Because of how common they are, they come in a wide array of brightness and color. But they should basically be used for aquarium that house artificial decor without any aquatic plants. Having said this, there are however a couple of them that have been designed to provide some form of suitable lighting for plant life.

Compact Florescent Lighting

The compact system is smaller in size and to make up for this lack, they utilize more than one Florescent tube to emit light. This makes the compact Florescent lights a lot more efficient than the standard ones. You will have better light emission and experience lower heat emission, all at a lower operating cost. Because they are fairly smaller than the standard Florescent systems, they are easy to position and take up very little space. The one thing that deters newbies to the compact system is that they have the impression that it might be harder to setup and maintain than the standard ones. This is far from the truth because they function similarly, only at lower costs.

Metal Halides System

The metal halides system is usually used by advanced aquarium enthusiasts. The system provides high intensity light that is able to reach further than the standard and compact Florescent lighting. This provides efficient lighting for larger tanks. They are also the best type of aquarium lighting system for tanks that contain live corals or aquatic plants.

LED lighting

LED lighting, a new light source, has advantages including highly energy saving efficiency with very low power consumption for the brightness achieved. Another great feature of the LED is that the size of the lighting system can be made compact using an LED lamp. Modern LED aquarium lighting contains more blue wavelengths of the spectrum than ordinary fluorescent lamps based on this concept. With this Lamp, aquatic plants undergo photosynthesis more vigorously and grow healthier. So LED aquarium lighting is the best lighting for your fish tank.

Choosing The Right Aquarium LED Lighting For You

The choice of which aquarium lighting to go for largely depends on the size of your tank, the type of fish tank decorations that you have and also availability a the pet store near you.

For smaller tanks, Florescent is good enough. I would recommend getting the compact system rather than the standard ones for efficiency and cost effectiveness.

For tanks with live tank decor such as corals and aquatic plants, metal halides are the best. You should read up more about them before you go for them if you are choosing this option.

When it comes to availability, you may be stuck with limited choices if the pet store near you does not hold inventory for the ones you like. But that should not stop you because you can easily get them online. Here’s a link to the online Amazon store that has a large variety of aquarium lighting that you can select from.

Aquarium lighting may not be crucial for a tank with artificial decor but they will greatly enhance the look of your aquarium. You should make the right selection for the type of aquarium lighting you want to use for your aquarium so that you can truly appreciate the wonderful aquarium theme that you have painstakingly designed.