Light is the most important factor when growing aquarium plants. Deciding how much light you need over your aquarium depends on the plants you want to grow, how fast you want them to grow and how many hours of tank maintenance you are prepared to put it. It should also be played with carefully like you would be fire. Too much and your plants could be toast!
It is all to easy to go overboard with aquarium lighting. Often those not injecting CO2 stress out the plants by firing a ton of light at them. More light = more demand for CO2 and nutrients. When these are not supplied enough to meet the plants demands, they start to suffer. Growth deficiencies may occur, the plants might start loosing leaves or they could start to simply melt. Many of us know what happens when your plants suffer…and if you don’t know….algae starts to thrive!
A simple solution to this!? Reduce the intensity of your lighting. Do this by:
- Disconnecting a bulb
- Raising your light higher above your water
- Changing the type of light you have e.g. from T5 bulbs to T8 bulbs
- Use a dimmer. Many LED units are compatible with certain light dimmer controllers
By reducing your lighting intensity you are lowering the demand for CO2 and nutrients by your plants. You will then start to restore some sort of balance between your lighting and the available nutrients and CO2 in your aquarium. Your plants will start to perk up and over time health will be restored. Growth will be slower, but with lower lighting you have to accept that. However the up side is less pruning is required, and water changes become less rigorous than a tank with high lighting.
While your plants are recovering, remove any dead, deformed or unhealthy leaves by cutting them away using a sharp pair of scissors. This will encourage the plant to focus on new growth. Old unhealthy leaves will be taking up vital energy from the plant. This energy should be focusing on new growth while your plants are recovering.
Furthermore, one more thing you should take into consideration with your lighting is the lighting period. This is the length of time your lights come on to the timer they go off. We recommend sticking to 8 hours per day. Plants do not need any more than this and we think it reduces the risk of algae outbreaks. During the first 2-3 weeks of your tank start-up, try only having your lighting on 6 hours per day. You are less likely to be confronted with early algae formations during this fragile stage of the tanks life. You should also put your light on a timer so your plants are getting the same amount of light each day. Consistency is vital, and this goes for many aspects of having a planted aquarium.
If you have any questions, please drop us a e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment below, we are happy to help answer any of your planted aquarium questions!