If you are putting together an aquarium for the first time, you should be vigilant when selecting a light for your fish tank. Many species of fish and aquarium plants will require a healthy level of exposure to UV light. Although natural light goes some way in this regards, indoor aquariums rarely receive optimal amounts of sunlight.
If your fish tank is placed in a particularly dim room with few windows, you will almost certainly need to purchase a UV light to give your fish and plants a fighting chance. When selecting a fish tank light, make sure you are reading the fine print. Many fixtures are nothing more than display lights, offering zero ultraviolet value. Despite this, these subpar lights are likely to command a high asking price.
Why is UV Light So Important?
Ultraviolet light is crucial in ensuring aquariums thrive. The benefits to aquatic plants is obvious, with these plants needing UV light just like their terrestrial cousins. However, UV light will also benefit your fish. Ultraviolet light is particularly effective at keeping tank water clean. It sterilises water, helping prevent algae from blooming and bacteria from building up. This will save you having to constantly clean your tank water or invest in additional filters.
Fish themselves also benefit from exposure to UV light. It helps regulate routine for marine animals, replicating natural environments authentically. However, you need to be careful when choosing a UV light as particularly high levels of ultraviolet light exposure can have a harmful impact on your fish.
Potential Side Effects of Excessive UV Exposure
One of the main reasons people love aquariums is the colour and vibrancy of fish species. UV light has a direct influence on the pigments in the skin of many fish varieties. If your fish are looking pale and lifeless, it is probably because they are receiving too little UV light. However, excessive UV light exposure can lead to serious health defects.
High levels of UV light can also damage the retinas of fish. If fish are exposed to high levels of UV light for long enough, they will become desensitised to it. This prevents them from being able to adhere to a regular routine, which can significantly impair their feeding routines and overall lifespans.
If you plan on breeding fish in your aquarium, you also need to be weary about UV light intensity. Ultraviolet aquarium lights emit radiation, especially if the lights are set to high output levels. This can damage delicate fish embryos and impede development.
Even a basic fish tank set-up will probably need a UV light of some kind. However, you need to match up the light with the specific conditions with your tank. A UV light with a variable intensity is the best option, as this will allow you to adapt exposure to ensure your fish and plants are kept happy. It also provides you with some level of flexibility, allowing you to adjust UV levels to accommodate new fish breeds and plant varieties.