How to Balance Aquarium Lighting to Grow Healthy Plants (And Avoid Algae)


How to Balance Aquarium Lighting to Grow Healthy Plants (and Avoid Algae)

The beauty and cleanliness of a freshly planted tank can make it look amazing and beautiful. However, plants that are not well balanced may grow sickly and become overrun with algae in just a few 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 the plants are stronger and can outcompete the algae. Too much of a good thing can lead to too little.


Too little light can result in algae growth. We need to adjust it for optimal plant growth. In this article we will talk about how to set the right lighting levels for your particular tank and plant choices.

Before we begin, remember that plants are living organisms, so it takes time for them to react to lighting changes and show visible signs of 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. You will not know the results of multiple changes if they are made at once.

1. Localization

For optimal control of the lighting, avoid placing your aquarium in direct sunlight. Even if you grow low light plants, the sun could be too strong for you. Additionally, the fickle weather may be sunny one day and cloudy the next, and every season has different amounts of daylight. Although some experts can manage tanks that get sunlight, most hobbyists find it difficult to balance aquariums due to the fluctuations in light.

2. Equipment

A light specially designed for aquarium plants will create the perfect environment for your underwater garden. The default lights that come with aquarium kits are often too dim, while cheap shop lights or other DIY solutions may not spread the light properly or have a color temperature that looks good. The best tank lights are optimized for 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. Time Limits

Put your light on an electrical outlet timer so it turns on and turns off at the same time every day. Timers can be more reliable that people. Your plants will have the light they need even if your are sick or on vacation. For a new aquarium, we suggest that the lighting be limited to 6-8 hours per day. The plants need to adjust to their new environment. When the plants become larger and need more light to grow properly, you can gradually increase the lighting time to 8-12 hours each day. Reduce the time if algae becomes too much. Some hobbyists split the timing of the photo session with an “afternoon tease” to make it more efficient. This means that the camera turns on when you eat breakfast, shuts off while at work or school, and comes on again at night.

As a reminder, do not leave the light on all night, not even in blue moonlight mode. Every night, the plants have to go into the respiration cycle to take in oxygen and sugars. Even if the light is on constantly, they won’t photosynthesise. This means that algae can take advantage the excess photons and overtake your aquarium.

4. Light Intensity

Most planted tank lights nowadays are made with LED technology and are powerful enough to grow both low and high light plants. The light intensity at 100% can be too bright for some plants and may encourage algae growth. Begin with a low light intensity, around 20-40% brightness. If no algae growth occurs, increase the intensity gradually. 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 available in different brightness levels, color modes and color options

5. Fine-Tuning

Even if you balance light intensity and duration, aquariums are always changing and may require further adjustments. Because the plants are still in their growth stages, a newly planted tank will require less light. However, mature tanks might have large plants that shade everything. In these cases, you may need to reduce the light or increase it. 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?

When picking an aquarium light, there are many options on the market that range from relatively inexpensive to extremely steep. The key is to determine which features are most important to you and the type of planted tank you want to set up. It is better to buy a quality brand that will last than the cheapest one with a shorter warranty and LEDs that stop working after a few months.

Easy LED Plant

We created our Easy Plant LED in our quest for a long-lasting, affordable light that would make plants look great. It features all 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 is combined with Easy Green fertilizers and Easy Root Tab fertilizers makes it easy to build the ultimate Easy Planted Aquarium.