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Cichlid Lighting: A Beginner’s Guide

In this article I’ll tell you about Cichlid Lighting: A Beginner’s Guide. Cichlid lighting is a popular topic amongst hobbyists. There’s a myth out there that you need a special type of lighting setup and it needs to be on for a certain amount of time each day.

Hate to break it to ya… that myth is busted. The fish themselves actually require no light. Sure they like it. I wouldn’t suggest putting them in a room with no windows, closing the door and providing no light. That’s just not cool and I’m pretty sure no one would ever do that.

Cichlid Lighting: A Beginner’s Guide

Lets be realistic here, in the wild, these fish would only see light during the day… obviously. They don’t need it to live (unless you want to say the plants they eat need the light, then you’re right).

In an aquarium, the light is really for you… the aquarium owner. It’s for you to be able to watch and enjoy your fish. So, that poses a few questions… how do you want it to look?how much money do you want to spend on lighting?how often do you want the light on?

Lets address each question.

How do you want it to look?

This is really the most important question and the deciding factor when purchasing new lights. Obviously, cost plays a big part in the decision as well. But how the tank looks will help us determine which lights will get you the desired result.

The 50/50 lamps will give your aquarium more of a blue glow. It’s 50% 6000K natural daylight and 50% Actinic blue. These are typically used more in saltwater and reef aquariums to simulate deeper water and to show off the vibrant marine colors. But some have said the blue shows off the cichlids colors just as well.

Planted aquariums (aquariums with live plants) should be lit with bulbs that promote plant growth. Most pet stores or even online retailers sell bulbs specific to growing live plants. The tend to be brighter (more of a white glow) and still show off the bright colors of your cichlids as well.

How much do you want to spend?

This may be your deciding factor when choosing which lighting to use. In most cases, you can get by with the standard bulbs that come with your aquarium hood. Unless you’re growing live plants, you’re not required to upgrade to a more expensive bulb. Like I mentioned above, the lighting really comes down to how you want it to look.

How often do you want the lights on?

This has the least amount of weight in your decision on which lights to go with. All lights will eventually burn out and will need to be replaced. It’s like dying, you can’t avoid it. But by managing it, you can definitely extend the life of your lighting. I use a basic electric timer to automatically turn the lights on in my tank every day. I’m currently running them for only four hours at night. I’m trying to figure out my algae problem and so far it looks like my lights are the cause (I’ll report my full findings soon).

That’s it! It’s not complicated as some make it. It all comes down to what you want, not what your cichlids need. In the sense of lighting, they’re not picky.

I’d like to hear about your current lighting setup. Leave me a comment below and let me know what you’ve got goin’ on!

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