The right aquarium lighting

Our model for a perfect aquarium lighting is and remains the sun, because animals and plants have adapted to the sunlight in the course of evolution. Some exceptions are cave dwellers or nocturnal aquarium dwellers which are not dependent on lighting.

The accurate spectrum or the colour temperature don’t really matter to the fish either. It’s more our personal taste which leads us to favour a lighting type. For the plants this is an entirely different story: they use the spectral components of the sunlight to generate energy through photosynthesis. If the visible light we supply differs too much from this light composition they are used to, photosynthesis will come to a halt and the plant won’t be able to grow optimally. Therefore we should always aim for a sun-like spectrum.

There are fish species which don’t like to be in bright light. As you probably keep such fish species with others and have plants in your aquarium, adapting the light won’t help much. Instead it is important that these fish species are given places to retreat and hide in. Floating plants, roots, stones and plants provide a means of creating “dark” areas, even in a bright aquarium.

LED lighting

Compared to fluorescent tubes LED lighting means you can save energy, increase the light quantity and individually adapt the light colour. For planted aquariums it is important that the LED lighting has two characteristics: the light definitely ought to have a full spectrum and a high PAR value.


How do you illuminate your aquarium properly? What are the advantages of the different lighting methods? How long should the lights be on? What do the light colours mean?

Lâmpadas fluorescentes tubulares

The difference between fluorescent tubes for living rooms or bathrooms and special tubes for aquatics are the number of pieces and the spectrum. For our living areas it’s only the visual impression which counts, whereas for plant aquariums ALL spectral ranges of the visible light are essential. JBL therefore has developed full spectrum tubes. Inside the full spectrum tubes are differences which can easily be seen with the naked eye: the colour temperature, measured in Kelvin (K) provides information how warm or cold a light appears.

A daylight tube, such as the JBL SOLAR NATUR with 9000 K appears rather cold, whereas the sunlight tube JBL SOLAR TROPIC with 4000 K appears significantly warmer. The Danish professor Ole Pedersen found out during a tube comparison that the JBL SOLAR TROPIC exerts the most positive influence on the plant growth!

Red-blue tubes, such as the JBL SOLAR COLOR are very popular as they accentuate the colours of the fish even more. But they are NOT beneficial for a healthy and thriving plant growth.

Combination of fluorescent tubes

Quite a lot of aquarium lights have two tubes. We advise you place a „plant tube“, such as the JBL SOLAR TROPIC above the plants, which means the background, and the second tube, which is either a bright daylight tube, such as the JBL LED SOLAR NATUR or the colour-enhancing tube JBL SOLAR COLOR to the front above the fish.

Light quantity

Measurements during JBL expeditions in the tropics yielded lux values between 100,000 (Amazon, Africa; for more information see Expedições ) and 160,000 in Australia ( Expedição 2015 ). Aquarium lightings are far away from reaching these natural values! A 30 W tube in a 20 cm distance generates merely 1,200 lux. A good high polish reflector, such as the SOLAR Reflect T5/T8 increases the light intensity up to 3,370 lux. As you can see the investment in an aquarium hood with several tubes, compared to only one tube, can be very useful!

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