Betta fish are some of the most ornate fish that you can buy without having to go the route of a saltwater setup. With their striking colors and large fins and tails, they can be beautiful to watch and inexpensive to keep. One of the best features of having betta fish is they don’t need an elaborate setup.
Any tank that mimics their natural habitat, and you will have happy fish. However, these often come from shallow waters like canals or paddy fields. You can find this means they are used to natural daylight. The problem is, having an aquarium in daylight poses problems, so this leads us to the question of artificial lighting.
Do betta fish like LED lights? Simply, yes, in moderation. Betta fish, like most animals and even humans, need a light cycle. This can easily be done with LED lights as it can with fluorescents. Any light which won’t pass to much heat into the water is fine; however, LEDs are inexpensive to run. LEDs can also help with other aspects of a Betta fish tank, and not only their day and night cycles.
An LED lighting rig can mimic sunlight and deliver the light cycle that they need to be healthy and happy fish. LEDs can be used to deliver full-spectrum lighting to a degree, which is as helpful for your tank plants as it is for your fish. The UV light, which is produced by LEDs is specifically good for fish and plants. You also find this isn’t available from other lamps unless they create heat.
Disadvantages of Natural Sunlight for Aquariums
When you compare sunlight and an LED light, you do need to see why it isn’t beneficial to have your tank filled with natural light. After all, this will deliver a light and dark cycle naturally, so why do you need to move away from this?
The truth is, natural sunlight leads to algae growth and lots of it. You will find this unsightly, and it also leads to water becoming dirty, and thus bacterial infections for your fish.
There is then the case of water temperature. When an aquarium sits in the line of direct sunlight, the water will heat up. If you have an aquarium that is on the smaller side, these can magnify the rays of the sun and heat to the level of fish discomfort, or even dangerous for your betta.
When considering artificial light, and particularly, it is good to see the benefits that LED lights offer.
Benefits of Artificial Lights with Betta Fish
Any light you decide to use must not raise the temperature of your aquarium water. When you are thinking of having betta fish, you will find they like their temperatures in the range of 74 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. If you go above this, then you run the risk of causing severe damage or killing them.
Before thinking any artificial light is suitable, this isn’t the case. Incandescent bulbs will heat the water in the same manner, if not worse than sunlight. You will find this is worse when you have a smaller tank as there is less liquid to buffer the changes in temperature.
The better choice of light will be CFL (compact fluorescent lamp). These deliver cool light and are inexpensive to purchase and to run. However, they may be larger than LED lights, and they won’t be able to deliver any other lighting pattern than this cool colored light.
It may not be bad for your fish, but any plants you have will feel the difference because they will be looking for the light that covers more of the full spectrum. LED’s can deliver more of this spectrum than any other single light, and they won’t heat the water. LEDs are a perfect choice for both fish and plants.
Using Artificial Lights with Betta Fish
We have seen that tanks are better with artificial light rather than sunlight because of the issues it can cause. You can also find that these artificial lights are purpose made to fit tanks. When betta fish are concerned, and the amount of light you wish to deliver to them, you will find there are many LED lights which come with timers.
Now, you don’t need to worry about turning the lights on or off as this can be automatic. Nevertheless, there are some things you need to be aware of when using either CFL or LED lighting.
If you are adding a light to your tank rather you have a light coming with the purchase of your tank, then you can follow this simple guide.
- Aim for 1 watt per gallon of water for LED lights.
- Aim for 1.5 to 3 watts per gallon for CFL lighting.
In comparison to sunlight, there are some things you need to be careful of. The main thing is that artificial light has a nasty habit of reflecting off the inside of your aquarium.
It is the nature of betta fish to protect their territory, and if they see their reflection, they can become agitated and aggressive.
If this is the case and you see your fish behaving aggressively, it maybe you need to find a way of diffusing the light so there is no reflection, or you may need to purchase a weaker light.
A couple of other things to remember are:
You should use your tank light when the room light is on because it reduces the risk of reflections and the chance of your fish from seeing itself.
Use the light slowly, to begin with. A couple of hours per day, and then increasing it little by little, can help your fish not to show any aggressive nature.
You can use aquarium paper and place this on the outer faces of your tank to darken your fish’s surroundings.
Why Betta Fish Need Lights
Betta fish need light, yet they may not be on strict set hours of light and dark. In their natural surroundings, there can be dense vegetation that blocks out much of the natural daylight. So, the key is to mimic these surroundings as much as possible.
A betta fish can have a shorter day than us; as a result, so the number of light hours can range between eight and twelve. This will mean the number of dark hours will be between twelve and sixteen daily.
If your fish has too much light, this can affect their behavior. One of the more common ways is they become over-stimulated and stressed as a result. This leads to unnatural feeding habits, and it has been shown some bettas won’t decide to eat anything.
All this stress will lead to a weaker immune system, where they are then prone to more disease.
On the flip side, too much dark isn’t healthy for them either. Without light exposure, fish lose their color. It is worth noting that this isn’t the only reason your fish may lose their color. If there is algae bloom, and your pH level is out of the ideal range, or your tank temperature is too low or too high, these can also affect the color of your fish.
It would be a huge mistake to presume that they are not getting enough light when the issue is from another area.
On the plus side of having the correct lighting schedules, it also benefits the plants you have. This will lead to more oxygen and a cleaner environment for your fish.
When you have the right light in place, the addition of an inexpensive timer can make it easier to control your lighting for on and off. Some models of aquarium light timer even come with dimmable functions. Rather than straight on or off, you can increase and decrease the power of your light to simulate sunrise or sunset.
There can be a lot to think about when purchasing your light to be sure you have the best one for your fish. With the advent of these timers, which allow the simulation of natural daylight, then LED lighting is probably the best way to go.
Add to this that they won’t change the temperature of your tank water, and they are more economical to run while lasting much longer than other kinds of suitable lights.
With the right light, the right number of hours, and you will see that your fish is very happy.
- Hi, my name is Adam and I'm an aquarium enthusiast! I didn't discover the joys of being an 'aquarium fanatic' (as some of my friends call me!) until I was in my 20's. When I first started out I found it difficult to find all the information I needed so I started this website to compile all the useful information I can think of. Enjoy!