3 Solution The Four Basic Components of an Aquascaped “Nature” Aquarium: Bright Light

1 Filtration2 Carbon Dioxide (CO2)3 Bright Light4 Substrate 

Bright Light: Lighting for a planted aquascaped aquarium

The lighting of planted tanks is significantly brighter than the lighting for traditional  aquariums.  Bright light makes the aquarium look more vibrant and alive. The brighter light is needed for the increased growth and color of the plants.

Plant aquariums are characterized by strong lighting. Most people are drawn to modern aquascaping because of the strong lighting and the sight of the vibrant plants in them.  Vibrant light and fish swimming in clear water make the planted aquarium a real art piece for a home or office. This sets it apart from the world of traditional aquariums.

Planted tanks can have too much light. With any amount of bright light, plants will photosynthesize more intensely and thus will require a lot of CO2. Strong lighting is therefore only recommended for tanks that operate a high-pressure CO2 system in the aquarium   Without the presence of the right amount of CO2, the plants will suffer and the aquarium will start to have algae when exposed to strong light. Keep in mind that the dual effect of strong light and excess nutrients is what triggers algae growth. With an increase in the brightness, a proportional amount of CO2 and plant growth will be needed to decrease in the fight against algae growth without excess ammonia. This is why it is often recommended to reduce the brightness at the start of a new aquarium.  Only after the biological equilibrium has been reached and the tank is  fully cycled and aged should light be increased to full brightness.  This takes 1 to 2 months. This time can be shortened by using aquaLife Activate and is recommended.  Use it weekly at the maintenance dose.

Light Control

Using very strong lighting is like driving a fast car. It could get you to your destination more quickly, or end in an accident. Strong lighting coupled with organic waste or damaged plants trigger algae spores to bloom and the end result is visible algae in the tank.

However, our plants also require sufficient light to grow well, hence controlling aquarium lighting is a balancing act necessary to achieve continuous success in planted tank algae control.


This is a guide to the appropriate light intensity as measured on the surface of the substrate.

30umols of PAR (photosynthetic active radiation): Low light plants such as ferns, mosses, Cryptocoryne, Anubias, Bucephalandra species grow well. If you are growing purely shade plants, it is smart to stay in this range.

  • 50umols of PAR will enable you to grow any commercially available aquatic plant (when coupled with optimal CO2 levels). However, this gives little allowance for shading issues in crowded tanks. Most nature style and Iwagumi style tanks that do not require high density do well at this range. 
  • 50 to 150umols of PAR; Colored stems will display better coloration and carpets spread very fast as light levels increase, at the risk of more algae issues. Tank cleanliness and plant health must be maintained at optimal conditions to prevent run-away algae. Allows for increased planting density for light demanding plants. Most experienced aquarists can do well in this range with regular upkeep.
  • 200umols of PAR & above; Marginal gains to plant growth form and coloration starts to be outweighed by large potential instability of algae outbreaks. Might be useful inducing stronger coloration in shorter stems close to substrate; and for farming purposes. Should only be used by aquarists used to maintaining already algae-free tanks.

“ A PAR of 30 at the gravel to 150 at the surface. 80 umols of PAR is good light that will grow most anything.” Jeff Miotke

Lets Talk Lighting by John Tullock

Also See https://sevenports.com/2017/09/27/carbon-dioxide-part-three-installing-a-system/

How to measure and determine Carbon dioxide levels in the aquarium.

Regulator Installation and Instructions

CO2 Glassware with Video Hydra Aquatics

We have included frequently asked questions about CO2 including cleaning and choosing diffusers here.

1 Filtration2 Carbon Dioxide (CO2)3 Bright Light4 Substrate