Light Schedule (not duration)
My current light in my planted 29g is a single Aquen 8,000k Daylight bulb running for 8hrs. Plants are doing great, no algea (yet). I have it set from 7:30am to 3:30pm. I wanted it to be on during the day as our living room receives a decent amount of ambient light and on early enough to feed them in the morning before leaving for work. Problem is it is alwas off when I get home from work leaving me to enjoy them by the faint light of the kitchen overheads or all day on the weekends when I'm usually out and about or otherwise busy. I'd really like to reschedule the light to say 11am to 7pm or noon to 8pm so I can enjoy the tank in the evenings. My concern there is the ambient light in the morning on top of the overhead light being on till 8pm will be too much light and start causing algea. When I say ambient light I mean "filtered" light. We have a lot of windows in the room all covered with 2" faux wood blinds that stay closed when not at home. So there is very minimal direct sunlight, but it does get light (obviously as it's daytime) in the room. Another concern above the algea is the fishies cycles. Will this "soft abmbient light" for 3 hours or so before the primary kicks on mess with them?
Then again I may really be overthinking this (as usual lol) since I just realized the way it is now they still get about 2-4 hours of this "ambient light" from 3:30 till about 6ish lol so would there be much harm in pushing back the timer a few hours till 11 or noon so I have at least an hour or two in the evenings to see the full glory of the tank :)
Another issue is I regularly work late and still may not make it home with the lights on. I'm under the impression that I should feed them with the light on, would it matter if once or twice a week they got fed with lights off later in the evening?
You can run the lights whenever just try to stick to a particular time for the most part.
Thanks, I'm just worried the combined light from the sun coming through the blinds during the day (till noon) in addition to the lights on during the evening will be too much.
As long as its not direct sun light you should be fine, and the only way to know for sure is to jump and and do it and see if you do get an algae outbreak if so readjust lights. My tanks run 12p to 9pm every day and one of them gets a little direct sunlight and some ambient light through out the day and it does ok.
I run mine from 6-10 am and then 6-10 pm. They have ambient light during the rest of the day.
I think the best time to enjoy the fish is after dark :)
The best scenario would be if you could time it so there is about an hour of ambient light, then 8-10 hours aquarium light, then about another hour of ambient light once the tank light goes off, then the rest darkness - simulating a dawn-daylight-dusk-night cycle.
Light is very important not only to grow plants but for fish. Everyone who has mentioned a set schedule is correct, and also correct in that it can be what you like, at least within reason. There are a couple of issues in this thread though, on which I would like to comment.
One is feeding; except for nocturnal fish, do not feed after the light is out. The explanation is covered in this article:
The duration of the tank light for a planted tank is basically determined by the plants' needs and algae. Algae is not detrimental (generally speaking) in plant-less tanks, but in a planted tank too much light will cause it to increase and it will attach to plant leaves and slowly suffocate the leaf and probably the entire plant. Keeping the light at the point where algae does not increase is the goal, and this period is subject to the tank's biology; fish load, plants, volume, feedings, light, water parameters, temperature, snails, bacteria, substrate... all these affect the biology.
The main thing is to have a decent period of complete darkness. This is crucial for fish, and necessary for plants; both need a rest period, just as we and all animals do. This is also touched on in that article.
The "siesta" approach mentioned by a couple of members--being a period of lights on followed by a period of lights off and then another period of lights on during the day--is used by some planted tank aquarists. I have been unable to find any reliable scientific data on this, and I am concerned that it may not be in the best interests of fish. All living creatures operate on a biological clock that regulates many aspects of our systems. Light is the controlling factor. You suffer jet lag solely because the change in the 24-hour light/dark period changes and your biology needs time to change or adjust. This occurs in fish too, even moreso than in humans. Cell receptors capture light more than the eyes. I have been dealing with a cancer for the past five years, and one thing I learned is that complete darkness is necessary so that the cells in our body can properly function, and many maintain this is a significant way to reduce the risk of cancer--getting nine hours of sleep in a totally dark space. I caution the "siesta" method because it is interfering with the natural biological clock inherent in fish. I've no scientific data either way, but it does seem a valid concern.
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