Tuesday Tech Tips - How to Automate Your Aquarium Lights
Automating your aquarium lights is a quick and simple upgrade that can be done to any aquarium including Freshwater, Freshwater Planted, Saltwater Marine Fish, Saltwater Fish Only With Live Rock, Live Coral Reef Aquariums, and Refugiums. Putting your aquarium lights on an automatic schedule is a good idea to help control algae growth, and to be sure your fish, plants and corals always get the light they need, even when you are out of town.
The simplest and most cost effective way to automate your lighting is with a light timer. These are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased online or at home improvement stores. Just plug the timer unit into the wall, then plug your lights into the timer unit and set the on and off times for your lights.
If you have more than one light, or if you want to set up an alternating day / night light schedule, then you will want to set up a Coralife Digital Power Center. This gives you several outlets for different devices including lights, and also allows you to use outlets on a reverse night time schedule, so your refugium lights can come on at night when the main tank lights are off. Using an alternating light schedule for your refugium and main tank can help stabilize pH.
For advanced aquarists with reef aquariums, you will want to get an LED light with either built in programming, a separate remote controller, or a more advanced aquarium controller such as the Neptune Apex System. These controllers will allow you to program more complex light schedules, such as ramping sunrise and sunset times, intensity and color of specific LEDs, and night schedules that can emulate lunar cycles. Although many of these advanced LED controllers offer lightning and thunderstorm simulations, these are more novelty settings and are not necessary for healthy coral growth.
Whether you choose the cost effective low tech auto light timer option, or go for the high tech Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled programmable controllers, automating your light schedule is an easy upgrade that will give you piece of mind in knowing that your aquarium will always be properly lit.