Lighting for Malawi set up's

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Lighting for Malawi set up's

Postby Tony » Sat May 09, 2015 9:19 am

Hi Folk's

I'm not sure how to start this topic tbh as I am far from a techy in this field but just know the best lighting to get the best look with your tank and fish.

I will try and explain the different light spectrum's in layman's terms and their affects in the tank, Most tank's these day's are bought as a complete bit of kit with filters,lights inc etc , the manufacturers generally supply two types of light Fresh water and marine, neither of these are any good for Malawi's imo , the fresh water one is for general tropical's having a "red" white light in it to show the red's on fish off ie. neon's, swordtails etc , but this is a weak penetrating light that gives a warm Amazon looking affect. the other light used is a "yellow" white light , this is there to promote plant growth but can make the water look like you have filled the tank from a waste outlet from a public urinal facility :wink: , so not the best look for a Malawi tank.

Then there is the Marine lighting , this is a white light really not sure on the spectrum on this one but is usually ok for Malawi's, but then there is the blue actinic that comes with it for the intense light penetration through water for the corals and anemones, although this lighting can make the tank look impressive there is a down side when used for Malawi's especially when keeping Malawi's with any red on them, If you imagine that the light you have on your tank is the fishes sun and this is the light that they will see each other in the fish will see each other different to how they would see each other in a "natural" light and the excessive overall blue spectrum alter's how fish see each other and they will change colour to try to make themselves look how they should to each other , this will make blue fish colour down to make them selves look the "right" blue to each other , I call this bleaching the fish out, and with red's this is just unreal what it does to them , it makes them colour down to an orange and in some cases even Brown, so actinic (blue) lights imo are a big NO NO in a Malawi tank at this level.

So now to the best lights I have found for Malawi set up's that make the water look crisp and show's the fish colour for what it is in all colour ranges of the fish, in the T8 and T5 tubes I find these two brand's perfect , Arcadia "marine white" and Hagen "Power glow" , I think they are the same light spectrum give or take , but just different brand and trade names .

Now to the LED lights that are becoming ever more popular in the hobby, I recently tried both the Arcadia "Fresh water" and "Marine" LED's and found neither of them suitable for Malawi's imo, pretty much for the same reasons as I have explained above with the light's that are supplied with new tank's.

The Marine LED's really did make the tank look spectacular regarding water and over all effect but really didn't do the red on the fish any justice at all and I feared it would start to cause the fish to change colour to try and compensate this so I turned the blue off, doing this we lost the overall good looking effect on the tank and water but got the red back on the fish.

So as I know nothing about lighting I have invited a couple of guy's to the forum that do :dance: :wave: , I am hoping these guy's will be able to answer any of your questions and these guy's also make and sell LED unit's so I myself am hoping they can make an LED light to replicate the Arcadia "Marine white" tube's but with the stunning LED effect.
Tony & Clare - UK's largest dedicated home breeders of Malawi Cichlids
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Re: Lighting for Malawi set up's

Postby Novatouch » Sat May 09, 2015 7:46 pm

Hi every one
Philip scholes here from Novatouch led lighting would just like to thank Tony Rudd for the invitation to shed a little light in this issue.
I would like to start by explaining what colours are best to give you that Chrystal clear looking water but also give you the colours then everybody wants to see from there fish.
Ask any one the question "what colour is the sun" and most people will say yellow because in their mind the sun is a big fire ball and fire is yellow WRONG the sun is a fire ball but it burs at such a high temperature around 15 million degrees C at these temperatures it burns at what we call white hot and the only lighting that comes close to matching this colour is what we call cool white but when that colour is put in to water you will find that the water terns a slight green colour no matter how clean your water is. the reason for this is because white light is made up of a small percentage of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet all these colours make up white and with water having a blue coloration to it (in small amounts you can't see it but in large amounts you can ie the sea)there is not enough blue there to penetrate the water to let the other colours follow so this is the reason that when you add blue to the tank it all off a sudden comes alive.
what is all the reason for this information i hear you ask well the reason is it is so important to produce natural sun light for a tank is so that you can see the natural colours of your fish ie natural light natural colours artificial light artificial colours from your fish.
also another factor to take in to consideration is the amount of lighting you put in to the tank it is all well and good putting the right lighting in the tank but what good is it if the light is to bright to see what is going on, what i mean buy this is your eyes will only take in so much lighting before your pupils start to close to protect the eye so if you have a bright light but your pupils are restricting the amount going in to your eye then it is restricting what you can see so in this case what is the point of having fish that you can't see.
so in conclusion what it is you need is lighting that has a brilliant white light also none as cool white and blue light and your base platform also a lighting that will be sufficient to light the tank not a football pitch. you can start to put other colours in to the lighting like red/amber/green/pink but these can only be put in as highlights to enhance the colours of the fish and to also give a bit more depth to the different colours of the fish for example if you put in to a tank a light just consisting of ether blue/red/amber/green/purple and so on any of these colours on their own you will not see any colours or detailing what so ever all you will find is that the fish will more than likely look black this is why it is so important to have that white/blue as you main base colours and the other colours just as highlights
I don't keep cichlids myself so i can't comment on the fish themselves changing colours but i do provide a lot of customers that do keep these fish and we have had a lot of success with them
Thanks agane to tony and i hope this helps
if any one would like any moor information you can contact me direct on or Tel 07914944490 or have a look at are website
and sorry for any spelling mistakes i am dyslexic
Philip scholes
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Re: Lighting for Malawi set up's

Postby Oliverloyd89 » Sun May 10, 2015 12:37 am

Hi everyone :text-goodpost:
As a keeper of Malawi and an electrical engineer(although my knowledge on spectrums is not as much as I'd like) I can honestly say I love LED they are great and the possibilities are endless. I'd like to put the point across that although I have become friends with phill I have no ties to his business nor do I gain anything from talking highly of his work. I can not comment on tunes as the last time I had a tank with tubes I was 12 and keeping a community tropical tank.
I can however compare higher quality LED to cheaper alternatives. Off course by higher quality I don't mean top of the range £500+ LED designed for REEF tanks. And by cheaper LED I mean the likes of imports from China and the likes.
I keep a range of colour in both my mabuna tanks, one tank big f1 and tb the the wild. And I must say the colours really do Pop and with the things possible with LED the natural lighting can be even closer replicated. Which is a key factor to myself especially with my wild fish.
Many factors contribute to water clarity-filtration and media and food fed being some of the common thoughts but others that are often over looked are lights and tank materials. The first as phill has already said lights pay a huge part to the way you perfectly polished and chemically correct water looks. There is no point in spending hundreds in filtration finding the perfect media to then have a water that doesn't have a good balance and leaves you with that yellow tinge.
:ot: but although many tanks now have opti white glass. Many still have glass with hi iron content which gives the green look. Acrylic has almost 0% distortion on size or colour and with led lights sitting on top of the tank acrylic can actually trap light within itself and make viewing even more spectacular
My self and phill talk often, I'm sure phill won't mind me saying he is dyslexic and sometimes prefers a phone call so feel free to call him or leave questions and I am happy to ask for you

Many thanks

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