Whether you already have your indoor aquaponics system or planning to have one. One critical thing you need to consider is what kind of grow light to use. Grow lights in indoor aquaponics systems are essential for plant growth, as they provide the artificial spectrum that help facilitates photosynthesis.
Failure to set up the right grow lights requirements suitable for your system could result in wasting the financial and physical resources invested in building and planning your aquaponics system.
Many artificial lighting systems are available, but choosing the best aquaponics grow lights is necessary for optimal plant growth. Using the wrong grow light can ruin your system by stressing the fish, limiting plant growth, and possibly killing the nitrifying bacteria. This guide will help you choose the best grow lights for your indoor aquaponics system. We will discuss the benefits of using grow lights, the different types available, and the factors to consider when choosing the best grow lights for your indoor aquaponics system.
Choosing the right grow lights for your plants can be challenging, as there are many options available. But in choosing the right grow light, you need to know these few things.
How Much Light Does a Plant Need?
Both light and darkness are essential for the plant growth cycle. The sunlight helps plants produce energy during the daytime through photosynthesis, while plants break this energy down for the growth and flowering process called "respiration" during nighttime.
It is essential to provide both light and darkness to your plants. However, different plants need different amounts of light. Vegetables and flowering plants need 12 to 16 hours of sunlight per day. Plants also need darkness, so you must give plants at least 8 hours of darkness daily. You must observe your plants to know if they are getting enough or too much light.
Signs that plants get too much light:
- Plants' leaves look limp or dried out with curled leaf edges.
- The entire plant looks weak.
- Leaves closest to the light have dead brown spots.
- Signs that plants don't get enough light:
- Thin, uneven growth with tall spindly stems.
- The plant tends to lean more toward the light.
Figuring out how much light your aquaponic garden needs involves trial and error and observation. Still, the good thing about indoor aquaponics lighting is you can move or adjust your lighting to suit your plant's needs.
The Importance of Light to Indoor Aquaponics Systems
Grow lights affect plants, fish, and bacteria differently, which we will discuss below.
Plants need sunlight for photosynthesis to happen. If plants do not have enough light exposure, they will grow thin, stunted, and weak. So if sunlight is not accessible to your indoor aquaponics system, an artificial grow light can also be used to provide the required light.
Different fish species require different light conditions. Some fish need light for normal and healthy growth, while others thrive in darker conditions. However, most fish species thrive better in dark and light periods.
Light is not necessary for the growth of nitrifying bacteria. Blue and ultraviolet lights can negatively affect the growth or kill these bacteria.
Benefits of Using Grow Lights for Indoor Aquaponics Systems
- Year-round plant growth: With grow lights, you can grow plants year-round, regardless of the weather outside.
- Increased plant growth and yield: Grow lights give plants the light they need to photosynthesize and grow, resulting in larger yields.
- Control over light intensity and spectrum: You can adjust the intensity and spectrum of grow lights to match the needs of your plants.
- Sustainable and energy-efficient: Grow lights use less energy than traditional lighting methods and reduce the carbon footprint of indoor agriculture.
The Specific Lighting Requirements for Different Plant Stages
Each stage of plant growth requires different lighting conditions to optimize development:
- Germination Stage: During germination, seeds need access to gentle light, preferably in the blue spectrum, to stimulate their growth and transition into seedlings.
- Vegetative Growth Stage: In this phase, plants require moderate to high light intensity, emphasizing blue and red spectrums. Blue light promotes leaf and stems development, while red light encourages leaf expansion and photosynthesis.
- Flowering Stage: During flowering, plants benefit from higher levels of red light. Red light stimulates the production of flowers and fruits, leading to successful reproduction and yield.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Grow Lights for Indoor Aquaponics System
1. Type of Grow Light
Four main types of grow lights are used for indoor aquaponics systems. These are LED grow lights, fluorescent grow lights, high-intensity discharge (HID) grow lights, and induction grow lights.
A. Light Emitting Diode Lights (LED Grow Lights)
Led grow lights are very popular grow lights in indoor aquaponics systems and are considered one of the best grow lights. This grow light facilitates plant growth because of its full spectrum. Below are reasons why LED is regarded as one of the best aquaponics grow lights.
- LED lights produce very little heat, emitting limited harmful wavelengths that can dry or burn plants.
- They are very durable, which lessens replacement expenses.
- LED lights have no harmful content like mercury, so they are environmentally friendly.
- LED lights use less energy than other types of lights.
The downside of using LED grow lights is the initial cost, which is quite expensive. However, LED lights are more energy-efficient and must be replaced less often than the other grow lights, which can help aquaponics growers save money in the long run.
B. Flourescent Grow Lights
Using fluorescent bulbs in your aquaponics systems is the most affordable option. Fluorescent is common and can be purchased in most hardware, garden centers, or DIY stores. They provide a full spectrum and are great for small systems with confined spaces, as the bulb can sit just a few inches from your plants. Here are some reasons why fluorescent is one of the best grow lights for aquaponics.
- Fluorescent lights are affordable and easy to use.
- These grow lights produce low heat, so there is no need to worry about bulbs being too close to the plants.
- They last longer than ordinary bulbs.
- Fluorescent lights are energy efficient.
- They're an excellent choice for small indoor aquaponics systems.
C. High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Grow Lights
Also called HIDS, these lights are more efficient than fluorescent lights and are suited for aquaponics plants requiring more lights. HID lights have a lower initial cost and can be customized according to the grower's needs and budget. This is because its bulbs, ballast, and reflectors are interchangeable. Below are the reasons why fluorescent lights are great for indoor aquaponics systems:
- HID works well in growing plants.
- They can be used 24 hours a day without affecting the system's temperature.
- They emit limited harmful wavelengths that can cause the plants to dry or burn.
- It has no harmful content like mercury.
D. Induction Grow Lights
- Induction grow lights are a type of grow light that uses electromagnetic induction to produce light.
- They are highly efficient and can last up to 100,000 hours.
- They are known for producing a high-quality light spectrum that is ideal for plant growth.
- They emit less heat than other grow lights, making them a good option for plants that require cooler growing conditions.
2. Coverage Area
The coverage area of a grow light refers to the area it can effectively cover with light. The coverage area of a grow light is determined by its wattage and the height it is placed above the plants. You should choose a grow light that can cover the entire area of your indoor aquaponics system.
3. Light Intensity and Spectrum
Different plants require different amounts and types of light. You should choose a grow light that can provide the right light spectrum for your growing plants. You should also choose a grow light that can provide enough light intensity to promote plant growth.
4. Heat Output
Grow lights can produce a lot of heat, which can be a problem for the plants in an indoor aquaponics system. Too much heat can damage your plants and fish. You should choose a grow light that produces a low amount of heat or has a built-in cooling system.
Grow lights can vary in cost depending on their type and features. If cost is an issue, you can do some research before buying your grow light to identify the ones that fit your budget and provide the right spectrum and light for your plants.
6. Energy Efficiency
Grow lights can consume much energy, leading to high energy bills. You should choose a grow light that is energy-efficient and has low wattage.
7. Installation and Maintenance
An aquaponics system requires regular care and maintenance, and you don't want to complicate it by buying grow lights that you cannot fix on your own. So consider the installation, operation, and maintenance of the grow light you're planning to buy.
Grow lights can be expensive, so choose a grow light that is durable and long-lasting. Look for grow lights with high-quality materials and a warranty.
By considering the factors mentioned, you can choose the best grow lights for your indoor aquaponics system.
What is The Best Grow Light For Indoor Aquaponics Systems?
While different types of grow lights have their advantages and disadvantages, LED lights are widely considered the best grow light for indoor aquaponics systems.
LED lights offer several benefits that make them ideal for indoor aquaponics setups. Firstly, they are highly energy-efficient, consuming less electricity than other lighting options. This energy efficiency reduces operating costs and makes them environmentally friendly. LED lights also generate less heat, which helps maintain optimal temperature conditions within the system and minimizes the risk of heat-related issues.
LED lights also provide a full light spectrum, closely mimicking natural sunlight. This full spectrum light promotes healthy plant growth throughout all stages, from germination to flowering. Additionally, LED lights can be tailored to specific plant requirements by adjusting the red and blue wavelengths ratio, providing optimal conditions for various plant growth stages.
The main downside of LED grow lights are their initial cost. However, you will be able to save money in the long run because LED lights use less energy and do not need to be replaced often.
Best Practices for Using Grow Lights in Indoor Aquaponics Systems
1. Optimal Light Duration and Timing
Recommended duration and timing for light exposure during different growth stages:
- Seedling stage: Provide 14-16 hours of light daily to promote healthy germination and early growth.
- Vegetative stage: Maintain 16-18 hours of light daily to encourage leafy growth and development.
- Flowering stage: Adjust the light cycle to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness to stimulate flowering and fruiting.
The importance of maintaining a consistent light schedule:
- Consistency in light duration and timing helps establish a regular plant growth rhythm, which helps promote overall health and productivity.
- Sudden changes in light schedule can disrupt plant growth, flowering, and the natural circadian rhythm.
- Use timers to automate the light schedule and ensure a consistent photoperiod for the plants.
2. Light Positioning and Height
- Place the lights above the canopy of the plants to maximize light distribution and avoid shading.
- You can adjust the distance between the lights and the plants according to the light intensity and the plants' specific needs.
- Regularly check and reposition the lights as the plants grow to maintain uniform coverage.
3. Maintenance and Lifespan of Grow LightsThe importance of regular maintenance for optimal performance:
- Clean the light fixtures regularly to remove dust and debris that may obstruct light output.
- Check and replace any damaged or malfunctioning components promptly.
- Inspect the electrical connections and ensure they are secure and properly grounded.
- Avoid touching the bulbs with bare hands to prevent oil and debris buildup, which can affect light output.
- Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for bulb replacement intervals and schedule regular replacements accordingly.
- Provide proper ventilation and cooling to prevent excessive heat buildup, which can reduce the lifespan of the bulbs.
Our Top Picks For Indoor Aquaponics Systems Grow Lights
1. Best Overall Grow Lights for Aquaponics Systems - GE Lighting Grow Light LED Flood Light Bulb
Our pick for the best overall grow light is the GE BR30. This grow light from GE is ideal for growing flowering or fruiting plants in your indoor aquaponics system. This red and blue light spectrum is suitable for growing fruits and flowers, and because the bulb is an LED floodlight, it doesn't generate much heat and last longer than other bulbs. This grow light has a rating of 4.7 on Amazon.
- Great for saving money
- It can fit into most standard lamps.
- Easy to set up
- Have natural light temperature.
2. Best Grow Lights for Larger Indoor Aquaponics Systems - Spider Farmer SF4000 LED Grow Light
If you have a budget and a larger indoor aquaponics system, this Spider Farmer grow light will work for you. This grow light contains a full spectrum of colors that is great for the full life cycle of your plants. This is also an LED grow light and has a rating of 4.7 out of 5. The light controller also contains a dimming knob that lets you adjust the intensity of the light. It also comes with a five years after-service warranty, which is great when making a large payment.
- Easy to set up and operate
- Five-year warranty
3. Best Budget Grow Lights for Indoor Aquaponics Systems - Aceple LED Small Grow Light
The Aceple Desk Plant Grow Light is great for aquaponics growers who are looking for grow lights that produce excellent results at an affordable price. This grow light has been tested and proven to help accelerate plant growth. This versatile grow light can be attached to a table, chair, desk, or countertop because of its wide-opening clamp.
- Easy to set up
- Adjustable and flexible gooseneck arm
- Do not come with a timer
- Buls need to be replaced often
4. Best Grow Lights Winter Growing - SANSI Grow Light Bulb
One of the best grow lights for winter growing is SANSI Grow Light Bulb. This full spectrum grow light gives your indoor aquaponics plants better growth, health, and production. Sansi grow light bulb has a superior color rendering index (CRI) compared to other grow lights, which results in a more natural light color that resembles the actual sunlight. This helps your plants thrive during the winter months.
- Full spectrum grow light
- Produce less heat
- Fully insulated lamp, safe and reliable
- More expensive than other grow lights
Runner Ups For Best Grow Lights:
The VIPARSPECTRA 2023 Upgraded P2000 LED Grow Light is an updated grow light with a new diode layout and daisy chain function that helps ensure uniform light distribution. Depending on your need, the daisy chain function allows you to connect more grow lights to your system. This grow light is equipped with a dimming function, high PAR output, and high energy efficiency for healthy plant growth and greater yield without worrying about energy cost.
Customers rate these grow lights 4.7 out of five stars. Mostly, they love the node spacing and the results they get with their indoor plants. Even those with their first greenhouses see the vast difference these grow lights make for their different plants.
- Full spectrum light with superior heat dissipation
- Low energy consumption
- Provides full-spectrum light
- Despite its heat dissipation feature, the grow light still gets hot and may require ventilation in warmer climates.
The BESTVA 2023 Upgraded BP 2000 Led Grow Light is one of the best LED lights you can get for your money. It is a reasonably compact grow light that produces incredible light, perfect for flowering or fruiting plants. It is also dimmable and stays cool to the touch despite its brightness.
The drawback of this grow light is that it is not waterproof, so you should watch out for potential leaks. To sum it up, BESTVA 2000W is an excellent product, but it's not perfect but still suits the needs of experienced and novice aquaponics growers. This grow light has a rating of 4.7 on Amazon.
- Very affordable
- Excellent cooling system is excellent–even if you keep the lights on 24/7, they won't produce excessive heat that can potentially damage your plants.
- The LED lights cover the full visible light spectrum.
- Cover surfaces up to 8 x 8 inches and retains optimal efficiency.
- The product is not waterproof.
- It doesn't support daisy chaining, meaning you cannot chain several consecutive lights with a single plug.
Choosing the best grow lights and implementing best practices in their usage is crucial for the success of your indoor aquaponics system. You can make an informed decision based on your specific requirements and budget by understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different types of grow lights.
Consider important factors such as light intensity, coverage, energy efficiency, heat generation, and cost when selecting grow lights. Matching the light intensity to your plant's needs and ensuring proper coverage will promote uniform growth and maximize productivity. Opting for energy-efficient options reduces operating costs and contributes to a more sustainable system.
By keeping in mind the guidelines mentioned above, you can create an ideal environment for plant growth, ensure a healthy balance within the ecosystem, and reap the rewards of a thriving and productive indoor aquaponics system.