Do Color Changing Lights Bother Fish? A Full Guide

Fish is one of the easiest pets to raise compared to dogs, cats, or birds. However, that doesn’t mean fish are not sensitive, and there are certain things you need to pay attention to, ensuring the fish always enjoys the most stress-free and relaxing environment ever! 

One of the common questions we often receive involves tank light sources. Do color changing lights bother fish that much? Our inclusive article will dive into this issue in as much detail as possible. Keep scrolling for more of our verdicts! 

Do Color Changing Lights Bother Fish?

light in aquarium

Unfortunately, our response is a big yes. Flashing, constant light-changing colors will simulate unexpected storms that pressure the fish, causing them to produce stress responses. Some prevalent symptoms include:

  • Hiding under decorations and aquarium objects
  • Rapid swimming
  • Always escaping the light and the surface.

Unnatural Lighting Color Is Also Deadly

Aside from sudden color changes, unusual hues might also stress your fish. 

After all, nature settings rarely have distinctive lights in red or bright pink themes (it will not be an exaggeration to conclude that they never exist at all). Those strange lights may alienate the fish, causing it to enter numerous challenges in adapting to the tank’s environment.

And what if I still want to use unnatural lighting colors, you ask? 

Of course, we never say that the fish can NEVER familiarize itself with one solid color that does not come from nature. That possibility is within reach, provided your chosen colors are not excessively intense. For instance, a soft layer of orange can be a secure color for your fish to bask in during the daytime.

The Ultimate Solution: Pick Only One Color With Low Intensity

Low Intensity Light

The key factor here is consistency. Pick one color (just one) and always use it. Ensure it is neither too bright nor too unnatural, and your pet will get used to it in no time. Automatic color-altering strips are out of the question!

What colors to use is all up to your preferences, but our favorite is soft white/yellow light in the daytime and dull blue at nighttime (for those wanting to light up their tanks at night). Experts believe these blue hues can mimic the moonlight in water, easing the fish’s nerves! 

Using blue or pink during the day is not a bad idea, but ask yourself whether you love sitting at home all day under them. The idea might sound exciting at first; but over time, these colors can give your eyes major strains!

Remember There Can Be Exceptions

Last but not least, keep in mind that not all fishes react similarly to lighting. Some are much more sensitive while others are not; a few rare fishes do not even feel bothered by any color changes of all types! 

If you feel uncertain whether the color-changing/unnatural lights can give your pet stress, we suggest you take caution and do not use them in general.

What Are Other Things to Consider When Choosing Aquarium Lighting?

Other Things to Consider When Choosing Aquarium Lighting

The intensity issues have been settled, but that does mean our dilemmas end there! Many other factors are equally critical in deciding whether a lighting system goes well with your tanks – both functionally and aesthetically. 

Consider the following aspects:

Fish Colors

When the lighting hits certain objects, they will absorb and reflect different colors. The spectrum’s mirrored parts are what our eyes can detect.

Hence, the best lighting for your fish colors should intensify those reflections, providing appropriate white-light visibility. 

For instance, warm-colored creatures living in freshwater, like cherry barbs, flowerhorn cichlids, and yellow labs, will look gorgeous under pink LEDs. Meanwhile, pygmy sunfish, cobra guppies, and Gularis killifish can wow every onlooker when sinking in blue lighting. 

Plant Lives

Tanks that house both fish and plants require more criteria than those only storing fish. 

Why so? It’s because the foliage requires high-quality artificial light for effective photosynthesizing, boosting the tank’s aquatic lives and visual charms. 

We believe white, full-spectrum lights can be your best bet, providing red and blue light that a plant chloroplast can absorb to foster food production. 

Under certain circumstances, a dash of green will create a wonderful contrast between the plants. But note that excessive quantities might lead to uncontrollable growth of algae populations!

The lighting intensity might also fluctuate based on your plant types. Research them carefully before your purchase!

Light Schedules

Most fishes – particularly those exclusively diurnal or nocturnal, need frequent day cycles for better regulation during their eating, sleeping, and exploring habits. 

By way of illustration, eels, soldierfish, and cardinalfish are well-known saltwater inhabitants, relying upon moonlights to assess whether it’s time to go out of their daytime hideout. 

Hence, if the light system you buy has no built-in timers, it’s a must to purchase separate ones from other stores, guaranteeing the fish’s biological routines are not interrupted. The joy of watching them swim around will also be much more satisfying! 

Aquarium Depth

Aquarium Depth

As waters absorb certain light, it’s necessary to tweak the white lights’ brightness for on-time compensation. After all, who doesn’t want the tank’s bottom to look just as stunning as its top? 

Here’s an example: Red light wavelengths are very short and only visible within 100 meters. So it will not be that vivid when traveling through your tank which is why it should get crossed out first in your consideration list. 

While some might argue their tanks are not that deep, the warm earth tone will become extremely pale if your white lights’ brightness is too weak to puncture the aquarium’s depth.


Do color changing lights bother fish? Not only does our article tackle this burning inquiry, but other insightful tips for purchasing proper aquarium lighting are also covered. 

Keep them in mind, and feel free to reach out if you still struggle!