Tank Lighting...making Reds Pop

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Slaphammer, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. SlaphammerNew MemberMember

    We've noticed that fish that are a brilliant red in the fish store usually turn out to be orange when we get them home.

    We replaced the fluorescent light on our Aqueon full hood with a white LED strip, and used the extra slot for a BeautyMax light strip (red, green, and blue lights that actually end up looking pink when they combine). The difference was significant -- colors pop a lot more, and we also don't have a glare off of the universalrocks.com white holey rock that is the tank's backdrop. We didn't even realize we had a bad glare until we got rid of the fluorescent bulb.

    All that said, the fish still look orange unless they are near the surface directly under the LED lights. Then they magically appear the brilliant red that we saw in the store.

    I'm not complaining, we think the fish look neat in orange too, but I'm just curious - what is the fish store doing differently with their lighting?

    Besides the multi-colored BeautyMax strip, Aqueon also has a ColorMax strip which is just white and red. Maybe that makes reds pop more? I guess I could always get one and swap it out with the BeautyMax to see the difference.

    Our tank has a full hood with a clear strip down the middle that the light sits on. This means that the fish aren't fully in the light if they are in the front third or back third of the tank, at least while near the top. We wondered if maybe a transparent hood would improve lighting, but doesn't look like Aqueon offers a transparent option (I did find a glass top they offer which fits a couple of their breeder tanks, but we have their 38 gallon which is different).

    I saw some fancy programmable LED light strips when I was shopping for a replacement to fluorescent, but they rest on the two narrow edges and are elevated above the top of the tank somewhat - they seem to require that you don't have a hood at all in order for them to be effective. We don't want to go without a hood mainly because of our cat, but also because not sure if any of our fish are jumpers.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2017
  2. SuperKWell Known MemberMember

    Could it be the background that makes it pop? What colour background do they use at the store?

  3. SlaphammerNew MemberMember

    I don't think so, because in my tank the fish turn from orange to red when they're up close to the lights - definitely seems related to the light. But I think they typically use various shades of blue at the store. My tank is painted dark blue in back, but I also have the white holey rock which covers up a lot of the dark blue. My substrate is black sand.

    As a side note, I have a green lantern platy (not sure why they have that name because they are blue and black) and when he gets close to the LEDs, the blue turns to white!

  4. EternalDancerWell Known MemberMember

    Not too be blunt, but, you seem to be shelling out an awful lot of money on experimenting (which of course is your choice).

    Call the store you got the fish from and ask about their lighting?

  5. SlaphammerNew MemberMember

    I've spent $0 on experimenting; switching to LED was based on reading lots of reviews and was about bringing out more color in general, which it has done. If I decided to experiment with a ColorMax light strip, it would cost a whopping $9.

    Below is how Aqueon describes their light options; it's not really clear to me how Color Max and Beauty Max differ. My hood light takes two strips--I currently have a Day White (comes with the light fixture) with a Beauty Max in the extra slot.

    Lamps fit into any of the Aqueon LED light fixtures, strips or hoods with interchangeable LED lamps
    • Day White LED: all-purpose white light for crisp, bright illumination
    • Colormax LED: mix of white/red LEDs that boosts the appearance of natural colors
    • Max Blue LED: deep sea illumination that intensifies the fluorescing effect of fish and corals
    • Beauty Max LED: combination of red/green/blue LEDs that enhance fish, plants and décor
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  6. EternalDancerWell Known MemberMember

    Okay, sorry. *Potentially* shelling out.
    Didn't immediately know how much stuff might cost, just saw mention of lights and hoods and whatever. Figured you might have overlooked the easiest way to get your answer, is all.
    Just tryna help.
    Also, your "whopping $9" could be a "whopping" two meals for me and the kids. Some people don't have money to buy various lights etc.

    You asked: "what is the fish store doing differently with their lighting?"
    I don't know, I don't work there. If you're interested; call them. Or email. Facebook. Instgram. Physically go in and ask them. Write a letter. Telegram. Send a messenger pidgeon. Morse code.

    It would seem the colour max focuses on the fish, while the beauty max works to brighten the entire tank. Why not get both and see?
  7. Hill DwellerWell Known MemberMember

    I got a new tank for my Betta which came with a poxy clip on white LED which was kind of like a spot light. I hated it. I went and got a new strip LED which has white blue and red, and it makes a difference especially in his red fins

    The first pic is the old light, the second is under the new light. I'm not sure if it's the red or the blue or a combination but I like it!
  8. Kysarkel000Well Known MemberMember


    It looks like the blue pops more, which causes one to notice the red more as well. Such a beautiful fish!


    You said you had the beauty max light that has all of the colors on it. So what I would do is cover one color up with something ( your finger, opaque tape, popsicle stick, etc.) And see how it looks. Then I'd do the same for each of the other colors, to compare. If none make the fish coloring pop, try covering multiple colors up at the same time. Start with covering two colors, then three, and so on.

    You could also take a flashlight and cover it in colored tissue paper and shine it over the top of the tank to cycle through the colors, but make sure the tank light is off or it'll interfere.

    Sometimes it's not the color of the light, but the type. Led, florescent, halogen, etc. All give off light slightly different. I definitly would take @EternalDancer's advice and call the store to see that their trick is.

    Good luck on your quest to make you fish look it's best! I hope I helped a little bit :)
  9. NanologistWell Known MemberMember

    A bright white with the fullest spectrum will make any color pop. This is due to how we perceive color. We only see what light spectrum is reflected off a surface. The more wide and intense the light spectrum that's used the more intense and variety of colors you'll see. Cheap lights often have a very narrow spectrum even though it appears white.

    Quality UV lights usually produce the most brilliant full range of colors, but if you only want the red to pop the ColorMax may be what you're looking for. It will provide the red needed to make it pop as well as some white so the other colors are also shown well. To say the least you need more red lighting and less white (full spectrum).
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
  10. Stillwell AngelNew MemberMember

    I love the idea of the colored paper over a flashlight. I bought red, green and blue cellophane at the dollar store and I'm going try taping strips of them over my full spectrum bulb and see which will make the colors in my Congo Tetras pop. I called the contact # on the Coralife website and the tech support guy told me which one he recommended. Good quality replacement lamps are crazy expensive so I want to know what to expect.
  11. SlaphammerNew MemberMember

    To follow up on my own thread, I recently bought the same lighting as my local fish store and finally I have the same amazing reds. Brand name Finnex, model is MonsterRAY. It wasn’t cheap but looks amazing, much better than my Aqueon LED with either ColorMax or BeautyMax (or both, I tried all combos).

    The only downside is that it makes my yellow Platy look a bit more orange, not as nice as the solid yellow with other lights.
  12. Stillwell AngelNew MemberMember

    Good to know! My Panda Cory cleaning crew look orange & black stripped with the red cellophane so I imagine that will happen with the Finnex too, but I don't mind. Looks kinda Halloweenie!
  13. NightShadeWell Known MemberMember

    I was actually gonna suggest Finnex - Monster Ray being what you would want for color-popping ;)

    I don't have the MonsterRay, but the two Finnex lights I do have, I absolutely love. They are pricey, but they don't disappoint!

    My only question about the MonsterRay - maybe you can answer? - is: does it grow plants? It's the only model that I'm not really sure about... since all their other models are for plant growth, but this one doesn't seem to say? I guess I haven't searched out the answer, but anyways... thanks if u can answer! This has been an interesting question! Glad that you posted & searched out the answer :)

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