Are LED Lights Bad for Betta Fish?

LED lights are 100% safe for betta fish. 

Betta fish, like most other fish kept in home aquariums, require a regular and consistent light and dark schedule. New LED light technology – especially “plain white” LED technology – makes setting up the schedule as simple and as straightforward as possible. On top of that, these lights are absolutely safe.

Sure, there are a whole host of other lighting options available to pick and choose from. Including incandescent as well as fluorescent lighting solutions for those that are interested.

But nothing beats LEDs right now.

In the rest of this detailed guide we run through (almost) everything you need to know about LED lighting for home aquariums, how betta fish respond to these kinds of lights, and much more.

Let’s jump right in!

Do Betta Fish Like Light in the Tank?

As highlighted a moment ago, betta fish (like most other fish that are kept in home aquariums) enjoy a pretty regimented light schedule that they can become adapted to without a lot of headache or hassle.

During “daytime” hours, betta fish love to soak up as much natural light as possible.

They like daytime hours to be bright – very bright – and they like to be able to soak up some of the energy from that light whenever possible, too. Remember, these are fish that are native to Southeast Asia where plenty of sun (and plenty of warmth) is never a problem.

At the same time, though, during “nighttime” hours betta fish like things to be just as dark as humanly possible.

We’re talking almost pitch dark, if you can get there.

If you are looking to rig up LED lighting for your betta fish aquarium it’s important that you try to stick to giving them between 8 and 12 hours of light and 12 to 16 hours dark.

Any more light than that and you are sort of overdoing things. Any less light than that, though, and you’re going to negatively impact the health, wellness, and happiness of your fish.

Aim for that sweet spot and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Pharaoh Hound [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Too Little Light Causes Bettas to “Dull”

One surefire sign that your betta isn’t getting quite enough light is when they start to present dull and more muted colors than they used to.

Now, there are a couple of different reasons that the coloration of your betta fish can become mutated over time – including age, water conditions, disease and illness, etc. – but most of the time when your betta starts to lose its luster is because they aren’t getting enough light.

If you have noticed your betta starting to become a little more drab than usual, think about giving them an extra 30 minutes to an extra hour of direct light exposure each day. You can ramp things up (in 15 minute increments) over a week or two and see how your fish respond.

You’ll know pretty quickly if their color returns that all they wanted was a little bit more opportunity to bask in the sunshine (artificial or not).

Are LED Lights Bad for Betta Fish?

Now let’s talk about LED technology specifically and whether or not it is good or bad for betta fish.

Right out of the gate we can tell you that LED technology has totally transformed the world of aquarium lighting from top to bottom.

Offering aquarium owners consistent, energy-efficient, and much cooler temperature lights than what traditional incandescent and fluorescent systems were capable of, most aquarium owners have jumped to take advantage of LED technology just as quickly as humanly possible.

And for good reason!

LED technology is perfectly safe for betta fish, as well as all different kinds of fish and underwater life. You’re not going to have to worry about jeopardizing their health or wellness.

In fact, some researchers believe that LED tech is even better for underwater applications – mostly because it doesn’t throw off as much heat and won’t mess with temperature the way that incandescent and fluorescent lighting would have.

What About Colored LEDs?

Colored LED technology can be reliably used in your aquarium application without any real issue, though you want to make sure that the majority of the light that your fish are getting is “pure white” or “daylight”.

Every now and again, though, flipping your LED lighting installation into RGB mode (with tons of reds, blues, and greens) can illuminate your tank – and your betta fish – bringing out the luminosity of these underwater creatures you wouldn’t have enjoyed otherwise.

It’s a game changer!

Are LEDs Better Than Natural Sunlight?

In some ways LED technology can be better than natural sunlight exposure for your betta fish. And in some ways it can be much more dangerous.

On the plus side of things, LED technology is a lot more consistent and a lot more controllable than natural sunlight ever could be.

You’ll be able to give your fish exactly the amount of light you want to give them, not having to worry about the sun (or cloud cover) but instead only having to worry about whether or not you’ve programmed your LED system correctly.

You also don’t have to worry about natural sunlight leading to significant algae growth – algae growth that can become explosive with continuous exposure.

As if those weren’t reasons enough to jump on board the LED train, you won’t have to worry about temperature issues (like we mentioned a couple of times already).

On the flip side of things, though, you are going to have to pony up a little extra on your utility bill to run LED lights during the daytime hours. You obviously don’t have to do that with direct sunlight.

Secondly, you have to maintain your LED lighting system. You have to make sure it’s in perfect working order. And you’ll have to replace it every now and again, though LEDs do have a pretty long lifespan compared to incandescent and fluorescent lights.

At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with LED lighting for your aquarium – especially if you have betta fish living in that tank, fish that naturally like a lot of light during daytime hours.