Choosing the right vivarium lighting for your planted enclosure
Why is the correct vivarium lighting so important for a healthy eco-system?
A plants response to light is called phototropism, which involves growth toward—or away from—a light source. All plants require light for photosynthesis, which is the process within a plant that converts light, oxygen and water into carbohydrates (energy) that allows the plant to produce new growth.
In poison dart frogs the regularly occurring daily cycles of Light (day; and darkness (night) have been known to exert a profound influence on the behavior and metabolism of such dart frogs. Underlying such environmental rhythms of light and darkness are the movements of the earth relative to the sun and the moon.
What led lights will I need to create the proper lighting cycles?
Over the years, hobbyists have tried everything from reptile terrarium lighting to aquarium lights. We recommend Skylight led’s as they are specifically designed for the vivarium and offer a proprietary blend of LED light to enhance plant growth and color by offering the most lumens per watt of any other vivarium light in its class. By combining different wavelengths within a single efficient LED array skylights provide uniform color across the entire coverage range of your vivarium.
Choosing the right vivarium lighting
Vivarium, terrarium,paludarium whatever the ‘bioactive’ buzzword, when the focus is on plants choosing sufficient lighting is necessary in order for plants to thrive in these conditions.
How much light do I need?
Too much light and your plants risk burning, not enough light and your plants can’t properly perform photosynthesis. All skylights are dimmable with the correct controller so you can always adjust them if you find that your plants are not responding well.
Lumens: The lumen is a measure of the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source per unit of time.
With lumens in mind we can use this measurement to determine how much light a specific model will cover the standard vivarium.
Using 18″X18″ and 18″x24″ as the standard size poison dart frog vivarium you would need at least 600 to 1400 lumens to cover the entire space with usable light.
- Skylight Tiny’s are 680 lumens per module.
- Skylight MID-30s are 800 lumens per module.
- Skylight PR-40 has 1500 lumens and can be used with a dimmer to accommodate the size.
|SKYLIGHT MODEL||LIGHT WIDTH||LIGHT DEPTH||LIGHT HEIGHT|
Using the standard size vivarium and minimum of lumens needed, you can add another light module as per 12 inches of width. Note some dimming may be needed to find the ‘sweet spot’ of light needed.
Example of a 36″x24
- 2x Skylight Tiny’s are 1360 lumens per double kit.
- 2x Skylight MID-30s are 1600 lumens per double kit.
- Skylight PR-60 has 4500 lumens and can be used with a dimmer to accommodate the size.
What spectrum do I need?
Daylight is considered to be between 5000k- 6700k. On the lower end is red and higher end is blue with the most natural to the human eye being somewhere in the middle with ‘full spectrum’ white that shows the actual colors of plants and animals. In nature you would notice the lower end in the morning and higher end as it gets later in the day.
The optimal viewing temperature is a personal preference, in Skylights you have multiple options to suite your needs.
- Tiny series is 6000k and will provide natural sunlight throughout the day.
- Mid-30 series are 7000k and designed to enhance colors such as green that you see.
- PR series has an adjustable color temperature from 5000k-15,000k so you can simulate a dawn/dusk scenario.
Vivarium Light controllers
Skylight controllers are specifically designed for use with skylights and offer extra features that allow you to replicate nature more closely with natural lighting cycles. By automatically adjusting color temperature and lighting intensity throughout the day you have the ability to create a custom schedule that suits your exact needs. 2 models of controller are available the AQCT-2 for manual programming or the AQCT-3 which allows wifi access and APP programming using the Skylight app (iphone & android).
What are some of the other advantages to using Skylights?
Skylights are specifically designed for lighting vivariums and as such have features that other lighting systems do not.
- All laser cut aluminum frames that dissipate heat more efficiently.
- Low profile for tight spaces.
- Plug and play to easily extend or move around putting the light exactly where you want even on multiple enclosures.
- All models are fully dimmable.
- Some models have the ability to change color temp.
- They look great complimenting the beauty of your vivarium.
Common lighting questions
Do I need UV?
The short answer is no… Led lighting is sufficient to grow plants and UV is not needed.
Is lighting a terrarium different than a vivarium?
The best terrarium lighting for plants is the same as a vivarium, if the animals do not require UV all that you need are leds.
Lighting Tips & Tricks
Creating un-even lighting for a natural effect?
Skylights come in various models in each series. Tiny RH has a horizontal beam while Tiny RV has a vertical more narrowed focus. Mid-30 has an even broad beam while the Mid-Spot is a vertical focused spot light effect. You can use any combination to create natural looking shadows and light spots as would be found in a real forest.
Use dimming to create a sunrise, sunset.
Dimmer timers allow you to ramp up and ramp down the light at specific times. Start the day at 10% ramping up to 100% at mid day eventually ramping back down to 0% at night when the lights shut off.