It might surprise you, but the topic of aquarium lighting is quite broad and complex. It can be challenging to determine the right amount of lighting, especially if several different species of animals and plants are cohabiting in the tank.
The same complexity applies to shrimp tank lighting. Some might argue that shrimp don’t require any lighting, but that’s not exactly the case. Even though shrimp can survive in the dark, the presence of light helps them thrive.
However, continuous lighting in the shrimp tank will cause them unnecessary stress. Allowing your shrimp to have access to both light and dark periods will promote an optimal environment.
Do Shrimp Tanks Need Lighting?
Shrimp species like red cherry shrimp, which are one of the easiest to breed, don’t have any specific lighting requirements. However, it’s still essential to understand how light affects them.
The photoperiod parameters such as the duration of exposure to light, intensity, and spectrum significantly impact how the shrimp mature and reproduce.
There have been several relevant studies on the importance of light on the survival and performance of freshwater shrimp.
For example, one study looked at the molting rate of shrimp over 24 hours. They’ve categorized the shrimp into three groups. The first had zero light exposure, the other had a partial light period, and the third had a long light period.
The results showed that the molting rate was the highest in the group with the highest light exposure. However, another study showed that the no-light period had recorded a higher survival rate in shrimp.
This finding aligns with the previously mentioned study, as more frequent molting increases the mortality rate of the shrimp.
So, we can conclude that shrimp don’t need any light to breed, but they do need it to sustain their natural life cycles and live more stress-free.
Besides, the presence of light in the shrimp tank is often necessary due to other plant and animal life in it.
How Many Hours of Light Do Shrimp Need?
When it comes to shrimp tank lighting, it’s not so much whether the shrimp need it, but precisely how much light.
Even if you don’t have a lamp in your tank, you might want to keep it near a source of natural light.
Ideally, your shrimp tank will have light and dark spaces during the day, and the shrimp will move away from the light into a hiding place when necessary.
However, you can keep the entire tank illuminated, so long as it’s between six to eight hours per day. That’s going to be more than enough for the shrimp and the plants around them.
One of the reasons why there are so many claims that shrimp don’t need any light is because they primarily use smell to detect food.
Indeed, they do rely on scent for food, but vision also plays a significant role. For example, shrimp are primarily scavengers, and their searching and grasping for food is easier by the presence of light.
Should I Turn My Shrimp Tank Light Off at Night?
If you have a tank light, it’s probably best to turn it off at night. By doing so, you’re providing the shrimp and other life in the tank with much-deserved quiet time.
Many fun things happen in the tank at night. That’s where the shrimp mate and breed, and snails lay their eggs.
When they’re not feeding, shrimp will prefer a dark place to hide and likely feel more comfortable.
This is especially the case for female shrimp, as they can be highly vulnerable after molting, and they need a safe place to hide from the male shrimp.
What Color Light Is Best for Shrimp?
There are several types of aquarium lighting, but the Light Emitting Diode (LED) is the go-to choice for shrimp.
This type of lighting is nearly 90% more efficient than standard incandescent lighting and produces a lot less heat. The LED bulbs also last much longer than fluorescent, even though they’re a bit more expensive upfront.
However, LED lights are the best option for shrimp breeding for another important reason. According to research, shrimp growth rate varies depending on the light color. Under natural light, the growth rate is the slowest, followed by green and yellow.
The best growth rate was observed under blue light. This is because the LED lights produce a significant amount of lighting on the blue spectrum, making them beneficial for shrimp breeding.
What About Planted Shrimp Tank Lighting?
Unless your shrimp tank is 100% shrimp and nothing else, consider the importance of light in terms of other plants.
Not every shrimp owner will add plants to their aquarium, but it’s highly recommended as it helps filter the water, oxygenate the tank, and give the shrimp space to hide and relax. Plants are an excellent addition to a shrimp tank because they help balance the pH levels of the water as well.
So, if you choose to have a planted shrimp tank, you’ll have to look at the lighting factor from a different angle.
As we’ve established, shrimp are more flexible in lighting, but not all plants are.
One of the best plants for shrimp tanks is Java moss. It’s a beginner-friendly option, and many shrimp keepers are partial to it.
Java moss is planted in a substrate and is easily attachable to a tank object. It does require light, but in moderate amounts, as too much light can even stall its growth.
Another popular shrimp aquarium plant is pearl weed. It doesn’t require much care, and its light requirements are low to moderate.
Undoubtedly, there are shrimp keepers out there that keep their tanks in total darkness. The darkness indeed provides a place for rest, mating, and breeding for shrimp. But like most animals, shrimp do best in both light and dark cycles during the day.
There’s no need to keep the light on all day long, and it’s best to turn it off at night. If possible, make sure to use an LED light or any other type of lighting with a blue color spectrum, as the shrimp appreciate it the most.
Also, smaller shrimp tanks might not need any special lighting, and any light source for several hours per day will do.