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Anyone who is experienced in this hobby will agree that full-spectrum illumination or, better yet, sunlight will enhance and improve skin condition and color in.
Lighting also provides the fish with certain metabolic capabilities. Without a full-spectrum light source such as natural sunlight or full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs, the fish will not be able to activate Vitamin D in their skin cells and will eventually suffer calcium abnormalities, which may stunt growth or depress the immune system.
Darkness is just as important as lighting. Though they do not close their eyes, fish require sleep, and a lack of sleep contributes to the cumulative effects of chronic stress. Fish that are deprived of a natural cycle of light and dark do not perform as well as fish that are allowed to sleep in darkness. Indeed, fish deprived of darkness still sleep, although they do not derive anything near the benefits that fish with a night and day cycle do. The best light cycle is sixteen hours of bright light followed by eight hours of darkness. The longer photoperiod will ensure a healthy carpet of green algae and, therefore, lower nitrate levels, which will be discussed in detail later.
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