How to Choose the Best Color Spectrum for your Freshwater Fish

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of any aquarium. It not only provides vital energy for photosynthetic plants and is essential to the overall health and balance of your tank, but it also makes for a gorgeous aesthetic! Picking the right color spectrum has the ability to showcase and intensify the best hues in both your fish and your plants.

A fish-only freshwater tank doesn’t require lighting for many purposes besides illuminating the tank, and essentially any color spectrum can be used safely without harming your fish. A planted tank, on the other hand, requires a significant amount of well-planned lighting because plants require light as an energy source.

Our Satellite Series and SereneSun LEDs are the perfect choice for your freshwater tank - you can easily choose your favorite hues with the full-spectrum, remote-controlled strip light. There are five LED color spectrums we recommend for enhancing specific colors on your freshwater fish:



This is our go-to spectrum and we HIGHLY recommend this spectrum for most freshwater aquariums.  Nothing brings out the vivid colors and enhances your tank like a full, rich RGB (Red,Green,Blue) spectrum of light. It not only makes your fish pop in color, it also won't promote algae growth.

Simply adjust Red, Green and Blue to the same level (we recommend 100%). If you add white spectrum, just use a little (0%-10%).

TIP: Don't be afraid to grow low and medium level light plants under a full RGB spectrum. They will grow just fine with really strong colors.

8,000K White

This is a warmer white light that enhances reds, greens, oranges, gold, and yellow colors in many fish, including: swordtails, platies, guppies, goldfish, bettas, discus, tetras with red colors, rainbow sharks, and albino fish. This spectrum is ideal for live planted aquariums as it mimics shallow water conditions and usually produces higher PAR (ppfd) for stronger plant growth.

To achieve a warmer 8,000K white color spectrum - adjust your white LEDs to a higher level (80%-100%), Reds at 80%-100%, Green at 75%-100% and turn down the blue spectrum (25% or less). 

TIP for LIVE RED Plants: To enhance red and purple colors in live red plants, increase the Blue and Green wavelengths and dial down the Red. (Red plants can reflect red light away and need to absorb more green and blue for anthocyanin production.)

10,000K White

If you are looking to enhance the blue, red, even the shiny silver colors in your fish, this is a perfect color spectrum. It’s usually has a higher level of blue spectrum light and is very crisp as it mimics clear, clean water. It's ideal for enhancing the blue colors found in neons and cardinal tetras, as well as many species of African and South American cichlids. 

To dial-in a "10K white spectrum", simply increase the level of blue light (80%-100%) with bright white (75%-100%), while turning the red and green very low (0%-30%.)

TIP: 10,000K White is a superb color spectrum for most Discus and African Cichlids, many cichlid hobbyists use a marine LED light like our Orbit IC LED. It's high in 10K White and Blue wavelengths, with a bit of RGB color.

Deep blue

Enhances blue, green, and red colors. Combining a little crispness of bright white with eye-popping royal blue, this combination is the ideal color spectrum for cichlids and tetra tanks. The royal blue greatly enhances the blues and reds commonly found in these fish, while a bit of white reflects scales brilliantly and producing soft shimmer effects. 

To cast a deeper blue spectrum, crank up the blue to 80-%-100%, whites to 20%-30%, red and green levels to 0%-10%.

TIP: This is also the ideal color for GloFish® fluorescent fish. We high suggest mixing in some higher green and red spectrum (and turn off the whites.) We've found Green and Red often create a striking contrast with the fluorescent blue.


A subtle magenta hue dramatically enhances greens, pinks, blues, and red colors in freshwater fish and plants. Similar to freshwater “pink” fluorescent lamps, it’s a popular color for sunrise and sunset and perfect for bringing out stunning red colors.

To "dial-in" a bit of magenta, increase the red color to 75%-100%, blue to 75%-100%, white lower at 25%-40% and turn green off (0%).

TIP - This is a stunning evening color, especially when casting a red-purple background color using a Serene background light.


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