How to Hang Aquarium Lights—How High Should They Be
By Eddie Waithaka @aquariawise
Hanging your aquarium lights can change A LOT about the interest in your fish tank!
The lights will cover more areas, provide adequate lighting for your fish and plants, and make a spectacular visual feature in your living room.
You can hang your aquarium light from braces on a canopy using an adjustable light bracket (cross brace) available online or from your local fish store in varying designs and lengths.
If your aquarium light is too low hanging from the canopy, hang it from the wall or ceilings. Use stainless steel hooks (attached to the ceiling-board) to hold two fishing wires connected to fishing leaders around each end of the light’s cross brace to hang your light. You can also use an adjustable hanging kit to hang your fish tank light from the ceiling. Most come with illustrations, so it should not be too challenging for you to do.
To hang your aquarium light from the wall, you need to screw L-shaped mounting brackets on the wall and attach a fishing line or steel handing cables hooked on the cross brace.
You do not want your light hanging too close to the water surface because the canopy or braces will cast a shadow on your fish tank.
The water might also get to the light, it may stress your fish, or cause algae overgrowth if it is not high enough.
How to Hang Aquarium Light From A Ceiling
You will want to consider hanging your aquarium lights from the ceiling.
Aside from making it easy to adjust the intensity by lowering and raising the fixture, it helps reduce the high-light at the upper parts of your tank.
High light encourages algae growth on glass, filter tube, wire, hardscapes, and other items at the top of the tank, while a lower-medium light will reduce algae growth even at the substrate level.
So, how do you hang aquarium light from a ceiling?
Well, there are several ways to do this. One easy way is to use DIY bits from your local hardware store to fabricate a hanger or get a yo-yo grow-light hanger kit to hang your aquarium lamp from the ceiling.
What You Will Need
1. 2 inch lag screw hooks or spring toggle ceiling hooks.
3. Board with rounded corners and painted ceiling white
4. Measuring tape and laser pointer
5. Ceiling Clauk
6. Screw hooks
7. Stud Finder
How to Hang Your Aquarium Light
1. Find a metal or wood stud from where to screw the support board to the ceiling jousts.
2. Measure and mark the point on the board from where you’ll hang the light relative to your tank size and position
3. Screw the board to the stud horizontally to help you center your lights
4. Attach your hanging hardware on the board attached to the ceiling stands per the measurement taken.
How to Find The Metal or Wood Stud on Your Ceiling
When hanging aquarium light from the ceiling, first locate a metal or wood stud from which you’ll attach your fish tank lamps because you do not want them hanging from the drywall.
Use a stud finder to locate the stud or look for indentations from sheetrock screws that attach drywall to the joists.
Determine Where the Lights Will Hang From
Use a laser level to establish a straight line from the center of your fish tank to the board to help you center your fish tank.
You can also use a measuring tape and a few calculation to establish your fish tank center and a mid point on the board you’ll attached to your ceiling to determine where and how to hang your light.
Ideally,attach the lamp cables about three quarter way from the board’s center point and about an inch from the board’s edge.
If your board is 6 inches long, hang your light attachments an inch from the each edge (2 inches from the center spot on each side).
If you take your measurement front center of your fish tank, you will need to measure the weidth of your tank and displace the board placement with half the weidth to make sure the board center aligns with the actual midpoint in your fish tank, which naturally would be in the water.
How to Attach The Wood Board for Centering Your Aquarium Light
Because ceiling joists are not designed with hanging aquarium light in mind, they are not ideal for centering the lights. So, mount an aesthetic board with clean edges and painted ceiling-white to mount your lights hanging hardware on.
Use sheetrock screws to attach the board to your ceiling studs, then measure and attach lag screw hooks on the board from where you want your aquarium lights to hang.
Use screws at least 2 inches long to attach your board and hang your light.
Once you are done screwing the board on the ceiling stud, use drywall caulk to conceal the hole edges to restore its look. You do not need to cover the screws unless they look off.
How to Mount Your Aquarium Lights Hanging Hardware
Once you have your support board attached to the ceiling and lag screw or spring toggle hooks in place, hang your aquarium light suspension kit and set it at the height you prefer.
I recommend using adjustable grow light hanger kit to hang your aquarium light because you can move them closer or away from your fish tank effortlessly.
The kit has something like a pulley mechanism that locks on the fish light’s weight once you cease moving them.
How High Should Light Be Above Your Fish Tank
To achieve the best light spread and prevent water from reaching your aquarium lights, the best height to hang them is 7 to 15 inches above the aquarium. If you maintain a low water level in your fish tank, you can mount the light 3 to 6 inches above the tank and 13 to 15 inches if you do not leave much space at the top of your aquarium.
…because fish tanks and aquarium lights come in different sizes, you may want to adjust your aquarium light height relative to your tank size. 3 inches above the fish tank is ideal to hang low aquarium lights for a 10-gallons fish tank, but for a large 100 gallon fish tank and a light with a high intensity and spread, placing it 10 to 15 inches from teh tank is advisable.
Start by raising the lamp way above the fish tank (up to 20 inches), then lower it slowly until the edge of the light spreads to the extremities of your aquarium. Keep the light spread within the tank borders to ensure your fish tank is the focal point of your room.
You do not want to hang the light too low to avoid creating a shadow over the tank.
A low-mounted tank light will also create a hot spot at the center and dark, cold spots around the tank’s edges.
On the flip side…
…if the lamp is too high, most of it will be wasted, pushing your aquarium power cost up, and your plants and fish will still not receieve sufficicent light to thrive.