Do Pond Lights Bother Fish? Here’s What We Know

Last update:

Fish ponds are beautiful features and it’s important to maintain them with the safety and health of your fish in mind. It’s normal to want to enjoy the pond all the time, even when it gets dark. But when it comes to pond lights, you might wonder if this is can cause any issues for the fish.

Artificial pond lights won’t disturb most fish species. It’s healthy for fish to have a cycle of light and darkness, however, so lights shouldn’t be left on 24/7. There are no real health risks, but when lights are used all the time, they may cause slight behavior changes. 

Fish are exposed to light in their natural habitat all the time. Some fish might even seek out pond lights for the light and warmth they offer. However, there are a few limits and risks that all pond owners should be aware of when it comes to artificial light.

Fish And Light Sensitivity

In nature, fish can be exposed to sunlight (and thus UV light) up to 12 hours per day. Most fish are used to light, and a few extra hours of pond lighting won’t hurt them. Only a few species, such as cichlids, will be affected by extra light. Make sure you research the quirks and requirements of all the fish species in your pond so you can cater to their needs!

Fish eyes are quite well developed and are similar in structure and function to birds and mammals. However, any animal can be bothered by lights that are too bright, so use common sense when it comes to the brightness you expose your pond fish to. If it’s too bright for you to look at, it’s probably too bright for them. 

Light is warped and diluted through water as well, so most commercially-available lights will fall within a safe range of brightness.

If your fish seem more nervous than usual, it might be a good idea to make sure that they have somewhere they can go to find darkness or dimmer light. Sometimes fish can feel unsafe and nervous if they’re out in the open, so it’s thoughtful to give them a dark place to retreat to. 

Speaking of darkness, it’s a good idea to turn off the pond lights from time to time. Obviously you won’t need them to be on during daylight hours, but try to only use them for a couple of hours after the sun has gone down. You can use timers to make sure they go off by a certain time each night. 

Fish have natural cycles of  rest and activity just like us, and a regular pattern of light and darkness can help them maintain healthy and regular behavior. 

Light, Heat, and Algae

When it comes to lighting a pond, there are a couple factors you’ll need to keep in mind. Obviously, as we discussed above, there’s the ways that this lighting will affect your fish. Generally your fish will be fine with a bit of extra light, but just in case, make sure the fish have a place to go to avoid it, and that you’re using lights that aren’t too bright.

LED lights are usually the most popular type of light for ponds, fish tanks, and other water features. These are clear, bright, and can be programmed with different colors. Most importantly, they don’t emit heat, and are a cost-efficient source of energy.

Temperature regulation is crucial for any water feature that has fish, plants, or any other living thing. If you’re using hot lights and leaving them on for long periods of time, you could heat up the whole pond and cause discomfort or even death for many creatures. So before you light up a pond, make sure the lights you’re using are temperature-safe. Halogen lights often emit heat, so be careful if you choose these.

Next you need to consider external threats, such as outdoor predators. If you have an outdoor pond, there’s a risk that birds, raccoons, or other fish-loving animals could target your water feature. Adding lights makes your pond an easier target for predators. Consider only using lights when you’re outside to observe it in order to keep your fish safer. 

Finally, adding extra light to a pond can speed up the growth of algae and other aquatic plants. Obviously light is one of the key elements required for plant growth, so flooding your pond with artificial light often causes algae to speed up their production. This can make it harder to clean and maintain, and can cause problems for the fish and other animals in the pond. 

So while the light itself might not be harmful to fish, consider the other risks to decide if you want to add extra light, and how much you can handle. 

Safe Light Sources

After considering every pro and con listed above, you should be equipped now to decide whether or not you want to add lights to your own pond.

The next step is choosing the lights that will work best for you! Again, as long as the lights aren’t blindingly bright and don’t emit heat, there are a lot of great options out there for you.

Jebao Submersible LED Pond Light

Jebao is a popular name in lighting, and this model is perfect for pond lighting. It comes with a variety of colored lenses, is safe to submerge under water, and even has photo-sensitive features that will turn it on automatically once the sun goes down.

View it on Amazon (FYI – we receive commissions on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you).

Aquascape Submersible LED Spotlight

The Aquascape is another popular choice for pond owners. It has a sturdy metal frame, and an LED bulb that is bright and beautiful, without the risk of added heat. This is a long-lasting light that doesn’t need upkeep or bulb changes often. It can also easily connect to other lights of the same kind, so integration is easy.

View it on Amazon (FYI – we receive commissions on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you).

Deckey Solar Powered RGB LED Landscape Spotlight

Finally, there’s the Deckey light. This solar-powered light is perfect for people who want to enjoy their pond at night, but also avoid spending extra on their electric bill. Each light in the pack charges at the same time, so they’ll all stay equally bright without much need for individual upkeep. They can also be submerged, just like the other options on this list.

View it on Amazon (FYI – we receive commissions on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you).

Photo of author


We always wanted a fountain of some kind at our house, but professional installation was just too pricey. So, we decided to make our own little fountain and after learning how, we thought we should share our experiences to help people in our same situation.

Leave a Comment