LED aquarium lighting is quickly becoming a popular choice within fish tanks. Why? There are tons of benefits that help aquarists like you grow plants or corals in their tanks.
With so many products entering the market it can be a tough decision especially if you don’t know what to look for. Luckily you have this article to help you. Not only did I list the best-LED aquarium lighting, I also wrote an in-depth guide that covers what to look for when choosing lights for a planted aquarium or a reef tank if you come across lights not on this list.
Without further ado, here’s the list of the best-LED lighting for aquariums.
Best LED Aquarium Lighting for Planted & Reef Tanks
1. Current USA Satellite Review – Editor’s Choice
To start with the list, Current USA has been one of the biggest manufacturers of LED lights worldwide and they never seem to disappoint with their products. This bad boy comes in many different sorts of sizes, so choosing one suited for your aquarium will never be a problem.
Here you can find the Current USA Satellite.
If you are looking for a less complicated and easy to use and to install LED light for your water tank, check out Current USA’s Satellite Freshwater LED light.
The LED light is controlled by a 32-key remote control where all the activities and actions of the light can be regulated. You can choose from six different fresh watercolors presets, beautifully optimized, and can select the intensity of the light all through the remote control.
The Current USA Satellite LED light has one of the brightest white LEDs which can go up to 6500K, which is perfect for growing and reproducing plants in your tank. It also boasts a full spectrum of RGB LEDs that can offer different color combinations to suit your mood.
- No installation is needed, just plug it and it is ready to go
- Can fit from 18 to 60-inch aquariums
- It has 4 memory slots for customized LED lights
- Has 12 preset light features
- Low power usage
- 12VDC and IP65 water-resistant
- Aluminum housing of the LED light for durability
- Tank arm mount to securely place the LED
- No manual control (take care of your remote!
- No timer
The remote control allows you to create your own customized color combination LED lights for your tank that can save up to four memory slots. Once saved, you can simply press it from the remote and enjoy the color light combination you have created. No need to do it every day, less hassle and perfectly convenient.
Another feature that makes the Current USA stand out is its 12 dynamic effects that are present in the remote control. The 12 effects mimic the light effect of a cloudy day, a storm, lightning, sunrise, sunset, cloud cover, dusk, and a lot more. You can even have the option to pause it or change it to another preset lighting or customized light on demand.
The Current USA Satellite LED light comes in various sizes to suit different water tank sizes. It has sizes for 18–24 inches, 24–36 inches, 36–48 inches, and 48–60 inches aquariums with all sizes differ in prices. The adjustable docking also helps to fit the LED light when mounting it to different sizes of an aquarium, even with an irregular size.
Durability is also not an issue as the LED light housing is made of aluminum and water-resistant materials that are safe for all the marine species inside your water tank. The aluminum casing also prevents corrosion. Just like any other device, it also has advantages as well as disadvantages.
If you are looking for fully automated aquarium LED lights for your tank, you might want to check Finnex Planted+. It comes with a remote controller which allows you to regulate lights and customize them to your desired color. The LED light comes in four-color channels and can be dimmed to your desired level of brightness. The remote control, which serves as the main control, can simulate sunrise or sunset setting so you can pattern it to the current time outside, thus putting your aquarium in a real-life setting. You can find the Finnex Planted+ 24/7 here.
The LED light comes in four-color channels and can be dimmed to your desired level of brightness. The remote control, which serves as the main control, can simulate sunrise or sunset setting so you can pattern it to the current time outside, thus putting your aquarium in a real-life setting.
You can also preset the 24/7 feature of the LED lights so that you don’t need to set it every day. The cycle of light starts off like lit dawn, which will later transition into light that depicts a warm morning during sunrise. It will be followed by the intense lighting that signals noon; a red color will appear to represent the sun setting and then finally a blue color which stands for a blue moonlight. This will go on every day depicting the everyday lighting scenario outside the real world. The cycle will continue every day so you don’t need to set it over and over again.
Another cool feature of this LED light is that the remote also controls day elements, so if you want to put a twist on your everyday lighting cycle, you can change the mood of the light to depict cloudy days, thunderstorms, and sunny days, or moonlit nights. All you need to do is a single click of the remote’s button.
If you want to customize your own lighting cycle or set a lighting color that will suit your taste, you can easily do so; Finnex Planted+ allows you to save up to four lighting combinations. You can also change it if you’ve grown tired of it and can always create a new color combination with different light intensities depending on your mood for the day.
The Finnex Planted+ aquarium LED works fine even in water as it was really designed to stand in water and lasts for a long time. The remote control interacts through a waterproof IR sensor so you don’t need to worry that water might get in the way of controlling the lights.
- The one-touch feature that allows you to enable 24/7 lighting mode
- 4 memory slots for your favorite light color combinations
- Hands-free light cycle automation
- Great for beginners
- Easy setup, “plug & play”!
- 7000k daylight LEDs to help plants grow and reproduce
- Timer capabilities
- No manual control (take good care of your remote!)
- The larger sizes are more expensive
- Short power cord
The main purpose of these LED lights though is to help plant species and other fish grow in the aquarium environment by simulating the real environment of these species. LED lights are also known to help plant species produce significantly. It also helps in the breeding of fish and serves as a tool to imitate a perfect environment for the species inside the tank.
The Finnex Planted+ is made of aluminum and has a water-resistant splash guard to guarantee durability and longevity of usage.
3. Finnex FugeRay Planted+
The Finnex FugeRay Planted has an ultra-slim design that has not yet been fully utilized on the market. Not only is it slim, but it’s also splash resistant. The FugeRay consists of a high-quality metal encased in a moisture-resistant casing. The sizes range from 12 inches to 48 inches so tanks longer than 48 inches are out of luck. You can check out the Finnex FugeRay Planted+ here!
With the bulbs lasting at least 40,000 hours and putting out 7000K. These LEDs have the potential to enhance plant photosynthesis. This makes it a strong choice if you’re looking to grow plants in your aquarium. There will also be a warmer tone with the deployment of the light in the aquarium. The light can be mounted on various sizes of aquariums and the fixture can be arranged on various kinds of sump setups as well.
This aquarium lighting fixture comes with a series of LEDs. The fixture is designed to fulfill the needs of low-medium light fish tanks. It also has moonlighted that can be activated during the night.
With the circuit boards being made with high-quality aluminum, the lives of the LED bulbs are maximized. The fixture is designed to absorb the heat in a very efficient manner. The heat dissipation capability of LED fixtures is very high. The light is an example of excellent craftsmanship and there are many satisfied customer reviews to prove it.
- Best remote, easy to customize and adjust
- High-quality materials
- Thin design blends in with any aquarium
- LEDs are spaced evenly
- Bulbs last 40,000+ hours
- LEDs promote wavelengths required for photosynthesis
- Splash resistant
- Diversity of colors
- Some power supply issues
Before cleaning the unit, you are advised to unplug it from the power source so that there will not be any issues. You will want to provide additional connections to add the dimmer facility to the light. Finnex LED light fixture is available at an affordable price. You can reduce the power consumption by switching over to this aquarium LED light.
The performance delivered by this fixture is far better than most products that are priced much higher than Finnex.
A few things you should be aware of are these units have some reports regarding issues with the power supply. The light may flicker if the wires aren’t connected properly. Some users may find it difficult to figure out the color spectrum.
4. The NICREW LED Aquarium Light
The NICREW is one of the cheapest models available on the market these days. That says a lot about the competition when it comes to aquarium lights as we think that the price is more than justified.
Take a look at this affordable NICREW Led Aquarium Light here!
Nicrew is one of the better brands when investing in LED aquarium lighting systems. It comes with two flight modes so that you can fulfill the necessity of an energy-efficient lighting system. The lunar LED (available in a blue light mode with 18 LEDs) provides energy-efficient light and it will deliver a beautiful moonlight appearance. With the help of the daylight LED, there will be brighter output which will be higher than fluorescent bulbs.
- Bang for the buck
- Excellent materials
- A day and night mode
- Metal bracket mounts are adjustable
- One-year warranty
- Light can be too bright
- Limited amount of colors
Nicrew LED lights are widely used in fishkeeping hobby. The light fixture meets the basic requirements of freshwater or saltwater tanks so that the fish can be kept in the tank without any issues. You can deploy the fixture for units whose size is between 11 inches to 54 inches.
The wattage of the unit ranges from 6 watts to 32 watts. The kit comes with the aquarium light, extendable brackets, adapter, and user manual. If you have a glass aquarium cover, the fixture can be used without any issues. However, the LED fixture is not meant for tanks without a lid.
5. The Beamswork DA 6500K 0.50W Series
Instead of going for single or dual tube fluorescent lights, you can go for high-quality energy-efficient light in the name of Beamswork 0.50W LED aquarium light. It will produce bright light so that photosynthesis can be fulfilled in a very efficient manner. You can find the Beamswork DA 6500k 0.50W Series here!
The timer-ready option helps you control the unit in a very efficient manner. The unit is made as per the latest DA series and it is fitted with 6500K spectrum LEDs. These lights are commonly used for freshwater setups. When you go for LED aquarium lighting, it will be very difficult to look at any other type of lighting for a freshwater tank.
With this light, you may experience too much light and algae growth promotion will take place naturally. You should control the light by using the timer.
- 6500K range
- Very intuitive timer
- Top-notch materials
- For both big and small tanks
- Only two modes to choose from
The light fixture is ideal for any type of aquarium and you can manage any kind of plant in the best possible way. The light fixture will ensure that all the colors are popped up properly so that you can have a great appearance. The sleek design and energy-efficient light will ensure that your aquarium needs are fulfilled in a very efficient manner.
6. The Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light
Current USA has been one of the biggest manufacturers of LED lights worldwide and they never seem to disappoint with their products. This bad boy comes in many sizes, so choosing one suited for your aquarium will never be a problem. Here you can find the Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium Led Lights!
This marine aquarium LED light from the current USA has 24-hour on/off functionality. The unit has an adjustable moonlight color. The brightness, as well as duration, can be adjusted in an effortless manner.
This unit is simple and it can be managed very easily. Even though the unit is thin, there is no compromise on the brightness. The unit is the culmination of dual daylight and dual actinic LED spectrum.
If you are looking for a 24-hour lighting solution, you should definitely go for Current USA lights. It simulates from sunrise to sunset and other parameters in a very efficient way. The moonlight can be customized to fulfill your needs. This unit is made to cater to a saltwater aquarium.
- A large array of colors
- Easy to mount and program
- Sleek design
- Low energy output
- Not recommended for a larger aquariums
- No control without remote
This unit has the Ramp Timer Pro which comes with a wireless IR remote. With thin and sleek aluminum housing and plug-and-play features, the light fixture offers excellent flexibility.
The internal memory is a plus point as it will store your preferences and can be applied automatically. Although this unit operates on low voltage, the performance remains high.
A perfect spectrum is maintained with the help of 8000K /12000K white with 445nm/460 nm actinic blue. The intensity is ideal for managing a reef tank; no sweat. The light will spread uniformly throughout the tank. The tank enjoyment will be full with the deployment of the Current USA.
7. SMATFARM Aquarium Light – Best Lighting for Corals
The SMATFARM G5 aquarium light is a professional reef lighting system with a timer and dimmer. It accurately simulates sunrise, sunset, and moonlight, with customizable dimming options for coral reef tanks. It features high-quality LEDs, remote and touch control, temperature control fans, and a durable design, making it an excellent choice for saltwater aquariums.
This unit has supporting brackets and a hanging kit. It will ensure that the depth, as well as width, can be covered efficiently. There are two dual-bearing cooling fans with which thermal management can be done. The product weight is 2.27kgs.
The product comes with one year warranty. The program-ability of the unit is the plus point as the unit can be managed very easily. The unit operates very silently and it is made with solid construction. There are remote buttons that will glow during the night and it is a convenient option to control various settings.
- You can control time and intensity
- Slim design
- It supports itself as it has built-in legs.
- Mounts are adjustable.
- Light output can burn corals if not placed correctly
- Not budget-friendly
The suspension mount can be accomplished by following the simple steps provided by the manufacturer. With the help of the suspension hardware and brackets, you can accomplish the task without any issues. You can add double-sided tape to give protection to LED lenses.
One downside is that there is no control for the programming of LED channels. Even though it is a minor drawback, the product is worth it and durable. If you are planning for a bright LED fixture or to upgrade the existing one, you should go for this OceanRevive light.
8. The Aquatic Life LED Aquarium Light Fixture
One of the more premium models on the market, Aquatic Life likes to get its nose in all places, priding itself on selling high-quality aquariums and demanding quite the fee for it. Is it worth it though?
Here you can locate the Aquatic Life LED Aquarium Light Fixtures.
There are six colors of LEDs on the Aquatic Life LED aquarium light fixture. The unit can be used in all saltwater aquariums without any issues. It has three channel timer to control various light sequences in a systematic way. You can operate the blue moonlight independently. You can create a sunrise or sunset effect with the help of built-in moonlights.
This feature-rich edge LED fixture is available at an affordable price. If you are using an outdated LED fixture, you can give it a facelift with the help of this fixture. The height of the fixture is 0.5 inches and the width is 4 inches – the length ranges from 24” to 48”. The product will be almost invisible when it is placed on top of your fish tank.
- Six colors of LED
- Memory control and a battery backup
- LED lights can be programmed
- Fully adjustable and controllable with just a few clicks
- Easy to mount
- Three Channel Timer Battery backup
- Not budget-friendly
- Only three unique sizes
- The timer doesn’t offer too many adjustments
The light output will be maximized inside any aquarium. It will disperse six colors at 120 degrees and deliver the full spectrum of light. The unit is available in three sizes and 2 different styles (Standard or Reef) so it can accommodate many types of aquariums without any issue.
The fixture has an adjustable frame and width so that it can be mounted in the aquarium very easily. The light can be turned on or off in small increments. The reduction will take place in a two-hour period of time. There will be conservation of energy as well as the fulfillment of the functionality with the help of the automatic adjustment.
Most of the LED fixtures are available with over complicated features. Hence, it demands a great deal of diligence on the part of the user. Novice, as well as an expert aquarist, will be able to manage the LED fixture in an effortless manner.
A drawback to being aware is the light intensity may not be able to provide enough light for some types of corals.
9. The WILLS Dimmable 165W LED Aquarium Light
We have to mention that this sort of LED light is perfect for smaller aquariums in the coral reef spectrum. The flowering and vegetation will take place when the photosynthesis is accomplished in the best possible way.
Here you can find this Dimmable 165W LED Lights.
The WIlLS Dimmable 165W LED Aquarium Light is ideal for planted tanks as well as reef tanks. The input voltage for the unit is between 85 volts and 265 volts. The working temperature of the unit is between -20 and 40 degrees Celsius. The output of the unit is optimized for PAR and the light penetration is highly efficient.
The user will be able to control the white as well as blue lights separately. If you use the first switch, the blue lights will glow. The aquatic growth will be very efficient when it is exposed to 14 hours of light and 8 hours off. The MarsAqua design will fulfill these needs in a very efficient manner. The intensity of the lights is very bright and it will be dimmed as per the need.
- The expected lifespan of around 10.000 hours
- The materials used in the design are of very high quality and seem durable
- Works in temperatures ranging from -20 to +40 Degree Celsius
- Natural color
- Customer support
Marsaqua Installation and Setup
Even though you can go for mounted installation, the beam spread will be low. Hence, you might want to go for additional lights to cover the entire area in a very efficient manner. There are many satisfied customers who were able to keep mushroom corals without any issues.
The size of the light is big and it will diminish the light in a very efficient manner. Even though you keep the unit at very low settings, there will not be any change in the performance. The product is affordable and delivers the best light without any issues.
If you have plans to upgrade your lighting system, you should go for MarsAqua Dimmable 165W LED Aquarium Light. The manufacturer offers the best support and you can maintain the unit on a long-term basis. If you have a larger tank, there’s also a MarsAqua 300W available.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose LED Lighting for Your Aquarium
Even though we have listed the top five best products currently being sold on the market, there is nothing stopping you from doing a bit of exploring on your own.
If you are not too keen on doing it on your own or if you lack the confidence to judge aquarium lights, here are we’ve put together a buyer’s guide:
1) Look At The Label!
Aquarium lighting is becoming a booming business nowadays and with that, there are a lot of small-time companies, I like to call them parasites that try and leech off on this wonderful hobby.
They are basically trying to undermine all the hard work that legitimate companies put in by selling low-quality ripoffs at cheaper, affordable prices.
You always have to remember that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is and the same goes with LED lights.
You are better off purchasing a brand product that you know will give you the support you might require during the warranty, instead of opting for a cheaper model and living in the dark.
Playing with fire can lead to only one thing: More money lost in the sum of the event as you will have to purchase another LED light pretty soon once the rip-off stops working and their support line proves to be nonexistent.
2) Light Spectrum
Planted fish tanks require a set environment that emulates their natural habitat. If a plant requires 6000 Kelvin of light intensity to strive, then you better ensure that you provide what is necessary for that plant!
3) Control Features And Modes
If you have a keen eye, you might have already realized that the lower-end models usually don’t have more than two modes and that their control features are all wacky and sometimes not even present.
What’s more, is that the amount of coloring is also usually lacking so unless you have a very colorful aquarium on its own, you shouldn’t fall into the trap of saving money on LED lights.
Ideally, you want an aquarium that lets you have the full remote control, you want it to have a memory function that works, a timer that is intuitive to use, full automation, and not too many buttons so that you don’t get lost in the entire process.
4) Ease Of Installation
From my experience in installing LED lights, I would have to say that one has two basic tenants to fall back on when it comes to installing these bad boys.
These lights just sit on the rim of your aquarium, they were easy to install and don’t require any sort of professional help.
You can basically do it on your own, you don’t have to read the manual!
This is where things can get tough and where one would need some help if it was his first time doing something like this.
Although a lot more work goes into mounting aquarium lights, the end result will look clean and professional. You’re sure to be seen as a true aquarium enthusiast -wink-
LED Aquarium Lighting vs. Other Aquarium Lighting
1. It Doesn’t Heat The Water Inside Of The Aquarium
This might very well be the most important feature of LED lights. If you have children, pets, or guests nearby, they can very easily harm themselves as other sources of artificial light produce massive amounts of energy.
The average temperature on the surface of a LED light hovers around 25-30° so the worst thing that can happen to you is you get a bit startled.
2. It Saves Electricity
As one could already imagine, alternative sources of lighting have problems controlling and adapting to the ever-changing conditions in the aquarium, meaning that they will produce a CONSTANT source of lighting, even if it’s not needed.
This in return brings us to the conclusion that the amount of electricity that is being put out is also CONSTANT, throughout the entire time.
Aquarium LED lights, on the other hand, use sophisticated technology to emit light onto your aquarium.
3. More Light Output
Alternative sources lack the flexibility and adjustability LED lights to have. With LED aquarium lights a push of a button seems to do the trick.
Many seem to forget just how disposable lights really are. Once they go LED, they never go back.
Not because LED lights are that awesome (which they are by the way) but it is because once you buy them, they last a long time.
5. Multiple Colors
I hope that nobody takes offense to this but…the days of black and white TV are over.
LED lights can be adjusted to feature a ton of different colors so that your aquarium takes away the spotlight in every scenario.
Choosing LED Lighting for Planted Aquariums
Most planted tanks hover between 50-150 lumens per gallon and would do best to divide them into three categories to better understand the underlying relationship.
- Low light plants, you would need an average of 60 lumens per gallon.
- Medium-light plants, you would need about 110 lumens per gallon.
- For plants that require high light, you would need about 150 lumens per gallon.
Choosing Aquarium LED Lighting for Coral Reef Tanks
As with different flavors, different types of corals all have different needs as the depth they stem from differs massively from one another.
You would need to keep the intensity up high, around 11.000 Kelvin would bring the most optimal results.
You should also consider placing them on the upper end of your fish tank.
These are a bit more flexible and allow for an intensity between 7,000 to 10,000 Kelvin to bring optimal results.
You should make sure to place them in the middle of the tank in terms of depth, they are the most comfortable in that spot!
Soft corals are similar to SPS corals, the only difference being that even though they enjoy a higher intensity of lightning, they can survive on moderate lightning as well. Between 8,000 to 12,000 Kelvin is optimal.
Place them in the lower end of your aquarium, they like to lay low and deep.
In terms of intensity, they enjoy the same rules as LPS corals (7,000 to 10,000 Kelvin).
You would best place them in a Sand Bed when it comes to general depth!
They share the same lighting needs as Anemones but they like to be placed on the lowest point of the tank.
I like to call them the siblings of the Corallimorphs as they enjoy the same kind of light intensity as well as tank placement.
Truly remarkable that there is any noticeable difference at all between these two!
Frequently Asked Questions: LED Aquarium Lighting
1) How long do lights need to be on for optimal plant growth?
There are a lot of factors that can determine that, but let’s just name those that you can actually influence as they are probably the ones you want to focus upon.
To start off, you should really try and comprehend the fact that every plant has a different sort of optimal light amount and that trying to please every type of plant in your aquarium is an impossible task.
What would be best to do in such a scenario is the following:
- Plant similar plants together in the same aquarium
- Try and find an average optimal light between all the plants in your aquarium.
To explain more on the latter, if your plants enjoy sunlight from 50-100 lumens per gallon, you would want to set the light to hover between 70-80 lumens per gallon.
This would allow for all plants to get the best out of both worlds!
2) How much electricity do LED aquarium lights use?
For LED aquarium lighting for planted tanks, it all depends on the size of the tank as we cannot possibly give you a definite answer.
What we can do however is use a medium-sized aquarium as an example and if you own a different sized one. The amount of energy expended will most likely depend on the amount of Watts used.
For a medium-sized tank, 50 Watts would be a decent start.
Considering the fact that LED lights use up to 80% LESS electricity as their power up, we can safely assume that for a year of using them at 50 Watts, one would spend around 60$ on electricity per year.
Compare this to the 200$ per year you would spend using alternative lighting and we can see that we save up to 150$ dollars per year just on one average fish tank!!!
We can see that although we will have to invest and take a loss in the first two to three years, all the money after that will go straight into our pockets! This means that if our LED lights last for more than five years, we have more than doubled our investment!
3) How much electricity do LED reef aquarium lights use? What about the cost of running such an operation?
If you wondered if reef tanks use more electricity than planted tanks and the answer is yes, they do!
They are also more expensive than planted fish tanks so if you are on a budget, stay away from reef corals.
You would be looking at around 200$ per year in electricity bills, in comparison to the 50$ used on planted tanks.
It’s more expensive but that all comes back in the end as reef tanks are oftentimes larger and more attractive to the casual onlooker!