Looking for the best LED aquarium lighting? We’ve got you covered.
Lighting is without doubt one of the most important factors in creating a healthy, happy aquarium environment.
Read on to find out why lighting is so important, how it works, and which is the best LED lighting you should buy for your aquarium…
- 1 What Is Aquarium Lighting?
- 2 Pros and Cons of LED Lighting for Aquariums
- 3 How To Install LED Lighting
- 4 What To Consider Before Buying LED Aquarium Lighting
- 5 The Best LED Aquarium Lighting
What Is Aquarium Lighting?
In a nutshell, aquarium lighting is any type of artificial light used to illuminate the interior of an aquarium.
There are 3 main types of aquarium lighting available in various colors, light intensities, and levels of energy efficiency — some of which also serve to heat tank water.
Different types include LED lighting, fluorescent bulbs, and metal halide lighting.
This article focuses on what is possibly the best type of aquarium lighting available today — LED lighting.
Why Is It Important?
In their natural environment fish, aquatic plants, and other water dwelling creatures need light to survive and be healthy.
Plants require light for photosynthesis, and fish need on average between 8 to 12 hours of light per day in order to mimic the natural day and night cycle and to enhance color pigment, aid digestion, and attain peak health.
In salt water aquariums corals will die without light as they rely on a symbiotic relationship with a photosynthetic algae which needs light to photosynthesize and pass nutrients to the coral.
From a human perspective, lighting also allows you to see in detail exactly what is going on in your aquarium such as the health of your fish and how they interact and behave, create different aesthetics, and provide a wonderful ambient focal point in a room.
How Does LED Aquarium Lighting Work?
Highly energy efficient and with great longevity, LED aquarium lighting works by using semiconductor technology, which unlike ordinary incandescent bulbs means that they won’t burn out or get especially hot.
LED lights are usually installed in the hood of an aquarium, but if this is not possible they can also be installed externally at the top of the tank.
The majority of LED aquarium lights can be adjusted to different intensities to suit your needs.
Many can be used with a handy timer to automatically turn on or off when required, and some more high tech LED light systems for aquariums can even be adjusted as desired using a remote control.
Pros and Cons of LED Lighting for Aquariums
- LED lights create virtually no heat so won’t alter delicate water temperatures
- They can be used to mimic the natural daytime / night time cycle
- As they are available in different colors LED lights can be used to create different moods within the aquarium
- LEDs are highly energy efficient
- Bulbs are durable and have a long life span
- LED aquarium lighting is small and discrete
- Some LED aquarium light systems are configurable, allowing you to add different colors or additional lights
- Light levels can be adjusted dimmer or brighter
- EDs are safe to use in an aquarium environment
- Usually arranged in a strip, LEDS give excellent light coverage across the aquarium
- LED lights tend to be more costly than other types of aquarium lighting, so require a higher initial budget
- If you prefer to purchase an aquarium kit, LED lights are less likely to be included
- LEDs may not be bright enough for certain aquatic plants
How To Install LED Lighting
If your aquarium doesn’t come with LED lights already installed — don’t stress.
LEDs can easily be installed in most tank set ups. Here’s how…
In a Planted Aquarium
Light spectrum is an important factor when choosing LED lights for a planted aquarium.
The light spectrum should include as many colors as possible to ensure that plants receive the right kind of light to promote the best possible photosynthesis, so full spectrum LEDs are the best choice.
Most LEDs work well for plants that require low levels of light, but if you want to have a wider plant choice it is best to choose LED lights that emit around 6000k to 6500k.
The number and size of LEDs you will need to install for your aquarium is dependent on aquarium size, depth, and type and number of plants you intend to grow.
The lights should be well distributed to cover the length and depth of the tank to ensure that all plants receive as much light as possible.
In a Reef Aquarium
When it comes to reef tanks, the right lighting is crucial, and finding the right balance can be a complex process of trial and error.
As with planted aquariums, LEDs that provide a full light spectrum are essential, and set ups that enable you to adjust individual color spectrums — such as red, violet, and blue light — are best as they allow you to fine tune the light that your marine environment receives.
LEDs should be installed the full length of the aquarium to ensure the best coverage possible, and lighting that can be angled to reach certain areas more intensely, or to let less light reach more cavern like areas, have the added advantage of giving a choice of light intensities for different coral types.
What To Consider Before Buying LED Aquarium Lighting
The size of your aquarium dictates the size of LED lights that you will need to buy.
The larger the tank, the bigger the LEDs will need to be in order to provide good coverage and penetrate deeper into the water without losing intensity
Although they work out cheaper in the long run, LEDs can be pricey up front, so may not be suitable for small budgets. If you’re not sure what you can afford, set up a plan and budget accordingly.
Try to get the set up you want without going over your initial budget if possible
Compared to other types of aquarium lighting, LEDs are very energy efficient; however, not all LED lighting is made equal, and the better quality the bulb, the more energy you will save.
This is a particularly important factor if you have a large aquarium which requires lots of lights.
An aquarium light set up that is difficult to maintain is a hassle.
Whenever possible choose LED lighting which can be easily accessed for cleaning, is waterproof, and which allows you to change or add lights, and / or lenses quickly and with the minimum of fuss
Different fish and aquatic plants require different levels of light intensity in order to thrive.
Choosing adjustable LEDs that can be dimmed or brightened will allow you to optimize light levels to suit the fish and plants that you intend to keep
For added convenience you may want to consider LED lighting with remote control features, and an advanced control panel which is easy to use yet allow s for things such as multiple color programs, changes in light intensity for different portions of the tank, and a range of timer options
The Best LED Aquarium Lighting
Designed to give reef aquariums light coverage over an area of 32 x 18 inches, the Relassy LED Aquarium Light Panel has 338 LED bulbs arranged into 10 bands which provide the full color spectrum from cool white to UV.
Each LED bulb it equipped with its own heat sink to ensure that any heat generated is safely dissipated away from the tank. The light can be easily suspended above the aquarium using the kit provided.
Multiple light setting, brightness, and timers can all be set using the Bluetooth connected smartphone app.
There are a whole host of lighting effects to choose from, including those that mimic natural moonlight and sunlight.
Easy to set up and control
Lights are very bright
Generates almost no heat
Great color combinations
Slim, lightweight design
- App could be more user friendly
- Bulbs don’t have the best longevity
The LEDs of the 78 3510 lumen LED Yescom Multi-Color LEDs Aquarium Light cover the full color spectrum of white, blue, pink, green, and red are ideal for either fresh or salt water aquariums.
The unit that houses the LEDs is made from durable aluminium alloy, and features fixing brackets that can be extended to fit tanks from 24 inches to 30 inches wide.
The width of the unit is 4 3/4 inches, and it can easily be doubled up with an additional second unit for better light coverage on deeper tanks.
There are 3 different color modes; multicolor with all lights on, just blue LEDs to mimic night time, or no lights at all.
This aquarium also features a practical waterproof power connector and is available in larger 129 and 156 bulb options.
- Low price
- LEDs are bright
- Good customer service
- Full light spectrum
- Practical for oddly shaped tanks
- Easy to set up
- Extendable brackets don’t lock into position
- No timer option
Built specifically for nano tanks of between 2.5 and 5 gallons, the major advantage of the NICREW Fish Tank Clip on Light, is that is can be attached to almost any nano aquarium provided glass thickness is no more than 0.9 inches.
The clip attachment is simple to install, and the light can be angled in any way you want. 18 LEDs are housed in a 7.2 by 2 inch aluminium casing which helps with cooling and provides superior heat dissipation.
Both blue and white LED lights are included, and light modes can be switched between day and night time modes, with the night time mode using only the 3 blue LEDs to create a moonlight effect.
- Very inexpensive
- Ideal for tiny nano aquariums
- Hassle free to set up
- Easy to use
- Very bright LEDs
- Solid construction
- Light can be directed at any angle due to flexible mount
- Limited color spectrum
This LED aquarium light has 129 colored LEDs that cover the full color spectrum, with a lifetime of up to 50000 hours.
The aluminium casing features extendable brackets that can expand the size to fit aquariums of between 36 and 43 inches wide.
The power supply is attached to the side, and benefits from a waterproof connector. Choose between illuminating all the LEDs at the same time for during the day, just the blue lights for night time use, or the LED off function to save energy.
- Can be used for both salt water and fresh water aquariums
- Appealing, slim design
- High quality light
- Good color range
- Easy set up
- Features are very basic, no timer etc.
- Extension brackets don’t lock into position
Available in 4 different sizes to suit tanks from 18 to 60 inches wide, the Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light for Aquarium is controlled by a remote control which allows you to choose between a multitude of lighting options.
The LEDs cover the full RGB spectrum, and there are also intense 6500K white bulbs. Choose to use one of the six different fresh water color presets, or go for one of the 12 dynamic light effects including those that mimic storms, cloud cover, dawn and twilight, and night time.
Alternatively create and save up to 4 of your own customized color combinations. Lights can also be dimmed or brightened.
The super slim 1.5 inch design houses the LEDs in two rows and grips the sides of the aquarium using extendable brackets.
- Wide range of dynamic effects
- Highly customizable
- Convenient remote control operation
- Full spectrum light
- Super easy to set up
- Adjustable size
- No timer option
- Can be damaged by water if not used with care
What do you think is the best LED lighting for fish tanks?