I have noticed this pattern in general people about lights in aquariums being taken as decorative pieces. Rest assured, they are not. If you have been following our site then I am quite sure you know by now that lights hold a very important place in an aquarium’s ecosystem.
But just because you know it is necessary, it shouldn’t mean you just hop on your bike and just go buy a LED light system for your aquarium. In this article, we will tell you why you specifically need LED lights, what are the options available to you in the market, and which one will fit your needs to a T. So strap up your seatbelts for another informative review article.
Why Do You Need Led Lighting In Your Aquarium?
By now, I hope we have established why exactly are lights necessary in an aquarium. Lights simulate and mimic the natural environment that the fish live in. In the wild, the fish live in environments where sunlight plays a huge role. In the aquarium, lighting systems replace that role. Lights set up day and night patterns helping set up the circadian rhythm. In fish like Goldfish and Betta fish, light is responsible for coloration, the establishment of eating habits and light helps fish produce Vitamin D which keeps them away from many diseases. But let us see why exactly we need LED lights.
- LED lights when of good quality produce lights of different intensities. This provides the fish in the tank with lights of all wavelengths just like sunlight would, mimicking their natural habitat.
- Unlike fluorescent tubes Led lights do not contain gaseous elements inside them. This not only reduces pollution inside the tank but also is environment friendly.
- As compared to other light sources, LED lights are extremely energy efficient and save you a lot of electricity bills.
- The life span of a LED bulb is fixed and is longer than other kinds of bulbs. This way you have a general idea when exactly you may need to change the lights.
- LED lights are made to be automated. They are easy to be remote-controlled, dimmed, or made brighter without much of a hassle.
- Unlike Tungsten bulbs or other high energy output bulbs, these LEDs do not increase the temperature of the surrounding that much as they release very little heat energy.
How To Choose The Right Led Lighting For Your Tank?
Size of the tank
Like with everything else that is related to an aquarium, the size of the aquarium also affects what kind of LED you should choose for your tank.
The larger your aquarium is, the more light you will need. If you have a very large aquarium, you have to choose an LED that has higher lumen i.e. higher brightness as well as higher intensity. Our suggestion is that, instead of choosing one powerful LED for a huge aquarium choose 2 LED lights of half the power so that your tank can be illuminated evenly.
Types of plants in the aquarium
Almost all green plants require light for photosynthesis. But different kinds of plans have different requirements for light. And hence, plants in the aquarium affect the choice of the lights.
There are some plants that are considered to be easy to maintain for example Anacharisa, Sagittaria, Vallisneria, Ambulia, Amazon sword plant. Such plans have a lower requirement of light energy part-time per liter of water. On the other hand, other kinds of larger plans which have a higher requirement of light energy will make you want an LED lighting system that dissipates higher energy.
Types of fish in the aquarium
Different types of aquarium species need different light requirements to thrive. So the first step would be to choose which species of fish you want to keep and then to determine their lighting needs. You will need to research the requirements of the specific subspecies you add to the aquarium before choosing aquarium lighting and that ensures the light will produce the correct amount and type of light that is required by the subspecies.
Most of the fish that we keep in the aquarium come from freshwater sources like rivers, streams, or clear lakes. These fish are used to bright sunlight and warm rain forest weather. So, they will need lights that can produce brighter energy and at the same time, they also need darker places to hide from the light.
On the other hand, a bright light is not always a good choice. Some fish in the aquarium come from bottom-dwelling species of murky flood plains and they enjoy a dimmer environment.
Features and budget
Of course, it goes without saying that you should look at the price of the aquarium before you actually buy it. But, this is not something to worry about as we have in our list gathered the best-LED lights present in the market, detailed their features, and also given you the price range so that you can select the best available option for yourself.
Best Aquarium Led Lights
Nicrew Classic Led Aquarium Light
Our first and foremost pick comes from one of the top most brands in the world of aquarium lighting: NICREW. This is undoubtedly our top most pick and easily the Editors’ choice product. But, you just don’t become the best because you come from the best brand, the NICREW Classic has the features to be the best.
It comes in a whole host of sizes and dimensions, from 12 – 18 inches, 18-24 inches, 30-36 inches, 36-48 inches. But the one we will be talking about here will be the top of the range, 48 to 54 inches.
The light with fixtures has a dimension of 46 inches of length, 4 inches in width while the light with brackets has a dimension of 54 inches in length and 4 inches in width.
This wide range of dimensions allows the NICREW Classic to be adjustable to various ranges of aquarium tanks. So you don’t have to be worried about whether or not it will fit in. It is also very light as it weighs slightly less than 4 pounds.
The actual LED lights are enclosed in an aluminium shell. This lends durability to the entire fixture by easily dissipating excess heat produced and extending the life of the lights. The aluminium housing also makes it somewhat water durable. It doesn’t mean the lights can be dipped in water but having the aluminium housing gives you a bit of breathing space if some water drops on them.
Another feature in their design is their thinness. Every product comes at a thickness of less than an inch. This makes them look sleek and compatible.
The previous model of the NICREW Classic left the users wanting for a bit more of brightness. However, this new model delivers on that with 1200 lumens of brightness. This is well enough for your aquarium plants to conduct proper photosynthesis as well as for the fish and their health.
Since this is an LED it gives you a far longer life than any other kind of light bulbs in the market. From our personal experience, you can run them 9 to 10 hours a day for almost 2 years without issues.
This top of the range 48 inches to 54-inches light frameworks at a mere 35 Watts of power. It is highly energy efficient too and will help keep your electricity budgets down.
It offers you two lighting modes: the White and Blue LEDs that mimic the day time experience for the fish and just the Blue LEDs for midnight lighting. This is more than mere gimmick as this helps the fish to set up day and night time behavioral patterns like sleep and eating patterns.
The company also provides extendable accessories like NICREW single channel timer and Single-channel timer Pro. This allows you to gradually increase and decrease the lighting mimicking the sunrise or sunset.
- The LED lights have, unsurprisingly, long life. Longer than any other standard and commonly used lights in the aquarium.
- These have higher lumen output per watt which means you get more light for lesser electricity consumed. This makes it very highly energy efficient.
- All the above factors and also its durability contributes it to be low cost. It doesn’t weigh heavy on your pocket.
- The construction quality of the NICREW Classic is exceptional with aluminum housing and slim design making it less weighty and more compatible.
- It has adjustable mounting brackets giving you the versatility to adjust the lights with tanks of various sizes.
- This may or may not be a problem depending upon you, but the Classic LED lacks proper hanging or mounting points. They are designed to sit outside the rim of the tank.
- This has been designed for moderately planted aquariums and hence if you have loads of plants in your tanks that you would like to grow and glow to the fullest, this may not be the best option for you.
Viparspectra Timer Control Dimmable Aquarium Lights
Our second product on the list is VIPARSPECTRA and the one we will be talking about here is the 165W one although it does come in various power ranges.
It ranges to 16 inches of length, 8.5 inches of width, and 2.4 inches in thickness. It comes at a weight of 6.8 lbs.
The company proclaims that this can cover an aquarium of a whopping 24 inches × 24 inches. And the claim is substantial as we have found it works at a 12-inch height covering the whole 12 inches and 24 inches length.
It has a rectangular design and looks slightly bulky.
Contains 55 pieces of LED lights that are high intensity. Each one is a 3 Watt Bridgelux/Epileds LED.
As the name suggests vipar-SPECTRA, this unit contains the strategically placed layout of different colored bulbs among the white bulbs. The different colored bulbs are placed in a criss-cross style among the white lights. This gives you a full spectrum of lights, the lights of different wavelengths help fish and especially corals to grow properly.
The lights are also grouped into different channels. Channel one has violet, royal blue, and blue lights. Whereas the channel two has green, red, neutral white and cool white. Each channel is separately adjustable and programmable. It has built-in timers for each channel with on and off settings.
They have a lens angle of 90° work at an AC input of 100 to 240 Volts and consuming a whooping 105 Watts of power.
For all that power consumption comes heat dissipated. To solve that problem, it has high-speed quiet fans and aluminum sinks.
They come with a life span of 100,000 hours and 1 year warranty.
The kit includes a remote control, a 6ft US power cord, and also 2 hanging kits making them easy to use.
- These are sophisticated lights. And their design is durable and easily compatible.
- They provide full-spectrum lights.
- Each channel of light is separately controllable which gives the flora and fauna time to adjust to the lights.
- They have hanging kits which makes them easy to setup.
- They consume a lot of electricity.
- They produce massive heat most of which is dissipated by the fan and aluminum sink but some can still pass out to the tank.
Current USA Satellite Freshwater Led Plus Light Aquarium
The first product from the manufacturer Current USA on our list and you get a whole host of options on sizes.
They range from 18-24 inches all the way up to the one we are discussing here, the 48 to the 60-inch model.
They span 46.8 inches in length, 3.5 inches in width, and just 0.44 inches in thickness. This makes them the slimmest LED panel lights on our list.
This model fits an aquarium of 48 to 60 inches of course.
They contain 96 white and 48 Red, Green, and Blue lights providing a full spectrum of lights.
For all it’s a huge size and many lights it still only consumes only 30 Watts of energy making it low cost and efficient.
It has super bright 6500K white LEDs paired with full-spectrum RGB LEDs that are remote-controlled by a remote with 32 key custom options.
- It has adjustable docking mounts.
- The full spectrum light is highly customizable and remote-controlled.
- It runs on a low voltage and is waterproof to some extent.
- It doesn’t work that good for aquariums of larger sizes.
Finnex Planted +24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium Led
JSK Merchandise Inc. brings us the first truly all-around hands-free aquarium lighting system in the form of the compact Finnex planted 24/7 LED unit and we are here for it.
It comes in various sizes ranging from 20 inches to the one we are discussing here, the 46.5 to 48 inches.
It comes in at 48 inches of length, 3.75 inches in width and 0.75 inches of thickness. And it weighs in just at 2.8 pounds. This makes it the most compact light unit on our list.
The titular feature of 24/7 gives you this hands-free lighting control over your tank. The lights themselves go from reddish sunrise to bright in the day to bluish kind of dusk.
The colors are customizable and it has memory slots that remember the settings you made.
The brightness of the lights is also adjustable which gives you the ability to increase or decrease the brightness according to your bioload.
- The lights are quiet bright and are highly customisable in many ways.
- The fixture itself has a splash guard so it can sit directly over a tank with no canopy.
- You don’t have to keep adjusting and checking the light settings as they have memory slots that change the intensity and colour and brightness of the light according to the tank.
- The remote control is reported to be unresponsive at times.
- The wires for the light come out on both sides and that presents a bit of trouble in keeping them neat and tucked away.
Koval Aquarium Lighting Fish Tank Light
Coming at the dimensions of 24 inches length, 5 inches of width, and almost 2 inches of thickness, the Koval Aquarium Lights are one of the highest-rated lighting units in the market.
They come in various sizes from 24 inches to 30 inches, 36 inches to 43 inches and 44 inches to 50 inches. The one we are talking about here is the smallest 24 inches to 30 inches sized one.
It has 78 bright LEDs extending over its board with 5 colors available. All of them provide full-spectrum bulbs that provide all the necessary wavelengths required for the plants. It has 6 pieces of blue, 4 pieces of pink, 4 pieces of red, 2 pieces of green, and 62 pieces of white bulbs.
The wonderful thing is these are individually connected and if one stops working, it can be individually replaced without affecting the others.
The extendable bracket makes it suitable for aquariums of various sizes.
All the 78 LED lights are 0.5 Watts in power individually. So that means it consumes 36 watts of power. It is highly power efficient and saves you a lot of extra electricity bill.
And like most products featured on our list, it is quite durable as it is made of aluminum shell instead of plastic. The bulbs also come with a run time of 50,000 hours.
- It is a great option for saltwater aquariums.
- The panel consists of 78 light bulbs with 5 different colors providing light of all wavelengths.
- It also has 2 lighting options.
- Many users report that the durability and efficiency of these pieces is questionable.
Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium Led Light
Second Current USA product in our list and rightfully so.
It has a wide range of sizes from 18 to 24 inches, 24 to 36 inches, the one we are talking about here; 36 to 48 inches and the largest one 48 to 60 inches.
The dimensions run 34.8 inches in length, 3.5 inches in width, and a mere 0.4 inches in thickness. This also is merely 2.85 pounds in weight making it one of the lightest and compact products in the list.
It comes with LOOP control for both lights and pumps that can be hands-free controlled by the wireless infrared remote which is one of the first things that stands out in this product.
Just like the other Current USA product featured the Marine LED also is waterproof meeting the IP 65 standards.
It contains a lighting panel that features 33 dual daylight LEDs, 39 dual antinic LEDs, and 10 normal LEDs that provide full-spectrum to meet any kind of demands.
It also features the 24-hour lighting cycle along with 24-hour pump control. This lets you program the daily light schedule and also lets you create waves and control the water flow all at once.
Since it is one of the few panels that have a thickness of less than one inch, it stands out with its sleek and thin construction and also makes it very easy to install.
The light modes let you play with effects like clouds over the water or even storm and lightning.
Along with the Orbit Marine Kit, you will receive a wireless remote control, the power supply, one loop light, 1LED light hub, two adjustable docking mounts, 1 wave pump controller, and an operating manual.
- It provides you with a 24-hour prefixed lighting cycle and you don’t have to keep looking over the tank in order to see what setting you need to change.
- The user manual is highly comprehensive and makes it easy for you to use the lights.
- It also comes with adjustable mounting brackets
- The lights are not as bright as you would want them to be.
- It doesn’t provide full-spectrum lights as it has only white and blue bulbs.
What is an LED light? How is it any different from other lights?
LED refers to Light Emitting Diode. While traditional light bulbs produce light energy with the help of current passing through some metal strip or wire, LED bulbs to use diodes. The current converts the electrons into electricity in the diode. This allows the LEDs to be more energy-efficient, lasts longer than other lights, and also produces more natural eye-soothing light.
How much LED light is required for an aquarium?
Well. What a weird question. The question should be how much energy per time do I need for my aquarium. That depends upon the fish and the plants you have in your tank.
If you have easy plants the range is between 0.25 to 0.5 Watts per litre.
If you have plants that have higher photosynthetic requirements, you will need more than 1 Watts of light energy per liter.
Will my plants grow under LED lights?
The growth of your plants inside your aquarium does not really depend upon what kind of bulb you’re using in your tank. The growth of your plant depends upon whether it is provided with adequate light or not and whether it gets wavelengths from different spectra of visible light or not.
This means that your plant requires red light, blue light, white light which have different wavelengths, for photosynthesis. The absence of one of the presence of only one decreases the rate of photosynthesis in your plants and hence affects their growth. LEDs are lights that produce electricity through the diode.
Hence, your answer would be that yes, aquarium plants grow under LED light, provided that you choose the correct LEDs. There are many LED lights listed in our list above that produce full-spectrum lights and help grow the plants to their full potential.
Should I turn my aquarium lights off or should I keep them on always?
The answer to this may be a bit complicated. The whole idea of having lighting your aquarium is to mimic the natural light and dark conditions that are present in the wild. In the wild, the sun rises in the morning and sets at the night and this continuous cycle of lightness and darkness results in various physiological processes. Sleep and wake up pattern, feeding pattern, behavioural pattern are dictated by light periods. Hence, the presence of darkness that is night time is as important as the presence of brightness. Hence, if you have simple basic lighting in your aquarium then you must turn them off for at least 8 hours in a day. The timing of turning off the lights may depend upon the amount of plant you have in your tank.
However, many of the lighting units featured in a list have a pre-timed and automated night light system. This system produces cool blue hue after moonlight replicating the night time. If you have such advanced and sophisticated lighting systems you may not need to turn off your light.
Hence we can conclude that among all the lighting options present in the market, LED lights to provide the best in terms of quality of light, the best efficiency, and are also one of the longest-lasting bulbs.
There are many factors you should consider before going into the market and buying a lighting panel, which we have covered in this article. And we have also provided you with a list of options so that you can select the one that is best suited for you. As per our opinion and experience, we would not shy away from suggesting anybody the NICREW Classic LED Aquarium Light with Extendable Brackets as the best available option for a moderate budget.