LED (light-emitting diodes) lights are among the most underrated components in aquariums and fish tanks. Most people (and even some aquarists) think these lights exist for aesthetic purposes only. But the truth is far from that. Choosing the right LED light for your planted aquarium can impact the growth of the fish and the aquatic plants you have put inside the planted tank.
There are also some instances where fish and plants are heavily affected by the ambient temperature in the freshwater tank. So, you will also have to choose an LED light that can either balance or sustain the overall temperature in a fish tank.
For a beginner, though, all these could be a little too much to deal with.
As you can see, you can choose between an impressive variety of aquarium LED lights. You might have a few options even when we filter products based on the temperature or range of full-spectrum LED coverage. Similarly, you can focus on the length and lifespan of the LEDs. Suppose you are growing more aquatic plants in the aquarium or trying to build a reef aquarium. In that case, you need to focus on some other aspects like the Photosynthetic Active Radiation light spectrum (wavelengths) chart and the Photosynthetic Usable Radiation spectrum. Both these metrics determine how well plants can live in the aquarium.
Last but not least, you have to check if the LED light has good options for beam control and lighting. You can easily choose an LED light package with multiple lighting modes and customizable control. These are a bit too much to consider while choosing an LED light.
We thought we could help you out by narrowing down the options. This article lists five of the best LED aquarium lighting that you can find on the market. It can easily lead you to the best option. You can purchase most of these online through Amazon, which is why we provided links to every product we reviewed.
#1 Winner: NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light
- Power Source: Corded Electric
- Material: Plastic
- Shade Material: Glass, Metal Acrylic
- Lumens: 760
- LEDs: 60 White + 12 Blue
The NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light is hands down one of the best LED lights for aquariums out there. If you have an aquarium tank size between 18” to 24”, you can use this LED panel without issues.
People love this product for its simplicity and high-quality lighting options. Of course, you can select one of the convenient different sizes for the tank. The most prevalent version does not cost too much, either, which is a good thing for aquarium enthusiasts on a strict budget.
- The NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light package comes with a total of 72 LEDs. There are 60 white LEDs and 12 Blue LEDs. Because you can control both types individually, it is easy to create a suitable lighting mode in the aquarium.
- Despite being compact, the LED light allows you to choose between six light intensity levels. Depending on the level of exposure your aquarium has, you can press the W and B buttons on the dimmer to adjust the overall brightness. You can also connect several attachments to the LED light. For instance, the NICREW single-channel timer will help you automate the brightness-changing process.
- As you can see, the LEDs in the package are incredibly bright and energy-efficient. Since they use low-voltage systems, you do not have to worry about security either. The diodes can produce up to 760 lumens of bright light during peak performance. The recommended lighting time of 8 to 10 hours is a nice figure to start with.
- We believe the NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light deserves attention in terms of compatibility. We already said that you could connect the setup to an aquarium sized between 18” and 24”. Furthermore, you can use the adjustable mounting legs to adjust the installation size. For instance, you can add an extra LED light fixture or make changes to the existing system.
- Once set up, using the LED light setup does not require any expertise. The control panel is simple, and it consists of only three buttons. It is so simple that you cannot get confused about which button to press for which feature. As long as you have moderate requirements about the LED lighting for an aquarium, the control panel does an adequate job.
- While we applaud the simplicity of the setup, not all users say the same. For example, some believe that NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light could add additional customization options to the package. The pack offers only three options, which are not enough. We could also appreciate the inclusion of a diverse set of LEDs.
- The durability of the product is also a significant concern for some customers. This aquarium light is not the most long-lasting product on the market. You might have to replace the unit once in a while, but this depends on the usage patterns. For instance, if you use the LED system for only a few hours a day, you can expect it to last longer. It all should fall under the warranty in any case, so keep your warranty card ready for such an occasion.
The NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light comes from one of the most popular manufacturers in the industry. Therefore, even if you think you miss some features, you can get an accessory for that.
For instance, there is a single-channel timer pro, which can set up the lighting settings according to the sunrise and sunset time in the area.
If you have an aquarium of the compatible size, the NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light is an option you can choose without a doubt. Even though it does not break your wallet, the product brings in the necessary set of features and performance. In particular, the 72 white and blue light LEDs do an exceptional job of lighting up your aquarium. However, we think you may miss some of the advanced features like a timer or multi-color LEDs.
#2 Runner-up: hygger 18W Lighting Aquarium LED Light
- Power Source: Power cord
- Material: Aluminum
- Shade Material: Aluminum, Metal
- Lumens: 1075
- LEDs: 96
If you think our winner pick is not powerful enough you should consider getting the hygger 18W Lighting Aquarium LED Light.
We felt our first pick was too balanced and wanted to add something more feature-rich and customizable. You have to pay a little more here, but its features justify the extra price. It is also significant that the hygger 18W Lighting Aquarium LED Light brings so many automation and customization features. They are so helpful to newcomers.
- Unlike the first pick, the hygger 18W Lighting Aquarium LED Light consists of different LED colors. We are talking about white, red, blue, green, purple, orange, and cyan. You have enough light options here to orchestrate all these LEDs to attain the best lighting condition in the aquarium & achieve full-spectrum lighting. It means you can choose between various high-quality light modes as well.
- The device comes with a few modes pre-set into it, with which you can achieve a full light cycle. For instance, the Default Mode will keep a gradient light from 6 am to 8 pm, white light from 8 am to 6 pm, and blue moonlight from 6 pm to 10:30 pm. After this point, the light will turn off for the rest of the night. This mode is excellent if you are concerned about bringing a stable and standardized lighting system into the tank.
- As we said earlier, you can also use the DIY mode if you want. Here, you will have to set the color, color combinations, time, and brightness of the LED system. You can conveniently choose between timing different time slots, including 6 hours, 10 hours, or 12 hours. Similarly, you can select any of the colors that we talked about. And yes, this product is dimmable, which means you won’t have to suffer LEDs that blare through your aquarium.
- We must also mention the high light quality these LEDs produce. The spectrum has been optimized to stay similar to the full natural light spectrum. These long-span LEDs will provide light that does not cause discomfort to freshwater fish. Therefore, if you have some fish types more sensitive to light, the hygger 18W Lighting Aquarium LED Light will be a great choice.
- Finally, the hygger 18W Lighting Aquarium LED Light comes with an effective light controller. Even if you have zero prior experience, you can manage every aspect of the LED light using the controller. It is also significant that you can find much use of the extendable bracket. As we mentioned in the specs, it can produce light of up to 1075 lumens collectively.
- Some customers have reported that the hygger 18W Lighting Aquarium LED Light has some problem functioning 24/7. While the timers work fine, there are some glitches in the system for the most part. It would be great to fix those problems for smoother automated management of lighting and brightness.
- There are also the occasional cases of non-standard durability. Even though the manufacturer does not promise the durability aspect, we expect something better from an LED light made of Aluminum housing. We would be surprised if we find the build quality up to the mark, though, as we are spending something extra here.
Compared to other LED lights that we have covered, the hygger 18W Lighting Aquarium LED Light is excellent for sunrise-daylight-moonlight simulation. The colors are as accurate as possible (almost to the Kelvin specified), and the aquarium looks so well from every angle. The company offers sufficient support/documentation to set up and manage the system.
Even with some minor inconveniences, the hygger 18W Lighting Aquarium LED Light is an excellent LED aquarium light for most people. The package contains more LEDs that belong to different categories. So, it becomes easy to simulate real-life lighting scenarios in the aquarium.
Altogether, we have more reasons to love this 98-piece LED system than to not recommend it. Therefore, we suggest looking at this product if you are looking for advanced lighting control features.
#3 Alternative: MingDak LED Aquarium Plant Light
- Power Source: Corded Electric
- Material: Metal
- Shade Material: Aluminum, Metal
- Lumens: 700
- LEDs: 42
Are you looking for the best LED aquarium light for freshwater aquarium plants? In that case, we think the MingDak LED Aquarium Plant Light is a superb alternative. You can also use it for saltwater aquariums (also called marine aquariums), but saltwater plant life is to be taken care of differently.
You can count on the product to set up a bright-enough aquarium and provide the light fixture necessary for growing the plants and enhancing photosynthesis. This device brings together some features that we have seen in multiple products.
- Compared to the other LED systems you can get for the same price, MingDak’s product is very bright. You can easily simulate daylight mode and nightlight mode using the white and blue LEDs in the package. Similarly, the extendable brackets make it easy for you to set up the system, even if you have an old aquarium.
- As we saw in the runner-up pick, this LED light system comes with a nifty controller. This single controller can help you choose between multiple lighting modes and manually adjust the brightness and timers. In short, the controller makes it easy to manage how effective the lighting system is. We were happy to find a fully-fledged controller on an affordable product like this.
- The construction quality of this MingDak aquarium light deserves attention. This product can last longer than the typical aquarium lights you can find. Even when you connect it to an extension or another LED bar, you do not have to worry about the product breaking or anything. Instead, you can enjoy the 700 lumens light from the system.
- Some reviews notice that the internal timer of this MingDak aquarium light is not exactly the best choice. There are discrepancies when you set up the timer. As you can guess, this could be a problem in the long run. However, the timer does not break or stop working. So, you can rely on it for regular usage.
The MingDak LED Aquarium Plant Light does not come with any noteworthy extra features.
If you need a budget-friendly LED light for an aquarium with better control, the MingDak LED Aquarium Plant Light is an excellent choice. Even though you are paying a low amount, the product delivers many features and standard performance. We also found it easy to set up the entire system and manage the modes.
In the end, this product would not let you down.
#4 Alternative: Koval Aquarium Lighting
- Power Source: Corded Electric
- Material: Metal
- Shade Material: Aluminum, Plastic
- Lumens: 700
- LEDs: 78
It would help if you considered getting the Koval Aquarium Lighting system to look for premium build quality and features. Even though it does not have all the fancy features you see with other products, it does an excellent job of lighting up your aquarium. As it emits a full-color spectrum of light, your fish and plants would find the right amount of light.
- The Koval Aquarium Lighting system comes with 78 LED bulbs of different colors. Even if you do not want all the LEDs to light up, you can enable one of the modes. The company warrants a total running time of 50,000 hours as well. While these controls remain optional, the lights become bright.
- We also have to praise the construction quality of the product. The manufacturer has done an excellent job of aligning everything for the proper use. Therefore, regardless of how you use the LED light, the build quality will stay satisfactory. The sleek construction with reduced moving parts is also a good factor when we look from this perspective.
- The premium design philosophy seems to extend the life expectancy of the product. For instance, it will keep working even if a single LED stops functioning. We believe it is an excellent feature for a product you would use for a couple of years. If you do not want all these hassles, you can always go for one of three lighting modes.
- As you can see, the Koval Aquarium Lighting does not offer many customization options. You will not be able to choose between multiple modes or anything. We also noticed the lack of a proper control module. This ultra-simple method could be a problem if you come from a fully-fledged LED light system for aquariums.
We could not find many noteworthy additional features in the Koval Aquarium Lighting package.
We cannot recommend the Koval Aquarium Lighting to everyone for obvious reasons. While it remains one of the best systems out there, you do not get many customization options. It could be a problem if you have a different lighting strategy for the aquarium. On the bright side, though, the system can last for a more extended period, thanks to the durable construction.
#5 Alternative: Current USA Orbit Marine LED Aquarium Light
- Power Source: Corded Electric
- Material: Down
- Shade Material: Aluminum
- Lumens: 700
- LEDs: 82
The Current USA Orbit Marine LED Aquarium Light is one of the best programmable lights you can find. Of course, you have to pay a lot more for the product. However, you get many features that you cannot find on regular LED systems. The device also offers ample potential for customization, which is always a good option to have.
- The Current USA Orbit Marine LED Aquarium Light comes with 82 LEDs. Some of these are Dual Daylight LEDs and Dual Actinic LEDs, while others are RGB LEDs. When combined, these LEDs create one of the best living environments for the fish and plants in your tank. It’s a great way to boost aquatic plant growth.
- The wireless remote control is one of the best features of this package. Using a detailed controller module, you can control the power (from a faint shimmer to a blaring devil expeller), temperature, and other timer-based settings of the LED system. You may need a few minutes to get used to the remote control, though. Once you have done that, you can customize the LED lighting environment from scratch.
- Unlike other models, the Current USA Orbit Marine LED Aquarium Light does an impressive job of enabling a 24*7 schedule. You can even connect the system to a wave pump and automate how the system functions throughout the day. The manufacturer has also added some added features like the feed mode and the sunrise/sunset scheduler.
- The Current USA Orbit Marine LED Aquarium Light package is close to perfection. However, you indeed have to spend a considerable amount to get the system. It may not be the most cost-effective option for beginners out there. Also, you would not want any of these features if you do not have a reef tank.
The Current USA Orbit Marine LED Aquarium Light comes with several different modes, like the Feeding mode. When coupled with the wave pump system, this feature can enable comprehensive control of the LED lighting system.
You do not have to think twice before getting the Current USA Orbit Marine LED Aquarium Light if you are looking for maximum customization. The package also brings some of the most powerful LED collections you can get for the price, with very strong light output. However, attaining these features means you would have to pay a considerably high amount to the maker.
LED Aquarium Light FAQ
Is LED light good for fish tanks?
Yes, LED lights are beneficial to fish tanks and fish keeping in general. The light emitted from these systems will help the fish and aquatic plants grow. If you placed the fish tank somewhere without direct sunlight, you may want to get an LED fish tank light system.
Do LED lights cause more algae in an aquarium?
Not all LED lights do that. However, depending on the type of light they emit, some LED systems may cause more algae growth. You can prevent this situation by paying attention to the user manual when you get the product.
Will LED light harm fish?
Modern LED light systems do not harm fish, especially compared to the non-LED lighting solutions that we used to see (e.g. fluorescent lights). However, it is essential to ensure that the LED light emits the right spectrum of light. Specific parts of the range could be harmful to some species of fish. In general, LEDs provide a great light source for your freshwater fish & plant life (even for some low-light plants, if you can dim them enough with a dimmer).
Can fish sleep with a red light on?
Yes, fish would not have trouble sleeping with the red light at night. Because fish does not distinguish the colors as humans do, the red LEDs would not bother them in sleep. So, you can use the red light without a doubt.
We believe you understood that submersible and water-resistant LED aquarium lights are not just about the fancy colors you see in the tank.
They can improve the growth rate of fish and aquatic plants when used correctly in many types of aquariums. This applies even for low and medium-light plants, for example. A controller module can do more magic than you can expect.
Just make sure you protect them well enough against power surges and fluctuations (e.g. from a thunderstorm or a short circuit) or pick a product that has built-in protection. Aquarium LEDs with such protection are typically more expensive, but you get to keep them working longer.
We hope our refined list leads you to the perfect LED light for your needs.