Why might you prefer LED lights for your aquarium? Although they may have a higher price at the time of purchase, they last longer than fluorescent lamps and cost less to run. Plus, they have other features that are attractive to aquarists.
For example, you can program LED lights to dim naturally at sunset. Or you can leave a blue light on all night as if it were the moon shining on the water. And since LED lights come in a variety of colors, you can choose the ones that best highlight your fish and tank. You can even run LED lights in reef tanks and freshwater aquariums with plants to encourage growth.
Top LED Aquarium Lights
Now let’s take a look at the best aquarium lighting to see what suits your fish tank.
#1 Marineland LED Aquarium Light, 11-Inch, for Aquariums up to 30 Inches
Marineland doesn’t just make tank kits and filters; they also sell LED aquarium lights. This 11-inch-long strip is a simple option for small tanks, but it’s quite bright. In fact, it mimics daylight, complete with shimmers on the water. Then it serves as a nightlight, too. And it comes with a 1-year warranty.
#2 Aqueon Multi-Color Flexible LED Bubble Wand Aquarium Light
Aqueon combines a flexible bubble wand with multi-colored LED lights so you can make a decorative curtain in your tank. The lamps automatically change color from red to blue to green, or you can purchase a white version, too.
If you have a medium-size tank, and you want white and blue lamps, try this strip light from Marineland. It’s 21-inches long and can be mounted in various ways including inside a frame. But it’s not quite bright enough to grow plants in a tall tank if you place it on top. Otherwise, you can enjoy 6500K bright white light during the day, then switch to 460nm blue at night.
#4 Aqueon Day White Modular LED Aquarium Lamp
If you’re only interested in white LED lighting, try the Aqueon modular lamp. It’s available in a variety of sizes and straightforward to install on an aquarium. The color is day white, or approximately 5500-6000 Kelvin. And as Aqueon points out, the color of the lamp doesn’t degrade over time, and LED lights use less than half the electricity that a T8 fluorescent bulb does.
#5 Marineland Energy Efficient LED Strip Light, Adjustable Mounting Legs
Marineland’s smart-looking LED Strip Light with adjustable mounting legs adjusts to fit aquariums from 18 to 24 inches long. You don’t need to house it inside a hood, either.
It contains two colors of LEDs for two different settings like a nightlight or daytime sunshine. Owners report that the lunar LED lamp pleasantly replicates moonlight on the water. And the manufacturer states that using their aquarium light saves money on electricity over comparable fluorescent lamps.
#6 Aqueon LED Aquarium Light Fixture
Aqueon also sells a two-color light fixture as Marineland does, only the Aqueon lamp is modular. It comes with one Day White LED, plus it has expansion slots so you can add two more LED lamps. Some owners have inserted red lights to enhance the colors of their fish.
The Aqueon light has adjustable mounting legs, and all the connections are resistant to moisture. It comes with a moon glow accent blue LED. You can control the lighting with a three-position switch.
#7 Marineland Double Bright LED Light
Marineland’s Double Bright LED Light comes with white and blue LEDs that should last up to 17,000 hours. That’s years longer than a traditional lamp endures.
The powerful one-watt white LEDs and 60mW blue LEDs create a shimmering effect the mimics the sun shining on the water. And they have durable polycarbonate lenses that protect them and focus the light.
The body of the aquarium lamp is thin and sleek, and it has adjustable mounting legs that fit a variety of tank sizes. On the side, you’ll find a three-position switch to change from blue moonlight to bright daylight or simply turn off the fixture.
LED lights for planted tanks
Aquarists who raise plants in their tanks can now find powerful grow lamps that help their Amazon Sword and Dwarf Sagittaria thrive.
#1 Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium LED, Controller
Finnex is one of the best-known brands for aquarium lights suited to tanks with plants. Their Planted+ Aquarium LED is available in several different sizes. And it comes with a remote control that lets you change settings, plus program and save custom color combinations and intensities.
Not only is it powerful enough for plant growth, but it can also simulate red fire sunrises and blue starry nights. The light is dimmable to replicate conditions like stormy weather or bright sunshine. And the blend of colors is perfect for medium to high light plants, including 7000K bright white, plus red, green, and blue.
Finally, the body of the aquarium lamp is built of rust-resistant aluminum with a splash guard. And it has adjustable legs and screws to secure it to rimless aquariums.
#2 Finnex Ray2 Aquarium LED Daylight
Finnex also makes the Ray2 LED daylight that features two strips with 7000K bright white lights for high light plants. It comes in different lengths, and can also be customized with 10,000K LEDs or blue 450-465nm lights, too.
The intensity of the white LEDs is comparable to the power of three T5 bulbs at one-tenth of the energy cost of incandescent lamps. The aluminum body is resistant to rust and allows heat to dissipate without warming the tank.
#3 Finnex Stingray Aquarium LED Light
The Finnex Stingray is best suited to aquariums with low light plants like ferns and mosses. It’s a thin strip with red 660nm, Actinic blue, and 7000K white LEDs for a total of 27 watts. That means it easily replace a T8 lamp. And not only does it support plant growth, but it also shows off your beautiful fish, too.
#4 COODIA Aquarium Hood Lighting Color-Changing Remote-Controlled Dimmable RGBW LED Light for Aquarium
COODIA’s Aquarium Hood Lighting unit comes with dimmable LED lights in red, blue, green, and white colors. Plus, it has a remote control that operates on 2.4G technology that lets you use it farther from the tank than an infrared remote.
The light has an extendable bracket to fit tanks between 19 and 28 inches long. Its profile is much thinner than a hood with fluorescent bulbs. And it’s suitable for showing off your fish and growing plants, too.
LED lights for reef tanks
Reef tanks and coral tanks need light, too. The next selections encourage plant and coral growth.
#1 MarsAqua Dimmable 300w LED Aquarium Light lighting Full Spectrum For Freshwater and Saltwater Fish Coral Tank
Mars makes LED grow lights for indoor growers, so it’s only natural that they ventured into aquarium lighting, too. Their 300W MarsAqua fish tank lamp is appropriate for reef and coral tanks, not just freshwater plants.
The selection of dimmable LEDs includes 450nm and 460nm blue lights, plus 12000K cool white, 7500K neutral white, 3500K warm white, 520nm green, and 660nm red. The LEDs are divided into two groups, with all blue on one, and blue mixed with the rest of the colors on the other side. And the two sides are independently dimmable and can be powered down individually.
MarsAqua suggests the following tip for best results: plan for 14 hours of bright light each day for plant growth. And they offer a 1-year warranty, too.
#2 VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control 165W LED Aquarium Light Dimmable Full Spectrum for Coral Reef Fish Tank
VIPARSPECTRA also manufactures indoor grow lamps, which makes them a smart choice for planted tanks, too. Their 165W aquarium lamp puts out full spectrum light in two channels to simulate sunshine for your coral reef. And it comes with a dimmable controller plus a timer.
If you don’t love the light, VIPARSPECTRA offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a 3-year warranty. But before you buy, they want you to know a few things. First, the light doesn’t have a shimmering effect. And second, there is no way to program sunrise, sunset, or moonlight settings, unlike the Finnex Planted+ lamp.
#3 Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light
Current USA’s Orbit Marine Aquarium Light is one of the most recommended for saltwater tanks. Its sleek aluminum housing is almost invisible on top of an aquarium when viewed from the side. And it comes with an infrared remote that includes the Ramp Timer Pro.
The Ramp Timer Pro lets you set up artificial sunrises and sunsets that last up to 30 minutes. You can adjust the intensity of the light, not just the timing. And you can run moonlight all night long, too.
The light colors include 8000K and 12000K white plus 445-460nm actinic blue in two channels that create a beautiful shimmer effect in the water. The LEDs showcase your fish and support coral reefs, too. And the 120-degree lenses spread the light uniformly across the tank for even coverage.
#4 Aquatic Life Halo Saltwater LED Aquarium Light Fixtures
Aquatic Life’s Halo Saltwater LED Fixtures are available for either fresh or saltwater marine life including plants, fish, and invertebrates. The mix of cool white, UV, blue, and royal blue colors support healthy growth. And you can program the built-in timer and dimmer according to your preference.
#5 Kessil A360WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light
Our final pick is the renowned Kessil A360WE LED Aquarium Light. Fans of this setup love the natural shimmer it creates in the water. And they enjoy the ability to tune the color and the intensity with two separate controls.
There are ports in the housing that allow you to connect external aquarium controllers. Or you can daisy-chain the Kessil lights by nominating the first in the series as the master. Finally, it’s also possible to set the light for maximum coverage or maximum penetration according to your needs.
Tips for growing aquatic plants
If you’ve decided to grow aquatic plants in your fish tank, we have a few tips to help you begin.
If you have no experience raising plants, start with ones that are easy to raise. For example, try Echinoderms, Anarchies, Anubis, or Lilaeopis. One popular choice is Dwarf Sagittaria that has long, curved green leaves. Or you might enjoy the Java Fern that provides hiding places for fish.
Mosses are also straightforward to grow in an aquarium. They clean the water, and some are edible for fish. Try Willow Moss or Water Wisteria that only need medium-intensity light. Be sure to match the LED light to the type of plants you want to grow.
Next, when you prepare to plant, you’ll need a substrate that is rich in nutrients. Put it underneath the gravel at the bottom of the tank. You might like ones like Seachem Fluorite. And in time, fish waste will also serve as a fertilizer.
In conclusion, let your newly planted tank stabilize for a week before you add fish to it.
LED aquarium lighting has advanced to the point that it not only enhances the attractiveness of your fish, it also supports plant and coral growth. We hope you found the best LED light for your fish tank among our reviews today.