Are you looking for the best led aquarium lighting?

have you just bought new aquarium? Do you want to set up your aquarium with amazing colors and perfect shimmer effects? Are you are having a difficult time searching for the best LED aquarium lighting? In this article, we will be your guide in your search for the best led aquarium lighting.

All aquarium plants require light for their proper growth. Lighting used can directly affect the quality of the aquatic life. Proper light helps the plants absorb the carbon dioxide released by the fish while breathing. But choosing the right light for your aquarium can be a little tricky. Too much light is likely to cause algae in your aquarium whereas, too little light will cause the plants to suffer. Let’s take a look at some key things to consider before installing new LED lights in your aquarium.


Why Is Lighting Used in Aquariums?

Fish are supposed to live in large bodies of water. And their natural habitat is so vast and complex that it cannot be imitated in man-made aquariums. So, man tries to mimic the natural habitat to best of his abilities.
The rising and setting of the sun is a natural phenomenon and the biggest natural source of light. Light in turn is responsible for life on this planet. Without light nothing could exist. Fish and plants also need light for their growth. So, the basic idea of using the best led aquarium lighting is an essential alternative to provide a basic day and night cycle for fish and other aquatic life.

LED Lighting for Different Kinds of Aquariums

large fishtank for best led aquarium lights

There are different kinds of Aquariums available in the market. Let us go through them one by one:

Fish-Only Aquarium LED lighting:

Fish-Only Aquariums are easy. They require not more than 1 or 2 watts per gallon to mimic a day-night life cycle. You can use the spectrum of bulb for this purpose as well. Beware of the standard hardware bulb, as they can cause the growth of brown algae.

 Tank size: Single channelSize: 12-18"Size: 20-26Size: 28-36"Size: 48-54"


Fresh-Water/Salt-water Planted Aquarium LED lighting:

the majority of fresh-water plants available in the market come from rivers of South and Central America. Despite the murky waters, these plants experience full spectrum light. Depending on the species you buy and the depth of the tank, usually a standard lighting system of 2 to 5 watts per gallon would be required.

Size: 11-19"Size: 19-28"Size: 28-36"Size 37-45"


Marine Reef Aquarium LED lighting:


Many invertebrates and corals require a major portion of light to fulfill their nutrition needs. But the amount needed for each coral varies dramatically. Some corals are present in the depths from 20 to 65 feet. These corals receive intense light whereas, some corals who have adapted to low-light conditions and are present deep down the water surface, sometimes deeper than 65 feet need very little light.
So, a reef Aquarium, which is almost two feet deep, uses a 4 to 8 watts per gallon lighting system.

Size 18-24"24-36"36-48"48-60"

Coldwater/Tropical Freshwater Aquarium:

If you have setup a cold-water or tropical fresh-water aquarium, then little or even no light is acceptable. This condition is true only if you have placed your aquarium in a place where there is enough natural light. If this is the case, then the built-in lighting system of your aquarium should be enough.

What Are LED’s?

LED stands for “light emitting diode”. LED lights have come a long way from where they were 10 to 20 years ago. Advances in LED technology have not only brought prices down but have also made them specialized for for a variety of different applications. specially adapted LED lights are now both affordable and effective to use in aquariums. this is why it is now possible to produce the best led aquarium lighting for every kind of tank you can imagine, both in depth and size.
LED uses a thoroughly different mechanism for light generation. The science behind LED light generation is that when energized or exited subatomic particles make their way through a semiconductor, light is emitted. This whole process of light generation is called electroluminescence. So, this energy efficient way of producing light makes LEDs the best choice for your aquarium lighting.

Things to Consider Before Installing LED Lights:

Using LED lighting has many benefits over the other types of lighting used in aquariums. They not only save energy but also give your aquarium a new colorful view with amazing shimmering effects. But there is no one LED lighting system that will fit every need. You need to consider some things before you decide which LED lighting suits best for you.

Tank Size:

80gal freshwater aquarium

Tank size plays an important role in determining the kind of lighting used for your aquarium. First things firsts, the size will affect the range of your LED light. For example, if your tank is big then smaller lights will not reach the deeper plants. Also, tank size directly affects watts per gallon. A bigger tank will have lesser watts per gallon and vice versa. So, before installing any new LED lights or plants, always consider your tank’s size first.

Plant Types:

Deciding which water plants to put in your aquarium is essential. The plants you decide to place in the aquarium must be compatible with the other life you include. Make sure the plants and other aquatic life gets along well in your aquarium.

Amount Of Lumens You Want:

Amount of lumen depends on the kind of plants in your aquarium. If your choice is of “Easy” plants, then 10-20 lumens per liter is sufficient. If you have “Medium” plants then, you would require somewhere between 20 to 40 lumens per liter. And if you have chosen “Advanced plants”, then you would need more than 40 lumens per liter. So, decide according to your tank size and the kind of plants you want to keep in the aquarium.


PAR stands for Photosynthetically Active Radiation. It basically tells you what range of light plants require to make food by absorbing CO2 and water. PAR values differ at different depths and distances from the LED light source. PAR also represent various spectrums. However, not all of the manufacturers list the PAR measurements due to relative complexity of expressing PAR levels. Also, there is a lack of standardization. If they do sate the PAR then make sure you are getting the right light strength for your plants and tank size.

Is LED Lighting Good for Aquarium Plants?

The answer to this question really depends on the type of plants you have in your aquarium. Plants do need light to grow properly. But deciding the best LED aquarium lighting can be a very tricky task. Using a light whose intensity is weak for a certain plant might cause that plant to die. On the contrary over lighting is also dangerous for your plants. Plants can only take a certain amount of light energy. Over lighting can promote the growth of algae on your plants or in the worst case can cause your plants to die.

Are LED Lights Good for Fish?

Light is necessary to maintain a natural equilibrium in an aquarium. Fish need light to grow properly. So, it is essential that the quality and quantity requirements of the light should be fulfilled properly.
Natural sunlight light can be inefficient to fulfill the light needs of the fish in an aquarium. Obviously, because aquariums are present in rooms, where there is no direct sunlight. So, it is necessary to use an artificial source to fulfill the needs. And LED fulfills these needs quite effectively. So, in short LED light are good for fish.


What Is the Best Light for Aquarium Plants?

There are a lot of aquarium lightings available in the market. Some of them are described below. You can go through different features that these lightings offer and decide for yourself which suits.

  • Incandescent
  • Standard Fluorescent
  • T-5 HO Fluorescent
  • VHO Fluorescent
  • Compact Fluorescent
  • Metal Halide
  • LED


Incandescent bulbs can consume from 7 to 25 watts of electricity. They fall far behind LED as far as the life span is concerned. Their Kelvin rating varies with the color of the bulb. They are available on the market in multiple colors. These bulbs are used in such aquariums where there are only small fish, as incandescent bulbs have very narrow spectrum.

Standard Fluorescent:

Standard Fluorescent Bulbs have a life span of 6 to 8 months. They consume 15 to 40 watts of power. These bulbs come in wide range of colors and are very efficient. Their Kelvin range is 3,000° to 20,000. These bulbs are not compatible with photosynthetic plants.

T-5 HO Fluorescent:

T-5 HO Fluorescent consume between 24-54 watts of electricity. Their bulb life varies between 16-24 months. Its Kelvin Rating ranges from 6,000-11,000 K. It has many benefits such as longevity, high intensity and small size. It has some limitations as well i.e. it is not suitable for aquariums which are more than 24 inches deep.

VHO Fluorescent:

Its energy consumption is between 75 to 165 watts. Its life span is of 4-18 months. Kelvin range is around 10,000 K. It has a larger selection of bulb sizes. It also has a larger life span than standard flourescent. One of its drawbacks is that chiller may be required due to high heat.

Compact Fluorescent:

They can consume 10-130 watts. Their life span varies between 12-28 months. Kelvin Rating for them is 5,000°- 10,000°K. Advantages include having longevity, high intensity and wide spectrum range. They can be used for Reefs less than 24″ deep and marine aquariums

Metal Halide:

They can consume 70-1000 watts of electricity. Their life span can be anywhere between 12-28 months. Kelvin Rating for them is 4,000°- 20,000°K. They have high intensity and wide spectrum range. They can be used for Reefs or freshwater aquariums more than 24″ deep.


LED lighting:

They can consume 0.05-5 watts. Their life span is up to 50,000 hours. Kelvin Rating varies with LED array. They produce more light using less energy. LED lights have a versatile use. It can be used as an accent light, supplemental light or the primary source light for freshwater and marine aquariums.
LED lights for aquarium are much safer than the conventional fluorescent lights or metal halide lights. You don’t have to worry about the release of noxious gases or filaments that can come from a broken conventional tube light

The following is a chart compares LED lights with other light technologies:

Life Expectancy50,000 hours8,000 hours1,200 hours
Cost for 50,000 hours73 $140 $723 $
Low temperature affectNoneYesHigh
Affect by humidityNoneYesSome
Instant OnYes NoYes
Wattage for 450 lumens59-1340
Heat OutputLowLowHigh

Do You Leave the Light on In A Fish Tank at Night?

Remember you are keeping the fish as a pet. You are in a way taking their independence away by bringing them out of their natural habitat. So, you should try your best to mimic the conditions that nature usually offers to these beautiful creatures.
Coming back to the question, most fish need both light and times of darkness. As, you may already know, most of the fish species do not have eyelids. So, they require their fair share of darkness to rest. Turning off lights at night could help them rest and feel like they are in their natural habitat. Remember, in the end we are doing all of this to make our aquatic environment as natural as possible.

How Long should your best led aquarium lighting be on for?

For the most part, this question can be answered by you as it depends on multiple factors. If you are planning to keep the aquarium in a room with ambient light, then there is even a chance of not using any additional lights at all. But that is not the always the case as the ceiling light or sunlight coming through windows usually fail to provide enough light. So, to cope up with this, you need to run your aquarium lights for a few hours a day. This is for a room with plenty of light. For, rooms where the lights are dull and gloomy, you would need to run the lights for 8-12 hours.
In winters, when the days are shorter and you do not get enough daylight, it is good to leave the lighting on for longer.

For example: How many hours of light do guppies need?

Guppies like any other fish require light for a healthy growth. Light helps guppies grow faster. But more than 12 to 17 hours of light can have a negative effect on their growth as they need at least 7 to 8 hours of well needed shut eye i.e. darkness. So, if you are a guppy owner then you should plan to provide them a good 7 to 8 hours of relaxation time.


Do LED aquarium lights cause algae?

Algae are autotrophic. I hear you asking,” What in the world is autotrophic?”. Well, simply put, organisms which need light to grow and function properly are called autotrophic. So, water, light and enough nutrients are ideal conditions for algae’s growth. Leaving the aquarium lights turned on for more than eight hours a day, can act as a catalyst in algae growth.


Pros and Cons of Using LED lights.


Using LED lighting for aquarium has many advantages. Here are some benefits of using LED lights:

  • Low Power Consumption
  • Less Heat
  • Long Lasting
  • Variety of Colors
  • Controlled light intensity

Low Power Consumption:

LED lights consume a lot less energy as compared to the traditional lights.the best led aquarium lighting is more likely to consume 80 percent less energy as compared to other foms of aquarium lighting. So, equipping your aquarium with the best led aquarium lighting is going to save a fairly good amount of money.

Less Heat:

LED’s also do not release as much heat as other florescent lights, which is sometimes dangerous for your aquatic life. So, less heat emissions give LEDs a great advantage over other kind of lightings.

Long Lasting:

One of the most amazing qualities of best led aquarium lighting has to be their long-life span. LED light can last up to 6 years more than standard incandescent bulbs, nine to eighteen months as compared to florescent bulbs and up to 26 months as compared to the compact florescent bulbs. Once installed, you should not have to worry about changing them in a long time. So, investing in an the best led aquarium lighting is a win-win situation.

Variety of Colors:

There is a wide range of colors available in the market which can emblazon your aquarium. The best led aquarium lighting is categorized on the basis of spectrum which is often in Kalvin or system of K. For instance, an 8K white spectrum LED helps in the photosynthesis process of your plants. It also enhances the colors of wildlife in your aquarium. 12K white spectrum LED light can be perfect for supporting your plants. There are even options to adjust the colors of your LED according to your desired needs. Isn’t it just great?

Controlled Light Intensity:

You can program your best led aquarium lighting to be dimmed at sunset and brighten at sunrise. Moon light for the nocturnal fishes can also be replicated. You can even replicate the lunar cycle. Some LED lights are even smart enough to determine the temperature and the stage of plant growth themselves and select the perfect colors accordingly.



In the beginning there were many disadvantages to buying LED for your aquarium . But as the technology has improved the negatives have come down to only a couple.

  • Initial Cost
  • Tricky Lightening Matrix

Initial Cost:

LED lights can cost more than standard fluorescent lights. However, they make up for it by consuming less energy and by saving on frequent replacement costs.

Tricky Lightening Matrix:

Watts per gallon, PAR, height of light from the tank, light spectrum, all these things can by a little tricky to understand.


The Do’s and Don’ts with best led aquarium lighting:


Not every LED light will be a perfect match for your aquarium. Consider everything before buying the best LED aquarium lighting. Make sure the LED you are going to buy is compatible with your aquatic life.

  • There are a big variety of LED color combinations and spectrums available on the market. Explore them, don’t just get stuck on a couple of them.
  • Be bold and try growing your corals under your LED lights. Start experimenting.
  • Although LED lights don’t emit much heat they need some kind of air flow as they can emit some small amount of heat which over time could decrease the life span of the LED chip. Don’t forget to provide necessary air circulation.


Do not place the LED light inside the water. Although LEDs are water resistant this doesn’t mean that you submerge them in water. Keeping the LED light inside water will damage its circuit board and could cause damage to other hardware.

  • Never install a LED light without research. The wrong light can cause your plants or wildlife to die.
  • Over lighting your aquarium is certainly not a bright idea. Over lighting promotes Algae growth or in worst case can cause you plants to die.
  • Keep your LED light away from other source of lighting as their heat would cause damage to the LED and would decrease its life span.


Well, it turns out that choosing the best led aquarium lighting requires a lot of consideration. You have to keep in mind that the lighting you choose is well balanced to suit your aquatic community. If you have decided to keep an aquatic community, then it becomes your responsibility to keep that community happy. So, choose wisely.
We hope this article on the best led aquarium lighting has helped answer all your questions and has aided you in making the right choice.


Please follow and like us: