5 Best Led Aquarium Lighting Systems 2020

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Fed up with the early day-glow fluorescent aquarium and lights? The freshwater led aquarium light are the right choice if you want to enhance the natural colors of freshwater tank fish. You’ll be able to see all the beautiful colors as well as subtle shades which make freshwater tropical fish real beauties.

As for the aquatic plants, they require full spectrum lighting to thrive in your aquarium. Without the natural light spectrum, which L.E.D lighting provides, your aquatic plants will lose their color over time, drop leaves and die.

In addition, a well-illuminated aquarium, even if it's a starter fish tank, creates the illusion of depth and highlights your aquascaping. If you grow live aquatic plants, you are probably aware of the fact that light quality is very important to sustain their growth. Corals, for example, depend on the proper spectrum of light and intensity of light in order to thrive in reef aquariums.

Recently brands have really gone above and beyond to make sure that the led aquarium light systems are state of the art with dynamic but safe features. Below we'll share the most up to date led aquarium light, which ones work well in different size tanks and which ones we feel is the perfect ratio for price and usage.

3 Best aquarium lighting options

4.5/5

  • Built-in programmable timer 
  • Great plant growth, especially the low-light and mid-light demanding species
  • A sleek and razor-thin fixture

4.3/5

  • Brings out natural colors in fish and plants
  • Encourages great growth in low light level plants
  • Built to last 40,000+ hours

4.2/5

  • Easy to program timer and lighting effects
  • Programmable sunrise and sunset functions
  • An internal battery back-up that saves timer settings in case of power failure

What to look for when shopping for LED lighting for freshwater aquarium

LED (short for Light Emitting Diode) aquarium lighting is designed for freshwater tank with marine reef aquariums. These types of lighting are freshwater LED fixtures and are brilliantly engineered to reproduce the spectrum of natural light. The led aquarium light system is the only way of producing a natural-looking white light (using white leds), often with the possibility to adjust the light according to your needs and preferences.

Here's What To Look For:

  • The Range Of Light
  • The Dimensions
  • LED features And Benefits

Best led aquarium lighting to date reviewed


4.5/5

The Beamswork DA 6500k LED is an excellent choice for all the aquarium enthusiasts a budget. This affordable planted aquarium light can sustain low to mid-level plants while beautifully complementing most aquariums.

The Beamswork DA 6500K is a great LED light for planted tanks and alll types of lighting. Although it’s not as powerful as some other LED lights, it’s an effective one for those of you who keep less demanding plant species.

This LED light fixture is affordable, reliable, and capable of supporting low to mid-level plants. However, it’s probably not the best option if you plan to keep ultra-demanding plants. For 90% of aquarium owners, this led aquarium light system is a great option and this goes especially for first timers looking to save a few bucks while getting some valuable experience along the way.

This fixture does include a built-in programmable timer, which is a huge and unexpected bonus, considering the fact that light timers usually come with for more expensive fixtures. The timer allows you to set a time for your lights to automatically turn on and off, essentially making this unit highly convenient for a novice aquarium enthusiast.

To sum up, this is a high-quality, energy efficient led aquarium fixture is a solid starter option if you want to replace the typical single or dual tube fluorescent lights. It features 6500K spectrum LEDs which are commonly used for planted freshwater tank setups.

The LEDs are fitted in a sleek and razor-thin fixture which will certainly make your aquarium a living-room centerpiece while the long-lasting LEDs require no bulb replacement.

Overall, one of the best aquarium L.E.D lighting available today to make your colorful fish tank even more beautiful!

Things We Liked

Things We Didn't Like

Energy efficient lights featuring 6500K spectrum

Comes at an affordable price

Available in five sizes

Built-in programmable timer

A sleek and razor-thin fixture

The bulbs may dim quite a lot over time








4.3/5

The FugeRay from Finnex features red and blue LEDs which will bring out the beautiful natural color of your fish and aquatic plants. It’s a great choice for those of you who want looking to spruce up your aquarium without breaking the bank.

The lighting modes are simple and very easy to use. The come fitted with multiple colours included, blue, red and white leds. (white and blue are the most natural colours)

The lack of red and blue bulbs in the previous models from Finnex sometimes caused colors to look a bit or dull while the new and improved FugeRay helps fish and plant colors “pop” and appear more vivid. This goes for the red tones, especially.

These LEDs provides plenty of light for low and medium level plants. To successfully grow heavy vegetation in a bigger tank, you’ll probably need additional lights. The FugeRay offers “true red” 660nm LEDs, however, which are claimed to be excellent for photosynthesis.

In terms of the design, Finnex FugeRay light is an elegant LED fixture. Finnex opted for the silver colored housing rather than the more common black housing. The housing is slim and will sit nicely on the top of your aquarium.

Another great feature is a moisture resistant PC Splash Guard which will protect the lights from accidental splashing. The durable high output LED bulbs are built to last more than 40,000 and the FugeRay boasts a LED spread of 120 degrees.

The FugeRay features a more evenly spaced LED alignment, which is ideal for refugium purposes as well as for medium light needy aquariums. 

In order to extend LED bulb longevity, the circuit boards in FugeRay are built with high-quality aluminum and the fixture itself acts as the heat sync. This ensures ample cooling and great heat dissipation.

There is also a flexible gooseneck to allow the appropriate amount of light according to your needs. The power cord included is 59 inches long. Overall, a solid LEDs at an affordable price!

However, since each aquarium has unique needs, you should make sure you’re picking the right light for your tank. So, if you’re growing a lot of high light plants and other planted aquariums this may not be the right lighting for you. Be sure to weigh up the pros and cons below for a reliable aquarium led lighting review.

Things We Liked

Things We Didn't Like

Brings out natural colors in fish and plants with lighting modes

Encourages great growth in low light level plants 

Built to last 40,000+ hours

The circuit boards are built with high quality aluminum

Elegant design with a flexible gooseneck

This fixture may get hot so keep an eye on water temperature









4.3/5

The Aquatic Life LED Aquarium Light Fixture is available in a freshwater and reef design. The five colors of 0.5 watt LEDs have a 120-degree dispersion which creates full-spectrum light throughout your aquarium.

This LED fixture is easy to program using the timer included. It comes with an internal battery back-up which saves all your timer settings in case of power failure.

The 36“ freshwater aquarium LED fixture contains (21) 6K White (white leds), (21) 9K White, (24) 10K White, (7) Blue, (11) Red, (3) Blue Lunar LEDs. The lunar LEDs are used at night to imitate moonlight in your aquarium. Now, how cool is that?

And that’s not all, the programmable sunrise and sunset functions allow for the LEDs to be easily programmed to slowly turn on or off in 10-minute increments over a two-hour period of time.

The Aquatic Life EDGE LED feature a simple 3-Channel timer makes programming the timer and customizing the light output quick and easy.

The sleek fixture design is only 0.5 inches wide and 4 inches high and you can choose between the three sizes:

24-Inch light fits aquarium frames between 23.5 Inches and 26.25 Inches

36-Inch light fits aquarium frames between 35.0 Inches and 38.25 Inches

48-Inch light fits aquarium frames between 47.0 Inches and 50.25 Inches

All three sizes were designed to give the absolute maximum light output possible while avoiding any heating of the aquatic environment. The adjustable width aquarium frame mounts with extendable brackets to safely support and position the fixture above any tank size.

The Aquatic Life LED Aquarium lighting modes is similar in size to the freshwater version in tank. The extendable brackets does give it an additional feature above and beyond it's competitors. The LED array is designed to show more blue lights, imitating the type of light that naturally penetrates the coral reef.

The ultra-slim design coupled with state of the art LED technology ensures that maximum light output is focused inside the aquarium, while five colors of 120-degree dispersion, 0.5W Watt LED’s ensure a full-spectrum of light needed for your fish and planted aquariums. Overall this is a great addition feature with the extendable brackets that most other brands only include at a premium.

Things We Liked

Things We Didn't Like

Easy to program timer and lighting effects

Programmable sunrise and sunset functions 

An internal battery back-up that saves timer settings in case of power failure

A dense array of LEDs for even lighting in your aquarium 

The adjustable width aquarium frame

If your main aquatic inhabitants are corals, you may need stronger lights








4.1/5

The Current USA Satellite Plus Pro Led Light is a favorite choice of LED lighting among enthusiasts because of its intensity, customization options, and unique features. 

The current usa brand is a trust one and many new aquarium owners tend to prefer the design in these types of products. 

Packed with enough power to sustain even the most difficult planted aquariums, the current usa Satellite Plus Pro will provide your fish with enjoyable swimming environment as they slowly make their way between colorful plants.

As for the PAR reading and lighting intensity, this LED light fixture tops the list of quality lighting options for your plant and fish tank. The current usa Satellite Plus Pro should be able to sustain 99% of the popular plant varieties with its 6500K.

Where these lights really shine is the customization options. The remote control allows you to adjust light intensity and play around with the colors. What’s more, this unit comes pre-programmed with several unique settings that simulate different natural light settings.

The current usa Satellite Plus Pro LED fixture features a 24 hour on/off timer cycle. You will get full control over the start time and end time with the included remote control. This feature allows you to optimize the light periods for your fish, plants and for your tank viewing pleasure.

In addition, this fixture has moonlight settings, sunrise settings, and storm and cloud effect settings. These settings are pre-programmed as specific buttons on the remote.

The current usa Satellite Plus Pro remote also has four pre-loaded color spectrums which are optimized for certain tanks. You can also design custom colors and save them in one of two memory slots available on the remote.

Another huge benefit of the current usa Satellite Plus Pro is the ramping feature and suitability for your tank. The ramp timer starts out the day with a dim light (simulating sunrise), which gradually increases in intensity throughout the day. 

The ramping feature creates a much more natural environment which helps reduce stress in fish and plants in the planted aquariums.

Things We Liked

Things We Didn't Like

Great LED lighting option if you want a mixture of power and customization

Customizable and adjustable in almost every way

A perfect choice for enthusiasts who want to fine-tune light intensity and color

Great PAR outputs – capable of supporting most high-level plants species

current usa - Popular brand

The remote reception can be finicky if you’re further than a few feet away








4.0/5

The Finnex Planted+ 24/7 LED is a feature-rich planted aquarium light which allows fish and plant keepers to automate their entire lighting schedule. It comes equipped with a remote control and is very easy use. 

Taking a unique approach, this fixture provides a much more enjoyable user experience than other lights in this price range. The simulation of a complete, natural sunrise and sunset is completely hands-free and programmed into the controller.

The 24/7 feature requires no handling and is completely hands-off. This setting begins with a soft dawn which eventually progresses into a warm lit sunrise. After the sunrise, there comes the peak of the cycle which simulates the noon natural light.

The noon transforms into a soft red sunset, and eventually, you’ll get a night mode. This complete 24/7 feature allows the aquarium owners to experience a full day cycle with practically no upkeep.

In addition to the 24/7 feature, the Planted+ has programmed settings which replicate storms, cloudy days, and starry nights. All of these settings are available with a simple click of a button. While I do appreciate the starry nights, I don’t really see the point of exposing your aquarium dwellers to storms, tough.

The four memory slots are also accessible via the IR remote control. Using this feature, you can easily customize and save countless color combinations and lighting intensities if you don’t want to use the 24/7 feature.

In addition to the dimmable Red, Green and Blue lights, the fixture also incorporates 7,000k Daylight LEDs to allow aquariums to thrive. Equipped with a memory chip, the fixture remembers the last saved settings in order to make it compatible with standard timers.

The fixture interacts with the remote control via a water-resistant IR sensor. The fixture's clear legs can slide inwards if you need to mount them onto shorter aquariums. The legs feature screws capable of mounting rimless aquariums, as well.

For those of you who have larger-rimmed aquariums, the legs also feature a removable inner portion to accommodate the greater width. You’ll be happy to know that this L.E.D lighting is built out of quality constructed aluminum and features a water-resistant splash guard.

To sum up, the Finnex Planted+ 24/7 is a user-friendly light which is great for aquarium owners that like the finer features in a light. The price is also right so this is a no-brainer.

Things We Liked

Things We Didn't Like

Fully hands off and user-friendly

The 24/7 feature is very enjoyable to use

It contains the features that simulate storms, cloudy days, and moonlight

Like all other Finnex lights, the Planted+ is a bright light compared to other brands

Sleek, slim profile will nicely complement any aquarium

The acrylic legs might be hard to position








led aquarium lighting: Important Factors 

1. The range of light

Led lights in a fish tank for better growth of aquatic plants

Let’s compare L.E.D lighting and the full spectrum of natural lights. Natural daylight, on cloudy to sunny days, ranges from 5500K to 7000K (K stands for Kelvin, a unit of measurement used to describe the hue of a specific light source).

This is why you should look for a LED aquarium light that can provide this range of light quality and it's not too much light. LED lights can be controlled by a timer that plugs into the wall. LED lights can be mounted above the aquarium either on “legs” that rest on top of the aquarium or hang from your ceiling. This is perfect for most reef tank owners.

The more advanced LED aquarium light system allow you to create light that mimics dawn, dusk, moonlight and more types of light.

2.The dimensions

When you are buying LEDs, you need to know how wide your aquarium is. Fortunately, LED light fixtures come in a wide variety of lengths that match the lengths of different aquariums.

This versatility comes into play when you are aiming for a perfect LED light that sits on top of the aquarium frame.

3. LED aquarium light features and benefits

As we said, most LED freshwater aquariums feature 5500-7000 K light output. Some have simple and some have a more advanced programmable timer.

Fish tank led lights give a great visual appeal to your tank.

The L.E.D lighting will allow you to explore different color combinations because most LED aquarium light systems are now available in a multitude of color spectrums and combos.

Apart from experimenting with light spectrum, you can also use dimmers, which are great for adjusting brightness and can also be used for blending colors. Sometimes LED lights can be too much of a bright light.

However, If you are using multiple LED aquarium light color spectrums, you can dim one color and increase the brightness of the other. Remember, By dimming your led lights, you will also extend the lamp life and save on energy.

Another benefit of led lights is that they don't transfer heat into the aquarium. However, they still generate a fair amount of heat upward and excessive heat can dramatically degrade the lifespan of the LED chip. Because of this, you should do your best to keep them cool.

To fully benefit from the this aquarium lighting and extend their, life you need to make sure to provide adequate air circulation around the LED aquarium light strip. This will allow heat to dissipate vertically and around the heat sink.

Yet another benefit of LED lights is that they grow coral so that your aquarium will become a true beauty, should you decide to tackle the wonderful world of coral growing.

In order to really bring out the colors in your coral, you should select units with light output in the actinic royal blue range. This will really make the colors in your coral stand out. For soft polyp corals and zoanthids, you can mix a little magenta to pump up the purple, green and orange.

Apart from growing coral and bringing out their beautiful colors, LEDs will also bring out colors in your fish and make them even more beautiful as they swim happily around the corals.

Powerful LED lights compared to other lighting options

Reef fish tank with LED lighting

In the early days of aquarium keeping the only lighting available were stainless steel fixtures that contained incandescent light bulbs. These light bulbs produced a lot of heat and raised the aquarium water temperature. As the incandescent bulbs could reach a temperature of over 175° F, the metal light fixture could easily turn into a dangerous skin-searing surface. With the most robust lighting, this can never happen.

The next type of lighting was cooler fluorescent light tube housed in plastic fixtures which were built into the aquarium cover. The fluorescent lighting worked fine for shallow aquariums that did not require intense light.

For growing live plants or corals, fluorescent light tubes couldn’t provide enough light. The quality of light was not the best, either. Most fluorescent lights simply highlighted the neon colors of aquarium gravel, plastic plants, and other ornaments.

Live plants and corals did not thrive until more natural fluorescent lights were developed for aquarium use. Fluorescent bulbs, however, start degrading in light quality as soon as they are switched on. After six to nine months, the quality of light gets very low and won’t meet the light needs of freshwater aquatic plants and saltwater invertebrates.

Finally, LED aquarium light systems do use up to 80% less electricity than other aquarium lights. They do not generate as much heat compared to fluorescent light bulbs. Another huge plus is the fact that the best lighting lasts far longer than standard fluorescent bulbs. But note some people do think they generate too much light.

The drawbacks

The LED aquarium light system tends to be a bit more costly to purchase upfront, but you'll more than make up for it over time in energy savings as well as bulb replacement costs.

Another drawback of LED lights is in the area of aquariums because most LED light fixtures are only suited for low to medium lighting needs. They will do well for virtually all fish and for a number of plants.

However, for plants that have high light needs, there are no L.E.D lighting options at present. Hopefully, since the LEDs are being extensively researched and greatly improved, we might expect that their application for high light needs will also improve in the future.

FAQ 

Be sure to choose wisely - Make sure you choose an adequate LED light and it's from a reputable brand or company. They are safety requirements that need to be met and a fault LED light in your fish tank can be the difference between life or death

Keep it compact - the compact design of most LED lights is perfect for all types of owners, new and old. Aquarium lights of the past were clunky, inefficient and expensive. Now, however, you can get a compact "made-for-purpose" aquarium light at a fraction of the cost. This means that it's easier to install and you can even choose exactly where it goes instead of being limited to 1 side or 1 corner.

Go for the adjustable L.E.D lighting system. Many newer models are adjustable and can change into a multiple of positions. As your aquarium life grows so will the lighting they need to support them and an interchangeable LED light can be all that more important. It's even possible to control some of the more recent models with a few flicks of your finger on your own app (via a smartphone).

Experiment with multiple colours - L.E.D lighting and lighting system as they are change colour is very easy to purchase and are appealing on the eye. Make sure you research which colours are neutral and go well with your tank, (like blues and greens)

Get one with a dimmer switch. The dimmer switch is a safe way to turn up and down the colours and contrast of different LED lights in your aquarium. This has the added bonus of allowing you to set the mood and give your fish a few clues that relaxation time has started.

Be sure to fit with PLENTY of ventilation. Although LED lights don't cause the water in your tank to heat up it can still generate some heat. If let in left unventilated it could heat up more significantly and cause battery damage. You can prevent this from happening by keeping the LED strip colour and ventilated when possible.

Be careful to not get them wet. All aquarium lights can stand some water but not all are 100% water-resistant. Be cautious about the difference as too much water can cause circuit board damage.

Clean regularly and don't allow minerals to build up. If you don't regularly clean your LED lights then they can get dirty with lime, salt and minerals. This will, in turn, cause long term damage to the lights and cause light projection issues. Remember to check the labels for any chemicals you use that has direct contact with the aquarium and if in doubt just use vinegar as it is fish friendly.

Give Metal halide lights a try! Metal halide lights are lights that mirror the intensity and atmosphere of the sun. These are particularly aimed at nature enthusiasts who want to keep their aquarium as close to nature as possible. These are suitable for bigger and smaller aquariums and can be used interchangeably with LEDs.

Don't use Incandescent aquarium lights as they are not cost-effective and give off too much heat. On top of that, they are only suitable for small aquariums and most big stores will advise against it.

Conclusion

It's important that you research and find the best aquarium light for you. It's as simple as checking the right size and output and making sure the features are correct for your tank. Lighting is an important part of a healthy and vibrant aquarium and the right type of lighting will keep your fish happy and healthier for longer.

LED lights are one of the safer and easy to use tank lights and they are relatively easy to purchase. On top of that, you are able to mix and match LED lights and colours which is always a bonus.

The new technology in lighting has made the designs safer and more user-friendly which means ensures that you won't be spending a fortune to keep your fishy friends happy. Whether you go with a simple design or a more advanced setup it's safe to say that you'll have a fit for purpose aquarium essential.



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