Category Archives: Lighting

Finding The Best Saltwater Aquarium Lighting

To everyone in the hobby saltwater aquariums can mean something different, making their needs differ drastically. Many owners go for a FOWLR, fish only with live rock, setup and will only need standard lighting. On the other hand there are reef tanks full of corals and light loving anemones who will need much more light than most fixtures can produce. With both of these in mind I’ve found some of the best saltwater aquarium lighting fixtures available. Read on for all the details.

Finnex FugeRay Marine+ Aquarium LED Light Ecoxotic E-30 Full Spectrum LED AROCCOM Full Spectrum for Saltwater Aquariums Euphotica Dimmable, Programmable LED Aquarium Light Fixture
8.9-20.8 Watts 16-56 Watts 165 Watts 120-216 Watts
72-168 LEDs 10-40 LEDs 55 LEDs 55-99 LEDs
Size: 12″ – 30″ Size: 12″ – 48″ Size: 15.7″ Size: 16″ – 13″
Price: $ Price: $$ Price: $$$ Price: $$-$$$$
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What Makes The Best Saltwater Aquarium Lighting?

When it comes to selecting the right saltwater aquarium lighting there’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Reasonable Cost
  • High Light Strength
  • Long Lifetime
  • Reliable Design

The cost of many light fixtures should often be measured over the average lifetime of the light. a $200 light that lasts for 3 years actually ends up costing you more than a $300 light that lasts for 5 years. If you think those are long life times my last recommendation will be sure to drop a few jaws. That’s not to say the rest aren’t stunning as well.

Finnex FugeRay Marine+ Aquarium LED Light


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Our first contender is a common pick because of its easy entry price and highly effective lighting strength. The Finnex FugeRay Marine+ LED is definitely one of the best saltwater aquarium lighting fixtures out there today.

Size Watts LEDs
12″ 8.9 Watts (24) 10,000k + (48) Actinic Blue LEDs, 72 LEDs Total
20″ 14.7 Watts 40) 10,000k + (80) Actinic Blue LEDs, 120 LEDs Total
24″ 17.8 Watts (48) 10,000k + (96) Actinic Blue LEDs, 144 LEDs Total
30″ 20.8 Watts (56) 10,000k + (112) Actinic Blue LEDs, 168 LEDs Total

Featuring some of the highest Kelvin readings most aquarists will ever need, the Finnex brings a whole lot of power to the table at a fantastic price.

Set Up

There really isn’t much to setting these lights up. The feature a simple plug and power set up with on off button at the end of each light. Nothing fancy and highly reliable.

One thing I will note is that the light is too strong for freshwater fish. Many territorial fish such as tiger barbs and cichlids will run at the first appearance of the lights and not recognize anything in the tank, not even the other fish. This creates a new and sometimes hostile environment. If you are looking for freshwater fish I have a detailed guide on the subject.

Light strength

The Finnex bring in a lot of light strength for our marine aquariums. Even at the lowest price point of competing fixtures it remains one of the best saltwater aquarium lighting choices. The 10,000k white lights complimented by the actinic blue LEDs create a beautiful spectrum without drawing away too much power for color, ensuring the Finnex can grow most any coral you throw under it.

The light is distributed at the standard 120 degree angle, ensuring your tank has no dark spots without bathing your own floor in light.

A quick note I would like to make here is the lights overall design. You may have noticed it looks different that the standard forms of aquarium lighting. That is because it is designed to be its own heat sink. This means your light will not heat up and reduce its own lifetime. Additionally it includes a slightly different circuit board to extend the LED bulbs life.

Lifetime & Warranty

First I’ll throw the numbers out for those in a hurry. The lights have been tested to last for 40,000+ hours on average.

40,000/10 hour days/365 days a year = 10.95 years

That amazing life time brings the lights cost to the single digits a year for 11 whole years. Bulbs of fluorescent lighting cost well over that, not to mention the increased power draw they have. Given these numbers it is no wonder that the coral growing world loves the Finnex FugeRay for saltwater aquarium lighting.

With the lower price point comes a shorter warranty. Given that the lights last so long this is not a problem. The warranty lasts 6 months and covers most damages excluding any internal tampering or returning the light to Finnex without proper packaging.

Ecoxotic E-30 Full Spectrum LED


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The Ecoxotic LED lighting fixture Brings a lot to the table. It includes both a programming remote and timer. A perfect saltwater lighting choice that isn’t specifically made for corals.

Size Watts LEDs
12.5″ x 2″ x 1″ 16 Watts 8 Daylight 8,000K/2 RGB LEDs, 10 LEDs total
18.5″ x 2″ x 1″ 24 Watts 10 Daylight 8,000K/4 RGB LEDs, 14 LEDs total
24.5″ x 2″ x 1″ 32 Watts 16 Daylight 8,000K/4 RGB LEDs, 20 LEDs total
36.5″ x 2″ x 1″ 46 Watts 24 Daylight 8,000K/6 RGB LEDs, 30 LEDs total
48.5″ x 2″ x 1″ 56 Watts 32 Daylight 8,000K/8 RGB LEDs, 40 LEDs total

I’ll kick this one off with the only big con. Despite being LED, this light heats up to high temperatures. So much so that if not well ventilated it can shut off. This means you will have to have a way to keep the light cool if you’d like to use it. Personally I think it’s worth the extra effort with all the strength it brings in.

Set Up

Setting up the Ecoxotic is a bit of a process. First you will be setting the fixture on your aquarium and adjusting the legs so that they hold the light in place. Next you need to attach the 24VDC transformer to the RGBW Controller. With the connection secure finish the set up by connecting the RGBW controller to the LED strip. You may then mount the controller wherever you like with the included Velcro.

Combined the cord adds up to a solid 10 feet. Be sure you have somewhere to put all this wire as it is pretty long.

For the remote you will need to remove the plastic strip and point the remote at the controller. Press the red button on the top right of the remote. This turns the light on which is now ready to be programmed.

Using The Timer
The timer is a fairly simple one. It allows you to set your tank to a fully automated 24 hour cycle, complete with transitional phases between day and night time lighting. The only problem here is that the light will never actually turn off via the timer unless you have the moonlight settings all at 0. Not too big an issue unless you frequently stay up well past your aquariums bed time.

First we will need to program the time of day. This is done by pressing the set clock button, followed by using the hour+ and minute- buttons to reach the correct time. Remember the clock is in military time. Press enter to finish.

The same is done to set the on and off times for the light. Keep in mind that the light will have a 15 minute ramp up and ramp down time to help transition the tanks lighting.

Next up is the daylight and moonlight settings. These are set by pressing either the daylight or moonlight button. After that you may adjust the color spectrum and intensity using the red, green, blue and white arrows. Once you are done press and hold the daylight or moonlight button for five seconds to finish, whichever you were currently setting.

The last on the list is the M1 and M2 settings. These can be used to store a specific color spectrum. They are excellent to use for showing off corals and bringing out the colors of your aquarium for guests. Keep in mind to not shock your fish with sudden light changes. These two are adjusted the same as the daylight and moonlight settings.

Located at the bottom of the remote are four on demand weather effects. The first is a blue moonlight setting, a quick and easy way to show off corals under a blue light. Personally I always have one of my memories set to a more specific blue setting. The next button is a thunder storm effect. As it features flashing it can stress fish and is not recommended for frequent use. The last two are varying strengths of cloudy weather that produce a nice rolling cloud effect

Light Strength

The Ecoxotic brings a solid 8,000k day light strength complimented by RGB LEDs to fill out the rest of the lighting spectrum. This gives you fish and corals access to all the benefits of natural sun light without being so powerful it guarantees algae growth.

Additionally the wattage on the Ecoxotic is in the middle grounds. Being an LED lighting fixture generally means lower wattage, however this one brings a bit more power to the table than most LED lights do. This is why the lights heat up so much, making the extra wattage a double edged sword.

With the design of the Ecoxotic being a standard lighting strip shape you’re looking at a 120 degree light spread. This is my favorite angle for single light aquariums as it keeps the whole tank nice and bright without sending too much light onto the floor of the room. Additionally a reflector has been added to the lighting strip and features a 60 degree angle.

For the best coral growth without too much algae you will need to set you lights to be on high for up to 10 hours a day. Any longer and you are sure to see algae bloom even with the best aquarium filtration.

Lifetime & Warranty

The Ecoxotic light comes with a complete 1 year warranty where the company will cover any and all damages to the fixture. Additionally the LED light design of the light helps ensure the light will last well over the 5 year mark. The only issue here is the over heating of the light. If nothing is done to prevent consistent heating on the light the lifetime is sure to drop rapidly. By taking the extra time and getting a heat reducing system set up, whether it is something as simple as a fan or full on suspension, you ensure your light lasts as long as possible.

AROCCOM Full Spectrum Lighting For Saltwater Aquariums


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The Aroccom is a bit tricky to use, as it only comes in one size and much be suspended above the aquarium, but once in place it really gets the job done and then some.

Size Watts LEDs
15.7″ 105 Watts 55 LEDs
Set Up

Setting up the Aroccom LED fixture requires installing hooks above your aquarium. There are some more gimmicky DIY ways you can install the light but I don’t recommend them for two reasons. One is that the light is very powerful and can be too intense if it is right on your aquariums lid. Second is that suspending the light allows it to cover more area.

With the hooks in place you can use the provided hanging kit. With the cords in place you will want your light to be between 8 and 14 inches above your tank. Keep in mind that the hanging cords are 17 inches long when hanging the light. If additional length is needed you will need to supplement the cords.

On the back of the light you will notice two sets of power plugins and adjustable knobs. These are able to set the intensity of both channels which are as follows:

  • Channel 1 (27 LEDs): 20pcs (460-470nm), 7pcs 450nm;Red 650~660nm, Green 520nm, Cool White, Neutral White, Warm White LEDs
  • Channel 2 (28 LEDs): 8pcs (9000-14000K), 6pcs (5500-8000K), 6pcs (3000-4500K), 2pcs 660nm, 2pcs 520nm, 4pcs (400-420nm); Royal Blue 450nm, Blue 460nm

If this is your first aquarium light or if your tank has been without a light for awhile you will need to slowly turn the light up. On that point the lights can be set anywhere between 0-100% intensity. A safe point to settle on is 70% intensity. This gives your tank plenty of light, often more than competing lights have to offer when maxed out.

When you do choose to turn the lights on full strength you will need to watch your tank for excess nutrients and hair algae growth. Algae loves strong light and the Aroccom provides plenty of it.

In the middle of this fantastic saltwater aquarium light you will notice two built in fans. They keep the light cool to extend the lifetime of the LEDs. At first glance the size of the fan made me worried about the noise factor, but to my surprise they were almost silent. From a few feet away the sound was 100% gone.

Light Strength

As listed above the light features a powerful set of up to 14,000k lighting along with 650nm red lights, 520nm green lights, 450nm royal blue and normal blue lights. The most complete spectrum on the market without breaking the bank. Add in the high wattage and your corals will be sure to sing.

Next up is the light distribution. I briefly touched on this earlier. The light is sent out at a 90 degree angle, providing your tank with powerful focused lighting. This also means long tanks will need multiple lights to avoid dark corners. Compared to the 120 degree lighting normal strips provide This method is more efficient and meant for real coral growing tanks.

Because you will often be using this light for coral growth it is common to leave the light on longer than normal lights. Keep in mind you do let your fish and corals get some sleep at night and fight any algae immediately.

Lifetime & Warranty

Despite being much higher power lights, the lifetime on these bulbs actually exceed the average LED light lifetime. Ranging between 50,000-80,000 hours on average you can expect the lights to hold for 14-20 years. It’s actually almost inconvenient how long they last as it is fun upgrading our old equipment.

The warranty provided on the Aroccom saltwater aquarium light is one year. This gives you plenty of time to find any defects with your light before it starts is long life lighting your tank.

Euphotica Dimmable/Programmable LED Aquarium Light Fixture for Saltwater Aquariums


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This fixture is an awful lot like the Aroccom but has its own special merits. First off it comes in many different sizes, some of which even feature built in programming. No matter you saltwater aquarium lighting needs this light has you covered.

Size Wattage LEDs
16″ Dimmable/Programmable 120 Watts 8,000K to 20,000K, 8 Warm White, 6 Neutral White, 6 Cool White, 20 Royal Blue (450nm), 7 Blue (470nm), 4 Violet/Indigo (420nm), 2 Green (520nm), 2 Red (660nm), 55 LEDs Total
24″ Programmable 120 Watts 8,000K to 20,000K, 8 Warm White, 6 Neutral White, 6 Cool White, 16 Royal Blue (450nm), 7 Blue (470nm), 4 Violet/Indigo (420nm), 2 Green (520nm), 2 Red (660nm), 51 LEDs Total
32″ Programmable 216 Watts 8,000K to 20,000K, 18 Warm White, 12 Neutral White, 12 Cool White, 30 Royal Blue (450nm), 13 Blue (470nm), 8 Violet/Indigo (420nm), 4 Green (520nm), 4 Red (660nm), 99 LEDs Total
Set Up

Unlike the Aroccom, the Euphotica features 2 hanging hooks and cables to suspend itself along with a simple remote (programmable version only).

You can use the remote to program the intensity of the light, moving in one degree increments. Additionally you can set every half hour to a specific setting, allowing for the most customizable saltwater aquarium lighting I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.

If you do not wish to program the lights specifically you are free to use the sunny, cloudy and moonlight buttons to control your light. However if you did spring for the programmable light I couldn’t imagine not taking full advantage of its versatility.

For the dimmable version you will have to manually adjust the light settings using the two knobs on the top of the light. These change the two light channels separately allowing you to control the color of lighting in your tank.

One quick note here: the dimmable light has two power cords while the programmable light only has one power cord.

Light Strength

Here is where this light gets crazy. The Euphotica is one of the best saltwater aquarium lighting choices as it can produce a massive 20,000k full light spectrum with over 200 watts of strength. A warning to those new to the hobby, this light can actually burn many of your corals and anemones. To use the full strength on the light you would need a deep tank combined with some of the most demanding corals known to mankind. Simply put this will grow any coral with ease. Just be sure you know how much light your specific coral can handle and ramp the light up slowly. Even the perfect light setting can stun corals if applied too quickly.

As with the previous hanging light, the Euphotic marine aquarium light is distributed through a 90 degree optic lens. This can create a spotlight effect when placed too close to your tank, meaning you should give your aquarium a solid foot between it and the light.

When raised above the tank the Euphotic can provide a 28″ x 28″” light distribution on the 16″ model, 28″ x 35″ on the 24″ model, and 28″ x 42″ on the 32″ model without losing much of its power due to distance. Use that as an estimate if you have larger tanks and are wondering how many fixtures you need. For smaller tanks you will often be fine with a single fixture. Adjust the height to light your aquarium and then adjust the intensity to the appropriate settings.

One final add on note I have is about the 24″ model. Many of you may have noticed it actually features less lights than the 16″. How is this possible? Well I got in contact with HobbieBug and found out that the lights are spread over a greater distance and then amplified using a more powerful driver to increase the strength of the lights. This means the 24″ is indeed stronger than the 16″.

Lifetime & Warranty

The Euphotic saltwater aquarium light comes with a nice two year warranty on all of the components, from the light it self all the way down to the hooks and cables. In addition to this the customer service is absolute amazing, helps in a timely manner and knows their product well. No worries about unexplainable problems here.

The lifetime of the light is absolutely absurd. On average the bulb brand, Bridgelux, has tested to last for 100,000 hours. That is a solid 11 years of constant use or 27 years of 10 hour days. With that kind of lifetime even the largest model costs less than a 20″ fluorescent light fixture per year. With such a high intensity and lifetime You could probably create your own sun with enough of these lights.

This actually bring in an additional note. Please take extra care with the lighting fixture so that it can actually reach that lifetime. It would be an absolute tragedy to break this light well before it burns out. Double check your hanging methods and inspect them after you touch the light to ensure it stays in place!

With all this information on the absolute best saltwater aquarium lighting you are now more than equipped to select the perfect light fixture. Remember not all tanks are the same. Research your exact tank inhabitants and ensure you do not provide too much or too little light. If you need more lighting choices feel free to read our other aquarium lighting pages.

Planted Tank Lighting Guide

Choosing Your Planted Aquarium Lighting

When it comes to light demands planted tanks are in between normal tanks and reef tanks. Plants require broad spectrums and enough light strength to support rapid growth. Often normal pet store lights do not provide this, leaving us on our own when it comes to researching what our plants need. For this reason I have compiled a list of some of the best planted aquarium lights for plant growth.

Current USA Satellite Plus PRO


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The Current USA Satellite Plus PRO It the perfect planted aquarium light. The strength can support high light demanding plants and comes with a fully customizable LEDs. To adjust them you are given a wireless remote along with a ramp up/down timer. These are great for creating a day and night cycle, which combats algae growth caused by excessive lighting.

Using The Remote

It can be a bit tricky to handle the remote, so here’s a quick run down:

  • The first row holds the set clock, on/off time and power buttons.
  • The second row holds the hour+, minute-, enter and resume buttons.
  • To set the time first press the set clock button. The screen will then blink for 3-5 seconds. Next use the hour+ and minute- button to set the corret time. Once you are done hit the enter button
  • To program the on/off times press either the on/off time button, causing the screen to blink for 3-5 seconds. Use the hour+ and minute- buttons to set the time the lights will turn on or off. The light will slowly ramp up/down over 15 minutes starting at the selected time.
  • The third row holds four basic pre set color options.
  • The fourth & fifth row hold 2 rows of arrows, each a different color. You can use these to adjust each colors intensity by pressing the up arrow of the respective color to increase the intensity or the down arrow to reduce the intensity.
  • The row under the colored arrows are listed as M1, M2, M3, and M4. By holding these buttons for four seconds you can store a custom color into the remotes settings, allowing for 4 saved colors total
  • The last section of the remote holds the dynamic lighting buttons.
  • The first two options are a weak moon light and strong moon light settings.
  • The second two options feature mild and heavy overcast lighting (cloudy)
  • The last row has thunder clouds as well as thunder storms. These can startle your fish, so I highly advise against using them.
Set Up

The programmable Current USA Satellite Pro Plus is quick and easy to set up. Simply plug in the light after placing it above your tank. Then remove the sticky tape that is covering the infrared eye on the remote receiver. Place this receiver in a position where it will not be blocked off from the remote, as it requires a direct line of sight to work.

Current USA Satellite Plus Pro Specs

All plants are supported under this lights 6,500k strength complimented with RGBW LEDs. The LEDs increase with the size of the light, allowing for up to 60″ long tank up to 3 feet deep planted tanks. For more specifics I’ve made this list.

Max Size For High Light Plants

If you are using less than high light demanding plants you are free to try deeper tanks, this only lists the maximum depth where high light plants will still grow. If you are growing medium to low light demanding plants the previous model is much cheaper and will cover your needs. I have it fully reviewed here.The light is distributed at a 120 degree angle and protected by an acrylic splash guard. This helps light the entire tank without spilling too much light onto the floor.

As the light uses LED bulbs it is highly efficient, often shaving off 80-90% of upkeep cost when switching from flourescent or metal halide lighting.

Lifetime & Warranty

The Pro plus model of the Current USA light has been been tested to last for over ten years with regular use, both by the company and consumers. This makes its cost much more reasonable, as it will outlast most other lights by a couple years.

Current USA offers a 1 year warranty and will frequently help those out of warranty. Many have even received help after 3 years of purchase.

 

Nicrew LED Aquarium Lighting Strip Review


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Size 11-19″ 20-27″ 28-36″
LEDs 30 White + 6 Blue 60 White + 12 Blue 90 White + 18 Blue
Power Consumption 6W 11W 18W
Recommended Tank Size Up to 10 Gal Up to 25 Gal Up To 35 Gal
Cord Length 1.5m 1.7m 1.9m

The Nicrew LED Aquarium Lighting strip is an excellent introduction to the world of LEDs. It offers fairly strong lighting under a cool 6000k rating.

Those new to reefing will be glad to hear it can support low light corals such as softies, star polyps and mushrooms. Freshwater enthusiasts will love how well it supports plants. Just remember when light can support life so well, it will grow algae.

Set-up

When the light arrives it will be ready to plug in and switched on, however the legs can slide out of the body. For this reason I do not recommend using the light for its absolute maximum size. When fully extended the legs are prone to slipping out, which can drop the light right into the tank.

This brings us to our next point. The light is in no way waterproof and should be protected from splashes and humidity at all times. This is best done using a glass top for the tank. Likewise a waterproof sealant can be applied to the light to help protect it. If you choose this route keep in mind the light will now have chemicals on it, making it even more dangerous to the tanks inhabitants.

The legs have clamps on the ends of their feet, which will fit onto any surface up to 1/2″ thick.

Once in place you will need to determine how you will be using the light. The moonlight setting is a rich deep blue, but too blue for my tastes. For this reason I have put the light on a simple on/off timer.

The lights settings are controlled by a switch on the body of the light. This means you cannot control the lights settings with a controller and instead must change it by hand. This is another reason I avoid using the nighttime mode.

Assembly & Cleaning

Because this light is not waterproof, it is treated like a disposable light. Even with a glass top between it and the water, humidity will eventually bring the light down. For this reason I advise you do not take the light apart unless you are willing to let it dry in a warm, dry area before putting it back together.

To clean the Nicrew LED light strip you will need to remove the acrylic cover and wipe down both sides.

If there is any algae on the LEDs themselves, you will need to gently brush them clean using a cotton swab. Do this gently and with the LED unplugged. If you must use any liquids to wipe away the algae you will also need to leave the light to dry for awhile. Any moisture can damage these LEDs, making this best suited for just before lights out.

LED Strength

Unlike larger brands such as Marineland, Current USA and Aquaillumination, the Nicrew does not release any information on the lights strength. After reading deep into this light I have found the model of LED used for this light strip. The 2835 SMD LED runs a 6000 K with 25 lumens per LED. This would certainly explain the brightness of the light fixture. The LED producer is Epistar, a company well known for powerful, long lasting LED.

When tested with breeder tanks, which are longer and allow light to more easily reach the bottom of the tank, the Nicrew LED light strip was able to maintain many softies, star polyps and mushrooms.

When placed on deeper tanks, the corals would survive, but would never fully expand. This means the light can pass for low light corals in shallow tanks and even be used as a complementary light when tanks need more lighting. Tall or large reef tanks will need to look elsewhere for lighting.

On the freshwater scene the Nicrew LED light strip performs quite well, growing plants at a rapid rate. However this rapid growth can also grow a fair amount of algae in nutrient rich tanks. If you see excessive algae try reducing feeding and having the light on for shorter periods of time.

Warranty & Lifetime

The warranty offered on the Nicrew is an amazing 12 months long. While this may not be nearly as long as more expensive lights, it is miles ahead of similarly priced lights. It is, however, unlikely to cover water damage so be sure to either use a glass top or keep water movement to a minimum.

When it comes to lifetime there is really only one deciding factor: when does the water get to it? Depending on your preventative steps this light can last anywhere from a few months to several years. The LEDs sure wont burn out any time soon, and the body will only break if you mishandle it. This is the kind of light I wish was available when I started reefing.

Best Nano Aquarium Lighting

AquaIllumination Prime LED Light ABI LED Aquarium Light Wave-point Mirco Sun LED Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Cliplight
50 Watts 12 Watts 8 Watts 5 Watts
Lifetime: 10+ Years Lifetime: 8+ Years Lifetime: 1+ Lifetime: 2+
Price: $$$$ Price: $ Price: $$ Price: $$
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Nano tanks are a bit unlike the others. Their dimensions are anything but uniform and they often house some of the more demanding inhabitants. In fact many use nano aquariums to grow beautiful corals in stunning displays. On the other hand some of us don’t have the space for large tanks and opt into nano tanks because of it. The many ways people get into nano aquariums means that every has different nano aquarium lighting needs

Finding The Best Nano Aquarium Lighting

When looking for lighting specifically made for nano aquariums we typically need

  • Reliable Aquarium Lighting
  • Specific Lighting Strength
  • Colorful Lighting
  • Reasonable Power Draw
  • Attractive Design
  • Strong Customer Service

Our lights need to last a long time if we are going to drop any real amount of money on them. Likewise they must produce a good looking spectrum of light that will support our tanks need. If the light itself looks bad we could not cover our tank with it. Finally the light should not drain money via excessive wattage or have unusable customer service. With all these checks in place we are well on the way to picking the perfect nano aquarium lighting set-up.

AquaIllumination Prime LED Light


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The AquaIllumination Prime LED Light is the definition of advanced nano aquarium lighting. High strength, efficient lighting, full spectrum, wide spread and app controlled lighting are all some of the features this light brings to the tank

Featuring a wide 30″ by 30″ spread, the AquaIllumination Prime LED Light Can cover most any tank deemed to be a nano tank. Additionally with its PAR rating of 250┬ÁMol at 12 inches of depth you will be able to grow anything underneath this fixture.Even with all this strength the light only drains up to 50 watts at maximum strength. This is far below metal halides and high strength bulb lighting fixtures. Typically you would need to sacrifice some strength for the lower wattage, but not with the Aquaillumination. Typically for my tanks I like to keep the light a little closer to the water. This reduces the spread and often allows me to dim the lights strength some, lowering the cost of the light while increasing its lifetime.

Optics

The Prime model features an 80 degree lens which helps give your tank a nice spread while maintaining full strength. Unlike the typical plexiglass or acrylic normal LED lights feature, the AquaIllumination Prime LED has an amazing 90% optical efficiency, ensuring your light isn’t all eaten away by the protective glass. The lenses even feature a diffuse exit surface which helps provide a higher quality of color blending.

Lastly the LEDs themselves are powerful, efficient and long lasting. The featured bulbs are:

  • 4 Cree XP-G2 Cool White (> 70 CRI)
  • 1 OSRAM OSLON Deep Red
  • 1 Cree XP-E2 Green
  • 3 Cree XP-E2 Blue
  • 2 OSRAM SQUARE Deep Blue
  • 1 SemiLED 415nm Violet
  • 1 SemiLED 405nm UV

Keep in mind you can control the lights through an app on your phone. There is no need to buy a controller here, as you can set the specific lighting color, strength and schedule anytime from anywhere. Useful for those unexpected nights away from home or home movies. Simply use your app to adjust the lights to your desired settings and set up a schedule. It takes a little bit of time to get used to the app but the end results are well worth it. Unlike normal controllers you are not limited to specific ramp up and down times, nor only one day or night cycle per day. As you can set how the light behaves all day you can set long dawns with 3 hour ramp up times and slowly drain the light away at night. I personally never understood the 15 minutes other timers used.

Add Ons

After using this light for sometime I decided to try out the add ons I’ve seen on the manufacturers website. The first was a mount for the light that is fully adjustable. After using it for awhile I found it to be pretty fun. Once I had the light in place I fine tuned its position until the tank looked perfect. When all was said and done I had rotated my light about 12 degrees inward, far more than expected at first. So while the mount may not be needed it can certainly help you out. If nothing else it’s a cool feature to show your fellow aquarists.

Specs & Misc Info

Theres a few extra bits of info that every aquarist should know before choosing any light. The Aquaillumination may be a circle but actually features the strongest lighting just outside the middle of the light. Often times it will not be necessary to put your corals in the strongest light, as the Aquaillumination is an absolute monster at producing lighting, but those with deep tanks or low corals such as hammers should take note of this.

The cord of the light reaches 10 feet long, making it the longest light cord I have ever had. Honestly I don’t know what to do with it so half of the length is still coiled together.

The exact dimensions of the light are 4.88″L x 4.88″W x 1.34″H with the light weighing just under a pound.

Lifetime & Warranty

This light is built to last. There is just not much to say other than that. When well cared for you can expect the light t last, full strength, for over 10 years. While most LEDs can try to compete with the time, few if any can compete with the constant supply of full power the Aquaillumination brings.

The warranty on the AquaIllumination Prime LED Light is a bit annoying but lasts a full year. why it bothers me is that you must register it within 30 days of purchase at qualify. Not a huge deal but I don’t see the point.

ABI LED Aquarium Light


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Watts LEDs Bulb Fits Lifetime Warranty
12 6 450-470nm Royal Blue LEDs, 6 15,000k Cold White LEDs, 12 Total Standard Socket 8+ Years 3 Years

Cheap and long lasting, the A Brighter Idea ABI is a powerful light without the extreme price of other nano aquarium lighting fixtures.

Set Up

Because this is only a light bulb, setting up the ABI LED is as difficult as you want to make it. You can choose to pick up the cord that goes along with this light if you don’t already have something to screw the bulb into. It’s a massive 12 footer so you wont need to worry about placing this light too close to the electrical outlet. Additionally there is an on off switch on the wire. They’re fairly cheap on Amazon. With the price of these two combined the ABI still holds one of the lowest costs for a high performance LED light fixture.

Keep in mind these bulbs will ship directly from china. If you don’t use primes two day shipping you can expect to wait a few weeks for the bulb.


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The light works best individually when suspended only a few inches above the center of the tank. If you are using more than one bulb or are complimenting a different light you will need to set the lights up a bit apart. This will often eliminate any dark corners the tank may have.

Light Strength

The ABI light bulb brings a high 15,000k output combined with 450-470nm royal blue lights. This is spread between the 12 LED lights, 6 white and 6 blue, each of which brings a watt worth of power.

Because there are just as many blue lights as white lights, the light gives off a more blue light than usual. This is generally what you will see at coral dealers and club meetings, as the blue light brings out beautiful colors in both corals and marine fish.

The angle of distribution on the bulb is small at 60 degrees, but will increase vastly by removing the covering. I personally do not recommend this as you can shorten the lifetime by doing so but it is an option.

Lifetime & Warranty

With no fixture or wiring to worry about, the ABI light bulb relies solely on its LED bulbs for the lifetime rating. The bulbs last on average 30,000 hours or over 8 years. Quite a lifetime for this power and price.

Should the bulbs fail you there is a solid 3 year warranty for the bulbs starting from the date of delivery. Simply contact the manufacturer and let them know what the problem is via email at info@abilights.com

Efficiently

Because of the extremely low cost of the ABI LED light replacing a fluorescent lighting fixture will often result in savings in the first year or two of ownership. Often times fluorescent bulbs will cost almost as much as this bulb anyways. Additionally LED lights are 100% recyclable, reducing the effect of burnt out bulbs on our environment.

Wave-point Mirco Sun LED


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Watts LEDs Dimensions Lifetime Warranty
8 8 6,500 Kelvin LEDs 6″ x 9″ x 6″ 1+ Years 1 Year

The Wave-point Micro Sun LED light fixture offers an all in one set-up. The light strength is of medium-high strength while the lifetime varies greatly depending on the care taken for the light. The neck is made of a durable high impact plastic while the lights are protected by a water resistant casing.

Set Up

First you will need to attach the fixture and legs together using the provided screws. Only screw they in as much as needed. Excess force on the screws can cause them to break. Additionally if you notice your light is not stable you may have the screws in backwards.

The Wave-point features an adjustable neck that allows you angle the light however you please. For larger tanks with less demanding plants you should opt to stand the light up as high as possible. This spreads the light over a greater distance to help eliminate dark spots.

If your corners are covered you can lower the light to increase the strength the tanks inhabitants receive. This is ideal for heavily planted tanks.

The lights cord is five and a half feet long, allowing you plenty of space to set up this nano aquarium LED light. Oddly they did not add an on/off switch to the cord or light itself.

Light Strength

The daylight bulbs feature 6,500k strength, giving the tank a daytime lighting appearance. This is more than enough light to grow even the highest light demanding plants. For saltwater takes it makes an excellent refugium light, which can help supply our nano tank with pods.

As the light only draws on 8 watts of power very little heat is generated. When touching the light it is only slightly warm as opposed to my stronger LED strips. This is key as cool lights survive much longer.

Lifetime & Warranty

The Wavepoint LED light fixture often survives over one year, but can live well beyond that when properly cared for. If you use an open top aquarium, have high evaporation rates or a generally humid room you can expect to see under two years of lifetime.

The warranty lasts a full year after delivery so long as you fill out the registration card provided in the instruction booklet. That being said even if you forget or don’t notice the card you can contact the manufacturer at info@wave-point.com for help.

Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Cliplight


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Finishing up the list we have our Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Cliplight. This light is a great starting point for those looking to get into corals without spending nearly as much as the Aquaillumination.

Watts LEDs Lifetime Warranty
5 26 7,000k White LEDs, 16 660nm Red LEDs, 4 660nm Blue LEDs, 46 LEDs Total 2+ Years 6 Months
Set Up

The Finnex Cliplight comes with an adjustable neck and aluminum/plastic housing. Combined with the highly water resistant design and we have ourselves one easy to use nano aquarium light.

The included cord is just under 5 feet at 59 inches long, meaning your tank will need to be close to an electrical outlet. The cord does give enough space for a drip loop with most standard stand heights.

Located on the light is a three way power switch. The settings are on, nighttime and off. Because there are three settings only a direct timer may be used. no smooth transitioning to night unless you flip to blue lights manually

Light Strength

As I stated before this light is a fantastic light for new coral enthusiasts. It supports zoanthid, mushrooms and various other softies, but does not bring the strength needed for more demanding corals. If you are doing a freshwater planted tank you can use moderate light demanding plants with ease.

The large number of red LEDs produces a fuller spectrum than all white/blue LEDs can. This does not make the lighting look red at all, as it gives a standard bright daytime look to the tank.

The light is distributed at a 120 degree angle, making the Finnex excel at lighting up the entire tank. This does sacrifice a bit of the power, which is why it is more for beginner corals.

Lifetime & Warranty

The Finnex Cliplight lives over two years when cared for but does not need to be coddled like the previously mentioned lights. Even when dropped in water the light remained functional. If you do drop it in water you should either Remove the light and let it air dry for several days or open it and dry it out manually. Keep in mind opening the light will void the warranty so only do so if it has expired.

That being said the warranty lasts for 6 months after the date of purchase. This is a little shorter than I like to see on lights, but with Finnex being such a big name you don’t have to worry. The defective units are always quickly revealed. Some key things to look for are flickering lights and excessive heating. These are not common and should be reported to Finnex as soon as they are discovered.

Looking for more lighting choices? Check out our aquarium lighting index at www.themandaringarden.com/aquarium-lighting.html

LemonBest 24 LEDs Aquarium Lamp


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The LemonBest 24 LED aquarium lamp is one of my favorite aquarium lights to use in small aquariums. The price is exceedingly low while the value provided is top notch.

Pros:

  • Low price LED light
  • 24 LED bulbs provide excellent light coverage
  • Fully adjustable goose neck lets you direct the light to exactly where you need it
  • Strong enough to grow aquarium plants

Cons:

  • Not strong enough for most corals
  • Clip is small and does not fit over the inner black rim on tanks
  • Short power cord

The LemonBest is my go to light for small refugiums and nano tanks. The low cost allows me to spend more on filtration and circulation while still being enough to get the job done. This doesn’t mean that the light barely scrapes by however. After some careful adjusting my nano tank is bathed in light allowing my plants to flourish. When illuminated with live plants my fish are always happy.

In tall tanks the light will coat the entire tank with a warm light. The problem lies with long tanks. Realistically I would only suggest this light for 5 gallon or smaller tanks if it is the primary light source. If you have an unusually long tank you may need a second aquarium light or to look for a light strip.

Now to talk about one of my favorite uses of this light. As many people know our children absolutely love Neon Tetra. More specially the love to see glowing fish under a blue light. It just so happens that the LemonBest light features a fairly strong blue light that will outshine many “glowfish lights”. With the usually glowfish lights costing over $20-30 I am happy to pay a little more than a third of that for this light. The kids even get to have fun adjusting the light to ‘interrogate’ the fish.

The blue light really brings out the colors in a dark setting

Focusing on the adjustable neck we can see some of the lights values and flaws. While the neck does allow us to position the light wherever we want this will often produce a spotlight effect. It is for this reason the light is suggested mostly for small tanks. I have seen multiple lights used in longer tanks, however at that price it makes more sense to buy a longer light strip.

Next on the list is the power cord. This tends to run a bit short for most aquariums as the light is located on the top of the tank. Most of my aquariums have their power source elevated to encourage a drip loop so the cord will still work. If your tank is located fairly high without any means of extending the cord you may need to look for a different light. At under $15 I cannot justify buying an extension cord.

The durability of this light really surprised me. As cheap lights go you can usually expect them to die after a few months, yet my 1st light is still running strong above my sump. The light provided has not faded either as the Macro algae continues to flourish. The same can be said for the Neon Tetra tank, but they are only just over 1 year old. Still quite the lifetime for such a low cost aquarium light.

To talk about the biggest problem with this light we move on over to the clip. While this is meant to secure the light onto the fish tank it is so small that the clip does not fit onto most tanks. This can be solved by setting something behind the aquarium or bending the clip to fit your tank. Personally I do the latter and it fits well enough and does not look sloppy.

Overall The LemonBest 24 LED aquarium light provides tremendous value at a low cost. The lights do not fade easily and the use of LED bulbs keep power use to a minimum. The power is enough to grow live plants and some low light corals and is best suited to tanks under 5 gallons in size. The clip is a bit of a hassle to use but it’s a quick one time problem for a real bargain of an aquarium light.

Best LED Aquarium Lighting

Choosing LED aquarium lights over older methods of lighting brings a lot of benefits to the table. Combined with the constantly shrinking price, picking the best LED aquarium lighting of 2016 is now a priority for aquarists across the globe.

Only a few years ago even the best LED aquarium lighting fixtures were far from affordable and did not possess the strength/reliability they do today. Because of this many view LED aquarium lights as an expensive luxury well out of their reach when in reality the cost is actually lower than most other forms of lighting in the long run.


Galaxyhydro Dimmable Full Spectrum LED Aquarium Light

Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light

Marineland Reef LED Light Strip
Light Strength: 10/10 Light Strength: 8/10 Light Strength: 9/10
Price:$$ Price:$$$ Price:$
Warranty: 1 Year Warranty: 1 Year Warranty: 1 Year
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Advantages Of LED Aquarium Lighting

When you choose an older light set up of bulbs or metal halide lighting it’s typically because of the lower cost. However only a few months after buying these pieces of equipment do you run into trouble. Replacing light bulbs can cost a fortune where as metal halide lights create dangerous amounts of heat and often require chillers to be run along side them.

With LED lighting there are few if any maintenance needs. In fact most LED aquarium lights have a shockingly long life time.

Here’s brief rundown of the advantages LED lights:

  • Exceedingly long lifetime, often over 5 years
  • No need to constantly buy bulbs
  • Low heat levels
  • Powerful light strength
  • Amazing cost over time

The cost over time is something I would like to highlight. When compared side by side many owners pick fluorescent lighting, as they see the hood and bulb cost 80% of what the LED aquarium light does. After just one year they will end up buying enough bulbs to even out the cost of the lights. Over five years, if the fluorescent hood even lasts that long, the LED will cost almost half as much as the fluorescent setups do.

The same can be said for metal halide lighting, as their bulbs will need to be replace two to four times a year. Combine that with the insane amount of watts used by metal halide and you have yourself one powerful money sink.

Simply put there is a minor barrier to entry in aquarium lighting. Those who can spend a little bit more will save hundreds down the line while those who choose to buy fluorescent or metal halide will be shooting themselves in the foot.

Finding The Best LED Aquarium Lighting

Sadly everything in life today has been over marketed. along every product is an asterisk that tries to hide some crucial fact to sell horrible products. The world of aquatics is no difference. You need only to hear a few heater or power head horror stories to know this. So what exactly makes the best LED aquarium lighting? Adding to our previous list we have:

  • Confirmed Light Strengths
  • Reasonable Price
  • Warranty
  • Customer Service
  • Proven Results

The last of the list may seem a bit cold hearted, as this means we rely on others to find the faulty items for us. Nevertheless if we did not learn from their experience we would only suffer from low quality equipment.

Customer service and warranty are both crucial as a standard 5 year lifetime means nothing if your lights arrive broken. Typically when the customer service is decent they will also give very specific light strengths so that those with corals and high light demanding plants can always make the right choice.

Finally we need a reasonable price. I doubt there is an item in the world that couldn’t be made better if the price tag was raised a hundred bucks. For lighting we just need light, not a hologram projector or built in radio. This doesn’t mean you can get the best light for under $20 but there are some great fixtures for less than most people think.

Galaxyhydro Dimmable Full Spectrum LED Aquarium Light


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Dimensions Watts LEDs
15.8″ x 8.4″ x 2.4″ 165 28 Cool white, warm white, red 660nm, green 520nm
27 Blue 460nm, purple 410nm, royal blue
55 LEDs Total

Kicking things off with a dazzlingly strong LED aquarium light, the Galaxyhydro is an absolutely top of the line choice.

Features

First off let’s talk about the case itself. At a glance the case make look like your run of the mill cheap plastic casing. This couldn’t be much further from the truth. Whether it’s for aesthetics or cost the case simply looks plastic, but in fact is actually made of a durable sheet metal. This gives the light a bit more weight but also prevents any melting or burning worries owners may have. Additionally it helps for the clumsy owners such as myself.

This light comes with a lot of value tucked into its frame. Located atop the case are the dual ventilation fans that rid the light of any excess heat. This prevents the light from over heating and extends the lifetime of both the fixture and LED bulbs.

The lens themselves have been made from a high quality acrylic that allow for more light production than standard glass.

Next to the fans are the lights power switches and controls. Both the blue and white lights have their own individual settings that can be adjusted using the knobs on the back. By lowering the lights strength we can simulate a more realistic morning and night time environment for our fish, save on power or even turn down the lights if they surpass our expectations. Sounds silly but the number of people who run these at just under 40% is astounding. After you fiddle with the light strength awhile you’ll easily find the best settings for your tank. Just keep an eye on your fish for panicked swimming, plants for light burning and corals retracting.

Finally the fixture comes with its very own hanging hooks included. These are specially designed to fit with the light and hold them securely in place. If you really wanted to you could create your own legs and mount this directly over the tank, but hanging the fixture is far more practical. My recommendation is to keep the light between 6-12 inches above the water.

Light Strength & Distribution

This is the hard hitting section of lights. Does it provide the light we need and if so how is it spread? For this light the short answer is yes and narrow.

Even when used in combination with deep tanks the Galaxyhydro LED Aquarium Light can provide both SPS and LPS corals with plenty of light. In fact if you visit your local fish store it is likely they have these lights hanging above their own coral tanks. My LFS has recently upgraded to a larger building and added these lights to each of the coral tanks. As they have been selling corals for over 15 years it gave me quite the confidence boost for my own fixtures.

The thing that new owners need to learn about is light distribution. On this particular fixture the light has a spread of about 120 degrees. While that may sound huge it actually doesn’t allow the light to spread too far without suspending it quite high. For tanks like a 30 long this may not be an issue but much more than that and you will need multiple lights to avoid the darkness.

Lifetime & Warranty

On average most aquariums are supposed to receive 8-10 hours of light. More realistically we have our lights on say 12 hours a day. The Galaxyhydro lives a well established 30,000 hours on average with a one year warranty. 30,000 hours/12 hours/365 days a year gives us an average of 6.85 years. One heck of a life time for such strong lights.

If you use a timer and actually follow the 8 hours a day you’re looking at 10.27 years. This makes the light cost around $10 a year. Fluorescent bulbs alone already cost more than that and are replaced 2-6 times a year. So does the buy in for this light far outweigh saving on a cheaper light fixture? Absolutely.

Customer Service

The sellers of the Galaxyhydro offer some of the best customer service available. Simply inform them of your problem and they will often fix it free of charge. Honestly unless you tell them you smashed your light with a baseball bat I doubt they would refuse you. The people who respond are very friendly and patient. More surprisingly they actually know a fair bit of aquarist jargon which makes describing the problems even easier. Combining all these factors easily rates this as one of the best LED aquarium lighting fixtures

Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light


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Size Dimensions Watts LEDs
18″-24″ 16.8 x 3.5 x 0.44 18 Watts 72 LEDs, 36 Dual Daylight/36 Dual Actinic LEDs
24″-36″ 22.8 x 3.5 x 0.44 23 Watts 98 LEDs, 48 Dual Daylight/48 Dual Actinic LED
36″-48″ 34.8 x 3.5 x 0.44 36 Watts 144 LEDs, 72 Dual Daylight/72 Dual Actinic LEDs
48″-60″ 46.8 x 3.5 x 0.44 46 Watts 192 LEDs, 96 Dual Daylight/96 Dual Actinic LEDs

After a suspended LED aquarium light I figured it’s time to bring in a more introductory version. The Current USA LED aquarium light rests on top of the aquarium and comes with all sorts of features, including an advanced timer complete with remote control.

Features

First of all the legs on the Current USA can change sizes. This takes the “I hope they fit” questions out of the equation. Once you have them at the right length they stay in place.

As for the casing of the Current USA LED aquarium light it is made of a solid aluminum housing that gives a sleek and modern look to the light strip.

The box and remote seen in front of the light is actually a controller for the light. This allows for a great amount of flexibility with your lights. In fact I have previously written on how to use the timer in great detail. Essentially it will allow you to set full, specific, day long light cycles as well as control both the blue and white lighting elements separately. Honestly it is the best timer on the market, so coming with the light is an enormous benefit.

Using the remote you can control your light from a distance at the push of a button. This may sound lazy but after using a touch sensor light for a few years the buttons are a welcome gift.

The controller allows for four different light cycles, each of which can be fully customized and saved into the controllers memory. The lights intensity can be set from anywhere between 0-100% intensity.

The one big downside here is that you cannot lose the remote. If you do it becomes impossible to do anything with the light. The remote is pretty big and hard to lose imo but still be extra sure to not lose it too badly. Still if you have it set to a normal day cycle when you lose the remote the light works just fine.

Light Strength & Distribution

As for the light strength the Current USA is fairly strong. It combines both 12,000k white lights with 460nm actinic blue lights to cover the needs of almost any coral. It will easily grow any soft corals or highly placed high light demanding corals. If you are going to be growing plants rather than corals this light will easily cover all of your needs.

A general rule to follow when growing more demanding coral is to allow 1 watt per gallon. The Current USA runs at 46 watts, allowing one light to be strong enough for 45 gallon tanks. Any larger and you will need multiple light strips. Remember if you use multiple light strips to add them gradually. One light unit a week. Too many new lights at the same time will stress the inhabitants.

If you would like an example of the lights strength I can personally tell you it is strong enough to keep bubble tip anemones and hammer corals quite happy. My clown fish got over the hammer coral making me get the anemone but the light was able to support it. No harm no foul you crazy clowns.

If you wish to use this light to grow corals of higher demand it can be done. As many growing aquarists learn this is done by using multiple light strips. The deeper your tank the more light strips you will need. If your tank is over 18″ deep you will likely need a second to grow any corals sitting at the bottom. This of course can be countered by placing the coral much higher in the tank. An easy way to do this is to use your rocks to build a formation and allowing a large rock to rest upon the top. This lets your corals be much closer to the light without making the tank have any unnatural elements.

Overall I wouldn’t recommend light this for coral enthusiasts but if you plan on a fish only with live rock set up or low light demanding corals the Current USA LED aquarium light has you covered and then some.

As for the distribution, the Current USA light is able to bring light to the entire length of the tank. That being said the light is fairly thin, coming in at 3.5 inches wide with a 120 degree spread. If you own a wide tank you may benefit from a second light. Alternatively you can use this to your advantage for aesthetics. Putting the light more forward on wide tanks lets the back of the tank become shadowed, creating a deep ocean vibe. It also gives more skittish fish a place to hide.

Lifetime & Warranty

The standard warranty that comes along with the Current USA LED aquarium light lasts for one year. The lifetime of the light itself is around two to three years. This may seem a bit short, however when you subtract the cost the controller brings along with it the complete system is actually fairly cheap. Buying a timer separately, even avoiding such high tech ones like this, will cost between $40-60.

One special note I have about the warranty is this. They do not cover water damage. Odd for a piece of aquarium equipment but none the less be sure your light is not able to fall into the tank. Typically I use glass covers so this cannot happen but many owners will leave their tanks 100% uncovered. If you do this please fasten your light and give it some bump tests to ensure it cannot fall.

Customer Service

The customer service here is very hit or miss. If you call in and get someone who cannot understand your problem or only offers to sell you new items it is actually best to hang up and call again.

All in all I’d say you have a two out of three chance to get someone actually helpful. If you don’t just try again no matter what they tell you on the phone. Some of these assistants are merely trying to reduce their overall call time which is why they don’t go into detail. Thankfully the majority of them will actually try to help you as that is the fastest way to solve any customers problem.

Marineland Reef LED Light Strip


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Size Watts LEDs
18″-24″ 21 Watts 21 LEDs, 18 Daylight 14,000k LEDs/3 Lunar 460nm LEDs
24″-36″ 27 Watts 27 LEDs, 23 Daylight 14,000k LEDs/4 Lunar 460nm LEDs
36″-48″ 42 Watts 42 LEDs, 36 Daylight 14,000k LEDs/6 Lunar 460nm LEDs
48″-60″ 54 Watts 54 LEDs, 46 Daylight 14,000k LEDs/8 Lunar 460nm LEDs

A solid pick from a well known company, the Marineland Reef LED aquarium light strip brings a lot of light strength to the table at a great price.

Features

This is one of the newer versions of the Marineland LED lighting. As such it has brought a lot of new features along.

First off Marineland has actually increased the units light strength by 20% over the previous model. I’ll discuss this more in depth later but simply stated it now brings 14,000k light strength per strip.

Additionally Marineland has built a timer into the light strip itself. This allows you to create your own day cycle without any additional programming. For those setting up reef aquarium LED lighting systems this is a god send for multiple reasons. The first is that you can adjust each light strip individually, allowing you to dim the lights in one section at a time. This is ideal for simulating the end of a day and slowly shutting off the lights. No more sudden darkness shocks.

The second reason a built in timer is so beneficial is that it needs no additional outlet. I don’t know about your specific tank But mine always takes more than a single power strip to plug in every piece of equipment. Not having to add on multiple light controllers really helps me out here.

Lastly the use of any timer at all is a tremendous benefit to aquariums. When the lights are not automated it is likely they will be one for a few more hours each day or even forgotten some days. My poor ten gallon had to suffer one or two light-less days a week until i buckled and bought a timer. Too bad that light hadn’t come with a timer like this one does.

Moving away from the timer and onto the next feature we have the lights adjustable legs. As with the Current USA this light strip has legs that can be set to fit your aquariums length perfectly.

The last feature I would like to mention is the power efficient design on this light. The previous model of this light generated a bit of heat. Nothing too bad but still not what a light is meant to do. With the newer edition almost all the energy is directed straight into the lights, creating a savings in electricity of almost $50 a year once mine was replaced. That alone paid the light off itself in the two years. Needless to say its efficiency will actually pay me back over an even longer stretch of time.

Light Strength & Distribution

As previously stated the Marineland LED aquarium light fixture brings in a nice 14,000k lighting temperature. This combined with the Lunar 460NM lamps provide a full spectrum of light to please any and all corals.

A quick warning here is actually not an expected one. Despite coming fully equipped with a built in timer, the light actually cannot be dimmed down in strength. This means more shallow tanks with low light demanding corals such as mushrooms may need to look elsewhere.

If your tank is of varying height, basically all non breeder tanks, than even low light demanding corals can be happy when placed near the bottom of the aquarium.

The spread of this light is a bit more generous than the Current USA light strip. Even so if your tank is over 18 inches wide you will need a second light. When raising high light demanding corals I would still place the corals near the top of the tank. While the light does reach to the bottom of the tank with ease, more light is always better for many corals and putting it closer to the light is the easiest way to achieve this.

Lifetime & Warranty

The model is fairly new so the lifetime has to be extrapolated from older models. Given that they would often last for over 5 years and the company themselves claim a 10 year lifetime, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the most cost efficient LED aquarium lighting available.

The warranty offered for this tank is one year, however the company is well known for supporting its customers well after the warranty has ended. Many owners even report being given two to four free repairs with multiple being after the warranty has ended. Frankly this is the benefit that more established names often bring, and Marineland is no exception.

Customer Service

While my lights themselves have not broken down yet, I have had a Marineland product fail before. After calling them they agreed to a free repair after I sent in the item. Two weeks later I had a brand new piece of equipment that I couldn’t even remember the name to. They were just kind enough to find that out for me and fix it themselves. Since then I have always logged what equipment I have and the purchase information, but helping me when I was very new to the hobby has put Marineland on my most trusted aquarium parts manufacturers.

Because my own account is not really enough to solidify their good customer service I’ve done some research on several of their products. This is indeed the norm from the company and they are always happy to help you. Simply call them or even post a comment on their website and you should be helped quite promptly.

Looking for more aquarium lighting? Check out our guide on the best freshwater aquarium lighting.

Glofish Lights

Glofish are neon colored, slightly translucent fish. They come in two species: zebrafish or tetras. Glofish are available in the colors starfire red, electric green, sunburst orange, cosmic blue, galactic purple, and moonrise pink. Glofish can be kept in a home aquarium under white lighting, but under blue lighting, their colors truly shine. Read on to learn the pros and cons of Glofish lights.

Light Stick Universal Light Strip
6 or 8 inches long Adjustable up to 30 inches long
Clip on back of tank Mounted above tank
6 inch: 1.8 watts, 8 inch: 2 watts 2.8 watts
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Glofish lights work the best for smaller tanks around 20 gallons because one light will have sufficient strength to light up an entire aquarium of this size. Glofish lights can also work extremely well for larger tanks that are longer rather than deeper, such as breeder tanks.
Generally, Glofish lights are used solely on the basis of their blue color. Glofish lights should not be used as your aquarium’s prime lighting source typically, because they do not support much plant growth, and simply because your fish may want to see more light than dark blue. However, Glofish lights are inexpensive, and great fun to flip on during night time to enjoy your neon fish light show.

 

Pros:
    • Watch the neon colors of your glofish pop at the blue colored light wave of 450 nanometers.

 

    • The lights are inexpensive: no more than fourty dollars

 

    • Two options of light design to fit any aquarium size up to 30 inches long: narrower and shorter light stick, or wider and longer mountable light strip.

 

    • Glofish lights are waterproof: they can be left alone without worry of accidental splashing or submersion.

 

  • The light stick design features a clip to attach the light to your aquarium along with clips to hold the cord in place.


Cons:
    • Glofish lights are currently blue light-only: they do not come equipped with a white light option, so if white light is desired a second light will be necessary for your aquarium.

 

    • If you have a large, deep tank around 30 inches long, you may need two light strips to adequately provide blue light without dark areas. Generally, optimum lighting is produced with one light strip per 20 inches length of tank.

 

  • Not strong enough to support most healthy plant growth as a only light source because these lights are only 2-3 watts strong. Any exception to this would be low-light plants.
Both Light Types Include:
    • 30 day warranty or return with Amazon and the Glofish manufacturer.

 

    • Waterproof guarantee

 

    • Blue LEDs to showcase your neon Glofish in the dark.

 

  • Two pronged plugin which works at 120 volts.

Freshwater Aquarium LED Lighting

There are quite a few differences when shopping for freshwater aquarium LED lighting rather than florescent or marine lights.

Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Ledenet 12-Inch Freshwater Aquarium LED Lighting Strip Aquatic Life LED Aquarium Light Fixture Deckey Freshwater Aquarium LED Lighting Fixture
Fits Aquariums:
18″ – 60″
Fits Aquariums:
12″+
Fits Aquariums:
23.5″ – 50.25″
Fits Aquariums:
12″ – 45.2″
LEDs: 54-144 LEDs: 18 LEDs: 57-114 LEDs: 36-144
Watts: 13-30 Watts: 3.6 Watts: 36-72 Watts: 6-25
Price: $$$ Price: $ Price: $$$$ Price: $$
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Important Elements Of Freshwater Aquarium LED Lighting
  • Reasonable Cost
  • Efficient Power Usage
  • Proper Light Strength
  • Long Lifetime

This isn’t to say extra features are bad or unwanted, but they aren’t a requirement. A Reasonable cost and efficient power usage ensure that the LED lighting we choose gives us enough bang for our buck. Add this on to long lifetimes and an LED light ends up being more cost effective than any other form of lighting.

However we are not only looking for the cheapest lighting available. Keeping our fish happy and active, along with grown any live plants, is a vital part of our lighting systems.

Lighting Strength

There are three general levels of light strength.

  • Aesthetic lights that only provide light
  • Plant friendly lights that provide strong enough light to grow plants
  • Plant growth lights designed to accelerate any plants growth

As expected the price of the light increases as it becomes more intense, meaning that planted tank lights both cost more money initially and over time. However the filtration that plants provide in tanks is an enormous benefit. I’ll leave it up to you on which is best for your specific tank.

Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus


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Current USA never disappoints. Often under $90 this light strip brings in a lot of features, power and efficiency.

To start I’ll explain how the light is designed. The casing features aluminum housing and an acrylic splash lens which form the case of the light. This is IP65 water resistant so there’s no need to fear mist seeping into the fixture. The light is the supported by two adjustable leg mounts that can extend to fit perfectly onto the rim of the tank.

On the end of the light is the power cord and infrared eye. The power cord features a female to male plug in the middle, which allows you to place the light on a timer. The infrared eye is used to catch signals from the remote control. Before using the remote remove the tape and position the sensor where it will have a direct line of sight to the remote.

To use the remote you should keep the instruction manual handy. There are a lot of features on it, but over all you’ll mostly be using just a few of the buttons. Here’s a quick rundown on how to use the controller:

  • The top left section of the remote holds 6 buttons. These select a base color and adjust the light to match them.
  • The red power button shuts the light off while the play/pause button below it pauses or resumes any dynamic lighting effect.
  • Underneath these two sections are 2 rows of arrows, each a different color. You can use these to adjust each colors intensity by pressing the up arrow of the respective color to increase the intensity or the down arrow to reduce the intensity.
  • The row under the colored arrows are listed as M1, M2, M3, and M4. By holding these buttons for four seconds you can store a custom color into the remotes settings, allowing for 4 saved colors total
  • The last section of the remote holds the dynamic lighting buttons.
  • The first row features three dynamic moonlight settings. The first is a normal blue light. The second is a darker night light while the third is a cloudy dark night.
  • At the end of this row is the sunrise/sunset button. This starts a 15 minute ramp up/down of the lights. Use this effect to introduce the light to your tank every morning and slowly put the tank to bed at night.
  • The second to last row holds 4 buttons, each having a different cloud configuration attached to them. These can be nice and stress free for the fish but are not optimal for plant growth.
  • The last row is typically the only touch once row. The first three buttons hold a dynamic storm lighting effect. They will often stress your fish and should not really be used regularly if at all. The last button fades out the colors through every spectrum.

The remote is fairly fun to use. Once you have learned it inside and out it is more likely you will only use a few of the features. Still guests can enjoy seeing the dynamic lights over your fish tank.

Set Up

Setting up the Current USA Satellite+ is a fairly simple job. As there is nothing to plug between the male and female cords you will only need to plug the light into the wall. If you do have a timer to attach the light to go ahead and put it into place. The light runs at 12 volts. Keep this in mind and refrain from overloading any power strips.

Next you will need to remove the sticky tape from the infrared eye. The eye should be placed as far forward on the tank as possible, with something underneath it if the eye cannot reach the edge of the tank. Have the eye blocked means the remote control will often not be read, rendering it useless.

Light Strength

Ok back to the specifications of the light.

The Current USA Satellite LED+ is one of the best freshwater aquarium led lights as it features great strength at a medium ground cost. The white lights put out a strong 6,500K while the rest of the bulbs provide the full color spectrum to keep both plants and fish happy. The lumens are not the highest out there, but a certainly high enough to support any form of plant you can bring into the aquarium. Just be sure that for more light demanding plants you place them closer to the light and not at the bottom of the tank or underneath objects.

The spread of the light is 120 degrees and thanks to the acrylic splash guard almost no light is lost. These two form a powerful pair and provide a great spread of light without being so wide that it extends far out of the tank. If you have never had this problem count yourself lucky. Lights that do spread too much will often cause glares in the room and shine into nearby eyes. We need to see the tank, not have a flashlight shined in our face.

That being said you need to keep in mind the light is only 3.5″ wide. Extra wide tanks, will need two light strips. Long tanks however will be completely lit via a single LED lighting strip.

Lifetime & Warranty

Current USA provides all of their lights with a one year warranty combined with excellent customer service. More often than not they will repair out of warranty items a few times. Overall this means your warranty is only solid for one year but is more realistically 3 years.

The lifetime of the Satellite+ LED light has been tested and reviewed to last over ten years. This is when the light is used for an average of 10 hours a day. If used for longer spans such as 12 hour days the lights lifetime is much closer to 7 or 8 years. Still that is an amazing lifetime for any product.

Ledenet 12-Inch Freshwater Aquarium LED Lighting Strip


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The Ledenet Freshwater Aquarium LED lighting Strip is a much more basic lighting strip than the Current USA. Its features include:

  • Dimensions: 12″ L x .7″ W x .4″ H
  • 18 LED lights
  • Comes in three different colors
  • Depending on the color ranges from 324-360 Lumens
  • Drilled holes for bolting as well as brackets to mount the light
  • Linking cables allow for multiple lights to be connected together

This light strip is perfect for those new to the hobby who do not have a lot of extra money to spend. The light fixture often hovers just over $10, meaning you can purchase several of these lights in place of a single light strip. This allows you to use multiple light strips in one timer, saving money even further while not taking up all of your plug-in sections.

Something to keep in mind when viewing this light is you must get at least one light with adapter combo. The lights aren’t very useful without the cord to plug them in. A minor setback as the light remains under $20.

Additionally the light strip does not come with an on/off switch. This means you will either need to attach a controller or timer to the light for the light to be shut off. Alternatively you can pull the power cord out from the light. If you choose this route always keep a towel near the light to dry your hands. When fiddling with our tanks a bit of moisture is to be expected so please ensure you keep your hands dry.

Set Up

This is one of the better freshwater aquarium LED lights that manages to produce virtually no heat while also pumping out decent lumens. That being said the light will not grow plants in deeper waters with only one light strip. This is where the connecting function of the light comes in handy. As you choose to add additional light strips there is nothing complex to do. Simply connect the two light strips and they will both work, combining their strength and increasing the light in your aquarium. Both simple and effective.

Light Strength

The Ledenet Freshwater aquarium LED lighting strip runs between 320-360 lumens depending on the chosen color. As for the wattage each strip runs at 3.6 watts. For the highest lumen output choose cold white lighting. These bring 20 lumens per LED while the warm white create 18 lumens per LED.

If you combine this information with the 18 LEDs per light strip you can see the lumens add up quickly. For new tank owners I would recommend one light strip per every 5 gallons. This won’t give you the strength needed to grow plants but will provide enough light to keep your fish happy. If you have an oddly shaped tank such as a long breeder or deep tall tank you may need to adjust your lights accordingly.

Lifetime & Warranty

Being such a low cost light has to have a few draw backs. For this light the lifetime is seen to be between 6-12 months. Those who have the light for over a year often take better care of their light which suggests the lifetime should really range around 8-16 months under good care.

Aquatic Life LED Aquarium Light Fixture


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The Aquatic Life LED fixture is the full force light needed to grow the most demanding plants in deep waters

Size Watts Amps LEDs
24″ fits 23.5″ to 26.25″ 36 Watts 3 AMPS (13) 6K White, (14) 9K White, (17) 10K White, (3) Blue, (7) Red, (3) Blue Lunar LED’s
36″ fits 35″ to 38.25″ 60 Watts 5 AMPS (21) 6K White, (21) 9K White, (24) 10K White, (7) Blue, (11) Red, (3) Blue Lunar LED’s
48″ fits 47″ to 50.25″ 72 Watts 6 AMPS (27) 6K White, (27) 9K White, (33) 10K White, (7) Blue, (14) Red, (6) Blue Lunar LED’s
Set Up

To start out I’ll talk about fitting these freshwater LED fixtures to aquariums. The legs are not nearly as adjustable as many other LED fixtures. They can be adjusted by using the screws located on the underside of the fixture. This is done by loosening the screws and sliding the mounts into position. Once that has been done tighten the screws to complete the process.

Next up is the lights lack of water resistant design. The Aquatic Life LED fixture is a fantastic unit but if used over an open top aquarium will see a drastically shorter life. This is clearly stated in multiple places on the box and in the fine print on the instructions. If you do not use a glass top for your aquarium please look at a different light. If you do use a glass top let’s continue on.

The cord is a decent length, coming in at a solid 2 meters or roughly 6.5 feet. Be sure to take advantage of this and form a drip loop. While the light is not water resistant I can guarantee the electrical output is even less water friendly.

Next up is a big part of the light. The build in timer and back up battery.

Clock Settings
By pressing and holding the triangle and square buttons The clock will flash. First press the triangle button to increase the hours and the square button when it is correct. This moves you on to the minutes where you will again use the triangle button to increase the minutes to the desired time.

Setting Channel Times
This is the important part of our lights timing. First off the preset times are:

  • Channel 1 (color LEDs): Start at 8:00am End at 8:00pm
  • Channel 2 (White LEDs): Start at 10:00am End at 5:00pm
  • Moonlight (Blue Lunar LEDs): Start at 8:00pm end at 12:00am

To adjust these you must first set the clock. After that is done press the square button to advance onto channel 1. These follow the same directions. triangle to increase the time and square to advance. After all 3 channels have been set you will be asked to set the sunrise/sunset time. This can be anywhere between 0 and 120 minutes. This determines how long the lights take to turn on, making a more gentle ramp up time rather than instant full power lighting.

Note: Keep your times written down when programming the light. If you leave it idle too long it will exit the programming mode.

The back up battery is built right into the fixture. Should the power go out this keeps your setting saved and resumes upon startup.

Light Strength

The light strength is actually a bit beyond the best freshwater aquarium LED lighting as it’s capable of growing corals. That being said the price of freshwater only lights that can grow high light demanding plants often exceeds this fixture, making the Aquatic Life a great choice.

As shown in my table above the light includes multiple levels of white light strength as well as red and blue lights. The combination of these forms a powerful spectrum that can grow anything from plants to anemones.

As with other light strips, the Aquatic Life fixture spreads its light at a 120 degree angle. This combined with its 4 inch width gives you ample lighting in most tanks. The only ones who may need additional light strips are those with extra wide tanks. If you did not specially order your tank this would not include you.

Lifetime & Warranty

The lifetime on this light is Fairly long lived so long as you do not let water reach the light. Keep your glass top secure and this wont be a problem. The LEDs themselves can last over 5 years easily, making this light a low cost over time choice. If you are switching from bulb lighting you can expect to see an average of $80 a year from lower electric bills and bulb replacements.

The Aquatic Life comes with a 1 year limited warranty where they will repair any light that has not reached an “unsalvageable” state. This means if the light costs more to repair than to replace they will fix it. After that warranty ends the warranty shifts into a lifetime repair warranty. During this time they will repair the light so long as you pay for shipping and parts. Not the best situation but a $40 charge is much better than having to get a new light 6 years down the road.

Deckey Freshwater Aquarium LED Lighting Fixture


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The Decky Freshwater Aquarium LED Lighting Fixture is my low cost LED aquarium lighting of choice. Featuring 36 to 144 LEDs depending on size, there is no LED fixture that competes on Deckeys price point

Size Fits Aquariums Size Watts Amps LEDs
11″ x 3.9″ x .5″ 12″ to 20″ 6 Watts .5 Amps 36 LEDs(30 white + 6 blue)
20″ x 3.5″ x .5″ 19.7″ to 27.6″ 11 Watts 1 Amp 72 LEDs(60 white + 12 blue)
28″ x 3.9″ x .7″ 28.3″ to 35.4″ 18 Watts 1 Amp 108 LEDs(90 white + 18 blue)
45″ x 3.9″ x .5″ 37.4″ to 45.2″ 25 Watts 2 Amps 144 LEDs(120 white + 24 blue)
Set Up

Setting up this light is fairly straight forward. The legs adjust to fit to the aquarium and once it is in place you are free to turn the light on. There is one major note. The light is not water resistant at all. This means you cannot use the Deckey light without a glass cover on your aquarium. The exception to this case is tanks with very little aeration or an external form of aeration.

The power cord is 5 feet long, meaning the light should be placed fairly close to its outlet. Keep in mind you will need a few extra inches to create a drip loop between the power cord and outlet.

Located Next to the power cord is the switch to turn the light on or off. There is no included timer or remote here but the light can be attached to a timer if you own one. Honestly once you get a timer you will never go back to manual settings, and with the money saved on this model I highly suggest adding a timer.

Light Strength

The light strength of the Deckey Freshwater LED Lighting Lamp is quite powerful for its low price point. This allows you to grow most plants with ease, though I still recommend higher light demanding plants be placed closer to the light. For normal or low light plants you can easily grow them anywhere in the tank when paired with the right sized lighting fixture.

The bulbs in the LED lighting fixture provide excellent and even coverage, ensuring that there are not any dark corners in the tank. The angle of distribution is also 120 degrees which spreads the light to the tank without sending valuable light to the floor outside the tank.

The wattage on the lights varies with light sizes and is suitable for breeders, talls and standard aquariums. However with tall tanks I would not recommend using high light requirement plants. For those looking for only plant growth it should be noted that the 20″ model has the highest wattage per LED. For each white light the strength is rated at a solid 6,500K. This is just as high as the Current USA but lacks the full color spectrum.

Lifetime & Warranty

Unlike the more expensive models the Deckey Freshwater LED Lighting Lamp features a very short warranty. If there are any problems with the light you are allowed to return it for 30 days no questions asked. During this time you will easily be able to tell if you have received a defective unit.

The lifetime is not too long but still lower cost per year than more expensive lights. On average the Deckey lasts between 12-18 months. The number would be higher but if any water reaches the light it is usually done for. This tends to drag the lifetime down. If you do keep a well fitted, no crack glass top on your aquarium you should not have this problem.

With all this knowledge under your belt you will have no problems selecting the perfect freshwater aquarium LED light for your tank. Remember that if you already have a fluorescent light fixture that LEDs do save a lot of money over time. LED lights are really an asap addition to any aquarium.

Want to see more freshwater lighting options? check out my guide on the best freshwater aquarium lighting!

Freshwater Aquarium Lighting Time

With our lights in place, fish happily swimming about and plants fully situated our tanks are finally launched. Later we add on a light timer so that we no longer have no light days or days without a night. Now the question is how your fresh water aquarium lighting time should be distributed.

If you’re not looking into details the best schedule to use is 8-12 hours a day. I’ll explain more specifically the time is adjusted for later on.

For those new to the hobby I will first explain the benefits of proper aquarium light timing as well as the pitfalls of careless light usage.

The Benefits Of Correct Freshwater Aquarium Lighting Times

Using the right freshwater aquarium lighting time will often give us a plethora of benefits such as:

  • Accelerated plant and coral growth
  • More colorful plants, corals and fish
  • Save on electricity
  • Being prepared for vacations

The last one is something I must stress. If you have someone house sitting your fish make sure they either know the lighting schedule or have a timer. One of my house sitters thought the window was enough light. When I got home and flipped the light on my Clowns had a ghostly face on them with faded colors. My mandarin even hid for the rest of the day, making me think he had been eaten by my coral banded shrimp. Luckily as everyone warmed up to the light they returned to normal.

When your plants, corals and fish have more color it is because they are healthier and less stressed. Many corals will even extend further under perfectly regulated lights where as plants will maintain the right color and avoid any sun burns extended lighting can cause.

As a result of the better health the plants will be able to soak in more light, grow faster and remove more toxins from the water. Corals will do the same, but are sometimes limited by the nutrients in the water.

Finally saving on electricity is simple. if you cut say 2 hours of lighting off a day it is about the same as turning the light off for 91 days. Needless to say this is a huge chunk of our electric bill saved.

Picking The Perfect Freshwater Aquarium Lighting Time

If like me you first tried to regulate the lights time on your own we should be on the same page. Bottom line is it is next to impossible. We are not robots and do not wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Likewise we cannot adjust our light at the right time every day for years. It just isn’t possible. So for this guide I will be speaking as if you own an aquarium light timer.

First off we must note that aquarium lights should not be on as long as we are awake. 14-20 hours of light is just too much for most tanks. Instead we will be shaving off the times when we view our tank the least.

The best time to turn our aquarium lights on is not when we first wake up. The first thing we do when we get out of bed is often shower, eat or sleep a bit more. None of which we will be looking at the tank. By waiting this hour we have already taken off one of the hours we need to secure a better lighting schedule.

If you work early in the morning you may even choose to have your lights turn on a few hours after you start working. I personally don’t recommend leaving the light off until say 2pm but keeping the lights off until 11am means the lights are able to stay lit until 7pm to 11 pm.

This brings us to the next point of planning your freshwater aquarium lighting time. Depending on where the tank is located you may need the lights to be off earlier. For instance my small saltwater tank is located in the bedroom. Keeping this light on until 11pm is nice some days, but when I need to sleep early it is far from ideal. This brings me to my biggest point:

Schedule your light around your average day, not your ideal day!

having the tank off early on my day off may not be as fun as keeping it on until 11, but it sure beats having bad sleep or cutting my corals short on their lighting.

Specific Freshwater Lighting Problems And Solutions

This is where I will explain the range of 8-12 hours being the best aquarium lighting time. As many have learned not all aquariums are the same. For example my neon tetra tank will have far less waste in it than a goldfish tank. This is both because my tetra tank is under stocked and goldfish in particular are messy eaters.

Why does this affect my aquarium lighting times?

Simply put, algae. The green, weedy algae that will plague every new aquarists tank along with brown diatoms that cover sand beds. This stuff loves two things. Nutrient rich waters and excess lighting. Combining the two is just begging for an algae bloom. This is why for nutrient rich tanks or tanks that are often over fed should only receive 8 hours of light. This gives plants and fish enough light to stay happy while limiting the light algae has. This alone will not stop the algae, nothing can do that, but it does slow it down to a manageable rate.

The middle ground, about 10 hours, has several uses. Typically it is used as the safe bet on lighting times when the aquarist does not know enough about their tank to make an informed decision. This is fine as no one comes into the hobby knowing everything. For those who own tropical fish, the most abundant kind of aquarium fish, 10 hours also helps to simulate their natural day times. Combine this with timers that slowly turn the lights on for the best effect.

The longest stretch of the range, 12 hours, is best used by those growing plants or corals. Most plants and corals only need 8 hours of light to stay healthy, but will happily accept more light. In fact many coral dealers never switch off their lights but instead swap to a low strength blue light over night. If you own any fish this is not recommended.

The biggest issue with 12 hour lighting periods is that the algae and plants/corals will be competing for the nutrients in the water. At first this often results in the algae winning out, causing an algae bloom. However as the corals and plants grow, the tide of the battle turns and less and less algae grows. Eventually having the 12 hour lighting period will result in the same or even less algae growth than sticking with 8 hour light periods would.

The last element to consider when choosing your freshwater aquarium lighting time is its location in your house. Many new to the aquarium hobby will often place their tank in front of or across from windows, resulting in large amount of natural light that pours into the tank. This combined with artificial lighting can cause constant algae blooms that are hard to beat. If the tank is small enough I suggest relocating it, however some tanks will never be moved once they are filled with water. Thick curtains are your friend here, as are heavily planted tanks.

Summary

For those who are new to the hobby try setting your lights to 10 hours of light a day. Adjust to less light if you have rapid algae growth or add more light if you see low algae growth and wish to grow plants.

If you are constantly seeing algae reduce the lighting time as well as blocking out any natural light produced via windows or reflective floors. With all these elements in play your freshwater aquariums lighting time should quickly be established, reducing algae, saving money on electricity and making all your tank inhabitants happy.

Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium Light Review


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Size Wattage LEDs
12″ 8.9 Watts (44) 7000k + (24) 660nm RED + (4) Blue Moonlights 72 LEDs Total
16″ 11.9 Watts (60) 7000k + (32) 660nm RED + (4) Blue Moonlights 96 LEDs Total
20″ 14.7 Watts (72) 7000k + (40) 660nm RED + (8) Blue Moonlights 120 LEDs Total
24″ 17.8 Watts (88) 7000k + (48) 660nm RED + (8) Blue Moonlights 144 LEDs Total
30″ 20.8 Watts (104) 7000k + (56) 660nm RED + (8) Blue Moonlights 168 LEDs Total
36″ 26.7 Watts (132) 7000k + (72) 660nm RED + (12) Blue Moonlights 216 LEDs Total
48″ 35.6 Watts (180) 7000k + (96) 660nm RED + (12) Blue Moonlights 288 LEDs Total

The Finnex FugeRay Planted+ is one of the best lighting fixtures to get aquarists started in the hobby. It features:

  • A staggering amount of LEDs
  • Powerful 7,000k lighting
  • Seven sizes
  • A low price
  • Splash guard
  • Aluminum circuit board
  • built in heat sink
  • Adjustable legs
What Makes The Finnex FugeRay Planted+ A Great Starting Light?

There are a few major things affecting new and experience aquarists at all times.

a.) Desire for new additions to the tank
b.) Worry about quality, cost and longevity of equipment

We have enough costs to worry about already. Adding high cost fluorescent light bulbs and short lifespan lights would only add to the problem. This costs us extra money and prevents the addition of new equipment and fish. In some cases it can even chase people away from the hobby all together. Thankfully with smart selections we can minimize our costs without sacrificing quality. That’s where the Finnex FugeRay Planted+ comes in.

Warranty

Ever ordered something, only to find it broken the next month? amazon sure does offer quick and easy returns but that 30 day return policy can really sting. Thankfully the Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights features a 6 month warranty to ensure you fall in love with your light. Should you have any problems the customer service is quick to respond, often helping those who have even fallen out of warranty. They are one of my favorite customer services to deal with.

Lifetime

First off let’s decide how long we want our light on? Once you break into stronger lights, above ten hours nets you a whole bunch of algae. Unless you have an algae scrubber or a lot of free time I recommend you cap light time at 10 hours a day.

Now how long does the Finnex FugeRay Planted+ last? After plenty of testing and experimenting Finnex has been ale to announce that their lights last over 40,000 hours on average. Let’s do some quick math on the bare minimum 40,000.

40,000 hours/ 10 hour days/ 365 days a year = 10.95 years

Frankly the light will often outlive the aquarium and every single piece of equipment. Over the years this light lives there is almost nothing you will spend less money on, even the most expensive model barely cracks the double digits in pricing per year. If you think that’s the end of the savings you need to hear this next part.

Efficient LEDs

If you got into the aquarium hobby on your own, no gifts or hand me down equipment, you’re like me. I got a deluxe hood from my LFS and was set with a fluorescent light fixture. Over the years I bought 4 bulbs before the light itself broke down. All in all about $80 for my ten gallon hood. Additionally I noticed an increase in my electric bill from having that light on 12 hours a day. Because it was so weak almost no algae grew, but similarly my live plants barely grew at all. With the light dead I was actually excited. Many other aquarists had discussed other lighting options with me. The metal halides scared me as I have other pets who could touch the super hot fixture. This left me to try out LEDs.

So where is this going? Right here. With my new Finnex in place I turned on the light and was blown away by the brightness. In retrospect I should have had a bit more ambient light so my fish wouldn’t be so startled. Fast forward one month and I notice my electric bill has dropped about $5. Nothing huge but $60 extra a year really adds up. Notice something there? That’s right within one year this light fixture had already saved me more money than I had spent on it. Fast forward to the present and we now have the Finnex FugeRay Planted+ which has even longer lasting bulbs that draw even less power and provide better lighting. Oh how far aquariums have come.

The short version is this light will pay for itself in 1-2 years from electricity and no bulb replacement. After that all that saved money is pure bonus for you to enjoy. What’s 8 years of saving buy? Your bigger tank and its equipment of course!

Light Strength

Ok some of us just need the specs, and most of those are in the table. If you need some more details I’m happy to discuss what the Finnex FugeRay Planted+ can and cannot do.

The light features some great strength but it does not match the sun. The being said there are several plants that the light cannot accommodate. If you are looking to keep high light demanding plants or even corals you may need to look for other forms of aquarium lighting. If you have the more typical plants, say java fern or my new favorite scarlet temple, The FugeRay will have these plants growing almost like weeds. Don’t worry though! When live plants grow they actually eat toxins in the water as substance, cleaning our water. If the plants get too big just snap some of it off and remove it from the tank. Better yet you can plant the removed plant and it will grow a second set of roots. My first plant started out as a small 2″ x 1″ bush. After 2 months in the Finnex I had created a beautiful background across my 10 gallon aquarium.

Setting Up The Finnex FugeRay Planted+

Unlike hoods, touch screen lights and spotlights, the FugeRay is simple to attach and run. The legs slide along the entire length of the light, making it easy to fit the light to your tank. This means you Must get a light as big or bigger than your tank. Once in place use the switches on the back to switch between on, off for both the normal light and moonlight. Not much to complicate things here.

Overall

The Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlight set up is one of my favorite fixtures to recommend. It has low start up costs, even lower maintenance costs and some of the best lighting you can find at this price point. If you are growing high light demanding plants or corals you will need to look elsewhere, but for the majority of aquarists the Finnex FugeRay planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlight combo is an absolute dream.