You’ll agree with us when we say that aquarium lights can sometimes be even harder to shop for than aquariums themselves.
That’s why we decided all the popular aquarium lights to the test in order to bring you this detailed list.
Today, we’ll be discussing how you can judge which lighting product is most suitable for your aquarium and how you can set up a successful lighting fixture over your fish tank.
After months of testing, discussion and research, we’ve chosen these three as the best of the best when it comes to wonderfully illuminating aquariums.
Now, let’s get into some detailed discussion for the top 5 best aquarium lights.
Best Aquarium Lights - Top 5 Reviews
1. Overall Best Aquarium Light - NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light Review
You’ll find that this aquarium light comes with everything you need in order to properly illuminate your aquarium no matter what its shape or size is. It’s purposefully built to latch onto a wide size of aquariums with the help of its adjustable brackets.
The lights themselves produce a unique and beautiful shimmering effect on the water that is very calming both to humans as well as the fish inside. The lights are extremely bright and illuminate the fish brilliantly while not overbearing or disturbing them either.
The fixture has a premium feel to it and it’s made from high-quality materials that are built to last.
Features of NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light – Best Aquarium Light
- Appropriate for aquariums ranging between 12 inches and 52 inches
- Modifiable brackets
- Blue and white LEDs
- Dual lighting modes
- Low energy transformer
- Classic attractive design
- Easy to install
- May not be suitable for acrylic aquariums
If you’re looking for a solid aquarium light that gives you exactly what you need without any gimmicks or overcomplicated instructions, this product is for you. It has a beautiful look and makes a lovely shimmer in your aquarium.
2. Best Aquarium Light with Multiple Modes - Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light Review
This product really goes above and beyond when it comes to illuminating aquariums in a way that’s as close to nature as possible.
It boasts a number of modes that mimic many different natural weather conditions. It even includes 30 and 60-minute cycles that simulate sunrise and sunset by slowly dimming or brightening the LEDs inside.
You can even program it to show weather effects such as lightning strikes or rain.
Despite all its features, it’s still incredibly straightforward to operate. Just mount it to your aquarium using its docking legs, turn it on, choose your mode and let it do its thing.
Features of Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light
- Appropriate for aquariums ranging from 18 inches to 60 inches
- Multiple lighting modes
- Realistic weather simulations
- 30-day satisfaction guarantee
- Docking legs
- Low energy consumption
- High level of customizability
- Impressive controller range
- Responsive controls
- Not suitable for saltwater aquariums
If you’re looking for an aquarium light for your freshwater aquarium that you can have fun with customizing, this product is perfect for you. It comes with a convenient remote control and incredibly fun effects.
3. Best Nano Aquarium Light - Lominie LED Aquarium Light Review
Oftentimes, people have a lot of trouble finding appropriate lighting for their small desktop or tabletop aquariums. Sometimes, they come in the form of aquarium kits in which a light is included but when they don’t, finding a light that is suitable for them can be quite a pain.
That’s where this product comes in. It features a wonderful gooseneck design and an easy-to-use clamp that makes it simple to mount it onto any desktop aquarium and aim the light appropriately into it.
It even has a dimmer which you can utilize in order to properly control the amount of light that gets into your aquarium so your fish aren’t disturbed or stressed.
Features of Lominie LED Aquarium Light
- Suitable for aquariums ranging between 8 inches and 18 inches
- Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Adjustable gooseneck
- Aluminum housing
- Small in size
- Easy to mount
- Easy to control
- Can’t be used on larger aquariums
If you’re looking for a small aquarium light that’s inconspicuous but effective, this product is ideal for you. It’s made from high-quality aluminum which keeps it cool and the light itself is very bright and effective.
4. Best Aquarium Light with Controller - Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium LED Review
Buying a light for a planted aquarium can get tricky because oftentimes, the requirements of fish and plants inside your aquarium can be wildly different from each other. It can be quite challenging to find a piece of equipment that caters to both of their lighting needs.
This product is one such piece of equipment. It boasts a wide array of multi-colored LEDs that come together to create a unique blend of light that is not only beneficial for the plants inside your aquarium but also incredibly relaxing and rejuvenating for your fish.
Features of Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium LED
- Appropriate for aquariums ranging between 20 inches and 48 inches
- Brightness control
- Wireless remote
- Multi-color LED blend
- Four memory slots for customized settings
- Easy to mount
- Highly responsive
- Great for growing plants
- Fixture may bow slightly in the middle
If you’re looking for a conveniently controlled aquarium light that’s perfect for planted aquariums, this product is definitely for you. It’s incredibly lightweight and you’ll have it set up on top of your aquarium in no time.
5. Best App-Controlled Aquarium Light - Aquatic Life LED Aquarium Light Fixture Review
We’ve talked about a couple of aquarium lights in this article that are controlled through a remote and while this is very convenient, it can be quite a hassle having a remote for an aquarium light. Indeed, the last thing you need in your house is another remote to a gadget.
That’s why this product came up with the brilliant idea of being controlled through Wi-fi. It hooks up to your smartphone or PC through your Wi-fi after which you can easily program it to light your aquarium as you see fit.
It has a number of pre-set modes, the lights can be controlled individually in terms of brightness and it even has built-in sunrise and sunset effects.
Features of Aquatic Life LED Aquarium Light Fixture
- Appropriate for aquariums between 24 inches and 48 inches
- Controlled through Wi-fi
- Three-channel timer
- White, mixed color and blue LEDs
- Different versions for freshwater, marine and reef tanks
- Attractive, contemporary design
- Easy to connect to smartphone or pc
- Easy to use
- Easy to mount
- Incredibly effective
- Doesn’t have a big size range
If you’re looking for a beautifully designed aquarium light that’s controlled through an app on your phone, this product is for you. It’s incredibly sleek, effective and will last you a long time.
Do I really need lights for my aquarium?
Yes. While most aquarium kits come equipped with built-in lighting, if your aquarium doesn’t have a lighting fixture built into it, we strongly urge you to buy lights for it separately. Aquarium lighting is an essential piece of equipment that can definitely not be skipped.
Firstly, you need the lights for the aquatic life inside your aquarium. Your fish need a constant regular pattern of light and darkness in order to develop healthy sleeping patterns. Aquarium lighting is also specifically built to simulate sunlight and moonlight which is very beneficial for your fish. It relaxes them and helps prevent stress-related diseases.
If you have live plants inside your aquarium then having lighting for it becomes even more necessary. Plants require light in order to photosynthesize and grow properly. You can’t expect to have healthy aquarium plants without decent aquarium lights.
Lastly, you’ve bought an aquarium that’s going to have fish and plants of beautiful, brilliant colors. It would be a shame if you didn’t invest in aquarium lights that would be able to show off their beauty effectively.
What are some aspects to keep in mind when purchasing aquarium lights?
There are a number of factors you can keep in mind and ponder over which will help you make an informed decision while buying aquarium lights. Some things you should look out for when buying aquarium lights are:
If you’re ordering online, you will only have online reviews to go off of and make an estimate but if you’re purchasing your aquarium lights at a store in real-life, we urge you to properly inspect your aquarium light to make sure it’s made from high-quality material that will last you a while.
Inspect the fixture that’s used to house the LEDs, ask if it’s waterproof or water-resistant, inquire about the lifespan of the LEDs inside. All these aspects play a great role in how much value you will be able to get out of your aquarium so it’s important you inquire about these things from the manufacturer before you make your purchase.
We highly recommend you don’t skimp out on lights as they can be just as important for the welfare of your aquatic fish and plants as your aquarium itself.
Obviously, you should get aquarium lights that will provide the greatest effectiveness when it comes to the illumination of fish and the effective growth in live aquarium plants but you should also do this while keeping in mind the money you have in your pocket.
Often times, a lot of aquarium lights have high prices because they are packed with features that everyday fishkeepers usually don’t need. It’s important you do your research to make sure you’re not spending money on a product that’s expensive because of a feature that isn’t even necessary for the type of fish or aquarium plants you have.
This goes without saying but you should definitely shop for an aquarium light that is appropriately sized for your fish tank. If you get one that’s too big, it might be too overbearing your fish, if you get one that’s too small, it might not fit and might not be enough to illuminate the entirety of your aquarium effectively.
What are the different types of aquarium lights?
Lights for aquariums are usually divided into four categories. These categories are:
Normal Output Fluorescents
These versatile lighting systems offer an easy way to light an aquarium. They offer light that is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fish-only aquariums. Different types of bulbs are often utilized together in order to produce lighting that is most appropriate for one’s aquarium.
These are higher output versions of normal fluorescents. They consist of dual or quad tube bulbs that give out a higher light output. They are appropriate for aquariums that require high-intensity lighting.
Metal halide lights are high-intensity lights that are very popular among more veteran aquarists. They have a reputation for having immensely high penetration power in the water in large or deep fish tanks. They are also notorious for heating up the water drastically so you normally have to invest in a chiller if you’re going to use metal halide lights.
LEDs stand for light-emitting diodes and they are currently taking the aquarium world by storm. They have quickly risen to the top as the most popular option for lighting aquariums due to their compact size, easy-to-use nature and infinite customizability.
Can I build my own lights for my aquarium?
You can definitely opt to build your own lighting setup for your aquarium but as you can imagine, this would be much more resource-intensive and time-consuming. We recommend you don’t do this if you’re a beginner as you might end up with a final product that is inadequate for lighting up your aquarium.
Do fish sleep when I turn off my aquarium lights?
Yes. As we mentioned earlier, fish need a regular cycle of light and darkness in order to develop sleeping patterns and healthy circadian rhythms. If you turn your aquarium light on at night, you can see your fish swaying around gently as they’re resting.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What type of light is best for freshwater aquariums?
Out of the four options that we’ve discussed above, your best option for lighting freshwater aquariums is definitely LED lighting. LEDs give you the liberty of customizing and choosing the intensity of light for your aquarium. LEDs also utilize electricity a lot more efficiently. Freshwater aquariums are often small in size and come in the form of desktop and tabletop aquariums. LED lights are perfect for aquariums such as these due to their compact size and flexible nature.
How do I measure the intensity of light in my aquarium?
When we’re talking about the amount of light needed to light up an aquarium, the intensity of light is usually measured in watts per gallon.
How much light does a reef tank need?
Reef tanks often require a lot more light than freshwater tanks or saltwater fish-only tanks. As stated above, the intensity of light when talking about aquariums is measured in watts per gallon and a reef tank normally requires anywhere between 4 – 8 watts per gallon of light. For example, if you have a 20-gallon coral reef tank, you will require an aquarium light that operates anywhere between 80 and 160 watts.
How much electricity is generally required by aquarium lights?
As you can probably imagine, this has a lot to do with how big your aquarium is and how intense your aquarium lights are. You can get a good estimate of how much electricity your aquarium lights will use by looking at their operating capacity.
For example, freshwater aquariums normally require anywhere between 3 – 5 watts per gallon of light for 10 – 12 hours a day. So if you have a 20-gallon freshwater aquarium, you will require a light that will be operating anywhere between 60 – 100 watts every day for 10 – 12 hours.
How high should aquarium lights normally be hung above the water surface?
You can get a good estimate of this just by eye. We recommend turning off all the lights in your room and judging how intensely your lights illuminate your aquarium as you adjust its height above your aquarium.
As a good rule of thumb, any height equal to or above 24 inches from the surface of the water is appropriate for most aquariums unless you have an exotic species of fish, plant or coral which require special lighting conditions.
Can I leave blue light on in an aquarium as a night light?
Blue lights often allow humans to observe what nocturnal fish are doing during “nighttime”. However, this can sometimes be disturbing for them if the lights are too bright.
Owners with nocturnal fish often invest in red lights. To the fish, this comes off as darkness whereas it allows us to observe them.
Do Neon Tetras require light at night?
Like most fish, Tetras also require about 12 hours of light each day with 12 hours of darkness in order to develop regular sleeping patterns. Some species such as Neon and Glowlight Tetras enjoy subdued lighting during the night.
Does blue-colored light bother or annoy fish?
They’re not necessary for most freshwater aquariums but there’s no harm in having them either. Most fish don’t care if you have blue-colored lights in the aquarium. Just make sure they aren’t overbearing to the point where they may be stressful for your fish. The only real thing you have to worry about is the intensity of the light shining over your aquarium.
Are LED aquarium lights cooler?
Yes. LEDs are widely known to operate at immensely cooler temperatures than incandescent or fluorescent lights.
Can fish in my aquarium see the color of the light?
Yes. Fish retinas have rod and cone cells which can help them detect the colors of the light that’s shining into the aquarium. Some species of fish can even see ultraviolet light while other species are highly sensitive to polarized light.
Aquarium lights are a piece of equipment that is just about as essential to the successful running of a household aquarium as the aquarium itself.
After long arguments and research, we’ve decided that the NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light is definitely the best aquarium light out there. It features insanely effective features all at a very modest price.
And with that, we’ve arrived at the conclusion of our post for the best aquarium lights.
Let us know in the comments what lights you’re using to brighten up your aquarium.