You’ll agree with us when we say that having an aquarium is pointless if you don’t have a good aquarium light that can properly illuminate it to show your fish off.
That’s why we decided to experiment and test out all the popular aquarium lights available out there so we could bring you this detailed list.
In our post today, we’ll discuss what you should look for when purchasing an aquarium light, what are some things you should avoid and what makes certain aquarium lights stand out from the crowd.
After illuminating our fish tanks with tons of different aquarium lights, we’ve reached the conclusion that these three are definitely the best of the best.
Now, let’s get into the reviews for the top 10 best aquarium lights.
Best Aquarium Lights - Top 10 Reviews
1. Overall Best Aquarium Light - MingDak LED Aquarium Light Review
The MingDak LED Aquarium Light was something we were all excited to test since it’s a fully submersible light, i.e. you can place it fully underwater and let it work from there.
The cool white LEDs inside this aquarium light created a beautiful shimmering effect in our fish tank. Our fish were beautifully illuminated to the point where we could see all the detail in their scales and the light really made their brilliant colors pop.
The light is designed in such a way that it doesn’t call too much attention to itself. You only notice the light it’s emanating and not the light fixture itself. The light makes for a great ambience for your room.
Features of MingDak LED Aquarium Light – Best Aquarium Lights
- Comes in four different sizes
- Fully submersible
- Adjustable mounting legs
- Suction cup mounting
- Cool, white LEDs
- Energy efficient
- Minimalist design that does not distract from the fish
- Doesn’t have many customizability options
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use aquarium light that brilliantly lights up your fish tank, this is the product for you. You’ll find it easy to mount onto your aquarium and it will last you a long time.
2. Best Aquarium Light with Extendable Brackets - Koval Aquarium Lighting Review
This aquarium light comes in three different sizes: 24 inches – 30 inches, 36 inches – 43 inches and 45 inches – 50 inches so as you can see, there’s a large range of aquariums onto which you can fit this aquarium light to. This makes it very versatile.
We were worried that this versatility would mean it would be difficult or complex to mount but were happy to see that installing it onto our aquarium was easy as pie.
The lights themselves are very bright but not overbearing to the point where they would disturb the fish.
It features three modes, namely: All LEDs on, only Blue LEDs on and all LEDs off. The only Blue LEDs on mode works great at night and creates a great mood in your room.
Features of Koval Aquarium Lighting
- Comes in three different sizes
- Extendable brackets for flexible mounting
- 78 bright LEDs
- Up to 50,000 hours of LED usage guaranteed
- 3 different control modes
- Easy to mount
- 5 different colored LEDs
- Each LED is easily replaceable
- Slightly expensive
If you’re not sure what size aquarium lights would be good for your aquarium, opt for this product. Its extendable brackets enable it to mount to a variety of aquariums.
3. Best Planted Aquarium Light - NICREW ClassicLED Plus Planted Aquarium Light Review
The NICREW ClassicLED Plus is a household name and is the aquarium light of choice for most people who have aquarium plants in their fish tanks which require low to medium light in order to grow.
It features a great aluminum alloy design which enables it to dissipate heat in a very effective way. You won’t find this light heating up your tank water in any way no matter how bright its lights are.
It features a night mode which simulates moonlight beautifully. It’s designed perfectly to have the ultimate balance between optimal illumination of your fish and the perfect simulation of a natural environment for them.
Features of NICREW ClassicLED Plus Planted Aquarium Light
- Comes in a variety of sizes ranging from 12 inches to 54 inches
- Aluminum-trim, minimalist design
- Can be used with both glass and acrylic aquariums
- Adjustable fixture legs
- Two lighting modes
- Highly adjustable
- Great for growing low-medium light aquarium plants
- Optimized heat dissipation
- The power cord is quite short
If you have a planted tank and are looking for an aquarium light which will benefit both your fish and the plants inside it, this is the product for you. It’s beautifully built and very affordable for its size.
4. Best Aquarium Light with Multiple Lighting Modes - NICREW SkyLED Aquarium Light Review
This is another product by NICREW and the way in which this product differs from the one described above in the #3 spot is that it contains RGB LEDs.
These RGB LEDs offer you a lot more variety and control over the type of light that’s being shone on your fish as well as your aquarium plants. Thus, you get a lot more precision over the type of light which can help you micro-manage the growth of your aquarium plants.
This aquarium light is perfect for veterans who want to adjust the growth rate of their aquarium plants by adjusting the type of light shone on them.
Features of NICREW SkyLED Aquarium Light
- Comes in four different sizes ranging from 12 inches to 54 inches
- White and RGB LEDs
- Independent white and RGB LED control
- Aluminum alloy design
- Simple, elegant design
- Suitable for aquariums of many sizes
- Perfect for plant growth
- Very lightweight
- Slightly expensive for its size
If you’re looking for an elegant aquarium light with RGB LEDs as well as white, this product is perfect for you. It features a robust, aluminum-trimmed design with brilliantly bright LEDs.
5. Best Aquarium Light with Blue LEDs - Hygger Blue White LED Aquarium Light Review
This nifty little product seems small in size but it packs a big punch. The LEDs are bright and will illuminate any tank up brilliantly.
We tested these out on a Betta tank and were very pleased to see the amount of detail this light was able to bring out in our Betta.
It features two modes, one with all the LEDs on and one with only the blue LEDs on. The second mode works great as a nightlight and is very effective at calming your fish so they can get ready to rest for the night.
Features of Hygger Blue White LED Aquarium Light
- Comes in two sizes: 30 LEDs and 45 LEDs
- Adjustable clamp
- Aluminum alloy shell design
- Flexible neck
- Clamp supports glass of up to 0.9 inches of thickness
- Easy to install
- Space-saving design
- Bright and effective LEDs
- Suitable for freshwater and saltwater fish tanks
- Uses a lot of power
If you’re looking for an easy-to-mount, easy-to-use and effective aquarium light, this product is ideal for you. Not only is it splash-resistant, it features an aluminum design which makes it very lightweight.
6. Best Submersible Aquarium Light - S SMIFUL LED Aquarium Light Review
Most of the lights we’ve reviewed so far are hung or mounted on top of your aquarium (except for our first entry). This aquarium light works similar to that first entry in that it can be fully submerged in your aquarium and then it lights it from below.
It features RGB LEDs with a wireless controller so you can easily customize and program the lights as you wish from the comfort of your couch. You can customize it in many ways such as dimming the lights, controlling the speed at which colors change, etc.
The suction cups that come with it are strong and firmly hold the aquarium light in place even when it’s fully underwater.
Features of S SMIFUL LED Aquarium Light
- Comes in sizes ranging from 7.5 inches to 23 inches
- Wireless controller
- 4 different lighting modes
- IP68 waterproof
- Suction cup mounting
- Highly customizable
- Easy to install
- Easy to use
- Not suitable for larger aquariums
If you’re looking to turn your aquarium into an aesthetically pleasing centerpiece of your room, this product is definitely for you. It features RGB LEDs that are customizable in a countless number of ways.
7. Best Dimmable Aquarium Light - COODIA Aquarium Hood Lighting Review
The COODIA Aquarium Hood Lighting is a wonderfully built piece of equipment that is designed to easily be mounted onto a variety of aquariums. You’ll find that it’s very easy and intuitive to install onto an aquarium. It’s purpose-fully built to make installation as easy as possible for you.
The 2.4g remote control it comes with is very responsive. You don’t even need to point it at the light and it even works through walls.
The lights are dimmable which is great if you want to control the intensity of the light that your fish and plants are getting. You can even slowly dim them or make them more intense in order to create a sunset or sunrise effect respectively.
Features of COODIA Aquarium Hood Lighting
- Comes in five different sizes ranging from 11 inches to 54 inches
- Adjustable brackets
- 2.4g wireless controller
- Dimmable LEDs
- Multiple lighting modes
- Easy to mount
- Easy to use
- Effective remote control
- Ideal for freshwater and saltwater
- Lights cannot be controlled without remote control
If you’re looking for a low-cost aquarium light that offers dimming options, this product was made for you. Not only is it super responsive and easy to use, it’s also very well-made.
8. Best Low Energy Aquarium Light - ECtENX LED Aquarium Light Review
LEDs are known to be energy-efficient but you’ll find that many aquarium lights today tend to drive up the electricity bill despite that.
The ECtENX LED Aquarium Light is built to help you save money in the long run because it utilizes power efficiently in order to make the best use of it. We definitely noticed a drop in our electricity being used when we were testing this aquarium light out.
It features a combination of white and blue LEDs. They do a great job of lighting up your aquarium and you’ll find that it will really accentuate the colors of your fish and make them pop.
Features of ECtENX LED Aquarium Light
- Comes in five different sizes ranging from 15 LEDs to 48 LEDs
- Two lighting modes
- Combination of White and Blue LEDs
- Adjustable clamp for varying thicknesses
- Flexible neck
- Low energy consumption
- Low heat output
- Not water-resistant
If you want a powerful aquarium light but are worried that it will drive up the electricity bill, this product is perfect for you. It’s durable, inexpensive and very easy to set up.
9. Best Remote-Controlled Aquarium Light - Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light Review
We were blown away by how many features and customization options this aquarium light offers. The cherry on top is that all of these customizations can be done from a small remote control that comes with it.
It features several different modes that mimic natural conditions such as clouds, storms, dusk, sunrise, sunset and many more. You can customize it as much as you want in order to create the perfect lighting conditions for you, your fish and your live aquarium plants.
For an aquarium light with so many features, it surprisingly doesn’t take up too much power and you’ll find it works brilliantly for extended periods of time.
Features of Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light
- Comes in four different sizes ranging from 18 inches to 60 inches
- Responsive remote control
- Modes that mimic real-world conditions
- Low-voltage LEDs
- Multiple different modes for growth and aesthetics
- High amount of customizability
- Easy to mount
- Sleek, modern design
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- May be slightly complex to use and customize
If you want a high number of customization options with a variety of different modes, this aquarium light is ideal for you. You can tinker with them all you want until you find the perfect settings specifically suited for you.
10. Best Full Spectrum Aquarium Light - KZKR Aquarium Hood Lighting Review
The KZKR Aquarium Hood Lighting is an up-and-coming product that’s really giving its competitors a run for their money.
It features full spectrum RGB LEDs that do a great job of mimicking sunlight and moonlight. This will effectively relax your fish, make them feel more at home and it’s even been attributed to cure and prevent stress-related diseases in fish.
It’s very lightweight for its size and we had no trouble mounting it to our aquarium. The extendable brackets make it easy to mount and its design makes it very easy to use.
Features of KZKR Aquarium Hood Lighting
- Many different sizes ranging from 11 inches to 84 inches
- Full spectrum LEDs
- Aluminum alloy body
- Comes with two extendable brackets and a power supply
- Great for fish, aquarium plants and also live rocks
- Very large range of sizes
- Sleek, contemporary design
- Great value for money
- Not waterproof
If you’re looking for a full spectrum aquarium light that effectively illuminates a fish tank, this is the product for you. It’s available in a wide variety of sizes and is very durable.
What are some things I should consider when buying lights for my aquarium?
There are a number of different aspects that go into deciding which aquarium light is best for you and it’s a good idea to think about them before you go out to actually buy one. Doing your research and knowing what you’re looking for in an aquarium light can make it very easy for you to make your decision. Some of the factors you should think about are:
Lighting is an essential piece of equipment that usually hangs above your aquarium. Since it’s usually placed at such a precarious position in relation to your fish tank, you’re going to want to make sure that it’s made from sturdy, high-quality material. You don’t want aquarium lights made from flimsy material that may break or fall apart after some time.
While most aquarium lights hang high enough above aquariums to not come in contact with water, it can be an added bonus to get lights that are water-resistant or splash-proof.
Depending on the type of fish, aquarium plants and live rocks you have in your aquarium, you may want to have some special lighting conditions that would be most effective towards their growth.
For that, it’s a good idea to look into lights that have different modes and customization options so you can adjust them according to your needs.
Some lights even come with a wireless controller so you can program them without even getting up from your chair.
Obviously, the size of your aquarium will play a big role in deciding how big or small of an aquarium light you want to get. If you have an aquarium that’s very deep, you may want to invest in a higher intensity light so that it will be able to penetrate all the way to the bottom of your fish tank.
You can even think about getting multiple aquarium lights for a single aquarium.
What are the different types of lights available for aquariums?
There are a number of different kinds of lights you can make use of to illuminate your aquarium. The main types of aquarium lights are:
This type of lighting usually comes with a fish tank and can be used as supplemental lighting. If you have a fish-only setup, this type of lighting might work just fine but we recommend that you switch over to something more controllable as fluorescent lights don’t have a lot of penetration power and they are very power-intensive as well.
Metal Halide Lights
These are by far the most intense kind of lights you can get. They have amazing penetration power and you can get these if you have a particularly deep aquarium and you want to get light effectively all the way to the bottom of it.
We recommend investing in a chiller if you’re going to get these lights because they tend to heat up the temperature of the water.
LED lights have quickly become the most commonly used lights for aquarium lighting in today’s day and age. This is because of a number of reasons: they shine very brightly, they use energy very efficiently, they are very long-lasting and they are easily programmable.
LED lights also do a very good job of mimicking natural sunlight and moonlight which is great for your fish. You want to make your fish’s environment as close to their natural environment as possible as this will make them a lot more relaxed and less prone to disease.
Do I really need lights for my aquarium?
Yes. You need lights for a number of reasons but we’re going to list down the important ones for you:
- Fish need light in order to grow and thrive. European fish require about 8 hours of light every day whereas African fish require 12 hours of light.
- If you have live plants in your aquarium, they require light to perform photosynthesis and grow.
- Fish have beautiful, brilliant colors and you’re going to need effective lights if you’re going to observe them in all their glory. There’s no point having an aquarium with beautiful fish if you can’t view them properly.
What’s an efficient way to set up lights for my aquarium?
Most aquarium lights come with an instruction manual so it’s a good idea to follow them exactly.
Some general things to keep in mind while setting up lights is to look at the lighting equipment and judge what tools you’re going to need and have those tools with you when you’re going to set the lights up. You don’t want to leave your aquarium lights half-attached to your aquarium while you go look for a small screwdriver or something of the sort.
Some aquarium lights come with extendable brackets so you can easily mount them onto your aquarium regardless of its size. It’s a good idea to ensure whether the aquarium lights are waterproof or not. If they aren’t waterproof, make sure that they are completely dry from all areas before plugging them in and turning them on.
Does the color of the light affect life inside my aquarium?
Yes. Most fish and plants do quite well underneath white and blue-colored lights.
This combination of light usually encourages photosynthesis in plants while also being pleasing to the human eye.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I turn off my aquarium lights?
On average, you can turn your lights off anytime you want as long as your fish are getting about 12 hours of light every day. Most aquarists tend to turn off their aquarium lights when going to sleep since they would much rather have them on during the day.
Never leave your lights on indefinitely as this can lead to a number of problems such as algae breakouts and stress-related diseases in your fish.
If you feel you might forget or that you may not have time to turn your aquarium lights off and on each day, it can be worthwhile to invest in a light timer. This will automate it for you so you don’t even have to think about it.
Can’t I just use sunlight as a substitute for aquarium lights?
You can if you want but we definitely do not recommend this and the reason for this is quite obvious: you can’t control the amount of sunlight your aquarium gets each day. Sunlight is very inconsistent; It might be cloudy one day, it might be rainy the next and it might be overwhelmingly sunny the day after that. This can cause a number of problems for the aquatic life inside your fish tank.
Your plants may start to wilt and die, your fish may become stressed and you may start noticing algae growth inside your aquarium as well. That’s why we recommend that you definitely keep your aquarium away from direct sunlight and use a controllable, artificial source of light to illuminate it.
Do fish go to sleep when aquarium lights are turned off?
Yes. Fish definitely do have sleep cycles and having a light that you systematically turn on and off at regular intervals can help them develop these sleep cycles. This is healthy for them and will help them grow and thrive.
Can aquarium lights contribute to algae growth inside fish tanks?
Yes, they can. If you shine too much light or a high intensity of light for too long on your aquarium, this can definitely lead to algae breakouts inside your aquarium.
If this does happen due to your aquarium lights, a good way to tackle this is by leaving your aquarium in darkness for a day or two.
How much light is generally needed by an aquarium for effective growth of the fish and plants inside it?
The operating capacity of light when it comes to their usage for aquariums is usually measured in watts per gallon. We’ve already discussed how a regular aquarium that houses tropical fish requires about 12 hours of light. If you have an aquarium with coldwater, European fish, that would require about 8 hours of light. The operating capacity for these lights is usually somewhere between 2-5 watts per gallon. If you have a coral reef aquarium, you may need lights that shine brightly than for regular aquariums. Coral reef aquariums usually require lights that operate somewhere between 4 and 8 watts per gallon.
There’s really no point in having a beautiful aquarium if you don’t have a decent aquarium lighting setup which can illuminate it effectively.
After months of testing, we’ve concluded that the MingDak LED Aquarium Light is the best one currently available. It will illuminate your fish tank wonderfully in order to bring out and enhance your fish’s colors, it provides great ambience in your room, it’s great for plant growth and it does all of this at a very modest price.
And with that, we’ve reached the end of our post for the best aquarium lights.
Give us feedback and let us know what lights you’re using to light up your aquarium.