You’ll agree with us when we say that buying LED aquarium lighting for plants is not as simple as it sounds.
That’s why we experimented with every popular LED aquarium light for plants in order to bring you this extensive set of reviews.
In today’s post, we’ll discuss how you can effectively grow plants inside your aquarium and what lighting products can best help you achieve that.
After months of testing, these three lighting products stood out on top.
Now, let’s get into the reviews for the top 10 best LED aquarium lighting for plants.
Best LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants - Top 10 Reviews
1. Overall Best LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants - NICREW BrightLED Aquarium Light Review
The NICREW BrightLED Aquarium Light is a perfect option for your planted aquarium that provides you with much brighter light as compared to any fluorescent lighting you could ever get for it.
It features high-quality LEDs that are guaranteed to last you a long time. They are energy-efficient and utilize electricity very well in order to bring you bright light that doesn’t use up an unnecessary amount of power.
The sleek design with the aluminum body makes it easy for it to stay cool and illuminate your planted aquarium effectively.
Features of NICREW BrightLED Aquarium Light – Best LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants
- Appropriate for aquariums with lengths between 18 inches and 24 inches
- Weight: 1.5 pounds
- 1200 lumens
- Operating capacity: 18 watts
- 38 white and 4 blue LEDs
- Simple mounting process
- Easy to use
- Reasonable price
- Only available in one size
If you’re looking for an effective light for your aquarium plants that is simple to operate then this product is for you. It’s very easy to handle and you’ll find that the white and blue LEDs come together to produce a lovely, aesthetically pleasing light.
2. Best Affordable LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants - NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light Review
Another lighting product by NICREW, this one is highly popular among aquarists with all kinds of aquariums. It’s an all-encompassing light that has the ability to appropriately light many types of aquariums including planted aquariums.
It features two modes which can be alternated between: one in which all lights are on and one in which only the Blue LEDs are on. The Blue LED only mode can work great as a nightlight and gives your room a very calming and unique ambience.
Not to mention, the Blue LEDs offer a spectrum of light which can be very beneficial to your plants and can help them in their photosynthetic processes.
Features of NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light
- Comes in sizes ranging from 12 inches to 52 inches
- Adjustable metal brackets
- Dual lighting modes for daylight and moonlight
- Low voltage transformer
- Energy-efficient LEDs
- Aesthetically pleasing design
- Doesn’t take up too much space
- Low power consumption
- Metal brackets have a tendency to rust
If you’re looking for a high-quality at a modest price, this product is perfect for you. It does everything that a high-end light can do and is incredibly effective at improving aquarium plant growth rates.
3. Best Freshwater LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants - BeamsWork DA FSPEC LED Aquarium Light Review
When we first turned on this aquarium light, we had to pause for a second just to register how effectively it was lighting our planted aquarium all the way to the bottom. Many low-quality and cheap aquarium lights tend to lose their intensity near the bottom of the tank but this light emitted light that held its intensity throughout the entire aquarium.
It features multi-colored LEDs with many different spectrums of light, many of which are highly beneficial and useful for aquarium plants.
It features a timer-ready function which means it can easily be controlled through a timer so you don’t have to worry about manually turning it off and on every day.
Features of BeamsWork DA FSPEC LED Aquarium Light
- Comes in sizes ranging from 20 inches to 72 inches
- 5200 lumens
- Multi-colored LEDs with 10,000K white LEDs
- 110 to 220V power source
- Bright but not stressful to fish
- Creates a beautiful shimmering effect on water
- Easy to mount
- Decent customizability
- Timer has to be bought separately
- Only suitable for freshwater aquariums
If you’re looking for a light that has the best spectrum of light with LEDs that can penetrate freshwater effectively, this product is ideal for you. It’s incredibly easy to install onto any aquarium and with a timer, it becomes fully automated.
4. Best Customizable LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants - Current USA Satellite Plus PRO LED Light Review
Many aquarists find the lack of customization options and modifications in their aquarium lights to be frustrating. That’s why Current USA came up with this product in order to provide aquarists with all the control they could ever need.
It comes with a remote control that has a very impressive range and you can utilize it to customize your light in all sorts of ways such as its color, angle, brightness, etc. It even features realistic weather effects such as sunrise, sunset and even thunderstorms. You can easily set a timer for when the light shuts off and comes back on as well.
Features of Current USA Satellite Plus PRO LED Light
- Comes in a wide array of sizes ranging from 18 inches to 60 inches
- Sliding docking legs
- Wireless controller
- Multiple illumination modes
- Realistic weather effects
- Intuitive and easy to use
- Easy to assemble
- Responsive remote control
- Comparatively expensive
If you’re frustrated by the lack of control and precision in most aquarium lights then this is the product you’re looking for. It’s incredibly responsive and long-lasting and provides you with an almost infinite level of customizability.
5. Best Lightweight LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants - Finnex Ray2 Aquarium LED Daylight Review
The Finnex Ray2 is a very powerful light that is more than adequate enough to grow all sorts of plants inside your planted aquarium.
Oftentimes, there are lights that advertise to be high-intensity lights but their intensity does not retain till the bottom of most aquariums. This light is not one of them. Not only is this light astoundingly bright, but it is also able to penetrate all the way to the bottom of most aquariums and maintain that same intensity.
This makes it highly appropriate for growing aquarium plants which require high-intensity lighting.
Features of Finnex Ray2 Aquarium LED Daylight
- Comes in sizes ranging from 24 inches to 48 inches
- Ultra-slim body
- Aluminum circuit boards
- Splash guard
- A lifespan of 40,000+ hours
- High PAR output
- Easy to operate
- Easy to install
- Small in size
- Incredibly lightweight
- Not suitable for low-light aquarium plants
If you’re looking for a light that’s easy to handle and easy to install, this product is perfect for you. It’s built from high-quality materials that extend LED bulb longevity and the intensity is perfect for high-demand plants.
6. Best LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants with Brightness Control - Kessil A160WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light Review
The Kessil A160WE controllable LED aquarium light is an incredible piece of high-end equipment that can beautifully light up any aquarium. It has a heavy price tag but if you can muster up the money, we’re here to tell you that it’s worth every penny.
It can be hooked up to a number of external controllers and you can even connect multiple of them together in order to light larger aquariums. All of these multiple lights would then be controlled by a single controller.
Features of Kessil A160WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light
- Dimensions: 5 inches by 5 inches by 10 inches
- Weight: 1.54 pounds
- Light spectrum customized specifically for aquarist needs
- External controllability in addition to manual controllability
- Brightness control
- Unique and attractive design
- Creates a spectacular shimmer effect on the water surface
- Very sturdy
- Can daisy-chain multiple similar lights
- Compatible with a number of external controllers
- Very expensive
- Only comes in one size
If you’re looking for a high-end aquarium light with controllable brightness, this product is ideal for you. It features a beautiful design that specifically caters to the needs of fish as well as aquarium plants.
7. Best Bluetooth-Controlled LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants - Fluval Plant Spectrum Bluetooth LED 3.0 Review
Fluval is a name you may have heard of if you’ve been an aquarist for a decent amount of time and with this product, they’ve really outdone themselves.
The pre-set modes it comes with has a mode called “Planted” which is perfect for planted aquariums. If you don’t want to rack your brain trying to figure out the different modes this product has to offer, you can simply set it the Planted mode and let it work its magic.
Features of Fluval Plant Spectrum Bluetooth LED 3.0
- Available in three different sizes ranging from 24 inches to 60 inches
- Features gradual 24-hour light cycles
- Pre-set habitat modes
- Six unique band waves
- Controlled via Bluetooth
- Highly responsive
- Highly customizable
- Large number of pre-set modes which are useful
- Easy to operate
- Excellent build quality
- Bluetooth receiver tends to get weaker after a few months
- Quite expensive
If you want a conveniently customizable aquarium light that is also highly effective then this product is the one you’re looking for. It features an incredibly sleek design that’s very easy to get the hang of.
8. Best Red-Colored LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants - Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Review
If you do your research about growing plants under artificial lighting, you will know that blue and violet light is the most beneficial for photosynthesis due to their high absorption rate. However, red light is also very beneficial to plants since it helps them flower.
That’s why Finnex decided to integrate red LEDs in this product along with cool-white and blue LEDs. The resulting light that emanates from this lighting product is mesmerizing. It’s aesthetically pleasing and effectively bright to the point where one can see all the details among his or her fish and it’s also very effective when it comes to growing aquarium plants.
Features of Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light
- Comes in seven different sizes ranging from 12 inches to 48 inches
- Combination of cool-white, blue and red LEDs
- Ultra-slim streamlined body
- Superior heat dissipation
- LEDs last up to 40,000+ hours
- Incredibly bright
- Easy to mount
- Easy to use and maintain
- Longer sizes tend to get bent in the middle
If you require your aquarium plants to flower as well as an aesthetic edge in your light then we recommend you go for this product. It’s incredibly well-made and you’ll find that the lights stay consistently bright for a very long period.
9. Best Dimmable LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants - Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium LED Review
Committing to a specific light that has a fixed intensity can be a difficult thing to do. This is because in the future, if you decide to change the aquarium plants you have and put some other plants in there which require a different light intensity, you’re going to have to invest in a whole different light for them as well.
The Finnex Planted+ LED eliminates that problem entirely because it can easily be dimmed down or brightened according to your plant’s needs. It even features a mode where it simulates sunrise and sunset. While this is usually seen as more of an aesthetic feature, it actually works quite well when you are first trying to acclimate your fish and aquarium plants to the light.
Features of Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium LED
- Comes in sizes ranging from 20 inches to 48 inches
- Comes in two variants: controllable and non-controllable
- Can simulate sunrise and a starry night
- Multi-color blend for effective plant growth
- Lightweight for its size
- Appealing design
- Easy to install
- Incredibly effective
- Responsive remote
- Controls can be confusing at first
If you want an aquarium light whose intensity and brightness you can easily control, this product is perfect for you. It features a lovely design that inconspicuously fits onto any aquarium and lights it wonderfully.
10. Best Small LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants - Hagen Fluval Plant Nano LED Aquarium Light Review
Having a light that is unobtrusive and doesn’t take up too much space is a blessing that a majority of aquarists take for granted. This product may be small but the amount of light it’s able to put out is nothing short of impressive.
It’s controlled via Bluetooth using an app on your smartphone. We expected this app to be very poorly designed but we were pleasantly surprised to see that it was quite intuitive and easy to use. All the features that the light has to offer were easily accessible and we could navigate through the menus with no problem at all.
Features of Hagen Fluval Plant Bluetooth Nano LED Aquarium Light
- Dimensions: 7.3 inches by 5.1 inches by 0.9 inches
- Weight: 1.5 pounds
- 1000 lumens
- Operating capacity: 15 watts
- 7500K color temperature
- Doesn’t take up too much space
- Easy to handle
- Easy to operate
- Decent build quality
- Not appropriate for larger aquariums
If you have a small desktop or tabletop planted aquarium that you’re looking to illuminate, this is the product for you. It’s purposefully designed to light a small area and it does a wonderful job of penetrating water to the bottom.
What are some aspects to think about when buying LED aquarium lighting for plants?
LED aquarium lighting for plants can be tricky business but you can narrow down your search and make it quite simple for yourself by thinking and pondering over some key aspects. Some aspects to keep in mind while buying LED aquarium lighting for plants are:
The Species of Plants you Have
It’s very important that you decide on what type of aquarium plants you’re going to keep in your aquarium before you actually go out, choose and buy LED aquarium lighting for them. This is important because different aquarium plants have different lighting needs and you need to ensure that whatever light you get, it’s able to fulfill whatever those needs are. There are low-intensity lighting plants, medium-intensity lighting plants and high-intensity lighting plants. If you’re not sure what type of plants you have, you can get a high-intensity light that has a dimmer built into it. That way you can accommodate any type of plant that you currently have or that you may get in the future.
Aquarium Depth and Size
Aquarium size obviously matters as you’re going to want to get a light that is appropriate for whatever size your aquarium is. Get a light that’s too small and your aquarium will be inadequately lit. Get one that’s too big and your fish will become too stressed and your plants might get bleached.
In terms of size, the depth of your aquarium is quite an important factor. If you have an aquarium that has a depth of more than 24 inches, you may want to consider getting special LED lighting that has a higher penetration power. This is because at depths greater than 24 inches, everyday LED aquarium lights tend to lose their intensity.
Aquarium plants respond well to blue and violet light so it’s a good idea to get LED aquarium lighting that comes equipped with LEDs that offer this part of the light spectrum.
You don’t want to get lighting that is not specifically catered towards aquarium plants as this can lead to several problems such as wilting, browning, stunted growth, etc.
What color temperature is appropriate for growing live aquarium plants?
Color temperatures don’t really matter as much when it comes to growing live aquarium plants as most of them can grow under a wide range of Kelvin. The main thing you need to worry about is the intensity of the light as the requirement for the intensity of light can vary from species to species.
If you really do want a solid number then a color temperature of anywhere between 6500K – 10000K is appropriate for growing live aquarium plants.
What is PAR and what should my LED PAR levels be for my planted tank?
PAR is a term used by aquarists and it stands for Photosynthetically Active Radiation. It refers to the amount of light that is able to penetrate through the aquarium water and is available to plants and corals inside the aquarium for photosynthesis. PAR meters are widely available and work by measuring the amount of light in a small area and extrapolating this information in order to estimate the amount of light usable to plants and corals in an aquarium.
Your LED PAR levels in your planted aquarium depend on the type of aquarium plants you have inside it. If you have low light plants, your PAR levels should be somewhere around or below 50 micromoles. If you have medium light plants, they should be between 50 and 150 micromoles. If you have high light plants, the PAR can exceed 150 micromoles. Keep in mind that all these PAR levels should be measured near the substrate of your aquarium.
Can I replace integrated LEDs that stop working within the lighting fixture?
Most LED aquarium lighting fixtures these days can easily be opened up to replace individual LEDs that have stopped working. While you can definitely easily do this, you may want to look into whether or not this would void any warranty you may have on the lighting product. If something like that is the case then you should definitely do it at your own risk.
Would regular LED strips be effective towards growing live aquarium plants?
You can definitely utilize everyday LED strips to light your planted aquarium but there’s no guarantee of whether or not they will effectively grow your plants. Like we’ve mentioned earlier, plants have a specific set of needs. While you can definitely do your research and look to obtain regular LED strips that match the color temperature and intensity of your plants but if you’re going to go through all that trouble anyway then why not just get lights that are specifically meant for your aquarium plants?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How many hours of light does a planted tank normally need?
This could vary by a few hours depending on the type of plants you have in your planted tank but generally, planted tanks require about 10 – 12 hours of light every day.
How many lumens do aquarium plants normally need?
That entirely depends on the species of the plant. Low-light plants require about 10 – 20 lumens. Medium-light plants require about 20 – 40 lumens while high-light plants require above 40 lumens of light.
Is blue light good for plant growth?
Yes. Blue and Violet light is very beneficial for plant growth as they have the highest absorption rate. They are absorbed the most by the leaves of your aquarium plants and are best utilized for the production of nutrients that assist in plant growth.
How far away should my LED aquarium lighting be from my plants?
This generally depends on how intense or big your lighting fixture is and what the size of your aquarium is. As a general rule of thumb, a distance of 24 inches between the surface of the water of your planted tank and your lighting fixture is a good starting point. From there you can judge whether the aquarium is appropriately lit or not and then adjust the height accordingly.
Can too much light hurt my plants?
Yes, for sure. Too much light can lead to a number of consequences. The most obvious one is bleaching of your aquarium plants.
Other than that, excessive lighting can also cause algae inside your aquarium. Algae blocks light from hitting the leaves of your plants and thus, hinders the process of photosynthesis.
How much wattage in my LED aquarium lighting is needed for a planted tank?
For freshwater planted aquariums, generally, you need about 2 – 5 watts per gallon of light. If it’s a saltwater tank then you may require somewhere between 3 – 6 watts per gallon. The higher operating capacity for saltwater aquariums is so that the light is able to effectively penetrate the saltwater.
What is the benefit of having red light in my planted aquarium?
While Blue and Violet light is most appropriate for the growth of aquarium plants, when it’s complemented with red light, it can help them flower. That’s why you’ll find many aquarium lighting products that are meant for planted aquariums to be equipped with red-colored LEDs.
Is white LED light good for aquarium plants?
Yes. White LED lights are definitely good for aquarium plants as they effectively simulate sunlight. LEDs do a great job of mimicking sunlight and they do so by utilizing a lot less electricity than most of its competitors. This is why most LED aquarium lighting for planted aquariums comes fitted with a majority of white LEDs.
Are white LED lights full-spectrum?
No. Most white LEDs generally have two spikes of color with the rest of the spectrum being more or less absent. Cool-white LEDs have a hint of blue whereas warm white LEDs have more red in them.
This doesn’t mean you can’t find full spectrum LEDs in the market. They are definitely available but they can get quite pricey.
What should I do if my fish are getting stressed by bright lighting which my high-intensity aquarium plant needs?
Well, this is a situation in which you’ll have to make a choice. Your fish and the species of your aquarium plant that you have in your planted aquarium are simply incompatible. You will have to get rid of either your aquarium plant or your fish as they cannot live in the same habitat without at least one of them having an unhealthy environment.
It’s very tough to find LED aquarium lighting that fulfills all the specific needs of every plant that you have in your planted aquarium.
After months of research, discussion and debate, we’ve come to the conclusion that the NICREW BrightLED Aquarium Light. It’s astoundingly bright, very easy to use and it uses very little electricity to produce amazing results.
And with that, we’re at the end of our post for the best LED aquarium lighting for plants.
Give us feedback and let us know what light you’re using to light your planted aquarium.