You’ll agree with us when we say that choosing a light that will keep both your fish happy as well as the aquarium plants growing healthy can be a difficult task.
That’s why we decided to test out every popular light for planted aquariums we could find on the market and online in order to bring you this set of reviews.
Today, we’ll discuss what live aquarium plants need from a light and how you can make an informed decision to get them a light that unlocks their full potential.
After much discussion, we’ve concluded that these three stand out from the crowd the most.
Now, let’s get into the detailed reviews for the top 7 best lights for planted aquariums.
Best Light for Planted Aquarium - Best 7 Reviews
1. All-Around Best Light for Planted Aquarium - Beamswork DA 6500K 0.50W Series LED Pent Aquarium Light Review
This aquarium product is absolutely perfect for all kinds of planted aquariums. At a Kelvin rating of 6500K, it lies in that perfect sweet spot where the color temperature is most beneficial for live aquarium plants as well as fish.
We were very surprised at how bright it was and how well it lit up our planted aquarium. We could see details in our fish that we had never seen before and after a few months, we noticed considerable growth in our plants; They seemed healthier than ever.
It’s sleek and slim design made it very easy to handle and mount onto our planted aquarium.
Features of Beamswork DA 6500K 0.50W Series LED Pent Aquarium Light – Best Light for Planted Aquarium
- Comes in sizes ranging from 24 inches to 72 inches
- 4800 Lumens
- Blue and White LEDs
- Dual lighting modes
- Can be used with a timer
- Lightweight for its size
- Creates a beautiful shimmer effect
- Easy to mount
- Low power consumption
- Timer has to be bought separately
If you’re looking for a light that perfectly lights up your planted aquarium and that too at a decent price, this is the product for you. It has an incredible design, it’s long-lasting and very effective for plant growth.
2. Best Low-Energy Light for Planted Aquarium - NICREW BrightLED Aquarium Light Review
NICREW is a household name when it comes to lighting for aquariums and this BrightLED of theirs is something that had slipped through the cracks for us in the past; We never got the chance to try it out. So, everyone here was very excited once we found out we would finally be trying it out for this list.
Indeed, it did not disappoint. It features a low voltage transformer which makes it very safe for you to handle it around your aquarium even when it’s plugged in. It has energy-efficient LEDs that utilize power much better than most of its competitors in order to bring you a planted aquarium that is beautifully lit.
Features of NICREW BrightLED Aquarium Light
- Appropriate for aquariums between 18 inches and 24 inches
- 38 White and 4 Blue LEDs
- Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Operating capacity: 18 watts
- Energy efficient
- Sleek design
- Small in size
- Easy to use
- Comes with a 1-year warranty
- Only available in one size
If you’re looking for a light that beautifully lights your aquarium and also saves you money in the long run, this product is made for you. It’s incredibly stylish and comes with a year-long warranty.
3. Best Timer-Ready Light for Planted Aquarium - BeamsWork DA FSPEC LED Aquarium Light Review
This product comes at a slightly more intense rating than our #1 entry on this list and is perfect if you have high-intensity plants growing within your planted aquarium.
It can be programmed with a timer to turn off and on as needed so you don’t need to worry about manually switching it off and on. It may not seem like much but it’s actually a blessing when you’re not concerned about whether your plants aren’t getting enough light each day.
The light itself features multi-colored LEDs that blend together beautifully to bring you a spectrum of light that is perfect for lighting up an aquarium aesthetically as well as functionally for plant growth.
Features of BeamsWork DA FSPEC LED Aquarium Light
- Comes in sizes ranging from 20 inches to 72 inches
- Multi-colored LEDs
- Adjustable mounting legs
- 5200 lumens
- Low voltage transformer
- Beautiful, modern design
- High penetration power in water
- Sturdy construction
- Only suitable for freshwater aquariums
If you find it annoying to constantly switch your light on and off each day, this product is ideal for you. It’s made from long-lasting materials and comes with a modest price tag.
4. Best Light for Planted Aquarium with Weather Effects - Current USA Satellite Plus PRO LED Light Review
Current USA is another household name and with this product, they really went all out. This product is absolutely packed with all kinds of features which will leave you exploring for days on end when you first get it.
The lights are bright and create a beautiful shimmering effect along the surface of the aquarium which is very pleasing to look at.
It comes with a wireless controller so you can customize it any way you want from the comfort of your couch.
The 6500K rating means that it’s more effective when it comes to photosynthetic processes within your live aquarium plants.
Features of Current USA Satellite Plus PRO LED Light
- Comes in sizes ranging from 18 inches to 60 inches
- Wireless control
- 6500K kelvin rating
- White and RGBW LEDs
- Sliding docking legs
- Responsive remote control
- Beautiful weather effects
- High level of customizability
- Easy to install
- Slightly expensive
If you want a high level of customizability, precision and control in your light then this is the product you’re looking for. It’s beautifully built, it’s very simple to assemble and quite intuitive to use.
5. Best Lightweight Light for Planted Aquarium - Finnex Ray2 Aquarium LED Daylight Review
Being familiar with products from Finnex, we knew we were in for a treat and that’s exactly what we got. This light not only comes with a beautiful and unobtrusive design, it also features incredibly bright lights that illuminate aquariums wonderfully.
We were most surprised at how lightweight and easy to handle it was. It took absolutely no time at all to mount this light onto our planted aquarium.
It features actinic lights which can be utilized effectively to stimulate plant growth within your planted aquarium.
It’s specifically designed to be effective in both freshwater as well as saltwater aquariums. The splash guard it comes with protects it from water splashing and also prevents salt buildup inside it.
Features of Finnex Ray2 Aquarium LED Daylight
- Comes in four sizes: 24, 30, 36 and 48 inches
- Appropriate for both freshwater and marine environments
- Lasts up to 40,000+ hours
- White and Actinic lights
- Splash guard
- Sleek and slim design
- Easy to assemble
- Simple operation
- Very lightweight
- Great for high-intensity plants
- Doesn’t have extendable brackets
If you want a light that’s easy to assemble and mount onto your planted aquarium, this is the product for you. It’s lightweight but also very well-made and will last you a long time.
6. Best Full Spectrum Light for Planted Aquarium - KZKR Aquarium Hood Lighting Review
This aquarium lighting product definitely proved to be the underdog of the bunch. It was from a brand that none of us had heard of before and it absolutely blew us away with its brightness.
It comes in many different sizes and each size has two variants: one that has blue and white LEDs and the other which has full-spectrum LEDs. We tested both variants out and we’re happy to report that the full spectrum LED variant performs extremely well and is perfect for growing plants inside your planted aquarium.
The extendable brackets it comes with make it so much easier to mount. No matter what size or shape your aquarium is, you’re more than likely going to find a size of this product which is appropriate for it.
Features of KZKR Aquarium Hood Lighting
- Comes in sizes ranging from 11 inches to 84 inches
- Aluminum construction
- Two different lighting modes
- Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
- Extendable brackets
- Extremely durable
- Wide variety of sizes
- Easy to handle
- Low energy consumption
- Easy to operate
- Is not waterproof
If you’re looking for a full spectrum light that effectively stimulates plant growth, this product is ideal for you. It’s incredibly bright but does not consume a ton of power.
7. Best Automatic Light for Planted Aquarium - Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium LED Review
This product comes with an incredibly modern design that’s inconspicuous at the same time. It would look great on any aquarium you decide to mount it on.
It’s highly customizable so you can adjust the intensity of the light as you like so it’s appropriate for the plants you have inside your planted aquarium. The lowest intensity is great for low-light plants while the highest intensity setting is more than effective for growing plants that require high-intensity lighting.
You can also automate it to turn and off at appropriate times on its own and it even has built-in sunrise and sunset cycles.
Features of Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium LED
- Comes in sizes ranging from 20 inches to 48 inches
- Customizable color channels
- Wireless sensor
- Modern, streamlined design
- Highly customizable
- Highly responsive controls
- Legs can be hard to position properly
If you want a highly customizable light with a ton of automated features, this is the product you’re looking for. It features a beautiful, contemporary design and the wireless sensors make for a great and responsive controller.
What are some factors to consider when purchasing lights for a planted aquarium?
There are definitely some factors you can keep in mind and decide on before going out to purchase a light for your planted aquarium. Making these decisions beforehand will help you narrow down your search and make the whole shopping process a lot less confusing. Some factors to consider are:
Reliability and Brand
Obviously, you’re going to want a light that is constructed well and won’t give up on you within a few months. The key is to get a light from a reputable, well-known brand that has been making lights for planted aquariums for some time now. New products can be risky as there are often no reviews of them online and you never know how they’re going to perform.
It’s difficult to say how the LEDs inside your light will perform many months down the line after you buy them. You can get a good estimate of this by looking up the online reviews for the product you’re intending on buying.
Other than that, when you go out shopping for a light, do observe its body and the way it’s been made. Make sure the body is made from high-quality materials and the LEDs inside are securely attached so they don’t come loose, etc.
By far, the most important thing you have to think about is how powerful a light you want to get for your planted aquarium. This will obviously depend on what type of plants you have growing inside your aquarium and how big your aquarium is.
When it comes to lighting aquariums, a good way to measure the operating capacity of a light is by a metric known as watts per gallon. Normally, a planted aquarium requires anywhere between 2 – 5 watts per gallon of light. So for example, if you have a 10-gallon aquarium, you will need to get a light that operates at anywhere between 20 watts and 50 watts.
Are LEDs the best type of light to get for a planted aquarium? Why?
LEDs have quickly become the most popular form of lighting not just for planted aquariums but for aquariums of all kinds and for good reason. Some of the benefits of using LEDs to light your planted aquarium are:
- LEDs are cost-efficient. LEDs are known to utilize power much more efficiently as compared to their competitors such as incandescent or fluorescent lighting. They use a comparatively low amount of energy to produce much brighter light.
- LEDs produce little to no heat. The problem with many other types of lighting such as metal halide lighting is that they produce a lot of heat to the point where you have to invest in a chiller for your aquarium and maybe even an air conditioner for your room. LEDs are known to produce very little heat so you won’t have to worry about the temperature inside your planted aquarium rising.
- LEDs are customizable. LEDs can be easily customized and so, many premium lights these days come with a ton of features that let you modify them in an infinite amount of ways such as dimming, brightening, timers, playing with colors, weather effects, etc.
Are cheaper LEDs worth it or should I just save up to get premium lights for my planted aquarium?
We recommend you not to go towards either extreme but to try to find a light that’s somewhere in the middle which caters to all your needs.
If you opt for an extremely cheap light for your planted aquarium, this would come with a lot of risks. It could break down very soon after you buy it, it may not have many customization features, it may have flimsy construction, etc.
If you opt for a very expensive light, you may pay a hefty sum of money to get a light that’s packed with features that you’re never going to use.
How do I set up lights for my planted aquarium?
Lights are fairly easy to set up since they come with their own instructions which are often very easy to follow.
Different lights have different mounting methods for aquariums. Some come with mounting legs which are extendable in order to accommodate the size of your aquarium. Others come with hanging kits so you can easily hang them above your aquarium. While others come with clamps or mounting brackets that you use to fix the lights onto your aquarium’s wall.
How long do aquarium LED lights normally last?
LEDs are known to have a long lifespan. Most LEDs are advertised to last about 50,000 hours. If you keep your LED light on for 10 hours every day then this amounts to almost 14 years.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many lumens are normally needed by a planted aquarium?
This mainly depends on the types of plants you have inside your planted aquarium. Low-intensity plants require about 20 lumens of light, medium-intensity plants require anywhere between 20 – 40 lumens while high-intensity lights require 40+ lumens.
How many hours of light do aquarium plants generally require to grow effectively?
Again, the amount of light that plants need can vary depending on their species.
Generally, most species of aquarium plants require about 12 hours of light every day in order to be healthy and grow at an effective rate.
Does aquarium lighting cause algae?
Light is actually quite perplexing when you think about how it causes algae and can also be used to control algae. Under different conditions, low OR high-intensity light can cause algae.
If an aquarium has no aquatic plants, low light conditions can favor the growth of algae.
In a planted aquarium, having too intense light or just having your light on erratically or irregularly can also cause algae.
If your planted aquarium does end up with an algae breakout and you’re sure it’s been caused due to erratic lighting, you can decrease the algae inside it by placing your planted aquarium in darkness for a couple of days.
Can I keep my lights on for longer than recommended to make up for the fact that they’re not intense enough?
Absolutely not. The only fix for lights that are not intense enough is to replace them with lights that are intense enough. If you subject your plants to increased light hours, this can result in algae growth increasing in your aquarium as well as bleaching of your plants. Not to mention the fish inside your aquarium will also become stressed due to having their aquarium lit for longer periods of time.
Are actinic lights good for plant growth?
Yes. Actinic lights produce light that comes from the blue portion of the color spectrum and this type of light is not only beneficial for photosynthetic organisms like aquarium plants, it’s also very aesthetically pleasing to the human eye.
Most freshwater planted aquariums benefit heavily from light that lies in the 5500 – 7000 K color temperature range.
Are white LEDs beneficial for plant growth?
Yes. The sun gives off white light and white LEDs do a wonderful job of simulating sunlight which stimulates plant growth. White light offers a 40% absorption rate and is definitely beneficial for plant growth. That’s why most LED lighting products for planted aquariums come equipped with cool white LEDs.
What color of light is best for plants and what color is the worst?
Green light is by far the worst for plants since it has the lowest absorption rate. This is because plants themselves are green because of a pigment inside them called chlorophyll.
Blue light is very beneficial for plants and they absorb it well. It stimulates growth and vegetation within aquarium plants.
Red light when it’s combined with Blue lights allows plants to flower.
Is yellow light good for plants?
Plant leaves filter light that is most suitable for photosynthesis and only let certain wavelengths of light be absorbed. Yellow and orange light isn’t very necessary for photosynthesis.
You would be better off using a combination of white, blue and red light.
Can any LED light be used as a grow light for my planted aquarium?
You can definitely use any LED light to your planted aquarium and help your plants grow but there’s no guarantee that your plants will grow effectively or efficiently. The LED light you get might not be the right color temperature or right intensity for your plants to grow favorably. Thus, we recommend that you do your research and buy a light that specifically caters to the needs of the plants that you have.
Is ultraviolet light beneficial to plants?
Plants don’t require and do not utilize UV light in the process of photosynthesis. If you find a lighting product that is expensive only because it has a UV light in it, we would advise you to stay away from it since you don’t really need it if you have a planted aquarium.
Aquariums are already tricky to light and when you add aquarium plants to the mix, it becomes even trickier.
In the end, we have to give the crown to the Beamswork DA 6500K 0.50W Series LED Pent Aquarium Light. It’s incredibly bright but not to the point where it disturbs the fish in your aquarium and it grows aquarium plants brilliantly, all at a reasonable price.
And with that, we’ve reached the conclusion of our post for the best lights for planted aquariums.
Let us know what light you’re using for your planted aquarium.