It’s hard not to agree with us when we say that it can be quite difficult to find a light for a planted tank that is both effective as well as aesthetically pleasing.
Keeping this in mind, we decided to test out all the popular lights available for planted tanks in order to find out which ones give you the best bang for your buck.
Today, we’ll be looking at how you can set up your lights to run a successful planted aquarium and which lighting products can help you achieve a brilliant, aesthetic look for your planted tank.
After months of testing, we’ve come to the conclusion that these three definitely stand out from the bunch as the best ones out there.
Now, let’s get into the reviews for the top 5 best lights for planted tanks.
Best Light for Planted Tank - Top 5 Reviews
1. Overall Best Light for Planted Tank - MingDak LED Aquarium Hood Light Review
The MingDak LED Aquarium Hood Light pretty much sets the gold standard when it comes to LED lighting for planted tanks. It comes with all the features you need in order to light a planted tank efficiently, including adjustable brackets and Blue LEDs which are beneficial for plant growth.
You’ll find that it takes no time to mount onto your aquarium and the two lighting modes it comes with are very easy to switch between. The first lighting mode is where all the lights are on and the second one is where only the Blue LEDs are on.
Features of MingDak LED Aquarium Hood Light – Best Light for Planted Tank
- Available in six different sizes ranging from 10 inches to 52 inches
- Suitable for all kinds of aquariums
- Contains White and Blue LEDs
- Two different lighting modes
- Extendable brackets
- Sturdy build
- Easy to mount
- Low power consumption
- Reasonably priced
- Mimics natural light very well
- Not waterproof
If you want a solid aquarium lighting fixture that contains all the essential features for a planted tank at a modest price, this is the product you’re looking for. It creates a natural home environment for your fish and plants which helps them grow quickly.
2. Best Light for Planted Tank with Timer - BeamsWork EA Full Spectrum LED Aquarium Fish Tank Light Review
This top-quality LED light is perfect for any and all aquariums you may have in your home. Coming in a wide variety of sizes, you’re sure to find a variation that will fit your planted tank.
It’s timer-ready which enables you to not worry about turning the light off and on yourself. This is done for you and thus, your aquarium plants will always get the appropriate amount of light every day.
It has cool-white, actinic, red and green LEDs integrated into it which ensure your planted tank will get a wide variety of light that it can make use of.
Features of BeamsWork EA Full Spectrum LED Aquarium Fish Tank Light
- Available in 8 different sizes ranging from 12 inches to 72 inches
- Multi-colored LEDs
- Low-voltage transformer
- Sleek, modern design
- Easy to use
- Comes with a 1-year warranty
- We noticed a slight curve in the fixture after a few weeks
If you want a sleek and effective aquarium light that works with a timer, this is the product for you. It’s made from materials that will give a consistent performance for a long time and its LEDs are customizable.
3. Best Underwater Light for Planted Tank - S SMIFUL LED Aquarium Light Review
This is one of the more unique products in this list that definitely stands out from the crowd. It’s a completely submersible light that is meant to light your planted tank up from the inside.
We were very excited to test this product and it did not disappoint. The light looks extremely elegant shining from the inside of your planted tank and it illuminates your fish and plants up beautifully.
The lights can be easily controlled through its wireless remote and the colors can be changed through four different modes namely, flash, strobe fade and smooth; Of course, you can also set it to stay at one color permanently.
Features of S SMIFUL LED Aquarium Light
- Available in five sizes ranging from 7.5 inches to 23 inches
- IP68 waterproof
- Dimmable lights
- Color change adjustable
- Wireless remote
- Easy to set up
- Low power consumption
- Remote for convenient control
- Not suitable for larger aquariums
If you want a unique submersible light that will provide a one-of-a-kind aesthetically pleasing look inside your planted tank, this product is ideal for you. It’s highly responsive and does its job effectively.
4. Best Low-Medium Intensity Light for Planted Tank - Finnex Stingray Aquarium LED Light Review
The Finnex Stingray Aquarium LED light features a sleek design that is sure to blend in with the aquarium you mount it on. It provides beautiful illumination that is pleasing both to the human eye as well as the fish inside your tank.
Not only that, it’s specifically designed to act as a grow light for live aquarium plants that normally require low to medium intensities of light such as Anubias, Ferns and Mosses.
You’ll find that its three different-colored LEDs come together to provide a soothing shimmer effect across the surface of the water which is very pleasing to look at.
Features of Finnex Stingray Aquarium LED Light
- Available in seven different sizes ranging from 12 inches to 48 inches
- Contains White, Blue and Red LEDs
- 11 output watts
- Mounting clips for easy attachment
- Contemporary, inconspicuous design
- Suitable for many sizes of aquariums
- Stylish look
- Easy to install
- Great value for money
- Not suitable for plants that require high-intensity lighting
If you have plants in your aquarium that require low-intensity lighting in order to thrive, this is the product you should go for. It comes at a modest price and is available in a wide variety of sizes.
5. Best Full Spectrum Light for Planted Tank - KZKR Aquarium Hood Lighting LED Fish Tank Light Review
The KZKR Fish Tank light initially made our heads boggle simply with the number of different varieties and sizes they had available for planted tanks. They have two variations: one that has only Blue and White LEDs and one that has Full Spectrum LEDs and then these two variations are further available in a number of sizes.
This lighting fixture features high-quality LEDs that dissipate close to zero heat and light up your fish tank beautifully.
You can easily switch between the two modes that are provided within the light known as a daylight mode and a nightlight mode.
Features of KZKR Aquarium Hood Lighting LED Fish Tank Light
- Comes in a wide variety of sizes ranging from 11 inches to 84 inches
- Aluminum case
- Low heat dissipation
- Two modes
- Extendable brackets included
- Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
- Suitable for aquariums of many sizes
- Easy to use
- Highly responsive
- Doesn’t come with a remote control
If you have plants that require lights from a wide spectrum, this product is ideal for you. It’s well-built, available in a number of sizes and is very intuitive to control and use.
What are some factors to consider when buying lights for a planted tank?
Buying lights for a planted tank can be a slightly different experience as you’re looking for different things in your lighting setup when you’re getting one for live aquarium plants. Some things to think about and consider when buying lights for a planted tank are:
The Light Spectrum
Plants require a specific color or wavelength of light in order to grow effectively. While it’s true that they can utilize the entire spectrum of light to some extent or another, it’s been widely proven that the Blue and Violet spectrum is the most beneficial for them.
When you’re getting lighting for your planted tank, it’s a good idea to look at what color LEDs are present in the lighting product. Having Blue and Violet LEDs in your lights can be a great asset for you if you want to use your lights as a grow light for your plants.
Some lighting products look great and offer excellent performance at first but they tend to fall and deteriorate as time goes on. Be sure to look at online reviews and observe the build quality of the lighting product you’re thinking of getting.
Ensure that it will last you a long time and it will be able to deliver bright, efficient lighting to your planted tank consistently.
This is highly important when you’re considering lighting for a planted tank. Plants need light of a certain color temperature in order to grow properly.
For a planted tank, having a light of somewhere between 6500K and 7000K is usually appropriate for quick growth.
Waterproofing Properties and Splash Guard
Let’s face it, when you have lighting near an aquarium, it’s going to get wet sooner or later no matter how careful you are. When that happens, it’s important to have lighting that will be able to withstand water being thrown onto it. They don’t have to be completely waterproof but they should at least be water-resistant.
Don’t trust yourself to always protect it from water because it’s bound to get wet, it’s only a matter of time.
Having a splash guard over your light can also be a bonus as this will protect it from the water as well as any other deterrents such as salt buildup, etc.
What type of lighting is best for a planted tank?
There are a number of options you can choose from when considering lighting for a planted tank such as Metal Halide lights, LED lights and Fluorescent lights. All of these lights have different purposes and working properties but it’s now common knowledge that LED lighting is the best option when it comes to lighting for a planted tank.
This is because of a number of reasons; Most of them owing to the fact that its competitors are inefficient in many ways. For example, it’s true that metal halide lights are great for deep-water tanks as they have great light penetration in the water but they also tend to heat up a lot. You have to invest in a chiller for your aquarium as well as your room if you invest in metal halide lights which can be quite a hassle.
On the other hand, LED lights don’t heat up the water at all, they use electricity very efficiently and they are also easily controllable to suit your needs.
How do I install lighting for my planted tank?
All lighting products are different in how they can be mounted. Most of them have intuitive designs with easy-to-follow instruction manuals which you can take the help of in order to set them up on your planted tank. Some general things to keep in mind while installing lighting for your planted tank are:
- It’s preferable that you do it before you’ve added fish to your planted tank. All the jittering and finicking can be quite stressful for them.
- Turn all the lights off in your room in order to test the intensity of the lighting.
- Check for electrical hazards and make sure no wire is touching or submerged in the tank water before you turn your lights on.
Is too much light harmful for my live aquarium plants?
Yes. Too much light can cause an algae breakout in your aquarium. Algae will obstruct light from hitting your plants directly and thus, will hinder them in their photosynthesis process.
How much light is required by live aquarium plants?
Most live aquarium plants require up to 12 hours of light every day but this can vary depending on the type of lighting setup you have and the species of plants you’re keeping in your planted tank.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can lighting be a cause of algae in planted tanks? How do I fix this?
Yes. As we mentioned briefly before, excessive or erratic lighting can definitely lead to algae growth inside your aquarium. While lighting can be a cause of algae, this isn’t the only cause. Algae can also be caused by unclean water or excessive leftover food inside your aquarium.
If you’ve addressed all these other problems and are sure that the algae growth is indeed due to poor lighting then you can solve this by placing your aquarium in total darkness for a day or two.
When you take it out of darkness, make sure that the location you place it in is away from direct sunlight.
Do live aquarium plants need special light in order to grow effectively?
It depends on what you mean by special. Some species of plants require higher intensities of light in order to grow.
Also, as we’ve mentioned before, having Blue and Violet light for your plants can be a great idea as they utilize that spectrum most efficiently.
Can I use any LED light as a grow light for my live aquarium plants?
The short answer is yes. You can indeed use any LED light to grow your plants but that does not necessarily mean that they will grow at their fastest or most efficient rate. Indeed, it’s a good idea to do some research on the species of plants you have and get LED lights that specifically cater to their needs.
How high should I hang my lights above my planted tank?
Normally, a height of somewhere around 24 inches above the surface of the water is a good estimate. Having lights somewhere around this mark is appropriate for most planted tanks.
What are some advantages of LED lighting for planted tanks as opposed to other forms of lighting?
We’ve briefly touched on why LED lighting is the lighting option of choice these days for planted tanks. Some more benefits of LED lighting when it comes to planted tanks are:
- They are very easy to use and to install.
- They have a very long lifespan. Some LEDs work up to 100,000 hours or even more.
- They do not produce heat. Other forms of lighting tend to heat up the tank water which can be very harmful to your fish and aquarium plants.
- LED lighting fixtures are usually considerably smaller and more compact than most other forms of lighting.
Are COB LEDs better for growing plants?
No. COB LEDs often lack primary lenses and this heavily diminishes the penetration power of the light through the water. You’ll find your plants won’t be able to get the amount of light they need in order to grow effectively.
Will the blue light I use to grow my live aquarium plants bother the fish in my planted tank?
No. Blue light or “Moonlights” as they are often called, do not bother or disturb fish as long as you’re providing them with the regular amount of light they need each day.
Is it okay for me to touch LED lights immediately after I’ve turned them off?
We would recommend waiting a bit but if you’re in a hurry, you can definitely do so with some caution. LED lights are not like incandescent lights. They produce 95% less heat than them and you can easily handle them without burning your fingers. Just be sure to turn the power off first to avoid any sort of electric shocks.
Will LED lighting in my planted tank lose its brightness over time?
That is likely in some cases. LEDs don’t generally go out all at once but tend to lose their brightness as time goes on. Even that happens in sub-par and cheaply made LED lights. If you do your research and buy LED lights from a trustworthy brand, this will most likely not happen to you.
My light is flickering or is dim. What could be causing this?
This is normally caused by a loose circuit. Check to make sure that the fixture is properly plugged into its socket. Also, check for any loose wiring or loose LED bulbs which may be causing your lights to flicker or be dim.
The aquarium plants in your fish tank require proper light in order to grow and it’s very important you invest in good quality lights so they can thrive.
After months of testing and measuring the growth rate of aquarium plants under different lights, we’ve found that the best light for planted tanks is the MingDak LED Aquarium Hood Light. It offers all the features you need in order to grow plants in your aquarium effectively and it offers them at a competitive price.
And with that, we’ve come to the conclusion of our post for the best lights for planted tanks.
Let us know in the comments what light you’re using for your planted tank.