Best Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums – 10 Reviews, Guide, FAQs & More

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It’s difficult not to agree with us when we say that buying lighting for a coral reef aquarium can be much more difficult than buying lighting for a regular aquarium. 

That’s why we put every popular lighting for coral reef aquariums to the test in order to find out which ones stood out on top. 

Today, we’ll discuss what corals require from aquarium lighting and how you can make an informed decision when buying lighting in order to appropriately supply them with their needs.

Top Pick

This product comes with everything you need and excludes any unnecessary gimmicks. You’ll find its LEDs to be bright but not overwhelming with very high penetration power as well.

Runner Up

This product consists of full-spectrum LEDs that come together to emit light that’s very beneficial for corals. The extendable brackets that come with it make it very easy to mount.

Also Great

This product is perfect for aquariums up to 55 gallons. It comes with a 3-year warranty and is made from high-quality materials which will last even longer than that in a majority of cases.

After much research, we’ve chosen these three lighting products as the best from the crowd. 

Now, let’s talk about these products in detail in our top 10 picks for the best lighting for coral reef aquariums.

Best Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums - Top 10 Reviews

1. All-Around Best Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums - NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light Review

NICREW is a household name and the ClassicLED aquarium light is their flagship product. It features astoundingly bright LEDs that are perfect for lighting up all sorts of aquariums including coral reef aquariums. 

It consists of a combination of Blue and White LEDs and has two lighting modes: one in which all LEDs are on and one in which only the Blue LEDs are on. If you know anything about corals, you will know that blue light is very beneficial for their growth. 

The mounting brackets are also very easy to extend and are not rigid at all. They can be extended to a fair distance so you can easily mount the light onto your coral reef aquarium.

Features of NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light – Best Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums

  1. Available in different sizes ranging from 12 inches to 52 inches
  2. Adjustable mounting brackets
  3. Two lighting modes
  4. Combination of Blue and White LEDs
  5. Creates a beautiful shimmer effect on the water
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Small in size
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Larger sizes have a tendency to bend near the middle

If you’re looking for a simple and easy-to-use aquarium light which comes with all the features you need to successfully run a coral reef aquarium, you’ve just found your product. It’s beautifully designed and can be assembled and installed very easily.

2. Best Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums with Adjustable Brackets - Koval Aquarium Lighting Review

This product comes equipped with 5 different colored LEDs (Blue, Pink, White, Red and Green) that come together to bring you light that wonderfully illuminates your coral reef aquarium. 

The white LEDs have a color temperature of 8000K. As you can tell, this is more on the cooler side which is exactly what coral reefs prefer. 

The body is specifically designed to produce as little heat as possible. This not only protects your aquarium from unnecessary temperature rises but also extends the lifespan of the individual LEDs inside the lighting fixture.

Features of Koval Aquarium Lighting

  1. Available in three different sizes ranging from 24 inches to 50 inches
  2. Extendable brackets
  3. A lifespan of 50,000+ hours
  4. Low energy dissipation
  5. Individually replaceable LEDs
  • Low power consumption
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to use
  • Full-spectrum LEDs for increased penetration power
  • Lightweight for its size
  • Brackets are slightly flimsy

If you’re looking for an easy-to-mount aquarium light that consists of powerful, bright LEDs, this is the product for you. It’s got high penetration power and is specifically made to increase coral growth.

3. Best Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums with Brightness Control - MarsAqua LED Aquarium Light Review

This light has a great penetration power and it can light aquariums extremely well that have a depth of up to 1 meter (about 40 inches). 

The light is separated into two channels which can be individually controlled and customized so you can create the most appropriate lighting setup for your coral reef aquarium. Channel 1 consists of Violet, Royal Blue and Blue LEDs while channel 2 consists of Green, Red, Neutral White and Cool White LEDs. 

All of these lights are dimmable so you don’t need to worry about them being too bright or overbearing for your corals or fish inside your coral reef aquarium.

Features of MarsAqua LED Aquarium Light

  1. Available in two wattages: 165 watts and 300 watts
  2. 90-degree optical lens
  3. Can be combined with more units
  4. Two separate controllable channels
  5. Can be dimmed
  • Lightweight for how big it is
  • Appealing design
  • Sturdy
  • Comes with a 3-year warranty
  • Great customer support
  • Budget-friendly
  • Only available in two sizes

If you’re looking for a fairly customizable light with brightness control that doesn’t break the bank, this product is definitely for you. It securely mounts onto your aquarium and does a great job of illuminating it all the way to the bottom.

4. Best Remote-Controlled Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums - COODIA Aquarium Hood Lighting Review

This product comes with an insane level of customization potential and you can customize it all you want while sitting down comfortably. That’s because of the intuitive remote control that comes with it. It uses 2.4G technology to wirelessly control the light so you can adjust it in any way you want such as color, intensity, etc. 

When the lights are turned all the way up, they become astonishingly bright to the point where they can be perfect for cultivating high-intensity corals. If you have low-light corals, that’s not a problem either as the lights can be easily dimmed with the click of a button. 

Features of COODIA Aquarium Hood Lighting

  1. Available in five different sizes ranging from 11 inches to 54 inches
  2. Ideal for both freshwater and saltwater environments
  3. White and RGBW LEDs
  4. Comes with a remote control
  5. Dimmable
  • Wide variety of sizes
  • Energy-efficient
  • Compact
  • Durable
  • Highly customizable
  • Remote control can get unresponsive after some months

If you don’t want to get up every time you want to change something in your light, this product was made for you. It’s well-made and provides your coral reef aquarium with the proper spectrum of light which it needs.

5. Best Nano Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums - Lominie LED Aquarium Light Review

Many aquarists find it hard to get an appropriate light for their coral reef aquariums if they are smaller in size. This is unfortunate since a lot of aquarists have to get larger aquariums which they often don’t have the room for simply because they can’t find lights for a smaller aquarium. 

The Lominie LED aquarium light puts an end to all these problems by providing you with light that is appropriate for smaller aquariums such as desktop or tabletop aquariums. 

The gooseneck allows it to be rotated any way you want so you get the perfect angle of light within your coral reef aquarium.

Features of Lominie LED Aquarium Light

  1. Dimensions: 2.7 inches in diameter and 1.7 inches in height
  2. Weight: 2.2 pounds
  3. Gooseneck for flexibility
  4. Infrared Remote Controller
  5. Rustproof
  • Doesn’t take up too much space
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to mount
  • Small in size
  • Lightweight
  • Remote has to be pointed straight at the light for it to work

If you want to effectively light a small coral reef aquarium, this is the product you’re looking for. It’s small in size but is very effective and bright when it comes to lighting coral reef aquariums.

6. Best Full Spectrum Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums - WILLS Newest 165W LED Aquarium Light Review

This product comes equipped with multi-colored LEDs and a 90-degree crystal lens that work together to emit light which effectively reaches the bottom of your coral reef aquarium and is able to benefit your corals in a meaningful way. 

The dimmer dials enable you to adjust the intensity of the light in two separate channels (white and blue) so you can have the most appropriate light possible for the specific corals you have. 

A hanging kit is supplied with it which is very well-made and intuitively designed so you’re able to get this lighting product up and hanging in no time. 

Features of WILLS Newest 165W LED Aquarium Light

  1. Available in two sizes
  2. Full-spectrum multi-colored LEDs
  3. Dual dimming channels
  4. 90-degree crystal lens for increased penetration power
  5. Appropriate for aquariums equal to or below 57 gallons
  • Low energy consumption
  • Durable
  • Extremely bright LEDs with dimmer
  • Comes with a 2-year warranty plus a 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Helpful customer support
  • Dimmer dials are slightly rigid

If you’re looking for full-spectrum lighting for your coral reef aquarium then look no further. This product is beautifully built with state-of-the-art LEDs that are integrated into the fixture in such a way so that they have maximum penetration power.

7. Best Automated Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums - Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Aquarium LED Review

One thing we were immediately impressed by was its astoundingly slim design. It’s incredibly sleek and is very easy to handle. We were able to mount it onto our coral reef aquarium without even a little bit of a hassle. 

The light offers a wide range of customizability. The lights can be dimmed, you can set a timer and you can even program them to have regular sunrise and sunset cycles when it’s time for the light to turn on or turn off respectively. 

Features of Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Aquarium LED

  1. Available in five different sizes ranging from 20 inches to 48 inches
  2. Can simulate natural day/night cycles
  3. Comes with a wireless controller
  4. Beautiful, contemporary design
  5. 4 customizable color channels
  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Slim and lightweight design
  • High level of customizability
  • Highly responsive controls
  • May not be suitable for high-intensity corals

If you’re looking for a highly responsive light with innovative features, this product is ideal for you. It features a beautiful design that blends in and would look great on coral reef aquariums of all shapes and sizes.

8. Best Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums with Timer Control - VIPARSPECTRA LED Aquarium Light Review

This product comes equipped with two separate, individually controllable color channels. It features an insane level of customizability which can be done through the remote control which comes with it. 

You’ll find that the timer works extremely well for you to set the time as to when the light comes on and goes off. This ensures that excessive or inadequate lighting of your corals is not a problem. 

The lights are dimmable as well so you’ll have no problem with bleaching or algae in your coral reef aquarium either.

Features of VIPARSPECTRA LED Aquarium Light

  1. Comes in two wattages: 165 watts and 300 watts
  2. Appropriate for aquariums up to 60 gallons
  3. Built-in timer
  4. Dimmable
  5. Lifespan of about 100,000 hours
  • Does not heat up 
  • Lightweight for its size
  • Sleek, attractive appearance
  • High penetration power
  • Comes with a 1-year warranty and 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Slightly complicated to install and program

If you don’t want to constantly turn your light on and off every day, this product is ideal for you. It does the job for you so your corals get an appropriate amount of light every day.

9. Best Smartphone-Controlled Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums - Aquatic Life LED Aquarium Light Review

Having a wireless controller for your aquarium light can be quite convenient but it does come with its own set of disadvantages. Firstly, it adds to the clutter in your room and secondly, if you happen to misplace your remote control, you’re pretty much stuck with whatever settings you had on your aquarium light. 

That’s where this product comes in with its innovative technology. It connects to your home’s wifi and you can easily control it through your smartphone by connecting it to the same wifi network. 

The app itself is very well-designed so the user has no trouble navigating through the immense number of features that this light has to offer.

Features of Aquatic Life LED Aquarium Light

  1. Available in different sizes ranging from 24inches to 48 inches
  2. Controlled through Wifi using a smartphone
  3. Multi-colored LEDs
  4. Three channel timer for bright white LEDs, mixed color LEDs and blue moonlight LEDs
  5. Sunrise and sunset effect
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Easy to install
  • Sleek, attractive design
  • Easy to make a connection to a smartphone through wifi
  • Very responsive controls
  • Quite expensive

If you don’t want more remote controls for different gadgets in your home, this light is made for you. It’s long-lasting and features high-quality LEDs which do a great job of illuminating coral reef aquariums.

10. Best Sleek Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums - Relassy LED Aquarium Light Panel Review

Lighting is an essential part of your coral reef aquarium setup but oftentimes, aquarists have a hard time finding a lighting fixture that is well-designed and doesn’t look ugly hanging up on top of their aquarium. 

That’s where this product comes in with its incredibly futuristic and aesthetically pleasing appearance. 

We would also like to tell you that this light is not just all style and no substance as it features high-quality LEDs which make the colors of your corals pop wonderfully and these LEDs also feature customizability.

Features of Relassy LED Aquarium Light Panel

  1. Dimensions: 22.1 inches 11.8 inches by 0.7 inches
  2. Weight: 2.93 pounds
  3. Automatic on/off timer
  4. Aluminum heat sink
  5. Isolated energy design for energy-efficient lighting
  • Lightweight
  • Highly durable
  • Easy to maintain and use
  • Easy to set up
  • Incredibly stylish design
  • Can get too hot to touch during operation
  • Only available in one size

If you want a beautiful-looking light for your coral reef aquarium, this product is perfect for you. It’s long-lasting, easy to set up and is very simple to operate as well.

best lighting for coral reef aquariums

Buyers’ Guide

What are some factors to think about when buying lighting for my coral reef aquarium? 

Coral reef aquariums have different needs when it comes to lighting as compared to regular freshwater and planted aquariums. There are many factors which you can think about which can help you narrow down your decision about which light to get. Some aspects you can think about before purchasing lighting for your coral reef aquarium are: 

  • Energy Consumption 

It’s a good idea to look into how much energy the light you’re intending on getting consumes on a daily basis. We highly advise you not to get a cheaply made lighting product for your coral reef aquarium as a poor design can often mean that they utilize a highly unnecessary amount of electricity.

It may not feel good to spend a large amount of money on a light that comes from a reputable brand but trust us, in reality, this move would cost you a lot less money in the long run. Well-built lights are specifically designed to utilize electricity as efficiently as possible so that your electricity bill stays reasonable. 

  • Ease of Use and Installation 

Simplicity is the key when it comes to lighting for coral reef aquariums. You don’t want to get stuck with a light that has too complex instructions or that is too difficult to mount. 

Having a light that’s difficult to assemble and mount onto your aquarium can be quite frustrating as sometimes, you may not even get the proper lighting setup that you want. Beginners often get confused and do a poor job of mounting the lights onto their aquariums. This can be quite dangerous as the light could fall into the aquarium and electrocute your fish. 

As for operation, this should be as simple and straightforward as possible as well. It’s good to have customizability and extra features but opt to get a light that has those features clearly mapped out so they’re easy to access. 

How do I install lighting for my coral reef aquarium

Lighting that comes from good, reputable brands is often very easy to install. Brands pride themselves in having an easy-to-use and easy-to-install design. Most lights come with an instruction manual which you can follow in order to effectively mount them onto your aquarium. 

There are often different mounting options when it comes to lighting for aquariums. You may have a light that comes with a clamp mount, suction cups, hanging kits or adjustable mounting brackets. 

No matter what the mounting style is, you’ll be able to mount it onto your aquarium in no time if you just follow the instructions. 

Some high-end lights which have customizability options need to be programmed when they’re first turned on; You may need to do this through a remote control or whatever other way you can control them through. Other lights are just plug-and-play which means you can just plug them in and they’ll start working instantly.

What color temperature is suitable for a coral reef aquarium?

This largely depends on the type of corals that you have. 

A kelvin rating of 6500K in the lights is often used for freshwater aquarium plants but is also quite popular in shallow reef aquariums for the growth of the symbiotic zooxanthellae in corals. 

A color temperature of 14000K is also very popular among the reef community due to the increased blue in the spectrum. These wavelengths have more energy and thus, have higher penetration power which can reach deeper corals within larger coral reef aquariums. 

A color temperature of 20000K and up is used for lights for stony corals.

Would halide lights be suitable for a coral reef aquarium?

Yes. If you have a deepwater reef tank or a larger coral reef aquarium, metal halide lights can be a worthwhile option that you can turn to in order to light them. 

It should be noted, however, that halide lights create a lot of heat which can heat up the aquarium water to dangerous levels. 

What are some features of coral reef lighting that freshwater lights don’t have?

Lighting for coral reef aquariums usually has more LEDs that are towards the bluer side of the spectrum. This is because corals gain a lot of benefits from blue and violet light, it’s very healthy for their growth. 

Other than that, lighting that’s meant for coral reef aquariums is often designed in such a way that they have higher penetration power in the aquarium water as compared to regular lights for aquariums. This is because corals are located all the way at the bottom of aquariums and it’s important that light be able to reach them with its full potential.

Lighting for coral reef aquariums is also often equipped with UV lights.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How high should I hang my lights above my coral reef aquarium?

This usually depends on the size of the aquarium that you have. If you have a small desktop aquarium and a small light to accommodate it then the light could be anywhere as little as only 4 inches from above the water surface. This is appropriate when the light is fixed to your aquarium through a clamp mount or extendable bracket. 

If your light has a hanging kit and your aquarium is fairly large (higher than or equal to 30 gallons), you may want to hang the lights a bit higher. A height of a minimum of 24 inches above the water surface is a good place to start.

Do corals need UV light? 

As we mentioned earlier, lighting that’s meant for coral reef aquariums often comes equipped with UV lights. This is because corals definitely do need some amount of UV light in order to photosynthesize effectively and to produce nutrients for nourishment.

How long can corals go without light?

At most, coral can go for about 3 days without light. After 3 days, you may start noticing some browning on your corals which is irreversible. In a few more days after that, they will start to die. 

Do corals need blue light? Why? 

Yes, blue light is highly beneficial for corals. This is because they have symbiotic cells attached to them that contain chlorophyll; They need to photosynthesize. Blue light is a spectrum of light that gets absorbed very effectively by these cells. 

Would blue light be more likely to cause algae breakouts in my coral reef aquarium?

If you’re using light of the appropriate wavelength, you shouldn’t have a lot of trouble. However, if your blue light is leaning towards the green side of the spectrum, this could cause algae to grow inside your aquarium. Another factor that could lead to an algae breakout inside your aquarium is if you keep the light on for longer than recommended or if you light your aquarium at erratic or irregular times. Most coral reef aquariums require about 12 hours of light every day. We recommend that you invest in a timer that is able to automatically switch the light on and off for you. 

Can I grow corals with LED lighting? 

Yes. LEDs are very effective at growing corals. In fact, we’ve been using LED lighting for our coral reef aquariums for years now and we’ve consistently had amazing results. 

How many watts of lighting do I need in my coral reef aquarium? 

Coral reef aquariums often require light that operates at a higher wattage as compared to lights for freshwater or fish-only aquariums. A good rule of thumb when it comes to lights for coral reef aquariums is to provide anywhere between 4 – 8 watts per gallon of water. This means that, for example, if you have a 10-gallon coral reef aquarium, you will need a light for it that operates anywhere between 40 and 80 watts.

How long do LED reef aquarium lights last? 

If you buy LED lights from a reputable brand, they usually come with 1-3 year warranties and they claim to have LEDs that have a lifespan of 50,000+ hours. 

How much light do soft corals need? 

You’re going to need special, high-output fluorescent lighting in order to keep soft corals alive and healthy. The general operating capacity that’s appropriate for most soft corals is 5 watts per gallon.

Can corals get too much light? 

This is a widely debated topic. While there’s no doubt that in a natural environment, too much light can definitely be problematic for corals. However, there’s no solid evidence that shows that excessive lighting could be harmful to corals in any way in an artificial setting. 

That being said, it is true that excessive lighting can definitely lead to algae in an aquarium. Algae can block light from hitting your corals and prevent it from obtaining nutrients in the light. So, excessive lighting can definitely indirectly cause harm to your corals.

Final Verdict

Corals can be very challenging to light so it’s important you get lighting from a brand that has high-quality lighting products and that know what they’re doing. 

After much debate, we had to choose the NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light as the best of the bunch. It’s incredibly well-made and works wonderfully not only to perfectly illuminate your coral reef aquarium but also to provide effective light for your corals which will help them grow. 

And with that, we’ve reached the end of our post for the best lighting for coral reef aquariums. 

Let us know in the comments what light you’re using to illuminate your coral reef aquarium.

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