Best Light for Planted Aquarium: Giving Your Fish Tank A Curb Appeal

Best Light for Planted Aquarium

Thinking about having an aquarium brings a plethora of questions including the type of aquarium you want, the type of fish used in your chosen aquarium type, the aquarium decor, the tank size, and the best light for planted aquarium.

Different aquarium types includefresh water,, tropical, cold-water, marine, and brackish, and we’ll look into each briefly.

Different aquarium types includefresh water

Freshwater Tropical Aquariums

Freshwater Tropical Aquariums

Freshwater tropical aquariums are the standard for hobbyists and are easy to maintain, which is why they are the best for beginners.

The temperature of the water ranges between 72-84 degrees Fahrenheit and requires no chemical additives other than those used to condition the water such as chlorine removers.

Fancy light fixtures or complicated equipment is unnecessary. Tropical fish are less expensive compared to marine fish although there are several tropical fish species that are rather pricey.

Also, freshwater fish are stronger than marine fish regarding water conditions.

Cold-Water Aquariums

Cold-Water Aquariums

Cold-water aquariums are colder freshwater aquariums with temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and one of the most common fish used in cold-water aquariums is the goldfish.

Cold-water fish can be a tad more expensive when looking at other fish types besides goldfish such as Koi fish.

Marine Aquariums

Marine Aquariums

Marine aquariums use saltwater, and saltwater fish are higher in price when compared to freshwater fish. Marine fish are also more sensitive to water conditions, need specialized diets, and are sometimes hard to find suppliers/stores for.

The equipment needed for marine aquariums is quite expensive because you need to keep coral.

Brackish Aquariums

Brackish Aquariums

Brackish aquariums aren’t common, and brackish water is a mixture of fresh and saltwater. The selection of fish available for this type of aquarium is low compared to other aquarium types, with the most common fish being the Pufferfish.

Lighting for your aquarium plays a larger role than just illuminating the tank. It provides oxygen and energy to the fish and also aids in the growth of plants, coral, bacteria, and basically all the life inside the aquarium environment.

Different ways lighting is measured include wattage, lumens, Kelvin, and PAR (photosynthetically active radiation).

Wattage is the amount of energy used, lumens is the brightness, Kelvin is the color, and PAR is useful for plant and beneficial algae growth. The ​different types of lighting include fluorescent, T-5 HO fluorescent, and LED.

Regular fluorescent is the most common type and the least expensive. It works well with freshwater and planted aquariums.

They are tubular shaped and can be inefficient since a portion of the light reflects upward away from the aquarium.

T-5 HO fluorescent lights are a more advanced type, and their bulbs are close to twice as bright as regular fluorescents. They are best used in bigger aquariums that need brighter and deeper penetration.

They generate more heat, therefore it’s imperative to monitor the aquarium’s temperature routinely and turn them off when necessary.

LED lights are new to the aquarium scene but are fast becoming a favorite with their slim design, cool operating temps, low operation cost, and the colors and shimmer effects.

They come in a wide variety of types and sizes and provide consistent color throughout their lifespan, unlike fluorescents which shift their color over a 3-6 month time-frame.

The amount of lighting required differs on the type of tank. Planted tanks need 6500-7000 Kelvin, 15-30 PAR (for low light plants), 30-80 PAR (for medium light plants), and greater than 80 PAR (for high light plants).

Fish-only tanks need 550-6500 Kelvin, and unlike plants, fish don’t actually require light. Marine reef tanks need 300-500+ PAR for both hard and soft corals.

Figuring out how much time to use the lighting is important in providing the fish and plants the lighting they need. The average is around 10-12 hours per day.

Using a timer or buying a tank with an integrated timing unit makes it easier since you can just set it and then forget about it without worrying.

Algae loves light, and if you notice algae growth, cut back on the lighting time or leave the lights off while away from the house, using the lights only when home.

Another factor to consider is whether you need a glass canopy over your aquarium. If the lighting is exposed, moisture will affect the lighting unit and decrease its life-span.

We will review different types of lighting options to aid in your choice of the best light for planted aquarium.

How We Reviewed

The following products were reviewed in conjunction with Consumer Reports based on parameters including features, pros/cons, price, where to buy, and warranty to give you the best information aiding in your choice for the best light for planted aquarium.

Overall Price Range of Aquarium Lighting Fixtures

Best LED Lights for Planted Tanks

The overall price range of aquarium lights depends on a lot of factors. The higher priced lighting fixtures offer more LEDs in several color options and greater flexibility, whether it be submerged or hung.

What We Reviewed

  • Mingdak LED Aquarium Light
  • Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights
  • Current USA Satellite Plus PRO LED Light
  • KOVAL INC. Aquarium Lighting Fish Tank Light
  • COODIA Aquarium Hood
  • Beamworks 6500K 0.50W Series LED Pent Aquarium Light
  • GloFish Blue LED Aquarium Light
  • NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light
  • VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control Series LED Aquarium Light
  • OceanRevive® Arctic-T247 Full Spectrum Dimmable 120W LED Aquarium Reef Light

1. Mingdak LED Aquarium Light

Mingdak LED Aquarium Light

Features

The Mingdak LED aquarium light comes with an in-frame mounting which lets you view the light not the fixture and is fully submersible. This unit comes with suction cups ensuring endless possibilities regarding placement.

Pros

  • Price
  • Adequate lighting
  • High user satisfaction

Cons

  • No splash guard
  • where to buy
  • Warranty

2. Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights

Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light

Features

The Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED light plus moonlights comes in an ultra-slim design featuring a series of LEDs promoting marine refugium and freshwater growth.

This lighting unit has an evenly spaced LED alignment ideal for aquariums needing low to medium light. The Finnex FugeRay Planted+ series has true 660nm red LEDs which have been found to be an effective wavelength for plant photosynthesis.

The Finnex FugeRay offers moonlight via a separate switch that can be activated at night, giving the tank a pleasing, moonlit feel. The unit comes with a splash guard to prevent water mishaps and moisture.

LED bulbs are durable with a life-span of 40,000 hours and a spread of 120 degrees. In order to extend the longevity of the LED bulbs, the circuit board is built with high-quality aluminum, and the fixture acts as a heat sync, enabling excellent heat dispersion and ample cooling.

Pros

  • Splash guard
  • Powerful lighting
  • Built-in heat sync

Cons

  • Tends to condense moisture if kept near the water level
  • Price
  • where to buy
  • Warranty

3. Current USA Satellite Plus PRO LED Light

Current USA Satellite Plus PRO LED Light

Features

The Current USA Satellite Plus PRO LED Light produces more light with higher color rendition and more control features.

This lighting unit is designed especially for freshwater aquariums and with the adjustable full light spectrum, so it’s an optimal choice for strong plant growth and gives off immense shimmer effects and vivid colors.

The integrated 24-hour timer allows you to program what time to start a gradual sunrise/sunset and/or dynamic weather effects.

This lighting unit programs easily with a wireless IR remote controller or touch keypad with features including 24-hour on/off time with a 15-minute ramp-up time useful for the gradual sunrise/sunset tone, an adjustable daylight/moonlight color spectrum, and 6 weather effects and presets such as cloud cover, storm/lightning, and fading moonlight.

There are four freshwater preset colors and two locations for memory giving a custom color spectrum. The higher output light offers a fully adjustable color spectrum and keeps the aquarium on a 24-hour light cycle.

This unit comes with a 120-degree reflector that spreads light evenly, providing superb color blending. The docking mounts are adjustable allowing for quick adaptability and fit many types of aquariums.

Pros

  • Unique features such as storm and cloud cover modes
  • Dual Ramp Timer allows for sunrise and sunset simulation
  • Great PAR outputs

Cons

  • Price
  • Remote reception sometimes unreliable
  • where to buy
  • Warranty

4. KOVAL INC. Aquarium Fish Tank Light

Koval Aquarium Lighting Fish Tank Light

Features

The KOVAL INC. Aquarium Fish Tank Light features 156 LEDs in 5 colors including white (132), blue (12), green(4), red(4), and pink (4).

These high-quality LEDs have a usable lifespan of 50,000 hours, and if one stops working, the others won’t be affected. The lighting hood gives full-spectrum light, ensuring healthy growth of corals, plants, and fish.

The additional moonlight mode gives your aquarium a nice blue hue for an amazing night-time effect. This lighting unit features a lightweight aluminum alloy shell which is durable, coming in three sizes, and also includes extendable brackets fitting many sizes of aquariums.

Pros

  • Moonlight mode
  • Price
  • The total amount of LEDs

Cons

  • No timer
  • where to buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The KOVAL INC Aquarium Lighting Fish Tank Light offers a hassle-free return policy for 30 days after purchase and if there are manufacturer defects, they will replace the product for free or a full refund.

5. COODIA Aquarium Hood

COODIA Aquarium Hood

Features

The COODIA Aquarium Hood offers sufficient light so not only can fish/plants have higher visibility, they get the energy required for healthy growth. Also, having proper light can influence the physiology and behavior of your fish.

This lighting unit comes with a 2.4G remote control, allowing you to change the color and brightness of your lights.

The aluminum housing of the hood delivers better dispersion of heat and the LEDs come in green, red, and blue, giving an ideal wavelength for the overall health to the ecosystem.

Extendable brackets enable the hood to fit a variety of aquarium sizes.

Pros

  • Variety of color options
  • Price
  • User-friendly remote

Cons

  • No timer
  • Multi-color features may not be good for fish/plants
  • where to buy
  • Warranty

6. Beamworks 6500K 0.50W Series LED Pent Aquarium Light

Beamworks 6500K 0.50W Series LED Pent Aquarium Light

Features

The Beamworks 6500K 0.5W Series LED Pent Aquarium Light isn’t the most powerful aquarium light on the market, but its low cost is attractive for those who have less demanding fish/plants.

This lighting unit supports low to mid-level plants and is a good choice for 90% of planted aquarium hobbyists. It’s a perfect choice for beginners just getting into the aquatic hobby.

The Beamworks lighting unit comes with a built-in programmable timer, allowing the user to set the lights to turn on/off automatically.

Pros

  • Price
  • Built-in programmable timer

Cons

  • Runs hot
  • where to buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The Beamworks 6500K 0.5W Series LED Pent Aquarium Light warranty information could not be found.

7. GloFish Blue LED Aquarium Light

GloFish Blue LED Aquarium Light

Features

The GloFish Blue LED Aquarium Light is waterproof and can be used with all glass canopies or light hoods.

This lighting unit features clips fitting into the frame of your aquarium and each light set includes a low-voltage transformer, two cord routing clips, a frame clip, a light switch, and a blue LED light.

GloFish lights are not a good lighting source for plant growth and are best used for supplemental light.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Doesn’t support healthy growth of fish/plants
  • Only one color
  • where to buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The GloFish Blue LED Aquarium Light have a one-year warranty.

8. NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light

NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light

Features

The NICREW Classic LED Aquarium Light offers the proper lighting required for the photosynthesis process, keeping plants looking their best. It’s also needed for the influence of fish behavior.

This model was designed to make your fish feel comfortable while still benefiting plants and is adjustable enabling this unit to fit a variety of aquarium sizes. It offers both daytime and nighttime modes.

Pros

  • Adjustable
  • Both day/night modes

Cons

  • No timer
  • Price/feature ratio
  • where to buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The NICREW Classic LED Aquarium Light offers a one-year warranty.

9. VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control Series LED Aquarium Light

VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control Series LED Aquarium Light

Features

The VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control Series LED Aquarium Light comes with a built-in timer, full spectrum layout, advanced heat dispersion system, dimming ability, and is designed to provide the perfect environment for your aquatic creatures.

The built-in timer has two settings with one for blue and one for white.

The advanced heat dispersion is done via the high-speed fans and upgraded aluminum heat sinks. This lighting unit comes with a remote control and adjustable hanging kits.

Pros

  • Built-in timer
  • Dims
  • Advanced heat dispersion system

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • Not programmable
  • Price
  • where to buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control Series LED Aquarium Light offers a three-year local warranty.

10. OceanRevive® Arctic-T247 Full Spectrum Dimmable 120W LED Aquarium Reef Light

OceanRevive® Arctic-T247 Full Spectrum Dimmable 120W LED Aquarium Reef Light

Features

The OceanRevive Arctic T-247 Full Spectrum Dimming 120W LED Aquarium Reef Light is a great option for high-end aquarium lighting.

It is ideal for both planted and reef tanks with two built-in independently controlled channels for time and intensity.

This lighting unit also offers supporting brackets and a hanging kit, ensuring that both the depth and width are covered efficiently.

The OceanRevive Arctic T-247 comes with two dual cooling fans that help with thermal management and the programmability via the remote buttons that glow during the night, and it is a nice convenience option for controlling the various settings.

The suspension mount is easily accomplished if you follow the steps provided by the manufacturer and includes the brackets and hardware required for the task.

Pros

  • Adjustable mounts
  • Slim design
  • Built-in legs
  • Time and intensity control

Cons

  • Price
  • Light output can burn corals
  • where to buy
  • Warranty

Frequently Asked Questions

When buying a lighting unit for your aquarium, picking the right one not only adds beauty to the tank, but it will provide the light required to help aid in the growth of the plants and fish.

What are some factors used for purchasing the best light for planted aquarium?

1. How Is the Reliability of Brand Useful in Picking the Best Light for Planted Aquarium?

When buying the best light for planted aquarium, consider the brands available. Picking the correct brand is important since there are different models for each brand. When doing a model comparison, choose a reputable brand versus an economy or generic brand, and you can learn a lot by checking out the product description.

  • Choose a reputable brand
  • Read product description

2. How Is the Light Spectrum Useful in Picking the Best Light for Planted Aquarium?

An important factor when choosing the best light for a planted aquarium is the light spectrum so that you get the correct output required for plant growth.

The correct spectrum includes as many colors as possible, ensuring plants receive the lights promoting the best photosynthesis process.

  • Ensures plants get the best photosynthesis process
  • The correct spectrum includes as many colors as possible

3. How Are Control Modes/Features Useful in Picking the Best Light for Planted Aquarium?

The control modes/features available in the different models include lights that simulate sunrise, sunset, and night time.

Using these modes allow you to switch between the different options giving you the most out of the lights making sure you’re nurturing the life of the plants and giving your room a nice ambiance.

  • Simulates real-life situation such as sunrise/sunset and night time
  • Easily switching modes ensures plants are nurtured

4. How Is Installation Ease Useful in Picking the Best Light for Planted Aquarium?

The ease of installation is always important because you don’t want to become frustrated. More complex lighting models will make the installation more complicated, so choosing a model with easy steps is better.

There are models that come with adjustable frames and legs allowing for less time when fitting it onto the tank. Reviews from users are helpful in picking a model that will be easy to install.

  • Reading user reviews helps in picking the best lighting source that is easy to install
  • Pick models with features such as adjustable frames/legs ensuring less time to install

5. How Is LED Durability Useful in Picking the Best Light for Planted Aquarium?

The durability of the LEDs depends upon the materials used in the unit and the LEDs used. LEDs may work great in the beginning but burn out in a short amount of time, and knowing the durability of the LEDs means you won’t end up with a model that won’t deliver consistent performance.

  • Using durable materials in both unit and LEDs

6. How Is Ventilation Useful in Picking the Best Light for Planted Aquarium?

Lights generate heat that builds up over time, and having the proper ventilation is an important feature you will want the model to have.

  • For heat dispersion

7. How Is a Splash Guard Useful in Picking the Best Light for Planted Aquarium?

The lighting unit needs protection from moisture and water contact; therefore, pick a model that has a splash guard to prevent these situations.

  • Protection against moisture and water contact

8. How Is the Kelvin/Lumen Rating Useful in Picking the Best Light for Planted Aquarium?

The Kelvin/Lumen rating is perhaps the most important feature you will want in your lighting unit. These two measurements are important in knowing the output of the lights regarding both color temperature and total visible light.

Most aquariums having lights operating in the 6500-7000K is ideal for keeping the growth of plants going well and helps the lighting unit perform as a natural light source.

  • Ensuring proper growth of plant and fish life
  • Simulates natural light

The Verdict

Our verdict of the best light for planted aquarium is comprised of the Mingdak, KOVAL, Beamworks, and NICREW models. The most pressing factor was the price.

However, each model had their own unique attributes helping with the decision. The Mingdak lighting unit had high user reviews, and the fixture was fully submersible.

The Beamworks model came with a built-in programmable timer and is the perfect choice for beginners as well as 90% of aquatic hobbyists. The NICREW is adjustable with both day and night modes; however, this model seemed best for the photosynthesis process and for keeping your fish healthy and happy.

The Koval has a plethora of LED lights in 5 color varieties with a long lifespan at 50,000 hours. The Koval also came with the additional moonlight mode found on more expensive priced aquarium lights.

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