8 Best Aquarium LED Lightning Fixture

If you are an aquarium owner, you would know the effect that LED lights creates in a fish tank. The lights not only creates the illusion of depth and bring out the color of fish but they also very important for the sustainable growth of an aquarium.

Live corals are dependent on LED lights spectrum and intensity in order to stay healthy in the reef aquariums. These lights work in all types of aquariums be it a small one or big.

Evolution of LED lightning

During the early days of aquarium-keeping, stainless steel lightning fixtures were used. They contained incandescent light bulbs which produced a great amount of heat and raised the water temperature over 175 degree F.

It turned the metal light fixture into skin-searing metal surface which proved to be very dangerous for the marine life as well as the tank-owner.

Overtime, their substitute was innovated which were cooler fluorescent light tubes. They were housed in plastic fixtures which were assimilated into an aquarium cover.

These lights worked well for shallow aquariums that did not require potent lightning. However, they were not the right choice of one wanted to grow live plants and corals in the aquarium. 

Moreover, they were designed to culminate the neon colors of gravel, plants and ornaments.

Fluorescent light bulbs have a superb quality in the beginning but after 6-9 months use, their quality degrades. 

They still light up but the light is very low which does not satisfy the requirements of freshwater aquatic plants and saltwater invertebrates.

There are another range of bulbs known as metal-halide lamps. They have the power to create a shimmering effect like sunlight when switched on. Unfortunately, they produce a lot of heat which makes the surroundings poor for marine life.

LED aquarium lighting to the rescue

Light Emitting Diodes (LED) have revolutionized the lightning world. They are electric chips that glow when current is passed through them.

Originally, they were used in industrial control panels but today they are used everywhere from automated lights, street lights and even in stadiums.

Their lightning ranges from basic to hi-tech. The basic one uses a minimum amount of low-end LED circuits which illuminate the aquarium which makes them perfect for a 10-20 gallon tank.

The hi-tech LED lights add more LEDs for better lightning coverage along with a timer. They are exclusive for reef tanks contain live corals. They are specially assembled in-house using premium components.

Features of LEDs:

  • Last at least 80,000 hours
  • Use less energy
  • Don’t heat up the aquarium
  • Don’t contain toxic mercury
  • Don’t emit hazardous UV rays
  • Don’t flicker
  • Can be dimmed
  • Can be programmed to produce special effects.

​What to look for when selecting a freshwater LED aquarium light?

LEDs are designed for freshwater and marine reef aquariums. Unlike the fluorescent lights, they produce a natural-looking white light which enhances the natural colors of freshwater fish allowing you to see the subtle shading on tropical fish.

Full spectrum lightning is important for marine life because in its absence, they will lose their coloration and melt away.

Natural sunlight ranges from 5500K to 7000K. While looking for LED, look for the one which mimics early dawn, dusk and moonlight.

Also, they come in various sizes so look for the one which matches the size of your aquarium. You can also control these lights by a timer which is plugged in the wall.

​Reef aquariums and LED lighting

There are a variety of invertebrates in reef aquariums. These invertebrates have live algae within their tissue due to which a symbiotic relationship is developed between the two.

Through the photosynthesis process, the algae produce amino acids that feed corals. These corals provide shelter to algae along with supplying it with nutrients.

The beautiful coloration that you see of the invertebrates and coral, is due to the photosynthetic pigments contained in algae cells.

When the corals are over-heated, they expel the algae from their tissues. This process is known as coral bleaching and can even lead to the death of coral life.

To avoid this from happening, it is better to setup LED light fixtures which are made especially for reef  aquariums. They have many benefits over traditional lighting like:

What to look for when selecting a LED light for Reef aquarium?

​Light intensity and PAR

Light output is measured in PAR or lumens. Lumen is the measure of visible light but excludes UV and infrared spectrum.

Its measurement is based on human eye sensitivity and is often used in shops. Lights with high lumen level are not fit for aquariums as they are very yellowish and thus emit a great amount of heat. 

Its measurement does not include blue (400-500nm) or red (600-700nm) light which the corals and aquatic plants require for photosynthesis.PAR (Photosynthetic Active Radiation) is the amount of light available for photosynthesis. It is essential for the growth of aquatic plants.

Lights with high lumen but low PAR are not a good choice for aquariums. It is measures in PAR meter. A sensor is placed underwater which sends the reading to the meter. 

Its measurement is also dependent on the distance between the light and sensor. A LED fixture placed on the top of a shallow aquarium will have higher PAR value than the one placed over a deep tank.

The ideal PAR value for reef corals is 100-200. This level can maximize the photosynthesis process of the zooxanthelle. The one measuring from 200-400 PAR can bring out the coloration but can reduce growth rate. 

PAR readings are essential to know if you need to turn down the light’s intensity or move corals elsewhere. As too much PAR can inhibits coral growth which may cause bleaching.

​How many LED Watts per gallon?

During the era of fluorescent lights, Watts per Gallon rule was not applied. At that time came the high-output T5 fluorescent lights along with metal halides. They did not take the depth, width of aquarium and quality of light while deciding on which light to buy. But with the advent of technology, LEDs came into being which used the small and weak diodes. Changes were done to these lights which led to the development of better quality LEDs.The best way to find out the right LED fixture for your aquarium is to compare the PAR charts with PAR level needed in your fish tank.

​How long should I leave the light on?

It has not yet been decided on the right amount of light and dark periods in aquariums. Though according to some aquarists, for planted tanks, 8-10 hours of light is optimal. Going over 12 hours can cause algae problems and deteriorate the quality and growth of plants. While Reef aquarists run light for 8-12 hours per day. However, they dim the lights up and down throughout the day so as to create the effect of sunrise and sunset.

Best and Most Efficient Aquarium LED Lights Reviews

Aquatic Life LED EDGE

Aquatic Life LED Aquarium Light Fixture, 36-Inch
  • 36 Inch model fits Aquarium Frames between 35.0 Inches and 38.25 Inches Wide
  • LED Specifications: (21) 6K White, (21) 9K White, (24) 10K White, (7) Blue, (11) Red, (3) Blue Lunar LED's
  • Three Channel Timer with timer backup controls the bright white LEDs, mixed color LEDs and blue moonlight LED’s independently
  • What’s in the Box - LED Fixture (Qty. 1), Low Voltage Transformer (Qty. 1)
  • Limited One Year Warranty PLUS Our Limited Lifetime Repair Policy. See Aquatic Life website for details

Last update on 2021-12-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • Easy to program
  • Good customer service
  • Comes with an internal battery backup which saves timer settings in case of power outage.
  • Dense array of LEDs for even lightning.


  • Light fixture cannot be hung-over the fish tank.
  • Reef Edge is not available in the 24 inch version.
  • Poor instructions are provided in the manual.

This lightning fixture is designed for freshwater and reef aquariums. The 36″ fresh water aquarium contains (21) 6K White, (21) 9K White, (24) 10K White, (7) Blue, (11) Red, (3) Blue Lunar LEDs.

The 5 colors are of 0.5W with 120 degree dispersion which gives an illuminating effect to the aquarium. The design is 0.5 inches wide and 4 inches high. 

It has programmable sunrise and sunset settings with 10 minute increment over 2 hours time. Its 3-Channel timer makes programming the timer and customizing the lightning quick and easy.

The 3 sizes of the fixture are:

  • 24 inch light fits aquarium frames between 23.5 and 26.5 inches.
  • 36 inch light fits aquarium frames between 35 and 38.25 inches.
  • 48 inch light fits aquarium frames between 47 and 50.25 inches.
The Aquatic Life LED EDGE is designed to provide more blue light mimicking the one in the coral reef. It is smaller in size compared to the freshwater version but the timer is similar. 

It contains (21) 9K White, (52) Blue 454nm, (4) Blue 440nm, (3) Violet 420nm, (3) Violet 400nm and (4) Red LEDs. The 2 sizes available are:

  • 36-inch light fits aquarium frames between 35-38 inches.
  • 48-inch light fits aquarium frames between 47-50.25 inches.

Marineland Reef LED Strip

Marineland Reef Capable LED Aquarium Lighting System 36-48"
  • Marinelands revolutionary LED lighting systems
  • 10000K white and actinic blue one watt LED lighting system
  • 50000-Hour of rated life
  • Ships in Certified Frustration-Free Packaging

Last update on 2021-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • Sleek design
  • Easy to program and use
  • 1W LED are brighter than other fixtures.
  • LEDs are covered with focusing lenses.


  • Individual LEDs cannot be adjusted.
  • Limited automation and timer settings.

This light uses 14K daylight and blue LEDs that blend together to give an illuminating effect to reef lightning.

It has an integrated on-off timer. The strip lights needs to be placed on top of the aquarium. It has adjustable mounting legs that fit aquarium width of 18-24 inches, 24-36 inches, 36-48 inches and 48-60 inches.

Current USA Orbit Marine

Current USA Orbit Marine LED Aquarium Light, 36-48 Inch Adjustable Full Spectrum Ultra Bright Lights for Live Fish and Plant Saltwater Tanks 6 On-Demand Weather Effects Wireless Control with LOOP App
  • BRIGHTER, MORE COLORS- Your aquarium is full of spectacular colors, why not bring them all to life. Introducing the new Orbit Marine LED. Now packed with even more ultra-bright LEDs in a far wider color spectrum, it will make your corals and fish look even more spectacular. And it’s now in the LOOP, providing both light and pump control, taking your aquarium experience to a whole new level.
  • SUPER COLOR- Producing eye-popping color rendition and brilliant shimmer effects, the Orbit Marine produces a limitless number of color spectrums. A higher ratio of actinic blue spectrum LEDs balanced with full spectrum creates the perfect color combination for fish, inverts, live rock and corals to fluoresce and look amazing. Wide angle dispersion lenses evenly spread light over your entire tank while ensuring superior color blending.
  • MULTIPLE MODES- With modes that dim periodically to create cloud cover effects, storm modes that will blow you away complete with lightning strikes and innovative evening modes that include lunar and dusk – it’s sure to add excitement and intrigue to any aquarium.
  • EASY INSTALLATION- Extendable brakets allows this LED light to fit most aquairum fish tanks 18-24 inches wide.
  • REALISTIC EFFECTS- From start-up to sundown, the Orbit Marine gradually mimics the effect of a slow sunrise, bright daylight, dimming sunset and moonlight. Built-in lighting programs create a 24-hour natural biorhythmic lighting cycle, while on-demand dynamic weather effects gently roll clouds across your reef.

Last update on 2021-12-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • Easy programming
  • Comes with 4 automatic lightning pre-sets.
  • The slow ramp timer pro prevents light shock to fish.
  • Advanced LED chip design provides full spectrum.
  • Lightning can be controlled by a wireless remote control.


  • Comparatively small LED fixture.
  • Does not have a variety of single-colored LEDs for custom lightning.
  • Manual book provides poor instructions.

This model has the unique feature of dual daylight and dual blue actinic-style LED chips into one light fixture.

The combination of 8000K/12000K white LEDs along with 445nm/460nm blue actinic LEDs recreates the light spectrum which is necessary for fish. 

It is especially designed for reef tanks with live corals and marine fish aquarium.

Its orbit fixture uses 120 degree lenses which illuminates the fish tank from all sides. The Ramp Timer Pro feature creates a sunrise, sunset and moonlight with natural effect. 

Its adjustable mounting legs fit aquarium width of 18-24 inches, 24-36 inches, 36-48 inches and 48-60 inches.

VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control Series

VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control VT300 300W LED Grow Light, Dimmable Veg/Bloom Channels 12-Band Full Spectrum Plant Grow Lights for Indoor Plants
  • VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control Series VT300 LED Grow Light is scientifically engineered to keep the balance of the PAR output and coverage.
  • Built-in timer design allows you to turn the light on and off automatically. Dimmable feature can be used to program VEG and BLOOM brightness individually.
  • Compares to traditional 250W HPS/MH while consuming only 135W! Perfect for a 2.5 x2.5’ vegetative coverage at 24” while 2x2’ flowering coverage at 18”.
  • With revolutionary aluminum heat sinks (0.8” height) and quiet high speed cooling fans, runs 70% cooler than HID lights.
  • 3 years local warranty plus 30 days satisfaction or return guarantee.

Last update on 2021-12-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • Built-in timer.
  • Simple channel controls.
  • Comes with a wire suspension kit.
  • Available at economical price.
  • Company provides PAR measurements.


  • Industrial look
  • Power cord is set on the top.
  • Cannot be daisy-chained
  • Longevity issues with the LED.
  • Channels turn on and off on their own.

This one is made exclusively for hydroponics and indoor-growing. Its two new models are for designed reef aquariums.

The V-165 fixture (165W) provides 24*24 coverage while the T300 fixture (300W) provides 32*24 coverage. Both the models have timer and channel controls.

You can adjust the blue and white channel intensity by dialing-in the color balance in a IR remote control. The lights come with a 6-foot long power cord, remote control, built-in timer, manual book and a hanging kit.


  • Dimensions: 16*8.5*2.4 inches
  • Weight: 6.8 lbs
  • 90 degree lens angle
  • Aluminum heat sink with high-speed controlling fan.
  • LED arrays contain 55 high-intensity 3W Bridgelux and Epileds diodes.
  • Channel one array: Violet (420nm), Royal Blue (450nm), Blue (470nm)
  • Channel two array: Green (520nm), Red (660nm), Neutral White (6500K), Cool White (12000K)


  • Dimensions: 31.5*8.5*2.4 inches
  • Weight: 15.5 lbs
  • 90 degree lens angle
  • Aluminum heat sink with high-speed controlling fan.
  • LED arrays contain 100 high-intensity 3W Bridgelux and Epileds diodes.
  • Channel one array: Violet (420nm), Royal Blue (450nm), Blue (470nm)
  • Channel two array: Green (520nm), Red (660nm), Neutral White (6500K), Cool White (12000K)

Nicrew LED Aquarium Hood Lightning

NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light, Fish Tank Light with Extendable Brackets, White and Blue LEDs, Size 12 to 18 Inch, 6 Watts
  • ClassicLED pairs super bright 6500K white LEDs with rich 450nm blue LEDs for various color blends, perfect for beginners and experienced aquarists
  • White and blue LEDs can be operated together or independently for different color-temperature settings (6500K - 20000K)
  • Especially designed for freshwater fish-only tanks or low light level plants like Java Moss, Java ferns, banana plants, Anubia, Hornwort and Anacharis
  • Allow to easy install on a variety of aquarium with extendable mounting brackets
  • The ClassicLED is compatible with Nicrew Single Channel Timer or Single Channel Timer Pro (Each sold separately) which can simulate a gradual sunrise and sunset every day

Last update on 2021-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • Easy to operate.
  • Available at a reasonable rate.
  • Provides adequate light for plants growth.
  • No programming needed to use the light.


  • No automatic timer.
  • Intensity of light cannot be changed.
  • Cannot be hung on top of the aquarium.
  • Uses power adapter and jack.

Combined with blue and white LEDs, this model is exclusively for freshwater aquariums. White light is for normal illumination of the aquarium while the blue light is for moonlight effect.

There is a white daylight mode which blends the white and blue light. It is controlled by a rocker switch with 3 positions.

This LED comes in 3 widths (11-19 inches, 20-27 inches, 28-36 inches) and is mounted on top of the aquarium.

The mounting frame is adjustable. The plastic feet have a U-shaped channel with 1/2 inch width. It helps in stabilizing the light fixture and prevents the light from being knocked into the water.

Kessil A360WE Controllable

Kessil A360WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light, Tuna Blue
  • Designed for use with reef aquariums
  • External controllability in addition to its enhanced manual controllability
  • Shimmer Kessil lights are the only LEDs capable of producing a spectacular shimmer that rivals MH

Last update on 2021-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • Easy to tune lightning spectrum.
  • Works with external controllers.
  • High-quality workmanship.
  • Able to daisy-chain manually.


  • Expensive
  • Requires hanging from the ceiling or brackets of the tank.
  • Power supply needs to be hidden from the view.

This model features proprietary LED arrays assembled in California. It is designed to be hung from the ceiling or bracket of the reef aquariums.

In this model, two-knob are available for adjustment. You can adjust the light according to your requirement using one knob and adjust the intensity with another. 

It has a feature which allows the light fixtures to be controlled by standalone aquarium controllers.

The light spectrum produces 10,000K spasm to actinic blue. When daisy-chained, it acts as the master unit propagating settings for all the lights. It is available in a blue-light Tuna Blue model and a full spectrum Tuna Sun model.

Aquaillumination Hydra 26HD

AquaIllumination Hydra TwentySix +HD LED Light, Black
  • 26 Energy Efficient high output LEDs
  • 7 Individually controllable colors
  • 80 Degree Color Blending Lenses

Last update on 2021-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • Able to daisy-chain
  • No separate controlled needed
  • Uses high-quality LEDs
  • Wireless connection


  • Expensive
  • Power supply needs to be hidden.
  • Needs to be hanged from brackets.

It is a new model in the Hydra series which can use power from the unused LEDs to boost the output which is being used throughout the 24-hour cycle.

It uses 80 degree focusing lenses for spreading light equally and for good focusing power. Its aluminum fixture acts as a sink which keeps the water cool.

This model can draw 90W at full power and don’t need an external controller. It can be manually operated or wirelessly controlled through smart device.

Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated

Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium LED, Controller, 30 Inch
  • Fully Automated Aquarium LED Fixture w/Controller
  • Hands Free: Simulating Fire Red Sunrise to Blue Starry Night
  • Four Customizable Color Channels, Dimmable
  • 7k/Multi-color Blend for Plant Growth
  • 30 Inch Fixture

Last update on 2021-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • Lightweight design
  • Easy to operate
  • Specially designed for freshwater aquariums.


  • Power cord is very short
  • Just one-year warranty
  • Remote control quality is poor.

This one is designed for planted freshwater aquariums with lightweight aluminum. It is a sturdy fixture with heat dissipating property.

The fixture is placed on top of the tank on acrylic legs which have thumbscrews for securing light to the frame. 

It is designed of high-quality 7000K daylight plus red LEDs that boost light in the 660nm range. The red light is essential for plant growth.

The automatic 24/7 features create the effect of dawn, warm sunrise morning, high noon, scaling down to red sun drowning into sunset. 

It finishes with a starry night blue moonlight. You can even create the effect of thunderstorm, sunny day, cloudy day and moonlight with just a click. It is available in 20″ 24″ 30″ 36″ and 48″ lengths.

Kessil A160WE Controllable

Kessil A160WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light, Tuna Blue
  • The a160we features Kessil`s new proprietary Kessil logic
  • External controllability in addition to its enhanced manual controllability
  • Shimmer Kessil lights are the only leds capable of producing a spectacular shimmer that rivals MH
  • Spectrum Kessil led chips are manufactured in-house with spectrums customized for aquarist needs

Last update on 2021-12-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • LED arrays are manufactured in USA
  • Easy two-knob spectrum control.
  • Works with external controllers.
  • Able to daisy chain manually.


  • Expensive 
  • Power supply needs to be hidden.
  • Needs to be hanged from ceiling or brackets.

It is designed for freshwater aquariums with a light spectrum of 6000-9000K which is ideal for raising aquatic plants. It is designed to be hung from the ceiling of tank.

This light creates a shimmer effect which duplicates the look of Amazonian stream. Just like its saltwater version, this one also uses two-knob Kessil Logic adjustment feature. 

You can adjust it according to your requirement using one knob and adjust the intensity with another. It comes in a blue light Tuna Blue style and a full spectrum Tuna Sun model which can be controlled by several standalone aquarium controllers.


Reef-keepers love investing in a high-tech aquarium with large number of fish and gravel and equipments. So they should also spend a considerable amount on making the setup look appealing.

For this, LED lightning fixtures come to the rescue by solving the problem right away. So before purchasing LED fixtures for your tank, take a close look at all the models. 

Consider your budget and the pros and cons of all the lighting fixtures. These lights provide a great look to the fish tanks.

My Recommendation: Nicrew light


[Revised and Updated for July, 2019]
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Written by Debra Hutchinson, founder of FishXperts

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One Comment

  1. I am using the aquatic life LED aquarium light fixture, 36-Inch for 7 months. Still working fine. Good review. Keep it up Debra.

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