You don’t need to be a seasoned aquarist to grow aquatic plants in the aquarium; as a beginner, you can also easily do that. But most beginner’s faltered because of improper selection of aquarium light. Jumping without having the right tools in any venture will not yield a good result.
Getting the right LED aquarium light may cost you a few hundred bucks. Still, if you don’t have one, you’ll eventually ruin your underwater garden.
So, suppose you are really serious about growing plants in your aquarium. In that case, you MUST find the best LED aquarium light for plants. The BEST, in a sense that suits your aquarium well, according to the tank size, plant types & fulfills all other requirements.
Now, let’s walk through the simple process of choosing the suitable aquarium LED lights for your plants & learn what factors you should consider before making the ultimate decision to buy.
Also, to make your searching process more comfortable, I include a review section of the 10 best LED aquarium lights, specially made for planted tanks.
Quick Comparison of Top Five LED Aquarium Light for Plants
Advantages of LED Lights over Others
In my planted aquarium lighting guide, I talked about the benefits of having proper light and what intensity & duration you must set for different types of plants.
I want to recommend reading that to better understand the light’s effect on aquarium plants. Here, I’ll talk specifically about LEDs & their impacts on growing plants.
There are various options of lighting available in the market those are;
- Fluorescent light
- Compact Fluorescent light (CF)
- Incandescent light
- Metal halides
- LED lights
You can use almost any of the kinds suitable for planted tanks. However, I would suggest using LED light since it has MANY benefits. Let’s see some of the advantages of utilizing LED lights in planted aquariums.
Better plant growth
LED fixtures promote better aquatic plant growth. The innovation of higher-end LED fixtures makes it possible to grow exotic plants in the aquarium. Even an inexpensive one built for an aquarium is sufficient enough to promote healthy plant growth.
- LED lights penetrate better in the aquarium water; they can reach as deep as 24 inches without any fuss.
- LEDs made for aquariums cover the entire light spectrum, enhancing plant growth.
- LEDs can produce a much brighter light than other forms of light. Keeping high-light aquarium plants at a lower cost is now possible because of LEDs’ advancement, which was expensive a few years ago.
The other significant benefit of LEDs over additional traditional lighting is long service life. The expected lifespan of LEDs is 50000-100000 hours, or even longer depending on the quality.
An average LED lasts at least 5-6 times more than a fluorescent bulb, metal halide, or incandescent bulb. Long service life means lower cost of maintenance & hassle-free operation.
Energy saver & cool runner
LEDs consume substantially less energy, and it’s almost 50% lower than any other type of light. They produce virtually no heat; on the other hand, incandescent bulbs convert 90% of total energy into heat & only 10% into light.
The extra heat produced by lights can raise the tank temperature & cause fluctuation; however, there is no such chance of using LEDs.
LEDs require less power because of little energy waste through infrared radiation & directional light emission. They emit light over 180 degrees, while others radiate 360 degrees, which means there are far fewer losses with LEDs to redirect or reflects light.
Since no filament or glass is covering, LEDs are far less prone to breakage & immune to vibrations. Traditional lighting use glass or quartz exterior, which makes them vulnerable.
LEDs don’t require any glass; they mount on circuit boards & connects through soldered leads. Therefore, without any direct impact, LEDs are incredibly durable.
Ease of Control/Dimmability
LEDs are inherently compatible with control. It’s possible to operate LEDs virtually at any percentage of their rated power. Some LEDs are likely to dim into 10% of maximum light output. The exciting part is, running at less than the full power; they get more efficient, increasing the total lifespan.
You’ll find this dimmable feature of LEDs during growing plants is quite handy since you don’t need the full bright light all the time. LEDs also come with a multicolored effect, which allows you to play around the spectrum & enjoy the lightings.
Basics of Planted Aquarium Lighting
Before jumping into choosing LED aquarium lights, let’s know some planted aquarium basics from the video. You’ll get insight & invaluable tips from seasoned aquarists regarding lighting selection & how to use it properly in your tank.
How to choose the Best LED Aquarium Light for Plants
Choosing the LED aquarium light for your plants is simple. However, it would be best if you consider several factors before buying. Apart from some basics parameters of light, you must need to know your aquarium well. The target should be to buy an LED aquarium light that matched best with your tank.
The light spectrum is the color temperature of light & measured in Kelvin (K). For easy understanding, think about a hotel room – soothing yellowish color, or a super shop – having bright white color. What’s the difference? That’s the variation in color temperature & the Kelvin scale measures that with a different rating.
The soft, yellow light like a candle flame may have the kelvin rating of 1800k & while the light resemblance of sunlight is 6500K.
A plant’s growth doesn’t depend much on the light spectrum because it can grow well in a wide range between 2700K to all along 10000K. Anything outside of the 10000K range tends not to do very well in a planted aquarium (beyond that, lights become too blueish)
You can choose a light with a kelvin rating of 6500K to 7000K (most popular among fishkeepers), similar to natural daylight.
In a real sense, you can choose a light with any color spectrum (the way you want your aquarium to look) except a too blue light (which used for growing corals).
Plant growth depends on the light intensity known as PAR (Photosynthetically Active radiation), from 400 to 700nm in wavelength. Plants can use light in this range for photosynthesis & growth.
You need to check the PAR value before buying; however, all the manufacturers don’t publish the PAR value since it varies significantly on aquarium water depth.
The spectrum consists of blue, red, green & white lights seen by human eyes. Each color is vital for aquatic plant growth.
Research suggests plants need at least 50% red light, 35% green light & no more than 15% blue light for optimum plant growth. LEDs can provide all sorts of balance; therefore, no need to be worried while growing your plant in the aquarium.
However, knowing PAR value is essential because plants’ wellbeing and growth vastly depend on light intensity. So make sure you’re providing the right intensity light for your plants. The below table shows the PAR value for different types of plants.
PAR value varies on depth, maximum at right below the center of the light fixture. It starts to drop with increasing depth and distance from the centerline.
Measure the height between the substrate and the light. Now, know the PAR rating of the light at your substrate depth. Buy light which fulfills the requirement of the plants according to the PAR rating.
Doubling the number of light fixtures doubles the PAR value if the fixture’s light overlays entirely. So, if a light has a low PAR value, you can increase the PAR by increasing the number of light.
Tank Size (Taller and Longer)
One of the most critical considerations is tank size because light intensity varies depending on the tank depth, as mentioned earlier. If you have a longer (not so deep) tank, how far can the light spread or disperse would also be a criterion.
The taller the tank, the more intense light you need to reach the bottom. A lamp may consider of high intensity in a short tank while the low for a tall tank.
The commercial aquariums don’t exceed deeper than 28 inches; however, penetration to the tank depth varies on the LED models. Before buying, always check whether it will be sufficient for your tank or not.
For a more extended tank with little depth, you need to think about light spreads besides intensity. Most aquarium lights have a 1-feet coverage directly below them; however, some have a much higher range.
If you have a tank of 18-24 inches, you may require two LED lights, so always better to keep that in consideration.
A good practice is to buy a dimmable LED light. Having a dimmer will give you the option to lower the intensity according to the tank depth & plant types. Higher intensity light than required by your tank may create other problems like more fertilizer & CO2 injection.
Whatever your budget is, you shouldn’t skimp on vital equipment like an aquarium light. Cheap always comes with its glitches, neither long-lasting nor fulfill the requirement. Instead, it’s always better to buy a reliable one at a higher price.
Consistent photo-period is (how long a plant will be under light) the most essential in plant growth. A timer will help to set the perfect timing for your plants to get consistent lighting.
YES, it’s possible; you can turn the light on & off manually; I recommend going for the timer for better consistency & comfort. Plants require six to eight hours of constant lighting for better growth. More than that would cause algae problems.
What intensity of light you need depends mostly on the types of plants you want to grow in your aquarium. According to light requirements, plants can be categorized as low-light (low-intensity light) , medium-light & high-light plants.
Plants such as Anubis, Java moss, ferns are undemanding & can grow in low lights. Stem plants & some other species do well in medium intensity.
High lights can grow anything; however, you may need CO2 supplement to keep pace with the fast plant growth & combat the algae blooms.
The 10 Best LED Aquarium Lights for Planted Fish Tanks
For planted aquariums, adequate lighting is a must to make sure the proper growth of plants. Manufacturers design some lighting arrangements, especially for planted aquariums.
I picked the ten best aquarium lights for planted aquariums by analyzing the market, customer feedback, and using my personal experience.
1. My Top Pick: Finnex Planted+ 24/7 LED HLC Aquarium LED Light
The Finnex HLC series LED lights are my top pick in the list of the best LED aquarium light for plants. The series has five distinct sizes of LED lights and covers aquariums from 10 to 90 gallons. The sleek design with an eye-catching, corrosion-resistant aluminum hood is gorgeous and elegant.
Not only mind-blowing lighting effects but also you will get the blend of 8000K Daylight, Red, Green, and Blue LEDs that are perfect for aquarium plant growth. Series PAR value is 86 at 14 inches depth, meaning you can grow any plants, including red/colored ones at that substrate’s depth.
The light intensity is good for low to medium-level plants in a typical height 55-gallon aquarium. However, you may need two of them for growing high light plants since doubling the light doubles the PAR value.
The hands-free simulation effects start with fresh dawn, followed by a warm sunrise, and then comes an intense color blazing high noon. It starts again scaling down to a red drowned sunset and finishes with a blue moonlight at night from the shiny noon. You can set the day effect as thunderstorms, cloudy days, sunny days with a single click of a button.
LED wireless sensor and the upgraded remote controller make the lighting control super user-friendly. With the controller, you can customize your effect preference if you do not want to use the default 24/7 effects.
- Slim and very lightweight.
- Available in five different sizes.
- Lighting control is super smart with a lot of variation options.
- A multicolor blend that is useful for plant growth.
- Make your fish stand-out in the tank.
- This light is not so budget-friendly.
- No IP-rated cover to protect from accidental water splash.
2. Runner-Up: Current USA Satellite Plus PRO LED Light
The Current USA Sattelite Plus model is well known among aquarists & it’s because of some exciting features. It is bright and offers better color rendition and control, and the manufacture calls it a ‘simple completeness’!
The adjustable full-spectrum is capable of producing vivid colors and stunning shimmers. You can wirelessly program and control everything, getting a touch of the new generation of simplicity.
You can set a 24-hour effect, including sunrise, sunset, daylight, and moonlight. Slowly ramp up/down of brightness will prevent the sudden shock for your aquatic pets. You can set whether effects like thunderstorms and cloud cover!
This light is straightforward to install, and adjustable legs allow quick and easy adjustment for a wide variety of installations. The Satellite Plus Pro is IP65 rated for waterproof design; it is entirely safe and energy-saving. It has a Kelvin rating of 6500K. Moreover, the ELT-approved lighting fixture is one of the best LED aquarium lights for plants.
- Wireless program option to create many dynamic effects.
- Easy to program and control precisely.
- Waterproof and extremely safe to use.
- Easy to install with a wide variety of aquarium sizes.
- Available in four different sizes.
- You have to manually turn the timer back on after power outage.
3. Best-Budget: NICREW ClassicLED Plus Planted Aquarium Light
If you want to illuminate your aquarium with a low-budget LED light fixture, Nicrew LED Planted Aquarium Light can be the right choice for you. For better quality and stylish design, Nicrew LED light is quite popular among aquarium keepers.
Nicrew Classic LED light has a strong reputation for its durability. The lighting housing is Aluminium made, which is light-weighted. Structured aluminum housing optimizes heat dissipation; thus, it prevents lights from overheating.
The full-spectrum LED lights with four colors are perfect for plant growth as well as it looks gorgeous. You can use this light both for freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
You can fix this light with different sized aquariums with adjustable brackets, which is a great benefit indeed. If you want a planted aquarium and planning it within a low budget, you can choose Nicrew LED lights without any hesitation.
This one is not only a budget-friendly product but also a quality one. You will get one year warranty for it, and overall it is a decent package. We’ve covered nicrew classic LED light in-depth here.
- Good quality LED lights at a low price.
- You can choose a suitable one of 5 different sizes.
- Adjustable docking mounts make it fit in tanks of any size.
- Full-spectrum bright lights help growing plants.
- Midnight blue and daylight white effects create eye-catching beauty.
- You have to take extra protection as it is not waterproof.
- Some users expect a built-in timer with lights, and you will not get it from this one.
4. Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light for Aquarium
This Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light for Aquarium can create unique lighting effects in your aquarium. The manufacturer designed this lighting unit primarily for decorating purposes.
Sleek fixtures with superbright LEDs can bring something new to an aquarium. This Sattelite LED will mimic the real-world aquatic conditions in your aquarium. It features creating cloud cover effects, storm effect, and innovative evening modes, including lunar and dusk.
The lighting unit provides 6500k white LEDs and vibrant 445Nm blue LEDs, which are superbly bright. You can precisely adjust the aquatic environment’s brightness & color without moving your body with a single 32-key customizable remote.
The sliding docking legs of these aquarium lights are handy for quick and easy adjustment. You can also add multiple fixtures in a snap by this feature.
- They provide an energy saver, safe to use LEDs.
- The arm mount bracket and sliding docking legs make it straightforward to install and fit.
- It is water water-resistant.
- Easy to control with wireless IR remote.
- The manufacturer designed it as beginner-friendly.
- Some users complained that the water-resistant feature is insufficient to prevent moisture intrusion and can damage lights.
- Only for freshwater use.
5. Kessil A360WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light
Kessil A360WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light is the high-tech bright light. Despite the high price, this aquarium light is quite popular with a significant sell volume because it meets the specific purpose of lighting a planted aquarium so nicely.
It is specially designed for freshwater planted aquarium or terrarium. However, this aquarium light is perfect for providing nutritious light in any aquarium because of its high PAR value.
The Kessil A360WE is a unique example of spectral intelligence created aiming at the proper color blending for optimal plant growth. The manufacturer incorporated a new control system. You can select your desired spectrum with one knob and then adjust the intensity with the other.
This unit consists of a 90watt LED light. Even though it may look like a spotlight, light spreading is considerably high with a coverage of 24 inches.
This lighting unit can produce wavelengths that mimic the sun and promote photosynthetic absorption. The Kessil 360AE tuna sun covers a wide range of kelvin ratings, from yellowish 6500K to a bit pinkish 9000K, with a flat white in the middle.
The shimmering effect can give the look of natural sunlight on a planted aquarium, creating a small piece of your underwater garden. It provides an externally controllable feature with a pair of ports and controllable by an external controller. In a daisy chain series connection, a single external controller is enough.
- It provides straightforward external controllability.
- Capable of producing a spectacular shimmer.
- Provide an efficient heat management system, thus ensures better longevity.
- The light is tranquil.
- Some users complained about the control system is not as standard as expected.
6. BeamsWork DA FSPEC LED Aquarium Light Pent Freshwater
The Beamswork LED aquarium light is available in five different sizes, and they provide energy-efficient high-quality light fixtures. It also works wonderfully well for aquarium plants.
It has a Kelvin rating of 10000k and covers the light spectrum for healthy plant growth. Beamswork ensures the necessary blend of light (white, green & blue) for optimum plant growth.
The manufacturer claims that once you see Beamswork LEDs’ effect, all other lighting brands will be boring to you! And we cannot overlook their claim as it gets very high customer rating points.
You can set daylight and moonlight effects to naturalize the aquatic environment of your fish tank. The Beamswork LEDs achieved goodwill for their durability, and bare users need to replace this lighting unit’s bulb. The sleek light fixtures with extendable brackets are easy to install on aquariums of various sizes.
- Provides durable products.
- The light output is perfect.
- LEDs are energy-efficient and safe to use.
- Straightforward to install.
- You can use this light for low-light planted aquariums and cichlids also.
- A few users complained the light is not as good for plant growth as the manufacturer claimed.
7. Finnex FugeRay Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights
This light is ultra-thin in design and 10 inches in length. It features a more evenly spaced LED alignment perfect for refugium purposes and aquariums that need low-medium light.
You can activate the moonlight mode in the evening to enjoy the pleasant moonlight tone, in which a single power cord with two switches allows control of both the daylight LED and Moonlights.
This light features a moisture-resistant PC splash guard to prevent water mishaps. The light is well-engineered for effective heat dissipation. The fixture itself acts as the heat sync to allow ample cooling. The circuit board is of high-quality aluminum.
Altogether, the mentioned features make this lighting unit a long-lasting one.
- Capable of providing durable high light output.
- Comes up with a water-resistant splash guard.
- Practical design for heat dissipation.
- They provide energy-efficient LEDs with two lighting modes.
- A unique leg fixture allows this LED light to mount on aquariums of various sizes.
- This light is not tremendously fancy with so many illuminative options.
8. Hagen Fluval Plant Bluetooth Nano LED Aquarium Light
If you are a fancy hobbyist and own a small-sized planted aquarium, this smart lighting would be an excellent choice. This light is super user-friendly, easy to operate, and at the same time, it provides uniformly distributed full spectrum wavelengths without any dead spots.
You can use the FluvalSmart App on your mobile device for lighting control, which is super easy to operate. You can program it for 24 hours lighting cycle like sunrise, midday sunset, and night. You can also set three types of habitat light configurations: Lake Malawi, Tropical, and Planted. Sounds impressive, huh? Less effort and high output.
Overheating and moisture intrusion are the leading causes of light burnout. The encased aluminum casing provides effective heat dissipation and prevents water intrusion. High Thermal Efficiency LED lights are more heat sustainable. These features altogether make the light long-lasting with spectral performance.
- Fully adjustable for positioning in all orientations.
- Independent color control.
- Six unique band waves to get full spectrum results.
- Uniform lighting distribution without dead spot.
- Useful to grow bigger, more vibrant plants in a small freshwater aquarium.
- A bit pricy compared to the size.
- Some users complain about the app to control the lighting is hard to operate.
9. ONF Nano Aquarium Light Plant Light
ONF Nano Aquarium Light Plant Light! The name sounds unusual. This one is a light-weighted light for planted aquariums, a luxurious one for elite fishkeepers. If you have a planted aquarium smaller than 10 gallons and are ready to invest in creating aesthetically pleasing aquascape fixtures, go for it.
You will get powerful nano light with the highest luminous efficiency. It will not shock your eyes or aquarium inhabitants during lighting adjustment because it has a gradual ramp-up/down feature. You can adjust the intensity of nano light and make it perfect for all types of aquarium plants.
There is an option to change the flat nano from two to six inches from the aquarium’s top and dim the light at various levels. The correct colors and brightness mimic the natural underwater effect of sunlight. You can save the effect settings with a built-in timer and display it after returning, even when using a timer.
The adjustable bracket is useful for plant growth and comfortable installing in aquariums of various widths. You can turn the light 360 degrees with a smooth swivel that allows quick maintenance and keeps the lighting unit safe from water exposure.
Supreme quality and unique design altogether make this nano aquarium worthy of its price.
- Perfect design makes freshwater planted aquarium grow healthy and thrive.
- Versatile for various types of plants, low lights and high lights whatever.
- Powerful but energy-efficient lighting.
- Heat dissipation design makes it durable.
- They provide one year warranty and friendly customer service.
- It is expensive.
- Use is limited for small freshwater planted aquarium only.
10. Hygger Auto On Off Planted Aquarium Light
Hygger Auto On Off Planted Aquarium Light can create an optimal condition for your fish and aquatic plants. This planted aquarium light features a programmable option for setting the 24-hour cycle (Sunrise, Midday, Sunset, Night).
There are many user-friendly adjustment features to customize effect settings just to the point of your aesthetic preference. You can use a memory function, set the intensity and colors of the light.
It has features to mimic sunrise and sunset, fine-tune lighting schedule, auto on/off, and many more. You can slowly ramp up/down brightness change so that your aquatic friends don’t get a sudden shock.
Fully water-resistant, so you need not worry about accidental water splash. The well-structured aluminum housing is efficient for heat dissipation and can prevent moisture intrusion.
The adjustable mounting legs allow you to fit it in aquariums up to 6 inches in width variation. It provides a low voltage DC adapter that is safe to use and saves energy. You can quickly set this light; just place it on top of your aquarium and leave it. Then it will run automatically by the default setting.
You can change the default setting with the help of the user manual provided with the box. For more technical detail, you can also visit the manufacturer’s website.
- It has so many user-friendly adjustable options.
- LCD timer helps easy adjustment.
- Bright LEDs are ideal for freshwater planted aquariums.
- Easy to set up and adjustable for use in aquariums with width variation up to inches.
- The water-resistant feature makes it more long-lasting.
- Available in six different sizes.
- Many users complained that the instruction is not explicit, which makes it hard to program.
Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)
How long do LED aquarium lights last?
LEDs are famous for their long service life. Although it is more expensive than other light fixtures, one quality you can guarantee is they last long. Usually an average LED lasts 5-6 times higher than fluorescent bulbs, incandescent bulbs or metal halide lights.
Do LED aquarium lights cause algae?
Algae growth depends on the light intensity regardless of the light source. If the light is too intense- either you use LED or some other- than your aquarium demands, then it will likely cause algae.
Turning the aquarium light on for more than the recommended hours(8 to 1o hours) is another reason. The summary is ‘LEDs’ don’t cause algae unless you select the right intensity light & use it correctly.
Is LED light good for a fish tank?
AS long as it covers the full spectrum that plants require to grow, LED light is good for plants. It also creates different types of visual effects in the aquarium. People also use LED lights for decorating their aquarium.
Since aquarium lights are essential from many aspects, they must meet specific purposes. The light spectrum should be ideal for photosynthesis, plant growth So, pick your light that suits your aquarium type, size, and budget.
I hope this article will end up with picking your best LED aquarium light for plants. Not only from my list, but you can also now choose the best one for you.
If I summarize the whole article, the best aquarium light should fulfill the requirement for your aquarium and create a healthy environment for aquarium inhabitants.