Good filtration is critical in a saltwater or reef tank, and here is where a refugium comes in handy. The addition of macroalgae or the storage of plants and coral in this mini-ecosystem can help complement the filtration in your main tank.
Refugium tanks are connected to the main tank; however, fish cannot swim between the two tanks since they are separated by a barrier. The vitamins and minerals that the ocean’s naturally protected plants add to the water’s quality make the identical setup in a refugium tank an excellent choice for saltwater or reef aquariums.
A refugium needs a lot of light to accomplish all of these tasks. For a refugium, it’s not as simple to select an aquarium light because the lighting needs to be both compact and powerful.
Microalgae and other organisms naturally regulate water levels and can be grown using specific lamps. To keep your plants and fish safe, you should use these lights to improve the water quality.
To assist you in discovering the best refugium light, we’ve reviewed a variety of lamps ideal for plants, coral, and fast-growing algae. So if you don’t have all the information you need, you won’t be able to find the right light for your tank.
What Is A Refugium?
Saltwater refugiums have grown in importance in recent years, particularly for reef aquariums. Refugiums are sections of filtration dedicated to biological filtration and the removal of nitrate and phosphate that are undesirable. Theoretically, this should help maintain the display tank’s characteristics more steady by preventing algae growth.
What Is The Purpose Of A Refugium?
There are several uses for refugiums, but the most common is filtering water or cultivating algae. But they can also house coral and plants. They can be utilized for breeding but not for storing fish.
You need to make sure the tank is full of macroalgae to employ refugiums for additional filtration. Again, a high-intensity light source is required to promote the growth of this algae.
Refugiums cannot be utilized as quarantine or hospital aquariums because they are connected to the main aquarium. On the other hand, a refugium can be a valuable place to temporarily shelter an injured or too territorial fish.
Why Do You Need A Refugium?
Many saltwater enthusiasts might benefit from adding a refugium to their system because they can easily integrate one into their existing sump. Refugiums, like any other filtration, are designed to stabilize your tank and create an ideal environment for inhabitants.
When there are too many nutrients in tanks, such as nitrate and phosphate, and too much light, algae thrive. The growth of this algae is nutrient-limited, and it will only continue until the nutrients are exhausted.
It’s a fact of life that we all aquarists will have to deal with nuisance algae at some point. Likewise, reef-keepers must contend that these algae can swiftly encroach on their prized corals, making their tanks unbalanced and potentially damaging their equipment.
As long as we can control where this nutrient intake takes place in the display tank, algal growth isn’t a concern. In a refugium, you can use light and a more beneficial type of algae to achieve this.
The pH can also be controlled in a refugium. When the pH naturally decreases at night, the refugium lights are kept on to accomplish this.
When carbon dioxide is dissolved in acidic water, it becomes carbonic acid. Increasing amounts of carbonic acid are removed from the water by macroalgae, which raises the pH.
Your saltwater aquarium’s photosynthesis ceases to exist at night. Instead, fish, invertebrates, and other organisms capable of respiration are responsible for returning carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide cannot be converted to oxygen in the tank because there are no photosynthesizers.
This normal pH swing will not harm your fish tank’s inhabitants. On the other hand, some hobbyists prefer to keep their refugium light 24 hours a day to minimize pH fluctuations.
The ongoing growth of algae will result in the water’s pH level being buffered back to a healthy level.
Copepods, Amphipods, etc.
Live foods such as copepods, amphipods, and another microfauna can be grown in refugia. And many saltwater fish may benefit from a live food supplement.
Cleanup crew members-gone-bad who start picking corals, such as numerous crab species, can likewise be housed in refugia (as punishment). Fish fry can also be kept secure in refugiums while they grow.
Does A Refugium Need Light?
YES! You’ll need a high-intensity light source no matter what you intend to do with a refugium. The growth of your reef tank’s plants, corals, and macroalgae is aided by light.
What Kind of Light For A Refugium?
For macroalgae like Chaetomorpha to thrive in a refugium, you’ll need a lamp with a suitable wavelength of light. The Kelvin rating isn’t especially essential in this circumstance because the reading of yellow light in that spectrum is all that matters.
LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights for macroalgae should have a high concentration of red diodes to stimulate growth and a few blue diodes to maintain the density of a plant’s roots.
Light projections that include the violet and blue spectrums work best in a refugium for housing coral. In contrast to a full-spectrum light, a light mixture containing both of these colors is thought to be the most effective for enhancing coral growth and coloration.
How Much Light Does A Refugium Need?
The amount of light a refugium requires is determined by the tank’s intended purpose. Your main aquarium’s filtration system will benefit significantly from a high-quality refugium light, whether you’re using it to hold plants, coral, or both.
There must be a lot of macroalgae in your main aquarium because it is utilized for filtration. You’ll need a pungent bulb with a high light output to achieve this.
Read also: Should I Turn My Fish Tank Light Off At Night? Find The Fact.
Types Of Refugium Lights
LED lighting is the most common sort of lighting in refugiums. However, there are a few additional options. Now, let’s take a quick look at several refugium lighting options.
The most popular lighting option for a refugium is a LED lamp, which can produce a penetrating light with a constant color spectrum. In addition, LEDs have a longer lifespan and require less maintenance than fluorescent lights. Another advantage of LED bulbs is that they produce very little heat, so you don’t have to worry about overheating your tank.
This light has a small footprint and may be utilized in various aquarium setups, including planted tanks. A wide range of options is available, from slimline strips to clip-on units to spotlights. Moreover, they are available in a wide variety of color palettes.
Fluorescent bulbs are commonly used with reflectors because they distribute more light into the tank. Green and yellow wavelengths are eliminated from this lighting to produce the desired spectrum, including red and blue light (marine) and bulbs that simulate daylight.
Long T8 or T5-tube fluorescent lamps are the most common, but longer life and more compact size make T5 bulbs the preferred choice. They’re also more intense.
Fluorescent lights produce a lot of heat. So, a chiller is frequently used in conjunction with a fluorescent bulb to maintain a consistent temperature in a fish tank. However, the bulbs don’t provide a uniform color spectrum in the long term, necessitating frequent replacement.
Metal Halide Lighting
For the most part, metal halide lamps offer minimal operating costs and a long lifespan. Regrettably, this form of light generates a lot of heat and is highly costly.
This lighting is incredibly intense and closely resembles natural sunshine, so it’s ideal for a reef tank or a planted aquarium. Metal halides (metal compounds containing iodine or bromine) and mercury vapor are used in the bulbs.
Top 10 Best Refugium Lights Reviewed
It’s tricky to find the best refugium light among the many different old and new brands.
The top 10 refugium lights on the market have been described in detail, highlighting their advantages and disadvantages. Take a closer look at these lights, shall we?
Kessil H80 Tuna Flora Refugium LED (Top Pick)
The Kessil H80 Tuna Flora Refugium LED makes it easy to add supplemental light to your refugium or planted tank. Its versatile design is compatible with the Kessil Spectral Controller, and its smaller size makes it perfect for small tanks.
This light is controllable, so you can easily adjust the intensity according to your plant’s needs. In addition, the light disperses well throughout the tank, providing your plants with all the light they need to thrive.
- The h80 tuna flora features four efficient spectrums - blue, grow, bloom, red - in one single
- Fixture: The light is perfectly blended, with wavelengths including true uvand infrared
- (Ranging from 360-780 nm), enhancing photosynthetic efficiency
- Coverage is 14" to 24" depending on the scenario
- Dimensions: Outer diameter=4.88" height=0.98"
The Kessil H80 Tuna Flora Refugium LED is a lightweight and compact LED light that is perfect for illuminating small areas. This light features UV and infrared rays and four settings (blue, red, grow, and bloom) to help you care for your plants.
Its low power consumption means you can run it all day without breaking the bank. So the Kessil H80 Tuna Flora Refugium LED is versatile and affordable to add lighting to your refugiums.
Innovative Marine ChaetoMax Refugium LED Light (Runner Up)
The ChaetoMax Refugium LED Light is perfect for accelerating the growth of marine plants and green algae, eliminating toxic nutrients like phosphate and nitrate. It is ideal for Sumps and AIO aquariums and mounts easily – horizontally and vertically – behind the tank.
The ChaetoMax Refugium LED Light comes in two versions – one with 45 high-efficiency LEDs in a 9-watt light and another with 90 LEDs in an 18-watt light. Both versions generate superior illumination of aquatic plant growth, helping to boost spectrum and encourage healthy plant growth.
- Designed for Sumps and AIO Aquariums. Fits all Desktop Model Nuvo Fusion Aquariums
- 45 x 0.2W 60mA LEDs: 5 - 420nm BLUE. 10- 470nm VIOLET. 10- 630nm MAGENTA. 20 - 660nm RED
- Small form factor (DIMS: 6.7” x 1.85” x 0.39”)
- Mounts horizontally or vertically hidden behind your AIO
- Bracket Modular Mounted Sump Configuration | Not Waterproof
This compact and lightweight light are perfect for adding extra illumination to your tank. With a spectrum range of 420-660nm, it’s ideal for photosynthetic creatures like macroalgae.
Lominie Aquarium and Refugium Tank LED Light (Best All-Rounder)
Looking for a sleek and stylish LED light for your refugium? Look no further than the Lominie Aquarium and Refugium Tank LED Light. This top-quality light is made of durable ABS material and comes with a handy RF remote to make adjusting the brightness and timing easy.
With four dimmable channels from 0 to 100%, you can customize the light to fit your tank perfectly. And if you need to adjust it on the go, no problem – the light also has a WiFi controller! Plus, it comes with a remote for easy operation.
- ADJUSTMENT SYSTEM: The light can be adjusted in three ways with RF Remote/ Mannual Dimmer/ Wifi Controller....
- GOOSENECK & SIMPLE OPERATION: 360°adjustable rustproof gooseneck, great for choosing the angle you want the light to...
- SOLID ABS HOUSING: Diameter 2.7 inches/7.0cm, suitable for 8"~18"(45 cm) long tank. Excellent for freshwater and planted...
- COOLING SYSTEM: Asta 20 aquarium led lamp uses quality cold forging heat sink and smart cooling fan, efficient cooling...
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Lominie Aquarium and Refugium Tank LED Light will splash with its three-way adjustability and 360°rustproof gooseneck. In addition, this cool-running light is equipped with a quality cold forging heat sink and smart cooling fan, ensuring that your tank stays well-lit – and cool – for years to come.
CFGrow 200 W Waterproof Led Grow Light (Best In Budget)
CF Grow 200 W Waterproof LED Grow Light is an affordable and powerful LED grow light. This light is designed to be used indoors or outdoors in a humid climate and is fully waterproof, meaning it has a long life expectancy.
It generates enough power to beat most 200 watts grow lights! With its full-spectrum light that ranges between 380-730nm, the CF Grow Light is perfect for users looking for an optimum growing experience.
- IP67 Waterproof LED Grow light, suitable the high humidity working environment, even raining.
- New COB LED Grow Light with New Technology, ensure the light power intensity better than 300W RED&BLUE led grow light.
- Intelligent Control of Heat Dissipation IC inside, ensure temperature less than 65 degrees Celsius.
- No cooling fan working, no noise, suitable for indoor quiet environment.
- 50000 hours working time, 2 Years Warranty, get repaird free
Despite not having a fan, the CFGrow Led Grow Light has a heat-controlling system that keeps the temperature of the light at a safe 65 degrees Celsius. This means that there is no risk of fire or injury from overheating. The lack of a fan also means no noise pollution from the light.
ACKE LED Grow Lights Full Spectrum (Best For Small Setup)
This efficient light is perfect for small and sump tanks and produces enough power to support your refugium. In fact, this light is ideal for refugiums of small sizes with its red and blue light capabilities. The red light comes with a range of 630-660 nm and blue light with a wavelength of 460 nm.
The long cable makes it easy to plug it in and get started. Its waterproof design makes it ideal for use in refugiums. The on/off switch makes it super easy to use, and its compact size makes it perfect for small spaces.
- FULL SPECTRUM LED GROW LIGHTS--Red 630nm and 660nm, Blue:460nm and White light 2700K. - Suitable for all stages of...
- LOW HEAT OUTPUT--Don't worry even close the lamp to your tender flowers and do not burn them.
- WATERPROOF--NO more trouble for watering the flowers even turn on the plants light
- ANGLE ADJUSTABLE--firmly and rotatable bracket for easy adjusting the project angle
- EASY INSTALLATION:--US plug with switch and long cable for your easy and quick installation.Attached a screwdriver for...
This light will not overheat, made of sturdy aluminum, making it perfect for long-term use. But, the light intensity is not adjustable, making it ideal for those who want a consistent light level.
Growstar Full Spectrum Led Light Ufo Style
Meet the Growstar Full Spectrum Led Light Ufo Style! This eco-friendly light uses advanced CREE LED chips to provide full-spectrum lighting for plants in all stages of growth. Plus, it helps you save money on your energy bill compared to traditional HPS grow lights.
This cob light is famous for its distinctive form and broad-spectrum lighting. This product shines brightly and illuminates a larger area than other LED lights. This incredible refugium light can be used to grow flowers, corals, reefs, and many other organisms.
This lamp’s revolutionary built-in cooling mechanism, which utilizes an aluminum chassis, aids in its ability to consistently give brilliant light while remaining cool. In addition, increased brightness and light spread area are provided by the 90-120 degree angle in every product.
Tunze Eco Chic Refugium 8831
Introducing the Tunze Eco Chic Refugium light – a sleek and stylish overhead light perfect for growing macroalgae. The concentrated light output ensures better growth results, while the low power consumption keeps your energy bills in check. It’s ideal for small tanks up to 15 gallons and will add some chic style to your setup.
The Tunze Eco Chic Refugium 8831 light is a submersible light that will give your refugium the perfect amount of light without any anxiety about using electrical equipment near water.
This light is from a dependable aquarium brand that you can trust, so you know it’s built to last. It’s also incredibly energy efficient. This light can easily fit into the back chamber of a nano tank or in a sump and can be attached horizontally or vertically, depending on your needs.
AquaIllumination AI Prime 16 HD Reef Aquarium LED
Introducing the ‘AquaIllumination AI Prime 16 HD Reef Aquarium LED’ light! This amazing LED light can be connected to your smartphone app via Bluetooth to adjust the level of intensity, timer, and LED from your phone. It’s the perfect way to reduce the extra pain of walking to the tank and adjusting them manually.
This light can produce eight unique colors with its 16 different LEDs. And if that’s not enough for you, you can also set it up for the required wavelength. You’ll be impressed with the output of PAR – it’s high-quality stuff!
- Fully Controllable LED Aquarium Light
- The Prime 16 HD is a full spectrum reef aquarium light
- Includes a separate Moonlight Channel
- Program the Prime 16 HD using the free MyAI iOS and Android app
- The Prime 16 HD is compatible with a variety of available mounting options
This cutting-edge LED light fixture is perfect for serious reef aquarium enthusiasts, featuring a sleek, low-profile design and brilliant color rendition. The AI Prime 16 HD includes a built-in moonlight wavelength for optimal coral reefs and microalgae cultivation. With its efficient mix of LEDs, this fixture delivers stunning results with minimal power consumption.
JBJ Nano Glo LED Refugium Light
The JBJ Nano Glo LED Refugium Light does more than just light up your aquarium at night- it also helps keep your water clean and your PH levels balanced. This handy little light is perfect for small tanks or refugiums and weighs only .6 pounds, so it won’t break the bank or your aquarium.
This small, compact light is perfect for smaller tanks and aquariums. Its premium quality four high-intensity LEDs generate light evenly, providing optimal conditions for microalgae growth.
- Versatile design that can be used to light any small aquarium
- An incredible 70 lumens each white only consuming 1 watt per blub
- The new higher output design still creates minimal heat and lasts an amazing 40,000 hours
Plus, with a power consumption of only 4 watts, it will save you money on your electric bills! While the built-in timer ensures that your lights are always on when you need them.
The heating system is fantastic and creates only a smidgeon of heat, which is excellent. However, it does not have a switch to turn it on or off. But this is a wonderful addition to your refugium on the positive side.
KINGBO 18W Refugium Light
This top-of-the-line light features eighteen 1W LEDs, providing high power and PAR value for growth and coloration. In addition, the full-spectrum six-band lighting will help your fish, corals, and reefs thrive.
Your aquarium will look better than ever with its bright light and sleek design. In addition, 18 tiny LED lights provide intense illumination that promotes optimal growth. Not to mention, the 90-degree lens reduces light loss by 30%, making this one of the most efficient refugium lights on the market.
- 【High Power/Lumen/PAR Value】This led refugium light design with 18pcs 1watt super bright LEDs, 90-degree Optical...
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This refugium light can benefit small aquariums, reef tanks, and saltwater tanks. The product is cooled by attaching an aluminum heat sink. After 24 hours of use, the light remains cold to ensure that fish, corals, or reef growth are unaffected.
Buying Guide For Best Refugium Light
Before purchasing a refugium light, there are a few things to consider. All of these topics will be briefly addressed in the section that follows.
It is crucial to consider the size of your tank while choosing LED lighting for your aquarium. For smaller refugiums, some species are better adapted, and for a refugium with hundreds of gallons of water, some are ideal.
Ensure that the light you choose is appropriate for your aquarium’s size. There is a fine line between too much intensity for smaller tanks and too little power for larger tanks.
Light wattage, tank depth, and the distance from the top of the water to the light source are all factors to consider.
For the growth of aquatic plants and macroalgae, adequate light is essential. Three factors influence light intensity. Low light intensity and a deeper tank will not help your macros grow.
The wavelengths of different hues are different. For example, the light spectrum in your refugium water comprises three distinct wavelengths.
Consider purchasing those with blue light because they can reach your marine plant’s roots at the deepest levels.
Regardless of the size of your refugium, you must use a lamp that can equally distribute the light. Phosphate and nitrate levels will rise if macros are hindered by an uneven distribution.
The mounting choices for Refugium lights are numerous. Poorly-fitting lights are not worth the money, even if they are of good quality. To prevent the collapse of your entire refugium system, you must set the light at a specified distance from the other components. As a result, keep this in mind prior to making a purchase.
Easily Of Install
It’s a lot more challenging to use and set up anything that requires a lot of effort. Refugium lighting is no different in this regard. Therefore, you should look for an easy-to-install device. In addition, look for one with a lengthy power wire that can readily attach to the plug.
Your individual refugium configuration necessitates a precise amount of light with a fixed time duration. So there should be a timer for the Refugium light.
For example, if you need 12-14 hours for coral reef and algae growth and don’t have a timer in your light, it will stifle growth by hurting reefs and macros. In addition, a timer can mimic the dawn and sunset patterns by adjusting the brightness of the light, which is an attractive feature.
You can remotely change the color, timing, and intensity without getting too close to the tank using a high-tech light unit. Apps put on your smartphone will allow you to operate it. As a result, go for a light that is easier to maneuver.
A refugium lamp that doesn’t have a sufficient heat management mechanism may not last as long as it should in the long run. Adding a fan-driven cooling system with this light would be fantastic. But don’t sacrifice other characteristics to get these. Make a well-informed choice.
A good refugium light has another fantastic attribute. Any water-resistant light is less likely to be destroyed by water contact. On the other hand, if your light is not waterproof, any mishap could cause it to malfunction.
Best Wavelengths For Growth And Water Penetration
Even if you don’t have a background in science, you should be familiar with the concept of wavelength. The color of the refugium depends on the plants in the tank and the depth of the water.
First and foremost, you should establish a list of the different kinds of plants and coral in your refugium. What follows is an investigation into the native habitats of the plants you’re interested in.
Aquarists commonly utilize green macroalgae like Chaetomorpha in their refugia, and Chaeto plants are most likely to be exposed to red wavelengths in the forest or natural water bodies because red wavelengths have the lowest penetration levels. Therefore, when looking for an LED light system, go for one with a red wavelength to help the Chaeto plant’s development.
Water Penetration Level
|Color||Wavelength||Penetration Depth (Meter)|
When viewed through water, red light has a limited ability to penetrate while blue light has the highest depth of penetration. Refugium tanks with good marine plant populations necessitate a light penetrating deeper into the water column.
How To Install A Refugium Light?
The parts and accessories that make up a refugium light are unique, so their installation procedures will differ.
If you run into any issues, you can always refer back to the handbook for installation. In addition, the refugium forum and the manufacturer’s website are good places to look if you can’t figure out what’s going on.
The most important thing to remember when installing your light is to keep your plants at a safe distance from the light fixture you’re installing.
Next is to connect your electric supply, which we’ll do next. Set up at an area where you can connect your cord since some light sets have long cables and others have small ones.
How Long Should You Leave Refugium Lights On For?
A minimum of ten or twelve hours of bright light per day appears to be the minimum need for planted refugia. However, some aquarists leave their lights on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no apparent harm.
Can You Grow Chaeto With White Light?
Yes, the white light will aid Chaeto’s growth. As a result of the fact that it contains a variety of colors, such as red, orange, blue, and green. You need at least 50% red light, 30% green light, and 15% blue light to develop Chaeto. The wavelength ranges are between 630 and 700 nm, 500 to 580 nm, and 435 to 495 nm (respectively).
More Recommended Reading:
- Best Aquarium Light Review For Saltwater Aquarium
- Current USA Orbit Marine LED Light Review [Reef Keeper’s Best Choice]
- 48-inch LED Aquarium Light Fixture Review [55+ Gallon Tank]
A refugium should be considered while setting up a saltwater aquarium or reef tank. In addition to removing extra nutrients, these self-contained biological filters may also keep oxygen levels high and adjust pH levels.
Some macroalgae species, such as Chaeto, are particularly suited for refugiums, but other corals and invertebrates can also be kept in the same tank.
You should have a good idea of what kind of lighting you’ll need for your refugium. As we’ve discussed, the best refugium light on the market today with a list of top 10 lights we recommend. We hope the information provided above will assist you in making an informed decision on which one is best for your Chaeto, coral reef, and macroalgae growth.
Don’t hesitate to comment below if you have any questions concerning refugiums, aquarium filtration for saltwater or freshwater, or if you’ve put up your own bespoke filtration system.
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