10 Best LED Aquarium Lighting in 2020

Best LED Aquarium Lighting

LED lighting has become the most commonly used technology in almost all lighting products. In modern aquariums, this lighting has become the norm too. LEDs not only look fancy but also have some very important features, key among them being energy efficiency.

These lights are also very durable and extremely bright, making them ideal for aquarium use. However, within the LED market, there are those that are better for aquarium lighting as compared to the others.

With that in mind, this article looks at 10 of the best-LED aquarium lighting to consider buying.

You can also read other product reviews of LED light for planted tankLED lighting for reef tank

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​PRODUCT

​FEATURES

Current USA 4008

1. Current USA 4008 (Best LED Light for Freshwater Aquariums)

  • Freshwater optimized RGB+white LEDs
  • Wireless remote control with 4 memory buttons
  • 30-watt power rating
  • Storms, lightning, cloud and other lighting effects
Viparspectra LED Light

2. Viparspectra Aquarium Light (Best LED Light for Coral Tanks)

  • Balanced PAR output in white and blue channels
  • 12000K color temperature
  • Dimming function
  • 300-watt rating with a 100,000-hour lifespan
Current USA 4103

3. Current USA 4103 (Marine Aquarium LED Light with Loop Remote Control)

  • Includes Loop remote control
  • 10000K color temperature with actinic blue light
  • Gradual 24-hour daytime and nighttime effects
  • 60-watt power rating
Finnex KL-48A

4. Finnex KL-48A (Best LED Light for Planted Aquariums)

  • 4-channel output; white, red, blue and green light
  • Wireless remote control with 4 memory slots
  • 24/7 automatic sunrise and sunset simulations
  • Aluminum body with a waterproof splash guard
Finnex AL-R12WM

5. Finnex AL-R12WM (Best LED Light for Small Tanks)

  • Small (12-inch) and energy-efficient (8.9 watts)
  • 7000K color temperature
  • 7 size options
  • 40,000-hour lifespan
Koval ​Aquarium Light

6. Koval Aquarium Light (Easy-to-Install LED Aquarium Light)

  • Extendable brackets
  • Emits a full-color spectrum (5 LED colors)
  • 3-mode switch
  • 50,000-hour lifespan
Kessil A160WE

7. Kessil A160WE (Aquarium LED Light with Spectral Intelligence)

  • Spectral intelligence with 2 control knobs
  • Densely packed LEDs
  • Compatible with 10-volt DC controllers
  • 10000K color temperature
Aquaneat ​Aquarium Light

8. Aquaneat Aquarium Light (Best Budget Aquarium LED Light)

  • Affordable
  • On/off modes
  • Extendable mounting brackets
  • 6500K color temperature
Lxyoug Aquarium Light

9. Lxyoug Aquarium Light (Versatile Aquarium LED Light)

  • Ideal for fresh and saltwater coral tanks
  • Independent dimming on each channel
  • Powerful cooling fans
  • 100,000-hour lifespan
Aquatic Life 420386

10. Aquatic Life 420386 (Best Multicolored LED Aquarium Lighting)

  • 6 differently colored LEDs with a 3-channel timer
  • 0.5-inch low profile design
  • 71-watt rating

PRODUCT

1. Current USA 4008

(Best LED Light for Freshwater Aquariums)

Current USA 4008
  • Freshwater optimized RGB+white LEDs
  • Wireless remote control with 4 memory buttons
  • 30-watt power rating
  • Storms, lightning, cloud and other lighting effects

2. Viparspectra Aquarium Light

(Best LED Light for Coral Tanks)

Viparspectra LED Light
  • Balanced PAR output in white and blue channels
  • 12000K color temperature
  • Dimming function
  • 300-watt rating with a 100,000-hour lifespan

3. Current USA 4103

(Marine Aquarium LED Light with Loop Remote Control)

Current USA 4103
  • Includes Loop remote control
  • 10000K color temperature with actinic blue light
  • Gradual 24-hour daytime and nighttime effects
  • 60-watt power rating

4. Finnex KL-48A

(Best LED Light for Planted Aquariums)

Finnex KL-48A
  • 4-channel output; white, red, blue and green light
  • Wireless remote control with 4 memory slots
  • 24/7 automatic sunrise and sunset simulations
  • Aluminum body with a waterproof splash guard

5. Finnex AL-R12WM

(Best LED Light for Small Tanks)

Finnex AL-R12WM
  • Small (12-inch) and energy-efficient (8.9 watts)
  • 7000K color temperature
  • 7 size options
  • 40,000-hour lifespan

6. Koval Aquarium Light

(Easy-to-Install LED Aquarium Light)

Koval ​Aquarium Light
  • Extendable brackets
  • Emits a full-color spectrum (5 LED colors)
  • 3-mode switch
  • 50,000-hour lifespan

7. Kessil A160WE

(Aquarium LED Light with Spectral Intelligence)

Kessil A160WE
  • Spectral intelligence with 2 control knobs
  • Densely packed LEDs
  • Compatible with 10-volt DC controllers
  • 10000K color temperature

8. Aquaneat Aquarium Light

(Best Budget Aquarium LED Light)

Aquaneat ​Aquarium Light
  • Affordable
  • On/off modes
  • Extendable mounting brackets
  • 6500K color temperature

9. Lxyoug Aquarium Light

(Versatile Aquarium LED Light)

Lxyoug Aquarium Light
  • Ideal for fresh and saltwater coral tanks
  • Independent dimming on each channel
  • Powerful cooling fans
  • 100,000-hour lifespan

10. Aquatic Life 420386

(Best Multicolored LED Aquarium Lighting)

Aquatic Life 420386
  • 6 differently colored LEDs with a 3-channel timer
  • 0.5-inch low profile design
  • 71-watt rating

1. Current USA 4008 – Best LED Light for Freshwater Aquariums

Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Aquarium Light
  • Fits: Freshwater Aquarium
  • Power: 30 Watts
  • Size: 48 – 60 inches
  • Color Temperature: 6500K

Current USA’s Satellite LED light has been fully engineered for freshwater aquariums because it features freshwater-optimized 6500K white LEDs and a full spectrum of RGB LEDs. These enable you to light up the aquarium in any color under the sun.

Wireless remote control is included for convenience, and it has all the settings for dimming each light individually so as to create different colors from the resulting color combinations.

Apart from being convenient, the Satellite’s remote control is actually very powerful. It has 4 memory buttons that enable you to save up to 4 custom color combinations so that you can easily recreate that color effect later on.   

Other than that, the unit features several effects such as storms, lightning, cloud cover, dusk, and dawn, among many others, which are all set via the remote control. These features make it the best overall LED aquarium light.

Additionally, this LED strip is available in 3 more sizes, giving you more options to fit on differently sized tanks. On the downside, it has a dull low color temperature, which makes it ideal for freshwater aquariums.

Pros:

  • Freshwater optimized white+RGB LEDs
  • Wireless remote control
  • 4 savable custom color combinations
  • Multiple realistic effects such as dusk, dawn, and storms among many others
  • Available in 4 different sizes

Cons:

  • Low color temperature makes it a bit dull
  • Only ideal for freshwater aquariums

2. Viparspectra Aquarium Light – Best LED Light for Coral Tanks

Viparspectra Timer Control LED Light for reef tank
  • Fits: Coral Reef Aquarium
  • Power: 300 Watts
  • Size: 24 – 30 inches
  • Color Temperature: 12000K

Viparspectra’s LED unit is specifically designed to produce a balanced PAR output throughout its 100,000-hour lifespan so as to help photosynthetic corals grow to their maximum size.

However, it is important to acclimatize the corals to this light by slowly increasing the light intensity as opposed to beaming the full light from the beginning.

To help you do this, the unit features a dimming function that can be used to adjust the intensity of its two channels (blue and white) individually using a wireless remote control.

A built-in timer allows you to control each of these channels separately and automatically, giving you more convenience.

This means that you can simulate day and night cycles by setting the timer to light up the white channel, mimicking natural light from the sun, then switch it off while simultaneously switching on the blue light, creating that deep blue moonlight effect under water. 

Most corals have naturally adapted to the blue daylight found underwater and thus, this 12000K light is the best LED aquarium light for corals. This is further enhanced by the blue channel that gives an even bluer light for better coral growth.

Pros:

  • Produces a balanced PAR output for photosynthetic coral growth
  • White and blue channel
  • Dimming function for each channel
  • 12000K color temperature makes it ideal for saltwater fish and corals
  • Day and night simulation

Cons:

  • High power consumption
  • No storm, lighting, dusk or dawn effects

3. Current USA 4103 – Marine Aquarium LED Light with Loop Remote Control

Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light
  • Fits: Saltwater Aquarium
  • Power: 60 Watts
  • Size: 48 – 60 inches
  • Color Temperature: 10000K

The Orbit Marine is relatively expensive but is fully and easily controllable via a wireless Loop remote control and has the option of including an additional eFlux wave pump, which can be controlled via the same remote control to give you realistic wave effects.

These effects are just enhancements to the unit’s dynamic weather system, which has several modes such as storms, lighting and cloud cover.

Apart from this, the product has brighter colors that bring out the saltwater fish and corals in their true spectacular colors. It also produces a higher ratio of actinic blue light in its 10000K color temperature, making it ideal for coral growth.

A slow ramp up mechanism provides a gradual acclimation of new fish and coral to the bright LEDs while a 24-hour gradual sunrise, sunset and nighttime feature ensure that the fish and coral experience a realistic day-to-day light and darkness cycle, just like in the real world.

This makes the Orbit Marine the best saltwater LED aquarium light in this list. Additionally, the unit is available in 3 more sizes, giving you more options for differently-sized tanks.

Pros:

  • Loop wireless remote control
  • Compatible with an additional eFlux pump 
  • A high ratio of actinic blue light
  • Slow acclimatization ​
  • 24-hour gradual daytime and nighttime effect

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive
  • Does not have a variety of single colored LEDs for customized lighting

4. Finnex KL-48A – Best LED Light for Planted Aquariums

Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated LED Aquarium Light
  • Fits: Planted Aquarium
  • Power: 46.2 Watts
  • Size: 48 inches
  • Color Temperature: 7000K

Finnex’s Planted+ aquarium light features a 4-channel output composed of white, red, blue and green light.

These colors enable the unit to produce a full-color spectrum, which is very good for plant growth. Additionally, each channel can be dimmed individually to achieve a wider range of colors that can be used to achieve maximum plant growth in planted tanks.

Furthermore, the product produces white light at a temperature of 7000K, which makes it the best LED aquarium light for plants because most of them require 6000K – 7000K to grow.

As you play around with the channel intensity settings, you can save up to 4 channel color combinations so as to easily reference the colors you prefer most at the press on a single button.

All this can be done using a very intuitive remote control, which basically runs the whole lighting fixture.

If you do not like these manual settings of always adjusting the channel intensity, a 24/7 fully automatic day-and-night feature is available, and this would make it very easy for you to light up your tank.

Other features include a durable aluminum construction and a waterproof splash guard that protects the inner circuitry from damage.

Pros:

  • Full-color spectrum output with a 4-channel output
  • 4 color combination memory slots
  • 24/7 fully automatic day and night feature
  • Wireless remote control
  • Durable aluminum construction

Cons:

  • Almost impossible to adjust anything without the remote control

5. Finnex AL-R12WM – Best LED Light for Small Tanks

Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlight
  • Fits: Planted Aquarium
  • Power: 8.9 Watts
  • Size: 12 inches
  • Color Temperature: 7000K

If you have a small aquarium, this is probably the best option for you. The fixture is only 12 inches long, making it ideal for tanks having a width of this size, plus or minus a few inches. It is also quite slim and this gives it a modern contemporary look.

The LED alignment inside is more spaced out and this gives it a low-medium lighting characteristic, which works well for freshwater planted aquariums. Furthermore, its maximum color temperature is 7000K, which is good for plants.

Spaced out LEDs also make the fixture very energy efficient because they are few in number. It has a rating of only 8.9 watts.

However, this low-medium lighting might not be the best for displaying the vibrant colors inside the tank. The good thing though is that the unit is relatively affordable, which means that you can afford to buy two fixtures if you want more light.

Other features include larger 16, 20, 24, 30, 36 and 48 size options for bigger tanks, and a 40,000-hour lifespan.

Pros:

  • Energy efficient
  • Affordable
  • Available in multiple size options
  • ​7000K color temperature; ideal for freshwater plants

Cons:

  • Not very bright

6. Koval Aquarium Light – Easy-to-Install LED Aquarium Light

Koval Inc LED Aquarium Light with Extendable Brackets
  • Fits: Planted Aquarium
  • Size: 45 – 50 inches
  • Color Temperature: 8000K

With its extendable brackets, this Koval aquarium light is very easy to install, allowing you to suspend its 156 super-bright LEDs above the tank. These LEDs are split into 5 different colors (white, blue, green, pink and red), which provide a beneficial full light spectrum.

Instead of remote control, the unit features a 3-mode switch that flips between off, blue LEDs only on and all LEDs on. Although this might be inconveniencing, the switch is very easy to use. If you don’t mind having one mode functioning for a long time, this light will work for you.

In terms of durability, the fixture’s LEDs are of very high quality and can remain operational for at least 50,000 hours.

If one LED burns out, it does not affect the rest, which is a very common problem in other low-quality units. The fixture’s outer shell is also very durable, having been made from an aluminum alloy.

Pros:

  • Extendable brackets for easy installation
  • Full-color spectrum with 5 different colors.
  • 50,000-hour lifespan
  • Durable aluminum alloy construction

Cons:

  • ​No remote control
  • No day, night or weather effects

7. Kessil A160WE – Aquarium LED Light with Spectral Intelligence

Kessil A160WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light
  • Fits: Coral Reef Aquarium
  • Power: 40 Watts
  • Size: 18 – 24 inches
  • Color Temperature: 10000K

Kessil’s A160WE is the top rated LED aquarium lighting unit in this review, which means there is something about it that stands out.

For starters, the unit features Kessil’s own proprietary Kessil logic, which is a unique spectral intelligence feature that gives a precise color blending for optimal coral growth in marine aquariums.

This is made possible by the compacted LED chips which, using a patented Dense Matrix LED technology, are built in arrays to create a powerful and deep penetrating light source but with a color blending that includes UV light for optimal coral growth.

Instead of having channels to control the LEDs, this product has 2 control knobs. One is for setting the color spectrum while the other is for setting the light intensity.

However, external control is also possible using popular aquarium controllers using its two 10 Volt DC ports. The only problem is that this product is very expensive. 

Pros:

  • Spectral intelligence for precise color blending
  • ​Small size with compact LED chips ​
  • Powerful, deep penetrating light ​
  • Allows for external control using two 10 volt DC ports

Cons:

  • Expensive

8. Aquaneat Aquarium Light – Best Budget Aquarium LED Light

Aquaneat Multi-color LED Aquarium Light
  • Fits: Freshwater Aquarium
  • Size: 29 – 38 inches
  • Color Temperature: 6500K

This fixture is the most affordable LED aquarium light in this review and it features 72 LEDs that have a combined output of 1100 lumens.

These LEDs are split into 36 6500K white, 26 actinic blue, 5 pink and 5 green, providing a wide color spectrum that is beneficial to freshwater aquarium organisms.

Controlling it is the easiest part because it only has 2 modes, which are on and off. However, this limits it to providing only the mixed color spectrum, which means it has no single type of effect.

Other features include extendable mounting brackets, which make it fit on 29 – 38-inch tank widths, slim, lightweight construction and availability in 4 different sizes, including this one.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Adjustable mounting brackets
  • Lightweight construction with a slim profile
  • Available in 5 different sizes

Cons:

  • No lighting effects
  • No remote control

9. Lxyoug Aquarium Light – Versatile Aquarium LED Light

Lxyoug LED Aquarium Light
  • Fits: Salt & Freshwater Aquarium
  • Power: 165 Watts
  • Color Temperature: Cool White

Consisting of UV blue, red, white, and green LEDs that are split into two channels: a high brightness bridgelux white channel and an epistar blue channel, this LED light is very versatile because it meets most requirements of both fresh and saltwater coral aquariums.

Each of these channels is controlled separately by having separate dimmers, power lines and on/off switches.

This means that you can tweak these controls (especially the dimmers) to achieve different effects. However, this must be done manually by turning the control knobs.

If the LEDs get too hot, high-speed cooling fans operate quietly to eliminate up to 30% of the excess heat. Operating in low temperatures drastically improves the durability of LEDs, which in this case are rated at 100,000 hours.

On the downside, this unit is very power-thirsty (165-watt power rating) but the LEDs are 30% percent brighter than other similar LEDs in their class.

Pros:

  • Suitable for both fresh and saltwater aquariums.
  • 30% brighter LEDs.
  • Separate dimming functionality on each channel.
  • Advanced cooling system
  • Long lifespan

Cons:

  • High energy consumption
  • Requires manual settings by turning knobs

10. Aquatic Life 420386 – Best Multicolored LED Aquarium Lighting

Aquatic Life Fixture LED Light
  • Fits: Coral Reef Aquarium
  • Power: 71 Watts
  • Size: 47 – 50 inches
  • Color Temperature: 9000K

Aquatic life’s LED fixture features 6 differently colored LEDs that ensure your coral gets a full-color spectrum of light in order to grow properly inside the aquarium.

These colors include 9K white, 454nm blue, 440nm blue, red, 400nm violet and 420nm violet. They are controlled via a 3 channel timer, which lights-them-up as white only to mimic sunlight, mixed color and blue only to mimic moonlight.

Furthermore, the LEDs can be programmed to slowly turn on or off over time so as to create a more realistic sunrise and sunset effect, which is evidently better than instant switching.

Construction wise, the unit has a sleek, slim design, measuring only 0.5 inch high and 4 inches wide. This makes it easy to fit above marine tanks, especially when the extendable arms are used.

Apart from this 48-inch option, there are also 24 and 36-inch options that give you suitable sizes for smaller tanks while still maintaining the features described above. 

Pros:

  • 6 differently colored LEDs
  • 3 channel timer
  • Sunrise and sunset plus moonlight effects.
  • Slim profile
  • Available in 3 size options

Cons:

  • No weather effects
  • ​No remote control

How to Buy the Best LED Aquarium Lighting

How to Buy the Best LED Aquarium Lighting

1. Compatibility

Compatibility for LED aquarium lights is basically looked at from two angles: size and fits.

For the size, you must get it right. All LED aquarium lights are rated for use in a certain range of aquarium width size. For instance, a 24 – 30-inch rated fixture is suitable for a minimum 24-inch tank and a maximum 30-inch tank.

If you fix the light on top of a 15-inch tank, it might be too bright and thus, a waste of power. If you fix it on top of a 48-inch tank, it will appear dull because the tank is too big. Therefore, it is important to fit the light on the recommended size range for the best results.

When it comes to fits, some units are meant for saltwater tanks while others are recommended for freshwater tank use. The main factor that differentiates between the LED lights for these different types of fits is the color temperature.

Planted freshwater tanks require a 5500 – 7500K color temperature because this type of light is very beneficial to plant growth. For this, check out Current USA's 4008.

Blue light found in 10000K to 20000K light like in Viparspectra's Aquarium Light​ is ideal for coral growth because they are accustomed to such light in their natural habitat on the seabed.  

However, you must also consider other features such as color spectrum in order to find the best fit for your tank.      

2. Lifespan

Although LEDs are generally long lasting as compared to other lighting technologies, there are some LED fixtures that are more durable than others.

This could be due to the technology​ used to make the units or other things such as lack of a heat dissipation mechanism.

LEDs do produce some heat and if this is kept unchecked, it might damage the individual LED circuitry, reducing the lifespan of the fixture.

That said, a good LED aquarium light should have at least a 30,000-hour rating while a 50,000-hour rating is well-worth considering.

Those that reach 100,000 hours and above such as Lxyoug's Aquarium Light are the best to buy.

3. Control Options

Control and customization are at the heart of any system. For LED lighting, the most basic form of control is in switches. It could be on/off or plus 1 or 2 more functionalities like in Koval's ​Aquarium Light.

Knobs are next in line. They offer more flexibility in terms of adjusting the settings in a far greater way than using switches. However, you still have to be at the fixture to rotate the knobs physically.

Some aquarium lights such as Kessil's A160WE have ports for external controllers and these enable you to attach compatible devices for easier control.

The remote control option is best. Not only does it give you the convenience of applying settings from the comfort of your couch, but most ​have powerful and convenient features such as memory functions. For this, check out Current USA's 4103.  

4. Power Consumption

LEDs are also much more energy efficient as compared to other lighting technologies. However, within this technology, there are other LED designs that are more energy efficient than others.

You should go for the lower amount of Watt rating so as to make savings in power bills. However, ensure that the unit is still bright regardless of its low power rating.

For instance, it would not be wise to buy a dull 30-watt fixture while a 46-watt ​piece such as Finnex's KL-48A is bright enough and up to the task.

How to Setup the LED Aquarium Light

How to Setup the LED Aquarium Light

There are two types of aquarium LED lights: those that require hanging and those with extendable brackets.

For the hanging lights:

1. Find a suitable spot on the ceiling

Once you find the right fitting light, find a suitable spot to attach the hanging kits on the ceiling. This might be on a beam or even on a nail that you can hammer at the appropriate position above the tank.

2. Tie up the hanging kits

Tie the hanging kits on the spot above the tank. Ensure that they are held firmly.

3. Attach the fixture

Attach the unit to the hanging kits and make sure that it illuminates the aquarium properly. If not, adjust the height of the hanging kits accordingly so as to lower or raise it into the correct position.

For the other type, simply extend the brackets and align the unit perfectly over the aquarium walls, then switch it on.

However, if the aquarium has a permanent glass or plastic-covered top, you can place the unit directly on this top and avoid the setup hustle. 

Conclusion 

The information ​pointed out above is very important if you want to get the best-LED aquarium lighting. ​That said, if you have a freshwater aquarium, we recommend Current USA's 4008​.

​For marine coral tanks, Viparspectra's Aquarium Light is best but you can also get Current USA's 4103​, which is more energy efficient. 


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