10 Best LED Light for a Reef Tank

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    Vicki S.
    Vicki S.

    Author: Vicki S.

    Vicki S. is a professional writer and editor who adores animals and helps readers get along well with their pets. Vicki has been working in digital media for more than 5 years and has great experience writing content about lifestyle, including pets. Vicki specializes in Dog Feeding and Nutrition, Cat and Kitten Food, Dog Care and Training, Aquarium Fish Owner Tips topics. Also, Vicki headed several websites and worked as a news editor.

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  • Updated on: 08/13/2020

One of the essential points when decorating a reef aquarium is choosing the best marine LED lighting. Proper light is vital for fish and aquatic vegetation. Today, standard incandescent lamps are rarely used because they have a huge disadvantage – they give off a lot of heat but little light. More efficient fluorescent and LED bulbs replaced these lights.

In an exclusively fish aquarium, lighting serves primarily aesthetic purposes. But in a coral aquarium, the situation is different. Here light plays a vital role in the physiology of corals, and more precisely, in the physiology of plants living in corals — symbiotic algae. With the help of light, these single-celled algae start the process of photosynthesis.

This means that they absorb light energy and convert it into chemical energy. Photosynthesis is characteristic of almost all ecosystems on our planet. However, the ordinary concept of light – that is, visible radiation perceived by the human eye – is very far from scientific. We have known since the time of Newton that light consists of various color components: purple, blue, green, yellow and red.

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Each of these components has its frequency range or wavelength, and all together, they result in a familiar white or daylight.

If corals lived above water, they would receive light consisting of these spectral components. But because corals inhabit the sea, some parts of the spectrum of sunlight filtered by water do not reach the corals – the deeper, the stronger the effect of light filtering.

Corals need the highest requirements parameters. At first, they must be placed in a shaded area in the aquarium, giving them some time to acclimatize. After this period, they can be transferred to a permanent place of residence.

You need to select the best LED lighting for a reef tank, taking into account the volume of the aquarium, lighting requirements, and plant species. Often in aquariums, you can see fluorescent lamps that create special decorative lighting. The main requirements for lamps are minimal water heating, low power consumption and natural lighting that simulates daylight. [1]

Properly selected, the best LED aquarium lighting for corals helps not only to create comfortable living conditions for the inhabitants of the tank but also to increase its decorative value.

If you decide to use LED lighting in your reef aquarium, you need to choose the best LED lights for the saltwater aquarium and its location. This is due to the fact that there are a lot of similar products available today, and it is easy to get confused when making a decision. [2]

The best LED lights for a reef tank have certain features that make their quality exceptional. These qualities can be better performance, excellent design, or a variety of other features.

Best LED Lighting for Reef Tank Chart

To help you make your purchase decision, here is a chart for you:

Product

Features

Rating

Buy

1. Kessil A360WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light

  • Easy to use

  • Excellent quality

  • Compatible with popular external controllers

4.3 of 5 stars

Price: from $328

2. VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control 165W

  • Remote control and built-in timer

  • Easy to use

  • LEDs last for 100,000 hours

4.4 of 5 stars

Price: from $119.99

3. Kessil AP700 LED Aquarium Light

  • Automatically optimizes lights

  • Built-in Wi-Fi 

  • Easy to control

3.5 of 5 stars

Price: from $800

4. WILLS LED Full Spectrum Aquarium Light

  • Full-spectrum light that has red, blue, green, purple and white LEDs

  • Daisy chain function

  • Adjustable blue and white channels can be dimmed independently

  • 90° crystal lens

  • Two dimming channels

4.1 of 5 stars

Price: from $80.89

5. Aqueon Flexible LED Aquarium Bubble Wand

  •  Inexpensive

  • Easy to install

  • Easy to use

3.4 of 5 stars

Price: from $40.99

6. Aqueon Planted Aquarium Clip-On LED Light

  • Easy to mount 

  • Features a three-way, soft-touch control with 60 bright LEDs

  • Perfect for aquariums up to 20 gallons

4.9 of 5 stars

Price: from $31.99

7. Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light

  • Easy to program

  • Fully controllable

  • Adjustable mounts included

4.1 of 5 stars

Price: from $187.95

8. Fluval Marine & Reef 2.0 LED Strip Light

  • Full-spectrum marine and reef LED lighting

  • Illuminated touch-sensitive switch with dimming feature

  • Promotes and supports strong coral growth and color

3.8 of 5 stars

Price: from $179.99

9. Aqueon LED Deluxe Full Hood

  •   Designed to fit inside aquarium rim tightly

  • Lamp: Day White, Colormax, Beauty Max or Max Blue

  • Moonglow accent light and three-way power switch included

4.0 of 5 stars

Price: from $76.99

10. GloFish Blue LED Aquarium Bubbler

  • Contains six blue LEDs that enhance the brilliant colors of fluorescent fish, plants and ornaments 

  • Fluorescent fish and products create a complete underwater fluorescent experience

  • Bubbling feature improves the circulation and oxygenation of aquarium water

3.7 of 5 stars

Price: from $15.99

TOP LED Reef Lights Reviews

1. Kessil A360WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light 

Key benefits:

  • it can be used for a vegetable tank or a conventional one;
  • the light intensity is regulated;
  • the heat of the light is regulated.

This type of LED aquarium lighting is impressive in its quality, compared to other types of LED lamps on the market. This LED light uses the patented Kessil logic technology, which allows aquarists to choose the perfect spectrum and color and the owner to adjust the intensity of light output. The lamp consists of LEDs that provide uniform color throughout the tank, combining different wavelengths. This eliminates the “spotlight effect” that you see with some LED devices and instead creates a natural glow that looks more like the ocean.

The Kessil wide-angle, darkened aquarium controller is designed for use with freshwater tanks and terrariums. However, its bright white light can be used in any tank, especially in shallow water. The color spectrum is adjustable in the range of 6000K to 9000K. With the Neptune apex controller, you can control the color and intensity of light.

Pros

Cons

  • easy to use
  • excellent quality
  • compatible with popular external controllers
  • no place to hide the wires

Back to the chart

2. VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control 165W

Key benefits:

  • an internal timer allows you to turn the lights on and off automatically;
  • remote control;
  • suitable for all corals.

This lamp has a built-in timer that allows you to control and change the lighting. You can also turn off the light after a certain time. Easy-to-understand instructions will quickly help you understand the management. The improvement of this lamp was made thanks to the contributions of various users. Buyers shared their opinions about what they wanted in a great LED aquarium lamp. Thanks to this exchange of information, the manufacturer was able to come up with better light.

The Viparspectra Timer Control Series Dimmable V165 165W LED Aquarium Light, with a wide light spectrum layout, built-in timer, brightness control and advanced heat dissipation system, is specially designed to provide perfect lighting for all your aquatic creatures.

Pros

Cons

  • remote control and built-in timer
  • easy to use
  • LEDs last for 100,000 hours
  • only available in one size

Back to the chart

3. Kessil AP700 LED Aquarium Light

Key benefits:

  • Built-in Wi-Fi and an iPad app
  • Acclimatization mode, lunar cycles, weather effects
  • Beautiful flickering, maximum illumination, the full spectrum of light

Kessil AP700 is equipped with LEDs that shine in full-spectrum and which you can connect and manage using its iPad app. The built-in controller allows you to simulate various weather conditions.
The model is perfect for all photosynthetic corals. This means that your corals and other aquarium plants will be exposed to sufficient light. This will encourage the healthy development of corals and other aquarium inhabitants. Using this light will produce the best plant growth in the shortest time possible.

This model is easily attached to the aquarium; it is equipped with a unique mount, which is important for keeping the device in place after installation.

Pros

Cons

  • automatically optimizes the LED lights
  • built-in Wi-Fi – you can control everything from the iPad
  • easy to program
  • expensive

Back to the chart

4. WILLS LED Full Spectrum Aquarium Light 

Key benefits:

  • professional lamp with a full spectrum of illumination
  • the lens shines at a 90-degree angle for better light penetration
  • can be connected in series with another lamp

This LED has the ability to simulate natural light, as well as imitate sunrise and sunset. Thanks to its wide functionality, it is particularly popular among aquarists. An efficient cooling system makes the operation of this lamp quiet.

In addition, the lighting system is designed to simulate natural light. In this way, fish and corals achieve a balance to grow and be healthy. There is also a built-in timer and several light modes – red, blue, purple, white, green, and bluish-purple.

The full spectrum promotes photosynthesis of aquatic plants, providing enough oxygen for aquarium creatures to keep the inhabitants of your aquarium healthy. The red light can stimulate healthy growth in fish; blue light can increase the amount of vitamin D3, which will help corals absorb calcium and improve coral growth; purple light can be used to disinfect the aquarium.

Pros

Cons

  • Full-spectrum LED that has red, blue, green, purple and white
  • Daisy chain function
  • Adjustable blue and white channels can be dimmed independently.
  • Only one mounting option

Back to the chart

5. Aqueon Flexible LED Aquarium Bubble Wand

Key benefits:

  • Beautiful and unique design for your aquarium
  • Diffused and soft light
  • Design flexibility

Create fantastic lighting in your aquarium with this flexible light fixture, which can be connected to a compressor. Enjoy beautiful lighting and aeration of aquarium water!
Due to the flickering function, you can achieve the effect of rain in the aquarium.

The owner can combine several of these lights to enhance aeration and create a more spectacular aquarium style. This lamp can be submerged in water in a vertical or horizontal position

Pros

Cons

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to install and use
  • Doesn’t have a variety of single-colored LEDs for custom lighting

Back to the chart

6. Aqueon Planted Aquarium Clip-On LED Light 

Key benefits:

  • Designed for additional lighting
  • Easy to install with a universal mount
  • Three lighting modes with 60 LEDs
  • Suitable as the main lighting for aquariums up to 20 gallons
  • Touch control

Maintain the lighting level for growing lush plants with Aqueon Planted Aquarium Clip-On LED Light. It is easy to mount on any aquarium with a simple clip. It is equipped with 60 bright LEDs, ideal for aquariums with plants. It can also be used as additional lighting for the aquarium.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to mount
  • Features a three-way, soft-touch control with 60 bright LEDs
  • Perfect for aquariums up to 20 gallons
  • Only one mounting option

Back to the chart

7. Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light      

Key benefits:

  • Best color spectrum and maximum illumination, thanks to the new IC LEDs
  • Lenses provide natural light in the aquarium
  • Ultra-thin aluminum construction is easy to install and looks neat without bulging parts, on any aquarium
  • Includes remote control and has a programmable simulation of natural weather conditions

Choose a new approach to aquarium lighting with the Current USA Orbit Marine IC LED reef aquarium lighting system. The system was developed using the latest IC LEDs, which have a full spectrum of light and maximum color reproduction. It has a light and thin aluminum construction, which makes it easy to install.

This model includes the module for full simulation of environmental lighting. Sunrise and sunset, lightning strikes, and cloudy weather. The lamp is also equipped with a Bluetooth module so you can use a smartphone or tablet computer to synchronize with the USA eFlux Accessory compressor. Blue, daytime white and RGB LEDs cover the entire spectrum of light.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to program
  • Fully controllable
  • Adjustable mounts
  • The lights start to flicker after a while

Back to the chart

8. Fluval Marine & Reef 2.0 LED Strip Light 

Key benefits:

  • Full range of natural lighting
  • Improved light intensity compared to its previous generation
  • Touch switch
  • Brightness control for the lighting

Fluval Sea Marine & Reef 2.0 Performance LED has a good 32-46-59 watt LED backlight. Compared to version 1.0, it has greater light power. There is a brightness control for the lighting. Covers the full spectrum of natural light in the range of 400-460 nm. A touch switch with a dimming function is located on the case.

Pros

Cons

  • Full-spectrum marine and reef LED lighting
  • Illuminated, touch-sensitive switch with dimming feature
  • Promotes and supports strong coral growth and color
  • Limited control ability

Back to the chart

9. Aqueon LED Deluxe Full Hood

Key benefits:

  • Night lighting and triple switch
  • Fits snugly to the side of the aquarium
  • Small door for feeding
  • There is a socket for installing an additional lamp
  • Replacement lamps are easy and fast to change

Aqueon Deluxe LED Full Hoods are designed to be mounted on the edge of the aquarium for more efficient lighting, as well as reducing the evaporation of aquarium water. The housing has a door for feeding. Aqueon Deluxe LED kit includes a replaceable white LED daytime running light. On the case, there is a triple switch to turn on, off or to turn on the night lighting mode.

Pros

Cons

  • Designed to fit inside aquarium rim tightly
  • Lamp: Day White, Colormax, Beauty Max or Max Blue
  • Moonglow accent light and three-way power switch included
  • Limited control ability

Back to the chart

10. GloFish Blue LED Aquarium Bubbler 

Key benefits:

  • Underwater lamp with six blue LED lights enlivens the fish tank
  • Primary colors: contains six blue LEDs that enhance the bright colors of fluorescent fish, plants and decorations
  • Oxygenates: The aeration function improves the circulation and oxygen saturation of aquarium water (air pump, tubes and check valve are sold separately)
  • Use: Suitable for any aquarium – the perfect way to turn any aquarium into a stunning home underwater world

This disc-shaped light has six blue LED lights that emit bubbles, creating beautiful underwater lighting effects. The aquarium water aeration function helps improve the circulation and oxygen saturation of the water (air pump, air tube and check valve are sold separately). The lamp can be used with aquariums of any type and will create a beautiful effect in your aquarium that you and your friends will enjoy watching it.

The Blue LED Bubbler lamp is the perfect way to transform any aquarium into a stunning underwater world quickly. Luminous fish will shine beautifully in the light of this lamp.

Pros

Cons

  • Contains six blue LEDs that enhance the brilliant colors of fluorescent fish, plants and ornaments
  • Fluorescent fish and products create a complete underwater fluorescent experience
  • Bubbling feature improves the circulation and oxygenation of aquarium water
  • Not as powerful as other products

Back to the chart

🐠 Buyer’s Guide

⭐Benefits of the Best LED Lighting for Reef Tanks

LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting is an excellent option for a marine aquarium. LED lamps do not use much electricity. They are characterized by long and relatively easy operation. These features allow you to reduce operating costs for a long time. Eco-friendly LED lighting does not contain harmful chemicals, such as mercury or phosphorus, unlike fluorescent lamps.

LED lighting has several other advantages: 

  • LED lamps generate less heat. The amount of heat generated from LED lamps is very little, so the temperature level of the aquarium will not change much. Thanks to the low heating of the LEDs, you can minimize the power consumption of your aquarium lighting system. In addition, since LEDs emit less heat, they do not always require fans and systems.
  • Security. LED lamps are safer than metal-halogen and T5 fluorescent lamps because they do not contain any metal filaments or poisonous gases. Manufacturers are also improving the design of lamps, making them leak-proof and water-resistant.
  • LEDs stimulate the growth of plants and marine animals. You will be surprised how much the lighting you use will affect the environment in the aquarium. LED lights can be very useful for the health of the inhabitants of your reef aquarium. Most LED lamps produce light with a color temperature of 8000K and 10000K, which should be sufficient to stimulate the growth of a wide range of plants and other organisms in the aquarium.
  • LED lamps are compact. Most LED lighting systems are designed to be compact and easy to set up. You can place LED lamps almost anywhere so that they do not interfere with the maintenance of order. Some manufacturers also make waterproof LED lights that can be safely submerged in water. [3]

READ MORE: How to make Refugium for Saltwater Aquarium

🧠Reef LED Lighting: What You Need To Consider

In order to bring the lighting in the reef aquarium as close as possible to natural, there are various types of aquarium lamps that emit light in different ranges.

As you know, light waves of different spectrum penetrate the water column to different depths. Organisms that live at great depths prefer lighting with a blue spectral component. In this case, it is necessary to use lamps with a blue radiation spectrum for lighting the aquarium, in addition to which you can use lamps of the “full” spectrum. The combination of these lamps will allow you to show all the underwater inhabitants in the most attractive way. In reef aquariums, the ratio of blue and full-spectrum lamps is in a ratio of 1 to 1.

It is not easy to find the best LED lamp. It is extremely important that you choose the right model for your inhabitants and vegetation. The following tips will help you determine which LED light you need: [5]

  • Inhabitants and plants. The choice of LED lighting should depend on the type of marine life in your reef aquarium. You must analyze the needs of your plants and creatures to understand their need for light. For example, for plants that are in the growth phase, abundant lighting is extremely important. The light intensity also influences fish, crustaceans, corals and other inhabitants of your aquarium.
  • Size. The size of the aquarium is an important factor that you must consider before buying the best LED lighting. Some models have the ability to adjust the amount of light for their own amount of water.
  • Quality. The quality of LED lights is often reflected in their cost. You need to find a model that has the best quality in terms of build and performance. Check the material of the lamp, its integrity and the quality of the lens. The same applies to waterproof characteristics. Since it will work in wet conditions, it must also be water-resistant.
  • Lifespan. Manufacturers always specify the expected lifespanof LED lamps. You can compare different models to find the one with the best life span.
  • Ease of use. Some models of lamps are programmable and equipped with remote control. Thanks to this, you can easily control the lighting of your aquarium, even sitting on the sofa. [4]
  • Color temperature. The color temperatures of the LEDs also affect the water temperature in the reef aquarium. The water will absorb the light that will lead to an increase in water. Learn the color temperature requirements for marine aquarium life before making a purchase.
  • Light effect. Some LED lights can recreate the effect of sunrise and sunset. In addition, you need a model that can distribute light evenly. So, learn all the modes before you buy a lamp.

READ MORE: Aquarium Temperatures

Image by agkaimal from Pixabay

🐠 FAQs

💡 How many hours of LED light does a reef tank need?

Most hobbyists run their tank lights for 10-12 hours total. Most of us have a dusk/dawn schedule where we run only the blue or actinic lights for a couple of hours before and after our daylight bulbs are used.

⏳ How long do LED reef lights last?

Not all lights are rated to last that long, but even if your LEDs last for 10,000 hours, it is still roughly three years without changing any bulbs. LEDs should last you for a very, very long time.

❓ Can you grow corals with LED Lighting?

Yes, you can grow corals using LED lighting. Many aquaculture producers and suppliers currently use LED systems for growing corals due to saving money by reducing energy costs. The specific spectrums provided by LED lighting can bring out colors in certain fish as you’ve never seen before. 

The size of lamps, their power, and the radiated spectrum have a significant impact on the overall life of the reef aquarium. Even though everything may seem very complicated and confusing in the first approximation, do not be afraid – study all the options that are acceptable to you and you will definitely succeed.

READ MORE: How to know when tank is ready for anemone

Useful Sources

  1. 8 Great Ways to Grow Colorful Corals – Nano-Reef Community, a forum of saltwater reef aquarium hobbyists sharing experiences building small nano reef tanks
  2. AquariumEncyclopedia Britannica
  3. Nanobox ATI T5 LED 24″Nano-Reef Community, a forum of saltwater reef aquarium hobbyists sharing experiences building small nano reef tanks
  4. 4 Things You Need to Know About Aquarium CareAquarium Tidings
  5. The Art of Aquarium Keeping Communicates Science and ConservationFrontiers in Communication

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