Aquarium LED Lighting: 8 Great Fixtures for Freshwater, Planted and Reef Tanks

A properly illuminated aquarium creates the illusion of depth, highlights your aquascaping and brings out the color of your fish. If you raise live aquatic plants you know that light quality is very important to sustain growth. Live corals depend on the proper light spectrum and intensity in order to remain healthy in reef aquariums.

Best rated LED lighting Reviews

No matter what kind of aquarium you have, modern LED aquarium light fixtures are the way to go. We’ll explore all the benefits of LED lighting and review the best LED light fixtures for freshwater and marine aquariums.

The evolution of aquarium lighting

LED aquarium lighting to the rescue

What to look for when selecting a freshwater LED aquarium light

Reef aquariums and LED lighting

What to look for when selecting a LED light for a reef aquarium

Best & Most Efficient Aquarium LED Lights Reviews

1. Aquatic Life LED EDGE

The Aquatic Life LED fixture is available in a freshwater and reef design.

The 36“ freshwater aquarium LED fixture contains (21) 6K White, (21) 9K White, (24) 10K White, (7) Blue, (11) Red, (3) Blue Lunar LED's.

The five colors of 0.5 watt LEDs have a 120-degree dispersion that creates full-spectrum light throughout the aquarium.

The lunar LEDs are used at night to replicate moonlight in the aquarium.

The sleek fixture design is only 0.5 inches wide and 4 inches high. Programmable sunrise and sunset functions enable the LEDs to be easily programmed to slowly turn on or off in 10-minute increments over a two-hour period of time.

The Aquatic Life EDGE LED feature a simple 3-Channel timer makes programming the timer and customizing the light output quick and easy.

The Aquatic Life EDGE LED Fixtures are available in three sizes.

  • 24-Inch light fits aquarium frames between 23.5 Inches and 26.25 Inches
  • 36-Inch light fits aquarium frames between 35.0 Inches and 38.25 Inches
  • 48-Inch light fits aquarium frames between 47.0 Inches and 50.25 Inches

The Aquatic Life Reef Edge LED fixture is similar in size to the freshwater version.

The LED array is designed to provide more blue light, mimicking the type of light that penetrates the coral reef. The LED fixture contains (21) 9K White, (52) Blue 454nm, (4) Blue 440nm, (3) Violet 420nm, 3) Violet 400nm, (4) Red LEDs.

The timer is similar to the freshwater model. The Aquatic Life Reef Edge LED fixture is available in two sizes.

  • 36-Inch light fits aquarium frames between 35.0 Inches and 38.25 Inches
  • 48-Inch light fits aquarium frames between 47.0 Inches and 50.25 Inches


  • Easy to program timer and lighting effects.
  • Good customer service.
  • Comes with an internal battery back-up that saves timer settings in case of power failure.
  • A dense array of LEDs for even lighting throughout the tank.


  • Reef Edge not available in the 24-inch version.
  • The light fixture cannot be hung over the aquarium.
  • Instruction manual could contain better instructions on setting the automated functions.

2. Marineland Reef LED Strip

The Marineland Reef LED strip uses 14K daylight LEDS and blue LEDS that blend together for reef aquarium lighting. The fixture has an integrated timer for on and off settings.

The light can be set to turn on and off at the designated time. Individual colors cannot be adjusted.

The Reef LED strip lights are intended to be placed on top of the aquarium.

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


  • One-watt LEDs are brighter than other fixtures.
  • LEDs are covered with focusing lenses.
  • Simple start-up, easy to use.
  • Sleek low-profile design.


  • Limited automation and timer settings.
  • Does not have individual colored LEDs for customized lighting.
  • Mounting legs allow the light to slip into the aquarium by accident during maintenance.

3. Current USA Orbit Marine

The Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light is the first marine LED light fixture to incorporate dual daylight and dual blue actinic-style LED chips into one light fixture.

This LED light has been specially designed for marine fish aquarium and especially reef tanks with live corals.

The combination of 8,000K/12,000K white LEDs along with 445nm/460nm actinic blue LEDs recreates the light spectrum necessary for marine fish, inverts, live rock, and corals.

The Orbit fixture uses 120-degree lenses that spread the light throughout the aquarium so all areas of the tank are illuminated. Lighting can be controlled with the wireless remote control.

The Ramp Timer Pro feature creates 24-hour gradual sunrise, sunset and moonlighting for a natural rhythmic light cycle. The timer provides a slow ramp up that prevents light shock, gently acclimates fish to bright lighting.

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


  • Advanced LED chip design provides full spectrum reef lighting.
  • Remote control lets you control the lighting from your sofa.
  • Slow ramp-up and down prevent light shock to fish and invertebrates.
  • Easy programming.
  • Comes with four automatic lighting pre-sets.


  • Does not have a variety of single-colored LEDS for custom lighting.
  • Poor instructions on how to set-up the lighting programing.
  • Not as bright as some other marine LED fixtures.

4. Euphotica LED Fixture for Saltwater/Coral Tanks

The Euphotica LED aquarium light is designed for marine fish tanks and reef aquariums containing corals.

It is programmable through a wireless remote or by using the controls on the front of the light fixture.

Timing and color spectrum are customizable.

The remote control will control multiple light fixtures. This is important because larger aquariums require several light fixtures for even light coverage.

The Euphotica is configurable to provide a color temperature range between 8,000K and 20,000K.

The LEDs use narrow 90-degree optic lenses to focus the light beams in the aquarium.

The fixture uses a variety of colored LEDs which include 8 Warm White, 6 Neutral White, 6 Cool White, 20 Royal Blue (450nm), 7 Blue (470nm), 4 Violet/Indigo (420nm), 2 Green (520nm) and 2 Red (660nm).

The Euphotica LED light is designed to be suspended above the aquarium. The lights come with a suspension kit but you will have to fabricate your own bracket to hang the lights above the aquarium.

The light fixture is available in 16- inch, 24-inch and 32-inch lengths.


  • Simple pre-sets work for most aquarists.
  • Customization of the light functions is available.
  • The LED fixture can be controlled with a remote control or on the light fixture.
  • Remote control can manage multiple light fixtures.
  • 90-degree lenses keep the lights directly focused on the corals.


  • LED screen on the front of the light fixture is always lit up when the fixture is plugged in.
  • The use of only a few green, red and indigo LEDS does not make a significant difference in light quality.
  • Must be suspended above the aquarium.

5. Nicrew LED Aquarium Hood Lighting

The Nicrew LED aquarium light is a basic LED light fixture for freshwater aquariums. It combines blue and white LEDs.

The lighting modes are white light for normal illumination of the aquarium and blue for the moonlight effect.

The white daylight mode actually blends the white and blue LEDs together. The night time blue color is dimmer.

This LED aquarium light is controlled by a rocker switch with three positions. You can select off, daylight or moonlight. The Nicrew does not have a programmable timer or dimming function.

The intensity of the light or color cannot be changed. This LED light comes in three widths and is mounted onto the rim of the aquarium. The mounting frame width is adjustable and slides out of the light fixture.

The plastic “feet” have a “U-shaped” channel that is a ½ inch wide and drops down onto the top of the aquarium. The U-channel greatly stabilizes the light fixture and prevents the light from being accidentally knocked into the water when performing aquarium maintenance.

The Nicrew LED Aquarium Light comes in three widths: 11-19 inches, 20-27 inches, and 28-36 inches.


  • Simple to use LED aquarium light.
  • No programming needed to use the light.
  • Economical price.
  • Provides adequate light for live plant growth.


  • No integrated automatic timer.
  • Cannot be hung over the aquarium.
  • Uses power adapter and jack, not hard-wired.

6. Kessil A360WE Controllable

The Kessil A360WE series features proprietary LED arrays assembled at the Kessil factory in California.

The LED fixture is designed to be hung from a bracket or ceiling mount.

This LED aquarium fixture is intended for reef aquarium lighting.

Through a system called Kessil Logic, users can select the perfect spectrum and color with one knob and then adjust the intensity with another knob.

When daisy-chained in series the first A360 acts as the master unit propagating its settings to all other lights in the chain.

The A360WE series also has a port allowing the light fixtures to be controlled by several stand-alone aquarium controllers. The light spectrum produced spams 10,000K to actinic blue.

The Kessil A360WE comes in a blue-light Tuna Blue model and a full spectrum Tuna Sun model.


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


  • Expensive compared to other brands.
  • Requires hanging from brackets or ceiling.
  • Power supply is a separate component that must be hidden from view.

7. AquaIllumination Hydra TwentySix HD

The Aquaillumination Hydra TwentySix HD represents the latest innovation in the Hydra series.

The HD designation is based on the fixture’s ability to use power from un-used LEDs (colors) to boost the output of the LEDs that are being used throughout the 24-hour light cycle.

The Hydra TwentySix HD used 80-degree focusing lenses for a good balance of light spread and focusing power.

The Hydra draws 90 watts at full power. The aluminum fixture housing acts as an efficient heat sink so the aquarium water stays cool.

The fixtures use name-brand LEDs from Cree, Osram and SemiLED. The Hydra fixtures do not need an external controller. They can be manually configured or wirelessly controlled by smart device or computer through the myAI app.


  • Uses high-quality LEDs.
  • Connects wirelessly to computer or smart device.
  • Able to daisy chain.
  • No separate controller needed.
  • myAI app is easy and functional.


  • Expensive compared to other brands.
  • Require hanging from brackets.
  • Power supply is a separate component that must be hidden from view.

8. Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated

The Finnex Planted+ is designed for planted freshwater aquariums.

The fixture is constructed of lightweight extruded aluminum. This provides a sturdy fixture with heat-dissipating properties.

The aluminum fixture sits on top of the aquarium on acrylic legs. The legs have thumbscrews for securing the light to the frame of the aquarium.

The Finnex Planted plus features high-quality 7,000K daylight plus red LEDs that boost light in the 660-nanometer range. This slight increase in the red spectrum stimulates plant growth.

The programmable 24/7 feature starts with a cool lit dawn, transitions into a warm sunrise morning, followed by an intense color blazing high noon, scaling down to a red sun drowned sunset and finishes with a starry night blue moonlight.

The remote control selects presets such as a Thunderstorms, Cloudy Days, Sunny Days and Moonlights with a click of a button. There are four empty programmable presets that can save customized color combinations and lighting intensities.

The Finnex Planted + LED aquarium light is available in 20", 24", 30", 36", & 48" lengths.


  • Slim lightweight design.
  • Specially designed for freshwater planted aquariums.
  • Easy to operate remote control.


  • Power cord is too short.
  • Remote control feels poorly made.
  • Short one-year warranty.

9. Kessil A160WE Controllable

The Kessil A160WE series is designed for freshwater aquariums.

The light spectrum, 6,000-9,000K, is ideal for raising aquatic plants.

The proprietary Kessil LED arrays create the light shimmer effect, duplicating the look of an Amazonian stream.

The LED fixture is designed to be hung from a bracket or ceiling mount.

Like the saltwater version, the A160WE uses the two-knob Kessil Logic adjustment feature. Users can select the perfect spectrum and color with one knob and then adjust the intensity with another other.

When daisy-chained in series the first A160 acts as the master light, using its settings to control all other lights in the chain. The A160WE can also be controlled by several stand-alone aquarium controllers.

The A160WE comes in a blue-light Tuna Blue style and a full spectrum Tuna Sun model.


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


  • Expensive compared to other brands.
  • Requires hanging from brackets or ceiling.
  • Power supply is a separate component that must be hidden from view.

Aquarium LED Lighting Recommendations

For a freshwater fish tank that does not need sophisticated dimming, color customization or a remote control, consider the Nicrew light.

The economical price and simple operation make it an attractive replacement for an old fluorescent-style aquarium light or when setting up a new aquarium. Unlike the Marineland LED, which can easily get knocked into the aquarium water, the Nicrew LED fixture gets locked onto the top of the aquarium frame, providing a secure light mount.

Since the Nicrew does not come with a timer, consider the Zoomed AquaSun Aquarium Timer. The timer is easy to set up and can even be bypassed if necessary. A red LED indicates when the outlet is turned on.

If you’re raising live aquatic plants or maintaining a reef aquarium, you’ll probably want a few more options when it comes to light color and timer control.

The Aquatic Life LED, whether in freshwater or marine style, will give you features entry level LED aquarium fixtures don’t have. The variety of different colored LEDs and three channels of automation provides more control for the advanced freshwater aquarist or reef-keeping enthusiast.

The slim design and on-tank mounting system fit into any decor. The Aquatic Life fixture is a blend of simple operation with a nice set of programming options for freshwater and marine aquarists.

For a high-tech planted aquarium containing sensitive Amazonian plants, consider the Kessil A160WE. The controllable light spectrum and intensity works hand-in-hand with carbon dioxide injection, providing optimal conditions for aquatic plants.

The 6,700K lighting is ideal for stimulating freshwater photosynthesis. The shimmer effect makes the aquarium look like a tropical stream, enhancing colorful fish and aquascaping.

Reef enthusiasts know good lighting is necessary for the reef to look good and remain healthy. Every reef aquarium is different and requires customized lighting in order to maximize coral growth and vitality.

The Euphotica LED Fixture will give you the ability to control all aspects of your reef lighting system. The narrow-beam lenses focus all of the light energy straight down onto the reef.

One of the most attractive and useful features is the ability to suspend the light fixture above the aquarium. You are able to adjust the light height as needed. It also gives you the option to add as many light fixtures as necessary.

This modular design makes the Euphotica fixtures very adaptable to larger reef aquariums. The fact that a single remote control can manage multiple lights makes controlling multiple fixtures a seamless operation. The light fixtures can also be managed by the touchpad feature mounted on the front of the light.

No one likes to push the limits of technology more than reef-keepers. The investment in live corals, rock and fish is substantial.

For deep, wide or long reef tanks, take a look at the AquaIllumination Hydra TwentySix HD or the larger Hydra FiftyTwo HD.

The rugged construction and name-brand LED circuits make the Hydra series a reliable and powerful lighting option. The Hyda LED fixtures will provide the proper light spectrum and intensity needed by reef-building corals.

The myAI app allows you to control the lights with smart devices or computer from anywhere in the world. The app even syncs the Hydra light with the earth’s lunar cycle. The myAI app will also allow you to view your aquarium with a Nest camera!

If you have any questions or comments, please, post them below!

Leave a Comment:

Craig says

Nice write up and some good options there, I personally use the Marineland Strip Light on my home set up and it works great, not had a single issue with it since getting it a year ago.

Keep up the good work and best wishes for 2017.

Dave P says


    Bob Flickerton says

    For a large reef aquarium full of corals you’ll want a reliable LED lighting system with solid performance. Consider
    the AquaIllumination Hydra TwentySix +HD LED Light fixture. You’ll have bright, controllable lighting from a reliable manufacturer. If I were building a reef tank that large I would spare no expense to get a proper lighting system. Take a look at the TwentySix series or any of the AquaIllumination fixtures. You won’t be disappointed!

Bill says

Really great in-depth article. Just goes to show how much you really need to make sure you have the right led lighting for you fish tank

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