Plants love gulping light to prepare their food. Different types of plants prefer different lighting and you can say the same for underwater plants – especially the aquarium ones. Come on! if we can have our preference for food, why can’t they have, right! So whenever you think of having planted aquarium, you will be needing the right type of lighting atmosphere for the plants.
The light does not only bold the vibrancy of the creatures but also help the plants grow healthily. Thus, for this we have compiled the best light for aquarium plants so that you can get the right one according to the type and stage of the plants you have picked up for your aquarium.
Please note that LED lights for reefs are different from freshwater planted tank lights. We have compiled the best LED reef lights in a separate article.
Table of Contents
- Best LED Lights for Planted Tank at a Glance
- Reviews of Best LED Lights for Aquarium Plants
- 1. Kessil A360WE Tuna Sun Review
- 2. Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Review
- 3. Nicrew LED Aquarium Light Review
- 4. Kessil A160WE Tuna Sun Review
- 5. Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium LED Review
- 6. Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights Review
- 7. Beamswork FSPEC Review
- 8. Marineland LED Aquarium Light Review
- How to Choose The Best LED Aquarium Lighting
- Buyers guide
- Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:
- Best LED Lights for Aquarium at a Glance
Best LED Lights for Planted Tank at a Glance
|LED Light for Planted Tank||Coverage/Capacity||Today's Price|
|24" X 24" || 90 Watts|
|Up to 48" || 13 to 30 Watts|
|Up to 54"|
|24" X 24" || 40 Watts|
|Up to 48" || 46.2 Watts|
|12" X 12" || 5 Watts|
|18" to 72" || 11 to 39 watts|
|12" X 12"|
Reviews of Best LED Lights for Aquarium Plants
1. Kessil A360WE Tuna Sun Review
The Kessil A360WE could be a great ray of hope for freshwater planted aquariums. Once you hang its fixture from a ceiling mount, you will be able to see a different view of your tank. Though Kessil is famous for their Reef Lighting products, this “Tuna Sun” is specially designed for underwater plants.
Besides, there is a system known as Kessil Logic through which you can pick an ideal color and spectrum with one knob followed by adjusting the intensity with another one. Speaking of the color, its range begins from a yellowish 6,000k to white in the middle followed by a pink 9000k.
Moreover, the Tuna Sun also features a port to control the LED fixtures via aquarium controllers. To add more, it utilizes a technology called the double peak to produce wavelength that can imitate the sun. And the best thing about the Tuna Sun is that the lights are capable of emitting a beautiful shimmer so that it can give a look of natural sunlight on the ocean floor. And that is what the title describes.
Besides you will find the LED bright white in color, that is stated to be quite high in par. You can hang the Tuna Sun as high as two feet and cover a aquarium of 24″ X 24″. Kessil A360WE Tuna Sun is intense enough even to meet the requirements of your most demanding carpeting plants. So, if you want a nutritious light for the greens in tank, this could be the best light for plants.
- The LEDs that emit a beautiful shimmer that imitates sunlight.
- It is small compact light.
- It is easy to tune lighting spectrum.
- It can penetrate deep inside the water to lighten it.
- Its shimmery effect makes the water plants pearling.
- The light brightens the color of the fish.
- It is able to emit light with widespread coverage.
- Can daisy chain manually.
- You might find it a bit pricey.
- There is a fan inside the product that keeps on running, hence attracts the dust.
- Might not last for long.
2. Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Review
Having a planted aquarium gives you a tougher job to find the best light for your fish tank. However, to talk about the best, this satellite freshwater led by Current USA could be a great option. Coming in 48 to 60 inches long, it gives a passable lighting that will not hurt the fish.
Although the longest in size out of the 4 versions, you might find it small to the size of many tanks but that does not lessen the quality of the product. However, another great thing about this light is that its LEDs will be helping you to save energy while serving illumination to the environment.
Moreover, its light does not get much warm though but if you have super sensitive fish, you might need a fan or chiller for the aquarium to help cooling it. To add more, the Current USA owns 6 different nonfading spectrum of colors with 12 dynamic effects and presets that you will find adjustable to utilize them.
With this, you can watch your aquatic plants grow healthily inside the tank. Moreover, another great thing is that you will get a wireless remote control with the light so that you don’t require moving or getting up to turn the light on/off, dim it and switch the dynamic modes. With the 32 key options, you can not only combine and play with the color but also adjust the brightness level of the light as well.
- Gives a passable lighting that will not hurt the fish.
- Owns 6 different nonfading spectrum of colors.
- Possesses 12 dynamic effects and presets that include fading lunar, cloud cover, lightning, storm, dusk etc.
- The remote comes with 32 key options.
- The remote does not come with a timer option.
- The size might not go along with the size of many aquariums.
3. Nicrew LED Aquarium Light Review
The hunt for light to brighten your planted tank might end with this another excellent light. This LED light from Nicrew is a basic LED fixture that offers combination of white and blue LEDs to produce a stunning shimmer to the tank.
While the white lights work for creating a daylight effect for normal illumination, the blue one works for offering moonlight effect with it’s dimness which is ideal for night time. But the best thing about these modes is that both of them blend so well together that they end up giving a perfect lighting.
However, the product comes with a 3-position rocker switch that controls the main lighting. But the good part is the product does not have a dimming function that proves it’s simplicity. However, you cannot change the intensity of the light color that might be marked as a disappointment.
Talking about the installation, the light has 3 widths and you can mount it on the edge of the tank. You will get the mounting frame adjustable that slides out of the fixture.
- It is easy to use with its basic function.
- Produces amazing shimmer to the aquarium.
- The blue and white modes blend well to illuminate the plants.
- Offers sufficient light for growing low to medium demanding plants.
- Very pocket friendly.
- The size is adjustable.
- The light is not waterproof.
- You cannot hang it over the tank.
- There is no timer included.
- The product is mostly plastic.
4. Kessil A160WE Tuna Sun Review
Aquarium plants happen to flourish when they get the touch of proper lights. For this, you will be needing the best light for planted tanks and Kessil can promise you that. Its A160WE series has been designed to raise the plants via providing a perfect range of lighting spectrum starting from 6000k to 9000k.
Besides, the LED also creates the shimmer effect that duplicate the look of an Amazonian stream. However, just like A360WE, you can hang the product as well from the ceiling mount or bracket. Not only that, it also uses 2-knob Kessil Logic feature that you will find absolutely adjustable.
A160WE can be considered as the little brother of Kessil A360WE. The difference between A360WE and A160WE is the power they consume. A360WE has a rating of 90 watts whereas A160WE requires 40 watts. So you need to consider the requirements of your plants carefully and measure the volume of your water so that you can select the right LED for your aquarium.
You can pick choose the perfect color and spectrum with one knob and adjust the intensity with the other. As it is named Tuna Sun, you can understand the tendency of it giving light that replicates the sun. Like the previous model, it too features a port to control the LED fixtures via aquarium controllers. Hence, lighting the plants with this aquarium light could help them grow in a healthy way.
- Its 2-knob feature is easy to control.
- Offers ideal range of lighting spectrum starting from 6000k to 9000k.
- Produces shimmer effect to lighten the water.
- Comes with the fan.
- Helps the plants grow and flourish.
- It can penetrate deep inside the water to lighten it.
- It’s easy to tune lighting spectrum.
- Gooseneck needs to be bought separately.
- Might not cover a greater area.
- The lights take many cables to link them together.
- The fan inside the product is a bit noisy and can attract dust.
5. Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium LED Review
While you step out to look for the best light for the aquatic plants in your aquarium, the first thing that you might check is it’s unique features. And Finnex has the ability to offer you that. Since the title says it all, you can understand what wonders you will be getting once you get it for your tank plants.
This product is basically designed to be the one that provides the best value for its price so it becomes worth buying. And since you can expect a lot from Finnex, you can actually give it a try.
Firstly the full automation feature that comes with a memory for saving new light settings. However, it lets you have a great time utilizing the light with options of mimicking the sunlight to make your aquarium look beautiful. This feature offers different moods of the sun starting from a cool lit dawning to a warm sunrise morning.
Talking about settings, you will get legs that slide inwards easily while having to mount the product, especially on rimless tanks. To add more, this product features a multi-function infrared remote so you can control and adjust different modes for lighting that will help flourish the plants.
You will also get more elements that you can activate such as Cloudy days or Thunderstorm! Not only that, it also helps you get the installation in hand-free mode so that you can run the light without the need to control anything. Another great thing about the product is that you will get a waterproof IR sensor so it gives you all the power in your hands to control several factors of the lighting.
- It has 24/7 mode to work automatically.
- It is easily adjustable.
- Offers different moods of the sunlight such as Blue Starry Night and Fire Red Sunrise.
- 7000k Multicolor Blend for Plant Growth.
- It comes with 4 customizable color channels.
- The colors are bright.
- One remote rules them all.
- The cable is quite short.
- IR receiver might hang.
6. Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights Review
If you are looking for an excellent option for a nano planted tank then Finnex FugeRay could be the obvious choice. With its lunar blue moonlight LEDs, it emits amazing light environment that will make the aquarium stunning.
Moreover, it also possesses the ultimate plated LED clip light that you can utilize for spreading the light for the plants. Besides, it features a complete package of daylight and blue LEDs with the true 660nm RED LEDs.
There is also an option of turning the red one or the blue one. However, its lamp consists of 5 watts which is an ideal wattage to save the energy. On the down side you are limited with the options of plants as 5 watts is considered too low for many of the high demanding carpeting or colorful plants.
To add more to it’s feature, this LED light uses plastic and aluminum material which shows it’s waterproof feature of the material. And the PC Splash Guard will be there for the rescue if any mishap happens. Furthermore, to talk about it’s design, Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium has been developed with contemporary ultra slim look that beautifies the tank really well.
- Offers decent light output.
- The lamp owns good color to beautify the tank.
- The light is really great for plants growth.
- Its true 620nm LED helps for the plants improvement.
- Enhance the color of the plants.
- Can save the energy for its 5 wattage light.
- Comes with water resistant material.
- Mounting bracket happens to have large overhang into aquarium.
- Might not be strong enough for plants that require high lighting.
- The clip might not fit on the rim of the tank.
7. Beamswork FSPEC Review
There are a lot of amazing lights out there that provide the good service for aquarium plants but equally ends up giving you disappointment for the absence of timer. Well for Beamwork, the case will be different.
This LED light for growing aquarium plants feature 2 usual modes: daylight and moonlight. While the daylight provides full spectrum and power to brighten the tank as natural as possible, the moonlight on the other hand gives a dimmer night time lighting effect.
Besides, the product is pre-wired so you can use it with an optional timer feature so that you don’t require to manually switch between the modes all day. But for this, you will need to pay a bit little more money as the timer is sold separately.
However, talking about the modes, they are pretty helpful for the plant inside your aquarium since it will help them grow effectively. However, another great thing about the product is that the LEDs come with energy saving feature so that you can utilize the light for a longer term.
In addition, the product has brackets that you can adjust to different lengths for the fixture as they are extendable. Speaking of the LEDs, the product owns Actinic 460nm, Green 520nm, and Red 620nm spectrum LEDs that are absolutely suitable for freshwater plants. Hence, if you want your green creatures to live happily, this would be one of the best lights for aquatic plants.
- Provides full spectrum light.
- Can fit the tank perfectly.
- Its pre-wired setting makes it easier to use with optional timer feature.
- Helps grow the plants healthily.
- The LEDs are energy saving lights.
- The brackets are extendable so you can adjust the way you want.
- The timers modules are sold separately.
- Adapter can get really warm.
- Water might evaporate with this style of light setting.
- Might face difficulty in mounting.
8. Marineland LED Aquarium Light Review
The Marineland LED light could be another good light for aquarium plants in a nano tank. The product owns quite a lot of basic features that make it a perfect buy. However, the great thing about the product is that it gives a boost of LED lighting for aquariums up to 30-inch long that create outstanding shimmer and shadows that reach all over the area.
Hence, for versatile daylight and moonlight effect, this could be a great buy. Moreover, the light contains durable white and blue LEDs that produce shimmering illumination which mimic the natural sunlight and moonlight. So with this lighting, you can watch your fish and plants dancing along with the water.
The Marineland LED Aquarium Light also highlights the water movement that creates shadows and shimmer to beautify the tank.
In addition, the light has a 3-mode on and off button so that you can switch between the daylight and moonlight effect manually. You will get a rubber feet with the product that minimizes mishaps if happen over a glass canopy. So, although this is the last product of our list, but it does not lower the quality and performance of the product.
- The fixture does not get much hot.
- Great for different kinds of aquariums up to 30 inches long.
- Help grow the plants effectively.
- Highlight the water movement with it’s 2 kinds of light setting that gives shimmer and shadow effect.
- Has a 3-mode on and off button to control the modes.
- Enhance the color of fish and plants.
- Might not last long.
- Could be a bit expensive.
- The blue light might not be very effective for night time.
- Not much suitable for high demanding plants.
How to Choose The Best LED Aquarium Lighting
There are lots of factors you need to consider before selecting the appropriate light for your planted tank. First lets discuss about the types of plants and their requirements. You need to choose your plants first and then select the perfect light to meet their requirements.
Types of Plants
Underwater plants can be picked up depending on their position at 3 different location. So you can categorize them into 3 which are Carpeting, Midground and Background. Although you will be interested to get different kinds of plants for your aquarium and the pet fish, but you need to get the one that will benefit the creatures inside the water. And not only that, the quality of the water also counts for maintaining the tank.
Plants add beauty to the aquarium once you fill it under the water. But you need to keep certain things while you plan to plant them. However, as we have said that there are 3 categories of plants based on their location, we will discuss them in detail so that you know more about them and their lighting requirement.
These are basically known as foreground plants that are used to cover ground area. The plants are small and tend to grow wide than grow tall. However they will act as a striking green grass bedding for the aquarium for which they are called carpet plants. Usually carpeting plants are the most demanding and requires at least 3 to 5 watts of light per gallon of water volume. Some of the Carpet plants are:
Dwarf Baby Tears: Hemianthus callitrichoides or commonly known as dwarf baby tears are admired the most because of their vibrant look and nature. Baby Tears can be a healthy carpet plant of the aquarium as they beautify the aquarium to a great extent. Having very tiny sized leaves they create a sense of depth and vastness even in a small aquarium. Under high lighting and pressurized CO2 they will pearl heavily which is immensely pleasing and one of the prettiest things to watch.
- Appearance: Low, thick and vibrant. Carpet like growth pattern.
- Water Temperature: Can tolerate between 75°F to 85°F. Grows faster around 73°F to 75°F.
- Lighting: Bright lighting conditions.
Glossostigma elatinoides: Glossostigma elatinoides is considered another wonderful carpeting plants. It is one of the smallest aquatic plants (2-3 cm tall), as a result can be used in the foreground of the aquarium. Glossostigma requires high light and high CO2 to flourish. You need to trim them frequently to get a compact growth.
Java Moss: This is quite the most popular plant for aquariums. As they need low maintenance, aquarists tend to prefer them mostly. However, the Java Moss plant grows very quickly onto rocks and not only that they are tough to die.
- Appearance: Fuzzy and green.
- Water Temperature: Can tolerate 80°F to 90°F, but grows the best in 70°F to 75°F.
- Lighting: Low to moderate.
Lilaeopsis: This is another grass like plant that grows up to 2 inches long. It does not only spread fast but also fill the whole aquarium with its greenness. However, it might require periodical prune if it invades other plants.
- Appearance: Green and grass like.
- Water Temperature: 75°F to 85°F
- Lighting: Medium light.
Mid-ground plants mostly belong to the low maintenance plants with impressive look. You can plant them at any space of the tank. They are semi-striped and own thick leaves that appear in bunches.
Green Tiger Lotus: It’s a wide-leaf like plant that require very low maintenance. Regular environmental condition helps the Lotus flourish.
- Appearance: Wide, medium height, green leaves.
- Water Temperature: 71°F to 82°F
- Lighting: Moderate.
Pygmy Chain Sword: They duplicate the nature of grass and for this they are quite well-liked. The reason Aquarists like to go for them is because of their tendency to mimic the dry land type aquascape. However, many of the other aquarists might find them mainstream and boring and end up avoiding them.
- Appearance: Grass-like.
- Water temperature: 70°F to 85°F.
- Lighting: Moderate.
Anubias Nana: The plant grows up to 6-inch long and possesses dark oval leaves. It requires low care, and is great for the beginners.
- Appearance: Medium sized, oval leaves containing dark green.
- Water Temperature: 72°F to 82°F
- Lighting: Moderate lighting.
Background plant hides fixtures and offer hiding place for your freshwater fishes. They too require little care and can spread out all over the tank on the bottom of the aquarium.
Amazon Sword: The Amazon Sword is easy to maintain type plants. They do not only grow fast and big up to 20 inches but beautify the area as well if arranged appropriately.
- Appearance: Big sword like leaves.
- Water Temperature: 72°F to 82°F
- Lighting: Low to Medium light.
Pond weed: This plant is basically known as Elodea Densa. It is suitable for both temperate and tropical aquaria and is very easy to thrive. If you give them a lot of lighting and fertilizer, they will grow faster.
- Appearance: Leaf like.
- Water Temperature: 60°F to 85°F
- Lighting: Bright lighting.
African Water Fern: This is another great plant that is ideal for background. It thrives in most condition and needs low care.
- Appearance: Lush feathery green leaves.
- Water Temperature: 68°F to 80°F
- Lighting: Low light, shade.
Best Light Spectrum For Aquarium Plants
The spectrum basically tells us about the color of the lights. Plants respond very differently to the color of the light compared to human eyes. Plants love the blue and red area of the spectrum and thrive when hit by this kind of light. This plays a crucial role in photosynthesis and, if done right, will result in a beautiful aquarium full of vivid colors.
Watch this great video for more scientific aspects of freshwater aquarium lighting basics –
Freshwater plants thrive under the source that resembles natural sunlight. Anything between 5500K-6500K spectrum is great for freshwater plants. But to make your aquarium look aesthetically pleasing you can increase the color temperature up to 10000K.
Here are the colors that are used for the plants so that they can get suitable lighting atmosphere.
This kind of bulb produces a light spectrum that mimic the sun basically. Its visible spectrum is maintained while the infrared and ultraviolet spectrum are reduced. It owns lots of Actinic Blue and red and helps the plants a lot for growth.
Plant utilizes a particular kind of blue which is known as Actinic Blue. It helps in the growth of plant leaves and stems. This spectrum allows the plants to grow bushy and leafy.
This color is used for creating more viewable light although it is not efficient for thriving plants.
Plants also use Red lights for their growth. Mainly they are important to produce flower and not only that, it also lets them grow taller.
Aquarium plants require accurate amount of lighting. It is seen that the green plants that are dark prefer less light while bright green plants need bright one. However, if you care much for your aquarium plants then it would be recommended to provide them bright light.
Speaking of bright light, it is usually called heavy light that duplicates the light of full sun. As plants need photosynthesis to thrive hence you will be needing strong light that would help activate photosynthesis so that it can sustain long enough for their growth. However, heavy light is level of light between 4 to 5 watts per gallon of fluorescent light.
To talk about medium lights, they are anywhere between 2 to 4 watts per gallon of fluorescent light. You find many plants that grow healthily at this level.
Low light owns enough light just to view the fishes inside the aquarium. It is less than 1.5 watts of fluorescent light and it hardly helps the plants to thrive. However, there are still some plants that can flourish under low light and they are Amazon Sword, Java Moss, Water Sprite and more.
Aquarium Size by LED Coverage:
The coverage of LEDs should always be selected according to the size of the tank. The taller your aquarium is, the more power you require. As for instance, if you light up a flashlight onto the tank, every 4-inch of water will receive the flashlight twice as strong for keeping the same level of brightness.
If you own a large tank, you will need lot of space to light up, hence you will require a light having a vast coverage with widespread intensity. Suppose you own an aquarium that measures about 1 foot deep, you may work out with getting a low-powered fixture and still pull off a medium light. But, putting the same fixture on deeper aquarium will keep you in the lowlight class.
Contrariwise, putting the powerful fixture on the same depth aquarium will emit the light so bright that it will rather become hard for you to thrive plants. It’s because, you will be putting so much carbon di oxide and fertilizer in your aquarium to fight with that much light, that it would actually end up hindering you. And for this, it has always been recommended to have an LED depending on the size of the aquarium.
How does LED lighting work?
The LED lights are not only used to illuminate the tank but also utilized to grow the plants as they are the food of those green creatures. LED lighting is actually a group of small LED lights that have been arranged in a specific order to emit a bright light. It’s basically short for Light-emitting Diode. Basically, the electrons are transformed into photons when the diodes are connected to an electricity source. And these photons are called the packets of energy that are generally perceived as bright light.
The light can have a particular wavelength or color or particular intensity. The lights of different wavelength are connected in sequence so that it can emit a vivid blaze to the tank. And this is how LED lighting works. However, LEDs come with a lot of feature starting from its durability to saving a lot energy. So, you will get many perks from the light once you buy it for your aquarium plants.
Factors to consider:
Tank size: You should always buy the LED light according the size of the tank that you own. If you have larger aquarium, you will need the light having widespread intensity and vast coverage.
Plants type: Different type of plants require different level of lights to grow. If you own plants that are in their growing stage, you will be needing a different level of intensity that might not need at other stages. However, you will get a variety of LED lights for each of their requirement.
Intensity and Spectrum of light: You might discover a considerable range of spectrum and intensities while you look for the LED lights for your aquarium plants. They are useful for different types of your plants and for their stages of life cycle. Depending on which type and stage your plants are in, you will need to buy the one that will be right for them.
Substrate and Pressurized CO2: Only high intensity LED light won’t give you the result. For a healthy planted tank you need balance. And to ensure balance you need proper supply of CO2 and best substrate for planted tank.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:
Q: How do you setup LED aquarium light?
A: It depends on the type of your LED. The set can be both easy and difficult for many of the people. So it’s important that you work it out in the right way at the first place. Poor setup will not only cause accident but also will lead to the death of fish. However, almost all the manufactures provide setup guide with detail process and diagram with their product. All you need is to follow them step by step and then you are good to go.
Q: How much LEDs do you need for aquarium?
A: The amount of LED depends on the fish and plants you have in your aquarium. For easy maintenance plants, anything ranging .25 to .5 watt per liter will work out fine to keep them live properly. However, if you have developed plants, they will need about 1 watt per liter or more. And you must ensure that you own a good reflector in your aquarium so that it helps in providing better reflection and keep the temperature well-regulated.
Q: How does the color of light affect the growth of plants?
A: LED lights are expected to produce a spectrum of light which you know them as colors. Such light possesses colors that are visible or non-visible and thus it’s essential to know the appropriate type of light that will play a major role for your plants growth. However, the basic rule of thumb is that you will need a bright light for your plants to activate photosynthesis. The red and blue zoned lights belong to visible category that is necessary for the plants. However, you can expect to get a variety of colors in between these zones that will be required for plants growth.
Q: Why are my aquarium plants dying?
There could be a number of reasons for that. Not necessarily all pointing towards your lighting. You need to carefully check the requirements of your plants. Sometimes only good light is not sufficient enough if there is lack in the supply of CO2. If you are having high demanding plants then you need to match up with the CO2 supply as well. Next you need to check the water parameters and adjust liquid fertilizer dosing to get healthy growth. Unstable water parameter will cause algae bloom and hurt your precious aquatic plants.
Q: When should I turn off the aquarium light?
When you are starting a planted tank the amount of plants will be less and as a result the light requirement will be less also. So it is safe to start with limited lighting hours. Start with 6 hours per day and gradually increase the time once the plants started to take root. At full growth and proper balance in the tank the lighting hours should be 8 to 12 hours per day. You need to find the balance by yourself because every aquascape is different.
Q: How to program LED aquarium light?
In most of the commercial LED lights you will find a built-in timer to program the light as per your requirement. If your LED light doesn’t come with this feature you can simply install an external digital timer to automate the lighting hours and make your life easy. Also if you control the light manually there is high chance of timing hour fluctuation which will make it difficult to get balance in your tank.
Best LED Lights for Aquarium at a Glance
As there are so many factors to consider before buying the lighting system for your freshwater aquarium or planted tank, it is not possible to suggest just one light as the best. Select your choice of plants, tank dimension, co2 availability, dozing style and then select the light that best suits your need. To make it easy for you here are your best options once again –
For any confusion or question don’t hesitate to contact us or just comment below.