We all know that plants need a great source of steady light to engage in photosynthesis and to live in general. Planted tanks, or in other words, aquariums that have lots of plant life in them, need to have a great source of light. Without adequate lighting your aquarium plants will quickly wither and die.
Keep in mind that what kind of light you get does depend on the type of plants in the tank as well as some other factors too. Let’s get right to it and talk about what is the best light for a 10 gallon planted tank (This is our top pick).
|Zitrades LED Light||Our Top Pick||9.5/10|
|Niello Hood Lighting||Good For Plant Growth||9.2/10|
|Marina Showcase Bulb||15W Bulb||8.6/10|
What Kind Of Lighting Do I Need For A 10 Gallon Planted Tank
Ok, so there are a few different factors which will determine what kind of lighting you need for your 10 gallon planted tank, so let’s go over those right now. Moreover, there are various different kinds of lighting to consider as well. One of the most important things to note is that different plants have different lighting requirements.
So, before you go out and buy a light, you need to so research in regards to the lighting requirements of the specific plants in your tank. Also, if you have something like a CO2 injector, you might not need quite as much light in order to spur on effective photosynthesis in your plants.
They need both light and carbon dioxide to do this, so a good mix of both is the ideal. One of the best things we can do for you is to look at the different lights and bulbs out there. Once you have done some research in terms of the lighting requirements of the plants you have or want to get, you can then choose the lights and bulbs that are best for you.
This is the standard type of light that many people choose to go with for planted aquariums. These are very versatile, easy to use, and probably the simplest way to light up your aquarium. They are also affordable and energy efficient at the same time. The beauty about these lights is that there is a wide selection of bulbs you can go with;
Actinic White Bulbs
These let off a good mix of white and blue light in order to mimic or recreate marine conditions. These lights look nice and they tend to spur on photosynthetic growth of coral.
Color Enhancing Bulbs
These are usually only ideal for fish only aquariums as they emit light from the warmer end of the spectrum. These are not great for plant or coral growth.
Full Spectrum Daylight Bulbs
These guys let off light from all ends of the color spectrum. They are perfect for recreating the effects of natural sunlight. They are ideal for most types of aquariums.
These lights are awesome for plant growth and their peak emissions come from both the blue and red ends of the light spectrum. These are awesome for heavily planted aquariums as they greatly spur on photosynthesis in plants.
High Intensity Bulbs
These lights let off a lot of high color temperature and are ideal for recreating deep water marine conditions.
Compact fluorescent lights have a higher and stronger light output than normal fluorescent lights. They usually use multiple light tubes instead of a single one like normal fluorescent lights do. Compacts are great because they are more energy efficient, easy to use and operate, they last for a long time, and they do a better job for larger and more heavily planted tanks than normal fluorescents do.
The beauty about compact fluorescent aquarium lights is that you can still choose from the variety of bulb types which we discussed above for the normal fluorescents.
We aren’t going to get too far into detail here, but what you do need to know is that metal halide lights have a very high light output. They are great for aquariums which have lots of plant life, need a ton of light, and for aquariums that are very deep and need light penetration all the way to the bottom. These things are great for coral reef and heavily planted tanks.
LED lights, or light emitting diodes are another good option to go with. The great part about LED’s, while they might not produce quite as strong a light as other models, are much more cost and energy efficient. One thing you need to look for with LED lights is the PAR rating, which stands for Photosynthetically Active Radiation. Different LEDs have different PAR ratings. You need to check this rating to make sure that it has the ideal light output from the ideal end of the light spectrum which the specific plants in your tank need to survive.
These lights tend to be more effective for plant growth than fluorescent lights in some respects. They do generate a lot of light and heat, which plants do like. However, incandescent lights are going somewhat out of style due to the fact that they heat up the water, they tend to break easily, they don’t have a long life, and they aren’t very energy efficient either.
What Is The Best Light For A 10 Gallon Planted TankLet’s look at what seems to be the best light for a 10 gallon planted tank. This option is affordable, durable, and highly effective too.
If you need some tank suggestions, we have covered a separate buyers guide for 10 gallon tanks separately on this article.
Zitrades Fish Tank Aquarium Light
This LED light is great for all 10 gallon tanks and smaller (you can check the current price here). It can be used for saltwater and freshwater tanks. It has 3 available light modes including bright white, white and blue, or dim blue. It comes with a total of 28 bulbs which never get hot and won’t affect the temperature of the tank.
This light has an adjustable clip and an adjustable gooseneck so you can easily attach it and adjust its position. It’s an easy and convenient option to go with that will provide your plants with more than enough light.
7 Other Options To Consider
In case you are not a fan of the above lighting option for your 10 gallon planted tank, you can also consider these 7 other options.
1. Niello 18W LED Aquarium Light Bulb Hood
This is a reliable 6 band full spectrum LED light with cool white, red, blue, and green bulbs (you can check the current price here). It provides your plants with an ideal mix of light from all ends of the spectrum in order to spur on plant growth of all kinds. This bulb dissipates heat well so it won’t heat up the aquarium, it runs cool, and it is fairly energy efficient too. Keep in mind that this is only a light without any fixture.
2. Coralife 05509 Mini Compact Fluorescent
This compact fluorescent bulb is great because it does not take up very much space, yet still puts out a whole lot of light. The high output of it makes it more than ideal for plant growth of all kinds. It has a very low operating temperature so it won’t mess with the heat in your tank. It can be used with freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Once again, this is only a bulb, not a whole fixture.
3. Marina 15 Watt Clear Showcase Bulb
This is a good old school incandescent bulb. It’s a 15 watt bulb, so it will provide a fair amount of light, but it is not too energy efficient. This bulb is great for providing your aquarium with some decorative highlighting and to highlight aquatic colors. It also makes for a good heat source for reptiles and turtles too. There are two bulbs included here. Keep in mind that there is no fixture included, plus, this light is good for plant growth and visual effect.
4. Aquarium Incandescent T10
Simply put, this is a 2 pack of 15 watt incandescent light bulbs. They are bright and will definitely spur on plant growth, plus they are great for adding a visual effect too. While incandescent lights have gone out of style a little bit, this is one of the better options to go with. This is a basic and affordable lighting option.
5. Zoo Med UltraSun Daylight Compact Fluorescent Bulb
Another great option to go with, this particular compact fluorescent light is a super bright bulb. This one is meant to simulate very bright daylight conditions for plants that need a whole lot of light to grow and be healthy. This is a self-ballasted light which is fantastic for nano tanks and other small planted tanks. This light will really bring out the colors in the tank too.
6. Sun-Glo Fluorescent Aquarium Bulb
This is another very basic yet effective lighting choice to go with. It is great for freshwater tanks, but not so great for saltwater aquariums. It produces a gentle and natural looking daylight effect for the growth of plant life in smaller tanks. It is a standard T8 25mm bulb that will fit in standard and electric ballasts.
7. Marina 15-Watt Aqua Glo Showcase Bulb
This neat looking bulb emits a high amount of light from the red and blue ends of the light spectrum. It is very ideal for the fast and healthy growth of plant life in a smaller tank. It’s great for plant growth and it does a good job at highlighting aquatic colors too. It will fit in most standard sockets.
Whatever your choice ends up being just make sure to weight the needs of the specific plants in your tank against the properties of the bulb you are looking at. As long as you do that, you should have no problem finding the light that is best for your tank.