LED Aquarium Lighting Guide & Reviews | Aquascape Addiction

LED Aquarium Lighting Guide & Reviews

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One thing that all fish and aquarium plants need is a light source to stay alive. In this LED Aquarium Lighting Guide we will talk about the things to consider before buying a specific type of lighting, how to make your own LED aquarium light, the nuances of different kinds of lighting, and which LED light is best for your tank.

LED Aquarium Lighting Guide & Reviews

For this part of the LED Aquarium Lighting Guide let’s talk about the different things you should consider before getting any one light for your fish tank.

Things To Consider Before Choosing Your Light

  • Light Duration – Always think about the light duration needs of your aquarium to determine if you would rather get a timer to control when the lights turn on and off.
  • Illumination – You will want to consider how much illumination your specific tank, the fish, and your plants need in order to determine which bulbs and lights are best, something that will be discussed further on in the article.
  • Bulb Life – Another thing to think about when choosing your lights is the bulb duration and how often they need replacement. Different lights last for a different amount of time, something which is also discussed below.
  • Light Penetration – The final thing to consider is how much light penetration the specific bulbs that you get offers. Larger and deeper tanks will require stronger bulbs.

The Best LED Aquarium Lighting Available

Of course there are many different kinds of LED lighting that you can go with for your aquarium. Here is the LED light that we found is the very best for your aquarium.

Marineland LED Aquarium Light

This is in our opinion one of the best LED aquarium lights on the market today. (You can check the current price at Amazon here). The Marineland comes with an LED aquarium light as well as a glass canopy for it to rest on. The light bulbs it comes with are fantastic because they are 60 Milliwatts light bulbs that are ultra-long lasting and almost never need to be replaced. Another reason as to why we really like this LED light set is because it is very energy efficient which helps to reduce energy costs for the user.

This type of LED lighting is great because it contains no mercury and that’s always good for the environment. The Marineland LED Aquarium Light is fantastic because it can be set to daytime mode to mimic natural sunlight, it can be set to blue light to make the aquarium look cool at night time, and it can be set to night light mode as well for minimal lighting when it’s time for the fish to sleep.



  • Not ideal for very large tanks.
  • Not ideal for tanks that have plants which require a very high energy output.

Check Price at Amazon

Types Of Aquarium Lighting

There are many different kinds of aquarium lighting that you can choose from, each of which are ideal for slightly different situations. Most aquariums come with standard incandescent bulbs, but these need replacement often, don’t produce adequate light, get way too hot, and don’t have a wide light spectrum which means that most people often replace the incandescent bulbs soon after buying their tank.

Let’s go over the different kinds so you can make an informed choice as to which light is ideal for your aquarium.

LED Lighting

The first type of lighting for your aquarium to discuss is LED lighting. These lights are a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts everywhere because they are very energy efficient, don’t cost much in terms of upkeep and power usage, and don’t produce too much heat. They are also very popular for people looking to create their own lighting because. (You can keep track of the temperature using an aquarium thermometer).

LED aquarium lights can come in the form of single lights, rails and tubes, flood lights, and complete fixtures too. LED lights can come in the daylight spectrum, moonlight simulation, or a combination of both. These types of bulbs are great for small and medium sized tanks that don’t require a large amount of light, however they aren’t ideal for plants and fish that require intense amounts of light.

Metal Halide Lighting

Metal halide lights are pretty common for aquariums however they do usually need to be used in conjunction with some kind of fluorescent lighting. These lights use a lot of energy, produce a lot of heat, and are ideal for larger fish tanks, fish, and plants that require a very large light and energy output. These lights are great because the bulbs only need to be replaced about once per year.

These are great lights to have, but they do need several components to properly function for your aquarium, these include the bulb, the ballast, the reflector, the socket, and the mounting bracket. Metal halide lights are most often used for freshwater or reef water aquarium tanks and are fantastic for keeping large plants healthy.

Fluorescent Lighting

Fluorescent lighting is the most common type of lighting used for aquariums because they are relatively inexpensive, don’t use too much power, provide adequate amounts of light, and end up being cheaper than normal incandescent bulbs. There are a few different kinds of fluorescent lights that can be used in an aquarium.

The first kind is the normal output fluorescent light and they most often come with aquariums. They can come in many different shapes and sizes to suit virtually any aquarium size and they also come in a range of different strengths too.

The next kind of fluorescent lighting is the compact bulb. These use less energy, take up less space, and actually produce more light than your average normal output fluorescent light. These are great for small fish tanks that require lots of light and don’t have much space to spare.

Another kind of fluorescent lighting is the very high output (VHO) fluorescent light and they are magnificent. These produce up to 3 times as much light and lumens for your fish tank when compared to normal output fluorescent lights which makes them ideal for very large and deep aquariums as well as those that are highly populated with dense plants that require a heavy light output. These require special fixtures to use.

The final kind of fluorescent lighting that you can use for your fish tank is the T5 High output fluorescent lighting. These produce even more light than the normal very high output lights, but they also use less energy, are more compact, produce less heat, and generate a higher lumen output too. The bulbs of these fluorescent lights also last much longer than most others and degrade much less with use. These are ideal for smaller and larger fish tanks that require a lot of light.

DIY LED Aquarium Lighting

You can always choose to make do it yourself and make your own LED aquarium lighting installation however it will take a fair amount of work to get it done right. You can follow the steps below to make your own LED aquarium light.

The first thing to go over is what materials you will need to get the job done, all of which are listed below.

  • A power supply with a 4 pin molex connector.
  • 4 pin molex to 3 pin fan.
  • Fan silencer.
  • Thermal adhesive.
  • Arctic silver ceramic.
  • A series of CREE LED lights (color choices are your to make).
  • A 4 port LED Sunrise/Sunset controller.
  • 80 mm fan.
  • Makers LED Heat sink kit.
  • Hanger for the heat sink.
  • Inventronics 40w driver.
  • Ocean coral white.
  • A solder tube.
  • A soldering iron.
  • An OEM digital multimeter.
  • 300 volt solid wire.
  • 300 volt stranded wire.
  • Grommets.
  • Zip ties.
  • 2 pin plugs.
  • Timers.
  • Extra wire.

Now let’s go over the various steps in making your own LED lighting set for your home aquarium.

  1. Test the LEDs – connect each of the wires to the multi-meter body and see if they light up when the knob is pointed towards the diode symbol (you can also use AA batteries to test each light).
  2. Prepare the heat sink – place the bolts, washers, and nuts in the grooves of the heat sink according to your blue print to give you an idea of where each light is going. Each light will require a set of 2 nuts, bolts, and washers.
  3. Position the LED – Put some thermal grease on the back of each LED and position it on the heat sink where you see fit. Use the nut/bolt/washer set to secure the light into place. Make sure that you place them so you can connect all LED lights in a series.
  4. Pretin the LEDs and wires – put some soldering material onto the connections of your LEDs. Solder all lights into place.
  5. Connecting the lights to the driver – connect all LED lights to the LED driver. If you are using a DIM4 circuit make sure to make all connections properly.
  6. Connecting the optics – use thermal glue to attach the optics lenses to the LEDs.
  7. Attachments – cover the LEDs with the splash guard then place the fan on top of the LED fixture.
  8. Final steps – place the driver into a box (such as a small Tupperware container), make holes for the wires and for a fan to cool it down, and cover up all remaining connections.
  9. Hanging – Install the hanging kit and your are ready to roll.


We hope that this LED Aquarium Lighting Guide has covered all of the relevant aspects such as the things to consider before buying your lights and which lights are best for different purposes. In all cases we would highly recommend the Marineland LED Aquarium light because it is a great all around system that will function for virtually any aquarium.