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Best aquarium light

Which aquarium lights are best? 

Aquarium lights are a must-have item for any aquarist, whether you are keeping aquatic plants, fish or both. Most lidded aquariums come with a light built into the hood, so these handy devices often go overlooked by novice aquarists. However, your aquarium’s default light may not be helping your underwater ecosphere live up to its fullest potential. 

Full aquarium lights simulate sunlight, giving your fish and aquatic plants the energy and warmth they need to flourish. The VIPARSPECTRA LED Aquarium Light with Full Spectrum is a perfect example of what an upgraded aquarium light can do. 

What to know before you buy an aquarium light 

Benefits of an aquarium light 

Aquarium lights are very beneficial to both aquatic plants and fish as they mimic natural sunlight and day/night cycles that your tank’s inhabitants would encounter in the wild. If you’re a serious aquarist with a planted tank, buying an aquarium light is a worthwhile investment. 

Aquarium lights can also stimulate plant growth in your tank, which, in turn, boosts both water quality and oxygen levels. Your plants and fish will be healthier and happier. 

Most built-in fish tank lights will require you to turn it on and off every morning and night. However, many standalone aquarium lights will either come with a remote or have a totally automated system.

Tank size 

You should always consider your tank’s size when purchasing any accessory to attach to it or put into it. Aquarium lights come in a variety of sizes and models in order to fit every tank. Aside from considering the physical compatibility of the light with your tank, there’s not much else for you to worry about. Always double check the dimensions of your tank before purchasing an aquarium light to ensure that the light will be a great fit.

If you want to check out a variety of models in different sizes, you can check out the BestReviews aquarium lights buying guide. 

LED aquarium lights

LED aquarium lights are very similar to LED grow lights for plants in that they use LED lights to create a wide color spectrum of light. A full color spectrum is important, because it is the closest artificial light to the natural sunlight that aquatic plants need to stay healthy. 

What to look for in a quality aquarium light 

Ease of set-up and tank compatibility 

A key thing to consider before you buy an aquarium light is how well the specific make and model will work with your tank. There are some lights that are meant to be hung above the tank. Other lights are meant to be clipped onto the side of the tank, like the Aqueon. There are also lights that are designed to be fully submerged underwater, like the IREENUO

The easiest type of aquarium light to set up, especially if you have an open-aquarium, is a light that hovers over the tank using the sides of the aquarium. The Hygger Aquarium Light is a good example of this. These lights are normally fully adjustable and can fit any tank. 

Special features

Some lights come with more features than others, but a key feature to look out for is full-spectrum LED lights. Having full-spectrum lighting will be very beneficial to both your fish and your aquatic plants. If you are interested in having a light that has several channels or options for brightness. 

Remote control, automatic or manual 

Most high-end aquarium lights will come either fully automated or with an easy-to-use remote control. These are key features that will take the hassle and stress out of fishkeeping. 

Less expensive models are often more basic, and they usually won’t come with a timer or remote control. These must be turned on and off manually, which may be more of a hassle for some aquarists.

How much you can expect to spend on an aquarium light

Budget aquarium lights start at around $20, and more premium models can range anywhere from $60-$100. 

Aquarium light FAQ

Are aquarium lights good for growing coral? 

A. A full-spectrum aquarium light will do wonders for coral and other aquatic plants as it will mimic the light coral and other plants would normally get in the wild. Make sure to double check how many hours of sunlight your specific coral needs to thrive. 

Should I be worried about my aquarium light overheating? 

A. Aquarium lights should not produce enough heat to be a threat to either you or your fish tank. Lights that have problems with overheating will come with some sort of heat dissipation system to avoid this problem.

What’s the best aquarium light to buy?

Top aquarium light 


What you need to know: This light is fully customizable and easy-to-use, making it great for both novice and veteran aquarists. 

What you’ll love: The aquarium light comes with a remote to make managing your tank’s light cycles easy. It’s also a full-spectrum light. 

What you should consider: This light is on the heavier side. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top aquarium light for the money

Aqueon Aquarium Clip-On Light 

What you need to know: This light from Aqueon excels in its simplicity and is great for use with any tank. 

What you’ll love: The Aquareon comes with three useful modes: all-on, only-blue-on and all-off. This makes it great for growing aquatic plants. 

What you should consider: Some users have reported issues with installing this light. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Hygger Auto On/Off Sunrise/Sunset LED Aquarium Light 

What you need to know: This full-spectrum LED light is very adjustable and a perfect fit for any aquarium.

What you’ll love: While this light may be a bit daunting with all of its different settings, it is easy to use and offers total customization. It can be easily programmed to mimic sunrises and sunsets with variable light intensity throughout the day. 

What you should consider: The directions aren’t very user-friendly. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Addison Hoggard writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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