Choose from these best LED Lights for Planted Aquariums

Sunlight, technically photons, serves the initial energy necessary for photosynthesis. Artificial LED lights, while not 100%, supplement the lack of sunlight in planted aquariums. However, only the lights made specifically for this purpose have the ability to fulfill the requirements and cause your aquarium plants to thrive even indoors. 

In this article, we’ll go through the technical details and importance of a few features of LED lights for planted aquaria and briefly review a few of them. 

Consider Full-Spectrum LED Lights

Similar to sunlight, full-spectrum lights cover the whole range from infrared to ultraviolet lights. But it’s not a technical term, and your lights may still lack spectral distribution in the electromagnetic range. 

Aquarium plants, similar to terrestrial ones, require wavelengths in both the blue and red range to facilitate photosynthesis and thrive. Full-spectrum LED lights help them grow faster and healthier. They also prevent algae bloom by helping plants outcompete them for nutrients. 

Full-spectrum LED lights also help enhance some pigments present in the plants, red and pink in particular—leading to more vibrant colors. 

Here are the best lights for planted aquariums that produce full-spectrum lighting. 

1. Hygger Auto On Off Full Spectrum LED Light

Hygger Auto On Off Full Spectrum LED Light  

Power Rating72W
Light Cycle ControlGradual 24-hour light cycle settings with auto on/off. Sunlight and sunset functions to prevent light shock. Built-in timer for lighting schedules. 
Water ResistantIP68 water resistant
Light Intensity (Lumen)3346
Ideal Tank Size50-60 gallons


  • 24-Hour Gradual Programmable Light

Equipped with sunrise, sunset, midday, and night settings, the 24-hour gradual programmable lights maintain the slow, dynamic rhythm of ambient lighting by dimming and customizing specific lights. It protects aquarium inhabitants from light shock. 

  • Color Gradient Loop Operation

You can customize the color of the lighting and keep it running in a loop by programming the controller. It gradually circulates between different color gradients indefinitely. The LCD display timer is also a nice addition to these settings.

  • IP68 Water-Resistant

IP68 water and dust resistance ensures that you need not worry about the splashes of water and moisture from the tank. However, the power connector isn’t water-resistant.

  • DIY Mode

Fully customizable DIY mode allows you to choose the time slots and the intensity of the slots. But, it lacks color customizability. 


  • Instructions are not clear and may pose challenges. 
  • The lights run pretty hot.

2. BeamsWork DA FSPEC LED Aquarium Light

BeamsWork DA FSPEC LED Aquarium Light  

Power Rating30W
Light Cycle Control2 modes: Day/NightThe timer module is sold separately.
Water ResistantPartially water resistant
Light Intensity3100 Lumen
Ideal Tank Size20-30 gallon tank


  • Daylight and Moonlight Settings

The manual 3-way daylight and moonlight setting button ensures a proper natural lighting cycle in your planted tank. The blue moonlight encourages plant growth during the night. The daylight setting is adequately bright and facilitates photosynthesis. 

  • Full Spectrum Powerful Lighting

A full spectrum of red, green, blue, and white LEDs are used for complete coverage of all the necessary wavelengths. In addition to preserving the pigments, it also promotes plant growth and development. 

  • Additional Timer Module

A timer module extension is available to dim the lights and schedule moonlight and daylight in the BeamsWork DA FSPEC. It can partially simulate the sunrise-sunset lighting to protect your fish from light shock.

  • Excellent Energy Efficiency

The LEDs used in this product are quite energy-efficient and bright. It can easily fulfill the requirements of a 30-40 gallon tank with its impressive 30W power. 


  • Moonlight blues are too bright and way too blue.

3. Finnex Planted+ 24/7 HLC Aquarium LED

Finnex Planted+ 24/7 HLC Aquarium LED  

Power Rating16.5W
Light Cycle ControlProgrammable 24/7 day/night setting. Sunrise sunset setting.Custom colors and lighting schedules.
Water ResistantSplash resistant
Light Intensity86 PAR @ 14” Depth
Ideal Tank Size15 gallons


  • Fully Customizable Sunrise Sunset Mode

The 24/7 sunrise and sunset control phase between the morning and night through gradual changes in lighting and brightness. It reduces light shock and synchronizes with the natural circadian rhythm. 

  • Built-In Remote Sensor

A full-fledged wireless control and built-in sensor are provided with the product to operate the settings and functions. The remote also features memory buttons to store custom settings. 

  • 4 Weather Effects

Finnex Planted+ features 4 on-demand weather settings, cloudy, thunder, sunny, and moon. You can choose any of them during the cycles, depending on your mood. It also has demo modes to accelerate the photoperiods. 

  • Manual Color and Brightness Adjustment

Each color spectrum and its intensity can be adjusted remotely by the controller. It helps reduce discomfort caused to your fish by intense lighting and helps deliver plant-specific lighting.  


  • It isn’t very powerful and may need multiple units if you have a deep tank. 

Address Light Intensity Needs

Depending on the plant species you’ll be keeping, their light intensity needs may vary. For example, Anubias and Cryptocorynes thrive in low-lighting conditions, while species like Rotala and Riccardia demand intense lighting. In contrast, Amazon Sword and similar species can grow in moderate lighting. 

As stronger lights penetrate deeper water columns, tank depth also contributes to the overall light intensity. You need to consider the PAR at depth or lumen per liter intensity units to determine the exact product and number of units you may need. 

Intensity Guide: 

  • Low-light plants require 10-20 lumens per liter (1 liter = 0.26 gallons) or 50-75 PAR@depth.
  • Medium-light plants require 20-40 lumens per liter or 75-150 PAR@depth.
  • High-intensity light plants require 40+ lumens per liter or 150+ PAR@depth.

1. Aqueon Planted Aquarium Clip-On LED Light

Aqueon Planted Aquarium Clip-On LED Light  

Power Rating13W
Light Cycle ControlAbsent. Manual 3-way on/blue on/off soft touch button present. 
Water ResistantNot water resistant
Light IntensityNA
Ideal Tank Size10 gallons


  • Clip-on Mount LED Light

Easy hand-operable clip-in screws are employed to mount the units on the framed or frameless aquariums. The mounts are sturdy enough to hold the unit in place and restrict its movement towards the water. 

  • 3-Way Soft-Touch LED Control

The 3-way soft-touch button on the top of the unit loops between the On/Blue On/Off positions. The Blue On mode simulates moonlight and promotes plant growth during the night. This also ensures comfortable rest for the fish.

  • 60 Bright LEDs

Sixty LEDs in 5 rows, complete with some blue lights, deliver shimmering illumination to your aquarium to grow lush plants. However, it lacks any exclusive red or green LEDs to satisfy the full-spectrum requirement. 

  • Easy to Install and Aesthetic

Despite its smaller size and absence of a few critical features, it’s great for beginner enthusiasts with smaller aquariums. It easily blends into the environment and is pretty aesthetic. It fits great in bedroom and living room aquariums. 


  • A level of water resistance would’ve been good for a planted aquarium light.  

2. NICREW ClassicLED Plus LED Aquarium Light

NICREW ClassicLED Plus LED Aquarium Light  

Power Rating21W
Light Cycle ControlDaylight/moonlight controlAdjustable brightnessSunrise/sunset function to avoid light shock
Water ResistantSplash resistant
Size30 – 36”
Light Intensity1150 lumen
Ideal Tank Size15 gallons


  • Adjustable Color Spectrum

The full-spectrum LEDs, including white, blue, deep red, and green, are adjustable through the two lighting channels offered in the controller. The color spectrums can be altered to suit your preference. 

  • Natural Sunrise and Sunset Simulation

A 15 or 30-minute sunrise ramp-up and sunset dim-down setting allows gradual change of lighting spectrum and brightness. It prevents your fish from going into shock by waking them up with soft light.

  • Adjustable Docking Mounts

The docking mount is adjustable up to 36” in length. It should fit most 20-gallon tanks without any issues. It also is a bit elevated to avoid coming in contact with water splashes. 

  • Brightness Adjustable

Apart from the colors, you may manually adjust the LED brightness as per your requirements. 


  • The timer clock resets to 00:00 if you accidentally lose power. The unit keeps running on the altered schedule until you reset the time.  

Ideal Photoperiod (Duration of Lighting)

Beginner planted-tank enthusiasts often try to expand on daylight time as much as possible in the hopes of faster plant development. However, despite popular beliefs, plants grow at a much higher rate during the night. 

Hence, you need to strike the right balance between day and night light to maximize their growth. 

That being said, most aquatic plants thrive with 8-12 hours of “daylight” per day with proper soil enrichment. Ensure that your LED lights have separate daylight and moonlight settings to switch between and can be controlled automatically with a timer. 

If a timer control is absent, you may either need to buy a timer circuit or manually switch between the lighting settings. Some LED lights for planted tanks simulate the gradual lighting dynamics of sunrise and sunset.

Customization and Control

Proper customizability and control of the LEDs are essential for maintaining a well-balanced circadian rhythm in your planted tanks. While manual control is possible, we often fail to match the precision and regularity of automated circuitry. 

Therefore, having controllability and customization options in the LED lights for planted aquariums can prove to be convenient and boost growth. 

1. Fluval Plant Nano LED Aquarium Lighting with Bluetooth

Fluval Plant Nano LED Aquarium Lighting with Bluetooth  

Power Rating15W
Light Cycle Control24-hour light cycle with 6 unique band wavesSunrise /sunset settingBluetooth customizable color spectrum
Water ResistantIP67 water resistant rating. Survives splashes. 
Light Intensity1000 lumen
Ideal Tank Size10 gallons


  • Programmable 6 Unique Band Waves

Six programmable gradual light settings with sunrise, sunset, and night settings allow you to control and customize your approach toward your plants.

  • High-Thermal Efficiency LEDs

The LEDs used in the product are thermally quite efficient and don’t get hot with proper usage. While the unit may feel a bit warm to the touch, that usually doesn’t translate to warmer water. 

  • Bluetooth Control and Customizations

Fluval SmartApp, controlled through Bluetooth and your mobile device, can make customizability and control much easier. It allows timer setup, color changes, and intensity adjustment settings. 

  • IP67 Waterproof Rating

The Fluval plant Nano LED Aquarium lighting is protected from occasional splashes of water and moisture. The IP67 rating also ensures protection against dust and small particles. 


  • It is not powerful enough to support aquariums over 20 gallons. 

Also Read: 10 Best Refugium Lights Worth Your Money

Tank Size and Shape

The penetration and coverage of aquarium lights vary depending on the specific product. Some lights have limitations in how deeply they can penetrate water and the area they can effectively cover. Therefore, it’s critical to choose products according to your tank size and dimensions. 

The general guideline for planted aquariums is that 1-2 watts of light can effectively illuminate a gallon of water. For tanks with high-intensity light requirements, you may consider 3-4 watts of light per gallon, but that may cause discomfort to your fish if the lights are concentrated in a small area.  

Regardless, here is something for you to satisfy the high-lighting requirement of your smaller planted aquarium. 

1. WILLS 165W Planted Aquarium Light

WILLS 165W Planted Aquarium Light  

Power Rating165W
Light Cycle ControlNo light cycle control.Double channel brightness adjustable. Timer circuits can be connected.
Water ResistantPartially water resistant, but keep it at least 12” above water. 
Light Intensity7129 lumen
Ideal Tank Size70-80 gallons


  • Perfect for Tanks With 24” Depth

The high-intensity LEDs can effectively penetrate water up to 24” in depth and help even the carpet plants to grow in full swing. Although Wills 165W light is more suitable for reef tanks, it just needs to be installed a bit higher to use in planted tanks. 

  • Full Spectrum Lighting

Housing 55 premium SMD LEDs of different spectrums, including red, green, blue, white, and yellow, the product delivers a full spectrum of lighting suitable to grow every type of plant.

  • Dual Dimming Channel

Two dimming channels, a white and a blue, are offered in the basic models to adjust the respective colors and simulate the daylight and moonlight conditions. While it partially helps with the development of the plants, we recommend going for the remote option for convenience. 

  • Efficient Heat Dissipation

Daisy chain design ensures quiet and effective heat dissipation. 56dB fans channel the heat from the LEDs outside without being much louder than normal conversations.  


  • The lower-end variations lack a controller and timer.  

Energy Efficiency

As your LED lights will be running for almost 24 hours every day, it’s essential to consider products that are energy efficient and can deliver the required intensity for an extended period of time. While LEDs are already more energy efficient than fluorescent lights, some types of LEDs can draw significantly more power.

While choosing LED lights, consider per watt lumens and the PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) value they generate. Although we couldn’t measure the exact PAR value for all the products, it’s indeed a better indicator of efficiency for planted tanks than lumens.

Durability and Water Resistance

For something that’s to be used dangerously close to a massive body of water, only a few products offer an IP waterproofing rating. As these lights will be constantly exposed to humid conditions and occasional splashes, they’re required to be at least in the ballpark of splash resistance. 

Durable housing materials like aluminum and acrylic are well-suited for aquatic environments. These materials don’t corrode and can withstand the heat generated by the LEDs. 

Some LEDs are fully submersible—allowing you to be more flexible with the placement options within the tank. However, even with submersible lights, ensure proper sealing before dropping them into the tank.

Also Read: Nano Reef: 10 Steps For A Quality Setup


Q: What is the best lighting for planted aquariums?

LED lighting is best for planted aquariums as they’re more energy efficient and last a lot longer than fluorescent lights. Where an average LED lasts for 30-50K hours, fluorescents typically last 10-15K hours only.

Q: Can I use LED lights for planted aquariums?

Yes, you can use LED lights for planted aquariums. However, ensure that your product delivers full spectrum lighting and has the controllability to satisfy your requirements. 

Q: What Colour LED is best for aquarium plants?

White, red, green, and blue LEDs are essential for aquarium plants. Some manufacturers also include yellow and cyan LEDs to cover as many spectrums as possible.

The Bottom Line

LED lights are essential for planted aquariums to supplement the lack of ambient lighting in indoor setups. Hopefully, you’ll now be able to choose the right product by following the guidelines discussed in the article. 

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