The Best Aquarium Light For Beginners

Getting adequate aquarium lighting can be tricky, especially if you are new to aquariums. However, even seasoned aquarists can find it challenging to choose and set up a successful aquarium lighting unit to meet all their aquatic needs, whether for a planted or coral tank.

Best Aquarium Light

I struggled initially to get the quality of light I needed for my plants, fish, and corals to thrive, but I’ve learned what to look at and how to decide which light is best.

10 Best Aquarium Light for Beginners

So, here are the 10 best aquarium lights for beginners:

1. Best Light for Moonlight Effects: Finnex FugeRay Planted+

Finnex FugeRay Planted+    

Finnex is, without a doubt, the best-in-class light for planted tank lighting. Considering their quality, these lights are reliable, rugged, and—most importantly—insanely cheap.

The best light for special effects like moonlight is the Finnex FugeRay Planted+ aquarium light. 

Four sizes of the FugeRay light are available from 20-36 inches in length. The light features red LEDs for intensive photosynthesis to help boost plant growth. There are 104 LEDS of 7,000K white, 56 red LEDs, and eight blue moonlight LEDs. 

If you’ve previously used fluorescent lights, you’ll be shocked at how much brighter and more vivid your tank will look with these LED lights while consuming far less energy to operate. The moonlight feature offers nighttime beauty. 

With the unique spread of LEDs, the Finnex FugeRay is ideal for saltwater and freshwater tanks. The unit also offers a heat sink to help prevent overheating. The aluminum body is waterproof, with a splash cover to prevent water from entering the motherboard. 

LED lights like the Finnex FugeRay+ are similar to professional setups like TheGreenMachine. However, your aquarium can enjoy professional lighting for less than a hundred dollars.


  • Available in four sizes: 20, 24, 30, and 36 inches
  • The aluminum body is rust-proof
  • Multiple lights for an excellent spread 
  • True red LEDs help increase photosynthesis in the planted tank
  • Excellent moonlight feature 
  • Affordable


  • The moonlight feature has to be manually turned on or off
  • The light mountings aren’t very adjustable—so measure your tank before ordering 

Why We Like It: 

The sheer light quality of this light is brilliant, and it’s long-lasting too. While there is no way to switch over from moonlight to daylight features automatically, the light is simply gorgeous in its presentation, and you’ll see every line on your driftwood features and your plants will flourish.

You may be interested in the Best LED Aquarium Lighting.

2. Most Versatile Aquarium Light: MingDak LED Aquarium Light Auto

MingDak LED Aquarium Light Auto    

The MingDak LED Aquarium Light Auto is available in six size models, ranging from 12-18 inches to 48-52 inch length. The unit has many programmable modes, including a 24-hour natural lighting cycle that includes sunrise, midday, sunset, and moonlight to simulate best the natural lighting your aquatic pets would have experienced. 

The auto on-off feature helps to conserve energy by automatically shutting off the light at night for darkness time and restarting it in the morning with “sunrise.” There are 14 light settings you can choose from, which allows you complete control over the tank’s lighting. 

The light has a range of colors, including the full spectrum RGB, orange, purple, and cyan. These all contribute to creating fabulous lighting and special effects that make your tank all the more enjoyable.  

The great thing is that you don’t have to be a tech whiz to program the light as you can set the color, timers for on and off, and brightness to set your own light management guide.


  • The light comes with extendable brackets, so if your tank is a little bigger, slide the brackets out to mount it to the tank
  • Easy preset modes or set your own “DIY” modes
  • Automatic on and off settings
  • High-quality LED lights in orange, cyan, purple, red, green, blue, and white
  • Affordably priced


  • The switches can be a little fragile from constant adjustment

Why We Like It: 

We like the affordability of the light, and the colors really make your fish and plants pop. With careful handling, you can select your chosen color program, but constant adjustment will wear out the tuning buttons. 

3. Best Budget Aquarium Light: Hygger 9W Full Spectrum Aquarium Light

Hygger 9W Full Spectrum Aquarium Light    

A budget-friendly option is the Hygger 9W Full Spectrum Aquarium Light, available in six size options, ranging from 12-18 inches up to 46-52 inches. The light offers great basics like brightness adjustment, three light channels (white, blue + white + red, and blue + red), and use schedules of 3 hours to 12 hours. 

The light has extendable handles to help the light fit different tank dimensions. The aluminum body sheds heat quickly, helping to cool the unit and prevent heat overload. You can also choose between using metal or plastic mounting brackets, depending on what works with your tank. 

There are 5,730 LED beads in the light, ensuring quality light production and longevity. The light produces 20,000 hours of lighting for your aquarium, which is ideal for long-term use.


  • It comes in six different sizes, fitting tanks of 12-52 inches
  • Three distinct light channels are dimmed at five preset dimming options
  • The light brightness can ramp up by using the timer function to simulate natural light cycles better
  • The electrical cable comes in 1.8 feet for the controller section and an additional 5 feet for the section to the plug
  • Very reasonably priced  


  • The timer resets when you lose power and then start the light manually again, which is a problem if you have power outages
  • The light is not suitable for saltwater aquariums

Why We Like It: 

The Hygger Full Spectrum light is an excellent buy for a beginner because it is reasonably simple to set, and aside from pressing buttons several times to get the timer to work effectively, it delivers quality. Plants thrive under the light, and fish are happy too. 

4. Best Newly Released Aquarium Light: NICREW C10 24/7 LED Aquarium Light for Plants

NICREW C10 24/7 LED Aquarium Light for Plants    

Nicrew has released an excellent upgrade on their aquarium light with the NICREW C10 24/7 LED Aquarium Light for Plants. While it hasn’t quite proven itself on the market, it’s popular with beginner aquarists. 

The Nicrew C10 has programmable 24-hour cycles, each individually set according to your tank’s unique needs. There are 12 preset dimming options, which produce thousands of color variations. Each of these caters explicitly to your aquarium’s needs. 

By pressing one button, your light will skip to specific lighting settings such as sunrise, sunset, midday, or moonlight. The LED lights offer a full spectrum of 660 nm for red to 450 nm for blue. Light intensity reaches 7,500 K, which makes for ideal brightness to stimulate photosynthesis; however, the light is dimmable enough for low-intensity planted aquariums.


  • Newest innovations 
  • Very affordably priced
  • Available in six sizes from 12-60 inches
  • Thinner profile at 0.4 inches depth, occupying less space above the aquarium
  • Heat sink optimized to prevent overheating
  • High-quality LEDs


  • The sliding fitment brackets are a little too loose, and they move when you bump the light

Why We Like It: 

We love the excellent price with stunning features that this light comes with, and it shows the design innovations of the Nicrew company. Plants thrive with this light, and it’s sure to be popular with beginner aquarists because it works so simply.

5. Best Programmable Aquarium Light: NICREW SkyLED Plus Aquarium Plant Light

NICREW SkyLED Plus Aquarium Plant Light    

Being able to program your aquarium’s light is a blessing if you’re new to the routines of managing your aquarium’s health. Luckily, the NICREW SkyLED Plus Aquarium Plant Light is fully programmable, making it an ideal buy for beginner to slightly more advanced aquarists.

The light is available in five sizes, 12-60 inches, each with expanding brackets for easy fitment. The wired controller has an LCD screen, which offers a much more precise and convenient way to program the different light settings you’d like to use. 

With an IP rating of 67, it’s clear that the light is waterproof and won’t leak. The light is also humidity-resistant, which is ideal for tropical tanks where there is often some humidity present. 

The entire light spectrum includes white light at 6,500 K brightness, red LED lights at 660 nm, and blue light at 450 nm, a lighting standard shown to stimulate plant growth best. 


  • Made from high-quality acrylic, glass, and aluminum 
  • High-quality LED lights provide color-consistent lighting
  • Several sizes available to better match your size tank
  • Adjustable mounting brackets 
  • LCD control panel for easy use
  • Reaches a PAR of 57 at 12 inches
  • The colors are pure spectrum colors, better-enhancing plant growth


  • Not suitable for saltwater tanks as the blue-red spectrum is not balanced for coral reefs

Why We Like It: 

The Nicrew SkyLED is a very pleasing light. It fits tanks beautifully, and the attention to detail at a very reasonable price is a nice touch. 

6. Best Safety Aquarium Light: Hygger Auto On Off LED Aquarium Light

Hygger Auto On Off LED Aquarium Light    

Knowing your fish are secure and that the light won’t stay on when you are away is ideal for those who travel. The Hygger Auto On-Off LED Aquarium Light offers an excellent auto-off function to ensure your fish are protected and will thrive under the right light conditions. 

The light has an IP 68 rating, making it one of the best lights in terms of water penetration on the market. With this light, you won’t have to worry about water or humidity penetrating the delicate circuitry or lights. 

Due to the light balance, this light is also best suited to freshwater aquariums, and the plants will thrive with the red, green, and blue light balance. The color temperature reaches a vibrant 6,500 K, and the brightness puts out an impressive 820 lumens. 

Best of all, the light’s easy programmability and pre-programmed light programs ensure plants thrive, whether they need low, medium, or brighter light. The lights can be adjusted from 10-100% brightness, making the light customizable for your tank needs. 

The LCD controller is very neatly appointed, and you can easily see the tank’s current settings, time, and color spectrum you select. Choose from the eight periods over 24 hours to set your light for auto on/off, light channel, and brightness. With more buttons to set your chosen DIY or preset light modes, you can more easily make selections on the LCD screen.


  • LCD screen for easy programming 
  • High-quality LED beads in the white, green, blue, and red spectrum 
  • Dimming feature from 10-100%
  • Available in six sizes from 12-54 inches
  • Affordably priced 
  • When the light comes on or turns off, it gradually fades in or out, avoiding scaring fish


  • With more buttons, it can get confusing to set the light spectrum and program, but YouTube videos clarify how to do this
  • Power outages erase timer settings

Why We Like It: 

The Hygger Auto On/Off is a neat, well-put-together light with a very informative LCD screen. While the memory doesn’t store your settings during a power outage, the controller isn’t that difficult to use, especially once you’ve set it a few times. 

Also Read: Best Lighting For Coral Reef Aquariums

7. Most Cost-Effective Aquarium Light: AQUANEAT LED Aquarium Light

AQUANEAT LED Aquarium Light    

The AQUANEAT LED Aquarium Light has all the basics and a great price for an effective, affordable lighting design. It’s also available in four sizes from 12-44 inches.

As with many aquarium lights, you can adjust the light size by sliding out the mounting brackets. You can change the light intensity from 100% to 20% while the colors operate on three separate channels, each of which can be programmed using the controller. 

The timer offers 4, 8, and 10-hour periods to program the light. Choose between a cool light setting (where all LEDs are on), a warm light (with the white, green, and pink LEDs on), or the blue light mode (where all blue LEDs are on). 

Your tank illuminates with a total of 22 LEDs, consisting of 15 white, 3 blue, 2 pink, and 2 red LEDs. The lights operate on three channels, allowing for each channel to be adjusted.


  • The light is super affordable 
  • It’s adjustable to different size tanks
  • Great light quality 
  • Easy adjustment and selection of different light channels
  • Light can be dimmed


  • The light is not waterproof, and even splashing water can compromise the light
  • Limited timer options

Why We Like It: 

At the price, this is one of the most cost-effective lights on the market but be prepared that the longevity of the light may not be great, with some aquarists reporting they had to replace the light every year or so. 

8. Best Aquarium Clip-On Light: MingDak LED Aquarium Light Auto

MingDak LED Aquarium Light Auto    

Clip-on aquarium lights come with many benefits, and they are super easy to install and move to change the lighting profile in your tank. The MingDak LED Aquarium Light is a great little light that delivers surprisingly large light penetration. 

The adjustable gooseneck is ideal for delivering light to specific target areas in your tank. One light provides enough illumination for a tank of 5-20 gallons, but more than one light should be used for larger tanks. 

Choose between daylight mode (white lights only), moonlight mode (blue lights only), or all lights on to suit your tank’s specific lighting requirements. With the blue light mode, the light is ideal for coral fragging tanks, as the blue light helps corals synthesize vitamin D3. 

Due to the easy fitment, this is one of the most beginner-friendly tank lights, but it’s not the best tank light for a planted tank where lights in the red spectrum are preferred.


  • Clip-on light fits most tanks
  • Adjustable clamp for secure fitment 
  • Gooseneck extension to position the light at the desired angle 
  • 24 white and blue LEDs—ideal for saltwater aquariums and coral reefs
  • Affordably priced 
  • Energy saving with 40% savings over other LED lights when used with the timer


  • A separate timer is available (additional expense)
  • The clamp has a maximum width capacity of 0.39 inches, making it challenging to fit tanks with plastic edging

Why We Like It: 

The sheer simplicity of a light you clip on, switch on, and voila is what’s most appealing about this beginner-friendly aquarium light. The bonus is that the light looks really great with any tank and has a high-quality professional finish.  

9. Best Aquarium Light for Small Tanks: Lominie LED Aquarium Light

Lominie LED Aquarium Light    

When you have a small to medium-sized aquarium or a large fish bowl you want to light up, the Lominie LED Aquarium Light is ideal. This light provides high-quality near-sunlight light that boosts plant growth and keeps your fish happy. 

Thanks to the light’s four light channels and dimming capabilities, you have a choice of the best light profile that works for your aquatic pets. The light includes a button controller, and this is relatively easy to operate, but the included remote control has additional features to use with the light. 

The preset timer on the remote is handy, and it’s convenient since you don’t have to touch the light frequently or operate push-buttons on the light, which could cause damage with regular use. Suppose you want even more functionality and accurate access to the light’s spectrum of features. In that case, you can purchase a WiFi remote controller that accesses an app on your phone where color selection is much more refined. 

Overall, this is a lovely light to achieve a professional look for your freshwater aquarium, and your plants and fish will flourish with excellent light.


  • Four-channel 16 LED light spectrum in white, green, blue, red, and UV
  • Super silent operation as the fan runs at less than 28 decibels 
  • The light never exceeds 30 degrees Celsius
  • The light is made from ABS material for better heat dissipation 
  • The gooseneck is aviation-quality steel to avoid rust


  • Fairly expensive light when not on special
  • Not recommended for coral tanks, though the blue lights are suitable for coral tanks

Why We Like It: 

This light is for you if you want excellent light quality and multiple control options. While the price is somewhat intimidating for such a small light, it makes up for it with ideal tank lighting features and durability.

10. Best for Beginner Frag Tanks: WILLS Aquarium Lights Dimmable Full Spectrum 165W Fish Tank LED Planted Aquarium Lights

WILLS Aquarium Lights Dimmable Full Spectrum 165W Fish Tank LED Planted Aquarium Lights    

Beginners to the fragging world will soon learn that their frag tanks need special lighting to help boost coral growth. Some lights can run you several hundred dollars out of pocket, but the WILLS Aquarium Lights Dimmable Full Spectrum 165W Fish Tank LED Planted Aquarium Lights is more affordable. While it’s not fancy, it offers real bang for your buck. 

With the Willis aquarium light, you can provide optimal lighting to planted freshwater tanks, aquariums with fish populations, or saltwater tanks with various corals. The light has excellent essential operational capability, and while it’s not fancy, it provides exceptional quality lighting as promised. 

The light comes in three sizes but requires hanging for installation, which can be tricky for a newbie tank owner. It’s ideal for deeper tanks as the light reaches 858 PAR at 24 inches depth for ultimate light penetration. 

The light includes a full spectrum of white, cool white, warm white, red, blue, green, and UV light to meet your tank needs fully. The red light is ideal for fish and plants to grow optimally, while the blue light boosts corals’ vitamin D3 production. 

Two channels can dim from 0%-100% (blue and white), which can also be controlled separately or jointly for the best light result. The light remains cool thanks to dual fans that operate at a soft hum.

When your aquatic hobby expands, or you scale up to a bigger tank, you can easily add more Willis lights and connect these in a “daisy chain” for easy operation. And a final gold feather in the Willis light’s crown is the one-year warranty that the light comes with, so you can install and enjoy it without any worries.


  • Excellent quality light for larger tanks
  • Ideal for freshwater and saltwater tanks
  • Full advanced light spectrum, including white, blue, red, green, and UV
  • Affordably priced for lights of this class
  • Easy control 
  • Excellent cooling 
  • Multiple lights can be connected from one controller


  • While the light offers great capacity, there is limited customization
  • It’s quite large, and mounting can be tricky

Why We Like It: 

Lights with this quality performance usually cost much more, and the budget-friendly price puts professional quality lighting within reach of a beginner aquarist. 

Buyer’s Guide for Best Aquarium Light for Beginners

When you search Google for aquarium lights, there are many different choices, and you can easily buy a light that won’t meet your tank’s needs. So how do you know which is the best light for your specific aquarium? 

You need a guide to help you choose the best, beginner-friendly light that you won’t regret buying for even a second. Luckily, we’ve got the best buying advice right here to help you choose the best aquarium light for your tank, budget, and lifestyle. 

Before you click “buy” or “add to cart,” stop and consider these: 

The Durability of the Aquarium Light

Spending money on a high-tech aquarium light that “fries” when your hyperactive Tetras jump out of the water will not please you. You are spending money on a product that you expect to last. Lights with a guarantee or the approval of hundreds of users is how you decide whether the light option is worth the money and will last.  

Choose aquarium lights with hard-wearing surfaces like reinforced plastic, aluminum, and stainless steel. Regular mild steel or iron tends to rust. Remember that most aquarium lights will be exposed to some water thanks to aeration and filtration of the tank water, so your light should be waterproof or at least splash-proof.  

Your Aquarium Lighting Needs

Each tank has different lighting requirements. The water, fish, plants, corals, and other organisms in your tank determine what light you buy. If you want a heavily planted tank, you will need a light that encourages growth via photosynthesis, which indicates you need upward of 7,000 K in white and red light. 

Saltwater aquariums need blue and white light spectrum to encourage coral growth and to help saltwater fish thrive. 

Having the option to dim your lights lets you gradually introduce the light to your new aquarium, and it also means you can create a lighting package based on your tank’s changing needs. 

Consider the benefits of halogen lights over LED lights. While LEDs cost a bit more than halogen lights, they last longer and your fish will enjoy far superior lighting.  

Fitment to Your Aquarium 

The light must fit your aquarium comfortably and not look like an eyesore hanging or squatting on your aquarium. After all, your aquarium is your pride and joy, and you want it to look good. 

Slim and compact lights are best, but you shouldn’t trade off light quality to get something that just looks good. Also, consider the light attachment or mountings. If your aquarium has a large dome or lid, you may have to look at lighting options that hang above this or fit into the lid. However, the bracket for on-rim lights must be sturdy enough to prevent the light from slipping into the aquarium. 

Clip-on lights have limited range, so while they are easy to attach, you may need more than one for your aquarium. Hanging aquarium lights are a popular option for large tanks, but position your aquarium so you can install a rod to hang the light.  

Light Features and Adjustability 

Ultimately, the light must work for you, your tank, and your lifestyle. If you are away from home frequently, you need a light with auto features or can be programmed to follow a preset lighting schedule. Lights with a wireless option, such as a controller that operates via WiFi or Bluetooth, are great, but you need the appropriate app installed on your phone or laptop to run these. 

The best lights for beginner aquariums come with preset schedules that provide light according to your tank type. If you are not tech savvy, you don’t want to try and program light channels and set different color lights if you’re unsure what you’re doing. 

A dimmable light is ideal for introducing the light and finding the sweet spot of just how much light your tank needs. A bonus is when you can dim different light channels, choosing how much of a specific light color you want your tank to get. 


Your budget is the final deciding factor. Buying a better functioning light is preferable to buying a light that looks good simply because it’s cheaper. Likewise, purchasing the light at the upper limit of your budget won’t make you happy either, as there are always other expenses with an aquarium, so you should follow a balanced approach to your price limit. 


Q: What is the best lighting for beginning aquarists?

A neutral light of 6,500-7,000 K is popular for beginner aquarists as it most closely replicates daylight. Essential tank plants and fish will thrive with this type of lighting (unless your plants prefer low lighting). Freshwater aquariums should have a warm or slightly red light spectrum to encourage photosynthesis, while coral tanks should have a more blue-toned light.

Q: What type of light is best for a freshwater aquarium?

Freshwater aquariums thrive with a full spectrum light with RGB (red, green, and blue) light. The different color bands meet all your fish and plants’ needs. If you can’t find a full spectrum light, choose a white and red light instead of a white and blue light for a freshwater tank. 

Q: How much light should a new aquarium have?

New aquariums need to be adapted to the light they are exposed to gradually. When you start your light, dim it for the first few days to give plants and fish time to adjust to the light. Gradually increase the number of hours the light is on to the recommended schedule of 6-8 hours daily. 


The choice of light for your aquarium depends on what you stock your tank with and your budget. Ensure you think of your tank and don’t grab the first best light. 

By planning your tank’s lighting needs carefully, your aquarium should thrive. 

1 thought on “The Best Aquarium Light For Beginners”

  1. Very nice input. I may have to look in to Finnex now. I use a Buildmyled and it’s been very good to me. Whatever you do, don’t but the TMC AquaRAY. The first one flickered. After returning it. The replacement AquaRAY nearly burned my house down and caught on fire. Never again! Seems to be a common issue online. Glad to see there are some good options out there.


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