The 5 Best Aquarium Lights For Plants
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If you want your home aquarium to stand out and look its best, consider adding some live plants. Not only do live plants transform the appearance of your tank, but they produce oxygen for your fish to breathe and they compete with algae to keep your tank clean. Keep in mind, however, that keeping live plants requires certain lighting to provide the energy the plants need to grow.
In this article, we’ll talk about heating your aquarium and provide some tips for choosing the best aquarium heaters. You’ll also see our top 5 picks for the best aquarium heaters.
At a Glance: Best Aquarium Lights For Plants To Buy
We highly recommend looking at the comparison table we have below where we highlighted the features of each product. You’ll also find more detailed information about each product later in the article.
Compare Best Aquarium Lights For Plants
1. Finnex Ray2 LED Aquarium Light
2. Current USA Satellite Plus PRO LED Light
3. Odyssea T5 Dual 6500K Aquarium Light Fixture
Best Highly Energy-Efficient
4. Phoenix Electric Company Metal Halide Bulb for Aquarium
Best For Simplicity
5. NICREW Classic LED Plus Aquarium Light
12”, 16”, 20”, 24”, 30”, 36”, 48”
18”, 24”-36”, 36”-48”, 48”-60”
24”, 30”, 36”, 48”
150W and 250W
12” thru 54”
Multiple modes, sleek design, wireless
Dual bulbs, high-output, 6500K
High output, 14,000K color
Full-spectrum, affordable, adjustable
What To Look For In Aquarium Lights For Plants?
Cultivating a planted tank is not necessarily difficult, but it does require some careful planning. Live plants are just like any other living organism – they need food to survive. You’ll need to choose the right substrate to give your plants the nutrients they need and install the right lighting to provide them with energy to fuel the process of photosynthesis.
Here are some important things to look for in lighting for a planted aquarium:
- Type of lighting. There are many different types of lighting for aquariums but some are better for live plants than others. LEDs are one of the most popular options because they are inexpensive, long-lasting, and come in a wide range of colors. Full-spectrum fluorescents (including compact fluorescents and high-output) are another great option. Be mindful of using metal halide lights, however, because they may produce too much heat.
- Size and wattage. Once you’ve chosen the right type of lighting for your tank, choose a system and fixture that is the right size for your tank and the right wattage. The best scale to use is a minimum of 10 lumens per liter, though high light plants may need up to 40 lumens per liter.
- Color spectrum. Most aquarium plants do best with full-spectrum lighting. If you’re using LEDs, make sure to include a blend of red and blue lights that you can use for nighttime illumination and keep your white lights on during the day.
- Price. You shouldn’t shop for aquarium lighting by price alone because that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the right kind. Consider the previous three factors to narrow down your options then pick the best one you can afford.
Our Top Picks For The Best Aquarium Lights for Plants
Now that you have a better idea what to look for in an aquarium lighting system, it’s time to start shopping! Keep reading to see our top 5 picks for the best aquarium lights for plants.
Finnex Ray2 LED Aquarium Light
- Type: LED
- Sizes: 12”, 16”, 20”, 24”, 30”, 36”, 48”
- Features: Low-profile, high-output
- High-output compared to other aquarium lights
- Low-profile design for minimalistic appearance
- Excellent quality, available in many sizes
- May be more expensive than other models
- High output can contribute to algae growth (limit to 10 to 12 hours)
Current USA Satellite Plus PRO LED Light
- Type: LED
- Sizes: 18”, 24”-36”, 36”-48”, 48”-60”
- Features: Multiple modes, sleek design, wireless
- Multiple lighting modes for customization
- Super-bright white and RGBW LEDs
- Low-profile design with adjustable length
- Fairly expensive compared to other models on the market
- Wireless remote reception can be finicky
Odyssea T5 Dual 6500K Aquarium Light Fixture
- Type: High-output fluorescent
- Sizes: 24”, 30”, 36”, 48”
- Features: Dual bulbs, high-output, 6500K
- Dual high-output fluorescent bulbs
- Extendable brackets available in four sizes
- Highly affordable with long-lasting bulbs
- May run hotter than some lighting systems
- Bulbs need to be replaced more often than LED
Phoenix Electric Company Metal Halide Bulb for Aquarium
- Type: Metal halide
- Sizes: 150W and 250W
- Features: High output, 14,000K color
- High output, great for heavily planted tanks
- Ideal combination of color and PAR
- Crisp white light with a blue tint, natural look
- May produce more heat than some lighting systems
- Requires a metal halide fixture (not included)
NICREW Classic LED Plus Aquarium Light
- Type: LED
- Sizes: 12” thru 54”
- Features: Full-spectrum, affordable, adjustable
- Full-spectrum of white and colored LEDs
- Available in 5 sizes with adjustable legs
- Ideal for low- to medium-light plants
- May not be strong enough for heavily planted tanks
Tips For Lighting A Planted Aquarium
Nothing is more beautiful than a home aquarium full of lush, green plants. Keeping a planted tank is a wonderful challenge but it does require a bit more time and effort than a standard fish-only tank. Take the time to do some research of your own and consider the helpful tips below.
Here are some simple tips for keeping a planted tank:
- Line the bottom of your tank with a planted tank substrate – research the different kinds because some are good for the lifetime of your aquarium and others require occasional replacement.
- Choose a variety of different types of live plant including shorter plants to place in the foreground of your tank and taller plants for the back and sides.
- Make sure your plants are firmly rooted in your substrate so they can access the nutrients they need and so your fish don’t accidentally uproot them.
- Keep your full-spectrum lights on for 10 to 12 hours a day to give your plants the energy they need to grow and turn the lights off for the remaining time.
- Trim or prune your plants as needed to shape them and control their growth – some plants can also be propagated by dividing them and planting the cuttings.
Now that you have a better understanding of what kinds of aquarium lighting systems are out there and how to use them, all that’s left is to start shopping!
Adding live plants to your aquarium can transform its appearance and turn it into a more natural habitat for your fish. Keep in mind, however, that live plants require certain nutrients to thrive and they also require 10 to 12 hours of full-spectrum daylight. Choosing the right lighting system is essential.
If you’re still not sure where to start in looking for an aquarium lighting system, try out one of the top 5 best aquarium lights for plants we’ve reviewed above. Good luck!