Best LED Lighting For Your Aquarium Plants | iPetCompanion

Best LED Lighting For Your Aquarium Plants

Without appropriate lighting, you can't keep a freshwater aquarium healthy. You will always benefit a lot from the best LED aquarium lighting for plants because they help your precious plants grow properly. The good thing is that there are several options to choose from, and you don't need to limit yourself to the traditional fluorescent, incandescent, or metal halide lighting. Still, it is important to choose the right light that is bright enough, comes with an appropriate spectral range, and is suitable for the type of aquarium plants you have.

Here are some options to help you select the best aquarium light for plants:

Finnex Ray2 LED

BEST overall

  • High output
  • Great build quality

Rated by: Amber

Finnex Planted + 24/7 Aquarium LED

BEST finger brush

  • High Quality & Durable
  • Built-in automation
  • Color customization

Rated by: Amber

Beamswork DA LED Light

Best bristly brush

  • Easy to install
  • Programmable timer
  • Suitable for most species

Rated by: Amber

Best LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants: Our Top Picks

1. Finnex Ray2 LED

Quick Summary

Rated by: Amber

It is hard to keep Finnex out of the list when you talk about the best LEDs for your aquariums and fish tanks. The good thing is that the lighting is available in different sizes, so you can easily choose one suitable for your tank size.

You will especially benefit from this planted light if you want to keep light-intensive plants because it emits bright light, which may not be suitable for plants requiring dim lighting environment. You can surely opt for these if you have Dwarf Baby Tears or other demanding plant species.

In terms of durability and longevity, the Ray2 won't disappoint you at all. It features a low profile frame, which works great to create a minimalist look and continues to serve you well for years. Most users have confirmed that you should expect it to last no less than 3 years.

Overall, it's an amazing choice for anyone looking for aquarium lighting, but keep in mind that it's a high output light and not all plant species will be able to tolerate it. Moreover, many users are also not very happy about the fact that the Ray 2 lacks blue and red lights.


  • It has a high output to suit specific plants
  • It enjoys a great build quality
  • It has a low profile frame for an amazing look


  • It doesn't have red or blue lights

2. Finnex Planted + 24/7 Aquarium LED

Quick Summary

Rated by: Amber

The Finnex Planted 24/7 is among the best aquarium LEDs available today. You will like its low profile and a combination of interesting features.  Its biggest selling point is its 24/7 automated light cycle, which means it keeps working in 24-hour cycles for as long as you want and that too without making any interference to its setting.

You will also like the availability of color customization and memory save slots. Its slim housing means it will work as an accent light as well. But interestingly, the slim profile doesn't mean it's not durable – it is going to serve you well for years.  It also comes with a remote control, so you can change settings whenever you want. It's worth mentioning though that the remote control may not be the finest you find with aquarium lights, as it can be a bit finicky at times.

Overall, the Finnex Planted 24/7 is a great lighting option with built-in automation and impressive brightness. It works fine to grow your plants, but keep in mind that it sometimes promotes algae growth in the tank, so you have to take some steps to avoid it.


  • It produces bright light to grow plants
  • It comes with built-in automation
  • It supports color customization


  • The remote control could've been better

3. Beamswork DA LED Light

Quick Summary

Rated by: Amber

It is yet another interesting choice for people looking for an LED light for planted aquariums. Unlike many other LED fixtures, it is a bit on the weaker side with its output rating, but make no mistake about its functionality.  If you keep less demanding plant species and want a rather affordable way to light up your tank, the Beamswork DA is just what you need.

The light offers no trouble in terms of reliability and certainly offers a good bang for the buck. While it may not be ideal for ultra demanding plants, you can still make it work for most of your low to mid level plants.

Many users like it because of its built-in programmable timer.  It is not easy to find an affordable lighting fixture with programmable timers, but the Beamswork DA will impress you in this regard. Moreover, the timer works quite efficiently to turn your lights on and off. 

The only issue you might encounter is that it could turn a little hot – a lot more than many other similar lighting fixtures. But, that's something you have to bear with when you're going for a budget lighting option.


  • It is an affordable lighting fixture
  • It features a built-in programmable timer
  • It works great for mid-light species


  • It may run a bit hot than other units

4. Current USA Satellite Freshwater Plus Pro LED

Quick Summary

Rated by: Amber

If you're searching for an LED light with a very thin profile, this product from Current USA will surely impress you a lot. The best feature is its full automation capabilities, which come from a timer connected to the fixture. You can also manage it using the remote control available in the package.  It is easy to choose the start and end time to work according to a set light cycle.

Another interesting feature is that you can keep it from firing up the maximum light all the time, as it uses a 15-min window to move from low brightness to full brightness. The same happens when the light turns off at night. It saves you from making any changes now and again.

You won't have to worry about color customization with this fixture because it lets you change its color scheme as per your unique preferences. You can use the remote to change the levels of each color until you find your unique settings.

Overall, it's a great unit that comes with full automation and color customization. Brightness control feature means you can change settings to make it suitable for different plant species. The only downside is that you will find it a bit more expensive than other units available on the market.


  • It comes with programmable timer
  • It features a slim profile
  • It has a great remote controller


  • It is a bit on the expensive side

FAQ - A Buyer's Guide

What is the Best Lighting for a Planted Aquarium?

The best lighting for aquarium plants is the one that is strong enough to help your plants to grow. So many factors go into determining the best aquarium LED light though. For instance:

The best aquarium LED light comes from the best brand.  Without considering the brand, you won't be able to get a good bang for the buck. Spend some time taking into account the reputation of a brand, and avoid going for an economy or generic brand. Some good brands for aquarium LED lighting include Beamswork, Finnex, Mingdak, and Current USA. Be sure to consider the unique needs of the plants you're going to choose before finalizing a branded product.

The best aquarium LED lights will have the right light spectrum suitable for your plants. Without considering the light spectrum, you won't be able to select an aquarium LED light that offers good output for the growth of the plants. Ensure that the light includes as many colors as possible, as it is necessary to support the photosynthesis process in your planted tank.

It is equally important to pay attention to the features and modes to select the best LED lighting for your planted tank. These days, you can find the best light for aquarium plants that can simulate sunset, sunrise, and even nighttime. You can switch between these modes to choose the optimum lighting for your planted tank. Just don't opt for any led lights for planted aquarium with complex control features – it should be easy to handle and let you select the right combo for better plant growth.

The best aquarium light for plant will also be easy to install. There's no point in having an expensive LED light that you can't install correctly.  Any LED fixture with a complex installation procedure is only going to make it harder for you to install it. The best light comes with an installation manual to ensure you can handle everything thing with ease. Some lights come with extendable brackets, adjustable legs and frame, so you can install and fit them within minutes. Reading reviews about your selected LED fixtures will also help you decide how easy or tricky the installation process will be.

The best LED lights for planted aquariums will always be durable too. It is natural to opt for something that looks cheap and helps you save some money, but if it's not durable, you will soon be looking for a replacement. Therefore, it is better to buy durable LED lights for planted and fish aquariums, for which you need to consider the material used to manufacture the unit. Remember, a low quality LED fixture would work great initially, but it might as well burn out after a short time.

The best fixture for your freshwater aquariums will also come with the right ventilation. Keep in mind that LEDs will generate heat while working and there has to be a mechanism for heat to dissipate. At the same time, it is important that your LED fixture doesn't come into contact with water, and that's why you should look for a fixture with splash guard feature.

You should always pay attention to the Kelvin rating of the lighting fixture you're going to buy for your freshwater aquariums.  Considering the rating in terms of Lumen or Kelvin will help you get an idea about the output of the LED lights in terms of the total visible light and the color temperature. Ideally, the lighting fixture you choose for your planted tank should operate at 6500K-7000K.

So, keep in mind that the best lights for planted aquariums will have the right light spectrum, be easy to install, and have the right Kelvin rating to promote plant growth. Always check what other users are saying about a particular brand and then opt for durable and feature-rich LEDs.

What is the Best LED Aquarium Lighting?

LEDs are perfect for your freshwater aquarium because they're energy-efficient, mimic natural light, and give off less heat as compared to other bulbs. In order to select the best LED aquarium lighting, you need to ensure that you get the right size and pick the most suitable style for your planted tank.

Always consider the wattage first. Without considering this point, you won't be able to find the best LED lighting that is suitable for your aquarium. It is especially true if you're looking for fish aquarium lights, as too little or too much lighting can disrupt the sleeping and eating cycles of your fish. Here, you need to ensure that the LEDs you choose are strong enough to provide even lighting to the entire aquarium. You usually need LEDs of at least 175watts in case your tank is less than 22in deep. If it's deeper than 22 inches, your aim should be to have a 250W LED light installed in the tank.

Always consider the overall size of your tank to decide on the size of the light. In most cases, you need to have an LED of up to 5W for a gallon of water.  Keep in mind that LEDs are a lot more energy-efficient as compared to traditional lighting fixtures, so you have to choose a light accordingly.  For instanc, 175W of traditional lights equal 18W in LED, which means you can get about 250W from 24 LEDs. Depending on the brand you choose, you may notice they have a list of sizes mentioned in tank size, so you can pick one with ease.

Always ensure that whether you choose fish tank lights or buy LEDs for your planted freshwater aquariums, you should opt for the ones that have day and night modes available. The lighting should mimic nature, so it is a good idea to find lights equipped with timers to change illumination automatically to maintain natural environments within the tank.

Are LED Lights Better for Aquariums?

Yes, there are numerous benefits of choosing LED lights for your aquariums. For instance:

  • They consume less energy. As compared to traditional lighting fixtures, LED lights are a lot more energy-efficient; in fact, they take 80% less electricity as compared to many other aquarium lighting options.  You can recover the cost of your LED system by saving money on your electricity bill within the first year of use.
  • They have a low heat output. It means they don't get as hot as other aquarium lights. They're especially better than traditional fluorescent light bulbs and don't heat up the water in your fish tank. Just bear in mind that LED lights require a good air circulation to ensure whatever heat they produce doesn't damage the LED chip to lower its lifespan.
  • They last long. Depending on the brand you choose, LED fixtures are likely to last a lot longer than traditional lighting types. In fact, some good quality LED lights are capable of working just fine for up to 50,000 hours – it translates into about six years, which is a lot longer than incandescent bulbs with a lifespan of 2-4 months and standard fluorescent bulbs with a lifespan of 6-18 months.
  • They can have adjustable light intensity. It's yet another great reason why LED lights are better for aquariums as compared to traditional lights. You can easily program these units to change their brightness and strength. It is much easier with these lights to create a natural environment. Many of these units can change brightness automatically to create the effect at sunrise or sunset. It will benefit a lot your nocturnal fish because they love a dim blue light to create a moonlight appearance. Some LED strips are now available to follow the monthly lunar cycle, and it is easy to change the light using an app or remote.
  • They are available in different colors. You can choose your LED fixtures in a variety of colors to make the tank look aesthetically pleasing. You can find them in different spectrum to suit your purpose. For instance, you can go for an LED light of 8,000L white spectrum to support photosynthesis in your planted aquarium – it enhances the colors of red, orange, and yellow fish as well. To bring out blues, greens, and reds, you can add a magenta/blue LED to your aquarium. Planted aquariums will benefit a lot from a 12K magenta and white combination. Similarly, you can try 445-nanometer royal blue lights in order to help your fluorescent fish to glow.

Other than these benefits, you will also like LED lights for your aquariums because they offer an even coverage, and that's mainly because they're available in strips. So, be sure to spend some time researching about the needs of your plants and fish to make the best purchase. You can find info about lighting checking out a participant in the Amazon advertising and linking program designed to provide you with more details. They earn advertising fees using Amazon services LLC associates, but you can still use the resources to gather more information.

Do LED Lights Work for Growing Plants?

It may be true that LED lights come with a higher upfront cost, but it's also a fact that they work much better than traditional lights for aquariums and offer a much better return on investment.

 However, you should also understand that many factors will affect your tank lighting, including the tank size, PAR, biomass, and so on. Moreover, it is equally important to learn about plants that are compatible with LED lights, as not all will respond to artificial lighting in your aquarium.

Here are some reasons why you should seriously think of adding LEDs to your aquarium for growing plants:

  • Using the right type of lighting will ensure proper plant growth and limit the needs for plant hormones to do the job. Some studies also show that you'd not have to use pesticides if you opt for the right type of LED lighting fixtures for your plants.
  • Lighting promotes photosynthesis, which is essential for proper growth of all your aquarium plants. Without proper lighting in the tank, plants won't be able to use up carbon dioxide the fish breathe out. Improper lighting might also lead to the appearance of algae and microscopic life.
  • LEDs work better for growing plants in your aquarium because they're much more efficient at penetrating the water as compared to incandescent lighting that can't penetrate the water below 12 inches.

The Best LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants

As compared to old-fashioned lights, LED lights for fish and planted aquariums are a lot less expensive to run. They may have a higher price tag, but consider it an investment paying you off nicely over the years. Just be sure to buy the best one for your freshwater fish and planted aquariums, and if you're confused, try Finnex Planted 24 LED light to get great results, as it is easy to install, durable, and brings out natural colors in your aquarium.

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