If you are the proud owner of a fish tank, you probably know that an aquarium light is recommended. Lighting fulfills a few purposes, from mimicking a fish’s natural environment to making it easier for you to detect problems with your fish or with the aquarium when they occur. If you have live plants in the aquarium, lighting is necessary for them to thrive. You will also need a filter, so you’ll want to check out this article as well.
We have reviewed dozens of aquarium lights so our readers can make educated decisions about the best aquarium light that will fit their needs. We considered value, the types of lighting, and what Amazon users had to say about the various types and brands.
The NICREW ClassicLED Plus LED Aquarium Light made our top spot. The full-spectrum LED lights promote healthy fish and vibrant growth of plants. It can be used for rimless and framed aquariums and is appropriate for both saltwater and freshwater applications.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Aquarium & Fish Tank Lights
|Best Overall||NICREW ClassicLED Plus LED Aquarium Light||4.5|
|Runner Up||Mingdak LED Aquarium Light||4.4|
|Best Budget Buy||LEDENET Aquarium Coral LED Strip Light||3.8|
|Best Planted Light||Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light for Aquariums||4.0|
|Best Clip-on Light||Hygger Blue White LED Aquarium Light||4.4|
*Ratings were accurate at the time of writing and may change over time.
Our Top Pick: NICREW ClassicLED Plus LED Aquarium Light
Our first pick was the NICREW ClassicLED Plus LED Aquarium Light. This one easily grabbed the top spot thanks to its bright light and versatility. With LED lights that are 25 percent brighter than those of this model’s predecessor, you’ll notice that your fish are happy and your plants are growing well. This light is best for plants that require a low to medium light level.
The light features an aluminum alloy shell that is durable and great at dissipating heat, which will maximize the life of the LED bulbs. The lights are spread among five colors and the mounting brackets are adjustable. You can use this with a saltwater or a freshwater tank.
NICREW ClassicLED Plus LED Aquarium Light Key Features:
- Available in various sizes
- Full-spectrum LED lights in 5 colors
- Aluminum alloy shell
- Dissipates heat
- Adjustable mounting brackets
Our Runner-Up Pick: Mingdak LED Aquarium Light
The Mingdak LED Aquarium Light came in a close second. This light offers neat white LEDs that add a shimmering effect to the aquarium. The light is fully submersible and comes with suction cups, so you have various options when it comes to setting it up and placing it in your aquarium. The in-frame mounting allows you to see the light without seeing the fixture if that is the look you are going for.
This light has adjustable mounting legs and fits aquariums with widths of 17 to 23 inches. The LED lights are safe and have low voltage. This light is great for night viewing and can be used as a nightlight if desired.
Mingdak LED Aquarium Light Key Features:
- LEDs come in cool white
- In-frame mounting
- Versatile placement with suction cups
- Super water-resistant
- Adjustable mounting legs
Best Budget Pick: LEDENET Aquarium Coral LED Strip Light
The LEDENET Aquarium Coral LED Strip Light is our top pick for those who are looking for a budget-friendly aquarium light. The light emitted from this product is shimmering and available in multiple color spectrums. You can run multiple strips or snap on a polished reflector to double the light output.
This light is good for saltwater and freshwater fish and can also be used in reef aquariums. It is environmentally friendly and water-resistant. This means that while it can get wet, it cannot be submersed. Each LED strip is 12 inches long, 0.7 inches wide and 0.4 inches high.
LEDENET Aquarium Coral LED Strip Light Key Features:
- Shimmering light
- Multiple color spectrums
- Can be used with reflector or multiple strips
- Good for saltwater and freshwater fish
Best Planted Aquarium Light: Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light for Aquarium
If you are looking for a light that will support your plants, consider our top pick in this category, Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light for Aquariums. With multiple modes, you can dim the lights, create cloud cover effects, and experiment with innovative evening modes such as lunar and dusk.
The bright lights stimulate the growth and vibrancy of freshwater aquatic plants. The light is easy to install with sliding docking legs; you can also add multiple fixtures easily. The LED light comes with a 30-day guarantee, so you can be sure that you will be satisfied with your purchase or the company will refund you.
Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light for Aquariums Key Features:
- Super bright lights
- Multiple modes
- Easy installation
- Realistic effects
- Great for freshwater aquatic plants
- 30-day guarantee
Best Clip-on Aquarium Light: Hygger Blue White LED Aquarium Lights
The Hygger Blue White LED Aquarium Light made our top spot for clip-on aquarium lights. It includes 45 LED bulbs, which produce an amazing shimmer effect. This clip-on light is good for aquariums that are 10-20 gallons. There are two lighting modes, white for daylight and blue for a night light effect.
The ultra-thin aluminum alloy shell ensures excellent heat dissipation, allowing the lights to live a long life. There is an adjustable clamp that fits most rimmed and rimless tanks up to a 0.9 inch thickness. You can turn the arm of the lamp to vary the angle. The light is splash-resistant, but cannot be submersed.
Hygger Blue White LED Aquarium Light Key Features:
- Includes 45 LED lights
- Two lighting modes
- Creates shimmering effect
- Splash resistant
- Aluminum alloy shell
- Adjustable clamp
Who Should Buy an Aquarium Light
If you have an aquarium, you should consider purchasing an aquarium light. If you have plants, it’s a must, because the light will help the plants photosynthesize, grow, and remain vibrant. Fish often do better when the lighting in their tank mimics what their natural environment would be. Since keeping the fish tank in a window might cause the water to get too warm, particularly during the summer months, an aquarium light does a better job of providing light without providing too much heat. In addition, you might enjoy seeing your fish and plants with the aid of a light that has special effects. Some people even use blue lights as a nightlight.
Important Features to Consider
Aquarium lights should have a few important features. Here’s what to think about before you make your purchase:
- Modes. Some lights will have only one mode, while others will have many. Think about whether you will want to use different effects. If you do, find a light that includes those effects.
- Type of aquarium. Depending on the type of fish you have and whether you have plants, you might require a light with bright lights or a light strip of a certain size. Consider the size of your aquarium, whether you need a planted light, and whether your fish have any specific lighting needs.
- Water-resistant vs. waterproof. If you will be submersing your light, you will, of course, need a waterproof product. Many aquarium lights are simply water-resistant, however, which means that while they can withstand a splash or two of water, they shouldn’t be submersed. Read the product information carefully to determine whether yours can be put underwater if that is what you want to do.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are aquarium lights?
Aquarium lights are lights that illuminate an aquarium. Depending on the type, they might clip to the side or top of the tank or you might put them in the water. Other clip under the tank hood. Some lights are good for tanks with plants while other are not bright enough for planted aquariums.
Do I need lights in my fish tank?
It depends. If you have fish without any special lighting needs, you don’t specifically need a light. If you have plants, you do need a light. Also, some fish have specific needs when it comes to lighting. When you purchase your fish, talk to the person you are buying them from to find out if your fish needs a light to thrive. Note that if you have a betta fish, you don’t need a light. Here’s more information on how to take care of a betta fish.
What type of lights do I need for my aquarium?
Most fish and plants do fine with fluorescent and incandescent lights. Deep aquariums can do better with power compact lighting, because this type of light penetrates the water to larger depths than traditional fluorescent and incandescent lights. Metal halide lights are another option, but they heat up the water. Talk to your local aquarium or fish expert for more in-depth advice about which type of light you should use.
How much light does my aquarium need?
It is best to have your aquarium light on for approximately 12 hours per day. This gives fish and plants the benefits of the lighting while also allowing them periods of darkness, which both plants and fish need. Leaving an aquarium lit 24 hours per day can cause your tank to be more hospitable to algae, which is something you want to avoid.
Other Aquarium & Fish Tank Lights We Reviewed
In addition to the aquarium lights that made our top 5 list, we also reviewed 20 more. These did not make the top spots, but they are still the best of the rest and great options to consider. The information you need to evaluate each one is included in the listings.
Planted Aquarium Lights
This programmable light offers gradual 24-hour cycle settings to expose your aquatic plants to a simulated sunrise, midday, sunset, and night each day for the most natural experience possible.
- Programmable with pre-set configurations
- Long-term light output and improved spectral performance
- 6 unique band waves to create a full spectrum
This energy-efficient light includes 39 white LEDs and 3 blue light LEDs. This makes it possible to create a natural simulation of day and night for your fish and plants. Easy to use.
- Two lighting modes
- Fits aquarium tanks 11.5 to 19.6 inches
- Special lighting effects
Fully adjustable positioning and programmable 24-hour light cycles give you the ultimate in versatility and flexibility. This model has an over-the-glass mounting design with a secure grip.
- 24-hour light cycle settings
- Fully adjustable positioning
- Independent color control
This light is professionally designed for aquatic plants as well as fish, frogs, and turtles. The full-spectrum white light provides excellent lighting for plants. Adjustable brackets allow you to fit various size tanks.
- Adjusts from 8.5 to 11.2 inches
- High-grade aluminum alloy shell
- Full spectrum white light
This full-spectrum LED aquarium light will bring more natural light to your fish and plants. Please note that this light is water resistant but not waterproof; do not immerse in water.
- Super bright high-quality LEDs
- Aluminum case for faster cooling
- Includes extendable brackers
Super-bright lights offer an excellent growing habitat for plants. This light is simple to install and use. There is a height-adjustable bracket and a rust-proof acrylic clip.
- Full spectrum lights
- Head can rotate 360 degrees
- Unique design
Clip-on Aquarium Lights
This clip-on light will enhance the colors of your fish and coral and provide stunning lighting effects during the day or at night. It is easy and quick to install on the tank’s wall.
- 24 LED beads
- ABS material
- Long lifespan and low voltage
Blue and white lights improve the way your aquarium looks and can make your tank’s environment more like what your fish would experience in the wild. Energy consumption is lower than other LED lights.
- Can be used with plants
- 360 degree light adjustment
- Energy efficient
This adjustable clip-on aquarium light can fit tanks from 10 to 18 inches. There are two lighting modes, blue and blue/white. This is a great light for nighttime viewing.
- 2 working modes
- Great for fish and turtles
- 50,000 hours rated life
This lamp comes with a waterproof touch switch and includes 48 LED beads for great lighting capability. The ultra-flexible gooseneck allows you to adjust the lighting angle with ease.
- 3 lighting modes
- Touch switch
- Lightweight and ultra thin
This strong LED lamp allows light to penetrate the water. It has a slim body and is energy-efficient. The light can accommodate glass up to 25mm thick.
- Solid aluminum housing
- Efficient cooling system to prolong life
- Manual dimmer switch
This lamp features a flexible head to make it easy to flood your tank with highly energy-efficient and bright LED light. It includes two different modes for dimmer or brighter lighting.
- High efficiency
- Screw-tight fastener
- Long 7-foot cord included
This lamp features a slim and modern look that has two working modes. Choose blue light for nighttime use or white and blue light during the day. It will fit fish tanks from 10 to 18 inches.
- Adjustable bracket and clamp
- Reduced heat generation
- Low energy consumption
LED Strip Aquarium Lights
These low-profile lights fit into Aqueon brand hoods or can be used with glass covers. They come preloaded with one LED lamp and there is an expansion slot to add a second lamp.
- Moon glow accent mode
- Three-way switch
- 36″ long
This under-hood lighting comes in several different sizes to fit your hood. It also has extendable brackets. With multiple colors and several lighting modes, this light can meet a variety of needs.
- Energy efficient
- 10,000 hour lifespan
- Includes remote control
This aquarium light has three rows of LED bulbs and is perfect for fish-only tanks or for planted tanks with plants that require only low light. You’ll see an appealing shimmering effect.
- Three different modes (day, night and off)
- 20,000 year lifespan
- Extendable leg supports
Illuminate your tank from within with this light, which has flexible mounting options, a directional dial, and a three-way switch with included cord routing.
- 6,500K white and 460nm blue LEDs
- You can use the in-frame mounting option
- 17″ in length
This aquarium light contains super-bright LEDs that are great for saltwater and freshwater tanks. The bracket is adjustable and will fit rimmed and rimless thanks from 23″ to 42″.
- Smart controller with various lighting modes
- Hanging kit is optional
- One-year warranty
This is an attractive light with the design created to mimic the deep-sea environment. It is excellent if you have coral in your tank. The smart app control makes it easy to tweak the environment of your aquarium.
- Concentrated light
- No fan, no noise
- Excellent heat dissipation
This aquarium light includes a timer to make regulating the light levels in your tank effortless. It has dimmable features and is suitable for all types of coral.
- Internal timer
- Full spectrum
- One year warranty