Top 7 Best Planted Aquarium Light [2023]

aquarium light

Plant parents or not, we all know how vital lights are for plant growth. That’s basic science!

But how about your planted aquariums? Do you need LED aquarium lights or tank lights? Well, they replicate the lighting intensity needed for strong plant growth. So yes, you need one.

Source: Youtube.com

To help you, here are the best LED lights for your planted tank that you can quickly grab in the market!

Quick Overview: Best Planted Tank LED Lights

Frankly, LED lighting is easy to find. That’s not the problem.

The challenge is to get a high-quality lighting unit with the proper control features, appropriate light settings, and correct color temperature that will last long.

We won’t bore you with hard-to-digest technicalities (you can get that in other reviews) and jump right into it. Here are our best bets.

  • Best Overall: Finnex Planted+ 24/7 HLC Aquarium LED Lighting (~$66.39)
  • Best Value: Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Planted Aquarium Lighting (~$194.15)
  • Best Budget: NICREW Freshwater LED Aquarium Light (~$28.99)
  • Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights, Cliplight (~$41.27)
  • Finnex Stingray 2 Aquarium LED Light (~$45.79)
  • Hygger Advanced Full Spectrum LED Aquarium Light (~$47.99)
  • Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light for Aquarium (~$171.95)

But wait, this is just a quick list. The following sections will tackle more thorough reviews to help you choose the best ones for your aquarium plants!

Thorough Reviews: Top 7 Best LED Lights for Planted Tank

For each LED light, we’ll list down their features, benefits, and drawbacks to help you determine if they’re what you’re looking for.

Best Overall: Finnex Planted+ 24/7 HLC Aquarium LED Light

(~$66.39)

Striking a balance between affordability and quality, Finnex did an impressive job with this LED lighting variation.

Source: Amazon.com

Source: Youtube.com

Features and Specifications

For some of us, understanding the led lighting technicalities is essential. We know!

  • Product Dimension: 2″D x 20″W x 1″H
  • Duration of Use: 24/7; fully customizable sunset and sunrise light modes
  • LED: a controllable LED light fixture; 4 bulbs – 8000K green, red, daylight, blue LEDs
  • Inclusions: remote control; built-in sensor; extendable brackets (up to 2″)

Benefits Worth Mentioning

These are the pros of this LED light from Finnex:

  • Everything is customizable, from the light intensity to the color spectrum.
  • It’s a “leave it on and forget” type of light.
  • You can set the LED lighting to follow the sunrise to sunset cycle of natural sunlight.
  • It has a sleek design if you’re all for an aesthetically pleasing aquarium.

Drawbacks to Consider

But here are some cons that we’d like to point out:

  • Some units break down in months.
  • The remote control is a little intimidating, but it’s easy to learn.

Our Overall Thoughts

We have to say; aquarium plants love the HLC LED lights from Finnex. If you scroll through the web under this product, you’ll see how green the plants are.

The customizable settings are also well-appreciated. So whether you have low light plants or medium-light to high light ones, you’re set. Plus, the convenience of the remote offers a big plus to this review.

The only downside is the complaints of non-longevity. People expect the best LED lights to last for years – and nothing less for a well-known brand like Finnex.

Sadly, the common theme is the fact that it only lasts for less than a year.

We want to be a bit forgiving, though, considering how it’s a 24/7 type of light. It’s working the whole day (except for “night time”), but it’s basically on for long periods.

It’s not surprising to discover that it would break down quickly.

Overall, we appreciate how the HLC LED lights treat planted aquariums. All we’ve seen thus far are green and healthy!

Best Value: Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Planted Aquarium Lighting (~$194.15)

Undoubtedly expensive, and some of you might not think it’s worth it. But hear us out. You won’t regret the Fluval plant spectrum Bluetooth variation.

Source: Amazon.com

Features and Specifications

  • Product Dimension: 35.83″D x 2.64″W x 1.02″H
  • Duration of Use: 24-hour light cycle settings (sunrise, midday, sunset, and night)
  • LED: pre-set habitat light configurations like Lake Malawi, Tropical, and Planted; 120 degrees light dispersion for full area coverage and uniform lighting; 2350 lumens
  • Light Spectrum Colors: red LEDs, blue lights, white light, green light
  • Inclusions: 6 unique band waves; extendable mounting brackets; power cord electric

Benefits Worth Mentioning

  • Lights and LED fixtures are programmable to help avoid algae growth.
  • Other than aquatic plants, it also works well for fishes and other sea pets.
  • The Bluetooth connection makes your phone or gadget a suitable remote control – functional!
  • Easy to install.

Drawbacks to Consider

  • Bluetooth settings reset after disconnection/unplugging.
  • The app isn’t as good and functions poorly most of the time.
  • It’s on the expensive side.

Our Overall Thoughts

Some would think it’s crazy to spend almost 200 bucks on LED lights for planted tanks. But you have to understand that this is a full spectrum LED best suited for optimal plant growth.

The main (and by far, the only) big problem with this is the app. It would’ve been a lot better if they also came with a remote instead of connecting to gadgets.

Unfortunately, their innovative technology isn’t as smart yet.

But overall, if proper lighting is the goal, those serious about flourishing their planted tanks should get a Fluval one.

Best Budget: NICREW Freshwater Aquarium LED Lighting (~$28.99)

But frankly, do we need expensive ones to say that you have the best LED lights for your planted tank? NICREW says, not really.

Source: Amazon.com

Features and Specifications

  • Product Dimension: 16.3″ x 3.1” x 0.4”
  • Material: Aluminum alloy for heat dissipation
  • Duration of Use: 24-hour light cycle
  • LED: 60 White + 12 Blue + 6 Red; 14 watts
  • Inclusions: built-in gentle sunrise and sunset

Benefits Worth Mentioning

  • It’s waterproof.
  • It comes with an easy-to-use remote controller.
  • It’s affordable, and it delivers the other best LED brands.
  • It’s suitable for freshwater plants.

Drawbacks to Consider

  • It’s not a full light spectrum. The white light is noticeably stronger than RGB.
  • The timer and transitions aren’t the best. Sometimes malfunctions.

Our Overall Thoughts

As far as the price goes, we’re confident that you are getting your money’s worth.

Well, you can’t expect the best performance out of a $29 as compared to an almost $200 light, of course.

But we have to say; the performance is pretty comparable considering the significant price difference.

The light reviews of this one from NICREW are high, too, so that says a lot! The users loved it.

Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium Light Plus Moonlights, Cliplight (~$41.27)

Yes, we’re back with more Finnex lights. The brand produces good lights for planted tanks, and this FugeRay model doesn’t disappoint.

Source: Amazon.com

Features and Specifications

  • Product Dimension: 10″D x 2.5″W x 9.5″H
  • Power Source: corded electric
  • LED: lunar Blue Moonlight LEDs; True 660nm RED LED’s, Daylight and Blue LEDs;  built to last 40,000+ hours with an LED spread of 120 degrees
  • Inclusions: moisture resistant PC Splash Guard to protect against water mishaps

Benefits Worth Mentioning

  • It’s a clip-on. It’s easy to install and convenient to remove.
  • It has the right led light with a 660nm RED LED for photosynthesis simulation.
  • It’s for high output light best for high light plants.

Drawbacks to Consider

  • Not sufficient for the more extensive and deeper planted tanks.
  • More blue lighting modes – but some of you may see this like a pro.

Our Overall Thoughts

For those with a smaller-sized planted tank with high light plants, this might be the best LED light option for you.

It’s strong enough for smaller aquariums, but the light loses its reach for bigger ones.

But we appreciate the clip-on feature, making it a lot more convenient to install and uninstall than those you still have the mount.

Finnex Stingray 2 Aquarium LED Lights (~$45.79)

We know, we know. A Finnex light again? Yes. You wouldn’t want to miss their Stingray 2 model.

Source: Amazon.com

Features and Specifications

  • Product Dimension: 2″D x 16″W x 0.2″H
  • Power Source: corded electric
  • LED Color Spectrum: tri-color blend to promote and showcase inhabitants; 3 position switch +moonlights
  • LED: (32) 7000K + (8) actinic Blue LED + (8) 660Nm RED LEDs
  • Inclusions: moisture resistant conformal LED coating

Benefits Worth Mentioning

  • Virtually no heat – it just turns warm even after prolonged use, unlike other lights.
  • All the lights are bright! High-light aquatic plants love it.

Drawbacks to Consider

  • There are plastic attachments as part of the materials – which can be cheap.
  • Some users complain about it producing too much light.

Our Overall Thoughts

If you grow low-light plants, this aquarium lighting might not be the best choice. Some users find it too bright, but that works for high to medium light plants.

While there are color options, you can control more than two lighting modes, and the spectrum, the brightness isn’t exactly customizable.

You may want to be careful if you have low-light planted aquariums.

But overall, planted tank owners are happy with this affordable but bright LED aquarium light.

Hygger Advanced Full Spectrum LED Aquarium Lightings (~$47.99)

Hygger lights have been the talk of the town among planted tank parents. Why? Because it’s affordable, but not at all disappointing with its impressive full-spectrum lights.

Source: Amazon.com

Features and Specifications

  • Product Dimension: 24″D x 24″W x 30″H
  • Duration of Use: 24/7; replicates natural light; “warm orange light at sunrise to bright full-spectrum light at noon and starry blue light at the last 30 minutes, default light auto on at 6 AM and auto-off at 22:50”
  • LED Color Spectrum: white; RGB
  • LED: full-spectrum, red, blue, green, orange, purple and cyan; 5 levels of intensities (10%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%)

Benefits Worth Mentioning

  • It’s easy to program and attach to your planted tanks.
  • It’s for high to low light plants and carpeting plants.
  • You can DIY the settings suited for your planted tanks.

Drawbacks to Consider

  • There are complaints about manufacturers sending old and defective units.
  • The brightness of the light is hard to control. Some say it’s not the best for planted tanks – only as a tank light.

Our Overall Thoughts

Try to contain your expectations from this Hygger light model considering the price point. It won’t be at par with the expensive Fluval ones, but it works well enough.

The most rampant complaint about this is the brightness – it seems too bright for low light plants even if it claims that the LED settings are customizable.

Overall, we think this is great. But it also helps to do some of your research first before purchasing one. Make sure to get the right size for your tanks and the right light intensity for your plants.

Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light for Aquarium (~$171.95)

Another one on the expensive range but loved by a lot of aquarium plant parents.

Source: Amazon.com

Features and Specifications

  • Product Dimension: 3.5″D x 34.8″W x 0.44″H
  • Duration of Use: 24-hour IR controller, the Satellite LED Plus; 24-hour wireless control
  • LED Color Spectrum: gentle sunrise and sunset, bright daylight and soothing moonlight
  • LED: 6500k White LEDs and rich, full-spectrum RGB LED

Benefits Worth Mentioning

  • It’s easy to install on your aquarium.
  • The remote controller is multi-functional.
  • You can also connect it to audio speakers and extra lights!
  • There’s a cloud cover feature – which isn’t present in all aquarium lights.

Drawbacks to Consider

  • It’s expensive.
  • Complaints of moisture build-up inside the lights as time passes by.

Our Overall Thoughts

While there’s no question about the performance, we’d like to think that longevity is a justification for its expensive pricing. But seeing the reviews of many, that’s not the case – which is disappointing.

If you have the budget and you’re willing to splurge on fancier lights without expecting them to last forever, you might want to try this out from the Current USA. But otherwise, we suggest going for other brands instead.

Planted Aquarium Light: Definition of Terms [FAQs]

Before we wrap up this article, we’d like to address the confusions we’ve noticed surrounding some terminologies. Let’s define and explain them briefly.

Kelvins (K)

Kelvins are a unit of measurement – kind of like Celsius or Fahrenheit. It’s represented by “K,” so you’ll often see 5000K when looking through reviews and descriptions.

Through Kelvins (K), you can measure the color temperature.

  • 5000K and above: bluish light.
  • 3000K and below: yellowish light.

Photosynthetic Active Radiation (PAR)

But for aquatic plants, Kelvins doesn’t entirely matter. What you should be concerned about is the photosynthesis radiation – because that’s how plants grow.

The PAR should be around 400-700 nanometers to achieve the same light in natural photosynthesis.

Low Light, Medium Light, High Light

The names are self-explanatory. It tells you the intensity of light that the plant needs. So when you say that it’s a low light plant, it can survive even on a lower intensity of light.

You can do further research on specific plants you want to grow, but here’s a brief idea:

  • Plants with red leaves are usually high-light plants.
  • Carpet plants usually require low light only.
  • Beginners might want to consider starting with low lights (i.e., Java Moss, Java Fern, Hornwort)

If you have sea creatures in your tank – like fishes and shrimps – don’t set your brightness too high. Bright lights directly above them can be too intense, so go for a sufficient amount.

Is LED Better Than Other Types of Lights?

YES!

If you look closely, most aquarium lightings use LED as opposed to old-school bulbs. LEDs produce BETTER and BRIGHTER intensity to replicate natural sunlight, and they’re far easier to use.

They’re also more energy-saving than other options, which is a huge plus. Non-LEDs can’t achieve the multi-colored lights too.

So, Let’s Recap: Our Top 3 Winners

First things first, all seven products on this list are our best picks among the hundred options in the market. So whichever you get, we can guarantee our seal of approval.

But out of everything on this list, we have chosen our top 3 winners – best overall, the best value, and best budget.

Best Overall: Finnex Planted+ 24/7 HLC Aquarium LED Lighting (~$66.39)

Finnex produces some of the best LEDs, but our favorite by far has got to be their HLC series.

The modern, sleek design, the many additional features that make it qualified in the “high quality” lights list, and its functionality make it a good deal.

But that’s not all; we chose this as the best overall because of the reasonable pricing.

We wouldn’t want to hail an expensive light as the grand champion as it won’t be accessible for everyone – and we know budgeting is crucial even in hobbies like this!

Best Value: Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Planted Aquarium Lighting (~$194.15)

Quite frankly, this one from Fluval is our favorite among everything on this list. But we had to be practical and give it minus points because of the high price.

Thankfully, that’s what the best value title is for.

Though this is undeniably the most expensive one on this list, it’s also worth your money.

Just be aware that the Bluetooth control via your phones and gadgets (in replacement of remote control) isn’t the best. It’s buggy and laggy.

We won’t lie; if their Bluetooth connection works well, we might consider crowning this Fluval light as the best overall, even if it’s almost $200!

Best Budget: NICREW Freshwater LED Aquarium Light (~$28.99)

And last but not least, we highly appreciate a product that can deliver without breaking the bank.

NICREW also makes impressive lights that function well.

And who would’ve thought that you could get a good quality one for less than 30 bucks?

Of course, with high expectations and unfair comparisons aside, you’ll be reasonably surprised that you can get the same performance out of this as you would expect from other pricier ones.

If you’re on a budget, you definitely won’t regret getting this one from NICREW. If it breaks down on you, then get a new one!

Conclusion

Have you found anything? We’re pretty sure that you’re having fun with your planted aquariums, and you’re here to find the best solutions for them.

We understand, and we also want the best for your plant babies! Hopefully, our suggestions can help with their growth.

Good luck, plant parents!

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