LED Aquarium Lighting: Several Things You Need to Know

LED Aquarium Lighting several things you need to know

What is LED aquarium lighting?

LED aquarium lighting is lighting that provides aquatic organisms with the light needed for growth and development since your tank likely does not have access to natural sunlight.

What is it used for?

Light plays a pivotal and crucial role in the success of an aquarium. The main usage can be boiled down as follows.

Easy to Watch

It illuminates the aquarium so that people can see and enjoy fish without being limited by the place and time.

Promote the Development of Fish

Promote the development of fish

The growth and development of most fish, especially the development of gonads, requires a certain amount of light. Too strong or too dark light, long-term light or long-term darkness are unfavorable to the growth and development of fish.

Keep a Bright Body Color

Appropriate light is required for the formation and duration of the bright body color of fish. Living in an environment that is too dark or too bright for a long time, fish will lose their color, which serves an aesthetic purpose.


The photosynthesis of aquatic organisms must be carried out under suitable light. Without it, plants will cease to grow and eventually wither.

Types of Aquarium Lights

Types of Aquarium Lights

Here are the common types of lighting options in aquariums.


LEDs are currently a favorite lighting technology among aquarists. These lights consume less power but produce intense light. Unlike other lighting options, LEDs do not emit heat. They come in various colors, providing the necessary light spectrum for plant growth. LED lighting fixtures make it possible to adjust light intensity and simulate day/night cycles.​

Incandescent bulbs

Although they are slowly being phased out, incandescent aquarium lights are still available and used by some aquarists. They are usually used in small aquariums because they are a cheaper alternative to fluorescents. They produce a lot of heat and are not energy efficient, leading to more consumption of electricity.

Standard Fluorescent

Standard fluorescent lights are suitable for fish-only aquariums that primarily need lighting. Do not use fluorescent lights for planted aquariums because they may lack the light spectrum needed for the growth of plants. Although more expensive than incandescent lights, Standard Fluorescent lights are energy-efficient, have a longer lifespan, and offer more light intensity while producing little heat.

Compact fluorescent

Compact fluorescent produces twice as much light as standard fluorescent while being smaller in size. Compact fluorescent lights can do the job of two standard fluorescent fixtures with ease while remaining energy efficient and long-lasting. They are also easy to use, emit less heat, and have a low operating cost.

Metal halide

Metal halide lights are mainly utilized for indoor horticulture, as well as for coral, planted, large and deep aquariums. They come the closest to replicating the intensity and light spectrum of the tropical sun. The flaws of Metal halide lights are that they consume a lot of electricity and emit a lot of heat which can increase the water temperature in aquariums.​ To control heat, it may be necessary for owners to buy a chiller to keep the water temperature at an optimal level in the tank.

The Benefits of LED Aquarium Lighting

The Benefits of LED Aquarium Lighting

LED aquarium light has always been the first choice in aquariums for tons of benefits it brings.

Environmental friendly

This is the reason why some advanced countries attach the most importance to LED. As far as the environment is concerned, the world has begun to ban the use of highly polluting light sources (such as incandescent bulbs that have been banned in Japan and the European Union. Mercury-containing fluorescent lights). By contrast, LED aquarium light is very eco-friendly, there are no ultraviolet and infrared rays in the spectrum, and the waste is recyclable, safe to touch, has no pollution, no mercury, and belongs to the new era of energy-saving green lighting sources.


According to the current lighting standards, waterproofing is absolutely necessary. In addition to the impact of water vapor on the lighting, the main reason for waterproofing is for safety. Non-LED lighting is high-voltage lighting (above 48V), and LED lighting is designed to be below 48V. In general, LED aquarium lighting will not be detrimental to the human body or living organisms in your tank when they fall into the water, and there will be no danger of bursting like metal Halide lights.​

Low energy consumption

LED consumes 80% less than other aquarium lights. Therefore, they won’t substantially increase your electricity bill.

Low heat output

LED aquarium lights emit little heat, thus they won’t heat up the aquariums. However, it’s advisable to keep a good air circulation to protect the LED chip, otherwise, the little heat they produce would compromise the lifespan.

Long life

Another benefit of LED aquarium lights is that they enjoy a significantly longer lifespan than other counterparts. Typically, incandescent bulbs last between 4 to 12 months and ordinary fluorescent or metal halide bulbs last between 6 to 18 months, compact fluorescent bulbs can last up to 28 months. However, LED aquarium lights have a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours (almost six years)

Adjustable light intensity

LED aquarium lights boast the ability to be dimmed and programmed, allowing for a gradual decrease in light intensity during sunset and a corresponding increase at sunrise. This function can be particularly helpful for inexperienced aquarium owners who want to maintain live plants in their tanks. Novice aquarists often make the mistake of providing either too little or too much light, which can lead to algae bloom in the aquarium. The programmable feature of LED lights allows users to adjust the light intensity as needed, reducing the light if it’s too intense or increasing it if it’s insufficient for live plants. Additionally, this feature can be utilized to simulate day/night cycles of the aquarium fish.

Color options

The color offered by LED aquarium lights is many and varied, which serves to accent the aquarium in interesting ways. You can choose any color to meet your exact needs.

  • Red light

It can promote the healthy growth of fish, especially red fish. Under this light, fish will have a bright color and the water will be transparent and clear.​

It is especially suitable for coral, duckbill fish, shrimp, and other organisms. Moreover, it can promote the absorption of calcium and synthesize vitamin D3, making coral grow healthily and brightly colored.

  • 8,000K White

8,000K white spectrum enhances the colors of orange, red, and yellow fish, such as swordtails, platies, guppies, goldfish, bettas, discus, tetras with red colors, rainbow sharks, and albino fish. This spectrum does a service to plants as it emulates shallow water conditions and generates higher PAR for the strong growth of plants.

  • 10,000K White

This color spectrum is particularly beneficial for enhancing the blue, red, and shiny silver color of fish, such as many species of African and South American cichlids.​


LED lights in aquariums are typically arranged in a strip, allowing for broad coverage across a large area of the tank. This setup is beneficial in providing comprehensive illumination throughout the aquarium.

How much light is needed?

How much light is needed

Aquarium lighting is both a design feature and a practical necessity. It enables photosynthesis, which provides the essential oxygen needed for aquatic life. In the absence of adequate lighting, fish may lose their color, become inactive, or even fall ill. Similarly, plants require light for photosynthesis. Without it, they will cease to grow and eventually perish. Though we know the significance of light, determining the amount of light for your tank can be tricky. Generally speaking, it depends on the following factors.

Light needs for live aquatic plants

Live aquatic plants in an aquarium require a certain amount of light for photosynthesis, which is essential for their growth and survival. The recommended duration for the supplemental lighting period can vary depending on the type of plants, their growth rate, and the aquarium setup. Generally, it is recommended to provide 10-12 hours of light per day for most aquatic plants, but this can be adjusted based on the specific needs of the plants.

Light needs for different fish species

Lighting in your aquarium can enhance your viewing experience, but it may not have a significant impact on your fish. Aquariums typically provide more light than natural settings due to their small size and four glass sides, and most fish do not mind additional lighting. However, some species, such as cichlids and tetras, may thrive with less light, and excessive supplemental lighting may have a negative effect on their well-being. Therefore, it’s important to consider the lighting needs of your specific fish species to create a more natural environment.

Ambient room lighting

The amount of time you need to run your aquarium lights will depend on how much natural light is already available in the room. If your aquarium is located in a bright room with plenty of windows and other light sources, you may not need additional lighting at all. It is important to note that a room with good ambient lighting will not require the aquarium lights to be turned on for 12 hours a day.

Light and algae levels

Powerful electric lights are the key culprit of algae growth. Monitoring the algae level can help you determine whether the lighting levels in your aquarium are appropriate. If you notice the algae bloom, you should consider reducing the amount of light to slow the algae growth. However, it is also vital to take the living organisms in your tank into account. By striking a balance of lighting levels, you can promote healthy plant growth while minimizing the algae growth in your aquarium.

How to choose the aquarium lights for your tank?

How to choose the aquarium lights for your tank

When it comes to choosing the appropriate aquarium lights for your aquarium, you should consider the inhabitants of the tank. Though fish require some light, their lighting needs are not as demanding as those of live plants. Therefore, consider the needs of your aquarium plants first. If your tank does not have any plants, try to select lighting that simulates the natural environment of your fish. Different fish species differ in their light requirements, so check the lighting recommendations for the type of fish you have.

About MokoLight

About MokoLight

We introduce ourselves as a leading LED light supplier in China with over 16 years of experience in this line. Supported by advanced facilities, talented teams, and strong capabilities, MokoLight offers a wide range of high-quality LED aquarium lighting, such as the spot light, clip-on light and light panel, to create a safe and sustainable ecosystem for your aquatic life. If you’re looking for LED aquarium lighting in your tank, look no further than us.

Written by ——
Scott Hughes
Scott Hughes
Double Bachelor's degrees in Architecture and Electrical Engineering, 5+ years of experience with LED lighting, intelligent moving lights, and conventional fixtures. Reach Me Now>>
Scott Hughes
Scott Hughes
Double Bachelor's degrees in Architecture and Electrical Engineering, 5+ years of experience with LED lighting, intelligent moving lights, and conventional fixtures. Reach Me Now>>
Share this post
Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top