Best Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums – 2021 Review Updated

Coral reef aquariums are pretty cool. They are naturally beautiful because of all of the vibrant colors and shapes that they provide to a tank. When it comes to lighting a coral reef aquarium, we recommend LED lighting to truly have the best lighting effect and bring out the beautiful colors and glow of the setting.

If you have a coral reef aquarium then you need to enhance the space with some top rated lightings for coral reef aquariums to really finalize your look and make it standout. Why go to all of the effort to set up the aquarium if the light doesn’t let you really enjoy it, right?

We’ve put together a complete guide using our top picks for LED lights for aquariums in an effort to bring you honest lighting for coral reef aquariums review information so you can make a fully informed decision and bring the best coral reef lighting to your aquariums space.

We’re so excited to share so stick with us to learn everything you need to know and get your LED aquarium reef tank up and running as soon as possible!

Top Rated Lighting for Coral Reef Aquariums Reviews

In these reviews, you will find a summary of each lighting for aquariums choice that we deemed to be the best, complete with a review and everything you should know about the products. The reviews will include detailed information as well as pros and cons for your perusal.

1. Best Overall: Current USA Orbit Marine LED Light

Current USA Orbit Marine LED Light

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If you really want one of the best LED lightings for aquariums or reef tanks, this Current USA Orbit Marine aquarium LED light model is our top pick overall. It is what we will call the best of the best. Current USA Orbit has multiple sizes of LED lighting aquariums to choose from so you can get the size you really need.

The Current USA Orbit Marine aquarium LED light has a loop controller so you can set up wireless lighting. It also provides wave pump control. You get a full spectrum of light coverage with light intensity that can be adjusted per your needs or preferences.

This best LED lighting provides brighter colors with remote control and the best light you can possibly find. This lighting system provides a realistic glow with white and blue lights and multiple modes that even nano reef tanks can appreciate. This light fixture is simple, realistic, and so easy!

Pros:

  • The Current USA Orbit Marine is the best LED reef light fixture overall
  • Multiple modes for various lighting effects
  • Remote control operated Orbit Marine series
  • Current Loop for wireless operation
  • Lighting is realistic and easy to operate

Cons

  • The lights are cool but they do not necessarily promote coral growth well

Why We Like It

We love the Current USA Orbit Marine aquarium lighting system because it is simple and effective. You can control the Orbit Marine aquarium LED light with a remote and there are so many modes so you can get both the best Orbit Marine LED look for soft corals and aquatic life.

2. Viparspectra Timer COntrol Aquarium Light

Viparspectra Timer Control Aquarium Light

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Here is another really great solution that falls into our runner up spot for the best LED lighting for aquarium choice. It offers a full spectrum of aquarium LED light and it operates simply with remote control as well.

This light is designed to provide some of the best light fixture solutions on the market. It is made with aluminum and iron materials and it does more than just provide light. It also adds a PAR balance for both output and coverage to spur growth and provide a safe environment for your aquatic life and soft corals. It is suitable for even photosynthetic corals but you may need to slowly acclimate new corals to the light and allow them to adjust to the exposure.

This LED from the Viparspectra timer control series lighting is covered by a 1-year warranty as well as a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. The light offers a dimmable feature that will let you adjust two channels individually and have varying brightness levels between them. You can also use an internal timer for automatic timing or turning off lights at different times or after a long time frame.

Pros:

  • Dimmable feature for two separate light channels
  • Full spectrum white and blue colors plus more in this LED aquarium light
  • Remote control operated with timer capabilities
  • Promotes coral growth if you make sure to acclimate new coral
  • Covered by a 1-year warranty

Cons

  • You have to come up with an appropriate mounting or hanging solution to use this LED aquarium light.
  • There is no ramp up settings to gradually increase light brightness when turned on.

Why We Like It

We love that this provides a more friendly way to stimulate and enhance your coral even if you leave the light on a long time. It is one of the best LED lights and makes our runner-up pick because of the versatility and adjustment capabilities it provides.

 

3. Budget Pick: Hipargero LED Aquarium Light

Hipargero LED Aquarium Light

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If you want something that is a bit more friendly on the budget, check out this Hipargero LED aquarium light. This light is simple but effective, making it one of the best LED lights for the money. This is a simple, plastic light that uses a professional spectrum approach with royal blue, blue, and white. The lenses used are 90 degree three in one lenses for high efficiency and optimal color content.

The light does have dimmable LED channels (two of them) that you can operate with touch. You can adjust from 0% to 100% for saltwater and it is very easy to dim as well. The blue light is designed to provide your coral with Vitamin D3 as well as calcium so they can absorb those nutrients and show bright, brilliant colors.

This is not necessarily a high end model but it is friendly for your aquatic life and it really works well considering it is a budget friendly model. We are impressed with this LED reef light in many ways. If you’re looking for simple quality, this is where you will find it. High powered and adequate lighting that does what it should do for your tank.

Pros:

  • Professional light intensity design
  • Best LED aquarium light at a budget price
  • Touch operation for LED light intensity adjustment
  • Boost the health of life and plants in the aquarium.
  • Uniform and consistent colors

Cons

  • It can be hard to determine where you are when you use the touch settings.
  • The separation of the light displays causes some shadows to be cast depending on your placement.

Why We Like It

We love this set of LED lights for the simplicity that aquarium owners can enjoy. This affordable LED system is suitable for coral reefs, nano tanks, and saltwater aquariums alike. If you want aquarium lights like blue lights for your fish tank and an adjustable light spectrum, this LED lighting system delivers and they do it for less.

4. Kessil Tuna Blue Mini Light System

Kessil Tuna Blue Mini Light System

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This Kessil Logic Tuna Blue mini LED lighting system is a mini version of the popular Kessil Tuna Blue A160. This one is popular because it is half the intensity in a mini light option and it is still compatible with the Kessil Spectral controller that the brand is known for. This gooseneck model is great for rimless tanks as well as rimmed tanks up to 1 1/8 inches thick.

These LED light fixtures allow you to adjust the color as well as the intensity. The gallery image shows that this is a single color but with the adjustments, you can reduce the brightness of these simple LED lighting systems.

This is a premium brand with the noteworthy premium quality compared to some options. These 24 7 reef tank lights let you light up your fish tank without the harsh color of fluorescent lights through an innovative LED lighting system. If you want something small, this is the smallest option you will find most likely. It is durable and fits into tight spaces but still delivers everything the big lights do with half the power.

Pros:

  • Quality LED fixture for your reef aquarium in a mini packaging design
  • Ramp up your color or intensity with sensible dials
  • Simple blue light
  • Fits into tight spaces with gooseneck design
  • Lens and reflector control system

Cons

  • Mounting the gooseneck isn’t as easy as it looks
  • For the price and the name brand, customer service is lacking

Why We Like It

This is no high tech reef LED lighting machine but the Kessil Tuna Blue A80 is worth a second glance. Give your tank set up the perfect finishing touch and light up that aquarium water with these simple and small aquarium LED lights LED fixtures.

5. AI Prime HD Plus LED Compact Fixture

AI Prime HD Plus LED Compact Fixture

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From Aqua Illumination we bring you these AI Pro Prime HD aquarium lights. This other popular compact option is a reliable reef tank light that works for multiple aquarium size setups. AI Prime HD really hit it out of the park with another compact option that is certainly reliable for the gallery image.

This particular design comes with all of the accessories to operate it including a power cord and power supply, according to the table of contents. This particular aquarium LED has a built in wi-fi control system through a smartphone app for the ultimate lighted aquarium experience. The UV light is HD and if you’ve ever seen the AI Hydra in action, you will understand this really hits the sweet spot.

You can adjust the lighting schedule as well as the power and the colors. Lighting changes are simple and the power of single colors actually is enhanced by color blending and using the power of the colors not active. Your cool white could be powered by the blue in the lighting cycle and the blue won’t be shining. It’s pretty neat for daylight LEDs and varying light conditions to take care of your tank’s needs without harsh fluorescent lights in the mix.

Pros:

  • Wi fi control accessible through your phone or web browser
  • Compact reef lighting design
  • Optimal power and thermal conductivity
  • Aquarium lights with a full spectrum and full control
  • AI Prime HD lights come with all needed materials

Cons

  • Considering the price point and brand presence, customer service is not impressive.
  • The connection to the holding brackets has a sub-par rating and not the best design

Why We Like It

We like this solution because the AI Prime is compact but still offers lighting intensity and various lighting modes. The units preserve energy costs to keep your coral tank appropriately lit throughout the full light cycle.

6. Fluval Plan Spectrum Sea Marine Bluetooth LED

Fluval Plan Spectrum Sea Marine Bluetooth LED

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Next on our choice of best models for users is a participant from Fluval. The sites offer 3 different size types so you can choose the thing you need to properly care for your plants with LED output and the right size or price options when you order. This features touch control for the light as well as Bluetooth unit capabilities.

This option really is pretty simple but the build quality is highly rated for various coral types in the freshwater tank, saltwater tank, or other types of tanks. The light is set in black box lights and uses only 32 watts to operate for the 24 to 34 gallon tank sizes. You can also access the Fluval smart app or website to enjoy special effects with these LED strip lights.

The form factor of this metal halides mount has an adjustable arm to attach to the aquarium top rather than requiring docking mounts or a hanging kit. You can control color temperatures and even add cloud cover effects or a shimmer effect with features that allow you to control the color and the intensity using a bluetooth controller mode.

Pros:

  • Control color options through touch or bluetooth capabilities
  • The frame has been improved to be smoother and lighter with updated features
  • Provides corals and aquarium habitats with growth and light spectrum needs
  • Use pre-set configurations or change it up as you please
  • Lighter and smoother updated design concept

Cons

  • The light is pretty great but the app software is not the best type. Good thing there is a timer for backup power control.
  • The connection settings disconnect regularly and the cycle settings get washed

Why We Like It

While the technology functions could use some improvement we love that this manufacturer has updated the construction for the device and improved the controls and quality of the fixtures. Your plants and list items will get the photosynthesis they need and the level variety gives you the choice of gallery image lighting.

7. Nicrew Slim LED Aquarium Light

Nicrew Slim LED Aquarium Light

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This Nicrew Slim aquarium LED fixture has a slim but long design, making it ideal for long tanks without taking up the entire space. The length typically spans across the entire aquarium size and latches directly onto the aquarium. Use the LED light fixture for saltwater aquarium or freshwater much like you see in the reef tank pictures.

The setup allows for a venting system without having to add a system and can handle water currents within the water tank. We also really like the price tag for this reef tank 2020 solution. You can easily adjust to evening modes and support worldwide corals as well as fish growth in the light of these LEDs.

Whether you are managing a saltwater reef tank or a traditional freshwater option, the LEDs of this light have got you covered. Put away your compact fluorescent lights and your par meter and enjoy the light and growth rates that you will see with these LEDs. It’s very easy to install and use and you have timing modes for your convenience as well.

Pros:

  • Lightweight but durable model units
  • The fixture is simple to install and operate
  • Slim model concept that allows your tank to thrive and grow under a full spectrum
  • Timer controls allow you to set what is optimal for your reef tanks needs
  • Energy efficient setup with lifetime durability

Cons

  • Power failure requires you to reset the timer
  • The blue light sometimes does not work with the timer controls

Why We Like It

We love the slim size of this aquarium lighting best LED lights choice. It takes up less space and is more power efficient but still provides the same benefits if you make sure it is set properly. Your LED reef set up will be beautiful and will have growth stimulation as it well should.

8. Phlizon Dimmable Full Spectrum Aquarium LED Light

Phlizon Dimmable Full Spectrum Aquarium LED Light

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If you like the metal halide approach, this option from Phlizon takes a similar concept and puts it to work for nano reefs and saltwater aquarium choices and more. This is a well-built model with stainless steel materials that do make it slightly heavier for saltwater aquarium lighting but it is effective overall.

From tuna sun colors to hues of greens, purples, whites, and red you have a water temperature solution and aquarium lights in this ceiling mount model design. The LED fixture is a full spectrum light fixture that protects fish and lps corals and the growth that they require.

This model has a double dimmer feature that allows you to dim with two different control settings as needed. You can use it for nano reef, freshwater, saltwater and broad aquarium size. These can even be connected with others for a cascading or chain effect. It comes with the hanger kit as well as the necessary power cord for functionality.

Pros:

  • Comes with all you need to use
  • Quality aquarium light with dual dimmable settings
  • Designed to stimulate the healthy growth of plants and fish
  • Can be connected to others for a larger capacity
  • Strong service background from this company

Cons

  • The lights do make some noise, similar to fluorescents
  • The power supply for the blues and whites is not separated

Why We Like It

This is one of the most versatile aquarium light solutions out there because it offers dual dimming and can be connected to engage the full aquarium size. Its features are comparable to every other popular type of light on the market and the quality is in line with those light as well.

9. Finnex Stingray 2 Aquarium LED Light

Finnex Stingray 2 Aquarium LED Light

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The Finnex planted Stingray 2 is an up and coming model that is well worth your attention. This affordable het sink model ranges in sizes that include 12, 16, 20, 24, 36, and 48. This multi-color light is listed as pencil thin so it is another slim design that won’t take up excessive space. It attaches directly to your tank so you don’t have to worry about mounting hardware or anything like that.

This light has red, blue, and white LEDs and you can adjust the settings as needed quite easily. It is ETL listed and has all of the necessary safety features, which is always a plus and most lights don’t advertise that fact. The light offers short circuit protection, over current protection, over voltage protection, and cooler operation.

This offers a 3 position switch and gives you the ability to use a moonlight setting. It is designed with a sleek aluminum build that is lightweight and durable. With the sleek and slim build, you almost won’t even notice the bulky light on your aquarium but you will certainly notice the glow that it permeates.

Pros:

  • Sleek and slim overall design
  • Attaches to the aquarium, no mounting required
  • 3 position switch and moonlights
  • Multiple lengths to choose from so you can get the right fit
  • Has almost a heat sink effect thanks to the slim build that is almost not noticeable

Cons

  • Some users had issues with the moonlight features not working after a time
  • This light is not fully waterproof so you will need to be sure to take precautions for that

Why We Like It

This option catches our eye for the slim and sleek design that almost makes it invisible when you are looking at the tank. These are effective and you have control of the size and the settings as well.

10. Aqueon Aquarium Clip on LED Light

Aqueon Aquarium Clip on LED Light

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For our final selection, we bring to you a simple clip on solution that works really well for small tanks. With Aqueon Aquarium Clip on LED Light, you can choose from a freshwater tank light or a planted tank light. This solution is affordable and simple. It is made of plastic and literally just clips on the side of a tank (preferably 20 gallons or less) but it is effective and it works well.

This is a simple solution that truly does work. It offers quick 3-way soft touch so you can control how you want to. You can choose all lights on, blue on, or all off to suit your needs. The clip on mount allows for versatility is setting up your light and makes it compatible with both framed and frameless aquariums.

There are 60 lights total on this small light that includes white and blue lights and provides a shimmer effect for your viewing pleasure. It’s not clear whether or not the light will stimulate fish, plant, or reef growth. The build is solid and the quality is top notch here. It is a highly rated choice for smaller tanks.

Pros:

  • Clip on light for up to 20 gallon tanks
  • Touch control settings
  • Blue and white LED lights
  • Easy to use and versatile
  • High quality materials

Cons

  • The downside to the clip on is if you have a top that needs to be able to open the clip can hinder that process
  • Sometimes the light gets warm to the touch

Why We Like It

This particular best reef LED light is here because we like the simple clip on advantage. It can be hard to find simple solutions for small tanks and this light works quite well. It’s bright and reliable and while it may not be perfect it is a simple but versatile solution.

Buyer’s Guide for Reef LED Light Solutions

coral reef aquarium

When it comes to choosing the best reef light for your aquarium needs, there are some things you may want to keep in mind. There are a variety of options out there when it comes to LED aquarium reef tanks and you will find quite the array of options overall. Some options are simple while others have remote control operation and multiple setting scenarios.

We’ve put together a simple buyer’s guide to help you understand the things you may want to consider or keep in mind as you work to make a decision for the best LED aquarium light for your needs. Check out these thoughts and keep them in mind as you select the LED aquarium reef tank LED light that works for you!

The Benefit of Using LED Light for Reef Tanks

First, we want to discuss some benefits of using LED lighting for a reef tank. While you certainly can consider other types of lights, LED has proven to be the best for a number of reasons. Here are a few reasons why.

Brightness

LED lights are known to be long-lasting and bright without being harsh. It’s really an interesting combination but the effect is that you can have an awesome view while using less energy and not having harmful or uncomfortable light coming from the LED light. Most LED lights allow you to make adjustments for shade and colors and timing and so much more as well.

Safety

LED lights are much safer than alternative light options like a fluorescent light. Those old lights have halide in them and the effect was a harsh light that might not really be safe for your aquarium. With an LED aquarium reef tank, you get lights that don’t contain toxins and gasses, making them a much safer alternative.

Additionally, some LED lights for reef tanks are even water-resistant and they all continue to be improved over time.

Heat Control

The old lights put off a lot of heat and often got pretty hot to the touch as well. You had to be very careful that the light was not overheating your tank. With LED aquarium lights, you might feel some heat but it won’t be enough to negatively affect your tank.

Growth Impact

Finally, in terms of the benefits of an LED aquarium for reek tank needs, the LED light is more likely to stimulate growth and health within the aquarium. These lights really can have a major effect on the species within your tank and you want your coral and plants and fish to have their health supported by the light, which LED lights are able to do.

Things to Consider for Reef Tank LED Light

Now, let’s talk about the things we strongly feel you should consider as you make a decision.

Quality & Durability

First things first. These lights really are not cheap so you don’t want to have to replace your light 6 months down the road. If you’re going to get an LED light for your reef tank, it needs to be reliable in terms of both quality and durability. Ideally, an LED aquarium light should last even longer than the tank it is lighting.

This doesn’t just mean the operation of the light but also applies to the color spectrums of the bulbs and shades. They need to be consistent quality and they need to maintain intensity without dimming (unless of course, you dim them by choice).

Take a look at the total system and these particular factors.

  • Is there support or a warranty should something go wrong?
  • What is the power supply situation?
  • Type of LEDs used in the setting
  • Is there a cooling system within the light?
  • Material quality and the quality of design

How Does it Look?

You’ve probably heard that looks aren’t everything and they aren’t. But when it comes to your reef tanks setup, looks are a lot. You want to consider both the internal and the external looks but in different ways really.

First, consider whether the lighting provides your aquarium with an aesthetic appeal. When you stand back and look in the tank do the colors blend well? Do you notice spotlights or possibly hotspots that just don’t look as nice? You want to avoid things like a disco ball effect or overly bright spots compared to really dim spots.

Consider things like the colors of the lights. What colors is it that you really want to see displayed through this light? Do you want additional colors or do you really just want to pull out the brilliant and natural colors of the items you have in the tank? Most of these things are beautiful on their own and the soft colors like white and blue draw out their beauty.

Don’t be afraid to look at what other people have done in terms of color combinations and set up and use their inspiration to make your LED aquarium look the way you want it to.

Now, consider the external visual appeal. We’ve talked about making the inside nice with your light but you want the outside to have some visual appeal too. Where in your home will your tank be setup? This is something that might overall affect some of your decision.

This is a piece of art, in a sense. If you get it wrong, it just looks awful. The good news is, it’s easy to get it right because you can look at it and know whether or not it really will be an eyesore or a pleasing sight.

For the external visual, you are going to consider things like the mounting process and how the LEDs will look when mounted or attached to your tank.

Software & Controls

Next, let’s talk about the light itself. Many of these lights can be programmed or at least allow you the versatility of varying features that you can control as you see fit. you will want to keep this in mind. What kind of software does the light use or require and what kind of control or programming capabilities do you have?

You will find models with remote controls and a full array of settings. You will also find simple options that just have a couple of simple functions. The choice is up to you. Get what you prefer or what works best for your needs and reef tanks.

Cost and Versatility

Finally, consider the overall cost and the versatility of the unit. You may want to figure out the cost per bulb or even color to know if the cost you are paying is really worth it. LED lighting is typically a cost-effective solution to operate but the cost to purchase can get pretty pricy.

You can calculate the value by dividing the number of LEDs by the total cost and estimating what you are paying per light. Then compare that cost to other options and see the breakdown. You might also pay for varying colors and the option of versatility overall.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Lighting for a Reef Tank?

We recommend always using LED. Our top choice is the Current USA light that you can find in our best overall review. Current USA is top quality with a lot of great features where LED lights are concerned

What is the Best Lighting for Coral Growth?

LED lighting typically stimulates coral growth. Soft blues and whites are the best options for this purpose.

What Color Light is Best for Aquarium Plants?

Aquarium plants and most corals do best with blue and white LED lights. However, red and green can also be good for plants so if your aquarium is mostly plants you may consider these colors.

Conclusion

We hope that you have found this guide to be a valuable resource for finding LED reef LED lights so you can set up your LED aquarium with optimal color and visibility as well as stimulation for your plants and aquatic creatures within.

There are several great options here to choose from, with the intent that there is a little something for everyone. What’s in your aquarium?

Expert Tip

If you don’t have plants in your aquarium, you really don’t need extra colors like purple, red, and green. Blue and white work best when reefs and animals are the primary inhabitants.

Did You Know?

Aquarium light has continued to improve throughout the years. Fluorescent lights actually pose a safety hazard because of the metal halide and the toxins within the bulbs if something were to happen to the light to damage it.

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