LED Aquarium Lighting

LED aquarium lights

Fluorescent lights have been the fish keeper’s top choice for lighting the aquarium. In addition, for more specific needs, VHO lighting (Very High Output Lighting) equipment for plants are used, and metal halides as well as power compacts for the reef tank.

In recent years the Light Emitting Diode (LED) has become available and is gaining in popularity.

LEDs are available as basic strip lights for freshwater, as well as elaborate and programmable units specifically designed for the needs of reef and planted tanks. With LEDs, sunrise/sunset or day/night settings are easily programmed and simulated. LED colors can be specifically arranged to target any plant or coral requirement there is.

Save Money, Reduce Operating Noise, Reduce Water Evaporation

LEDs have nowhere near the heat output of metal halides, VHOs, or power compacts. Less heat = less wasted energy (also see ‘The aquarium and energy consumption‘). The need to cool the light source is also eliminated resulting in additional energy savings by eliminating the cooling fan. No fan also results in quiet operation. Lastly, water temperatures remain stable and less evaporation occurs.

LED lights last for years and do not need to be replaced every 6 – 9 months as is recommended for the traditional fluorescent bulbs. The lifespan of fluorescent is approximately 6 – 9 months compared to 13 years (about 50k hrs at 10 hrs/day) for the LED.

Generally, LEDs are more expensive when compared to other lights. The cost however, is quickly recovered through energy savings as well as the longevity of LEDs.

Advantages in summary:

  • Energy savings between 50-70%
  • Long lasting (13 Years)
  • Less heat and noise
  • Programmable
  • No flickering light
  • More natural and life-like light
  • Space saving
  • Environmentally safe

LEDs are good for the environment, the wallet, and the future of aquarium lighting.

Click here for other aquarium lighting options.

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LED lights are toxic to humans and wildlife, research it and see for yourself


Toxic might be too strong of a word. They are more intense, but then light is not there to look into but to see. The brightness can be an issue, cars and street lights that mess with animals and humans alike. Some metals used in producing LED’s, which is actually less compared to other light sources.

My stepdads tank is 15 glns and has 2 rows of white led lights all the way across the lid. Seems a lot of light for the size of tank.

Last few months, he suddenly been getting green water that he can’t clear, tried everything. Had to change 100% water.

Would cutting down the amount of white light help? Would adding blue light help? If so, should blue light be on at night only or in the day with white light?

Thank you.

kevin waterfield

I am about to go away on a 5 week vacation, my neighbour will feed the fish every other day do a water change each week and I’ve set up a timer for the LED lights to come on each day. I have noticed that the Blue light comes on each timed segment instead of the White one, no matter what i do its always the Blue which comes on using the timer. Will only using Blue cause any problems ( its a 19 gall planted tropical tank)

many thanks


Blue light is well in the photosynthetic range and should not cause a problem for the plants at all.

Clif Paul

I have a 29 gallon 30 x 12 inches with tetras. I turned on white LED lights for about three hours. I returned and the water was cloudy and each fish had died. I don’t understand. They had been fine under the blue LED lights and the water had been clear. Why did this happen?

Thilo @ Algone

There are differences. Marine blue is more for deeper tanks (reef preferred) and complimented with white to ensure proper light penetration. The combination of both also increases photosynthesis.
Switching from blue to white will have effects, but these are more subtle, if at all noticeable.

All things considered, light is not the most likely cause for what has happened with your aquarium. It could have been a trigger of what would have developed at any rate. Keeping in mind that light is energy, there will be a shift in the biochemistry. Again, neglectable in most cases.

Earl otway

Why does the led lights on top my fish tank turn the glass on top green I have all white or all blue

Scott @ Algone

The intense light is likely causing algae to grow. If this becomes a bigger problem or if the algae spreads in the aquarium, check out these articles for help with algae control:

Algae control through nitrates control
Effective aquarium algae control
How to control aquarium algae and clear green water

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