Top 5 Best LED Lights for Reef Aquariums

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Are you in search of the best LED lights for your reef aquarium? Corals need lights that mimic the sun, this means that regular aquarium lighting just won’t do the trick.

Moreover, it could screw things up for your entire aquarium as you would basically forcing the wildlife inside of your ecosystem to undertake drastic changes, changes which they are not equipped to deal with.

With that in mind, when making a decision you should opt for a LED light that can produce intensities of up to a 10.000 Kelvin.

Top 5 Best LED Lights for Reef Aquariums

To help you out we are going to count down the top five aquarium lights for reef fish tanks!

1. The Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light

To start with the list, Current USA have been one of the biggest manufacturers of LED lights worldwide and they never seem to disappoint with their products.

This bad boy comes in many different sorts of sizes, so choosing one suited for your aquarium will never be a problem.

What to Like About This Product

  • A large array of colors were featured, ease of adjustability in terms of brightness and duration
  • Lower price compared to others in the same range
  • Easy to mount and program
  • Sleek design that gave off a modern and cool vibe.
  • Low energy output

What Could Be Improved Upon

  • The voltage was hovering around 2 Watts, while most others were in the 3-5 range, not recommended for a bigger aquarium
  • If you lose the remote, you will be in deep trouble as you cannot control it in any other way.

2. OceanRevive® Arctic-T247 Full Spectrum Dimmable 120W LED Aquarium Reef Light

This is one of the more expensive models on the market, but let me just preface this review by saying it out loud:

It’s absolutely freaking worth it, just look at the damn thing!

What to Like About This Product

  • You can control time and intensity of lightning from two channels.
  • Slim design which adds to the overall coolness of the product.
  • Has a lot of buttons that are aligned PROPERLY, so you never end up confused as with some models.
  • It supports itself as it has built in legs.
  • Can fit any size as its legs or brackets as they like to be called are fully adjustable.

What Could Be Improved Upon

  • If you are not careful with the lighting output, your coral reefs could get burned.
  • Price can be off-putting if you are on a budget.

3. The Aquatic Life LED Aquarium Light Fixture

One of the more premium models on the market, Aquatic Life likes to get it’s nose in all places, priding itself on selling high-quality aquariums and demanding quite the fee for it.

Is it worth it though?

What to Like About This Product

  • Six colors of LED, making the lightning choice very versatile.
  • Memory control and a battery backup, something rarely seen offered.
  • The LED lights themselves can be programmed within a moments notice and don’t need a lot of supervision.
  • Fully adjustable and controllable with just a few clicks, easy to mount.

What Could Be Improved Upon

  • The price if you’re on a budget.
  • Only three unique sizes so if you are unlucky you won’t be able to use it (NEVER forget to measure beforehand!)
  • The timer while present doesn’t offer too many adjustments, it works as a simple clock.

4. The MarsAqua Dimmable 165W LED Aquarium Light

We have to mention that this sort of LED light is perfect for smaller aquariums in the coral reef spectrum.

It’s very colorful and looks beautiful on the outside.

What to Like About This Product

  • Expected lifespan of around 10.000hours
  • Materials used in the design are of very high quality and seem durable.
  • Working temperature is very flexible, from -20 to +40 Degree Celsius.
  • The coloring looks natural.

What Could Be Improved Upon

  • Even for a smaller aquarium, the lights seem a bit weak.
  • Manufactured in China so customer support might not be the best.

5. MarsAqua Dimmable 300w LED Aquarium Full Spectrum Light

The 300 Watt version would burn down everything in its wake if it were to be put into a small reef aquarium.

That is why this model is recommended for larger tanks! If you have multiple nano tanks running next to one another, this light would do the job to supplement enough lighting!

What to Like About This Product

  • Expected lifespan of around 10.000hours
  • Materials used in the design are of very high quality and seem durable.
  • Working temperature is very flexible, from -20 to +40 Degree Celsius.
  • The coloring looks natural.

What Could Be Improved Upon

  • Light Intensity is not as in view as it is presented.
  • As all the lights mingle together, a ‘disco effect’ is created which doesn’t look very good.
  • Although I was a bit harsh when it came to judging these LED lights, it was only done with the best of intentions – To give readers an objective review of the products presented.

Tips On Choosing The Best Lights For Coral Reefs

Even though we have listed the top five best products currently being sold on the market, there is nothing stopping you from doing a bit of exploring on your own.

If you are not too keen on doing it on your own or if you lack the confidence to judge an aquarium, here are four general things to look out for:

1. Check the Label

Aquarium lighting has become a booming business and with that, there are a lot of small companies, which I like to call parasites that try to leech off on this wonderful hobby.

They basically undermine all the hard work that companies put in by selling low-quality rip-offs at a cheaper or affordable price.

Always remember that if something looks too good to be true, it is. Same goes with LED lights.

You’re better off purchasing a brand product that will give you the support you may need during warranty, instead of opting for a cheaper model and taking a gamble.

Playing with fire can lead to only one thing: More money lost in the sum of the event as you will have to purchase another LED light pretty soon once the rip off stops working and their support line proves to be nonexistent.

2. Light Spectrum

We mentioned this before but just to make it absolutely clear to anyone reading this: Coral reef fish tanks require an environment that emulates their natural habitat.

What one needs to realize is that they cannot “play God”.

If your coral requires 10.000 Kelvin of light intensity to thrive, then you better ensure that you provide what is necessary!

3. Control Features And Modes

If you have a keen eye, you might have already realized that the lower end models usually don’t have more than two modes and that their control features are a bit wacky and sometimes not even present.

What’s more is that the amount of coloring is also usually lacking so unless you have a very colorful aquarium on its own, you shouldn’t fall into the trap of saving money on LED lights.

Ideally, you want an aquarium that lets you have full remote control, you want it to have a memory function that works, a timer that is intuitive to use, full automation and not too many buttons so that you don’t get lost in the entire process.

4. Ease Of Installation

From my vast experience in installing LED lights, I would have to say that one has two basic tenants to fall back to when it comes to installing these bad boys.

Non-Mounted

These lights just sit on the rim of your aquarium, they were easy to install and don’t require any sort of professional help.

You can basically do it on your own, you don’t have to read the manual!

Mounted

This is where it gets harder and where one would need some help if it was his first time doing something like this.

Although a lot more work goes into mounting them, they look a lot better as they give off that natural vibe that many aquariums lack.

Benefits Of LED Lights In Comparison With Other Lights

1. It Doesn’t Heat The Water Inside Of The Aquarium

This might very well be the most important feature of LED lights. If you have children, pets or guests nearby, they can very easily harm themselves as other sources of artificial light produce massive amounts of energy.

The average temperature on the surface of a LED light hovers around 25-30°, so the worst thing that can happen to you is you getting a bit startled.

2. It Saves Electricity

As one could already imagine, alternative sources of lightning have problems controlling and adapting to the ever-changing conditions in the aquarium, meaning that they will produce a CONSTANT source of lightning, even if it’s not needed.

This in return brings us to the conclusion that the amount of electricity that is being put out is also CONSTANT, throughout the entire time.

Get it now?

LED lights, on the other hand, use sophisticated technology to emit light onto your aquarium.

3. More Light Output

Alternative sources lack this sort of flexibility and adjustability.

Most of them require a technician to come into your home and make changes.

Coincidentally, with LED lights, a push of a button seems to do the trick!

4. Longevity

Many seem to forget just how disposable lights really are.

Once they go LED, they never go back.

Not because LED lights are that awesome (which they are by the way) but it is because once you buy them, they stick with you for a long time.

5. Multiple Colors

I hope that nobody takes offense to this but the days of black and white TV are over.

LED lights can be adjusted to feature a ton of different colors so that your aquarium takes away the spotlight in every scenario.

Amount Of Lightning Needed For Different Types Of Corals

As with different flavors, different types of corals all have different needs as the depth they stem from differs massively from one to another.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones used in aquascaping and determine what the optimal amount of light would be!

SPS corals

You would need to keep the intensity up high, around 11.000 Kelvin would bring the most optimal results.

You should also consider placing them on the upper end of your fish tank.

LPS corals

These are a bit more flexible and allow for intensity between 7-10000 Kelvin to bring optimal results.

You should make sure to place them in the middle of the tank in terms of depth, they are the most comfortable in that spot!

Soft Corals

Soft corals are similar to SPS corals, the only difference being that even though they enjoy a higher intensity of lightning, they can survive on moderate lightning as well. Between 8-12000 Kelvin is oftentimes more than good.

Place them in the lower end of your aquarium, they like to lay low and deep.

Anemones

In terms of intensity, they enjoy the same rules as LPS corals (7-10.000 Kelvin).

You would best place them in a Sand Bed when it comes to general depth!

Corallimorpharia

They share the same lighting needs as Anemones but differ in terms of tank placement as they like to be placed on the lowest point of the tank!

Zooanthids

I like to call them the siblings of the Corallimorphs as they enjoy the same kind of light intensity as well as tank placement.

Truly remarkable that there is any noticeable difference at all between these two!

How much electricity do reef LED aquarium lights use? What about the cost of running such an operation?

I always wondered if reef tanks used more electricity than plant tanks and the answer is yes, they do!

They are also more expensive than their plant counterparts so if you are on a budget, stay away from reef corals.

The reason behind that is the intensity of light needed and their weird requirements in terms of power that make the LED lights created for their needs a cut above the rest.

Also to keep in mind is that the average reef tank is much more powerful than a tank one, using a 500 Watt source as juice.

You would be looking at around 200$ per year in electricity bills, in comparison to the 50$ used on plant tanks.

It might be a bit more expensive but that all comes back in the end as reef tanks are oftentimes larger and more attractive to the casual onlooker!

Summary

To conclude, having a reef fish tank is a bit of an expensive endeavor but if you have the money and the patience to go through with it, you surely won’t regret taking up the challenge!

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