The Best Aquarium And Fish Tank Lights of 2020

Fish are used to living in some outdoor body of water, whether that’s a lake, stream, river, or even an ocean. More specifically, fish are most likely used to the outdoor conditions that they experience in those environments. For instance, they’re accustomed to the natural sunlight, the times out of the day that they experience that sunlight, the plants around them as well as the fish that are surrounding them.

Given that, you should attempt to re-create your fish’s aquarium the best that you can in order to mock the same environment that they experience while outside of the tank. This may entail that you spend more time, money, and other resources on your fish, but it can ultimately lead to them having a better life.

You can create a home environment for your fish by using the correct equipment in your aquarium. Perhaps the most important concept when setting up your aquarium would be the type of lighting that you install for them. But it can be difficult to choose the correct type of lighting for your aquarium, so here is a complete guide on choosing the best aquarium lights for your specific needs.

Different Types of Aquarium Lighting Fixtures

Normal Output Fluorescent Lighting

This type of lighting is classified as the standard lighting for most aquariums because they offer the easiest way to light up your aquarium. Not only that, but normal output fluorescent lighting is suitable for lighting up both fresh and saltwater fish-only aquariums. They also offer a wide selection of bulbs, which is beneficial for you to customize your aquarium to work for your fish.

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Compact Fluorescents

Compact fluorescents are beneficial for you if your tank requires a higher light output. These compact lighting systems incorporate either dual or quad tube bulbs, so they’re able to light up different areas of the tank as well. They’re also easy to operate, install, and they’re easy to maintain as well.

Metal Halides

These lighting systems are able to offer high-intensity lighting, since they work with advanced bulbs. They’re composed of a main glass bulb that also has a series of wires that are capable of connecting an additional glass bulb to the system as well. These lights offer a light spectrum and color rendition that’s able to work for all aquariums, and they’re ideal for tanks that have live plants as well.

LED Lights

LED lights are generally the most common that people turn to because they are able to emit lighting that’s suitable for practically any type of aquarium. Not only that, but they use less energy in order to operate properly, and they’re able to offer lighting for photosynthesis. Given that, they’re able to work well with tanks that have live plants (1).

Light Bulbs to Use for your Aquarium Lighting

Actinic white bulbs

These bulbs are able to emit light that’s a blend of both white and blue light in order to create similar light emissions to that of natural sunlight. These bulbs are beneficial for photosynthetic coral growth, and they’re not too harsh on the human eye.

Color-enhancing bulbs

Bulbs that have the ability to enhance their colors are highly beneficial for you because that can release a color that’s warmer than other bulbs. Not only that, but these bulbs are able to bring out the colors of the fish in your tank. They’re suitable for both fish-only freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

Full spectrum bulbs

Full spectrum bulbs are recommended for you if you want your fish tank to have lighting that represents a more natural light similar to sunlight. These bulbs emit a blend of all of the colors of the spectrum, and they’re great for both fresh and saltwater aquariums.

Actinic bulbs

Actinic bulbs emit light that uses more of a blue tone, and they offer lighting conditions that mock that of deeper water. Given that, these bulbs offer photosynthetic lighting required for coral growth and reef aquariums.

High-intensity bulbs

These types of light bulbs are able to produce the highest amount of light at the highest temperature possible. More specifically, these bulbs produce a crisp white light as well as a white-blue light that helps the lighting appear more realistic to deeper marine conditions (1).

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing

Control options

You should consider purchasing a lighting system that has the ability to be controlled easily, since the light shouldn’t be on all of the time. In order to best mock the lighting of natural sunlight, you’ll need to set aside specific times of the day to turn the light off, or at least dim it, since the sun isn’t out all of the time in nature.

You may even want to consider purchasing a lighting system that has the option to set a timer. Having a timer is beneficial because you can set consistent times out of the day to turn the light off and on, so it acts similarly to real sunlight. You may also want to search for a lighting system that can be controlled with a remote control.

Aquarium size

You’ll also want to purchase a lighting system that’s capable of lighting up the whole aquarium. Given that, you should consider the size of your aquarium and find a light source according to how large it is. Larger aquariums will obviously require larger lighting systems.

Type of aquarium

It’s important to consider what type of aquarium you have, since some aquariums require certain types of lights. For instance, fish tanks that have corals and reefs in them will require bulbs that offer photosynthetic lighting. Certain fish will also require certain lighting sources in how bright they are, so you’re recommended to keep that in mind (2).

Modes of lighting

Certain lighting sources will offer various modes of lighting, so you should consider whether your specific aquarium requires a certain mode. Different modes are capable of giving off varying effects on the whole aquarium, so consider purchasing a light source that contains a mode that’s beneficial for your fish tank in particular.

Water-resistant or waterproof

When you’re searching for light sources, most of them will either have water-resistant or waterproof qualities. Given that, it’s important to know the difference between the two. More specifically, water-resistant lighting means that the light source cannot be submerged under the water. It can withstand getting wet to an extreme.

On the other hand, waterproof lights are capable of working while they’re submerged under the water. These types are more recommended for you, since they tend to be more durable and more convenient for the fish in your tank (3).

Best Aquarium Lights Reviews

1. Finnex Planted Fully Automated Aquarium LED Light


This product is classified as one of the best aquarium LED lighting systems because it comes with a controller for your convenience. Given that, you have the ability to control this lighting system without having to come into contact with the device.

In addition to that, this aquarium light comes with four different customizable color channels that give you the option to dim the lights for your convenience. This light also has a multi-color blend that can be utilized for promoting plant growth.


  • Gives you the option to choose between a 2o, 24, 36, or 48 inch light
  • Comes with a remote controller
  • Includes 4 customizable color channels


  • Previous customers complain that this product only worked for around a year

2. Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light


This Current USA aquarium light is labeled as one of the best aquarium lights because it has the ability to offer super colors, which are beneficial if you have fish in your aquarium that are extremely colorful. Not only that, but this LED light offers a higher ratio of actinic blue spectrum LEDs that are able to offer a balanced light.

Moreover, this product includes multiple modes that are capable of dimming periodically in order to mock natural sunlight. Lastly, this tank light has built-in lighting programs that create a 24-hour natural biorhythmic lighting cycle.


  • Comes with a remote control
  • Offers a loop features that’s able to control both the light as well as the pump in the aquarium
  • Easy installation


  • More expensive than some of the other lights on this list

3. Aquatic Life LED Aquarium Light Fixture


The Aquatic Life Light Fixture is highly recommended for you because it incorporates six different colors on the LED spectrum, which gives off a light that mocks the lighting in deeper marine conditions. Additionally, this aquarium light comes with a timer that has three channels, including birth white LEDs, mixed color LEGS, and blue moonlight LEDs.

Furthermore, this is the best aquarium LED lighting because the LEDs can be programmed to slowly turn on and off, which gives off similar effects to natural sunlight in general. You also have the option to purchase this aquarium light in various different sizes, including 24 inches, 36 inches, or 48 inches.


  • Uses 6 different LED colors to mock deep marine lighting conditions
  • Can be programmed to slowly turn on and off to mock natural sunlight
  • Comes with a timer that has 3 different channels


  • Doesn’t come with a remote control

4. NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light


You should check out this NICREW lighting system because it’s able to offer a bright light while also having the ability to save energy. There are adjustable metal brackets that come with the system, so you can set up this light to feature how you want it to look the best.

In addition to that, this lighting system has two lighting modes, including white and blue LEDs for daylight mode as well as blue LEDs for midnight mode. Given that, your fish can easily sleep in the night-time conditions. Lastly, this lighting system can be purchased in a variety of different sizes to match your aquarium the best.


  • Available in a variety of different sizes
  • Affordable
  • Energy-efficient


  • Difficult to control, since it doesn’t come with a remote control

5. Current USA Satellite Freshwater Light


You’re recommended to check out this aquarium light because it comes with 6500K white LEDs as well as 445Nm blue LEDs. By having both of these lights, this system is able to produce accurate depictions of both daylight as well as midnight lighting conditions.

Furthermore, this product can easily be installed for your convenience, since the light fixture is able to be assembled if you just snap a few parts into place. There are also accurate modes that this light fixture offers, since it can accurately display daylight conditions, midnight conditions, and it even has a storming mode that’s capable of depicting lightning strikes.


  • Can easily be controlled, since it comes with a remote control
  • Includes multiple different modes that you can utilize for your convenience
  • Easy installation


  • Not waterproof



Overall, each of the aquarium lights included on this list have the ability to offer you various beneficial features. For instance, each of these aquarium lights are easy to control and they’re capable of lighting up your whole fish tank effectively. Not only that, but each of these lights are able to offer the fish and plants in your aquarium lighting that resembles natural sunlight.

Given these beneficial features, you should purchase one of the lights from this list. But it can be difficult to choose which one is best for you, so you’re most recommended to purchase product #5: Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Aquarium Light. This product is able to offer you the best benefits while also being available at an extremely affordable price.

More specifically, this aquarium light can easily be installed, comes in various different sizes, includes multiple different modes, and it offers super bright white and blue lights that are able to accurate depict the conditions of marine life during daylight, evening, and midnight hours. Given these benefits, you’re recommended to purchase the Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Aquarium Light on the market.

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