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Best Overall: Current USA Orbit Marine LED Light
The best LED lighting has spectrum stability, so it won’t change color or lose power over time. The Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light is a mainstay of the industry and a favorite among tank enthusiasts thanks to its high level of durability. It’ll stimulate coral growth and make your tank look great while doing so, with a 24-hour light cycle that mimics sunrise through sunset and makes your tanks inhabitants shimmer with life. Designed specifically for saltwater aquariums, the Current USA Orbit LED Light is available in sizes that fit tanks ranging from 18 to 60 inches in length. In every case, it uses wide-angle dispersion lenses to ensure light spreads evenly over the whole aquarium.
Online shoppers write that this lighting rig stimulates the growth of coral without fail, adding that the gradual sunrise effect prevents their fish from experiencing light shock. And because this model uses dual wavelengths, their coral’s colors are just as spectacular as the growth rates they’ve achieved.
Best High End: Kessil Controllable LED Aquarium Light
If you’re in the market for a high-end LED that brings professional-grade technology to your home aquarium, Kessil’s A360WE is more than worth the price tag. This LED light uses a proprietary technology called Kessil Logic that lets users select the perfect spectrum and color with a single knob, and then adjust the intensity—boosting light output at both ends of the spectral range by up to 30%. It also relies on patented, tightly packed LEDs that provide uniform color throughout the tank by marrying different wavelengths before they leave the light. This eliminates the “spotlight effect” you’ll see with some LED fixtures, and instead produces a natural-looking glow that more closely resembles the ocean.
Customers say the Kessil A360WE is one of the best LEDs they’ve ever seen, writing that they’re small and compact but allow for far more tuning of intensity and color than competing models. There’s also a high degree of consistency, with the LED lighting the tank from top to bottom and left to right without dark spots at the edges or center.
Best for Freshwater: Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium LED
If you want the verdant look of a reef tank without the fuss of handling saltwater coral, you can still grow plenty of beautiful plant life in a freshwater tank. The Finnex Planted+ LED system is ideal for planted tanks, with an automated 24/7 light cycle transitioning from morning to night and back again. Users can also save up to four custom color and intensity combinations, using dimmable red, green, and blue LEDs along with 7,000K daylight LEDs to help your freshwater plants thrive. A remote control makes the lighting easy to operate and change on command, and the system itself can be purchased in sizes ranging from 20 to 48 inches.
Customers rave about this fixture’s thin, modern design and strong output. For the price, several shoppers consider Finnex one of the best brands on the market, with quality parts and a high PAR rating, which measures the light available for photosynthesis. The Finnex Planted+ is no exception.
Best for Energy Efficiency: NICREW LED Aquarium Light
Want to invest in a great LED light for your tank, but concerned about the overall energy drain (or the bump to your electric bill)? Try an energy-efficient unit like this one from NICREW. Available in models suited to tanks from 12 to 52 inches in length, this system features bright and long-lasting LEDs that don’t sacrifice power (or shimmer) for energy efficiency. It features two modes: a combination of white and blue LEDs to simulate daylight, and blues alone for the night, and is built on a bracket system that extends to fit your tank. While it can’t be programmed to follow a customized cycle, switching between modes is as easy as flicking a switch. However, a single-channel timer can be purchased separately.
Customers write that the quality of light from the NICREW is fantastic, especially for the price—it’s considerably less expensive than many other units. The nighttime blue light makes coral look especially spectacular and it reliably stimulates growth—although plenty of buyers also use it with freshwater plants and have noted similar success.