The 4 Best Aquarium Timers and Power Centers of 2023

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The Spruce Pets / Lecia Landis

Fish, like many other pets, adjust well to routines—you’d be surprised how quickly some fish pick up the concept of “dinner time.” This also extends to their environment, such as the regular cycle of nighttime and daylight you provide. Daily adjustments to aquarium lighting can be handled manually, but a specialized aquarium timer or power center can do some of the scheduling for you. A multi-featured timer can also be used to regulate powerheads and other waterflow devices, such as by scheduling powerheads to shut off during your regular feeding time.

Our favorite is the Coralife Digital Power Center, which has separate plugs for day and night, extensive timer programmability, and outlets with built-in covers to minimize splash risks.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Coralife Aqualight Digital Power Center

Digital Power Center 24/7 Digital Timer


What We Like
  • Always on, day and night specific plugs

  • Easy to read digital display

  • Easy to program

  • Sliding covers to shut off outlets not in use

What We Don’t Like
  • No dimmer function

  • Needs an uncommon battery

The Coralife Digital Power Center has eight outlets—four for use all the time, two for daytime, and then another two for nighttime. The daytime sockets are color coded yellow and the nighttime sockets blue.

You can program the Coralife differently for each day of the week, setting custom windows for daylight or nighttime sockets. The digital display is easy to use and can be set up for any type of aquarium. Programming so many settings in the power center’s little screen is as intuitive as possible, but you’ll still likely need the manual for reference the first few times you go in to change your settings.

The Coralife was built specifically with fish tanks in mind, which results in thoughtful features like the built-in outlet covers, which allow you to close off unused sockets from splash damage. The Coralife Digital Power Center isn’t perfect. It requires a LR44 battery to preserve timer settings, which you’re probably less likely to have around your house than more common battery types. We also wish it had a dimmer option. But those reservations aside, this the best choice for most aquarium set-ups.

Price at time of publish: $40

Outlets: 8 (4 always on, 2 night, 2 day) | Timers: one digital | Dimensions: 4 x 12.2 x 2 inches, with 3-foot cord | Water Resistance: Limited

Best Smart

TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip HS300

TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip HS300


What We Like
  • 6 outlets and 3 USB outlets

  • Three-prong plug is angled to stay flat against the wall

  • Scheduling and programming app is easy to use

  • Monitors energy usage

  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant

What We Don’t Like
  • Requires the Kasa Smart app

  • Only one cord length available

The TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip lets you program on-off cycles for each of its six sockets individually using the Kasa Smart app. You can do other neat analytic things too, like monitor energy usage for each outlet. Once the Kasa Smart Power Strip is hooked up to your wi-fi you can turn on and off aquarium devices from wherever you are. It’s also compatible with voice controls via Alexa or Google Assistant.

We also like that the three-prong plug for the HS300 power strip is angled, so it sits flush enough against the wall that it can be used behind a cabinet or dresser. Unfortunately, the power strip’s cord is only available in one length—3 feet.

Price at time of publish: $47

Outlets: 6, plus 3 USB outlets | Timers: Unlimited in app | Dimensions: 2.49 x 14.17 x 1.48 inches | Water Resistance: None

Best Budget

BN-LINK 24 Hour Plug-In Mechanical Timer

BN-LINK 24 Hour Plug-in Mechanical Timer Grounded Aquarium


What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Available as a discounted two-pack

  • No batteries needed

  • Reliable mechanical operation

What We Don’t Like
  • Only one socket

  • Programming is easier with a little metal tool

This fully mechanical timer allows for a detailed daily program, but only for one plug at a time. The BN-Link 24 Hour Plug-In Mechanical Timer doesn’t require any batteries and doesn’t have a programming display. Instead, this timer features a big wheel representing 24 hours, which is surrounded by thin tabs, or pins, which represent 15-minute increments. First, you turn the wheel to align the current time with an arrow, then you push down pins for the times when you want the outlet activated. If you want a light to come on for two hours at night and two hours in the early morning, for example, you would push down all the pins inside of those two-hour sections of the wheel. It’s a relatively intuitive system, which allows you to cycle a device on and off at custom intervals throughout the day, but the narrow pins make it hard to program by hand—it’s much easier to press the pins down with a little screwdriver or other metal tool.

While you can set multiple on-off cycles through a single 24-hour period, there’s no way to have different settings for different days without reprogramming each time. There is, however, a switch on the BN-Link that changes the socket from your timer programming to always on, and back again.

Price at time of publish: $9

Outlets: One | Timers: Up to 48 in a 24-hour cycle | Dimensions: 3 x 4.8 x 3 inches | Water Resistance: None

Best Timer

ZooMed AquaSun Aquarium Controller, Timer & Power Strip

ZooMed AquaSun Aquarium Controller & Timer


What We Like
  • Easy to set up and install

  • Variety of outlet settings

  • Improved water resistance for aquatic environment

What We Don’t Like
  • All timers have to be on same schedule

  • No dimmer features

Similar to our overall favorite, the Coralife, this ZooMed AquaSun Timer and Power Strip was designed specifically for aquarium use. It has four always-on outlets and four timed outlets. Rather than a digital display, this timer uses a simple, clicking on or off. All of the timer outlets will follow the same schedule, but this model has better water resistance than most.

Price at time of publish: $21

Outlets: 8 (4 timed and 4 always on) | Timers: 1 manual | Dimensions: 1.8 x 5 x 11.6 inches | Water Resistance: Yes

Final Verdict

Our favorite power scheduler is the Coralife Digital Power Center. It allows for maximum customization, with day, night, and always-on outlets paired with easy digital programming. If you’d rather control your aquarium’s schedule with your phone, check out the TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip, which has six individually customizable outlets.

What To Look For

When selecting a power timer for your aquarium, here are a few key points you will need to consider first:

Set Up

When it comes to setting up new equipment, no matter how familiar you think you may be with it, always read the instructions carefully. This is the most common issue with items that appear to not be functioning correctly. Especially when it comes to timers or dimmers with multiple settings, it may take a few cycles to ensure everything is operating as you desire. 

It is also recommended to make a list of all your intended equipment and write out a schedule for on and off times of day. This will not only determine what type of equipment you will need to purchase, but outline a plan of your components that will need to be organized or grouped. If you have a very large system with numerous components, it is highly recommended to label all incoming cords so nothing is confused.

Power Use

Most aquarium features will not require much power, but as your system grows, so will your power usage. If you are trying to conserve electricity by turning off various functions, always consider how it will impact the health of your tank. Sure, your filter may make a lot of noise and you will lose more water to evaporation, but your fish require your filter to run in order to keep their wastes more manageable. If you are exceeding your acceptable power use, it may be time to downgrade your system in stages, so as to not affect the health of your fish. 


When it comes to features for timers and power centers, you have multiple options. The number of outlets will depend on the size of your tank and number of electronic items. Timers can be found in both manual or digital models. Dimmers may also be incorporated into additional features for both timers and outlets. Smart plugs can be added to larger power banks in order to give you more control over various features, depending on your desires and familiarity with the technology involved. By combining all of these various features, you should be able to fine tune a solution to whatever you desire for your aquarium.

  • What do I do when there’s a power outage?

    If your home loses power, the first thing to do is not panic! If the outage is only temporary, your fish should be okay for a few hours. The more fish and other living things you have in your tank, the faster their environment will start having issues. If you are heating your tank, you will need to employ one of these methods to retain the temperature of your tank. Some fish species are very sensitive to temperature and any trends too far outside of their acceptable range can cause severe distress and even death. 

    Without power, it is critical to maintain your water chemistry. You will need to regularly test your nitrogen parameters in order to keep an eye on your ammonia levels that will start to rise without filtration. Here are more recommendations for fish tanks when you lose power.

  • How many hours a day should fish tank lights be on?

    Fish need to have a diurnal light and dark period. Depending on what species you have in your tank, you may need to vary the light period to match your normal outdoor light/dark period. Warmer, tropical species, particularly saltwater species, will need approximately 12-16 hours of light and 8-12 hours of darkness. More temperate fishes, such as goldfish, can mimic what your outdoor light periods follow normally, but should always be off for at least 8 hours every night.

Why Trust The Spruce Pets? 

When it comes to setting up aquariums, Dr. Jessie Sanders, DVM, CertAqV has dealt with tiny nano tanks all the way up to giant public aquarium displays. No matter what the setup or species you are keeping, providing a healthy environment is critical to their overall health and wellbeing. Using a timer system to mimic the change in day and night environments is one of the best things you can do to provide your fish with an optimal environment. It may take a bit of work and some minor changes over time, but your fish will thank you.