Best LED Lighting For Reef and Saltwater Tanks in 2019

Clown fish swimming amongst coral

Lighting is fundamental to owning a successful reef aquarium. The best LED lighting will provide your inhabitants with the light needed to grow and flourish.

 

To help you choose the best LED lighting for your reef tank, we’ve research what you need to consider before purchasing. And then we’ve reviewed some of the best LED light fixtures for you.

Preview
Top Pick
Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light, 48 to 60-Inch
RECORDCENT LED Aquarium Light, 1000W-Plus+, (Replaced 1000W HPS, Actual Power Consumption 120-130W
Best Quality LEDs
Kessil LED Aquarium Light
VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control 165W LED Aquarium Light Dimmable Full Spectrum for Coral Reef Grow Fish Tank
Best Quality LEDs
Kessil A360WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light, Tuna Sun
Title
Current USA Orbit Marine Pro
Euphotica Programmable LED Lighting Kit
Kessil AP700
VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control
Kessil A360WE Controllable Tuna Blue
Max Watts
18-46 watts
120 watts
185 watts
165 watts
90 watts
Controller Included
Programmable
Price
$230.95
from $79.93
$799.00
$119.99
$348.00
Prime
Top Pick
Preview
Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light, 48 to 60-Inch
Title
Current USA Orbit Marine Pro
Max Watts
18-46 watts
Controller Included
Programmable
Price
$230.95
Prime
Preview
RECORDCENT LED Aquarium Light, 1000W-Plus+, (Replaced 1000W HPS, Actual Power Consumption 120-130W
Title
Euphotica Programmable LED Lighting Kit
Max Watts
120 watts
Controller Included
Programmable
Price
from $79.93
Prime
Best Quality LEDs
Preview
Kessil LED Aquarium Light
Title
Kessil AP700
Max Watts
185 watts
Controller Included
Programmable
Price
$799.00
Prime
Preview
VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control 165W LED Aquarium Light Dimmable Full Spectrum for Coral Reef Grow Fish Tank
Title
VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control
Max Watts
165 watts
Controller Included
Programmable
Price
$119.99
Prime
Best Quality LEDs
Preview
Kessil A360WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light, Tuna Sun
Title
Kessil A360WE Controllable Tuna Blue
Max Watts
90 watts
Controller Included
Programmable
Price
$348.00
Prime

**Before we get stuck into the reviews, I would like to share with you my top tips when it comes to picking your LED lighting.

 

If you’re not interested and you’d just like to see the reviews, you can skip to that section by clicking here.

Reef LED Lighting: What You Need to Consider

Before you go purchasing any old LED lighting, you need to consider these:

  • The longevity and build quality
  • Internal aesthetic appeal
  • External aesthetic appeal
  • Software and controllability
  • Cost per LED and color combinations

Longevity and Build Quality

You’re about to spend your money on a quality LED lighting fixture, so you’re going to want it to outlast your tank.

 

You’re not going to be pleased if it loses output or changes color spectrum on you.

 

That’s why LED lighting is such a great option. Unlike T5 and Halide bulbs, which lose intensity and color shift as they age, LED lights have power and spectrum stability.

 

Here’s what you should consider:

  • The quality of active cooling system
  • Brand or type of LEDs used
  • Power supply
  • Quality of design and materials used
  • Brand, warranty support, and available parts

Internal Aesthetic Appeal

This means good color blending, no visual hotspots, minimal disco ball effect, and a color you like.

 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What colors do you want to see in your aquarium?
  • Do you want to enhance the colors of your fish or corals?
  • Have you looked at other people’s tanks and taken inspiration from their color combinations?

External Visual Appeal

Where’s your aquarium located: Living room, den, office, or somewhere else you spend time?

 

You’re going to want it to look sharp.

 

It’s good to always think of your tank as a painting. It doesn’t matter how good it looks, it’s an eyesore if the frame is wrong.

 

In this case, the fame is what’s found outside your tank – your LED lighting fixture.

 

This can be different for everyone. Do you want a sleek modern design that blends in with your tank?

 

Or do you like a bulkier fixture that make it look like a science experiment?

 

It’s important you determine what’s right for you.

Software and Controllability

Most reef LED lighting fixtures will come with software and programming options so you can control the lights.

 

Some will use simple remotes with buttons, others may support apps where you can use sliders etc.

 

More advanced systems will require the use of a computer and come with many customizations.

 

Different options for adjusting timing, light intensity, scheduling, custom color display, and more.

 

Do you want to have the ability to mimic the times of the day? Sunrise, midday, afternoon, evening, and moonlight. This can be an excellent feature if you’ve got inhabitants who like to stick to a schedule.

Cost Per LED and Color Options

Don’t take the upfront cost of the fixture into account alone. You should break it down. Look at the number of color options you get.

 

The more, the more flexibility and customization options you’ll have.

 

It’s a good idea to divide the total number of LEDs by the cost of the light. Knowing the cost per LED will give you a better understanding of the value compared to the other options.

 

As for running LED lighting, it’s cost-effective. You’ll never have to buy bulbs again – saving a lot of money and reducing maintenance.

 

They’re energy efficient, which is a bonus if you’re trying to lower your carbon footprint. And your average LED will last for around 50,000 hours.

 

That means if you run your LEDs for 12 hours a day, they’ll last for over 11 years!

 

Check out this table below (source):

Table comparing the costs of different light bulbs

Although LEDs have a higher upfront cost, the savings you make over their lifetime compared to others is unbelievable.

Brand, Warranty Support, and Available Parts

Buying from a well-known brand is always a good idea. Especially if you’re not the most tech savvy hobbyist.

 

You may find you need technical or warranty support a some point. An established customer support team who are happy to help you really adds value.

 

Having a good warranty is always a bonus. LED lights have some moving parts (fan) that can break.

 

This is why buying from a quality brand can really help. It’s likely you’ll be able to get replacement parts faster.

 

A good tip is to call a company and ask about an old part. If it’s available, happy to help, and have the parts in stock, then it’s likely you’re dealing with a very good company.

What About Par/Light Intensity?

You might wonder why this wasn’t the first thing discussed here.

 

Well, if you’re looking to buy a good quality reef LED fixture, it’s extremely unlikely it’s going to come with insufficient PAR.

 

Our recommendations all come with more than enough PAR for a reef aquarium.

Best LED Lights For Reef Aquariums Reviewed

Let’s take a look at, and compare some of the best LED lights available for reef tanks.

1. Current USA Fixture Orbit Marine Pro LED Light

Purpose built for reef tanks, the light spectrum has be specifically designed for SPS and LPS corals.

 

It’s available in four adjustable sizes: 18-24”, 24-36”, 48-60”, and 72”.

 

8000/12,000k white and actinic blue LEDs create the light spectrum needed for marine fish, inverts, live rock, and corals.

 

120-degree lenses produce and even light with no visual hotspots or disco ball effect.

 

Featuring the Ramp Timer Pro, it recreates a realistic 24 hour light cycle. Using a slow ramp-up and down will acclimate fish – preventing light shock.

 

The kit includes a handy remote, which allows you to control everything with a press of a button.

 

You can even choose from four dynamic effects, including cloud cover, fading lunar, and lighting storms.

Pros

  • Advanced LED chip provides the full spectrum needed for reef tanks
  • Remote lets you control everything
  • Slow ramp-up and down
  • Easy programming
  • Comes with four automatic lighting presets

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a variety of single-colored LEDs for custom lighting
  • Instructions a bad (plenty of YouTube tutorials)
  • The remote is fantastic, but if you lose it you’re in trouble
Sale
Top Pick: Current USA Fixture Orbit Marine Pro
Specifically designed for SPS and LPS corals, the Current USA Orbit provides a high level of control at a reasonable price.

2. Kessil A360WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light Tuna Blue

Purpose built for reef tanks, the light spectrum has be specifically designed for SPS and LPS corals.

 

It’s available in four adjustable sizes: 18-24”, 24-36”, 48-60”, and 72”.

 

8000/12,000k white and actinic blue LEDs create the light spectrum needed for marine fish, inverts, live rock, and corals.

 

120-degree lenses produce and even light with no visual hotspots or disco ball effect.

 

Featuring the Ramp Timer Pro, it recreates a realistic 24 hour light cycle. Using a slow ramp-up and down will acclimate fish – preventing light shock.

 

The kit includes a handy remote, which allows you to control everything with a press of a button.

 

You can even choose from four dynamic effects, including cloud cover, fading lunar, and lighting storms.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Unrivaled natural shimmering effect
  • Can daisy chain multiple lights
  • Compatible with popular external controllers
  • Purpose built LEDs
  • Excellent build quality

Cons

  • Limited control ability
  • No place to hide the wires
Kessil A360WE Controllable Tuna Blue
Unique, purpose-built LEDs, this product arguably offers the best quality LEDs on the market. Packed together, this light provides an unrivalled natural shimmering effect.

3. VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control 165W

Providing the full spectrum of light needed, the color lights are fitted in a unique criss-cross style among the white bulbs.

 

This may seem odd or random, but Visparspectra state that this layout helps to maximize the health and growth of plants and corals.

 

An inbuilt timer makes it easy to control – even if you’re not the most technical person.

 

Using the handy remote, you’re able to program the blue and white LEDs independently.

 

Two channels allow you to set separate intensities as well as on and off times.

 

The fixture includes an adjustable hanging kit. Featuring lock assembly for a more secure mount.

 

Available in two size: 16×8.5×2.4inches (ideal for 24×24” coverage), and 31.5 x 8.5 x 2.4 inches (ideal for 32×24” coverage).

Pros

  • Uses full light spectrum
  • Remote control & built in timer
  • Program each channel separately
  • Easy to use
  • Durable build quality
  • LEDs last for 100,000 hours

Cons

  • Only available in one size
Sale
VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control 165W
Featuring an eye-catching criss-cross design, the Visparspectra kit offers you a lot of programming options at an affordable price.

4. Kessil AP700 LED Aquarium Light

Always on the frontline of LED technology, Kessil have designed the AP700 to be the flagship light fixture.

 

It offers all the features hobbyists look for in high-end quality lights.

 

Kessil’s Dense Matrix technology (yes, Matrix technology), provides two arrays of 60 LED chips.

 

Each consisting of multiple diode colors; including all of the color spectrums you need for your corals.

 

And it’s ever so easy to program, as Kessil have taking all of the guess work out of the equation.

 

To tune the LED color channels, all you have to do is select the color and intensity that you desire.

 

Then all the LEDs will automatically optimize themselves to create the full spectrum of light. Promoting photosynthesis for your chosen color and intensity level.

 

The AP700 uses Wi-Fi – making it even easier to program the light.

 

You can use the dedicated iPad app (Android and iPhone apps currently in Beta testing), to customize your settings. You also get the ability to program stons, cloud cover, day cycle, acclimation modes, and the lunar cycle.

 

It uses unique hybrid optics: simulating the effect of T5 and Metal Halide bulbs.

 

It provides a realistic shimmer of a point source light and even coverage of fluorescent lighting. This is some of the best color blending you’ll find.

Pros

  • Use the full light spectrum
  • Automatically optimizes the LED lights
  • Very easy to program
  • Hybrid optics produce outstanding color blending and shimmering effect
  • Built in Wifi. Can control everything from your iPad
  • Weather effects
  • Sleek modern design

Cons

  • Expensive
  • App is still in Beta for Android and iPhone
Kessil AP700 LED Aquarium Light
I know I said the Kessil Tuna Blue had the best LEDs, well–I lied. The AP700 is on the frontline, providing the features you'd expect from a high-end product.

5. Euphotica Programmable LED Lighting Kit

If you want a lot of customization, this might be the light for you.

 

The LEDs are programmable through a wireless remote or by using the controls on the fixture.

 

You get two channels and Moonlight with digital intensity control.

 

Digital Intensity control allows you to fine tune the light intensity in 1% increments.

 

This makes acclimating new corals very easy. You get a massive 48 points of customizable light intensity.

 

Enabling you to schedule each hour of the day with a custom setting.

 

This allows you to include the effects of moonlight or sunrise/set into your daily schedule.

 

The ultra violet light included makes fluorescing corals glow vibrantly under the actinic setting.

 

The back-lit LCD display makes it easily readable in all light conditions.

 

And the nice addition of Touch Control means you can still use it when your hands are wet.

Pros

  • 48 points of customizable light intensity
  • Easy to program - independent blue and white controls
  • Can daisy chain multiple lights and control them all with one controller
  • Hanging Kit included
  • Can fine tune the lighting in 1% increments
  • Touch Control
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • No internal Memory. You will have to reprogram it if it loses power
  • You have to suspend it above the aquarium. No option to use a bracket (not an issue for most people)
Sale
Euphotica Programmable LED Lighting Kit
If you're a big fan of customization, this is one you'll want to take a closer look at. Featuring multiple color channels, intensity control, and a wireless remote–it's feature rich.

My Final Thoughts

Look, the Kessil AP700 is clearly the best. However, it’s unlikely the majority (me included), will have the budget.

 

It’s also not necessary to have that level of quality in order to have a successful reef tank.

 

Therefore, here’s my suggestion.

 

Go for the Current USA Orbit Marines Pro LED light. The range of options you get. the quality of materials, and the price you pay make it a no-brainer in my opinion.

Sale
Top Pick: Current USA Fixture Orbit Marine Pro
Specifically designed for SPS and LPS corals, the Current USA Orbit provides a high level of control at a reasonable price.

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Looking for the best LED lighting for reef aquarium? You will help you choose the best LED lighting for saltwater. Covers topics such as what you need to consider about reef LED lighting, product comparison and the best LED lighting reviews. #reefauarium #saltwater #lighting #ModestFish
Looking for the best LED lighting? In this article, you will learn how to choose the best LED lighting for your reef tank to provide your corals and inhabitants to grow and flourish. #aquariumlighting #modestfish
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Christopher Adams

Hey there, my name is Christopher and I'm the creator and editor of this site. I've owned successful aquariums for the past 23 years. My mission is to educate, inform, and entertain on everything that's fish.

Last update on 2019-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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