Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Planted Aquarium Light PAR Tested & Reviewed 2021

Fluval claims the Plant Spectrum 3.0 is designed for hobbyists who want to maintain a thriving planted tank.

It all looks good on paper, so to find out just how good the Fluval 3.0 is, I PAR tested and reviewed it along side 4 other aquarium LED lights.

In this article, I’ll reveal the results of the PAR testing and review so you can know if this light is right for you.

TL;DR: Review Results Overview

We bought five different LED aquarium plant lights for a head-to-head challenge to see which ones made the grade. This Fluval light was the clear winner. 

It had the most PAR, is highly customizable, is the most reliable and overall looks amazing. I highly recommend this light. It can be turned up for high light setups or fine tuned down to help prevent algae in low tech setups, it’s amazing.

Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Planted Aquarium Lighting, 46 Watts, 36-46 Inches
Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Planted Aquarium Lighting, 46 Watts, 36-46 Inches

    Last update on 2021-10-01 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    How I Tested The Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Light

    We did quite a bit of testing as a part of our head-to-head challenge, but everything can be broken down under two main headings: 

    PAR Testing

    PAR stands for photosynthetically active radiation. It’s the spectrum of light that photosynthetic organisms, like plants and algae, convert into food. So, a PAR reading is a measurement of how much of the energy plants need is coming from a light source.

    You or I might look at light and think, “That light’s really bright, it must be great for growing plants.” But, just because a light looks bright to the naked eye does not mean that it contains enough PAR to grow plants. 

    The best way to tell is with a PAR meter, but underwater PAR meters are really expensive, so much so that most hobbyists wouldn’t even consider shelling out the cash for one.

    But, we can!

    We used a super nifty waterproof PAR meter to test just how strong each light really is.

    Aquarium LED light PAR testing

    PAR decreases with depth. So we took measurements from 0.5 inches (1.25 centimeters), 11 inches (28 centimeters) and 19 inches (48 centimeters) below the surface of the water. Here are the results:

    Planted aquarium LED lights PAR test comparison

    As you can see, the Fluval made an incredible showing. It’s highest PAR reading was more than twice the next closest competitor. 

    This light can easily provide what you need, even for demanding plants that require high light levels. It’s pretty amazing.

    To get these readings, I went into the Fluval app and turned all of the different spectrums up all the way. The default daylight setting was considerably lower in PAR. But, this is an accurate measure of this light’s maximum PAR. All the other lights were also turned up as high as they could go for testing.

    Real World Testing

    Looking at PAR is very important, but there are other considerations about what it’s like to use a particular light day in and day out.

    So, each light was installed on one of our home aquariums for several weeks so that we got a feel for the user experience.

    Our user testing focused mainly on the following categories:

    • Installation and Set Up – how difficult was it to get the light installed and set up for the first time?
    • Customization – are you able to customize things like light spectrum and intensity? Is there a built-in timer?
    • Reliability – does the light save your settings when it’s disconnected from power?
    • Appearance – does the light make the tank look appealing? This is subjective, I grant you, but after weeks of looking at how the light shows off the tank, I feel confident giving my opinion.
    • Economy – how expensive is the light compared to others in the group?

    Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Light Reviewed

    Fluval plant 3.0 LED lights turned on

    What’s in the Box?

    It’s very simple to unbox this light. You get:

    • Light
    • Power cord
    • Instruction manual

    Installation and Set Up

    Installation was a breeze with this light. I just took it out of the box and pulled the plastic feet out until it fit my tank and attached the power cord.

    I downloaded the app and it only took about 10 minutes for me to figure out how to get a basic program put in that would run the light. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

    Customization

    There are so many ways to customize this light. The app has three different modes: manual, auto and pro.

    Manual lets you program in four different light settings. For example, you could set an early day setting, bright noon setting, sunset setting and then a moonlight one.

    Then, it’s up to you to tap the icon for the setting you want. The light will stay on that setting until you go back into the app and change it to a different one.

    Auto lets you set up a basic 24 hour cycle. There are super easy dropdowns that let you choose the time for sunrise, daylight, sunset, moonlight and shutdown.

    You can alter the spectrum for your daylight and moonlight cycles. There’s also this super cool preview that will fast forward through your settings so you can see what the cycle will look like as it goes through the day.

    The Pro settings are at a whole other level. You can meticulously program in different time points and can fine tune the spectrum of the light at each one. 

    This more advanced programming would be great if you wanted to be able to see the tank in the morning, but then maybe wanted it to turn off for a while when you’re at work and then come back on when you get home.

    I mostly just use the auto mode. It’s simple to set up and works great for my needs.

    Reliability

    The Fluval light was the most reliable of the bunch. All of your settings are saved on the app. You just connect to the app for a few seconds and all of your settings are instantly restored. So easy!

    Appearance

    Fluval Plant 3.0 LED light set up on aquarium

    I’ve got to say, Fluval really delivered in this category. This light made my fish’s colors pop beautifully. It especially showed off my Boesemani rainbow fish. The blue on their front half looked brighter and their yellow tails seemed to almost glow. Amazing.

    And you can tweak it all so easily using the app. My favorite color is purple so I messed around with the moonlight setting until I got a really nice dark shade of purple. It comes on for a few hours before the light turns off until the morning sequence starts. It looks really cool.

    Economy 

    OK so I guess this light does have a bit of downside. It is the most expensive of the five we looked at. However, I do think that it is awesome enough to warrant its price. 

    The hardware on the light is top notch, and paired with the app, you get a mixture of power and features that none of the other lights can stand up to.

    A lot of times with aquarium equipment, you get what you pay for, and lights are no exception.

    If this light is just totally out of your price range, and you’re looking for a more economical choice, you may want to check out our second place winner, the Hygger 24/7 LED.

    Overall Pros and Cons

    Pros: 

    • Highest PAR of all the lights tested
    • Easy to use app for changing and storing settings
    • Highly customizable
    • Beautiful appearance
    • Easy to restore settings after power outage

    Cons: 

    • Most expensive light of the bunch

    Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Planted Aquarium Lighting, 46 Watts, 36-46 Inches
    Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Planted Aquarium Lighting, 46 Watts, 36-46 Inches

      Last update on 2021-10-01 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

      How Does it Compare To Other Lights?

      Planted aquarium LED lights comparison

      This light blew the others out of the water… or off the top of the tank… or some other metaphor that illustrates that it’s totally awesome and won this head-to-head challenge with ease.

      The Fluval light had the highest PAR of all the lights tested, more than twice the highest PAR reading of its closest competitor. 

      I think the number one thing that makes this light so wonderful is the app. I love being able to fine tune the spectrum and intensity for this light and the app makes it all so easy!

      Plus, after a power outage, you simply connect the light back to your phone, which only takes about 10 seconds, and it will restore all of your settings for you.

      The only bad thing about this light is the price. It is definitely not a budget friendly device. However, I still really think it’s worth every penny. 

      In my opinion, if you’re trying to decide to go with either the Current USA or the Fluval 3.0, there’s really no contest. The Fluval is vastly superior and it’s worth it to spend a little bit more on this light rather than the Current USA, in my opinion.

      Read the full comparison review here: Best LED Lights For Planted Tanks Par Tested & Reviewed

      Final Verdict

      Because you can customize this light so easily, I would say that it’s a great choice for any aquarist who wants to grow a lush jungle in their tank.

      This Fluval light has the power that high tech setups need, but can also be customized to run on low tech setups as well. 

      I have this light installed full-time on my 55 gallon (208 liter) angelfish tank. I don’t run CO2 in any of my tanks, so I really have to strike a balance between light levels and algae eaters in the tank. All I had to do was reduce the light intensity a bit and then the plants and algae eaters have been able to keep up, so the tank is mostly free of visible algae.

      It’s been great.

      When I was given the assignment to carry out this head-to-head challenge, this light was the one I was the most excited to get my hands on. And Fluval did not disappoint me.

      If you’re shopping for lights, and you find yourself going, “Is that Fluval light really worth it?” the answer is: YES!

      I hope you find this article helpful.

      I wish you and your fish the very best!

      Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Planted Aquarium Lighting, 46 Watts, 36-46 Inches
      Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Planted Aquarium Lighting, 46 Watts, 36-46 Inches

        Last update on 2021-10-01 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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        Katherine Morgan
        Hey, there! I'm Katherine from Northwest Florida. A nunchuck specialist, I've kept aquariums for over two decades, enjoy experimenting with low-tech planted setups and an avid South American cichlid enthusiast. If You'd like to see more of my tanks, check out my Instagram

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