What’s The Best LED Grow Lights For Your Aquarium Plants? 29

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Choosing the right LED grow lights for your aquarium plants might seem time consuming and challenging as there are many different options available in the market.

Let’s find out if LEDs are powerful enough to grow plants and find out if they are better than the alternative aquarium grow lighting set ups.

1st generation LED grow lamps were much simpler with less color options to choose from; just red and blue were available, which wouldn’t be sufficient for most aquarium plants.

Newer LED technology incorporates a larger amount of light that will work much better for helping your aquarium plants grow successfully.

What To Consider?

First, you will need to know the different characteristics of the types of plants you are looking to grow. Look for size, shape and height of the plants you plan to have in your aquarium.

The Best LED Grow Lights For Your Aquarium Plants(image source)

You will also need to look for the light intensity requirements of each plant and know whether or not they are sensitive to heat. Thankfully, most available LED setups come with menus and data sheets to make it easy to calculate the necessary specifications of light illumination and watts per gallon needed.

Many people argue that LED lights don’t provide enough PAR for aquarium plants to thrive but this simply isn’t the case!

With the latest technology, you’re able to find LED grow lights for your aquarium plants that match and even exceed the PAR output of a metal halide system!

Still not convinced? Here are some more interesting facts in this handy pros and cons list below.

Pros of LED Grow Lights

  • Cool Temperatures: You will not require a noisy and bulky fan or cooling system.
  • High Output: High output drivers and quiet operating noise levels.
  • Easy Plug In: No need to mess with wires and glue.
  • Easy Maintenance: User friendly, easy to assemble, clean and maintain.
  • Energy Efficient: LED’s will consume less energy than other aquarium lighting options and because of this, you will save more money!
  • Growth Efficiency: You’re able to choose LEDs that target wavelengths that plants absorb. With accurate absorption, your plants will thrive.
  • Long Lifespan: You can run your LED lights for up to 50,000 hours before they will need to be replaced.

Cons of LED Grow Lights

  • Getting the Right Wavelength: Achieving the correct wavelengths in the correct amounts might be a challenge but this can be easily solved with controllers and drivers.
  • Lights Reaching the Bottom of the Tank: You might require 2 set ups to produce enough even light for a larger tank.
  • Heat Production: LEDs are not ideal for plants that are sensitive to heat but they are still cooler than the traditional metal halide system.
  • More Expensive: The up front costs for large aquariums LED grow light setups can be around $150 each.

Best LED Grow Lights For Aquarium Plants

In this day and age, you are able to find several suitable LED grow lights in the market. Hobbyists now have some very viable options to choose from.

Here are a few of our favorite lighting set ups that specialize in plant growth.

1. Finnex Ray2 Aquarium LED Daylight


Finnex is a well-known brand when it comes to LEDs, it’s no surprise that they’ve made LEDs to cater for the planted tank crowd.

They made a good one too. A really good one!

The Ray2 features two LED light strips with 7000K output each which makes it ideal even for the most demanding aquarium plants. The dual strips also helps to cover a broader surface area for your tank.

Finnex has done a great job with the design of this LED fixture. It’s small, sleek and the mount fits very well on standard sized aquariums.

One thing to note is that, these lights are bright! So bright that you might get an algae issue, so be sure to use CO2 and dose fertilizer to avoid this. So, this might not be suitable for those of you running a low tech tank.

For the price, longevity and quality, this is a great choice for an aquarist looking for the perfect aquarium grow lights for “Hi Tech” tank setups.

Best Deal: We’ve found the best deal for the Finnex Ray2 for below $100 plus FREE shipping. This awesome deal won’t last for long though, claim it here (while stocks last!)

2. Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium Light Plus Moonlights


While the Finnex Ray 2 is perfect for a “Hi Tech” tank, the Finnex FugeRay Planted+ is more catered to the low tech tank.

But that’s not to say that this won’t benefit your tank if you’re injecting CO2 and dosing your tank too. It’s just the best option for low tech tank owners.

This ultra modern slim and light aquarium LED set up has enough output to grow low to med light plants.

If you’re upgrading from a fluorescent setup, don’t be surprised by how drastic the change will be. Those who have taken the plunge has vowed to never go back.

The Finnex FugeRay Planted+ truly brings out the color of your tank and helps your plants flourish.

Best Deal: How would you like to buy the Finnex FugeRay Planted+ for up to 33% less than the list price plus FREE shipping. Get it delivered to your doorstep for free here: claim deal here

3. Marineland Aquatic Plant LED Light With Timer


This Marineland LED Light are among the most popular among planted tank owners. There are many different sizes to choose from (ranging from 18 to 60 inches) to suit tanks of different sizes.

This slim Marineland Aquatic Plant LED setup will give you a full spectrum of light (1 watt 6500k white and 3 watt RGB LEDs), which will help your aquatic plants grow.

It also has easy to use controls and an integrated timers with lunar and daytime settings. This setup does such a good job that you might even need to trim your plants back from time to time.

Best Deal: Amazon is currently offering this Marineland LED Light for 52% less than the list price plus FREE shipping. This awesome deal won’t last for long, check it out here (before it’s too late!)

Final Say on Using LEDs As Grow Lights

As you can see, LED lights should be considered as one of the best LED grow lights for your aquarium plants. They might have a few downsides like cost and heat production but the benefits far outweigh the downsides.

They are easy to maintain, provide great controllable light to stimulate plant growth, are cost effective, energy efficient and will outlast any bulb system.

What Your Experience?

So perhaps after reading all about LED grow lights, you have changed your mind about LED lighting.

Do you have experiences with LEDs for growing aquarium plants? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments section below.

About Dennis Hanson

Dennis is an experienced aquarist with many years of knowledge and experience in keeping successful tanks. He also has no relations to the pop group Hanson.

29 thoughts on “What’s The Best LED Grow Lights For Your Aquarium Plants?

  1. Reply Roger Feb 7,2015 4:20 pm

    Would the innex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium Light Plus Moonlights work well for a planted 29 gallon tank where the light would be about 22 inches from the substrate or should I add more substrate?


  2. Reply Chris Mar 22,2015 9:29 am

    Finnex are junk LEDs. aquaray LEDs are by far superior…in performance proper lighting spectrum longevity

    All you need to know in the comparison between an aquaray and finnex aside from the fact the aquaray has by far more PUR,is the finnex has a limited 180day warranty and aquaray is 5yrs no questions asked warranty….

    • Reply Steve001 May 7,2015 8:47 pm

      Your statement is ridiculously invalid. Check the top notch aquascapes on various forums using a Finnex and you’ll find slim to none complaints. Same goes for the other leading brands like CurrentUSA for planted aquaria. AquaRAYS need that long warranty because they flicker like fireworks and their controllers are garbage.

      • Reply Jas Aug 1,2015 6:08 am

        Finnex is a Chinese made junk really. It’s all Chinese through and through. I guess how it’s being marketed plus pricing wise, are attractive for most who fell for their marketing gimmicks – hence the leading brand. Really, you got to look beyond its aesthetic, functionality and “herded mentality” of forum frequenters. Technical wise, many of these LEDs are not to the mark. CurrentUSA make up for it shortfall with lots of unnecessary functions which you don’t really need.
        Aquaray is good but it does has this flickering problem which I’m not sure if it was already rectified. Kessil is top notch as well. Zetlight is another to name a few.

        I suggest you go to http://aquarium-digest.com. To find out the truth.

        • Reply Steve001 Sep 8,2015 8:52 pm

          I wouldn’t know as I use the Current Sat+ Pro. Planted forums rave about my Current, Finnex, and BML and all have proven results to show (not so much BML as they’re relatively new but I have no reason to doubt they’re great). And yes, I hope the flickering problem with Aquaray is resolved as it was the reason I had to purchase the Sat+ last second in a bind. Side note, isn’t aquarium-digest the same guy using different names and blogs to promote the Aquarays? I think I saw a post somewhere that aquarium digest and aquarium opinion are the same guys that distribute the Aquaray and try to be sneaky on forums and such bad mouthing other LED companies. It’s a shame and kind of funny, someone pointed out that they are older guys and have no idea that every site and post they make is easily traced back to them and they have no idea.

  3. Reply TDew Apr 10,2015 1:12 am

    What about the DIY type lighting that use strip LED?

    For example:

  4. Reply Derek May 29,2015 3:18 pm

    I’m new to planted aquariums. I have very little knowledge on lighting for plants. I have been reading articles for 3 days. This page has been helpful. I would like some opinions for lighting my 135 gallon and it will be moderately planted. Thanks in advance.

  5. Reply Steven Henson May 31,2015 5:00 am

    Dear sir we are currently searching for led lights for a series of tanks in our fish room and would like to find an led with 25% red,25% blue and 50% white they surely must be available at a reasonable price ie either under $100.00 could you please guide me to purchase 90cm and 120 cm models .We need about 5x90cm ,the same 120cm and 2-3 60cm if yo can find something close to my requirements you will possibly win the order Kind Regards Steven Henson.

  6. Reply Pw Aug 9,2015 2:48 pm

    For those on a very limited budget. Consider the LED lighting designed for normal donestic use, there’s lots to choose from and with different light spectrums. Look for a ‘warm white’ which will contain some of the necessary red frequency that plants need. There is,of all things, an LED fitting with around 20 LED’s that is designed to fit around your parasol pole in the garden. I have used several of these, they are much, much cheaper than purpose made aquarium lights and are easy to adapt to fit over your tank. I have had good results with plant growth with these. Most of them are powered just by batteries, but there are some with input for plugging in a low voltage power supply, or you could just buy a couple of sets of rechargeable batteries, swopping them as needed.

  7. Reply Pw Aug 9,2015 3:30 pm

    A footnote to my earlier post: due to their lower light output levels, the LED lights that I recommended are really only suitable for small tanks, but as I stated, they should still give reasonable plant growth with around 16 hours operation per day.

  8. Reply Arvada Lanee Aug 20,2015 3:29 am

    Holy cow! I decided to look into that aquarium digest recommended reading, and I have to say, the pricing of these lights are a lot for someone like myself, just starting out, and without a fortune to spend. My boyfriend and I started our first ever planted tank almost a year ago. We had started with a 16 gallon, and had only recently learned about and mastered cycling, water testing, and the very basics. We bought a 55 gallon, and decided we wanted to try a low tech planted aquarium. I bought a Current USA, knowing full well that it wouldn’t be enough light for the plants, but I wanted it for the ridiculous effects, just for fun. It has been fun, and entertaining. After that, we added the finnex ray2. Using both lights, we have had a lot of success with our plants. We have a variety of plants that range from low light, to medium/high, and they seem to be doing alright. We have to trim often, and even our plant that are short, growing close to our substrate, continue to send out runners and spread, and thrive. Recently, we have been thinking of adding another light, and possibly trying our hand at a co2 system. I don’t think we would have ever even tried, if we thought we had to spend $840.00 on lights. Our tank may not have the most expensive, top of the line lighting, but it is very pretty, and I have enjoyed watching all our pretty plants grow, sometimes more than an inch a day! My advice to newcomers, don’t be discouraged, or think you can’t do it just because you can’t spend a ton of money. Have fun, experiment, learn, and enjoy.

  9. Reply Devon Trigg Sep 8,2015 8:18 pm

    This statement “flicker like fireworks and their controllers are garbage.” is an uneducated non user experience review. AquaRay sells 1000s of fixtures each year and maybe .05% ever will flicker and when they do, 99% it’s because someone poor mounting with no ventilation. AquaRay are the true leaders of aquarium LEDs and if you even look at the aquascapers out there, big name scapers use or have used AR.

    No fans, low watts, waterproof, licensed emitters, long full replacement warranty. If anyone can deny the AR fixture, it’s because they dont understand it, or they already have a bias to the light. Plain and simple.

  10. Reply shawn Oct 27,2015 5:26 pm

    I just got beamworks 6500k hi lumen 90 it doesn’t have red or blue but it is 3300lumens for 40$ new I have a secondary single light bar for the full spectrum part together about 60 it works well

  11. Reply chris Jan 17,2016 6:57 am

    Aquaray from the UK are hands down the best aquarium grow lights on the market. A very liberal 5yr warranty return it for any reason. Have nothing but great results using Aquray LEDs

  12. Reply Sue Mar 4,2016 5:36 am

    Hi all. I just got a deebow led light that is 5550 to 6650k not sure about the lumen 120cm would that be ok for an 18 1/2 inch depth aquarium..

    • Reply Jarryd Mar 23,2016 2:25 am

      I’ve also got a deebow LED light and was wondering it’s quality. Currently it growing relatively medium light plants well in a 30cm tall tank; would it be capable of growing high lights as well. Or would additional fixtures be required.

      (Does anyone know the PAR rating as well?)

  13. Reply gail Apr 11,2016 6:31 pm

    I am just starting a 10 gallon aquaponic aquarium. With the grow bed above the tank, obviously no light will reach the aquarium, so I am looking for a good submersible light for the tank, hopefully one that has enough light to provide light to growing plants in the tank. Is it even possible to supply tanks with enough light to grow using a submersible?

  14. Reply Prick Santosh Jul 4,2016 2:52 pm

    Yes, LED lamps are best for aquarium plants but the problem is the steep price. Do anyone know these lamps at a price range of 30-40 USD ?

  15. Reply Jackie Jul 13,2016 10:01 pm


    I want to purchase the Fluval Spec 2.8 gallon aquarium set. Are the LED lights that come with the aquarium set sufficient to light a live planted tank?

  16. Reply christina Jul 26,2016 11:39 pm

    Question Im new to doing a planted tank if I have a high output t5 LED light if I use glass tops on top of tank will that hinder growing of plants ? I have free flying parrots in home has to be kept safe for them .

  17. Reply Linda R. Copeland Sep 12,2016 8:25 am

    these work better then i had expected. i was able to grown jalapenos in the middle of the winter in my basement

  18. Reply Emma Sep 21,2016 7:42 am

    I have a GalaxyHydro 165 watt LED on my saltwater aquarium and so far I’m very happy with it.
    considering they specialize in hydroponics/grow lights and not reef tank lighting, I imagine their grow lights are pretty damn good and affordable.
    Amazon has thousands of LED aquarium lights to choose from.


  20. Reply Mel Oct 28,2016 11:53 am

    The best LED I’ve used is the Arcadia classica LED stretch. It’s a thin strip but boy! Does it give light!!! I bought 2 fearing that one won’t reach the bottom of my 4ft tank. Only was wrong. 2 induced algae, 1 is perfect. When my plants have matured enough I will switch the 2nd on. I dose using fluval 88 system and TNC carbon. I also use TMC nutrasoil which provides all nutrients in the water column. Doesn’t stop me from adding TNC complete on a water change tho. Plants are thriving, Arcadia is a trusted name. They do t8s and t5s too but I prefer open top with an led. (Or 2). The strip also comes in marine. I bought tropical with the warmer pink colour combined with the white. the marine has blue instead of pink. You can use both colours or just one at a time. Go with Arcadia, always a good choice!

  21. Reply Harbinger Mar 15,2017 6:00 pm

    All of you are nuts spending all that money on aquarium supplies. The only thing you have to do is put the tank in direct sunlight in a south facing window. To make a truly natural aquarium, use pond gravel as your base, plant your water plants, add your fish, make sure you keep the small snails on the plants. In short order you will have a natural aquarium. If the tank is big enough and the fish are properly populated you will have a tank that doesn’t even require a filter. Get over yourselves. You cant mimic true mother nature. What are you going to do when the economic collapse hits and there is no electricity? Learn how the real earth treats its inhabitants. NO ELECTRICS, NO MACHINES. Think real, not fake. You are only wasting your money and are not learning a thing about nature, your only putting it on life support. Start reading, stop spending.

  22. Reply Eddie Jul 20,2017 3:48 pm

    Harbinger, no we can’t possibly mimic nature, but what your proposing is ridiculous. The only real is a backyard stream where everything grows as God intended it too.

  23. Reply Cienda Aug 14,2017 8:25 pm

    Help. I need a grow light for a small 3 gallon betta square Tetra Acrylic tank. I want to add a few common live plants. Where can I get a light small enough for this tank? And can you please be specific about name brand, size, etc. I am new to all this. Thanks

  24. Reply J. R. Aug 26,2017 6:06 pm

    I am again reviewing different lighting options after purchasing a Finnex product. I absolutely loved my Finnex LED product, while it worked. There is a 90 day warranty for a reason and the problem I am having is apparently quite common (faulty power supply). The light worked exactly as desired but the quality is not there for such an expensive product. I strongly recommend finding an option from another manufacturer.

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