Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Which LED Light Is Right For You?

There are so many choices available for the hobbyist today that deciding on which LED light is right for your aquarium can be a daunting task.

So, how do you choose an LED light system for your aquarium? Below are some of the most common factors affecting a purchasing decision. Followed by a handy comparison chart that we put together, comparing some of the most popular LED systems currently on the market.

Common Factors Affecting Purchasing Decision:


Cost is a big factor for many. LED lights can range anywhere from approximately $150 per fixture/module to $1,000+ per fixture/module. With the average cost in the $350-$650 range. Fixtures/modules in this price range typically offer the best bang for your buck, as they provide the features and performance you need, without breaking the bank.


As a general rule of thumb, the average LED light will cover a 24" x 24" area. Therefore, a standard 48" long aquarium will most likely need two fixtures/modules. A standard 72" long aquarium will most likely need three fixtures/modules.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. So, please take a look at our LED comparison chart for more specific information on popular fixtures/modules.


The overall light intensity/output determines the aquarium depth guidelines for individual LED fixtures/modules, as well as general coral placement guidelines. The majority of high quality LED fixtures/modules on the market today are able to output enough intensity to be used on 30" deep aquariums. And some can go even deeper.

More important is the light production. You want to make sure that the LED fixture/module is producing enough—but not too much—light for the corals you keep. In fact, many of the LED lights on the market are so strong that they are capable of burning/bleaching even light-hungry corals, like many SPS corals. Therefore, it is very important to light acclimate your corals when installing a new LED system. As a general rule, I recommend starting off at 25% to 40% of the maximum intensity that an LED fixture/module is capable of producing. I also recommend installing the fixture/module at least 8" off of the water surface. Gradually and over a couple of weeks, the intensity can be raised. Most folks never run LEDs at 100% power. In general, it takes less time and is much easier for corals to recover from too little light, than from too much light. For more information on LED light acclimation, see our previous blog post: Acclimating Corals to LED Lights.


Having the correct lighting spectrum is very important for overall coral health, growth, and color. When LEDs first hit the market several years ago, most did not produce a very full spectrum of light. Fortunately, this has changed. Most higher quality LED fixtures/modules now provide a much more complete light spectrum.

For example, the royal blue, violet, and/or ultraviolet spectrum found in many fixtures/modules today produce light that is more easily absorbed by corals. This enhances coral growth and excites different color pigments, increasing overall coral color and fluorescence.


One of my favorite features of LED fixtures/modules is the ability to quickly and easily change the intensity. To take advantage of this feature, the majority of LED fixtures/modules either come with or are able to be paired with a light controller/timer. Many manufacturers have taken this a step father and offer the ability to simulate sunrise-sunset, weather patterns and storm simulations, as well as a host of other features.

Some lights controllers only offer simple timers and white/blue channel control. So, it is important to chose a light that provides the features that are important to you.


Fixture/module size can affect several factors, including:
  • Overall light spread
  • Intensity produced
  • Appearance of your fixture/module
  • Available mounting options

Size also impacts the overall aesthetic of your aquarium. For example, if you have an open-top rimless aquarium, a nice, sleek fixture/module can really compliment your aquarium, while a bulkier fixture/module could distract from the overall appearance of the aquarium.

Also keep in mind, larger fixtures/modules require more space, which can effect certain installations, especially if more than one fixture/module is needed.

For a more in-depth comparison of some LED lighting systems, view our LED Lighting Comparison Chart (PDF).

We hope this article has given you some insight into your LED lighting options. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us at 1-866-295-9230. And you can check out our entire line of LED Lighting at

Happy Reefing!

Visit ReefGeek.com  ·  Toll-free: 1-866-295-9230  ·  Email Us


  1. Very informative post indeed! Yes, I agree it is really difficult for a layman who is not aware of the specifications and feature of the different LED lights, to pick the right one. Either they pay too much for less or buy the cheap one and compromised with the quality. But there are lights available which are much affordable and excellent in quality.

  2. Thank you for the feedback. I hope this article helped!


    David @ ReefGeek

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      it also saves our present by both CO2 reduction and Huge reduction on monthly bills.
      As estimated approximately 90% reduction in electric bills and huge savings.

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  5. LED is the future lightning for all over the world because of vivid advantages over other lights that is why people using led spotlight for home

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