Best LED Lighting Sets for Reef Tanks 2021

  Apr 5, 2021 8:36 AM
Check out our top picks for the best LED Lighting Sets for Reef Tanks. We offer detailed product reviews, buying guides and FAQs, along with the basis of aquarium lighting.
Best LED Lighting Sets for Reef Tanks 2021
Check out our top picks for the best LED Lighting Sets for Reef Tanks. We offer detailed product reviews, buying guides and FAQs, along with the basis of aquarium lighting.. Image source:


For hobbyists, aquarium lights directly influence our ways of visually enjoying our hobby. But more importantly, the majority of the coral reefs in our aquarium are photosynthetic, which makes it more difficult to nurture and maintain in the most proper way. 

Seeking suitable lights for reef tanks has always been a loaded topic. Among light fixture choices, we believe aquarium LED lighting is the most beneficial when it comes to overall quality and functions. Prior to our suggestions at best LED Lighting Sets for Reef Tanks, shall we skim through the basics of aquarium lights?

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Why LEDs?

Basics of Aquarium Lights

Overall, aquarium light is any artificial light used to brighten your aquariums. Aquarium light fixtures can use different light sources such as fluorescent, LED or metal halide.

Now here comes the tricky part! If you’re new to the world of aquarium or you’re originally a fish keeper and now take up a new hobby as a reefer, you need to know that lights used for each type of aquarium are variably designed for freshwater tanks, brackish tanks and marine tanks which consist of fish only and reef tanks. Reef tanks are what we consider the most here, so we only dive into which light fixtures fit best for your reef tanks and why we suggest opting for LEDs.

Why Choose LEDs for Your Reef Tanks?

In today’s market, there are three types of lights that are most used, naming T5 fluorescents, metal halide and LEDs. However, it’s best to keep in mind that no light is perfect since each of them has their upside and downside. Therefore, you should consider both sides to see which benefits the light offer is the most important to you and which drawbacks the light included is the most tolerable.

Let’s start it off with T5 fluorescent fixtures. The plus of T5 fluorescents is its robust light spectrum that colors up the liveliness of corals. Also, there are a wide range of bulb choices available offering your tanks some of the very unique look. However, they’re not as diversely controllable and energy-efficient as LEDs. Their lifespan is also short, which is around 6 to 12 months, and the quality of the light decreases over time. Another downside for online shoppers is that the light bulbs are fragile, so they’re easily broken during shipping.    

Moving to metal halide fixtures, they’re the least popular used at hobbyist level but common at commercial level. Their positive side is the intensity, longevity and spectrum. They also offer shimmering effects which are said to be beneficial for corals. Yet metal halide fixtures consume a large amount of heat and energy and have no practical control. Additionally, since they generate lots of heat, they need to be turned off for a period of time before turning on again, so basically dusk till dawn effects are not applied for this type of fixture.

There are a few reasons for hobbyists to consider choosing LEDs over T5 fluorescents and metal halide. Firstly, LED fixtures offer more control of each LED light individually, therefore can customize the schedules, colors and intensity. Among all types of lights, LED is best to display the corals as they bring out more fluorescence. They’re also energy efficient, long lasting and cooler in temperature compared to T5 fluorescent and metal halide. The downside of LEDs is that being under this light, some corals are unable to color up very well, for example, SPS and some LPS such as Acanthastrea or Micromussa.

Why is it Necessary to Choose Best LED Lighting Sets for Reef Tanks? 

So above, we’ve already confirmed that using LED lighting would maximize flexibility, control and functionality. But now, some of you might think: “Can I just buy a random LED lighting set as long as it’s LED and for aquarium?” The answer is yes, you could do that, but here’s why you should buy the best LED lighting sets for reef tanks.

Firstly, you wouldn’t want to waste your money because some LED lighting sets are designed for specific purposes, for example, to nurture planted tanks or coral reef tanks, so it’s best to choose the right type of models to meet your demand. Secondly, some LED light sets for reef tanks are too bright, which may pose some algae problems for your reef aquarium. Lastly, some reef keepers would love to purchase the best budget LED lighting sets, while others need a long-lasting one, so the best LED light sets for your reef tanks would be those that fit your need the most.

Understanding the varied demands of hobbyists, we present our top recommendations for the best LED lighting sets for reef tanks right below. 

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With extensive research on light market, light functions combined with customer feedback, we have created a list of firm offers that guarantee you’d be able to choose the best LED lighting sets for your reef tanks. 

1. Current USA Orbit Marine LED Aquarium Light - Overall Best LED lighting sets for reef tanks

This new Orbit Marine LED Aquarium Light has a wide color spectrum and high quality LED can bring a next level experience for your aquarium. It also comes with multiple modes, super color and realistic effects, which makes most of the customers satisfied.


  • Amazing light for the reasonable price

  • Small and compatible with most of common tanks (18 - 24 inches)

  • The moonlight is great, as well as the Sunrise/Sunset features

  • Adjustable colors

  • Can control light hours, pump time, feeding time and add water flow.


  • The feet of the light is not very long lasting, can be rusted after a time of using

  • Cable from the lamp and the controller are not long.

2. AquaIllumination AI Prime 16 HD Reef Aquarium LED - Best LED lighting sets for reef tanks, high ends

This model from AquaIllumination with 16 HD spectrum can provide a wide range of spectral combinations to meet up with your aquarium’s requirement. It adjusts power color individually, using the spare power from the colors you are not utilizing. Giving you the most phenomenally colorful tank you have ever seen.


  • Easy installation with given dimensions

  • Flexible and customizable

  • 1000s of presets you can download or you can make your own schedule.

  • The power is not too powerful to burn the corals   


  • No wifi connection

  • ‘The controlling app is not easy to use.

3. VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control Dimmable 165W 300W LED Aquarium Light Full Spectrum - Best LED lighting for reef tanks, best budget

VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control Series V165 LED Aquarium Light is renowned for its scientifically engineered design specifically built for growing corals. It offers full spectrum light that mimics natural light to help corals/fish achieve the best balance, making it suitable for all photosynthetic corals.


  • Automatically and separately time control.

  • 2 times channels brightness

  • Modern high-speed quiet fan

  • Easy to install

  • 1-year warranty and 30 days free exchange or return.


  • Does not last long

4. Finnex Planted+ 24/7 CRV Aquarium LED Light - Best LED lightings for reef tanks, best budget

This model has 24/7 CRV LED lights. It comes with controllable LED lights of 4 colors : Red, blue, green and daylight. The CRV features a built-in LED indicating sensor, making it easier to customize. An upgraded remote is provided with many changeable modes and 4 memory slots.


  • Lots of different sizes to choose from

  • Reasonable price

  • Light spans entire the tank

  • User friendly with programed app


  • Status light is big and too bright

5. Fluval Sea Marine Nano Bluetooth LED (20 Watt) - Best LED lightings for reef tanks, most fit small scale aquarium 

This LED is designed to help increase the growth of corals. It also has optional light customization. The flexibility of the light also facilitates multiple positions in the aquarium. Last but not least, the humidity and water leak are prevented by fully encased aluminum shells.


  • The cheapest with decent quality

  • The bluetooth control app is user friendly, super easy to use.

  • Providing a wide spread throughout the tank

  • More powerful than given


  • The preset light modes are bad

  • When the power is lost, it does not turn back on automatically. Instead you have to do it manually through the app and lose all the old settings. 

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Buying Guides

Unless you’re helped by a profound reefer, you may feel overwhelmed when trying to dive deeper into reef tank lighting. There are two key factors you should consider before purchasing a set of LED lighting: Light spectrum and Light color. 

Some of you might think these two terms are the same, while actually they’re not. Light spectrum, i.e. total spectral composition of the light source, contains the wavelengths of light produced. Color, in others words, is light perceived by the human eye.

The usage of color and light spectrum plays a major role in the photosynthetic process of corals. For light color, violet light and red light is best recommended for corals to thrive. For light spectrum, UVA, visible light spectrum, is recommended as it supports the photosynthesis process.


Are LED lights good for corals?

Yes, corals do thrive under LED lights. Many established reefers have been using LED lighting for their tanks and still receive amazing results.

Are blue LED lights bad for fish?

No, they’re not. For fish, blue LED lights still can be used to mark dusk and dawn transition and also imitate moonlight. Therefore, blue light won’t be a problem for your fish as well as plants, corals and algae.

Final Thoughts

If you’re still confused about the best LED lighting sets for reef tanks to purchase, it’s the best to just play it safe. Our first suggestion for you is the fit-all LED lighting sets: Current USA Orbit Marine LED Aquarium Light

But if you want to test the water first, or if you’re not sure about this whole ‘investment’ into your hobby, other best options would be VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control Dimmable 165W 300W LED Aquarium Light Full Spectrum and Finnex Planted+ 24/7 CRV Aquarium LED Light

Hopefully, our guide gives you helpful information on how to choose the best LED light sets for reef tanks. To purchase the best LED lighting fixture, you should check out the list of products we mentioned above.