Updated: February 15, 2022 - By: - Categories: Equipment

Most aquarists start with a 10-gallon tank. It’s easy to set up but not too small that the water parameters change drastically. Lighting will be a critical part of your setup. It supplies energy for photosynthetic plants, maintains the overall health of your fish community, and, most importantly brings out the vibrant colors inside your tank.

Choosing the right light for a novice can be challenging. To help you get off to a good start with your tank, here is a quick review of some great 20-inch LED aquarium lights that will work for your 10-gallon tank.

Best 20-inch LED aquarium lights

Model Our rating PAR Ideal for Fixture sizes For tanks LEDs Modes Wattage
Aqueon Aquarium Clip-on LED Light editor's ratingAqueon Aquarium Clip-on LED Light #ad 70 @ 12-inch depth fish, freshwater shrimp, low-high light plants 8-inches (clip light) up to 20 gallons 60 total day, night, off
Hygger Full Spectrum aquarium light editor's ratingHygger Full Spectrum aquarium light #ad fish-only, most plant types 18-24 inches 10 Gal 56 White + 11 Blue + 7 Red + 4 Green + 20 RGB multi colors, on/off timer, 24/7 timer 18 watts
NICREW ClassicLED G2 editor's ratingNICREW ClassicLED G2 #ad 70 @ 12-inch depth fish, most types of plants 18-24 inches 10 gallons (20-inch length) 90 White + 18 Blue Day/night, inline timer 18 watts
Hygger Blue White small clip-on Light editor's ratingHygger Blue White small clip-on Light #ad fish, most plant types 9.7 inches (clip light) 5-10 gallons 24 White + 6 Blue day/night, adjustable 13 watts (available 21W for 10-30 Gal)
Finnex Planted+ 24/7 CRV editor's ratingFinnex Planted+ 24/7 CRV #ad 80 @ 14-inch depth (48-inch fixture) medium-high light plants 20 inches (available 20-48″) 10 gallons daylight, 660nm red, green, blue 24/7 timer controller, multi modes watts
NICREW SkyLED Plus editor's ratingNICREW SkyLED Plus #ad 97 @ 12-inch depth most plant types 18-24 inches (available 18-36″) 10 gallons 48 White + 9 Blue + 6 Red Day/night 22 watts
S SMIFUL Submersible LED Strip editor's ratingS SMIFUL Submersible LED Strip #ad freshwater fish-only 19-inch (7/11/15/19/23-inch available) 10 gallons 27 RGB LEDs multi colors, adjustable 2 watts
Current USA Satellite Plus PRO editor's ratingCurrent USA Satellite Plus PRO #ad 155 @ 12-inch depth medium-high light plants 18-24 inches (available 18-60″) 10 gallons 14 white, 4 red, 6 RGB 24 hour timer control, multi modes 25 watts
MingDak LED GL multi-funtion editor's ratingMingDak LED GL multi-function #ad 63 @ 12-inch depth most plant types 18-24 inches (available 12-54″) 10 gallons 48 White + 12 Blue + 4 Red Day/night with a built-in timer 11 watts
Finnex Stingray 2 editor's ratingFinnex Stingray 2 #ad 76 @ 14-inch depth (48-inch fixture) most plant plants 20 inches (available 12-48″) 10 gallons (44) 7000K + (8) actinic Blue + (8) 660nm RED Day/night
NICREW HyperReef 30 editor's ratingNICREW HyperReef 30 #ad 58 @ 24-inch most types of corals maximum spread of 20 x 20″ nano reef tanks up to 10 gallons 18 LEDs from 405 nm (UV) to 660 nm (Deep Red) blue and white channels, adjustable 30 watts
AquaIllumination AI Prime 16 HD Reef Aquarium LED editor's ratingAquaIllumination AI Prime 16 HD Reef Aquarium LED #ad 100 @ 24-inch depth most types of corals maximum spread of 24 x 24″ up to 24 inches long 17 LEDs, 7 color channel Bluetooth app control for light colors and schedule 60 watts

Reviews of 20-inch LED lights

Aqueon Clip-on LED Light for tanks up to 20-gallon

This Aqueon clip-on light is perfect for aquarists who prefer not to have chunky lights that hog all the space. It has 60 LEDs that provide enough light for tanks up to 20 gallons. It is designed to help grow lush plants and comes with all the bells and whistles to help you get the greenest and healthiest plants.

PAR  measurement @ 12-inch depthPAR measurement @ 12-inch depth #ad

Based on the PAR information provided by Aqueon, if you use it for a 10 gallon planted tank or a smaller one, this light can work well for even ‘light-hungry’ plants, especially if you have carpeting plants like Glossostigma, which tend to stay close to the base of the tank. A lower-output version (PAR 20-30 @ 12″) of the light is also available if you have a Betta fish tank with/without some low-light plants to care for.

The light also does an exceptional job of bringing out the natural colors in your tank. It features two light modes, all LEDs on for daylight and blue only for night moonlight. There is a handy touchpad on the fixture for switching among the modes and off.

Installation should be a breeze with the Aqueon aquarium clip-on LED light. It comes with a clamp that effortlessly slips on both framed or frameless tanks. Use the crew included to fix the clamp in place.

Hygger 24/7 LED aquarium light with inline timer

This is a multi-function LED aquarium light from Hygger. Its inline controller includes so many wonderful features that are very helpful for aquarium uses. The full-spectrum light is ideal for both fish-only and planted tanks. It works well for most types of aquatic plants.

Inline controllerInline controller #ad

There are two timer modes on the controller. First, the timer key allows you to set light-up time to 6 hours, 10 hours, or 12 hours. Second, the 24/7 key allows you to switch to default sunrise, daylight, and moonlight settings. These settings control the light’s colors that change during the day, being orange during the sunrise hours, white during the day, and blue during the late hours. During the other periods throughout the day, the lights go off.

24/7 lighting cycle24/7 lighting cycle #ad

Aside from the full spectrum white, you can also choose one of seven colors (White, Red, Blue, Green, Purple, Orange, Cyan) to use. You can also choose all the colors with the color cycle mode, too. The Up and Down key lets you adjust the brightness as per your preference.

If you like to photograph your fish tank or the fish inside, this LED light will not make any trouble whatsoever. The lights are irradiated and soft, meaning that the screen will not flash when you take a photo.

The 18W led light is appropriate for tanks about 18 to 24 inches long. It has a metal and aluminum case, which is strong and can withstand at least 50,000 hours of service.

Nicrew ClassicLED Gen 2 with an inline timer

This is the 2nd generation of the Nicrew Classic LED light. It comes with more LEDs for 50% more brightness and a very convenient inline timer controller. With a PAR of 70 at 12 inches, this is an excellent grow light for most types of aquarium plants in a 10-gallon tank.

Wired timer controllerWired timer controller #ad

To customize the light to your needs, it comes with a wired timer controller. This allows you to adjust the brightness of the light from 5 to 100%, choose between day and night modes, and you can use the built-in timer to set the lighting time to 8, 10, or 12 hours depending on your needs.

The unique design of the brackets makes it easy to install the light on both rimmed and rimless aquariums. The extendable brackets mean it can work for a 10-gallon tank with ease. It’s best to use the light over a glass or acrylic canopy-covered aquarium for maximum longevity.

Hygger Blue White small clip-on LED Aquarium Light

Being a popular brand among aquarists, Hygger offers top-quality, highly functional, and adjustable aquarium lighting solutions. It has adopted the same approach with this small clip-on aquarium LED light.

Update Version Wide ClipUpdate Version Wide Clip #ad

Measuring just 9.7 inches, this one-of-a-kind LED light has 30 LEDs, 24 white and 6 blue, and is rated for 5 – 10 gallon tanks. There’s also a 21-watt option for 10 -30 gallon tanks.

It offers two lighting modes; day (with all LEDs on) and night (only blue LEDs). The light has an ultra-thin aluminum alloy and plastic shell for quick heat dissipation. The splash-resistant casing makes the light an ideal option for both freshwater and saltwater applications.

The addition of an adjustable gooseneck is a fine touch that gives the light an elegant touch while increasing the installation options and positions.

If you are interested in the convenient use of this clip light, check other clip-on LED aquarium lights here.

Finnex Planted+ 24/7 CRV 20-inch with automatic lighting cycle

As a novice, you’ll notice there are many parameters you need to keep an eye on for your new aquarium to thrive. Getting some help from a fully automated LED light can make the task easier and help control parameters like algae growth.

The Finnex Planted+ 24/7 aquarium light can make fish keeping easier. It has an outstanding range of features that you will appreciate at a modest price. The most impressive feature is the 24/7 mode, which controls when the light is on and off. This is vital to plant growth and fish health.

24/7 feature24/7 feature #ad

But that’s not the only feature. It also offers various other helpful features like the full spectrum LEDs that include deep red, blue, and white LEDs. The light is fitted with an aluminum hood that gives it a sleek look and helps in heat management to prolong the life of the light.

Using the in-built LED sensor and remote, you can adjust the 24/7 programming, input custom colors in your tank, and control light intensity, all while enjoying the full view of your aquarium at a distance.

The 24/7 feature mimics the lighting spectrum throughout the day, ensuring your inhabitants can experience the full outdoor experience from the safety of the tank.

Although the light employs modern technology in its functionalities, the installation has remained simple and straightforward. The adjustable plastic legs attach to rimmed and rimless tanks, so you can get the light set up in no time.

Nicrew SkyLED Plus – budget option for 10-gal planted

The Nicrew SkyLED Plus aquarium light is living proof that well-rounded aquarium lights don’t have to be expensive. It has a solid and modern design with handy features that light up the aquarium and support high light demanding plants.

The light is composed of 48 white LEDs 6500K, nine 450Nm blue, and six 660Nm red LEDs. This combination of LEDs supports healthy, vibrant fish and plant growth by providing full-spectrum lighting needs.

You can tweak the lighting depending on your preference and needs using the wired switch on the power cord. The switch allows you to select between day and night modes, and you can also adjust the daylight and moonlight color spectrum and intensity. What’s more, the day and night lighting channels can be adjusted independently to suit your lighting needs better.

The LEDs are enclosed in an aluminum shell, which doubles as the heat management system. For easy installation on all 10-gallon tanks, the light has adjustable docking legs that allow for quick and easy installation.

S SMIFUL Waterproof RGB Underwater Submersible LED Strip

The S Smiful Waterproof RGB is a diverse submersible LED strip that you can place in multiple positions, inside or outside the aquarium, in or out of the water. It comes with suction cups for easy placement.

It comes with various features to add a dramatic effect to your tank. Using the remote control that comes with the light, you can choose your preferred lighting mode among multi available colors. The light is also dimmable, which is perfect if you have some species that love soothing light.

You are able to change the speed at which a color changes to another. There are four color-changing modes for choice, including flash, strobe, fade, or smooth. Just choose a mode you like then press the up or down button to change the transition duration between two different colors.

More submersible LED aquarium light here: https://portlandaquarium.net/submersible-led-light/

Current USA Satellite Plus Pro 18-24 inch

Lighting for aquariums differs depending on the type of tank you want to keep. If you’re going to keep a freshwater planted tank, then the Current USA Satellite Plus Pro is what you need. It comes with a hound of lighting features that will make your plants and fish feel right at home.

This is a full spectrum light that meets all the growth requirements of your plants. It has 6500K white LEDs, deep red LEDs, and rich 445Nm blue LEDs. For that morning to evening feel, the light has a gradual sunrise and gentle sunset effect.

Remote controlRemote control #ad

The remote that comes with the light gives you total control and programming of the light at your fingertips. You can set when you want the light to start the sunrise, and control the light spectrum and intensity. In case you find all the controls challenging, there are four optimized colors for freshwater tanks that you can choose from.

TimerTimer #ad

To add some pizzazz and flair to your tank, the Current Satellite Plus Pro features six dynamic weather effects with a 24-hour timer for convenience.

The overall design of the light is simple yet practical. It has an aluminum shell that offers a clean look and efficient heat dissipation and extendable metal brackets for easy installation.

MingDak LED GL Multi-Function 18-24 inch

Keeping an aquarium is about trying to replicate the natural environment inside your tank. While you can’t bring the sun indoors, the MingDak LED GL Multi-Function light gets close to helping you achieve the benefits of full-spectrum light.

This beautiful and functional light has a slim and sturdy aluminum housing. Its extendable mounting legs are ideal for 10-gallon tanks with or without a cover.

Once the light is installed, you can enjoy a variety of lighting modes and features. For the full-spectrum effect, the light relies on blue, red, and white diodes with carefully crafted wavelengths to bring out the vibrant colors in your tank and support plant growth.

In total, the light has 64 LEDs with a capacity of 1000 lumens while consuming 11W for optimum lighting while keeping the power consumption low.

The external wired controller gives you a variety of lighting options, and there’s a timer setting that you can use as well. You have three lighting modes: White + blue + red, white + red, and only blue. You can use the controller to adjust the light intensity and set the lighting time to 3, 6, or 12 hours depending on your tank’s needs.

The MingDak LED GL multi-function does an excellent job of balancing functionality, adjustability, and price. It’s an incredible light for beginners who want less responsibility to maintain consistent lighting periods in the tank.

Finnex Stingray 2, 20-inch for 10-gal low light need

The Finnex Stingray 2 is more advanced than the Nicrew and is designed to do a little bit of everything. It features an excellent ultra-thin design that fits seamlessly inside your tank with an aluminum shell for efficient heat dissipation. For moisture management, the light has a moisture-resistant conformal LED coating, which helps to prolong the life of the LEDs.

With the Stingray 2, you get three colored LEDs. There are 44 7000K white LEDs, eight actinic blue, and eight 660Nm Red LEDs. The Tri-color blend of LEDs helps to cater to the photosynthetic needs of your plants while showcasing the vibrant colors of the inhabitants.

The 3-position switch light is all you need to control and adjust the lights. Using the switch, you can select the max, moonlight, or OFF mode.

The installation of the Finnex Stingray 2 is just as easy as it is to use. The extendable clear plastic legs can slide within the hood tracks and have plastic screws to hold the light firmly in place.

Nicrew HyperReef 30 for 10-gallon reef

The type of aquarium you set up determines the light you buy. The Nicrew HyperReef 30 is designed for marine setups and particularly entry-level tanks. It offers all the features you need for your reef without a complicated operation.

The light has a spread of 20 inches by 20 inches, making it perfect for 10-gallon reef aquariums. It has a full-color spectrum that includes blue, red, greed, and violet. And it also has a UV channel to promote optimal coral growth while adding a gentle shimmer and vibrant colors to your tank.

Two color channelsTwo color channels #ad

It comes with a dual-channel wired controller for you to adjust the light intensity and spectrum for your reef. You can use this to adjust the white and blue channels independently to reach your desired light color.

For automatic lighting schedule with sunrise and sunset, you can use a dual-channel timer from Nicrew #ad (sold separately). Please note that this timer only works with the HyperReef 30, not higher-range models in the HyperReef series.

The light comes complete with a tank mount that works for rimmed or rimless tanks. You can also hang the light, but the hanging kit is sold separately.

AI Prime 16 HD for 10-gallon reef

The AI Prime 16 HD is a mid-range coral LED light that comes in a tiny package. The module boasts a 100µMol PAR value at 24 inches which is more than sufficient for most soft coral tanks. And if you use it for a 10-gallon nano reef tank, the PAR will be great enough to support even high-demanding SPS corals like Acropora.

It features a total of 17 tightly packed individual LEDs that are flush mounted onto a heatsink, immaculately packed in an outer shell. It has 4 cool white, 4 blue, 4 royal blue, 1 photo red, 1 green, 1 violet, 1 UV and, 1 moonlight LED. Each of the 17 LEDs is individually programmable to suit the needs of individual reefers via the “myAI” app from the manufacturer.

The “myAI” app connects via Bluetooth and has an easy-to-use interface that most reefers would be familiar with. With the free app, intensity, color temperature, and duration are all readily customizable. To add, if you are unsure, their presets are great as well. It also comes with an acclimation mode which comes in handy for new tanks that require a gradual increase in intensity over a certain period.

The plastic construction of the AI Prime 16 HD is both sturdy and helps with efficient cooling for prolonged component life. Its sleek design also reduces the profile and presence over the aquarium, making for a stealthy yet accessible piece of equipment.

The only drawback of this product is that it doesn’t include anything for hanging or mounting itself and you have to buy these devices separately.

Find other reef tank LED lights here: Comparison table of reef tank LED lights, PAR for soft/LPS/SPS corals

Final thoughts

LED lights might not be the most expensive equipment on your new 10-gallon tank, but it’s definitely one of the most important. More so if you have a planted or a reef tank. With any one of the above lights, you can set up your first aquarium for success without wasting time and money trying out different lights.

We enjoy keeping fish, and have for many years. We are trying to promote the hobby as much as possible. We want to see many others succeed in their fish keeping efforts and are committed to sharing our knowledge when we can.

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