Updated: January 18, 2021 - By: - Categories: Equipment

With a 30-50 gallon tank, you can start your aquarist journey in so many ways as you want. You can have a setup with a fish-only, a saltwater reef, or a freshwater planted tank. To have your tank fully functional, lighting is among the first aspects you will need to consider. We have reviewed some excellent 36-inch LED lights that will work for your planted, fish-only, or coral set up to make it easier to find the right one depending on your tank type.

Best LED lights for 30/40/50 gallon fish tanks

Model Our rating PAR Ideal for Fixture sizes For tanks LEDs Modes Wattage
NICREW ClassicLED G2 editor's ratingNICREW ClassicLED G2 78 @ 12-inch depth fish, most types of plants 30-36 inches 29-50 gallons 120 White + 24 Blue adjustable day/night, inline timer 25 watts
NICREW ClassicLED Plus editor's ratingNICREW ClassicLED Plus 72 @ 12-inch depth fish, low to average light plants 36-48 inches 30-50 gallons White + Blue + Red + Green day/night, adjustable 27 watts
Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Light editor's ratingCurrent USA Satellite Freshwater LED Light 155 @ 12-inch depth fish only 36-48 inches 30-50 gallons 99 White/36 Blue day/night, adjustable 15 watts
Finnex Planted+ 24/7 ALC editor's ratingFinnex Planted+ 24/7 ALC 124 @ 12-inch depth medium-high light plants 36 inches (available 12-48″) 30-50 gallons daylight, 660nm red, green, blue 24/7 timer controller, multi modes watts
Current USA Satellite Plus PRO editor's ratingCurrent USA Satellite Plus PRO 155 @ 12-inch depth medium-high light plants 36-48 inches (available 18-60″) 30-50 gallons 30 white, 8 red, 14 RGB 24 hour timer control, multi preset modes 50 watts
Finnex FugeRay Planted+ editor's ratingFinnex FugeRay Planted+ 121 @ 14-inch depth (48-inch fixture) most high-demanding planted tanks 36 inches (available 12-48″) 30-50 gallons (132) 7000K + (72) 660nm red + (12) blue Day/moonlight 40 watts
BeamsWork DA FSPEC LED editor's ratingBeamsWork DA FSPEC LED 96 @ 12-inch depth (24-inch fixture) medium-high light plants 36 inches (available 12-48″) 30-50 gallons 70x 10000K, 16x Actinic, 8x Red, 6x Green Day/night 100 x 0.5W = 50 watts total
NICREW HyperReef 50 editor's ratingNICREW HyperReef 50 128 @ 24-inch saltwater fish, average light corals maximum spread of 24″ x 24″ 2 units for a 36-inch reef tank 24 LEDs from 405 nm (UV) to 660 nm (Deep Red) blue and white channels, adjustable 50 watts

36-Inch aquarium LED lights reviewed

Nicrew ClassicLED Gen 2 with an inline timer

For aquarists that want to start with a freshwater fish only or planted tank, the Nicrew Classic LED G2 is a great start. This second-generation aquarium light from Nicrew now features more LEDs and more brightness. The added inline LED timer controller adds a hoard of features.

Wired timer controllerWired timer controller

The W (White) and B (Blue) buttons allow adjusting the lighting intensities of white and blue channels separately, from 5-100%. The clock button is for setting the lighting time to 8/10/12 hours as desired, and you don’t need to buy a separate timer. The M (Mode) button allows switching between three modes (all LEDs on, only white, and only blue), or turning the light off.

The lighting features and intensity produced by this light are perfect in bringing out your fish’s vibrant colors and can also grow a vast range of aquarium plants. The most commendable aspect of the light fixture is how affordable yet durable it is. Its LEDs are rated at 50,000 hours, so you get value for your money.

The light comes with extendable mounting brackets that can work for rimmed and rimless tanks. While the build of the light is very sturdy, it features an aluminum casing for rapid heat dissipation. It’s recommended to use the light on tanks that have a transparent canopy for expanding its lifetime.

NiCREW ClassicLED Plus full-spectrum, 36-inch

The Nicrew ClassicLED Plus light is a no-brainer, particularly among aquarists keeping a planted aquarium with low to average light level plants.

Packed with numerous features, the light ranks highly for its effectiveness and efficiency. It has a stylish, ultra-thin design with an aluminum shell for durability and fast heat dissipation.

It’s a full-spectrum light with white, blue, red, and green light and is brighter than other lights in its category. What’s more, the color spectrum of the light is fine-tuned to guarantee maximum benefits and vibrant growth for aquarium plants.

Two lighting modesTwo lighting modes

You can choose between two lighting modes that come with this light using the inline barrel connector. The daylight mode features a combination of all the lights at full strength while the night mode features only the blue lights.

The installation of the light is as easy as its operation. It has adjustable docking mounts that work for rimless and framed tanks. The manufacturer recommends using the light fixture with a glass or acrylic canopy to get a longer service time.

Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Light

For aquarists with a fish-only tank, it’s still possible to get the most vivid colors out of the tank. The Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED light is designed for fish-only tanks with plenty of features that will bring those vibrant colors to life while adding a shimmer.

The light is packed with 6500K white LEDs and 445nm blue LEDs, corresponding to two independent color channels. You can adjust each of the channels independently, giving you the power to pick a setting that brings out the most color for your tank.

Wired remote controlWired remote control

Using the simple wired remote, you can choose from various modes available for this light. These include three fading cloudy, two lunar, two storm modes, and a dusk mode. The fading effects are spot-on and very realistic, allowing your fish to live out a wild experience right inside your tank.

You can also choose to dim one or both channels using the remote depending on your preference.

Once the light arrives, it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to have it up and running. The sliding docking legs expand from 36 to 48 inches in length, making the light an excellent choice for various tanks and various installation options.

The Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED light is best suited for tanks with tetras, cichlids, and livebearers.

Finnex Planted+ 24/7 ALC 36-inch Aquarium LED Light

I will definitely recommend this aquarium light to every planted aquarium owners. Aquarium plants are healthier when they get a lighting schedule mimicking that of their natural habitats. With the Finnex Planted+ 24/7 ALC aquarium LED light, your plants get a nature-like kind of light.

24/7 feature24/7 feature

The most remarkable feature of this product is its ability to automatically increase or decrease the light intensity as the day goes by with its 24/7 automatic lighting cycle. With the 24/7 feature, you get a deemed sunrise, full-lit noon, deemed sunset, starry night, and dark midnight.

Remote controlRemote control

The remote features 8 different times of a day so that you can click on the nearest time when programming the light. You can also adjust colors and intensities at different times within the 24/7 program.

Besides the 24/7 lighting cycle, you may like other features and wonderful preset lighting effects of the product. With the remote, you can adjust each of the color channels independently and build your own favorite colors, and save your settings with four memory slots (M1-M4) on the remote.

The product is lightweight and ultra-slim. It comes with extendable clear-plastic legs to fit a broad range of aquarium widths around 36 inches. It can also be used on aquariums with or without rims.

Current USA Satellite Plus Pro 36-48 inch

For tech-eye aquarists that love control, the Current USA Satellite Plus Pro is a match made in heaven. This one of a kind LED light supports vibrant plant-growth, vibrant colors and brings a brilliant shimmer to your tank.

Its performance is powered by various LEDs that include 30 pieces of 6500K white, 8 red, and 14 RGB LEDs. With the PAR output of 155 at 12 inches, the highest in this article, the light is ideal for even the most demanding planted tanks.

Remote controlRemote control


The light comes with a handy IR wireless remote and a touchpad timer that gives you full control of it. It features a 24-hour automatic lighting cycle with hand-free control. Moreover, the cycle is included with 15-minute ramp up and down periods in order not to shock your fish because of sudden lighting changes.

By using the remote, you can choose from any of the lighting modes: daylight, moonlight, cloud cover, fading lunar, and storm and lighting. You can customize the light color by adjusting different color channels. This helps the light to adapt to the needs of your tank.

Extendable brackets make the light easy to install and can easily work with various tanks in varying situations.

Finnex Fugeray Planted+ daylight and moonlight 36-inch

The Finnex Fugeray Planted+ comes with features best working for planted aquariums. The light combines the power and efficiency of 216 LEDs in different colors to meet all the plant and lighting requirements of your 50-gallon tank.

There are 132 x 7000K LEDs, 72 x 660 nm true red LEDs, and 12 blue moonlight LEDs. While the light has done an excellent job of replicating full-spectrum lighting, it’s a little short-handed on the modes. It only offers two modes; day and night. But for most tanks, these should be sufficient.

The Finnex Fudgeray Planted+ is a balance of aesthetic appeal and value for money. The light is well designed and quite appealing. Unlike its competitors that have metallic docking legs, this one spots classy, clear, and extendable plastic legs.

The LEDs are rated at 40,000 hours, which is impressive given its price tag. For aquarists that are not taking any chances with their live plants, this light will come in handy.


Some aquarium plants need a lot of light to grow. Finding the right light that emits the right spectrum of light is vital for the health and vibrant growth of such plants. If you have tried several lights, but none seems to work, you should give the BeamsWork DA FSPEC LED light a chance.

With 70 x 10000K white LEDs, 16 x 460 nm actinic Blue, 8 x 620 nm red, and 6 x 520 nm green LEDs, this light will easily meet the lighting needs of your live plants and aquarium.

Depending on the time of day, you can choose from one of two modes, day or night, with a little help from the inline wired remote. In the daylight mode, all the LEDs will shine brightly while only the blue lights are on during the night mode.

The light is pre-wired to work with a timer for that gradual sunrise and sundown effect, but the timer is sold separately.

An elegant, ultra-thin aluminum shell covers the LEDs while providing an expansive surface area for fast and effective heat dissipation. To install the light, it has clear, extendable docking legs that work on most types of aquariums and don’t pose a challenge.

NiCREW HyperReef 50 for saltwater reef tanks

The Nicrew HyperReef 50 is designed to fulfill all the needs of reef systems using one efficient light. The light is a full-spectrum option that incorporates blue, green, red, violet, and UV light to ensure a healthy reef and adequate light with a gentle shimmer.

HyperReef 50 PAR measurementsHyperReef 50 PAR measurements

The PAR output of the HyperReef 50 (50W version) is 128 at 24 inches. You can use it to grow low-average light level corals such as softies, LPS, low light SPS… If you need brighter light, its higher-wattage versions up to 150 watts may meet your reef tank’s needs.

Two color channels and three modesTwo color channels and three modes

The HyperReef doesn’t offer a hoard of modes. But it allows you to control the white and blue channels independently, which in turn adjust the light intensity and spectrum inside the tank.

Its built-in smart fans ensure you can keep running the light for as long as you need to without worrying about heat damage.

Its maximum spread is 24 by 24-inch and you can use two units for a 36-inch reef. The light comes with a tank mount that is straightforward to install. If you would rather hang the light, you can buy a hanging kit from the same seller.

Find more products and read our ultimate guide of saltwater reef lighting here: https://portlandaquarium.net/led-light-for-reef-tank/

Final Thoughts

Set up your 50-gallon tank for success by choosing the right light for your fish, plants, or corals. These reviews feature a little bit of everything to save you the time and trouble of going through thousands of options in the market, most of which don’t do what they claim.

Lucas has been keeping successful fish, planted, and reef tanks for many years. He loves to collect aquatic organisms and keep as many aquariums as he can.

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