Updated: October 9, 2020 - By: - Categories: Equipment

Lighting is important for small tanks as it is for big tanks. Having the right lighting not only helps to grow healthy and vibrant plants but also make the colors of your tank pop.

For a small tank, finding the right lighting can be an uphill task. If the light is too strong, you will have an algae problem, and if the intensity is too low, the plants will suffer a slow death. You also have to contend with the lack of space to install the lighting fixture.

This is where clip-on LED lights come in handy. To make it easy for you to find the perfect light for your small tank, here are reviews of four excellent options for small and nano aquariums.

Best Clip-on aquarium light comparison table

Model Our rating Ideal for For tanks LEDs Modes Wattage
Finnex Stingray LED Clip Light 4.5 star ratingFinnex Stingray LED Clip Light fish-only, Bettas, low-light plants 2.5-5 gallons 12 white 7000K, 3 red and 3 actinic blue day, night, off 4 watts
Finnex FugeRay Planted+ cliplight 5 star ratingFinnex FugeRay Planted+ clip light fish, medium-light plants 2.5-5 gallons daylight, 660nm red and blue day, night, off 5 watts
COODIA Aquarium Hood Lighting 4.5 star ratingCOODIA Aquarium Hood Lighting fish, low-light plants up to 7.5 gallons White + RGB countless colors with the remote
NICREW ClassicLED Plus 5 star ratingNICREW ClassicLED Plus most demanding plants 2.5-5 gallons 26 White + 6 Blue + 3 Red + 1 Green Day/night 8 watts
MingDak LED Aquarium Light 4.5 star ratingMingDak LED Aquarium Light fish-only, low-light plants up to 10 gallons 18 white, and 3 blue day, night, off 8 watts
Aqueon Aquarium Clip-on LED Light 5 star ratingAqueon Aquarium Clip-on LED Light fish, medium-light plants up to 20 gallons 60 total day, night, off
Lominie F20 freshwater 4.5 star ratingLominie F20 freshwater high-light plants 8-18 inch cube tank Manual switch for dimming 12-16 watts
AquaIllumination AI Prime 16 HD 5 star ratingAquaIllumination AI Prime 16 HD saltwater fish, low-medium light corals up to 20 gallons 17 total multi modes, mobile app control 59 watts

Clip-on aquarium LED light reviews

Finnex Stingray LED Clip Light

The Finnex Stingray LED clip light is designed for nano tanks that require low light intensity. This 9.5-inch long LED light works perfectly for tanks with slow-growing plants that don’t need a lot of light. This is an ideal choice for nano fish tanks or Betta tanks with some easy-to-care plants like banana plants, moss balls, and Anubias.

For aquarists looking to add some light and color to their tanks or replace the stock lighting fixture that comes with the tank, the Finnex Stingray LED light is a worthy replacement.

Finnex Stingray LED Clip LightFinnex Stingray LED Clip Light

The LED light spots an aluminum cover for easy dissipation of heat with plastic caps at the ends to prevent moisture. It puts out 4 Watts of power courtesy of 12 white 7000K LED bulbs, three red and three actinic blue LEDs.

The flexible arm makes the light easy to position in your tank, and the clip-on design saves you space on your tank and installation time.

Finnex FugeRay Planted+ clip aquarium LED light

The Finnex FugeRay Planted+ clip light is ideal for a small planted aquarium or a saltwater filtration sump. The PAR @ 12-inch depth is 35. However, because this small clip light is mostly used for nano planted tanks that are usually lower than 12 inches, it can work well for even medium light-needy plants.

Besides white LEDs, it is integrated with blue and red LEDs to adequately lit the aquarium and gives a vibrant feel. It offers two lighting modes with a switch button for day/night or off. The night mode has blue LEDs prominent, while daylight mode has all LEDs on favoring plant growth. The red LEDs with a wavelength of 660 nanometers provide true wavelength that favors photosynthesis in plants.

Finnex FugeRay Planted+ clip lightFinnex FugeRay Planted+ clip light

The LED bulbs are housed in an aluminum case for better heat dissipation. They are also covered by a PC splash guard, which safeguards them from any water mishaps and moisture. Because of this, the LEDs can serve for an extended lifespan up to 40,000 plus hours.

The fixture is very slim and light. Since it comes in a clip modeled fixture, it is effortless to install. You only have to slide the aquarium wall into the groove of the gooseneck and use an included nylon crew to fix it over the tank.

If you have a planted aquarium, you should read a complete guide here: https://portlandaquarium.net/planted-aquarium-led-light/

NiCREW Classic LED Plus

For aquarium plants that demand intense light, the NiCREW Classic LED Plus is cut out for the job. It is a full-spectrum light that combines the white, blue, red, and green LEDs. It’s brighter than most lights and produces a fine-tuned color spectrum suited for aquarium plants.

It has a three-way switch that allows you to juggle between day and night modes. For heat management, the light has a stylish and durable aluminum alloy shell that extends the operational life span of the light.

The diverse light can be used for lighting in saltwater settings and caters to medium and high light level plants. The installation of the light is simple. It has metal extendable mounting brackets. For the best results and longevity, it’s best to use the light in canopy-covered aquariums.

MingDak LED Aquarium Light

If you’re looking for stronger light and a bit of sophistication, the MingDak LED aquarium light fits the bill. With 21 LEDs and two lighting modes (blue and white for day and blue for the night mode), this LED light offers more functionality and plenty of shimmers into your aquarium.

The MingDak LED aquarium light is perfect for nano tanks with fish only, or low-demanding planted tanks. It works for tanks that are 14 to 22 inches across. It has an adjustable bracket and clamp that make positioning and setting up a breeze.

MingDak LED Aquarium LightMingDak LED Aquarium Light

If you’re keen about not messing up your tank’s design and layout, the slim and modern design of the light will play into your preferences and play its role while blending into the tank’s design.

Aqueon Aquarium Clip-on LED Light

The Aqueon Aquarium Clip-on LED light is the true definition of looks can be deceptive. This 8-inch long LED light packs a low profile, perfect for aquarists who prefer not to have chunky lights that hog all the space.

It has an incredible 60 LEDs that make easy work of providing enough light for tanks that can hold up to 20 gallons of water. The Aqueon LED light 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

Based on the PAR information provided by Aqueon, if you use it for a 5 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. The light also does an exceptional job of bringing out the natural colors in your tank.

3 way soft-touch button3 way soft-touch button

Its collection of features include blue and white LEDs with a 3-way mode (all on, blue on, and all off). The light has a handy touchpad that you can use to select your preferred mode.

If you’re unlucky to have your tank a significant distance from the power source, you’ll be happy to know that the light offers up to 5 feet of cord, which is quite handy. The power cord comes in two parts, making it easy to replace for a longer one or when it breaks down.

Installation should be a breeze with the Aqueon Aquarium Clip-on LED light. It has a versatile mounting screw and bracket that slip on effortlessly on both framed and frame-less tanks.

If your budget is a little flexible and you’re looking for a good LED light that will support plant growth without blowing your finances out of the water, this compact, low profile LED light from Aqueon will do the trick.

Find other options for a 20-gallon tank here: https://portlandaquarium.net/24-inch-led-light/

COODIA Aquarium Hood Lighting

The COODIA aquarium hood lighting is an excellent light that works for tanks with low light plants while showcasing your fish collection. Its expansive range of lighting modes and multiple colors is for customizing the aesthetics of your fish tank.

Multi-color optionsMulti-color options

It comes with a 2.4G remote technology that is for easier control without pointing the remote directly towards the receiver. You can dim the high-quality RGB LEDs or choose from a range of color options to suit your tank setup using the remote.

The extendable brackets make the light a perfect fit for tanks of different sizes, and the sleek aluminum housing improves heat dissipation for a lifetime of over 10,000 hours.

Lominie F20 freshwater LED aquarium light

This cylinder-shaped aquarium light from Lominie is also a versatile product to consider. It is made using COB (Chip On Board) technology, a new method of LED package, for uniform illumination and more vigorous intensity. This makes it an ideal choice if you have live plants to care for in your aquarium.

The intensity of the light is customizable from 0 to 100%, using a manual switch included, to suit your aquarium needs. Besides the default 180-degree lens fitted in the unit, it comes with a 60-degree one to use with narrower tanks. This makes it ideal for small office aquariums that are commonly 8-18 inches in diameter.

This LED light is designed with quality aluminum casing, which has exceptional heat dissipation for low operating temperatures as well as exlonging its lifetime. The gooseneck makes the setup and customization of this clip-on light just a squeeze.

AquaIllumination AI Prime 16 HD Reef Aquarium LED

The review of the best clip-on LED lights for small aquariums wouldn’t be complete without an option for a marine setup.

The AquaIllumination AI Prime 16HD Reed Aquarium LED is perfect for marine setups and works wonders in helping you grow your reef. It has tons of features that bring convenience and efficiency to your tank, all while adding stunning colors.

The light relies on 17 LEDs with various colors that include blue, royal blue, white, violet, photo red, green, and UV and seven channels, as well as a newly added moonlight that mimics the natural lunar color and intensity to bring out the best in your tank.

The LED light also features the magnificent TIR lenses that help diffuse exit surfaces for better color blending and offer up to 90% efficiency.

The light has a peak PAR of 100µMol at a depth of 24 inches, perfect for small to medium reef tanks with low-medium light demanding corals. The smaller tank you use it on, the higher PAR it provides, this means you can grow high-light corals in a small tank with the light.

In addition to the incredible lighting performance, the AquaIllumination Reef LED light is awash with technical features that make it easy to operate. These include the myAI feature, which allows you to control the light using your phone via a Bluetooth connection, and the HD feature that redistributes power from lights that are not in use to those that are in use.

The 20-foot cable and the variable mounting kits that include an AI flex arm and hanging kit option complete the excellent collection of features and design to give the light a sleek and modern appearance fit for every small reef tank.

Find other reef tank LED lights here: https://portlandaquarium.net/reef-tank-led-light/

Final thoughts

Most aquarists will conquer that finding the right lighting for your tank is the most challenging task you can come across. This is more so the case with smaller tanks that tend to have a smaller pool of options. These aquarium clip-on LED lights will work for most small tanks, and we even added an option for reef tank owners to cover all the grounds.

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