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
- Clip-on aquarium LED light reviews
- Finnex Stingray LED Clip Light
- Finnex FugeRay Planted+ clip aquarium LED light
- Mindak fish tank clip-on light with in-line timer
- NiCREW Classic LED Plus for 2.5-5 gallon planted tanks
- MingDak LED Aquarium Plant Light 12-18 inch extendable fixture
- Aqueon Clip-on LED Light for tanks up to 20-gallon
- Lominie F20 freshwater LED light for 5-gallon planted
- COODIA Aquarium Hood Lighting for up to 7.5 gallon tanks
- NICREW HyperReef 30 for 5-gallon reef
- Final thoughts
Best Clip-on aquarium light comparison table
Clip-on aquarium LED light reviews
Finnex Stingray LED Clip Light
- LEDs: 12 white 7000K, 3 red and 3 actinic blue
- Mode: day, night, off
- Ideal for: fish-only, Bettas, shrimp, low light plants
- For tank: 2.5-5 gallons
- Wattage: 4 watts.
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. It is ideal for nano fish tanks or Betta tanks with some easy-to-care plants such as Marimo Moss Balls, Banana Plants, moss, ferns, Anubias, etc.
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 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
- PAR: 35 @ 12-inch depth
- LEDs: daylight, 660nm red and blue
- Mode: day, night, off
- Ideal for: Bettas and other small tropical fish, shrimp, low-medium light plants
- For tank: 2.5-5 gallons
- Wattage: 5 watts.
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-demanding 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 lighting with all LEDs on, night lighting with several blue LEDs on, or all the bulbs off. In the daylight mode, the 660 nm red LEDs provide a true wavelength that favors photosynthesis in plants.
Finnex 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 of 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.
Mindak fish tank clip-on light with in-line timer
- LEDs: 15 white, 3 blue
- Mode: blue + white, blue only, white only
- Ideal for: tropical fish, Bettas, shrimp, aquarium plants
- For tank: 3-8 gallon tanks
- Wattage: 7 watts.
With 18 total LEDs and three lighting modes (two day modes with/without blue and a night mode with only blue), this LED light offers more functionality and plenty of shimmers into your aquarium. You can use it for your Betta fish tank, shrimp, or other tropical fish. The light also benefits to grow plants with its two white daylight modes.
Light modes and timer
This clip-on light comes with an in-line timer for automatic control. The timer is simply designed with three lighting periods (6/10/12 hours) to choose from. Just turn on the light one morning and choose the lighting time you want the light to be on and it will remember your setting and repeat the same lighting schedule day by day.
The in-line timer also allows you to dim the light by adjusting the intensities of the blue and white channels. So, you don’t need to worry about if the light is too bright for your fish in case you have species that prefer soothing light. If you have Betta fish and some low light plants such as marimo moss balls, anubias, ferns, e.g. you should dim the light to fit the plants.
The setup is the same and as easy as other clip-on lights. It comes with everything you need to attach it to the rim of your aquarium.
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 2.5-5 gallon planted tanks
- PAR: 72 @ 12-inch depth (48-inch fixture)
- Ideal for: most demanding plants
- Fixture sizes: 12-18 inches
- For tanks: 2.5-5 gallons
- LEDs: 26 White + 6 Blue + 3 Red + 1 Green
- Modes: Day/night
- Wattage: 8 watts
Although this is not a clip-on light, it is easy to set up and use in small planted tanks from 2.5 to 5 gallons. It is a full-spectrum light that combines 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 Plant Light 12-18 inch extendable fixture
- PAR: 51 @ 12-inch depth, dimmable
- LEDs: 32 white, 6 blue, 4 red
- Mode: two day modes, one night mode, off
- Ideal for: Betta fish tank, other tropical fish, shrimp, plants
- For tank: 2.5-5 gallons (12-18 inches long)
- Wattage: 8 watts.
If you’re looking for stronger light and a bit of sophistication, the MingDak LED aquarium light fits the bill. With 42 total LEDs and three lighting modes, this LED light offers more functionality and plenty of shimmers into your aquarium.
MingDak LED Aquarium Light
The small fixture is very special with its in-line timer design. The timer is simply designed with three time frames to choose from, 3/6/12h. The smart design makes the light a perfect option for the simple needs of most beginners but still keeps the price as low as cheap clip lights rated for the same tank sizes.
The light is dimmable with the in-line timer controller, so you don’t need to worry about if the light is so bright that it may cause algae problems.
With its average PAR output, the MingDak LED aquarium light is perfect for nano tanks with fish only, or low-high demanding planted tanks. It comes with adjustable brackets that make positioning and setting up a breeze. It works for tanks that are 12 to 18 inches across.
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 Clip-on LED Light for tanks up to 20-gallon
- PAR: 70 @ 12-inch depth
- LEDs: 60 total
- Mode: day, night, off
- Ideal for: fish, freshwater shrimp, low-high light plants
- For tank: 5-gallon planted
- Wattage: watts.
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 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.
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.
3 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 on the fixture that you can use to switch among the modes.
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/30-inch-led-light/
Lominie F20 freshwater LED light for 5-gallon planted
- Ideal for: fish, high-light plants
- For tanks: 8-18 inch cube tank
- Modes: Manual switch for dimming
- Wattage: 12-16 watts
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 prolonging its lifetime. The gooseneck makes the setup and customization of this clip-on light just a squeeze.
COODIA Aquarium Hood Lighting for up to 7.5 gallon tanks
- Ideal for: Betta fish, other tropical fish, shrimp, low light plants
- Fixture sizes: 11-19 inches
- For tanks: up to 7.5 gallons
- LEDs: White + RGB
- Modes: countless colors with the remote
This is another light fixture option. 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.
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.
NICREW HyperReef 30 for 5-gallon reef
- PAR: 58 @ 24-inch
- Ideal for: most types of corals
- Recommended spread: 18 x 18″
- For tanks: nano reef 5-gallon
- LEDs: 18 LEDs from 405 nm (UV) to 660 nm (Deep Red)
- Modes: blue and white channels, adjustable
- Wattage: 30 watts
Reef lights are dreaded because of their high price tags. The Nicrew HyperReef aquarium reef light offers starting reef keepers an excellent option with a very affordable price tag. To keep up with a reef tank’s lighting demands, the light has 18 LEDs with an optimal output for dramatic color and supporting coral growth.
HyperReef 30 performance
The PAR is 58 at 24-inch depth; the number is provided by the manufacturer. We estimate the PAR is around 150 at 12-inch. This is just enough for most soft and LPS corals in a 5-gallon reef tank. In case that you have higher-demanding corals, just choose a higher-output version – the Nicrew HyperReef 50.
Two color channels
The white and blue channels are adjustable independently and individually depending on your desired spectrum and you can also use the smart touch control to adjust the light intensity.
The modernly designed light features an integrated smart fan for heat management. For mounting, it comes with a clip-on bracket. There is also a hanging mount option available, but the hanging mount is sold separately.
For an automatic lighting schedule with sunrise and sunset, you can use a dual-channel timer from Nicrew (sold separately). Please note that this timer only works with the HyperReef 30, not higher-range models in the HyperReef series.
When you’re starting out and don’t want your budget to run out of control but want a light that will give your new tank a fair chance at thriving, the NICREW HyperReef will offer you the features and lighting you need without crippling your finances.
Find other reef tank LED lights here: https://portlandaquarium.net/led-light-for-reef-tank/
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 tropical fish/shrimp tanks, Betta tanks, and we even added an option for reef tank owners to cover all the grounds.