Updated: March 21, 2022 - By: - Categories: Reef aquarium

Proper lighting is one aspect of reef aquariums that hobbyists need to get right. Reef tanks require lighting that’s distinct from what freshwater tanks require. Selecting the right LED lights for your reef aquarium can be a daunting task, as the unique demands of the corals place more restrictions on the types of lights that are best suited to create a healthy ecosystem in the tank. The products covered in this article are a great jumping-off point, but it pays to do some further research to satisfy your tank’s unique needs.

[PAR Comparison table] Best LED reef lights

Model Our rating PAR Ideal for Coverage LEDs Controller Wattage
Fluval Sea Marine Nano Bluetooth LED editor's ratingFluval Sea Marine Nano Bluetooth LED #ad 75 @ 12-inch, 212 @ 6-inch, 600 @ 3-inch FOWLR, macroalgae, soft and LPS corals nano cube reef up to 15 gallons 100 pcs total mobile app, 24-hour light cycle, preset modes 20 watts
Nicrew 30W Nano Reef LED Aquarium Light editor's ratingNicrew 30W Nano Reef LED Aquarium Light #ad 100 @ 24-inch depth soft, LPS, SPS corals 18 x 18″ (optimal) 5 x Blue, 5 x Royal Blue, 1 x Violet, 1 x UV, 4 x Cool White, 1 x Green, 1 x Red inline timer, all on/ blue only/ white only 30 watts
Lominie Reef Pixie30 nano reef light editor's ratingLominie Reef Pixie30 nano reef light #ad 100 @ 18-inch depth soft & LPS corals 24 x 24″ (max) 24 pcs remote for dimming, no timer 26-30 watts
NICREW Saltwater Aquarium Light 30-inch editor's ratingNICREW Saltwater Aquarium Light 30-inch #ad 110 @ 12-inch depth saltwater fish, live rock, macroalgae, soft and LPS corals 30-36″ (18-60″ available) 57 x White, 48 Blue, 12 RGB – 2 channels dual channel timer, dimmable 32 watts
Nicrew HyperReef 150 aquarium light editor's ratingNicrew HyperReef 150 aquarium light #ad 305 @ 28″ most types of corals 24 x 24″ (optimal), 30 x 30″ (max) 72 LEDs, 2 channels controller ready (sold separately) 150 watts (30/50/100W available)
AquaIllumination Hydra 64 HD LED Reef Light editor's ratingAquaIllumination Hydra 64 HD LED Reef Light #ad 230 @ 24-inch high-light corals, clams, high-light SPS 24 x 24″ (optimal) 64 pcs + 4 UV mobile app, schedule mode, manual mode, acclimation 135 watts
ViparSpectra 165W LED light editor's ratingViparSpectra 165W LED light #ad 325 @ 24-inch depth most types of corals, clams, high light SPS 24 x 24″ (optimal) 24 x 30″ (max) 55 LEDs, two channels blue and white remote, timing, dimming 165 watts
Current USA Orbit Marine IC Pro 72-inch editor's ratingCurrent USA Orbit Marine IC Pro 72-inch #ad 100 @ 21-inch depth softies, LPS, low-light SPS 72 inches (18-72″ available) 288 LEDs, two channels mobile app control via Bluetooth 144 watts
Kessil A360WE Controllable LED Tuna Blue editor's ratingKessil A360WE Controllable LED Tuna Blue #ad designed for deep penetration most types of corals 24 x 24″ (optimal) densely-packed LEDs controller sold separately 90 watts
Kessil AP9X LED Aquarium Light With Built-in WiFi editor's ratingKessil AP9X LED Aquarium Light With Built-in WiFi #ad designed for deep penetration high light corals 48″ x 24″ (max) densely-packed LEDs WiFi app control, adjustable schedules, manual mode, acclimation 180 watts
Red Sea REEFLED 90 LED Light Fixture editor's ratingRed Sea REEFLED 90 LED Light Fixture #ad 150 @ 20″ high light reef 24 x 24 inches (recommended) compact array with 9000K white, blue, violet, and UV Wifi app control, multi presets, acclimation program 90 watts
Relassy Aquarium Led Light 300W editor's ratingRelassy Aquarium Led Light 300W #ad high demanding SPS, high hanging deep reefs, one unit for every 24-30″ 338 pcs, 3 channels remote with dimmer & timer functions 300 watts
DSunY 3X LED Reef Light editor's ratingDSunY 3X LED Reef Light #ad high demanding SPS 72-inch reef 40 LEDs, 4 channels timer controller, preset modes 110 watts each unit

How to choose LED lights for reef aquariums?

reef-aquarium-led-light

The types of corals in your reef aquarium are an important factor in deciding which light is right for the tank. Fish-only with live rock (FOWLR) tanks will need less lighting than reef tanks, soft and LPS coral tanks need less lighting than SPS coral tanks, and Acropora corals require the highest lighting of up to 500+ PAR.

There are many factors to consider when you are in the market for a good LED light for your reef aquariums. First of all, you have to choose the right type with blue lighting that corals can use for photosynthesis. Then, ensure the light you choose provides enough light for the corals you have in the tank.

The following parameters can help you determine which product is the best fit for your tank’s requirements.

Choosing the right type – Color temperature (Kelvin rating)

color-temperature

Kelvin ratings (1,000-12,000) and corresponding light colors (wikipedia.org)

Color temperature, which can simply understand as the color of the output light, is determined by its Kelvin Rating. The deeper the natural habitats of a coral species, the more blue (higher Kelvin rating) it adapts to. This is because when sunlight (white light) penetrates deeply through the water, only blue light with higher energy remains while other light colors with lower energy are absorbed.

Corals are most beautiful when growing under specific light colors, based on the species. The light colors are not necessarily that of their natural habitats. The truth is that corals thrive well under white light (6500K) but appears in less attractive colors (commonly yellowish). However, white lights also promote harmful algae as algae tends to use more red, yellow, and green light for photosynthesis, compared to corals.

Lower color temperatures facilitate growing but sacrifice coloration. Under a light with more blue, corals have to adjust their pigment to adapt to the light, and the result is usually more attractive colors.

So, which Kelvin ratings are suitable for reef tanks? 10,000K is optimal for both growth and coloration, go higher when your focus is on the colors. The range from 10,000-20,000K is commonly used by reefers. This range provides adequate blue for coral photosynthesis and fluorescence, less white for microalgae, and gives the most stunning view for enjoying.

Based on the different stages of your reef system, you should use a specific color temperature for the balance between growth and coloration. It is better to start with the lighting conditions (colors and intensities) similar to that of the tanks of the stores where you buy your corals from, then gradually change, based on their appearance, to slowly acclimate the corals.

Enough quantity/intensity – PAR

For aquarium lights, the PAR indicates the amount of radiation that corals can use for photosynthesis and growth, so-called photosynthetic active radiation. It varies in the aquarium based on the distance between the reading spot and the light. PAR is typically measured as the units of μMol/m2/s.

PAR measurements of a ViparSpectra fixturePAR measurements of a ViparSpectra fixture

The previous picture shows the PAR measurements of a ViparSpectra reef light fixture. As you can see in the picture, further spots from the light get lower PAR readings. Basically, different types of corals need different PAR levels to thrive properly. And your work is to put the right coral in the right spot where it receives just enough of what it needs. Please that I mean “just enough” because too much lighting can cause bleaching and death.

How much light (PAR) for soft/LPS/SPS corals?

The following information can serve as a guide for various saltwater aquarium species:

Species PAR range (umol*m-2*sec-1)
Fish only with live rock (FOWLR) just bright enough
Macroalgae 30-50
Low light LPS 50-100
Soft corals, Mushroom, most LPS 100-150
Zoanthids, Palythoas, several LPS 150-200
Derasa clams, Anemones, several SPS 250-300
Montipora and other SPS 300-400
Crocea and Maxima clams, Acropora SPS 400-500+

It is better to start with the lighting conditions (color and intensity) similar to that of the tanks of the stores where you buy your corals from. However, if you don’t know where to get started, acclimate your corals with lower PAR of their respective PAR ranges, then slowly increase to prevent bleaching.

Manufacturers usually provide you with the PAR metrics of their products, especially ones that are specially for photosynthetic organisms like plants and corals. However, if you can’t find this information from the manufacturer, try to search for it online, so many reefers publish their measurements on forums or their websites.

Apogee PAR meterApogee PAR meter

You can also measure PAR by using a PAR meter; however, this instrument will cost you a fair amount of money. The Apogee PAR meter with its waterproof sensor is intended for measuring in water environments, including saltwater aquariums.

How many watts per gallon for reef LED lights?

In case you can’t find the PAR information of the light you are interested in, you can use our ‘watt per gallon’ guide for reef tanks. It is not as exact as the PAR but gives you quick access to the light. Based on the PAR measurements of popular LED reef lights in the market, we suggest the following table:

PAR @ 12-inch depth PAR @ 24-inch depth Estimated watt/gallon
30-50 (macroalgae, refugium) 0.5-0.7 W/GAL
100-150 (Soft corals, Mushroom, most LPS) 30-50 (macroalgae) 0.8-1.2 W/GAL
150-300 (Zoanthids, Palythoas, high-light LPS) 50-100 (low light LPS) 1.2-2.5 W/GAL
300-450 (Montipora and other SPS) 100-150 (Soft corals, Mushroom, most LPS) 2.5-4 W/GAL
450-600 (Crocea and Maxima clams, Acropora SPS) 150-200 (Zoanthids, Palythoas, several LPS) 4-5 W/GAL
250-300 (Derasa clams, Anemones, several low-light SPS) 6-8 W/GAL

The table is only applied for LED reef lights. 3-4 watts/gallon is enough to grow most types of corals provided that different-demanding corals are placed in different areas, near or far from the light source, where they get just enough light they need.

Other factors to consider

Some other factors to consider when making the purchase are:

Nano reef tank LED light review

Fluval Sea Marine Nano Bluetooth LED 20-Watt

The Fluval Sea Marine Nano LED Light is an excellent option for nano and desktop saltwater tanks. It’s been engineered for coral growth and is a great all-around aquarium light. However, the low PAR output makes it only suitable for small saltwater aquariums with fish only and live rock, or nano reef tanks with low light corals.

Fluval Smart appFluval Smart app

With the Fluval Smart app, you can control the Sea Marine Nano LED light via your phone. It has a programmable 24-hour light schedule, handy color sliders for color and intensity adjustments, and several preset habitat settings that allow you to customize the light based on your preferences.

Easy to install, this model features a fully-adjustable bracket that lets you change the direction of the light, thanks to its swivel arm function. With this capability, no area inside your tank will be left lightless and lifeless. Overall, this is a great choice for those looking for an aquarium light that offers flexible options.

Nicrew 30W Nano Reef LED Aquarium Light

Nicrew has only been in the industry for less than a decade but it has already been a favorite of both freshwater and marine aquarium keepers. The Nicrew 30W Nano Reef LED aquarium light is one of their several saltwater light releases. It features a high PAR output of 100 at 24″ depth that is just enough for low-average light corals to grow and flourish.

Two color channels and three modesTwo color channels and three modes

Its 18 LED chips are separated into two color channels (blue and white) for easy programming. The intensities of both the channels can be independently adjusted from 5% to 100%. This allows you to adjust the spectrum and intensity of the final output light according to your tank needs. With the full spectrum provided by multi LED colors, this light will surely bring out the best colors of both fish and corals.

The included timer controller allows you to set the lighting time to 8/10/12 hours. This timer is only for simply turning on/off the light daily. If you want a timer with sunrise/sunset, you can buy the Nicrew Dual Channel timer. It is compatible with the light and can be programmed to gradually turn the light on to mimic sunrise and dim it to simulate sunset.

This aquarium light comes with two mounting options for your convenience. You can either install it via a steel wire suspension kit or attach it to the back tank edge using a gooseneck mount. Both the setup tools are included so you don’t need to search for compatible products in the market. It also features a unique heat management system that enhances the efficiency and durability of the lamp.

Lominie Reef Pixie30 nano reef light

The Lominie Reef Pixie30 Nano Reef Light is an affordable option if you’re looking for an affordable LED light for your nano reef tank. This model features four different channels that are all dimmable and can be adjusted between 0% and 100% in terms of their intensity.

This model comes with a built-in 90-degree lens that provides a wide-angle illumination range, ensuring all corners of your tank are well-lit. Not only that but the Pixie30 is designed to provide intense penetration so that your fish and corals receive ample amounts of light they need to remain healthy.

As a full-spectrum light, this model comes with six LED colors, including blue, royal blue, white, red, green, and UV. This allows the color of the corals and inhabitants in your tank to pop up. The unit has a wireless control feature that lets you adjust the light intensity remotely. However, keep in mind that the WiFi controller is not included when you purchase the product and should be purchased separately.

What makes the Pixie30 a fantastic option is that it comes with a fan-less design, which means it doesn’t produce any noise at all. The lamp is made with high-quality aluminum specially designed for efficient heat transfer, keeping the working temperature below 50°C all the time.

The gooseneck is flexible and perfectly suits a reef cube between 18 and 24 inches in length.

Medium-large reef tank LED light review

NICREW saltwater aquarium LED light, budget option

Another budget option from Nicrew but specially designed as a mounting fixture and for larger reef tanks. This LED light is not only cheap but also comes with everything you need for the setup, including a dual-channel timer with sunrise/sunset effects.

NICREW saltwater lighting scheduleNICREW saltwater lighting schedule

The PAR peak at 12-inch depth is 110, which provides just enough light for most low-moderate light corals including most softies, mushrooms, anemones, LPS, and Zoanthids. That is all most beginning reefers want to have in their first reef tanks.

The brackets of this aquarium light are adjustable and can accommodate tanks up to 36 inches long but not less than 30 inches in length. Other fixture sizes from 18 to 60 inches are also available if you have a different size aquarium.

Nicrew HyperReef 150 – cheap and high output

The HyperReef 150 aquarium light from NICREW is a fantastic product to look at for your reef tank. It features a full-color spectrum that can promote optimal coral growth and enhance dramatic coloration while creating a gentle shimmer throughout the aquarium. This gives the product an edge over its competition, as it is designed explicitly with corals in mind.

Nicrew HyperReef 150 specificationsNicrew HyperReef 150 specifications

The 150W unit boasts very good PAR output with a peak of 305 at 28-inch depth. With this high performance, it works well for even the most demanding SPS corals provided that they are placed near the water surface. It is also available in many other options from 30 to 100W. So, based on the coral types you have and the sizes of your tank, you should use suitable light units to provide just enough light for the corals.

The recommended spread of the HypeReef 150 is 24 square inches and the maximum spread is up to 30 inches. This means one unit will perfectly fit a 20-gallon reef tank without any problem. For larger tanks, just use more than one unit, each unit for every 24-30 inches, based on your coral types.

Two color channels and three modesTwo color channels and three modes

The “M” touch button on the front of the light allows you to switch between three modes while the “B” and “W” buttons respectively represent Blue and White channels. You can adjust the intensities of the blue and white channels independently with these buttons.

HyperReef controller (sold separately)HyperReef controller (sold separately)

The light is compatible with the HyperReef controller from Nicrew. You need to buy the controller separately if you want to automate the control of the light. The controller includes six points for timing customization and saves up to 4 programs to use anytime you want. One controller can control multi HyperReef units provided that you connect them together with 3.5mm TRRS cables.

This product uses smart fans for temperature control, ensuring the working conditions remain optimal and consistent. You don’t need to buy anything more for the installation. It comes with a tank mount and a hanging kit for flexible installation. The tank mount works fine for both rimmed and rimless tanks.

AquaIllumination Hydra 64 HD LED Reef Light

If you’re looking for a high-performance aquarium light for your reef tank, then you should consider the AquaIllumination Hydra 64 HD LED Reef Light. There are several reasons to love this Aquaillumination reef light. For one, the high PAR output makes it perfect for high-demanding reef tanks.

Compared to its predecessors AI Prime 16 HD and Hydra 32 HD, this model also comes with more LEDs (68, in particular) which means higher light output for your reef. The PAR peak at 24-inch depth is 230, which is very impressive. With this PAR rating, you can grow even the most demanding SPS corals and clams under the light.

Schedule mode with an adjustable light cycleSchedule mode with an adjustable light cycle

Manual mode with color spectrum wheelManual mode with color spectrum wheel

The light can be controlled via the free myAI app, which lets you adjust the settings of its schedule mode with an adjustable light cycle and manual modes with a handy color spectrum wheel. It also includes an acclimation mode for acclimating your corals with the new higher output light. The start intensity and the number of days of the acclimation period are adjustable.

Acclimation modeAcclimation mode

The schedule mode includes a 24-hour automatic light schedule with adjustable sunrise/sunset times and ramp duration. You can add your custom times and build your own schedule to suit your corals’ needs. It also lets you adjust each of the eight color channels via its easy-to-use color sliders.

Moreover, the lenses are geometrically designed in a way that color separation is reduced. This provides a wider focus area and higher PAR for your corals. Overall, this is an impressive reef light with better color mixing and coverage.

ViparSpectra 165 W LED light for high light SPS corals

The ViparSpectra 165W LED light focuses on providing high lighting output, as it is scientifically engineered to keep the PAR output and coverage balanced. The PAR value can reach 325 at 24-inch height, which is high enough to deal with even the most demanding reef tanks.

PAR measurementPAR measurement

This product also prides itself on including a full spectrum of colors to achieve the balance of strong output and stunning visibility. This layout can promote the photosynthesis of corals, ensuring a healthy ecological environment for your aquarium. This also benefits the growth of any SPS and LPS corals present underneath.

The light fixture with a built-in controllerThe light fixture with a built-in controller

The light features both two color channels, blue and white, adjusted uniformly from 0%-100% to meet your corals, reef, and fish’s different needs. You can turn on the blue and white channels simultaneously or turn them on separately, as these two channels are controlled independently. Each channel can be programmed separately with an included timer, too.

You can use the white channel only for a freshwater planted tank; however, it is not economically efficient to use a reef light in this way.

Wireless remote controlWireless remote control

The remote control is easy to understand and use. The CLOCK button is for setting your local time for the first setup; the four C1,2 ON/OFF buttons for setting the times to turn on/off channel 1 or 2; the arrows are for easier programming; the OK saves your customizations.

For prolonging its lifetime up to 100,000 hours, the fixture uses a cooling system with two quiet fans. It also comes with two hanging kits for easy setup.

Current USA Orbit Marine IC Pro up to 72-inch

The Orbit Marine LED from Current is an affordable pick if your tank is low-average demanding in lighting. It features ultra-bright LEDs covering the entire color spectrum. The numbers of LEDs of different fixture sizes are given in the following picture.

Spectrum and PAR measurementSpectrum and PAR measurement

This product contains a higher ratio of actinic blue spectrum LEDs that are advantageous to corals. Wide-angle dispersion lenses evenly spread light over your entire tank while ensuring superior color blending. Because of its average PAR output, it perfectly suits reef tanks that house soft, LPS, and low-light SPS corals.

Mobile app controlMobile app control

It comes with a controller to use with a mobile app for you to fully program the light schedule and color channels. Both iOS and Android apps are available for download.

The app includes a preset 24-hour automatic lighting schedule and various ready-to-use modes. It also allows you to control Current USA wave markers within only a single app, which is a big plus of this product.

The preset lighting program greatly creates a 24-hour natural biorhythmic lighting cycle and you don’t need to worry about which lighting schedule to go with. From start-up to sundown, the Orbit Marine can replicate and stimulate the realistic sunrise, bright daylight, dimming sunset, and moonlight in your aquarium.

The light also offers modes that dim at regular intervals to create cloud cover effects, storm modes complete with lightning strikes, and innovative evening modes that include lunar and dusk – it’s sure to add excitement and intrigue to any aquarium.

This product also boasts a no-brainer installation process with its extendable brackets, which enable it to fit most aquarium fish tanks 72-80 inches wide. Other options are also available for tanks from 18-60 inches long.

Kessil A360WE Tuna Blue controllable LED aquarium light

This product uses a densely-packed LED array to provide a powerful light source for better penetration without sacrificing coverage. It is capable of providing up to 24 inches of the spread of light from a compact fixture measuring 3.6 inches tall and only 4 inches in diameter.

The main selling point of this product is its high performance and low maintenance design. It is compatible with a spectral controller from Kessil #ad (buy separately), which features an automatic lighting schedule with customization ability.

Each light unit features two ports for connecting with the controller and another light unit. This forms a daisy chain of multiple light units controlled with only one controller. By setting up many light units at small intervals, you can make the total PAR output as high as you want to meet the needs of a large and deep reef tank. This feature is also useful for aquarium stores that have many nano reef tanks.

The light also has a wide range of different features, such as the shimmer feature, which imitates natural sunlight on a coral reef. Two control knobs on its back allow you to respectively adjust the intensity and color spectrum to meet your desired lighting.

This simple and compact unit operates so quietly with its innovative heat management. It comes with two hanging kits for installation.

Kessil AP9X LED Aquarium Light With Built-in WiFi

The Kessil AP9X features two arrays of 100 LED chips with a violet channel that helps the color of your corals stand out. The tight position of the LED chips combined with a high-quality lens results in brighter and better color mixing as well as deeper penetration.

The model also comes with a built-in WiFi feature and lets you modify the light settings remotely via an app. The app includes a 24-hour automatic light schedule that simulates how the sun would naturally hit coral reefs in nature. It is available with many preset programs including handy color customization, acclimation, a stunning lunar cycle, weather effects, and more.

DashboardDashboard

The app can control multi Kessil light units (Wifi enable products) provided that you connect them together via K-Link and 0-10V control ports. Each Kessil AP9X has two K-Link ports and two 0-10V control ports. All the connected light units are shown on the main dashboard of the Kessil Wifi app. The product is compatible with the Spectral Controller X (sold separately) if you don’t want to use the Wifi of AP9X.

The AP9X is designed to make it easier for aquarium keepers to provide enough light for even demanding SPS corals. It is recommended to use the max coverage of 48 by 24 inches if you have a mixed reef. If you have an SPS reef, the recommended spread to use is 36 by 24 inches.

At just about 16 inches long, 6 inches wide, and less than 2 inches thick, the AP9X is one of the sleekest-looking reef aquarium lights available today. One thing you should consider is that the mounting arm for this model should be purchased separately. However, the package comes with a screw hook and hanging brackets for hanging.

Red Sea REEFLED 90 LED Light Fixture with RL90 Mounting Arm

Last, but definitely not least, we have the Red Sea REEFLED 90 LED Light Fixture with RL90 Mounting Arm. This is probably one of the best reef lights you can get your hands on today as it’s incredibly impressive despite its size. It’s only about six inches wide and long and not more than three inches thick, but it has all the features you’re looking for in a reef light.

This unit features a compact LED array of blue, violet, and ultraviolet, providing a color temperature of 23,000 K. Add to this 9,000 K of white LED, plus a separate 3W channel for a moonlight effect. This produces lighting that guarantees optimal growth and promotes vivid colors for your corals.

Not only that, but this model comes with hollow optical-glass lenses, ensuring a uniform spread of light in your tank. The lens also has an anti-glare feature to prevent annoying glare when you’re viewing the tank.

Finally, the REEFLED 90 is WiFi-ready and can be controlled remotely via the ReefBeat smart aquarium app on your mobile device. Through the app, you can pre-set lighting programs, sunrise and sunset effects, lunar effect, acclimation programs, and random cloud effects. This combination guarantees a lighting effect that you and your corals will surely love!

Relassy aquarium LED Light 300W for high hanging

This 300W LED light from Relassy is a great featured product for large reef systems. With its very high wattage, the product enables its light to penetrate deeply into your reef aquarium. This can be a swaying factor for people looking to set up deeper and larger coral tanks.

Remote controlRemote control

It comes with a remote for you to adjust and dim its three color channels. The light intensity can dim to 25%. It also allows you to set the working time you want the light on each day. However, you can only choose among 6, 12, or 18 lighting hours.

This product also boasts an efficient heat dissipating system that prevents the working temperature exceeds a certain threshold. This system doesn’t use fans so it is very quiet while operating. Like other LED lights for large tanks, it comes with hanging kits for hanging.

DSunY 3X LED Reef Light for 72-inch reef

The products’ multi LEDs provide a full spectrum light for enjoyment but still ensure enough light for growing high light demanding corals. The lens’s beam angle is 120 degrees, which ensures that the light will be spread evenly throughout the tank. It also boasts a product lifespan of 50,000 to 80,000 hours.

Smart controller with multi preset modesSmart controller with multi preset modes

The set comes with a controller that is specifically designed to simulate the effect of natural sunlight on home reef tanks. The smart controller allows you to fully customize light intensities at specific times of the day and it will repeat your setup day by day. It also gives you so many preset modes and weather effects that are ready to use.

This combo comes with 3 units and is intended for a 72-inch reef system (100/120/125 gallons) with a depth of around 20 inches. For installation, it comes with three adjustable hanging kits and two-panel rail kits for hanging. It also comes with double S-shaped hooks for placing the controller on.

Which light schedule is best for reef tanks?

A lighting schedule indicates how long you should keep the LED lights on in your reef aquarium ever. The primary objective of a reef aquarium is to simulate a natural ocean environment for the corals. While it’s impossible to perfectly replicate the ocean’s unique habitat, a lighting schedule with ramp periods for sunrise and sunset effects works best.

Most reef tanks need 9-12 hours of lighting a day to thrive, based on the intensity of the light. If you run the light in higher PAR ranges of your corals, you will need less lighting time and vice versa. You can choose your own time frame or one of these: 8.0 AM to 5.0 PM (9 hours), 8.0 AM to 6.0 PM (10 hours), 7.0 AM to 7.0 PM (12 hours), or 8.0 AM to 8.0 PM (12 hours).

If you choose a 12-hour lighting schedule, adjust the light to the average PAR ranges of your corals. You can add short ramp periods of 25-30 minutes to both ends of the main photoperiod to acclimate the corals to the changes between day and night. If use a 9-hour schedule, run the light in the higher PAR ranges of your corals and extend the ramp periods to 1.5 hours with relatively low intensities. This allows more time for viewing your reef.

For nighttime, you can turn off the light or use a very dimming lunar light to not overstimulate your corals but still allow viewing. Some reef lights like the Kessil AP9X features an adjustable lunar light for nighttime viewing while most don’t. However, you can program your own moonlight by customizing the preset schedules of app control lights.

Frequently asked questions

How much light should be delivered to corals?

The amount of light required in a reef aquarium largely depends on the types of corals it hosts. Different kinds of corals need different levels of PAR to grow to their full potential. The best choice is to opt for the strategic approach of placing the corals closer or further away from the lights, to ensure that each coral gets just enough amount of light it needs.

How can I determine light acclimate and intensity?

bleaching-coralBleaching coral

A sudden increase in light levels is one of the leading causes that stress corals and trigger a phenomenon known as coral bleaching. This occurs when a coral colony loses its symbiotic zooxanthellae. This is the algae that give the corals colors and nutrients for life, and their expulsion can often lead to a lighter or completely white appearance and death.

It is recommended to acclimate your corals with lower PAR levels of their required PAR ranges, then slowly increase the light intensity in 20-30 days to prevent bleaching.

What lights for a refugium?

refugiumGrowing Chaeto algae in a refugium

A refugium is a smaller, supplemental aquarium kept in tandem with a saltwater or reef tank. Its primary function is to continually cycle water into and out of the main tank for additional filtration. The main purpose of it is to remove nitrate by using green plants, especially macroalgae. Plants use nitrate as their nutrients for growth and propagation. Then you can easily remove a part of their population.

Your main purpose is to grow, grow, and grow the macroalgae at the highest level. You don’t need to enjoy your refugium. So, choosing an LED light that is best for growing plants is all you need for a refugium. Refugium lights #ad with more red and blue in the spectrum are proved to grow green macroalgae better than white lights.

Why are reef lights so expensive?

Generally, LED lights designed for reef aquariums are expensive. This is because they have to be developed according to the unique demands of the various types of corals, and must be capable of producing high Kelvin ratings and PAR output.

Due to coral needs, reef lights consume more energy and produce more heat, which requires an effective cooling system. This is in contrast with fish-only or planted aquariums, whose lighting requirements are not as intensive.

They also use a lens for better coverage and color blending. Combine this with the nature of reef aquariums as a niche hobby, and it is no surprise that LED lights usually come with a hefty price tag.

Hello! Lucas here. Hope this article can help you a lot. Do you want to ask me some questions? I'm willing and happy to answer.

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3 comments

  1. Which of these lights in this article would you reccomend for a 75gallon reef tank?

    • Hi Austin, it depends on your choice, just use enough units to ensure enough light, based on your coral types.

    • I would recommend 2 of the prime of these lights. But 2 of ghl mitras 7204 or 2 of Radeon xr15 g5 would be even better.