LED aquarium lights have made a huge impact in our hobby because they save you money in a number of ways. Heat transfer into your aquarium, bulb costs and electricity consumption are considerably reduced or eliminated altogether when you make the switch to LED.

Another benefit of LED lights is they are extremely versatile and can be used a number of different ways in and around your aquarium.

We put together a list of our top 5 favorite ways to use LED strips that will save you money and make your tank look great.

I swapped out the T5 lights in a Coralife fixture with LED strips. Learn More

1. Retro-fit Your AIO Aquarium or Fluorescent Light Fixture

Compact fluorescent and T5 fluorescent lighting have been used to illuminate reef aquariums for years. The original Nano Cube, BioCube and Red Sea Max tanks were each outfitted with power compact or T5 fluorescent bulbs.

Many hobbyists still use fluorescent fixtures to light their tanks and with great success. With the introduction of LED light strips, we now have an easy and energy-efficient way to retro-fit our AIO aquariums and fluorescent light fixtures to achieve the optimal look and growth.

Retro-fitting an AIO aquarium or fluorescent light fixture can usually be accomplished with minimal effort. Most LED strips available for aquariums include mounting hardware, are moisture resistant and run on safe, low voltage DC electricity.

In most cases, you only need to take out a few screws to remove your existing fluorescent end-caps and electrical components. Sometimes you can even attach the LED strips directly to the existing reflectors without removing anything but the fluorescent bulbs. With the slim profile of LED strips, you can fit multiple LED strips to achieve ample output and spectrum for a light-demanding reef aquarium.

The Ecoxotic Panorama Pro 2.0 LED Module and Current USA TrueLumen Pro LED Striplight are two of the best options for this type of installation. Coupled with an affordable LED light controller, you can even accomplish dawn/dusk effects, dimming, timing and cool weather modes.

2. Light Your Refugium

LED light is available in a variety of colors, including full spectrum white, which is perfect for growing macro-algae in a refugium.

An LED strip with a tank mount option is ideal for this application. The AquaticLife Freshwater Expandable LED Fixture and the Current USA TrueLumen Pro Single Dimmable LED Striplight Kit are great, inexpensive options to light a refugium.

The amazingly organized aquarium stand of OnlyTono.

You can even use one of the PAR 38 bulbs and suspend an inexpensive dome reflector that is available at most hardware or home improvement stores.

You can replace supplemental VHO or T5 lights with energy-efficient LED light strips.

3. Supplement Your Lighting

If you already have a reef aquarium up and running and are using fluorescent bulbs for color supplementation, you can save money on your electric bill and bulb purchases by swapping out your fluorescent actinics for LED lights.

Ecoxotic Stunner and Panorama LED Light Strips are great for this application thanks to the wide variety of colors that allow you to create the perfect look for your reef.

A combination of T5 fluorescent and LED strips has been a popular topic for the future of LED lights. By using this combination you can accomplish the brilliant coloration and fluorescence found with T5 lights and get the stunning shimmer and money savings associated with LED light.

The LSM, with the addition of LEDs, allows your
Apex AquaController to create a realistic moon cycle simulation.

4. Try Lunar Lighting

Using LED lights for lunar light is not really a modern advancement in the hobby. LED moonlights have been available since I started in the hobby 10 years ago. LED moonlight options are plentiful and are easy to install on pretty much any aquarium.

Lunar lights allow you to view your aquarium during the evening and you're bound to observe some cool happenings that don't take place during daylight hours.

Advanced aquarists have reported that simulating the 29.53 day lunar cycle encourages spawning cycles for many tank inhabitants. Both Digital Aquatics and Neptune Systems offer moonlight options for their respective aquarium controllers that will allow you to accomplish this feat.

Dan from our team tests protein skimmers in his LED-illuminated sump area.

5. Light Your Stand or Accent Your Sump

The interior of most aquarium stands are cramped and poorly lit which can create some unnecessary stress while maintaining your tank. Adding a low voltage, slim LED light in your stand can make it much easier to work under your tank.

You'll find that dialing in your protein skimmer and media eactors, rescuing lost fish and general maintenance is much easier once you can see everything you're doing.

Do any of you fish heads and equipment gurus like to show off your awesome plumbing job that took way too much time and effort to accomplish?

LED accents are an excellent way to impress your reefkeeping buds and add some extra personality to your tank. The color-changing Ecoxotic RGB modules in particular are a very cool way to add some flare to your system.

RELATED READING: Reefing On a Budget: Adding LEDs to Your T5 Fixture