Using the right light for your reef aquarium is important for your long-term success because the photosynthetic corals inside rely upon the light to survive. Here are five things to look out for when choosing a reef aquarium light to ensure you make the best possible choice for your tank. 

Proven Light For Growing Corals

Use a light that has a proven track record for successfully growing corals in an aquarium. Talk to other hobbyists, read reviews, research the manufacturer; all of this is important to find out if a particular light is worth your while.

Most of the mainstream reef tank lighting companies are easily identifiable and make reputable lights. If you're looking to purchase a no-name or knock-off light fixture in hopes of saving some money, this research becomes particularly important. While some of these no-name reef tank lights will work just fine, there are also plenty of them that will only cause you headaches. 

Easy To Set Up Successfully

Since 99% of reef tank hobbyists are using LED lighting, you want to choose something that can easily be tuned to meet your particular needs. LED lights are leading the way in the world of aquariums because they are efficient and offer precision control over the color and intensity of the light. This is a double-edged sword because you can easily create an insufficient light spectrum or not supply enough output if you don't have the particular tools and experience to tune the light yourself.  

Many of the leading light manufacturers provide custom templates and preset spectrums making it easy for you to set up the light successfully. These preset programs not only ensure your spectrum is safe but also help to ensure the light is timed correctly, running for the appropriate amount of time each day at the right intensity. 

Using a light that lacks any sort of tuning assistance or presets can pose a real problem for new tank owners so you want to avoid getting yourself into a situation where setup guidance is obsolete. 

Can It Provide Enough PAR For Your Corals? 

Ensuring the light can provide the right amount of light is important.  You want to consider how big of an area the light can effectively cover and how much light it can deliver within this area. We break this down by looking at the spread and measuring PAR.  

Light manufacturers typically advertise the surface area (spread) a light can effectively cover which you can compare to your tank's dimensions. You can then use a PAR meter to measure the amount of light energy within that area to effectively tune the light output to meet the needs of the corals you are keeping. 

  • Soft Coral and LPS: 75 - 150 PAR
  • SPS coral: 200 - 350 PAR

There are a variety of different style LEDs on the market that utilize a variety of different lenses and optics to create a suitable spread of light. For larger aquariums, sometimes more than one LED fixture is going to be required to create a sufficient spread. 

Do You Like The Appearance - Color & Shimmer

The ideal appearance in the aquarium will be very personal for each of us. This comes in the way of how white or how blue the light looks, as well as how much shimmer the light creates.

Some hobbyists prefer the tank to look more natural, with white-colored light. Others prefer a much heavier blue appearance in the tank. The exact appearance can often be tuned using the light spectrum presets and controls. You can choose the appearance based on your personal preference without falling outside of the spectrum parameters that are appropriate for corals. 

Shimmer is what happens when the LED light reflects off the surface of the water.  As the water's surface moves, it creates moving columns of light throughout the tank which results in dynamic shadows and areas of higher and lower light. Much light you would see in nature as the sun's rays reflect and refract through the water column. Some lights create a much stronger shimmer effect than others and this is typically not something you can adjust. Do some research to find out what shimmer looks like and decide what kind of shimmer you want to see in your tank.

With the incredible variety of reef-capable LED lights on the market, there is no right answer in the way of appearance. Just choose something that can create the appearance you prefer.

Is It Within Your Budget?

Budget is a reality most all of us have to face and you don't have to break the bank to get a suitable reef aquarium light. From budget-friendly and mid-tier lights to high-end lights, there really is an option for everyone that will work to illuminate a reef tank successfully.  Some lights offer more features with more advanced technology while others offer a more straightforward approach.   

  1. Jump 65W LED Light - Blue - Maxspect
    Maxspect
    Jump 65W LED Light - Blue - Maxspect
    $279.99

    Earn 279 Reward Points Earn 4,185 Reward Points

    $279.99
  2. Jump 65W LED Light - Regular - Maxspect
    Maxspect
    Jump 65W LED Light - Regular - Maxspect
    $279.99

    Earn 279 Reward Points Earn 4,185 Reward Points

    $279.99
  3. Prism II LED Light Fixture - Planted - Aquamaxx
    AquaMaxx
    Prism II LED Light Fixture - Planted - Aquamaxx

    Starting at: $119.99

    Earn 595 Reward Points Earn 1,785 Reward Points

  4. Prism II LED Light Fixture - Marine - Aquamaxx
    AquaMaxx
    Prism II LED Light Fixture - Marine - Aquamaxx

    Starting at: $119.99

    Earn 595 Reward Points Earn 1,785 Reward Points

  5. Radion G5 to G6 Upgrade Kit - XR30 Pro - EcoTech Marine
    EcoTech Marine
    Radion G5 to G6 Upgrade Kit - XR30 Pro - EcoTech Marine
    $399.99

    Earn 399 Reward Points Earn 5,985 Reward Points

    $399.99
  6. Radion G5 to G6 Upgrade Kit - XR30 Blue - EcoTech Marine
    EcoTech Marine
    Radion G5 to G6 Upgrade Kit - XR30 Blue - EcoTech Marine
    $399.99

    Earn 399 Reward Points Earn 5,985 Reward Points

    $399.99
  7. Radion G5 to G6 Upgrade Kit - XR15 Blue - EcoTech Marine
    EcoTech Marine
    Radion G5 to G6 Upgrade Kit - XR15 Blue - EcoTech Marine
    $199.99

    Earn 199 Reward Points Earn 2,985 Reward Points

    $199.99
  8. Radion G5 to G6 Upgrade Kit - XR15 Pro - EcoTech Marine
    EcoTech Marine
    Radion G5 to G6 Upgrade Kit - XR15 Pro - EcoTech Marine
    $199.99

    Earn 199 Reward Points Earn 2,985 Reward Points

    $199.99
  9. Hydra 32 HD LED Freshwater Light - White Body - Aqua Illumination
    Aqua Illumination
    Hydra 32 HD LED Freshwater Light - White Body - Aqua Illumination
    $429.99

    Earn 429 Reward Points Earn 6,435 Reward Points

    $429.99
  10. Hydra 32 HD LED Freshwater Light - Black Body - Aqua Illumination
    Aqua Illumination
    Hydra 32 HD LED Freshwater Light - Black Body - Aqua Illumination
    $429.99

    Earn 429 Reward Points Earn 6,435 Reward Points

    $429.99
  11. Atlantik iCon LED Light Fixture - Orphek
    Orphek
    Atlantik iCon LED Light Fixture - Orphek
    $935.00

    Earn 935 Reward Points Earn 14,025 Reward Points

    $935.00
  12. Razor X R5 300W LED Fixture - Maxspect
    Maxspect
    Razor X R5 300W LED Fixture - Maxspect
    $1,039.49

    Earn 1,039 Reward Points Earn 15,585 Reward Points

    $1,039.49
  13. LumenBar V2 High Octane UV LED Strip Light - ReefBreeders
    ReefBreeders
    LumenBar V2 High Octane UV LED Strip Light - ReefBreeders

    Starting at: $169.99

    Earn 169 Reward Points Earn 2,535 Reward Points

  14. LOOP Orbit R24 Reef Light w/ eFlux Pumps Bundle - 3xLED - Current USA
    Current USA
    LOOP Orbit R24 Reef Light w/ eFlux Pumps Bundle - 3xLED - Current USA
    $1,125.95

    Earn 1,125 Reward Points Earn 16,875 Reward Points

    $1,125.95
  15. LOOP Orbit R24 Reef Light w/ eFlux Pumps Bundle - 2xLED - Current USA
    Current USA
    LOOP Orbit R24 Reef Light w/ eFlux Pumps Bundle - 2xLED - Current USA
    $895.95

    Earn 895 Reward Points Earn 13,425 Reward Points

    $895.95
  16. LOOP Orbit R24 Reef LED w/ eFlux Pumps Bundle - Nano - Current USA
    Current USA
    LOOP Orbit R24 Reef LED w/ eFlux Pumps Bundle - Nano - Current USA
    $458.95

    Earn 458 Reward Points Earn 6,870 Reward Points

    $458.95
  17. Thomas' 2ft SPS Dominant Lighting Bundle - Bulk Reef Supply
    Bulk Reef Supply
    Thomas' 2ft SPS Dominant Lighting Bundle - Bulk Reef Supply
    $917.13

    Earn 4,585 Reward Points Earn 13,755 Reward Points

    $917.13
  18. Orbit R24 LED Add-On Reef Light w/ LOOP Hub - Current USA
    Current USA
    Orbit R24 LED Add-On Reef Light w/ LOOP Hub - Current USA
    $218.95

    Earn 218 Reward Points Earn 3,270 Reward Points

    $218.95
  19. 2 x Orbit R24 LED Reef Lights w/ LOOP Bluetooth App & Temperature Sensor - Current USA
    Current USA
    2 x Orbit R24 LED Reef Lights w/ LOOP Bluetooth App & Temperature Sensor - Current USA
    $448.95

    Earn 448 Reward Points Earn 6,720 Reward Points

    $448.95
  20. Orbit R24 LED Reef Light w/ LOOP Bluetooth App & Temperature Sensor - Current USA
    Current USA
    Orbit R24 LED Reef Light w/ LOOP Bluetooth App & Temperature Sensor - Current USA
    $229.95

    Earn 229 Reward Points Earn 3,435 Reward Points

    $229.95
  21. Reef Nexus Integration Kit - ReefBreeders
    ReefBreeders
    Reef Nexus Integration Kit - ReefBreeders
    $114.99

    Earn 114 Reward Points Earn 1,710 Reward Points

    $114.99
  22. Photon 50-V2 Pro LED Light Fixture - ReefBreeders
    ReefBreeders
    Photon 50-V2 Pro LED Light Fixture - ReefBreeders
    $899.99

    Earn 899 Reward Points Earn 13,485 Reward Points

    $899.99
  23. Photon 48-V2 Pro LED Light Fixture - ReefBreeders
    ReefBreeders
    Photon 48-V2 Pro LED Light Fixture - ReefBreeders
    $879.99

    Earn 879 Reward Points Earn 13,185 Reward Points

    $879.99
  24. Photon 32-V2 Pro LED Light Fixture - ReefBreeders
    ReefBreeders
    Photon 32-V2 Pro LED Light Fixture - ReefBreeders
    $759.99

    Earn 759 Reward Points Earn 11,385 Reward Points

    $759.99
  25. Photon 24-V2 Pro LED Light Fixture - ReefBreeders
    ReefBreeders
    Photon 24-V2 Pro LED Light Fixture - ReefBreeders
    $569.99

    Earn 569 Reward Points Earn 8,535 Reward Points

    $569.99
  26. Photon 16-V2 Pro LED Light Fixture - ReefBreeders
    ReefBreeders
    Photon 16-V2 Pro LED Light Fixture - ReefBreeders
    $544.99

    Earn 544 Reward Points Earn 8,160 Reward Points

    $544.99
  27. Mitras LX 7206 Saltwater LED Light Fixture - Silver/White - GHL
    GHL
    Mitras LX 7206 Saltwater LED Light Fixture - Silver/White - GHL
    $899.90

    Earn 899 Reward Points Earn 13,485 Reward Points

    $899.90
  28. Orbit Marine IC PRO Dual LED Light Fixture - with LOOP Control - Current USA
    Current USA
    Orbit Marine IC PRO Dual LED Light Fixture - with LOOP Control - Current USA

    Starting at: $251.95

    Earn 251 Reward Points Earn 3,765 Reward Points

  29. Orbit Marine IC LED Light Fixture - with LOOP Control - Current USA
    Current USA
    Orbit Marine IC LED Light Fixture - with LOOP Control - Current USA

    Starting at: $179.99

    Earn 179 Reward Points Earn 2,685 Reward Points

  30. Orbit Marine LED Light Fixture - with LOOP Control & Temp Sensor - Current USA
    Current USA
    Orbit Marine LED Light Fixture - with LOOP Control & Temp Sensor - Current USA

    Starting at: $149.95

    Earn 149 Reward Points Earn 2,235 Reward Points

  31. Orbit Marine LED Light Fixture - Current USA
    Current USA
    Orbit Marine LED Light Fixture - Current USA

    Starting at: $134.95

    Earn 134 Reward Points Earn 2,010 Reward Points