This is the second part of our exploration into the 5 types of aquarium lighting and this episode is focused on LEDs and their hybrid cousins. If you are curious about refugium lights, metal halides, or T5 fluorescent lighting you should check out Episode 27a first.

There is no doubt, LED lights are taking over. Not only in the world of aquarium lighting but also in other applications such as industrial and home lighting. There are good reasons for this; LED lights are energy-efficient, produce next to no heat, don't require bulb replacements, and still provide equivalent illumination when used correctly.

Modern LEDs can either be used as a stand-alone light, where LEDs are the sole source of light over your tank, or as a hybrid where LEDs are used alongside a T5 or metal halide lights which we have deemed "hybrids".

Aqua Illumination LED Lighting
  1. Blade LED Hybrid Mounting Kit
    Blade LED Hybrid Mounting Kit



The aquarium hobby, in general, has benefited from the rapid advancement in LED technology over the past 10-15 years. This development has given hobbyists an incredible variety of options and opened the door to precision lighting controls we had never previously thought were possible, or relevant for that matter. This level of control has not only inspired but required hobbyists to develop a deeper understanding of light science, photosynthesis, and the organisms that rely upon the light to survive in our aquariums.

  • Less expensive
  • Less heat
  • Virtually noise-less
  • Controllability
  • Higher upfront cost
  • Tinkerability/controllability
  • Too many options

Ironically enough, some of the same things that make LEDs appealing, can also make them difficult. While you might think having options is great, the incredible diversity and range of quality can make it difficult to choose something that will suit your particular needs. The advanced lighting controls can be a double-edged sword too, while it's very convenient to simply set a timer using your smartphone, the ability to adjust spectrum and intensity can quickly get you into trouble.

Thankfully you have BRS on your side with an extensive collection of videos and educational articles along with a trained and experienced team of aquarists, eager to help answer your questions.

Hybrid Lighting
  1. 48
    Aquatic Life
    48" T5HO G3 Hybrid 4-Lamp Light Fixture

  2. 36
    Aquatic Life
    36" T5HO G3 Hybrid 4-Lamp Light Fixture

  3. 24
    Aquatic Life
    24" T5HO G3 Hybrid 4-Lamp Light Fixture



A hybrid is exactly as it sounds, a combo fixture that houses both LEDs alongside T5 fluorescent lights or metal halides. In recent years, hobbyists have discovered that a hybrid like this can give you the best aspects of both lighting technologies, producing an almost unmatched level of performance.

95% of the hybrids in action today are going to be a T5/LED combo which really produces an unmatched spread and has the incredible ability to reduce shadowing which can be problematic in reef aquaria when corals tart to shade each other. The LED strips can add better color rendition with extra UV light and also create some mild shimmering effect while reducing the overall energy consumption and the number of necessary T5 bulbs required to light the tank. 

  • Best aspects of T5s and LEDs in a single fixture
  • Less heat and energy consumption
  • More consistent spread
  • Higher upfront cost - perhaps the most expensive
  • Some level of DIY know-how is necessary
  • Must replace T5 bulbs annually

Want To Learn More About Hybrid Lighting? 
Watch Video: Giesemann Stellar...OR...Aquatic Life T5/LED hybrid? Reef tank lighting showdown - BRStv Investigates