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Cheap Planted Aquarium Lighting – Top 5 Budget LEDs Reviewed

All pet owners can be forgiven for wanting to create the best possible environment for their beloved animals. Of course, as a fish owner you should focus on giving them a nutritious, balanced diet, keeping their tank clean and clear, and making sure the water chemistry is right.

But you might also be tempted to make your humble fish tank into a spectacular shrine of fish, complete with exotic aquascapes and dramatic scenery lighting.

Well, if that is your eventual goals, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article we will guide you through some of the best cheap planted aquarium lighting currently available on the market.

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Cheap Planted Aquarium Lighting – Top 5 Budget LEDs Reviewed

Lighting can be used for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most simply, it can make your fish tank more aesthetically pleasing. This is particularly relevant if you have also put a lot of effort into the aquascaping in your tank.

A good set of cheap planted aquarium lighting can transform a boring, plain looking fish tank into a real feature of any room. You can enjoy countless hours observing your fish, and you can be sure that your guests will be equally impressed by your snazzy set up.

We have taken the time to assemble and review a selection of some of the best cheap aquarium lighting on the market right now, so you don’t have. All these products are perfect for the novice on a budget looking to get started in this inspiring hobby.

1. NICREW ClassicLED Plus Planted Aquarium Light

[amazon box=”B07F7391M2″]

This is a fantastic LED offering from a recognized market leader in the aquarium lighting business. The product has a host of nice features.

For example, it provides full spectrum color as red, green and blue LEDs are incorporated in all the products, from the very smallest to the largest. Also, it features a stylish and sturdy aluminium housing with a matt black finish which will neatly slot into most aquariums. The adjustable mounting brackets on this product allow for very easy installation and changing if you need to.

Another one of the draws of this product is the good selection of sizes. At the lowest end you can buy a 12” model which takes 8 W of power, but for more extreme circumstances they also have a 54” model which outputs nearly 2000 lumens of light.


  • Good selection of sizes, with varying light outputs. You will definitely find a lighting set that suits your aquarium
  • Sturdy Aluminium build
  • Incorporates red, green and blue LEDs
  • One of the best cheap planted aquarium lightings available


  • Premium product with a premium price tag

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

2. NICREW SkyLED Aquarium Light for Planted Tank

[amazon box=”B07S8SNTTC”]

This is another offering from the manufacturer Nicrew.

This SkyLED is designed to be installed above your tank, with the LEDs facing down. It has a color temperature of 6500, which puts it on the cooler end of the spectrum and offers fancy independent white and red LED control.

This means you can really personalize the lighting to whatever color you want, with decent light output.


  • Gives you a lot of control over the lighting in your aquarium.
  • Color temperature close to natural sunlight
  • Sturdy metallic design


  • LEDs are above the water, not immersed in it.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

3. JackSuper Aquatic Plant Aquarium Light

[amazon box=”B07FJLSDYG”]

This product has a very neat design which is unlike anything else available on the market right now. It features extendable strip lighting which can be mounted on the edge of your fish tank and placed across the top of the tank, with the blue LEDs pointing down into the water.

This has a number of advantages. For example, the product does not have to be immersed in water which means it is likely to last longer and can be made of more affordable materials. This helps explain the lower cost of this product.

Also, the product is available in a range of sizes. The smallest version extends up to 10” in length, while the larger versions fit tanks between 11” and 16” in size. This product is also only really suitable for very modest sized tanks.

The color temperature of the LED light is 7500 K, which means it is very cool. It features full spectrum white light which helps to render nearly any object close to its natural color.

This can really enhance your experience of your fish tank, as a captivated observer!


  • Extremely easy to install
  • Extendable design fits a great variety of rectangular tanks
  • Very affordable price


  • Very basic materials used and no mood lighting options.
  • Only fits rectangular tanks

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon


4. MingDak LED Aquarium Plant Light

[amazon box=”B07VZFSKLH”]

This is another valid option. It features 70% energy efficient lighting which is good for both your carbon footprint and your electricity bills!

Also, it features red, green and blue LEDs, to help mimic natural light as much as possible. Most impressively, it has two in built lighting modes.

Daylight mode to create a shimmering light that mimics natural sunlight, and a nighttime mood that offers a softer light of reduced intensity.


  • Very slim design means it is unobtrusive in any aquarium
  • Daylight and nighttime mode
  • Energy efficient lighting means low running costs


  • Quite expensive
  • Other options have more LEDs

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

5. Aqueon Aquarium Clip-On LED Light

[amazon box=”B07DT31PZ8″]

This is a very slick product which will satisfy most hobbyists needs. Even by modern standards, this clip-on LED is extremely easy to install. It can be easily slotted on to the side of any aquarium, framed or frameless.

It boasts 60 LEDs which are specifically designed to output the type of soft lighting which will allow your aquatic plants to thrive and grow. Also, although the controls are simple, the LEDs do have two distinct modes; all on or just blue LEDs on.

This allows you to create some dramatic mood lighting in your house! This product is suitable for modest fish tanks of up to 20 gallons in capacity.


  • Extremely easy to install
  • Two LED lighting modes


  • Not suitable for larger tanks, consider bigger set ups

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Why Do You Need Planted Aquarium Lighting?

As eluded to above, there are a great number of reasons why aquarium lighting is commonly used. Above all, light is universally needed for growth. This is equally true for plants as it is for humans.

Without the required amount of light, your carefully placed aquatic plants will remain small seedlings. So, once you’ve understood that you need light, you need to consider how much and what type of lighting.

This will depend entirely on your personal goals and needs. You must consider what types of plants you have in your aquarium, how fast you would like them to grow, how much tank maintenance you’re willing to do etc. Some plants require a lot of light and attention, others not so much.

You should research your own plants thoroughly before investing in aquarium lighting. You should be able to find information on the original plant packaging, or ask at the local pet store where you purchased them.

Remember that light is not the only requirement for aquatic plants to grow. They also need a good supply of CO2, and this requirement also varies from plant to plant. You might have to consider CO2 injection systems to really get a good covering from some plants.

Hopefully this has convinced you of the importance of aquarium lighting for aquatic plants.

However, for the novice, it is easy to install too much lighting. This can have adverse consequences such as the uncontrolled growth of troublesome algae, as well as just being a waste of money.

It is advisable to just invest in the minimal amount of cheap planted aquarium lighting when starting out in this hobby. Your set ups can grow more extensive and extravagant as you get more experience.

What To Look For In Aquarium Lighting?


Besides appearances, there are a number of other reasons to invest in good quality, cheap planted aquarium lighting. For instance, lighting is a basic requirement for your plants to grow.

Some plants require more light than others, and for a lot of plants the natural light in your living room will simply not suffice. Light can also be beneficial for your plants and fish’s health.

Thus, it is crucially important that you choose the right lighting type, color, and intensity, to improve your fish’s health and general well-being.

The wrong type of lighting might even upset your fish, causing higher levels of stress and the subsequent changes in coloration and general health. As you can, choosing the best cheap planted aquarium lighting is a big decision for any aspiring aquascaper.

There are a lot of factors to consider, but rest assured, we will guide you through the whole process!

When first starting out in this hobby, you might feel out of your depth and very unsure what you need to consider in potential aquarium lighting. Well don’t worry, we’re here to help.

There are a number of key factors that you should take note of when researching aquarium lighting. These include the light type, light intensity, and color temperature of the bulb.

All these factors should be carefully chosen to suit your setup and your own set of aquatic plants. There is no one size fits all setup when it comes to plant lighting, the system should be tailored to your own personal fish tank.

Types Of Light

When it comes to the type of lighting, there are two main choices; LED or florescent bulbs. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Undoubtedly, the most common type of aquarium lighting comes from T8 and T5 florescent bulbs.

The difference between the two is that T5 bulbs are more powerful, which is often necessary for growing light-demanding aquatic plants. These bulbs are easy to source, easy to install and often one single bulb is enough for a single tank setup.

On the other hand, LED lighting is becoming more popular recently. LEDs have some advantages over florescent bulbs because they are cheap and very long lasting. This leads to extremely low running costs, which can be important for larger setups. Although sometimes not as powerful,

LED lighting can often be found in more diverse shapes so it may be able to illuminate more parts of your tank, overlooked by florescent bulbs. Plus, LED lighting towers look really cool to outside observers!

Light Intensity

Light intensity should be dictated by the type of plants you have and how fast you want them to grow. There are different scales for lighting with LED and T5 florescent lighting systems.

For slow growth, you just want low lighting, which corresponds to 0.25 Watts per liter for a T5 bulb or 15-25 lumens per liter with LED lighting systems. For example, if you have a 50 L fish tank, then you would need a 12.5-Watt T5 bulb or roughly 1000 lumens worth of LED stringers.

On the other hand, if you want to promote faster growth in your plants, then you will need to install more powerful lighting. For high lighting, you need approximately 1 Watt per liter of water for T5 systems, or over 80 lumens per liter for LED systems. This can be quite strong and glaring light.

It is also crucial to remember that if you install high lighting, you must also supply the required amount of CO2 to promote plant growth, otherwise it will not work.

Color Temperature

The color should be one that appeals to you as a viewer. Remember, you are going to be looking at this in your home on a daily basis, so it should fit in with your general aesthetic! If you want cooler colors, look for lighting with a kelvin rating above 5000 K. The warmer colors will have a rating under 5000 K. For comparison, normal midday sunlight has a rating of 6500 K. T

he color temperature of your lighting does not have a major impact on plant growth, so this is really a personal choice. Whatever color you choose, it should positively accent the color of the aquatic plant and fish in your tank.

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Aquarium lighting can help you bring your aquatic setup to the next level. Take advantage of interesting aquatic plants and scenic algae, by investing in some of these varied lighting systems.

They will also help bring out the colors in your tropical fish, and give you a real feature point for whatever room you keep your tank in.

You have the flexibility to design the aquarium lighting system of your dreams. Now you know what to look for, and what the best options on the market are, what are you waiting for!


Aaron Boyd
Aaron Boyd

Hello, I’m Aaron Boyd, the proud owner and author behind Aqua Movement. I hope my article was able to answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

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