Aquarium Night Light Guide: Which Is Right for Your Tank?




Aquarium Night Light

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Daytime lighting is usually the focus of most fish owners, especially if your tank has live plants, which require a large amount of light. But what about at night? Do fish need night lighting? Why would it be beneficial? Read our guide to learn more about our top aquarium night light picks!

Using Night Lighting to Observe Behaviors

Some fish display different behaviors at night than they do during the day. These behaviors can be important to observe. For example, if you are waking up to fish with missing scales or wounds your fish may be fighting at night.

Some fish that are nocturnal, such as Blue Botias, can become aggressive towards diurnal fish at night. Some nocturnal fish, such as Catfish and Damselfish also lay their eggs at night.

Are Nightlights Good for Fish?

Schedules are just as important to fish as they are to humans. Blue LED lights are good for fish at night because they mimic moonlight, which creates a natural transition from dusk to dawn and vice versa.

It isn’t good to leave blue lighting on all night as it can disrupt your fish’s sleep. However, blue lights are acceptable for nocturnal fish to keep on all night. To manage this, it’s best to use a timer.

If you want to keep your aquarium light on at night to observe your fish, get some red LED lights. It has been proven that only some reef fish can see red light. Depending on your fish species you can use red LED lights to light your tank at night.

Do LED Lights Stress Fish?

The majority of aquarium fish are not stressed by LED lights. As long as you watch the intensity of the LED lighting and don’t keep them on longer than 12-14 hours a day, LED lights do not cause harm to fish. There are, however, pros and cons of LED lighting.


  • Use less energy
  • Put out a low amount of heat
  • Have a long lifespan
  • Allow you to adjust the light intensity
  • Various color options are available


  • Lack of product availability
  • No set cost, some LED units are more expensive
  • Not enough lighting for certain plants

Light Consistency

The most important factor to consider when choosing aquarium lighting is consistency. The goal is to keep conditions as natural as possible by setting the lighting on a schedule.

This can be done easily using an aquarium lighting timer. A timer ensures your fish and plants are getting a consistent amount of light every day without requiring you to monitor it all the time. 

Timers are also very affordable. We recommend this programmable timer. We love it for its easy setup and light dimmer function. Now that we understand the basics of tank lighting, what light is best for your tank? Here are some of our most recommended aquarium lights.

Aqueon Clip-On Aquarium LED Light

Aqueon Clip-On Aquarium LED Light
  • Clip-on aquarium LED light; ideal for growing plants
  • 60 bright LEDs help support and grow lush plants
  • 3-way soft-touch LED control (all on/blue on/all off)
  • Easily mounts on framed or frameless aquariums using the versatile mounting screw
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The Aqueon Clip-On Aquarium LED light is a thin clip-on light that is ideal for aquariums with plants. It also has blue and white lights for use with aquariums of up to 20 gallons. It has 60 LEDs to support plant growth.

Things We Like

  • Mounts easily on framed and frameless tanks
  • Ideal for plant growth
  • Very affordable
  • Compact and simple to hide
  • Soft touch allows you to change between settings with ease

Things We Don’t Like

  • Has no timer
  • Has no daylight function
  • Can get warm and increase the water temperature

GloFish Blue LED Aquarium Light

GloFish Blue LED Aquarium Light
  • AQUARIUM LIGHT: Easily convert an aquarium into a stunning home for your GloFish fluorescent fish.
  • BLUE LED LIGHTS: Suspend GloFish LED Aquarium Light over your aquarium cover to enhance your tank.
  • FOR UP TO 10 GALLONS: Add to your 10-gallon aquarium to create the ultimate GloFish environment.
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The GloFish Blue LED Aquarium Light can be added to any aquarium to amplify your aquarium. This blue LED light is waterproof and can be used with a glass canopy or hood light. We recommend using one light for a 5 to 10-gallon tank and two lights for a 20-to-55-gallon tank.

Things We Like

  • The most affordable LED aquarium light
  • The blue bulb gives your tank a glimmer effect when used to light at night
  • Its slim design is perfect for small tanks
  • Fits aquariums up to 30 inches long
  • Great for use as a marine moon light

Things We Don’t Like

  • Blue light can sometimes be too intense
  • The clips to clip the light onto the tank can be difficult to use
  • Can have a short lifespan
  • Can dim over time

Aquaneat LED Aquarium Light

Aquaneat LED Aquarium Light
  • Light body without docking brackets: 17” L x 2.7” W. Tank thickness: No limit to rim size
  • Configuration: Total 42 LEDs, 30 pcs 6500K white LED, 6pcs blue LED, 3 pcs pink LED, 3 pcs Green LED
  • Mode: all lights on and all lights off
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The Aquaneat LED aquarium light is an adjustable light suitable for a 10-gallon aquarium. This light has 42 total LEDs containing white, blue, pink, and green LEDs. It is energy-saving and suitable for all freshwater fish aquariums.

Things We Like

  • Simple installation
  • Can fit an 18-to-24-inch tank
  • Includes a splash guard
  • Good for a basic setup

Things We Don’t Like

  • Not powerful enough for an aquarium with plants
  • Not waterproof
  • Bulbs have a shorter lifespan
  • Only has 2 light settings, all lights on or all lights off

Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Light

Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Light
  • EASY INSTALLATION- Sliding docking legs allow quick and easy adjustments for a wide variety of installations. This system also makes adding multiple fixtures a snap.
  • REALISTIC EFFECTS- Beyond the world of white and blue light, the Satellite LED also features effects that mimic real-world aquatic conditions.
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The Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED light is a bright light with both a white and blue LED lighting system. It has multiple modes and effects that can create an environment similar to the wild fish habitat.

It has many unique features like custom color temperature settings, special night light settings, and independent control of the white and blue LED lights.

Things We Like

  • You can dim or turn on and off the white and blue LEDs together or individually
  • It has two storm modes with lightning and cloud cover effects
  • It has a dusk mode and two lunar light modes for a dim aquarium night light
  • The LEDs are low voltage, so they are very safe for aquarium use
  • Adjustable to many different fixtures which makes installation simple

Things We Don’t Like

  • Not waterproof
  • The waterproof cover can fail
  • Not good for a tank with freshwater plants
  • Poor durability
  • If exposed to water the light will cease to work

Marineland 32996 LED Aquarium Light

Marineland 32996 LED Aquarium Light
  • NIGHT LIGHT EFFECT Enjoy your aquarium at night by switching to the blue night light mode
  • RUBBER FEET Use with a glass canopy – rubber feel minimize slipping
  • SIZE For aquariums up to 30 inches long
  • Age Range Description: All Life Stages
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The Marineland 32996 LED Aquarium Light is an LED light that is long-lasting, an energy saver, and low voltage. It features daylight LEDs as well as night light LEDs. This light is suitable for aquariums up to 30 inches long.

Things We Like

  • The white LEDs are bright and produce an effect that mimics the feel of natural sunlight underwater
  • This light comes with a blue night light effect
  • This light features long-lasting LED lights
  • Very energy efficient comes with a low voltage power supply

Things We Don’t Like

  • More expensive than other aquarium lights
  • The switch can be defective over time
  • The system can corrode and lead to flashing lights

Choosing the Right Aquarium Light

There are many factors to consider when choosing the perfect light for your aquarium. Choosing the best type of light depends on the needs of the fish and plants in your tank, the size of your tank, and your budget.

Fish and Plant Needs

Fish need light to see so they can swim around, hunt for food, and interact with other fish. Specific fish and plant species have specific needs when it comes to light.

Some fish are native to rivers and lakes where there is bright light during the day. Other fish and plant species are native to environments with lots of vegetation where the water is low light. It is crucial that you choose a light that is best for the types of fish and plants in your tank.

Light Intensity and Light Spectrum

Not all lights are the same. Intensity is the term for how bright a light is. The light spectrum describes the mixture of colors that light makes.

Lights that put off a yellow warm glow have a low spectrum rating, while blue or white lights have a high spectrum rating. A light that is too strong can encourage algae growth, especially in tanks without plants.

Tanks with live plants need the proper light intensity and spectrum to survive. The depth of the water also plays a role in the live plants’ survival. Certain colors like blue can reach deeper into the water and affect plants negatively.

Type of Aquarium Lights

There are many types of aquarium lights to suit your specific tank needs. Here are some of the most popular options for freshwater aquariums.

Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent lights are one of the most popular aquarium lighting choices. They are both affordable and flexible but tend to dim over time and usually need to be replaced every 10-12 months.

LED Lights

LED aquarium lights are becoming more popular due to their energy efficiency and ground-breaking features. They use less energy, do not heat the tank water, and usually last years before needing to be replaced.

Many LED lights also come in different colors and with different modes and features.

What to Know Before Buying an LED Light For Your Setup

Based on the type of aquarium setup you have; LED light may not be the best choice for you.

If you have live plants in your tank, LED lighting may either be too strong or too weak for your plants to thrive. LED lights are not as powerful as metal halide or fluorescent light setups. Metal halide or fluorescent lights are ideal for live plant species that require a large amount of light.

Do LED Lights Work for Saltwater Aquariums?

Lighting a saltwater tank can be costly. LED lights are becoming popular for their amazing features and controls, and they save energy and money.

So, you may be wondering; can I use LED lights for my saltwater tank? The answer is yes!

Reef aquarium LED lights are great for any saltwater tank including tanks with reefs. LED lights provide versatility to control light blending, they are easily controllable and are more cost-efficient options.


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about your fish and aquarium night lighting.

Do fish need complete darkness to sleep?

Fish do not usually need complete darkness to sleep but it is best to give them the same amount of darkness they would usually have in their natural habitat.

What colors do fish see best?

A fish’s eyes can’t really detect color. At night contrast and movement are more important. White light has the greatest amount of contrast.

How long do LED aquarium lights last?

LED aquarium lights usually last for up to 50,000 hours or about 6 years. Fluorescent or metal halide bulbs typically last from 6 to 18 months.

How do I know if I have too much light in my tank?

You will know that you have too much light in your tank if a large amount of algae starts to grow. This is a sign you are likely leaving your lights on for too long.

How do you clean LED tank lights?

It is best to clean your LED tank lights with vinegar. Vinegar is safe for fish and works well to remove deposits from the lights.

Where should I place an LED light in my aquarium?

The best placement for your LED lights in your aquarium is usually about 10 inches above the surface of the water in the center of the tank. This way the light is evenly distributed throughout the tank. For more tips, watch this video.

Final Thoughts

In any aquarium, lighting is crucial to the health of your fish and plants. The type of lighting that will work best for your setup depends on the type of aquatic animals and plants you keep and their light requirements.

While night lighting isn’t necessary for fish, using lights to establish a set schedule and smooth transition between night and day is best for the majority of aquarium fish.

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