Setting up a reef light or LED lighting for your nano aquarium provides two crucial effects:
- It supplies an ample life support system for your reef
- Optimal stimulation of the day and night cycle to render sufficient energy production to your coral reefs. We can add aesthetic pleasure as well as a bonus.
In other words, coral reefs in your aquarium will not likely survive without proper lighting.
This is where the best nano reef light comes in. Unbeknownst to beginner aquarists, there is more you need to know besides the light intensity and spectrum of reef lights. Choose the most suitable lighting, your reef will thrive for the longest time possible. Much more so for nano tanks that are relatively harder to maintain.
Lucky you, this article unravels an in-depth review and buying guide to help you out.
Best Nano Reef Light Reviews
1. Lominie LED Aquarium Nano Reef Lights
There are two things I love about the Lominie reef light: it has adjustable full-spectrum lighting and is integrated with an app for wireless and hassle-free modifications. Not to mention the LED bulbs for energy-efficient performance. Besides that, it has amazing features that make it the top-notch reef light for nano tank.
First of all, it provides sufficient lighting for nano tanks or aquariums that have 8 to 25-gallon capacity, whether rimmed or rimless tanks. Therefore, you can see that it has a compact and understated design yet delivers the powerful lighting intensity and spectrum required for nano reef tanks.
For a small saltwater and freshwater aquarium lamp, a full spectrum of colors at 10,000K to 16,000K is pretty impressive. I must say that it gives off an attractive lighting effect on the reef. But what’s best about it is the ample color mixing that promotes coral growth and a healthy reef environment. Plus, it is incredibly bright.
The lights are dimmable as well, mimicking the natural sunlight and daily cycle to support reef growth and vibrant coral hues. The timer is quite useful as it sets the perfect timing on when to dim the lights although an external timer works just as fine.
Aside from that, remote control is included. However, the integration with a smart app is truly a game-changer for me. This allows the users to control the light settings wirelessly, making it so much easier to customize the colors and the timer across the room.
One more thing that sets this unit apart from the other nano reef lights I have tried is its fanless design. Therefore, no fan means zero noise! This is why I get to enjoy its ambient feel and silent performance, especially at night.
I also want to highlight its flexible aluminum bracket that ensures durability. Even more so the waterproof power supply for safe usage. And with all these features packed in a small unit at an affordable price range, I could say that this is the best budget nano reef light.
Perhaps, the only caveat is that some options in the remote control malfunction sometimes. Good thing that Lominie has amazing customer service that addresses these concerns promptly.
2. NICREW Aquarium LED Reef Lights
Running at 100 watts, you can expect a much brighter light from this unit compared to Lominie LED lights. I am surprised at its bright and vibrant illumination even when it operates at 20%, making it very energy-efficient and reliable for varying lighting demands.
Aside from that, I noticed that its high intensity level or PAR allows the light to penetrate the nano reef more effectively. Even more so when it functions at lower light settings. Thanks to the narrow-angle lens, the unit emits a more focused light on the reef, covering a 24”x 24” maximum spread.
With that said, this unit is highly recommended for small spaces and nano reefs. Saltwater tanks included. As it delivers focused lighting, it also provides full spectrum colors that range from 405 nm (7500K) to 660 nm (4500K). That is between UV to deep red color temperatures to support coral growth.
These color temperatures and brightness levels, moreover, are customizable with the unit’s touch control. But I really appreciate the straightforward design because it makes light controls and transitions a breeze.
I find them useful and effective, especially when switching between three (3) modes: all channels, white channel only, or blue channel only. With these available presets, it becomes more convenient to modify the light settings according to the time of the day.
That said, I think this unit would be the best bet for beginner aquarists and hobbyists. More so when the priority is just a simple mechanism rather than the smart control features. Thus, less complicated and free from some wireless integration issues.
In addition to that, this unit highlights its effective heat management using integrated low-noise cooling fans. This handles the light longevity, preventing it from wearing out too quickly.
Installation’s easy and flexible as well since it can be mounted in different ways.
My only issue is that an integrated timer is not included although it can be purchased separately. However, remember that it is only compatible with the HyperReef controller and not with NICREW single-channel timer and Dual-channel timer.
3. Phlizon Dimmable Reef Aquarium LED Lights
The Phlizon Aquarium LED light is another excellent light option that defines functionality and quality. Plus, it is an affordable unit that does not compromise color spectrum features and dimmable settings for optimal light output.
Among the highlighted features is the double dimmer control; it has two dimmer knobs to easily customize brightness levels and color temperatures. You can say that this is the counterpart of NICREW’s touch control setting, only this is more straightforward than many modern units available today.
In my opinion, these separate channels promote more accessible control settings. I find it much easier to adjust the settings as you go back and forth with the dimmer knobs. Therefore, I recommend this to anyone getting into this hobby.
But of course, the focal feature of this unit is the light output, primarily the wavelengths between color temperatures and intensities. The color spectrum ranges from 3500K to 12,000K, which allows you to switch between light settings to stimulate day and night periods.
Since it comes in a rectangular shape with dimmable LED light bulbs beaming in your reef, it can cover a maximum spread of 36”x 36” x 36”. Not to mention the 165-watt light intensity that supplies higher PAR for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums.
Thus, this ensures optimal illumination to support coral growth and provide a healthy environment for aquatic plants in nano tanks (57 gallons or less).
For heat dissipation, this unit utilizes cooling fans and hence, helps prolong the light’s lifespan. The installation’s not a problem, too. The only downside is that a timer and remote control are not included.
4. SMATFARM LED Aquarium Coral Reef Lights
The SMATFARM G5 aquarium reef light is the ultimate pick for synchronized light operation. Such performance is evident when other Aquastar reef lights (referred to as Slaves) are connected to the Master G5 or the main control.
While that is pretty impressive already, keep in mind that this product is only a single unit that emits light in nano reefs at an optimum. Unless you plan to expand your aquarium tanks, one unit is enough for a nano reef.
That said, it offers superior access to customizations whether joint control, remote, or touch control. Beyond that, it has an integrated timer, which is deemed to be essential in the simulations of sunrise and sunset cycles.
These features seemed to be among the highlights. However, sifting through the unit’s properties reveals impressive specifications. One is the 95-watt full spectrum that renders sufficient illumination and color temperatures for nano saltwater tanks.
Covering a maximum spread of 32” x 24”, it can deliver strong light penetration for effective coral growth. Thanks to the dimmable modes that can go from 0% to 100% setting, light modifications for colors and intensities have never been easier.
These programmable coral modes feature different color temperatures ranging from 3000K to 14,000K – cool white, royal blue, violet-blue, violet, warm white, and green.
Since it uses LED bulbs, not to mention 24 pieces for a single unit, this reef light supplies energy-efficient illumination that incredibly lasts long. Engineered with smart two-roller fans, this lighting dissipates heat and regulates temperatures as it functions.
Furthermore, it extends the light’s lifespan. The silent operation also provides a comfortable ambiance as you get to revel in the soothing and aesthetic lighting.
On the other hand, setting up is no trouble. This nano reef light fixture features a flexible aluminum bracket. But the best part is the anti-rust design that makes it very suitable for aquarium tanks.
Unfortunately, the mounting bracket has its issues. I wish the manufacturer would improve its quality and grip since it falls off sometimes.
5. JOYHILL LED Aquarium Reef Lights
This small aquarium light is the cheapest among the nano reef lights I have found on the market. Although initially skeptical about its performance, this compact unit is surprisingly impressive; it is super bright, has two color light modes, and is energy-efficient.
This unit has a great color spectrum, ranging from white, blue, red, and green. Each color temperature emits a bright light that is sufficient for daylight and nightlight. Take note that these lights are not dimmable, and you can only switch between two modes.
In addition to that, it is programmed with two light modes that activate colorful or mixed lighting and blue LEDs for lunar or night periods. While these modes supply the necessary lighting for the coral reefs, they also give off beautiful and soothing hues.
Delving into the nitty-gritty of this aquarium light, this 12” x 18” unit uses 7.5 watts with around 7000K to 7500K color spectrum. The range might seem relatively lower than other nano reef lights but it is actually just enough for nano tanks with a similar width or around 10 to 30 gallons.
Surprisingly, the illumination is remarkably bright for its size and price. Aside from the fact that it uses LED bulbs, this reef light ensures energy-efficient performance. In that case, I recommend this unit for beginners getting into this hobby or those who need temporary lighting for their reef.
The extendable mounting bracket is a clever and practical design that can fit different sizes of tanks. However, stability can be an issue as the brackets feel flimsy and loose. That is why I suggest attaching rigid support to keep the brackets stable.
How about cooling fans? No, it does not have any although it still dissipates heat optimally as LED bulbs do not generate heat. But as expected, it is missing some significant parts and features such as remote control, timer, and dimmable light settings.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Nano Reef Lights
Light Intensity and Spectrum
The best LED lighting for reef tank fixtures depends on two primary factors: light spectrum and light intensity.
The light intensity refers to the amount of light and coverage provided by the lighting unit. For LED reef lights, this factor is based on PAR or Photosynthetic Active Radiation, which is a metric system that defines whether the unit can support the process of photosynthesis (conversion of light to energy to help corals survive).
Every type of coral requires a particular light intensity level. You may need a PAR meter for this to identify the light intensity for your reef. But take note of this:
Higher wattage = higher PAR = higher light intensity
The top light for nano reef is also defined by the color spectrum. While this may be considered an aesthetic aspect, the lighting colors (or color temperature) determines the ambient feel in the aquarium. This light metric is represented by Kelvin or the symbol K. Take note that as Kelvin decreases or increases, the light color changes.
*Higher Kelvin rating = white or blue light
*Lower Kelvin rating = warmer or yellow light
Therefore, the ideal K rating or color spectrum should range from 6,000K to 20,000K to stimulate day and night periods (the sun at noon is about 5,500K to 6,000K and about 20,000K for the light in the deep ocean).
Meanwhile, 6,000K to 7,000K would be sufficient for nano reef tanks (30 gallons or less).
Adjustable Light Settings
Adjustable and dimmable light settings help achieve optimal illumination and hence, elevate aquarium lighting demands. The good news is that most reef lights have this setting. For this reason, I suggest going for nano reef lights that feature lighting modes that can switch between color spectrums and light intensities.
The purpose of reef lighting is to mimic the sunlight and the day and night periods. I also should remind you that LED reef lights for tanks should not be turned on at all times and the same intensity level.
Too much light can lead to coral bleaching and unwanted algae growth. It will cause stress on the fish as well. Too little light will cause the corals to turn brown and likely die eventually.
Intervals between dimmed and bright lighting as well as color spectrums should be carefully implemented. This enables the light to function at certain wavelengths. Thus, correct timing is a must.
Timers could be purchased separately. Fortunately, some nano reef lights have integrated timers to regulate consistent day and night periods.
Although LED lights are energy-efficient and do not generate heat compared to incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs, manufacturers still highlight heat dissipation for safe and efficient lighting. Some units feature cooling fans for this purpose. This is pivotal to the lifespan of LED light chips to ensure long-lasting quality.
It is significant to determine the tank design and capacity when looking for the most preferred LED reef light. Some units are compatible with either rimmed or rimless aquariums or both. Some manufacturers also indicate the suitability of the reef light for an aquarium’s capacity (gallons of water) and water type (saltwater or freshwater). Nano tanks, however, are much smaller and usually have around 30 gallons or less.
When a nano reef light is easy to install and compact or large enough for the aquarium, it increases convenience and efficiency. User-friendly controls also make the unit easier to use, which is why most units feature remote and touch controls.
Some units have flexible brackets for versatile positioning. Other brands highlight their waterproof parts for worry-free use and installation while other units feature silent cooling fans for better ambiance.
Smart Control Features
Many brands nowadays utilize Smart Control technology to provide hassle-free light customization and control. This includes integrated apps that can be downloaded and installed on a smartphone for seamless light modifications.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long should you Keep the Lights on a Reef Tank?
The recommended period is between 9 to 12 hours to stimulate the daily cycle. However, lighting schedules should be implemented every day to prevent the corals and fish from overexposure to the light. Keep in mind that these schedules vary depending on the type of coral reefs. Therefore, the lights should be dimmed at particular times, just as day and night periods take place.
What Lighting do I need for a Reef Tank?
LED reef lighting is the best for your reef tank because they are energy-efficient, long-lasting, and incredibly bright. However, choosing the ultimate pick depends on several factors: the type of coral reef and the capacity and type of tank. In this way, you can determine which lighting is ideal in terms of lighting intensity and spectrum.
Meanwhile, for a budget-friendly, versatile, and app-integrated reef light, the Lominie Aquarium Coral Reef Nano Light is my ultimate favorite. It is also suitable for 25-gallon aquariums or nano tanks. But for heavy-duty and straightforward design, the Phlizon Full Spectrum Aquarium LED Light and NICREW HyperReef Aquarium LED Light are my personal picks. You may also consider these options.
The best nano reef light is not just about the attractive aesthetic features; it is a unit that can provide optimal lighting for a healthy reef environment. This involves the utmost consideration of the light intensity and spectrum as well as the aforementioned significant features that will make a reliable and high-quality nano reef light. Just make sure to note your aquarium features and reef qualities to find the lighting that complies with your needs.
I grew up with a fish tank in my house, and my parents would take me to the local aquarium every chance they got. This passion led me to start NationalparkAquarium.org, which I use to share my love and passion.