It might be overwhelming at first to choose the right LED lighting for your tank because there are many things to consider. Here are some things to look for in order to make the process easier and stress free.
Note: It’s not just about the brand of lighting because every tank’s needs will be different.
We are going to focus on a structure that you can use to come to a decision that is right for you and your tank inhabitants.
1. Plan of Action
One of the first things you will want to do is to set up a plan and budget. Your $100 might turn into $300 or more in no time if you don’t have a proper plan of action and you see all the options available. Try not to consider anything above your original budget.
If you’re really running out of options then perhaps your budget was too low to begin with, you will need to be realistic and be prepared to spend the money required to get an effective and long lasting LED lighting system.
Now that you have your budget, here are some important factors to look for when choosing your LED Aquarium lighting. The following list will be different for everyone based on preferences and how important each factor is to you.
2. Longevity and Build Quality
You will want to choose an LED lighting system that is designed to last. In order to make sure that your dollars are well spent, choose LED lights that are not going to break, lose output or change color spectrum in the long run. It is also important that you choose products designed with quality in mind. Make sure the materials used are durable and strong.
It might cost you more upfront to get better LED lights that will last longer, but it will save you money down the road because you will not have to fuss with buying new parts and bulbs each time something breaks.
3. Internal Visual Appeal
You should also focus on the internal aesthetic appeal of your aquarium.
Which colors do you want to see in your tank?
Has someone else’s aquarium inspired you to go out of the box with color combinations?
Do you want to bring out the colors of your fishy friends?
Choose something that will create great color blending and no visual hotspots.
4. External Visual Appeal
Where will your aquarium be? In your office, living room, bedroom or hallway?
Make sure that your aquarium will be aesthetically pleasing from the outside and not be viewed as an eyesore. Having big and bulky equipment and frames outside of the tank can make your aquarium look more like a science project than a piece of art.
When choosing your LED setup, try to opt for smaller equipment that won’t take up too much room.
5. User Friendly
Most LED lighting systems have software included and programming options for controllability. Choose a system that has a wide variety of options that are user friendly.
Some setups will come with a simple remote with sliders and buttons and others will require the use of a computer and come with many different options for adjusting timing, light intensity, scheduling, custom color display options and more. Some advanced LED systems will even allow for different intensities for different potions of the tanks, which is great for corals!
There are also options to utilize different colors and intensities to mimic different parts throughout the day like sunrise, midday, late afternoon, sunset and nighttime. You can even set up your LED lights to display shimmer lines and pulses.
This may be the number one factor on your list when searching for LED lighting for your aquarium. Try not to just look at the dollar sign per system but break it down by the cost per LED. This way, you can use the formula to compare different setups and know exactly where your money is going. This will also help you see where the fixture ranks in value compared to the other products on the market.
The average lifespan of LED’s are 10 years, or 50,000 hours but these estimates are based on lab conditions. In order to get a full life cycle out of your LED’s, keep the lights cool and use lighting safety features to prevent overheating.
Check out this handy breakdown of the average cost of aquarium lighting over 50,000 hours. (source)
By looking at this chart, it’s easy to see that, although it might cost you more initially to get your LED lighting system up and running, in the long run, the savings are unbeatable.
Be sure to also look for what types of colors are included in this cost. More colors will represent options and flexibility. If you know you want multiple colors then see if it would be more cost effective to buy the colors together or separately.
7. Ease of Upgrading
LED technology is constantly changing and progressing. If aquaria are a big hobby of yours, you will probably own your tank for a long period of time.
It’s important to have the option to upgrade your LED lighting system in case you ever needed to: add more lights, experiment with new colors, get a bigger tank, get new fish or corals that need certain forms of lights etc.
Ask yourself if you can make changes in the future to your LED lighting system if the need arises. Look for lighting setups that come with upgrade kits and add-on equipment.
8. Parts and Warrantee
Another important piece of information to double-check is the warrantee and availability of parts of the equipment.
One question to ask yourself is, how is the company at dealing with parts breaking and getting back to you when you need assistance? Feel free to call and ask companies for an old part and see the type of response that you get. If they are available and eager to help and they have the parts in stock, then you will know that this company is loyal and will be there to help you out.
9. Light Intensity
What types of inhabitants are in your aquarium? Some LED systems provide more PAR output than you will ever need.
Make sure you are able to reduce the output incase your lighting is too intense. Too much light intensity can be deadly for certain types of tank inhabitants!
One fixture will never be the exact same as the other, but which one is the best? That’s up to you; requirements and budgets are different for everyone.
As you are now aware, the LED lighting options are endless and there are many things to consider before choosing a system that will suit your needs the best. Hopefully this guide will help you take a list of endless options and narrow them down to something that is aesthetically pleasing, functional and long lasting.