I have seen good reviews for LED lighting for aquariums, with people mentioning they use them for saltwater. Do they generate enough of the right light for happy live rock and whatnot?

One I am thinking about getting in particular is the "Wave-point Super Blue and DaylightMicro Sun LED High Output Clamp Light". I have used expensive/loud/hot aquarium lighting for so long, that I am having trouble trusting these LED fixtures.

Tanks specifics: (even though i really was just curious about the general concept of LED for marine tanks)

I have a 20 gallon tank with 2 clowns and a 6 line wrasse pretty much filled to the brim with live rock. No corals, besides a couple little ones that i dont care about, or any inverts.


3 Answers 3


Yes, LED's can support thriving reef and fish-only saltwater tanks. Just like with traditional lighting, there are a ton of factors; including the type and quality of the LED, the color spectrum, LED lenses, the total output, and the specific requirements of the livestock.

If you're looking for reef quality lighting, it's going to be at the upper end of output and cost. The fixtures you listed are likely insufficient for most reef lighting, except for possibly very small, pico-size tanks. For FOWLR lighting, these could very well be suitable depending on the tank size.

Edit. So based on your tank specs, these would probably be fine for it. They may support very low demanding coral, but if your plan is primarily just for lighting the tank with fish and inverts only, they should be fine.

  • FOWLR lighting?
    – user53
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 0:21
  • 2
    Fish Only, with Live Rock. So not a tank with Corals and such.
    – Spidercat
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 5:26
  • @AshleyNunn - very standard acronym used by aquarium enthusiasts. There are several of them.
    – JoshDM
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 5:27
  • 2
    @JoshDM As I am not super familiar with fish, I didn't know that, but it makes sense that they would develop their own shortforms for things. But it never hurts to ask for clarification!
    – user53
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 5:30
  • @AshleyNunn - I don't know them all, but I discovered many of them when writing the tag wikis. Used fowlr here: pets.stackexchange.com/tags/reef-tank/info
    – JoshDM
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 5:32

Depending on what type of tank you have, whether it's a reef or fish only, you're going to want a certain temperature of light. Normally, for a fish only tank, you're looking at a light around 5,000-6,500 Kelvin.

If you have a reef tank, you'll want to have a light up to 10,000 Kelvin, but be sure to monitor it, as you don't want to harm the coral. Too much will kill the microorganisms that create the coral, and when they die you'll notice the coral turning white. That's what is happening when someone is talking about corals bleaching. In my opinion, light timers are a necessity for reef tanks. Even just a cheap dial timer you can get at Walmart can help you keep the right schedule for the tank's lights.

As far as the light you picked out goes, it will work depending on your tank size. From looking at it, it looks like it's made for 10 gallon aquariums (If the light doesn't span the length of the tank, it's not enough). So for a fish only tank, you'd want it set at the "super blue" or "6500K Daylight" setting. Either of the 10,000K settings should work for a small reef tank.

As a side note, and maybe more so for freshwater tanks, these types of LED lights are commonly used for open style tanks (where there's nothing covering the top of the aquarium). While I like the look of open tanks, it requires careful planning to make sure you don't have anything that will get into your tank, or any fish that will jump out. I tend to go with glass-top covers on my tanks, they have some downsides like needing to clean algae off of them on occasion, but I prefer them over using a hood.

  • thanks for the open tank info, its just clowns and a wrasse. I will have to look up about the wrasse. I was planning on getting one of those folding full glass lids. would that filter too much of the good light stuff out? Its just a 20 gal
    – jumpdart
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 15:11
  • as far as the jumping is what I mean. I know the clowns wont jump but I'm not convinced the wrasse wouldnt. He's pretty frisky
    – jumpdart
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 15:30
  • @jumpdart I would definitely put a glass top on it. Wrasse are pretty likely to jump, but I've seen it even more from clownfish. (Though that's probably because I've had more experience with clownfish not because they're more prone to jumping.)
    – Spidercat
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 15:40
  • @jumpdart The light shouldn't be a problem through the glass, especially since you don't have to worry about corals. If you make sure the light is pointing straight at the glass and not at an angle, that will avoid having light bounce off the glass.
    – Spidercat
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 15:40

I have live rock, coral, snails, crab, starfish, many other fish and invertebrates, and the led works fine. It runs cooler too.

It may take more lights to get the same amount of lighting as you get from a standard lighting system (depending on the type of led setup you go for) and it can get really expensive, but it looks great.

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