Kindle E-Book On Convict Cihlid

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cheap LED Lighting for Aquariums and Planted Aquariums

After reading and researching about aquarium lighting and lighting for plants, I found that many speak in favor of cfl daylight being a reasonable source of quality light for aquariums and plant growth. Even though you get special grow cfl lights which are very expensive, one can do just fine with the regular daylight cfls which are used in regular house lighting. Daylight cfls emit a fair spectrum of light which is useful for plants. Whenever I visit shops, I notice them using fluorescent tube lights in their aquariums. Today with so much advancement in technology, people are using led lights for aquariums now. There are various led lighting systems available at fish shops, but they are very expensive and might not match the size of your aquarium. I live in India, a place where few cool things are available down the road. You have to go searching a lot for these types of things. So i decided to go DIY and make the most out of the stuff that is highly available.

I started to think about what led lights would be great for aquariums. LED bulbs and tubes which are designed for households emit the brightness and spectrum required for plants to grow in your aquarium. These things could easily fit into a pre-designed aquarium cover. Problem is, i do not have an aquarium cover and was not really inclined in wasting my time and money in creating one. I was wanting something as compact and simple as possible.

Waterproof LED Lights

Waterproof LED Lights
One day while checking out options at the lighting shop, i came across waterproof led lights of various colors to chose from. I went and bought myself a good amount of these and stuck them on a glass cover and placed it over my aquarium. I mixed red, green, blue, white and warm white to try and cover a wide light spectrum needed by plants. A nice option - The light was quite bright, the tank was lit up well, the plants were responding quite well to it. There was a major downside to this as these lights came as a bunch, so in order to evenly mix colors, I had to rewire them all and that took a lot of time and energy. Another downlide was that the sticker which is used to attach it on a surface gives up and the lights fall into the aquarium.


  • Cheap cost
  • Bright light output. The more you add to the panel, the more brightnes.
  • Many colors to chose from - Red, Green, Blue, White and Warm White when mixed, should be good for plants.
  • Waterproof
  • Safe even if they fall in the water.


  • Sticker used for attaching led to surface is not reliable and gives up. Once attached, its messy to remove as sticker glue doesn't come out easily.
  • If you decide to rewire them to mix light colors, its a lengthy task.
  • Ugly wires takes up lots of space on the panel.

Strip Lights

I tried led strip lights too. You get the waterproof version of these which are a bit more expensive. They come in various colors. They are easy to attach.

Now the downside here is the light intensity. The intensity wasnt enough. So i deccided to try something new. I was looking for cheap, yet powerful, highly luminous light sources with good cri (color rendering index). After searching I realized something amazing at the office. I noticed downlight led panel which was really bright. the brightness and quality of light produced by it was great too. So i decided to try it out in my aquarium. So I rushed to the shop and picked up a led downlight of 15 watts, 1000 lumins, daylight. I used pvc pipes to mount it atop my aquarium. I siliconed the light to the pipes to secure it. The light output was amazing and the plants started to release a large amount of oxygen bubbles. The entire aquarium was litup a great deal.
I do not find anyone talking about using these types of lights even though they are quite similar to cfl light, take up less power and give out more light and last longer. Besides the light is all focused in the right place, rather than getting wasted elsewhere. CFLs and tubelights give out a lot of wasted light in opposite directions which is a waste of good energy. downlights on the other hand focus all f the light down into the aquarium.
Here are some pics of what I have done. It is quite neat and compact and doesn't look ugly. If you find this article useful, you could perhaps use it in your setup.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)