Can LED Lights Grow Aquarium Plants?

LED light source options are exceptional when it comes to helping aquarium plants thrive. On the other hand, while plants have significant roles to play in tanks, they are amongst the extra multifaceted rudiments of an aquarium.

That’s entirely true since the plants keep the aquarium alive. Lighting issues have been confusing for a long due to their association with algae.

Can LED Lights Grow Aquarium Plants

Due to the diversity of LED lights, the most well-known species of aquarium plants will thrive only under the right LED lights.

In instances where people have seen their plants die yet the lights are there, it is due to installing wrong lights for the plants. In most instances, it’s just a question of intensity, meaning some plants necessitate more light than others.

LED technology has significantly advanced the cultivation of exotic plants with a number of energy-efficient fixtures. Any LED fixture one would buy for aquariums will be sufficient to allow for lush plant growth.

Aquarium Plant Light Requirements

The light requirements for Aquarium plant will vary between plants. Some plants can handle a lot of light, while some types of plants may need less light. The best way to know the requirements of your plants is to research the plants you have in your aquarium.

There are a variety of light bulbs used for aquarium lighting. Some types of lights are more efficient than others. The best lighting for your aquarium will depend on the type of plants you have.

You can identify aquarium plant light requirements by researching the plants you have in your aquarium. If you are not familiar with how to research plants, ask your local aquarium store to help

You can use both fluorescent and LED bulbs to light your aquarium. Fluorescent bulbs are less expensive than LED bulbs, but LED bulbs will give you a brighter aquarium. The best aquarium lighting for plants will be a combination of both fluorescent and LED bulbs.

In general, an aquarium will typically need only 5 hours of artificial lighting per day if it is near a window that is under direct sun. Unfortunately, even with low light, algae growth will be out of control. Because fish tanks should be kept away from direct sunlight, it’s ideal to place the tank in a room where only indirect light filters through the window.

Artificial lighting should be on for a minimum of 8 hours per day but can sometimes remain on 10 to 12 hours if this helps the hobbyist watch in the evening.

The amount of light that a fish tank requires depends on the fish tank’s size, number of fish, and aquarium type. Some fish tanks need bright, direct sunlight to have enough light. Others may be able to get by with less light.

I’ve seen a number of fish tanks that have a single light fixture, similar to a desk lamp. They typically have two settings: high light, and dim.

Understanding The Types of Aquarium Plants

Before purchasing any LED lighting system, you must establish if your plants are high, moderate, or low-light. We take a look at examples of plants under the three categories:

  • High Light: Macrandra and Rotala Wallichi
  • Moderate Light: Bacopa Monnieri and Dwarf Sagittaria
  • Low Light: Java Fern, Java Moss, Anubias, and Sagittaria.

Low Light Plants 

As the name suggests, these plants are easy to maintain since they require less light to grow. If you are starting to be an aquarist, one is encouraged to begin with the low-light plants since taking care of them is less demanding.

Moderate Light Plants

Low light plants do grow in moderate conditions. On the other hand, since they do not necessitate a lot of light, moderate light boosts them to multiply rapidly, and in the end, crowds your tank. Due to that, experts encourage aquarists to ensure the plants and lighting match.

Moderate light plants get to grow at a controlled pace. More work gets required on plants growing under this condition than those in low-light.

High Light Plants

Species necessitating a lot of light to thrive are the most difficult to maintain. They develop vibrant and beautiful leaves when the lighting system fitted is a match. Additionally, you will be required to inject extra components such as injecting CO2.

It is essential to know that metal halides play an excellent role in nourishing high-light intensity plants. LEDs are primarily suitable for low-light and moderate light plants, but you can couple them with high-light intensity species.

Irrespective of the lighting conditions of your tank, you can grow most plants in it, including the high-light plants. They get to thrive in low-light conditions as long as you inject them with CO2 in large quantities. However, it would be best if you matched the plants with the right lighting conditions.

Read More: Can Plants Grow in Artificial Light?

Reasons for Using LED Lights for Aquarium Plants

As emphasized above, light is key to the growth of plants. As you already know, direct sun rays are dangerous since they encourage algae growth.

A suitable substitute for the sun is the LED lights since they can mimic the sun’s light. The sun reaches up to 5800 Kelvin. An LED burning at the same Kelvin does not burn like the sun. On the other hand, the LED can produce light whose tint mirrors that of the sun and is bound to benefit the plants.  

Nevertheless, you do not necessitate a 5800K light to ensure your aquatic plants remain healthy. If you have a lighting system that delivers around 1200K, you are good to go. Fortunately, you can get LED bulbs in a variety of ratings.

The LED bulbs offer minute control over the lighting needs of your tank. Some have unique features that allow you to raise or dim the intensity of the light. Another aquarium lighting has the same attributes, namely, fluorescent bulbs.

LED lighting has been a stand-out in the market since it generates little heat and is long-lasting. Aquarists using LEDs can illuminate their tanks devoid of exposing water in the tank to unwanted temperature spikes.

5 Things I Wish I Knew About Planted Aquarium Lighting

How to Choose The Best LED Lights for Aquarium Plants

Aquarium plants would thrive in the presence of many LED lights available in the market, especially if the lights in question were made purposely for aquarium plants. Some such as the blue light models will be better at enriching your plants, while others might not perform well.

There are various brands available in the market. Ask help from experts since they will guide you on the best-suited brand depending on the plants you intend to grow. There are certain factors that you have to take into account before selecting any LED lighting system, for instance:

Size of the Tank

The size of the tank will affect the light intensity select because the size decides the ability of the LED to reach your plant’s life. Lighting enthusiasts encourage one to take the Photosynthetic Active Radiation into account while buying aquarium lights.

PAR can measure the light source strength with regards to its capability to arouse plants growth. One can use it to measure the LED intensity. On the other hand, PAR is not relevant unless you measure it against your tank size.

For example, devices that manufacturers have categorized as intense lights will form moderate lighting conditions in deep tanks since only a little partition of the light reaches plants at the bottom. However, moderate lights can develop decent lighting conditions in a tank that is not too deep because much of the generated light gets plants at the bottom.

For this reason, you find that most LED lights manufacturers hesitate to publish their product’s PAR figures. They are well conversant that the PAR figures become relevant when compared against the tank’s size. Therefore you must check out how your LED model performs in a tank like yours.


The factor focuses on light dispersion. In simple terms, it refers to the space light covers in your tank once switched on. The light should be capable of spreading all over the tank to ensure your plants will receive the adequate light necessary for their growth.

If the light doesn’t spread on all parts of your tank, there is no cause for alarm because you can invest in multiple lights to ensure every plant in the tank receives light abundantly. The tank size is essential in this factor since it will determine the number of lights you will have to purchase, not to mention the spread.

The LED light bars are the most after lights due to their ability to cover the entire length of the aquarium, guaranteeing broad coverage. Once you get one of those, ensure you place it at the centre of your tank’s cover to avoid leaving some areas without enough light.

Spectrum and Timer

Users use the Kelvin rating to decide the temperature or the spectrum of an LED aquarium light. The purpose of doing so is to find an LED light close to the sun, as earlier stated. To enrich your plants, you can rely on full-spectrum LED light fixtures.

Would you please get yourself a light fixture that has a timer? You cannot afford to switch the lights of your fish tank randomly since they highly need consistency. Random switching on and off of the lights could stress your fish. Roughly, they expect twelve hours of darkness and an equal amount of daylight.

Your aquarium lights configuration needs to suit the plants and fish equally. To maintain consistency, you will require a timer. If you are a newbie, experiment first to determine the number of hours your plants deserve to grow. Usually, the hours range from 8-12.

All you are required to do is setting up your time zone. The device then controls the lights during the day and at night.

Importance of Lights for Aquarium Plants    

Before appreciating the attributes of LED lights, it is essential to comprehend the critical role light plays in the lives of aquatic plants. Natural or artificial light is a source of fuel for plants. Without light, photosynthesis will not take place.

 On the other hand, it is essential to find some balance because if the plants get much light, they tend to grow faster, including algae. When the light is less, the plant’s health suffers. Therefore you have to provide enough and controlled light to your plant to thrive without causing algae population.

Artificial lighting is one of a kind since LED lights provide accurate control over your tank light requirement. You can also limit the amount of light your plant gets in a day using a timer. That way, the plants thrive and, at the same time, reduces algae growth.


Are RGB lights good for aquarium plants?

The main difference between RGB LEDs and traditional aquarium lighting is the ability to control the color. By using an RGB system you can control the color of the light to make it a warmer yellow, a cooler blue, or a bright white. 

You can also add a soft red light to the whole aquarium, which makes it look more like natural sunlight. We recommend an aquarium light with a white light and an RGB system.

Can regular LED lights grow aquarium plants?

The answer is yes. As long as the LED emits the light that your plants require to thrive, they’ll be fine. It’s among the most necessary items you should buy for your tank so you must ensure you make the right decision about buying it.

Some aquarium plants can grow in low light. But the plants will grow better with a high-quality LED light.

Are blue LED lights good for aquarium plants?

Plants utilize a particular kind of blue light called actinic blue for vegetative growth. Vegetative growth refers to the stems and leaves of the growing plants. When plants are grown totally under actinic blue light, they produce extremely luxuriant leaves and bushy leaves.

Blue LED lights may not the best option for aquarium plants. If you’re looking to grow plants in your aquarium, you need a red LED light with a white spectrum.

Is red light good for aquarium plants?

Red light is perfect for growing plants. Red light is not necessarily the best option for growing plants for aquariums. However, it’s the best option for growing plants because it promotes the vegetative growth of the plant.

On the other hand, reducing the use of red light will slow down the growth of algae. As long as you refrain from using lots of red light, algae can grow slowly. Unfortunately, decreasing the amount of red light may also dull the reds in your aquarium.

Do LED lights cause algae growth?

LED lights do not cause algae to grow in the aquarium more than any other lighting option does. Some algae species in the aquarium are more susceptible to certain lighting types. For example, blue algae and green algae may grow better in green light than other lighting types.

Are LED lights safe for the fish?

LED lights are safe for fish. There have been multiple studies conducted on the toxicity of LED lights when compared to the toxicity of HID lights. Many of these studies show that LED lights are much less toxic to fish than HID lights.


The light intensity in your tank as well as the color temperature is what determines if your aquarium plants will thrive. LED lights provide light to ensure crops thrive. When purchasing an LED light, especially a blue light, ensure you go for one that will provide the needed light for your plants to thrive. Ensure your tank is well illuminated during the day so that plants get the energy to perform photosynthesis.

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