If you use a refugium with your saltwater aquariums or reef tank. One of the most important things to keeping it healthy is using the best LED refugium light.
The right light helps algae and other plants thrive and can be an invaluable addition to your delicate tank.
Table of Contents
- Does a Refugium Need Light?
- The 8 Best LED Lights to Use For Refugiums
- LED Refugium Light Reviews
- 1. Kessil H160 Tuna Flora LED Refugium Grow Light
- 2. Kessil H80 Tuna Flora Refugium LED
- 3. Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights
- 4. Innovative Marine ChaetoMax Refugium LED Light
- 5. JBJ Nano Glo LED Refugium Light for Aquarium
- 6. Wave-point Mirco Sun LED Fixture Lighting
- 7. Lominie LED Aquarium Light, Saltwater Freshwater Fish Tank Light
- 8. Mingdak LED Aquarium Light
- How Much Light Does a Refugium Need?
- How Many Hours of Light for Refugium?
Does a Refugium Need Light?
A refugium is a small supplemental aquarium that hangs onto or sits next to a saltwater or reef tank. It’s used as an easy way to continually cycle water into and out of the main tank for additional filtration.
Inside the refugium, the setup mimics a natural reef environment and usually contains things like live rock, deep sand or mud, and macroalgae. It’s basically a small ecosystem of its own that uses water to cycle out of and back into your main tank.
Refugiums can be used in many ways. Although they’re primarily used to grow algae for filtration, they can be a great home for coral and other plants, too. Generally, they’re not used to house sealife but can be a safe place for breeding.
Because a refugium is directly connected to the main tank, it can’t be used as a hospital or quarantine. That said, it’s a great place to keep an overly aggressive fish or one with an injury that needs alone time to heal.
That said, the primary purpose of a refugium is to provide filtration which is why you should focus on making it an environment where macroalgae will not only grow but thrive. One of the main things you need? Good lighting.
A refugium light is necessary no matter how you choose to use it. Whether you’re keeping plants or coral in your refugium or using it purely for algae growth, the right amount of the right kind of light is necessary to help this little ecosystem thrive.
The 8 Best LED Lights to Use For Refugiums
If you’re looking for the right LED light for your refugium, you’re in the right place. We found some of the best options available to help you find the right one for you.
LED Refugium Light Reviews
1. Kessil H160 Tuna Flora LED Refugium Grow Light
This light from KessilOne was specifically designed for plant and algae growth. One of the great things about it is that it doesn’t use any white LEDs. Instead, the lights are just the right balance of blue and red to stimulate chlorophyll.
There’s a small knob at the top of the light where you can fine-tune the color temperature to find what works best for your plants. There are four different settings to choose from (blue, grow, bloom, and red) so you can find the one that works best for your refugium.
This light is can be used in spaces as large as 24” x 24” but works best in 18” x 18” spaces or smaller. For best results, attach the light to the side of the tank using a gooseneck mount for proper positioning.
2. Kessil H80 Tuna Flora Refugium LED
Next up is another great light from Kessil that’s especially effective at growing different types of algae, including chaetomorpha. It has four different color modes so you can give your refugium exactly the type of light it needs to thrive.
Kessil spent a lot of time developing their LEDs and are able to pack a lot of diodes into a small area. This results in an even blend of colors, no hot spots, and uniform color distribution throughout the tank.
This light has an integrated heat sink that allows for high heat transfer for the LEDs into the body of the light itself. That means it doesn’t need a fan which makes it a good choice for humid environments.
Maximum spread for this light is 24” x 24”, though 18” x 18” is recommended. You can also daisy-chain these lamps together for larger spaces. A canopy mount is included for easy setup but it can be used with a gooseneck mount as well.
3. Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights
If your refugium needs only moderate light, take a look at this next product from Finnex. The LEDs are spaced evenly apart and not so tightly clustered which produces enough light to promote photosynthesis without being too bright.
The LEDs in this lamp are a mix of red to stimulate chlorophyll, white to simulate daylight, and blue for a moonlight effect.
To extend the life of this lamp, the circuit boards are built using high-quality aluminum and is acts as its own heat sink to stay cool without the need for a fan. The LEDs last 40,000 hours or more and have a spread of 120 degrees.
This model also has a splash guard to protect against water mishaps and comes with a flexible gooseneck mount so you can position the light as needed. This sleek design is a perfect choice for rimless aquariums.
4. Innovative Marine ChaetoMax Refugium LED Light
This light from Innovative Marine was designed to stimulate algae growth at the cellular level. Plus, there’s no heat transfer so you don’t have to worry about the light affecting the water temperature.
The cool thing about this light is that it uses 45 LEDs within a carefully chosen spectrum that’s just right for rapid algae growth. Colors include the perfect mix of blue, violet, magenta, and red.
Why those colors? By eliminating green and yellow wavelengths, the light can specifically target cellular growth structure. That not only means faster growth but higher quality plants and no wasted energy.
This light comes with multiple mounting options so you can be sure you’ll get the positioning just right. Use the simple bracket to mount it directly to the rim of the tank or the hook and loop mounts to attach it right to the side of your refugium.
5. JBJ Nano Glo LED Refugium Light for Aquarium
Next up is this versatile design from JBJ. This is a great choice for a small refugium but it can also be used in any small aquarium. It features a higher output design that lasts an incredible 40,000 hours and creates minimal heat.
This in-tank light has four high-intensity LEDs that evenly distribute light that helps stimulate macroalgae growth. It attached to your refugium using a simple but powerful magnet. It’s secure but still easily movable.
If you have a small tank or refugium that can’t accommodate any top lighting due to size and space restrictions, this is a good choice. The manufacturer recommends running it on a reverse daylight cycle to maintain oxygenation once the main lights are turned off for the night.
6. Wave-point Mirco Sun LED Fixture Lighting
This Mirco Sun LED light features high-output LEDs that simulate daylight as well as super blue LEDs for a night time effect. They’re great for a refugium but can also be used as a primary light source for a reef tank.
Mounting this light is easy, too. It features a sleek aluminum hood that’s not only durable and stylish, but also help distribute heat away from the water. The adjustable arm is made of high-impact plastic and the water-resistant construction is built to last.
This light has a wide light spread and a compact design that does a great job simulating daylight for your plants.
If you have a thinner tank with glass between ½ and ¼ inch, use the included suction cup with the mount to give the light more stability. With thicker glass, the suction cup isn’t needed. There is no off/on switch so use this light with a timer for best results.
7. Lominie LED Aquarium Light, Saltwater Freshwater Fish Tank Light
There’s a lot to love about this light from Lominie but one of the best things about it is how easy it is to use. It features a 360° adjustable gooseneck that easily clamps in place. It’s rustproof and the plastic screws won’t scratch the glass.
The LEDs provide uniform illumination and strong penetration which not only provides the light your plants need but also enhances the look of your refugium. Plus, an integrated heat sink keeps the light cool so this product will last.
A cool thing about this light is that it’s dimmable. In fact, you can dim it between 100 and 0% which gives you a lot of control over how bright you keep your tank. This feature makes this a good choice for different sized tanks and plants that like both low and high light.
This product is covered by a 12-month warranty as well as a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy in the first 30 days, you can return it for a full refund.
8. Mingdak LED Aquarium Light
The Mingdak light features white LEDs that add a cool shimmered effect to the water. One of the best things about this one is it can be mounted underwater. The body is made of durable rubber, plastic, and crystal glass and is IP68 waterproof.
This light is a good choice for a large refugium because of its size. The bar-shaped design mounts inside so you get the effects of the light without seeing the fixture itself. It’s fully submersible and uses simple suction cups to attach it to the glass.
The light bar itself measures 7.5 inches but the suction cups are adjustable so that you can fix it in any position firmly. In fact, it fits tanks from 7.7 to 15 inches which makes it really versatile.
One more great feature is the quick-disconnect power connection. The power supply can be detached between the cord and the light itself. That makes it really easy to clean without having to work around any cords hanging off the back of the refugium.
How Much Light Does a Refugium Need?
A refugium is commonly used as a place to grow algae and other plants. While you can use a refugium for many things, the main use is as an additional filtration area for your main aquarium.
It makes sense then that a refugium requires a decent amount of light. Not only that but you should also look for lights that provide the right color light in order to facilitate photosynthesis and promote strong growth.
What color light is best? Red and magenta colors are great for stimulating growth while blue lights can also be used to simulate moonlight and maintain a healthy day/night cycle for your refugium plants.
An important thing to keep in mind is that not all algae and plants require the same amount of light. Some require a lot of exposure to bright light while others thrive with a regular cycle between day and night.
Make sure you learn as much about the plants and algae that you’re growing in your refugium to make sure you’re giving them what you need. There isn’t one right answer when it comes to lighting, you have to go with what’s right for your setup.
Luckily, there are plenty of lighting options available. As you can see from our review, some produce lots of bright light while others let you fine-tune from 100 to 0%. There are even some lights that mimic a day/night cycle for plants that need it.
How Many Hours of Light for Refugium?
There are a few schools of thought on this. No matter how else you use your refugium, the main purpose is to grow algae and plants to help with filtration in the main tank. That means you need macroalgae growth which requires a decent amount of light.
Regardless of what you’re doing in your main tank, the refugium has its own lighting requirements. There are two common approaches.
First, the lights are left on for 24 hours. This allows the algae to grow continuously and helps to make the refugium an even more effective filter.
The second option is to use a reverse light cycle. This means that when it’s daytime in the main tank, it’s night in the refugium and vice versa. The thinking behind this method is that the refugium continues working when the main tank is at rest.
Some aquarists believe that because a day/night cycle is the way that algae and plants naturally grow, using a reverse lighting cycle is best. Plus, this is better and healthier for any other creatures in the refugium.
If you use your refugium only for filtering, leaving the lights on for 24 hours might be best. This is especially true if you have a tank that’s very delicate and needs the extra filtration through the night.
Ultimately, you should do what works best for your tank.
A refugium is an important part of any saltwater or reef tank and provides an ideal way to provide additional natural filtration. To make sure you get the healthiest plant and algae growth, using a good refugium light is essential.