Lighting is one of the most crucial components of your nano aquarium setup.
In an aquarium, getting the right type of lighting is essential, and this is especially true for nano tanks.
Due to their small size, if you choose the wrong light for your nano tank, it might easily overwhelm the fish and plants inside of it with too much light intensity.
This a guide specifically for nano aquarium lights. We have another guide for aquarium lights for standard size tanks as well.
What is the Best Light for Nano Aquariums?
The best light for nano aquariums are LED lights. Since nano tanks hold smaller volumes of water, they are more sensitive to the heat produced from the light. For this reason, best choice for any nano tank is to go with an LED lighting system. They produce less heat than other lighting systems, such as fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs.
In addition to the low heat output, LED lights have other benefits as well.
While they may cost more upfront, they are cost effective to maintain. They use less electricity because more of the energy is used to produce light, rather than losing the energy as heat. In addition, LED light bulbs lasts much longer than other types of light bulbs.
Lastly, LED lights are often programmable. This means that it can be customized to suit the need of your tank. Not all, but many LED lights can be programmed to dim at sunset. Other LED lights can be programmed to display various colors, which may drastically change the mood of your entire aquarium.
So should you just choose any aquarium LED light?
Well, not quite. Even within the scope of LED lights, there is a huge variety on the market and choosing the right one depends on several factors.
Here’s a few things to consider when choosing the best LED light for your aquarium.
- Color Spectrum
- Light Intesity
- Light Spread
The needs of each aquarium will vary depending on the specific setup. The type of fish and plant you keep will heavily influence the lighting requirements as well. Therefore, understanding these components of an LED light is important.
In the past, some fishkeepers were hesitant of installing an LED light on their aquarium, because it was perceived to produce “cold light.” This refers to the blue end of the light spectrum. However, Aquarium LED lights produced today are very versatile.
Color spectrum, or light temperature, is express in units of Kelvin (K).
To put it into perspective, imagine the warm lighting in a cozy bar or coffee shop. These warm lighting would most likely have a rating of around 2,500K to 3,000K.
In contrast, the lighting in a warehouse or hospital is often brighter, which some would describe as “cold light.” Lighting in these settings often have a rating of around 10,000K.
For your nano aquarium, a range of 6,500k to 7,000K is desirable. This mimics natural daylight. However, most of this comes down to the owners’ preference. If you feel that a color spectrum makes your nano tank look outstanding, go for it. Setting up the light spectrum slightly outside of this range shouldn’t affect your fish too much either. Unless you are trying to operate a highly efficient aquatic plant farm, go with what looks good to you.
How bright should your light be?
Of course, this depends on the size and shape of your tank and how you decide to use it. If your tank is tall, or “portrait” size, then you may want to choose a brighter light.
If you intend to grow plants in your aquarium, keep in mind that different types of plants have different lighting requirements.
For instance, if you want to grow ferns or anubias, then these will grow quite well under low-intensity lighting. Whereas, many varieties of stem-plants will require slightly more light to grow properly. There are also plants that require a lot of light. These plants are considered high-intensity light plants. While this is outside of the topic of aquarium lights, these high-intensity light plants often require carbon dioxide injection in order to support the full potential of their fast growth rate.
If you do not intend to grow plants in your aquarium, the lighting intensity may not have to be too specific. In most cases, fish are more lenient in their lighting requirement than the plants.
Whenever possible, get a LED light that has an adjustable light intensity. You may wish to dim the light at the end of the day, rather than an abrupt ON/OFF setting. This would mimic the sunset effect.
The adjustable setting may be useful in many other ways as well. For example, if your nano tank is set up in your living room, you may not want to LED light to be shining brightly all of the time. If the light is brighter than your TV, you may find it bothersome. Having the ability to dim the light as needed can be very useful.
The final factor to be considered is the spread of the light. In the case of nano aquariums, you would probably want a light with a narrow spread.
The light spread directly correlates to the light intensity. Even if you install a light system with lots of light output, if it has a lot of spread, you may be losing a lot of the light outside of the nano tank. In contrast, even if the light is not exactly a high intensity light, if the light is mostly contained inside the tank, it may be sufficient.
Similar to light intensity, most of the light spread settings is a matter of the owners’ preference. However, if you intent to grow plants in your aquarium, both the light intensity and spread should be carefully considered.
The light spread will be vary depending on how high you install it, but most standard aquarium lights have a 1-foot spread directly below them. If you do not want that much spread, get a light with concentrated spread for you nano tank.
Choosing an LED Light for Your Nano Aquarium
The right aquarium light can make a significant impact on the aesthetics of your tank. It can make the design of your aquascaped nano tank really stand out.
Once you understand the needs of your aquarium, it is time to take a look at what is available on the market.
Here are some lighting recommendations for your nano aquarium:
NICREW Classic LED Aquarium Light
The NICREW LED Aquarium Lights are available in various sizes, and it comes with extendable brackets. The small 12 inch option that they have is suitable for nano tanks. NICREW suggests this light for aquariums ranging from 2.5 – 5 gallons.
It has two modes of light, white light and blue light. The white light can be used during the day, and the blue light can be used at the end of the day.
This light is compatible with the NICREW Aquarium Light Timer, which can be programmed to automatically turn the light on and off at a certain time. It also enables you to adjust the light setting on a scale of 1 – 100% brightness.
- Easy installation with extendable brackets
- Suitable for growing plants
- Highly energy efficient
SMIFUL LED lighting
The SMIFUL LED Light is a unique light because it is submersible. It is rated as a IP68 waterproof light. Of course, it does not have to be installed in the water. However, having the peace of mind that it will not be damaged when it gets wet is good. It is designed with safety in mind, so it is a great light for a new fishkeeper.
This brightness and color of this light can be adjusted with a wireless remote control as well.
- Fully submersible
- Brightness and color control
- Wireless remote control
Lominie LED Lighting
The Lominie LED Light is perfect for nano tanks, especially rimless nano tanks. It can be clamped to the glass of up to 25mm thick, and it features a 360 degree bendable gooseneck design. The brightness level is adjustable as well.
The 180 degree optical lends is suitable for most tanks. However, it also comes with a 60 degree lens for narrow tanks.
- Solid aluminium housing
- Superior CRI, COB LED Lighting (6500k)
- 360 degree bendable gooseneck design
The arrival of many LED aquarium lights onto the market opened up a huge range of options not seen before. In the past, many considered LED lights to be too expensive for hobby aquarists. However, the market price has steadily come down, and many people are now able to justify the price of LED lights.
Considering the fact that LED lights have a low heat output and low running cost, LED lights really makes sense for nano aquarium tanks.