Aquarium LED Lighting Comparison

Perform LED Aquarium light fixtures actually cost more than other lighting fixtures?

This comparison takes into account the initial setup, and continued cost of lighting a beautiful aquarium tank over a 1-2 year period. It is going to show that LED’s are actually the cheapest to keep and maintain.

Currently fluorescent gentle fixtures (VHO) are the least expensive to purchase while LED is the most expensive with Metal Halide (HQI) somewhere in the middle.

The first thing to be considered is bulb replacement. The VHO and HQI bulbs need to be replaced every year, while the LED lasts 7 -10 years.

The second consideration is heat. You may not think of heat when referring to light, but heat is an issue to get aquariums. HQI produce so much high temperature that chillers are often used to help decrease aquarium temperatures. This often requires an extra pump to help run drinking water through the chiller itself. VHO fittings in general do not produce enough warmth to require a chiller but some from the high output fixtures that use ballasts, will also produce heat. LED fittings have little to no heat, so no heat transferred to the aquarium.

The last consideration is power. Electricity runs all of the lighting fixtures, yet by far the most energy efficient is the LED, then the VHO, and then the HQI.

I myself had an HQI fixture upon my 260 gallon fish tank. We switched to standard (VHO) bulbs, and then to LED, which I currently use and like. My electric bill dropped by half, from the budgeted amount of $900 / 30 days, to a current $450 /month. I eliminated the chiller, and 2 sump pumps used for the refrigerator and skimmer.

One additional consideration other than cost is the effects on the aquarium tank inhabitants. For instance, the VHO bulb gives an even light distribution along the entire bulb, giving the container a constant light throughout the entire aquarium.
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The HQI gives a more concentrated beam of light, more like the sun, has a lot more natural shaded areand a shimmer effect on the surface of the water. LED’s furthermore give a shimmer effect to the surface of the water and can be set up to simulate cloud cover, sunrise, and sunset.

All together, the overall advantages of LED light fixtures make up for initial cost in future savings. By the time you add in the cost of replacing bulbs every year, extra pumps, chillers, and the electricity it costs to run this kind of devices the clear winner is the LED fixture.

Thank you for reading the article, I hope it helps you within choosing the right lighting fixture for your aquarium.

Jeffery P Mey is an aquarium tank enthusiast with over 40 years associated with experience. He can provide additional information regarding lighting fixtures and bulb replacement.