Top [2023] 10 Best LED Refugium Light Options For Plant & Algae Growth

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A refuge tank is a separate tank designed to protect all delicate and nutritious plants, algae, or coral that would otherwise be damaged or eaten if left in your main tank. Similarly, in the ocean, certain small fish and plants need extra protection and ‘shelter’ in safe, secluded parts of the ocean so they are not eaten.

The main tank and the refuge tanks are connected and share the same water flow but prevent fish from swimming between the main tank and the refuge tank. The necessarily protected plants enrich ocean water with vitamins and minerals, therefore the same setup in a refuge tank will be extremely beneficial for reef or saltwater aquariums.

Comparison Table

CustomSiteStripe ImageTitleReviewBuy
Top PerformanceFinnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights4.5/5.0Check Price
cheapestJBJ Nano Glo LED Refugium Light For Aquarium4.3/5.0Check Price

Generally, a refuge tank is purchased to reduce the concentrations of dissolved nutrients in the water. High levels of phosphates and nitrates quickly kill fish, coral, and plants in an aquarium, if not monitored and controlled.

If you use a shelter with your saltwater aquariums or reef tank. One of the most important things to keep you healthy is using the Best LED Refugium Light.

Proper light helps algae and other plants thrive and can be an invaluable addition to your delicate tank.


Does a Refugium Need Light?

A shelter is a small auxiliary aquarium that hangs or sits next to a reef or saltwater tank. It is used as an easy way to continuously circulate water in and out of the main tank for additional filtration.

Inside the refuge, the environment mimics a natural reef environment and generally includes things like living rock, deep sand or mud, and macroalgae. It’s basically a small ecosystem of its own that uses water to leave and return to its main tank.

Shelters can be used in many ways. While primarily used to grow algae for filtration, they can also be a great home for corals and other plants. They are generally not used to house marine life, but they can be a safe place to breed.

Since a shelter is directly connected to the main tank, it cannot 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 only needs time to heal.

That said, the main purpose of a shelter is to provide filtration, so you should focus on turning it into an environment where macroalgae not only grow but thrive. One of the most important things you need? Good lighting.

A shelter light is necessary no matter how you choose to use it. Whether you keep plants or corals in your shelter or use them solely for the growth of algae, it takes the right amount of the right kind of light to help this tiny ecosystem thrive.


Top 10 Best LED Lights to Use For Refugiums


Best LED Refugium Light Reviews 2022

1. Kessil H160 Tuna Flora LED Refugium Grow Light

This KessilOne lamp is specially designed for the growth of plants and algae. One of the best things about it is that it doesn’t use white LEDs. Instead, the bulbs have the perfect balance of blue and red to boost chlorophyll.

There is a small knob at the top of the bulb where you can adjust the color temperature to see 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 shelter.

This lamp can be used in rooms up to 24 “x 24”, but works best in rooms 18 “x 18” or smaller. For best results, attach the lamp to the side of the tank with a gooseneck mount for proper placement.

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2. Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights

If your shelter only needs moderate light, check out this next product from Finnex. The LEDs are evenly spaced and not too clustered, which produces enough light to promote photosynthesis without being too bright.

The LEDs in this lamp are a mixture 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 made of high-quality aluminum and act as their own heat sink to keep you cool without the need for a fan. 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 accidents and comes with a flexible gooseneck mount so you can position the light as you wish. This elegant design is a perfect choice for rimless aquariums.

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3. JBJ Nano Glo LED Refugium Light for Aquarium

Next up is this versatile design from JBJ. This is a great option for a small shelter, but it can also be used in any small aquarium. It has a powerful design that lasts up to 40,000 hours and generates minimal heat.

This light in the tank has four high intensity LEDs that distribute the light evenly, helping to stimulate macroalgae growth. It was attached to its hiding place with a simple yet powerful magnet. It is safe but can still be moved easily.

If you have a small tank or shelter that cannot contain ceiling lights due to its size and space limitations, this is a good option. The manufacturer recommends running it on a reverse daylight cycle to maintain oxygenation once the main lights are turned off at night.

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4. Lominie LED Aquarium Light, Saltwater Freshwater Fish Tank Light

There’s a lot to love about this Lominie lamp, but one of the best things about it is how easy it is to use. It has a 360 ° adjustable gooseneck that snaps into place easily. It is stainless and the plastic screws will not scratch the glass.

LEDs provide uniform illumination and strong penetration that not only provide the light your plants need, but also enhance the look of your shelter. In addition, a built-in heat sink keeps the light cool for a long product life.

The great thing about this lamp is that it can be dimmed. You can even dim it between 100 and 0%, giving you a lot of control over how bright your tank stays. This property makes it a good choice for tanks and plants of various sizes that like both low and high light.

This product is backed by a 12-month warranty and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. If you are not satisfied within the first 30 days, you can return the product for a full refund.

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5. Mingdak LED Aquarium Light

The Mingdak lamp is equipped with white LEDs that give a cool glow effect to the water. One of the best things about this one is that it can be ridden underwater. The body is made of durable rubber, plastic and glass and is IP68 waterproof.

Due to its size, this lamp is a good choice for a large hiding place. The rod-shaped design is mounted on the inside, so you can get the effects of light without seeing the device itself. It is 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 you can secure it in any position. It even fits 7.7 to 15 inch tanks, which makes it really versatile.

Another great feature is the quick disconnect power connection. The power supply can be disconnected between the cable and the lamp itself. That makes it very easy to clean without having to work around the cables hanging from the back of the shelter.

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6. Innovative Marine Refugium LED Light

This lamp is designed to be placed on the outside of the tank. It can be connected horizontally to the tank via a bracket mounted crankcase configuration or an AIO Velcro configuration.

Works great with a small shelter tank or built-in shelter, instead of a large tank, and takes only a few minutes to install. It comes with mounting hardware and Velcro for mounting and the lights are very strong and growth promoting.

The mounting bracket supplied with the shelter mounting light is very short and may not be long enough for a larger shelter. The light timer does not always work properly either. Note that Chaeto will not grow if your shelter is longer than 6 inches, as this light is not strong enough.

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7. Luxbird Waterproof Aquarium Refugium Light Bulb

It’s small and compact and doesn’t get in the way. The light is waterproof and it is very easy to aim precisely at your target area. Fortunately, it doesn’t give off too much excess heat that could potentially change the water temperature. This light effectively helps to lower the phosphate and nitrate content in the water.

The sphere is very small. It takes some time to figure out how long the lamp should stay on during the day / night cycle, because it is more powerful than it sounds. The light gives off a bit of heat, so you have to keep a close eye on it, especially since it is submerged in water.

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8. NICREW Clipon Refugium LED Light:


Looking for a highly effective LED shelter light that won’t break the bank? We’ve got one for you in this NICREW clipon LED shelter light.

The device is equipped with an adjustable armrest; This affects the lighting position setting according to your preferences.

The plastic bracket provided in the package may be required to install the device in a mountless shelter; However, it can be used in rimmed tanks. Finally, it also has an on / off switch.

After the introduction of customers who have repeatedly bought this NICREW Clip with LED Shelter Light, it offers a very good output (of light) which ultimately results in a significant macro algae bloom. Some people have also praised it for its flexibility.

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9. Osunby LED Refugium Light:

 Best LED Refugium Light

The Osunby LED Shelter Light is not just any device that promotes plant or macroalgae growth; It is a product made with deep technical and detailed knowledge.

Before installation; It comes with a steel suspension set consisting of four strings and a hook.

To give you an idea of how durable this whole device could be; It is built to last over 50,000 hours and the accessory is made from reinforced thermoplastic polymer, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).

You could say that the permeability of the light emitted by this product is one of the reasons why it has won the affection of many aquarists. They suspected that the Osunby LED Shelter Light is doing its job to a satisfactory finish, as reflected in the proportional growth of macroalgae in their shelters.

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10. ACKE LED Refugium Light:

We end this review with the ACKE LED Shelter Light, another huge one designed for nano shelters.

The usability and functionality are quite impressive and flawless to be more factual.

In addition, it has an adjustable bracket with which you can easily direct the light beam wherever you want.

Customers have rated the ACKE LED Shelter Light as highly rated for several reasons. The key to this (reasons) is its effectiveness, as well as the scope that your beam can upgrade. Plus, they haven’t stopped talking about the great quality it portrays.

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How Much Light Does a Refugium Need?

A shelter is often used as a place to grow algae and other plants. While you can use a shelter for many things, its main use is as an additional filter area for your main aquarium.

So it makes sense that a shelter needs a fair amount of light. Not only that, but you should also look for lamps that provide the right light color to facilitate photosynthesis and promote strong growth.

Which color of light is better? The red and magenta colors are great for stimulating growth, while the blue lights can also be used to simulate moonlight and maintain a healthy day / night cycle for your sheltered plants.

It is important to keep in mind that not all algae and plants need the same amount of light. Some require a lot of bright light exposure, while others thrive on a regular day-night cycle.

Make sure you learn as much as you can about the plants and algae you grow in your shelter to make sure you give them what they need. There is no right answer when it comes to lighting, you have to choose what is right for your setup.

Fortunately, there are many lighting options available. As you can see from our review, some produce a lot of bright light, while others allow you to set it 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 about this. No matter how you use your shelter, its main purpose is to grow algae and plants to aid in filtration in the main tank. That means it needs macro algae growth, which requires a fair amount of light.

No matter what you put in your main tank, the shelter has its own lighting requirements. There are two common approaches.

First, the lights stay on for 24 hours. This allows the algae to grow continuously and the shelter becomes an even more effective filter.

The second option is to use a reverse light cycle. This means that when it is daytime in the main tank, it is nighttime in the shelter and vice versa. The idea behind this method is that the shelter will continue to operate when the main tank is not in use.

Some aquarists believe that because a day / night cycle is the way algae and plants naturally grow, it is best to use a reverse lighting cycle. This is also better and healthier for every other creature in the shelter.

If you’re only using your shelter for filtering, it might be best to leave the lights on for 24 hours. This is especially the case if you have a tank that is very fragile and requires extra filtration at night.

Ultimately, you need to do what works best for your tank.



A shelter is an important part of any reef or saltwater tank and provides an ideal way to provide additional natural filtration. To ensure you get the healthiest plant and algae growth, good shelter light is essential.

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