Can LED Lights Grow Aquarium Plants: The Complete 101

Can LED lights grow aquarium plants? Remember, like all other plants, aquarium plants have their unique needs as far as light color, temperature, spectrum, and intensity. 

So are these lights good for growing aquarium plants? If so, do they all work, or is there a specific type that supports aquarium plants?

 Also, do LED lights grow more algae in aquariums? Read on to learn exactly what light aquarium plants need, which LED lights are good for them, and why. 

What Lights Do Aquarium Plants Need?

Usually, the appropriate light for aquarium plants will depend on the type of plants you’re growing. 

But either way, the choice of light must produce the required light spectrum, intensity, and color containing blue and red. 

Do LED Lights Support Aquarium Plant Growth?

Yes, they do, although not all LED lights. That’s because it’s not easy to find standard LED lights that support aquarium plant growth, as many lack the required color spectrum. 

Generally, aquarium plants need full-spectrum LED lights designed specifically for this function. And the color temperature should range between 5000 and 6500K.

That said, LED light can penetrate up to 24 inches of water, reaching even the smallest plant size you have in the water.  

Why LED Lights are Good For Aquarium Plants

Here’s why LED lights are good for aquarium plants:

They’re Adjustable 

Different aquarium plants require different light intensities depending on plant type and growth stage.

 So while some thrive under low light intensity, others need moderate or high light intensity. 

Thankfully, LED lights are dimmable. Therefore, you can adjust the light to meet the plants’ needs at their various growth phases. 

LED light dimmer

(Caption: LED light dimmer)

They’re Energy-Efficient

Undoubtedly, one thing LED lights are known for is energy efficiency. You can save up to 80% of your energy. 

Now that some plant types require long hours of lighting, these lights will save you significant energy.

They Emit Less Heat

Maintaining the water temperature in your aquarium is important in ensuring the plants thrive. 

And what’s great about LED bulbs is that they convert much power to light rather than heat. 

Therefore, they don’t emit much heat, which helps maintain water temperature. 

Suitable Light Spectrum 

Now, the most important aspect when it comes to growing aquarium plants is the light spectrum. 

And LED lights come in different forms that meet different plant light color needs. For example, full-spectrum LEDs produce a light spectrum that mimics sunlight. 

Thus, plants get the right light intensity and wavelength. 

Color spectrum

(Caption: Color spectrum)

They Last Long

Without a doubt, you need a lighting system that will serve you for a long time. And unlike fluorescent tubes, including T5s, LED bulbs can last up to six years. 

Therefore, with LED lights, you get the best service with minimal need for replacing the bulbs.  

Features to Consider When Choosing LED Lights for Aquarium Plants

The following are the primary features to consider when looking for LED lights for aquarium plants: 

Tank size: 

Undoubtedly, the size of the tank impacts the light demands of the plants it holds. For example, if you have a small tank, you will need a gentle lighting source. 

On the other hand, a larger tank requires stronger lighting with higher intensity. That way, the light can reach the plants at the deepest part of the tank. 

Light spectrum:

 As mentioned, this is the most important aspect of light for aquarium plants. And a good spectrum contains blue and red light wavelengths. 

Also, consider installing LED lights with full-spectrum light with all the essential light ingredients for plant growth. 

Coverage area: 

Typically, your lighting source should have excellent light spreading to cover all parts of the tank. 

You want to avoid a situation where some plants in your tank struggle to get enough light. 

Otherwise, such a case would cause the plants to develop light deficiency symptoms such as stunted growth. 

Plant type: 

As mentioned earlier, different plants have different light needs. Usually, these needs can range from low and medium to high. 

Thus, it’s vital to know the light demands of your plants before purchasing LED lights. 


Usually, aquarium plants need a color temperature between 5,000K to 6,500K. Within such a range, they can grow healthy. 

Customization options: 

Also, look for a lighting source with customization options. You can vary brightness, color, and other factors with such lights. 

That way, you can switch light characteristics depending on your plant’s type and growth stage needs. 


The PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) now represents the light intensity that reaches the plants. It’s the light particles hitting a square meter surface per second. 

And in the case of aquarium plants, the appropriate size should range between 15 and 120 nanometers. 

What LED Light Color is Best for Aquarium Plants

When it comes to light requirements, aquarium plants fall under two categories.

 One is those that are hardy and able to tolerate exposure to sunlight and varying light conditions. 

Then there’s the second type of plants that require low-intensity light. 

With these, exposure to bright light or sunlight leads to out-of-control algae growth. 

Generally, plants require red and blue light for photosynthesis and healthy growth.

 But with aquatic plants, more blue light is necessary because there’s very little of it underwater.

 Thus, you’ll find that LED lights for aquarium plants have more blue light. 

Do LED Lights Grow More Algae in Aquariums?

Yes, LED lights will grow more algae, but only if there are no plants. See, with LED lights for aquarium plants, the spectrum is perfect for aquarium plants to thrive. 

Thus, in such a tank, there’s competition for light and other nutrients, restricting algae growth. 

However, that applies only in low-light conditions. Bright light favors algae growth. LED lights have dimmers so that you can adjust the light intensity. 

Also, with LED lights, you can control light exposure, leaving them on for only 6 to 8 hours. Otherwise, extended light exposure will also encourage algae growth. 

Tips for Using LED Lights for Aquarium Plants

The following are some tips you can apply when using LED lights for aquarium plants:

Use a timer: 

See a timer helps ensure a specific lighting duration. And that’s important in maintaining consistency in lighting even when you’re not around to turn the lights on or off. 

Employ the 4-by-4 rule: 

Now, this rule employs four-hour lighting intervals. So you’ll have the lights on for four hours, turn them off for four hours, and then leave them on for another four hours. 

That way, you allow the water to build up enough carbon dioxide for photosynthesis throughout the day. 

Reduce light intensity:

 If there’s algae growth, reduce the light’s intensity and duration of light exposure.

Check water parameters: 

Monitor the pH to ensure it matches the needed level (usually 6 to 7). 

Other factors to keep a close check for include water temperature, nitrates, and alkalinity.

 By keeping these factors in check, you can manage algae growth.    


What Kind of LED Lights Grow Aquarium Plants?

Typically, aquarium plants need blue and red light colors. So go for LED lights with these colors. 

Even better, use full-spectrum LED lights, perfect for aquarium plants.

Can I Use any LED Lights for Aquarium Plants?

No, not all LED lights will work for aquarium plants. On the contrary, only those with the right PAR, light color, temperature, and coverage will do.

How Much LED Light Do I Need for an Aquarium Plant? 

Usually, it depends on the size of the tank and the type of plants you have. Because the larger the tank, the more light is needed.

 Also, some aquarium plants require minimal light, others moderate, and others brighter light. 


So, can LED lights grow aquarium plants? Yes, they can because they provide sun-like lighting that can penetrate the water and reach the deepest plant. 

However, it’s not all LED lights that are suitable. You must choose the right ones. 

Thankfully, you now know what light aquarium plants need and what to consider when buying LED lights for your aquatic plants.

 Just employ the tips outlined above and watch your plants thrive.