Review and Buying Guide of Best Refugium Light

A refugium is a small-sized aquarium. It is placed alongside, underneath, or hangs onto the present or existing saltwater or reef aquarium. A considerable number of saltwater aquarists utilize this refugium to continuously cycle the water into and out of the existing tank. Generally, it refuges macroalgae, aragonite live rock, and deep sand, mud bed, or seagrass beds. It also refuges microcrustaceans, feather-duster worms, and the more vulnerable species. It is the best representation of how nutrients or supplements are dealt with in nature.


Refugium/Aquarium lighting is an essential part of influencing the process of photosynthesis of marine algae or plants. Saltwater aquarium or reef aquarium does not need powerful light. Because strong or intense lighting can cause an overgrowth of algae. It also influences the shy fish to hide. Generally, the lighting for a reef aquarium should have a significant impact upon proper coral growth and coloration and the healthy life of your other tank inhabitants.

When you use refugium with reef or saltwater aquariums, then you should purchase the right light that helps algae and other plants to thrive. In this case, the best-LED refugium light can be a precious addition to your delicate tank to keep the tank environment healthy.

There is a variety of suitable refugium light with variable capabilities available in the pet fish market. Among them, some work as a source of illumination, while others do much more.

A good refugium light offers good illuminations and performs to help in the photosynthesis process of plant/algae and also helps in an indirect filtration system in the aquarium and finally make them more vibrant and hygienic aquarium setup that makes the happiness to every aquarist.

From the reflection above features, we have made a list of 10 best refugium lights that are available in the pet business sector at the reasonable price tag. We know that the selection of the best refugium light is a challenging job among most of the aquarium hobbyists. You go to the following table and choose the budget-friendly best one light that meets your requirements.

Comparison Table of Best Refugium Light

1. Mingdak LED Aquarium Light

Hello, every pet fish keeper; if you are looking for LED aquarium light to get high rate performance, then Mingdak LED Aquarium Light is the best option for you. It is a great light, and you can use it for providing sufficient light of fish tank, reptile tank, turtle tank, reef tank, ponds, and so on.

It makes to illuminate the fish tank with aesthetic lighting that also boast the fish colors, and meet up the daylight needs of plants. It is a perfect night light and tank illuminator that is great for night viewing and adding a sparkling effect to your tank.

This light is fully submersible and super water-resistant that comes with intelligent engineering design and strong suction cup for easy in-frame mounting in any position in your tank firmly.

It features a reliable, safe, and low voltage LED bulb that does not get hot to affect water temperature. This light is made using durable plastic, rubber, and crystal glass layer protection that provide long-term performance and can also create 20% brighter light to illuminate your tank.

This light system is the perfect option for four different sizes refugium due to its four different sizes light bars, including 7.5,11, 14.5, and 18 inches with a power consumption of 1.5, 2.3, 3, 4 watt, respectively. You may choose the best one that meets your requirements. The light has a bar-shaped design that is suitable for mounting inside the tank without seeing the fixture itself using a simple and secure suction cup.

It also features a quick power connection or disconnection system. As a result, you can easily detach or reconnect the power supply between the cord and the light itself. In this case, you can easily hang off any cords of the back of the refugium, which makes it easy to clean the tank without creating any trouble.


  • It is an energy-saving LED light.
  • It provides output 12V (0.5 A) that makes brighter than 5V/1A.
  • It is fully submersible that performs excellent underwater conditions.
  • It is very convenient to install.
  • It is a safe, reliable light that shows excellent performance.
  • It includes a strong mounting suction cup.
  • It is super waterproof light.
  • It is made using durable rubber, plastic, and crystal glass, which make the light long-lasting.
  • It is suitable for fish tank, reptile tank, turtle tank, reef tank, ponds, and so on.
  • It helps to show off the fish colors wonderfully.
  • It is a low voltage light that does not get hot to affect water temperature.
  • It makes the fish tank more appealing.


  • The cord is not sufficiently long.
  • It does not include a built-in timer and remote.

2. Innovative Marine ChaetoMax Refugium LED Light

Hi Refugium Light Seekers, if you are looking for refugium light that is suitable for rapid algae growth, then ChaetoMax Refugium LED Light by Innovative Marine is an excellent option for you.

It features the 45 high power LEDs that possess various bands of lights with different spectra. You should carefully choose the light spectrum that just suitable for speedy algae growth. The colors incorporate here a perfect mix of blue, magenta, violet, and red. In this case, green and yellow wavelengths have been eliminated because it is specially designed for the target cellular growth structure of algae.

In the pet fish business sector, there are two different wattage capacities light available that includes 9 watts and 18 watts. Among them, dimension of 9 watts light is 17cm X 4.7cm X 0.9cm on the other hand 18 watts is 17 cm X 9.7cm X 0.9cm.

This light is designed to accelerate the algae growth at the cellular level. It does not transfer heat; as a result, it does not make anxiety about the light troubling the water temperature.

This lighting system has multiple mounting options that ensure the ease of installation and help to mount it easily in any place of your tank. You can mount it using the simple bracket, which directly mounts the light to the rim of the tank. You can also fix it by using a hook for attaching the tank right side of the refugium firmly.

The colors used with this light, which all those combined, make the refugium light more efficient for thriving macroalgal growth. In this case, the color combination lights are 420 nm blue lights, 630nm magenta light, 470 nm violet light, and 660nm red light.

As a whole, the ChaetoMax Refugium Light is made by the renowned light manufacturer company, Innovative Marine. This device is suitable in any setup that gives you an outstanding outcome more precisely.


  • It is inexpensive.
  • Installation is straightforward.
  • Extremely purposeful.
  • It is available in 2 sizes that include 9 watts and 18 watts.
  • Low electricity consumption.
  • No heat transfer.
  • It is suitable for all desktop Model Nuvo Fusion Aquariums.
  • You can mount it horizontally or vertically behind your tank.
  • It is a lightweight and sleek design.
  • It provides various light bands across varying spectra.


  • It is not water-resistant.
  • It does not include a timer.

3. Kessil H80 Tuna Flora Refugium LED

Kessil H80 is the most popular and well-known refugium light in the pet fish business sector. It is designed using a unique engineering formula that is especially effective for the most popular Chaeto algae.

This light includes four different color spectrums such as blue, bloom, grow, and red with true Ultra Violate (UV) and Infra-Red (IR) light wavelengths. In this case, the spectrum varies from 360 –780 nm that helps to enhance the photosynthesis process for all phases of plant cultivation. As a result, you can offer to your refugium exactly what type of light it requires to flourish.

Functions of Color Spectrums

  1. Blue: It quickly develops the plants during all stages by promoting stem extension.
  2. Grow – It helps to produce vegetative growth of your plants throughout life.
  3. Bloom – It boosts the flowering plants during the reproductive stage.
  4. Red – It helps the plant during tissue culture by producing maximum root growth throughout life.

It also provides a fully controllable color and light intensity, which makes uniform color distribution throughout the tank. It can do 24 inches x 24 inches light coverage in your fish tank and helps to perform successful photosynthetic efficiency.

This light features a canopy mount, which makes the installation of light easy. You can also fix the light using a gooseneck mount as well.

It includes daisy chain multiple lights that are controlled from a single source using three control modes such as manual, quick set, and auto mode.

Manual mode is used to tune the light for immediate customization. In this case, you can individually regulate to find the ideal setting of light intensity and spectrum.

By using the quick set mode, you can customize light intensity and spectrum by programming up to 6 points while the auto mode is used for adjustable critical day length for the growing process of various types of plants.

This light includes an integrated heat sink that tolerates high heat transmit for the LEDs into the body, so it does not require a fan and makes the lamp suitable for a humid environment. It is easy to maintain with an elegant design that makes one of the quietest lights.

It is built using a unique, efficient Dense Matrix LED array that produces enough power, which can penetrate over the canopy and distribute light among the entire plant by consuming only 15-watt power.

The Kessil H80 enhances uniform plant growth ensuring minimal light loss due to its high-quality optic design.

As a whole, the Kessil H80 is a high-performance refugium light. It is a budget-friendly device with lots of great features and design that makes the light the best choice among the many refugium enthusiasts. It is easy to operate with quality and reliable design that makes this light durable and long-lasting.


  • It is very reliable with low maintenance LED light.
  • It is fully controllable with silent operation.
  • It is specially designed for refugium
  • Incredible light penetration.
  • It is made using a high-quality optic design that ensures minimal light loss.
  • It is designed for improved photosynthesis
  • It is slim with a modern design and fantastic cooling system
  • It needs a maximum of 15-watt electric consumption.
  • It features daisy chain multiple lights that help to control from a single source.
  • It also features auto, quick set, and manual modes.
  • It is suitable for Chaeto algae.
  • It is a durable and long-lasting device with a quality build.


  • It is not perfect for a large-sized refugium.
  • It does not include a mounting arm that must be bought separately.
  • During placing the light, you need to get the gooseneck separately for optimal flexibility.

4. Wave-point Mirco Sun LED Fixture Lighting

Hello! If you are looking for high-output LED light for your refugium, then Wave-point Mirco Sun LED Fixture Lighting is the perfect choice for you because it is built by California-based well-known aquarium supply company using Wave Point Technology.

This LED light is well-known and popular among the saltwater aquarium hobbyist due to its affordable and attractive design. There are eight models available in the market with sizes of 6 inches and 12 inches that require only 8-16 watt power to run successfully.

This wave point provides high-output light that enhances the perfect growth of algae and plants in your tank. It features super blue LEDs for a night time effect that is an excellent option for the refugium, and you can also use it as the main light source for your reef tank.

It is also equipped with an adjustable mounting arm, which is built using a durable high impact plastic that makes it water-resistant. It allows the clamp light to mount easily in your tank.

The light is also equipped with a durable and stylish sleek aluminum hood with heat removal technology that helps disperse heat away from the water. It also features a compact design with a full light spread that works an excellent job for simulating daylight for your plants.

It is ideal for fresh and saltwater aquarium. It also contains a suction cup that is used to secure fixture to the aquarium. In this case, if you have a thinner tank with1/4 to ½ inches glass, use the provided suction cup to mount it that gives the light more stability. The light possesses timer instead of off/on the switch, so use the timer to get the best results.


  • It is suitable for both fresh and saltwater environments.
  • It is a fully water-resistant device.
  • It is standard for small tanks and refugium.
  • Sleek aluminum hood with thermal heat removal technology.
  • It features an adjustable arm that is made of durable high impact plastic.
  • It is also equipped with a low voltage Ulf listed transformer.
  • Modular and clamp-style design.
  • With suction cup to secure mounting.


  • It is not perfect for a large-sized refugium.
  • It is not equipped with off/on switch.

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

If you are looking for small and straightforward LED light, then Lominie LED Aquarium Light is a superior option for you. It features self-cooling mechanisms with so it does not get damaged easily.

It has a manual dimmer switch that provides very lowest dim light to extremely highest bright level light (0% to max. 360° ); as a result, you can easily choose the perfect light level that suits your fish tank by slightly turning the dimmer switch. This feature makes the tank more popular among the aquarium hobbyists who like both low and high light for different sized tanks and plants.

It also features the adjustable rustproof gooseneck that you can easily bend to fix it into the perfect position in your tank/refugium. In this case, the clump is very wide, which is suitable for 25 mm thick glass. The screws for clump is plastic made that does not scratch the tank glass at all.

This small COB LED light is equipped with energy-efficient and slim body that provide uniformly distributed light for planted tank. It burns up 12~16 watt power and can produce an amazing light effect with reliable penetration power.

It measures a 2.7 inches (7.0cm) diameter that is perfect for 8~18"(45 cm) long tank. If you purchase this light, you will get 180 optical lenses as a default. The seller also provides an optional 60-degree lens that you can use for the narrower tank. This excellent looking light is also outstanding for freshwater and planted aquarium setups.

This LED lamp has a quality aluminum cold forging heat sink with an efficient cooling system that keeps the light cool, so it makes the lamp durable and long-lasting.

If you purchase this gorgeous and eye-catching lighting system, you will get a one-year long-time friendly service for any trouble with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. In this case, if you are unhappy with this lamp for the first 30 days, you can return it for a full refund.

Besides the above features, it has a few drawbacks. The light does not contain any ventilation for passing the air around the light; as a result, sometime it may produce heat that increases the water temperature, which is risky for the aquarium/refugium. If you mount the lamp on the rim of the smaller tank, it may cause damage or break the tank.


  • It is built with high-quality materials.
  • It is suitable for tank size that ranges from 8"~18 inches.
  • It requires 12~16 watt to run.
  • It features a manual dimmer switch.
  • It also features self-cooling mechanisms.
  • It is durable and long-lasting.
  • Adjustable rustproof gooseneck.
  • It is suitable for fixing to the rim of the tank.
  • It is made using a perfect combination of black and silver colors.
  • It is lightweight with a 1.5 m long cable.
  • One year warranty with a 30 days satisfaction guarantee.


  • The light does not contain any ventilation that may cause overheats.
  • It does not include a timer.

6. Kessil H160 Tuna Flora LED Refugium Grow Light

The Kessil H160 is another good quality refugium light that is suitable for tuning the photosynthesis process. This light includes blue and red color spectrums in the right quantity, smooth color mixing that can correctly excite the chlorophyll of plants during the process of photosynthesis.

It features a changeable color temperature knob, which is located on the top of the light. By using this knob, you can easily tune the LEDs to get the desire color temperature.

Functions of light spectrums

  1. Blue: It can quickly develop the frame of a plant by enhancing stem extension throughout life.
  2. Grow: It can produce vegetative growth of plants and algae during the life cycle.
  3. Bloom: It boosts up the flowering plants for producing more flowers during the reproductive stage,
  4. Red: It is used for tissue culture to enhance maximum root growth throughout the whole life.

It is a shell-shaped design that can dissipate heat; as a result, no fan is required to ensure the light completely quiet operation.

It also features a Spectral Controller that is used to set the intensity and spectrum quickly.

You can mount it to the underside of the canopy using a top-mounted adapter. You can also fix it to the back of the tank by using the Kessil LED Light Pendant Gooseneck Clamp/Mount.

The H160 Tuna Flora includes four efficient spectrums, such as blue. Bloom, Grow, and red. It is perfectly blended with true UV and Infrared wavelengths that range from 360-780 nm.

This lighting system includes an Innovative heat dissipation system that can do heat management, so it does not require a fan. It is an elegant design with low maintenance that requires 40-watt electricity to run.

It includes daisy chain multiple lights that are controlled from a single source using three control modes such as manual, quick set, and auto mode.

Manual mode is used to tune the light for quick customization. In this case, you can individually regulate to find the ideal setting of light intensity and spectrum.

By using the quick set mode, you can customize light intensity and spectrum by programming up to 6 points.

Auto mode is used for adjustable critical day length for the growing process of various types of plants.

After all, the Kessil H160 is the best choice for many people due to its daisy chain multiple lights functions with compact and efficient design.


  • It features daisy-chain multiple lights.
  • It includes an advanced thermal system or heat dissipation system.
  • It is very reliable with low maintenance LED light.
  • It features four different spectrums such as blue, grow, bloom, red with 380-780nm wavelengths,
  • It contains true UV-A and far-red LED chips that can promote the proper growth of plants/ algae.
  • It is powerful with made using quality design.
  • It is suitable for nutrient reduction.
  • Tunable spectrum and intensity.
  • Compact and efficient design.
  • It can cover up to 24" (60 cm) surface diameter.
  • It requires 40-watt power to run.


  • To perfect mount, it needs a gooseneck mounting device.
  • In many cases, the shimmer may be too powerful for smaller setups.
  • It is expensive to purchase.

7. Finnex FugeRay Refugium Light

Hi everyone, if you are on the lookout for high-level light output for a refugium, then the Finnex FugeRay Refugium Light is the best option for you.

It integrates a multiple High Output LEDS, perfect for refugium purposes. Its 660nm red LED enhances the plant`s chlorophylls for performing the photosynthesis process.

It features a humidity resilient PC Splash Guard that helps to care for against water mishaps.

This lighting system possesses a long-lasting high output LED bulbs that last for 40,000+ hours. In this case, the circuit boards are made using premium aluminum to extend the LED bulb longevity.

It also features ample cooling and top-quality heat dissipation system. This fixture also contains a bendable gooseneck that is used to allow the correct amount of light as required.

This refugium light is also equipped with a clip that is used to fix the device for a rimless tank. In this case, the clip is fixed to its adjustable gooseneck. Besides, mounting brackets are also included in the package.

This system is actually energy proficient, and it can consume alone only 5 watts of electricity. It measures a dimension of 25.4cm X 6.35cm X 24.13cm with a well-focused light beam that more useful for plants/macroalgae in the refugium.

The Finnex FugeRay refugium light is covered by aluminum and plastic combined made hood that guarantee the light durability. In this case, aluminum also helps to keep the circuit and fosters better tolerance of heat.

The light also features four various light spectrums such as red, white, blue, and moon that can distribute to a 120-degree angle helping the successful photosynthetic process.

As a whole, this Finnex FugeRay refugium light is a prevalent light among the many aquarium hobbyists due to its excellent lighting performance, especially for macroalgae/plants to flourish.


  • It is a well-known and top quality refugium lighting system.
  • It is easy to mount and maintain.
  • Exclusively designed.
  • Durable and long-lasting.
  • LED bulbs last for 40,000+ hours.
  • Top-quality heat dissipation system.
  • Humidity resistant PC Splash guard.
  • It also features four various light spectrums such as red, white, blue, and moon suitable for the photosynthesis process. 


  • It is equipped with a dimmer switch.
  • It does not include a timer.
  • It does not come with remote control.
  • It is not completely water-resistant.

8. NICREW Clipon Refugium LED Light

NICREW Clipon Refugium LED Light is a highly effective refugium light. It features an adjustable arm mount that helps to mount the light in any preference position in your tank.

It is designed for nano refugium, a small freshwater and planted aquarium that is suitable for 2.5-5 gallons of the tank. It creates a serene and natural aquatic environment for your tank inhabitants.

It is easy to use and energy-efficient lights that only need 7-10 watts of power. There are two sizes of lights available in the market, which include 7 inches and 10.5 inches.

It is also equipped with a total of 18 LEDs lights, of which 15 are white daylight LEDs, and three are moonlight LEDs that are highly influential in promoting the growth of plants and macroalgae in your tanks.

The lighting system is covered by a hood that can easily encourage the spread of light and heat dissipation.

The package includes the plastic clamp with screws that are needed for mounting the light on the rimless refugium up to 0.9" thick glass with no drilling or cutting, although you can also use it on the rimmed tanks. It is also equipped with a durable on/off rocket switch to control the light.

As a whole, this NICREW clip-on LED refugium light is a very useful lighting system. It provides a good quality output light that promptly effects on the growth of macroalgae.


  • It can provide accurate views of tank inhabitants in their natural colors.
  • It is energy-efficient light that needs only 7 watts.
  • It is easy to use and install.
  • It produces a high output light that promotes the growth of plants/macroalgae.
  • It features two lighting modes, such as daylight/nightlight modes.
  • It contains a better heat dissipation hood.
  • It is recommended for 2.5 to 5 gallons tanks.
  • It is fully adjustable light so you can easily rotate up/down and side-to-side.


  • It is not suitable for large tanks.
  • It does not include a quality clamp. 

9. Luxbird Waterproof Aquarium Refugium Light Bulb

For prompt growth of refugium algae and plants, the superior output lighting system is essential. Luxbird Waterproof Aquarium Refugium Light Bulb helps you to keep the algae more healthy and happy by providing sufficient light.

It is waterproof and the more durable light than the traditional refugium light that builds in using nine red and three blue LEDs lights, so it offers a super correct spectrum for the proper growth of macroalgae and plants.

It keeps the algae and plants alive and happy by taking care of your reef tank more beautiful.

It needs low voltage electricity with only 12 Watt LED to run but provides efficient PPDF output light. PPDF of one PAR38 bulb can provide lighting within 16"(H) x 6"(L) X 6"(W) area, which is efficient for algae growth.

The light is very small and compact, and you can quickly fix it accurately in the preferable area. The light performs efficiently to reduce nitrate and phosphate levels in the water.

It is easy to install, and you can easily screw the bulb into an E26 fitting base like standard lighting bulbs. If you purchase this smart lighting system, you will get three years of warranties, so don’t worry about the feature of the bulb.

Fortunately, the light produces a bit heat so it can potentially change the water temperature; as a result, you need to keep a close eye on it, especially when it is placed submerged condition in the water.


  • The light is small and waterproof.
  • It includes three blue and nine red LED lights.
  • It is perfect for a reef tank.
  • The light is designed for the perfect growth of macroalgae.
  • It can potentially reduce phosphates and nitrates levels from your tank.
  • It is easy to mount and maintain.
  • You can set it anyplace in the tank.
  • Three years warranties. 


  • The size of bulb small.
  • It produces a bit heat

10. Kingbow Refugium LED Light

Kingbow Refugium LED Light is the most popular and well-known light that is perfect for fish aquariums, sums, and planted aquariums. It is designed especially for the attractive growth of your tank inhabitants.

It is made using 18 pcs, one watt super bright LED bulbs with 90-degree Optical Lens that provide more concentrated light. It decreases the 30% light loss in your tank and helps to enhance maximum growth by delivering high PAR/Lumen output.

It is equipped with Professional 6 band full spectrum that include blue 460nm 8pcs, cool white14000K 4pcs/ 6500K 2pcs, UV 420nm 2pcs, green 520nm 1pcs and red 630nm 1pcs. All combined create a more functional spectrum suitable for your coral, reef, and fish in your tank by using 18-watt power.

It also features a better heat dissipation system that is built using a new upgrading 0603 aluminum cooling heat sinks. So you can keep the excellent water temperature up to 24 hours of uninterrupted use. The cooling heat sink enhances the longevity of light and helps to maintain the growth of your fish, reef, and coral.

It is easy to use and install and it contains a standard E26/E27 socket for connecting power. This light is perfect for use in coral tank, freshwater/saltwater fish tank, small nano and pico aquariums, etc.

It is recommended that you should place the bulb above the refugium tank to prevent the injury of the delicate plants because this light mixture does not contain yellow light to moderate the intense bright white light.

As a whole, it is an advantageous lighting system that looks more attractive and makes the aquarium more eye-catching. If you purchase this marvelous light, don’t worry, you will get a year warranty with a one-month return guarantee. If you don’t feel satisfaction by using this light, you return it to the seller to get 100% cashback within 30 days.


  • It is equipped with a Professional six band full spectrum.
  • It can reduce up to 30% light loss.
  • It includes UV, blue, white, red, and green lights.
  • It features E26 and E27 sockets to connect the power.
  • It provides high PAR and Lumen output.
  • Easy to set up and maintain.
  • It enhances the growth of your reef, algae, and plants in your tank.
  • It is durable and long-lasting.
  • It helps faster corals growth.
  • Low power consumption.


  • It does not include a yellow light.
  • It often creates too bright lights.
  • It does not come with a lamp. 

Refugium and Its Roles

Refugiums are often utilized to grow microcrustaceans such as copepods, cladocerans, ostracodes as a food source to raise delicate species of aquarium fish or coral. It also acts as an overflow tank, or it is used to filter the water from the main tank to make easy water changes for keeping the tank safe.

Uneaten food and detritus settle down on the sand and rock of refugium and acts as a food source for microcrustaceans. In this way, the numbers of microcrustaceans multiply rapidly and provide a natural food source; as a result, increasing biodiversity of the aquarium. It also helps to maintain good water quality in the aquarium.

Besides, many species of macroalgae grow above the sand and rock, which use the sediment of nutrients keeping the level of proper water quality parameters and helps to decrease the partial water changes from the aquarium.

In many cases, refugiums are used as filtration. It also provides food by housing algae and makes an excellent breeding grounds for various organisms such as copepods, shrimp and so on.

Some refugiums are designed to make for purely visual enjoyment while other refugium acts as coral growing home. Many aquarists make it great time out spots for bad fish or right house for injured fish to cure. Besides, some aquarists also use it as a display tank.

Some Important Benefits of Using Refugiums

Refugiums afford the following lots of advantages to reef or saltwater aquariums:

  • It helps to regulate the algae growth in the existing aquarium.
  • It creates natural food sources such as plankton (phytoplankton and zooplankton) for existing aquarium inhabitants.
  • It acts as a natural water filter and can significantly reduce the levels of nitrate and phosphate.
  • It helps to decrease the frequency of water changes in the existing aquarium.
  • It can stable some vital water quality parameters such as O2 and pH in the aquarium.
  • Adding trace elements such as iodine, Manganese, Iron, and Zinc, etc. into the existing aquarium water, make the aquarium suitable for the growth of its inhabitants. 
  • Refugiums act as short-term acclimation tanks for new inhabitants.
  • It possibly helps to boost up the immune system of fish. In this case, many marine macroalgae live in refugium which release some elements into the water that helps to boost up immunity of fish.
  • After fully development, the refugium adds to aesthetic value of the system that ensures it looks beautiful and striking.

Criteria For Purchasing Refugium Light

During purchasing or selecting the lighting system, the following factors should be considered:

  • Light Intensity
  • Spectrum

The light intensity depends on the various factors which include:

  • The type and wattage of lighting;
  • Depth of the tank;
  • Distance of light source from the water surface, etc;

Metal halide lighting can penetrate up to the deep water than fluorescent lights. In this case, fluorescent light should be placed close to the water surface to get suitable light intensity.

If you use a metal halide lamp, two factors kept in mind to consider. The first is heat transfer, and the second option is the water splashing on the bulb, causing it to blast.

Before purchasing the light, you should begin to understand the spectrum of light. Spectrum is an important factor for aquarium/refugium lamp. The output of spectrum also performs a function in water penetration. Generally, the light spectrum is the different wave-lengths of energy produced by a light source which can do penetration into the water.

Various types of color are used in light with different light spectrums. Red light gets filtered out from the water that can penetrate only a short distance into the water from the entire photo-synthetically active spectrum, orange and yellow light can penetrate deeper into the water while the blue light penetrates the deepest surface of the water.

Many aquarium hobbyists fail to provide proper lighting with respect to grow marine plants. For successful growth of marine plants in the aquarium, proper spectrum and light intensity are required.

Light Spectrum

To measure the light spectrum or temperature of light, Kelvin scale is used. It is the commonly used unit to measure the light spectrum, which is denoted by K (Kelvin degrees).

A bright natural sunny day provides 5500 Kelvin (K) degrees temperature. Red and yellow light has less than 5500 Kelvin temperatures while the blue light has a higher Kelvin temperature. Shallow water photosynthetic invertebrate species should be kept under 10000 Kelvin lamps while deepwater species prefer 20000 Kelvin lighting.

The most suitable Kelvin temperatures for growing marine plants range from 5000K-6500k. If your aquarium contains soft coral, then the suitable temperature should be under 10000K lighting. Overall most of the macroalgae and seagrass can do well within the full spectrum of 6500k lighting. But some species of red macroalgae need much bluer spectrum which can benefit within 8000 k lighting.

For optimum growth of your marine algae, you should use mixing bulb color temperature that creates the aquarium most eye-catching and appealing. Based on the stock of plants, lighting range varies. The lighting of optimal growth for plant and algae range from 2700K-6500K. If you use plants for filtrations that are found in shallow areas or near the water surface where the sunlight reaches the least, then 10000k light is required.

If you keep coral in your refugium, much higher lighting is needed. In this case, 6500K-20,000K lighting is necessary for the optimal growth of coral. When the coral gets 6500k light that provides supreme growth speed with less appealing flesh color while 20,000K light produces handsome flesh color of the coral. The range of light depends on the water depth that means the more profound the water, the higher the lighting.

Components of Refugium Light

Refugium lighting system should include the following some components:

  • Lamp
  • Ballast
  • Reflector
  • Socket,
  • Timer and
  • Accessories for electrical wiring, etc.

Besides above features, the following additional components may also include with your lighting system:

Glass or Plexiglass Splash Shield

It is a significant part of a metal halide lighting system. Generally, metal halide becomes exceptionally hot as a result one drop of water can cause blast to your bulb. If you use HQI metal halide bulbs, tempered glass or Plexiglass splash shield help to protect your refugium`s bulb with minimal heat transfer by filtering out ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Waterproof End Caps

If you use fluorescent bulbs with your refugium light, in this case, you should use waterproof end caps that help to protect the light from rust, salt creeps or any worsening.

Dimmer Switch

This type of switch is useful to allow the output of lumen of the bulb. It is easy to install, and it also helps to reduce the brightness of the light.

Hood or Canopy

It is an enclosed space that can contain the components of the lighting and can protect the light from any erosion. It is constructed by using waterproof, heatproof and greaseproof materials. It also includes a stainless steel finish that is covered by thermal and shock-resistant tempered glass.

Cooling Fans

If you use metal halides and fluorescent light for the refugium, it builds up hot air which can raise the temperature of your aquarium. In this case, you should require some way to ventilate the buildup of hot air from the lighting system by using cooling fans.


All aquarium lighting should include a timer system to maintain a light schedule. The photoperiod is the essential physical factor which influences the life cycle of your fish and corals. The photoperiod should not go over 12 - 14 hours per day for your aquarium.

Most of the aquarists use 15 amp timer, which is inexpensive that performs sufficiently to maintain the photoperiod length. Besides, you may also use aquarium light controllers which repeat the natural sunrise and sunset of the day by gradually diffusing the light off in the evening and on in the morning.

Types of Refugium Lighting System

Today most of the aquarium contains a full-spectrum fluorescent bulb that can illuminate the aquarium organisms, but it is not wholly perfect for growing the tank inhabitants.

There are many artificial lighting systems in the market that you can use to provide similar light spectrum which is essential for performing photosynthesis in the chlorophyll bearing organisms.

There are many common types of lighting system available in the market at a reasonable price tag. The most suitable types of lighting system for a refugium and marine planted aquariums are:

  • Normal output fluorescent light
  • High output fluorescent light
  • Power compact fluorescent light
  • Metal halide light, etc.

All the above lighting systems are suitable for growing most varieties of macroalgae. Among them, some help to produce more growth of marine plants.

LED Lighting

Today reef aquarium hobbyists use LED light fixture with success. It is a new technology for the aquarium industry. This LED system significantly lessens the 70% energy consumption and produces less heat than a metal halide fixture.

The popularity of LED lighting is increasing day by day among the aquarium hobbyists. It is also a suitable option for photosynthetic organisms for performing smart photosynthesis. During purchasing, you have to select a proper fixture with a high color radiation index (CRI) and active photosynthetic radiation (PAR) value.

If you use LED lighting, then you have to mount it near the water surface to penetrate deep tanks. Besides, it is costly as a result; it is not the first choice among many aquarium hobbyists to elucidate refugium and planted aquariums.

Compact Fluorescent Light

The compact fluorescent lighting system is the most economical option which is used for growing marine macroalgae and seagrasses in the aquarium and refugium. It is the ideal device for use in a refugium that can provide intense light in small spaces.

This type of lighting system contains nearly 3x the output of standard fluorescent bulbs. This fixture with the bulb is comparatively reasonably priced that have a wide range of wattages and color temperatures.

High Output Fluorescent Light

This type of lighting system is suitable for enhancing the excellent growth of marine plants. This system contains VHO (very high output) or T5HO (high output) respectively. It is the newer technology and very recently the popularity of T5 high output light fixture is increasing day by day.

It has a compact power intensity that spreads more uniformly over the aquarium. Besides, it is very reasonably priced than other lighting systems such as traditional T-12 and T-8 bulbs. It requires less space for mounting that is available in the market with a wide range of spectrums that ranges from 5000K - 7000K.

Metal Halide Light

Metal halide is the extreme heat-producing and high power output aquarium lighting which can able to offer the aquarist the closest spectrum to natural sunlight. This light contains a high-intensity bulb that produces a point source light adding a shimmering, rippling light effect. It provides proper ventilation to reduce excess heat.

There are several styles of metal halide bulbs available for use in an aquarium in the market. Among them, the most common is the single-ended, double-ended and G12 dual-pin base styles. In this case, double-ended or HQI fixture is the most proficient and produce noticeably less heat.

Metal halide is suitable for medium to the large-sized aquarium. It is mainly recommended for over 24 inches deep reef and planted aquariums. This type of light is available in Kelvin scale within 70-1000 watts. If you use this popular light, you should replace the bulb every 8-12 months for getting maximum performance.

Role of Refugium Light

During the night time, all photosynthesis process stops due to daylight off and CO2 levels increase. In this case, if you use refugium with your main tank that helps in solving this problem.

At night, you can continue to keep the CO2 in your tank with maintaining the pH by turning on refugium light when the main tanks light goes off. In this case, refugium light plays a vital role in keeping the green growth of plants or corals in your refugium. Use of refugium is increasing among the aquarium hobbyists day by day.

An overlapping reverse lighting schedule system is very productive for plants or reefs when you do use refugium with your main display tank. Generally, the display or main tank gets light about 8-12 hours during only day times.

For continue the green growth, 24-hour time span light is required. In this case, the reverse light cycle is essential. This means that the main or display tanks light goes off and lights over the refugium are turned on. To enable this little biological system, you have to select the correct sort of light.

For example, if you lights on in-display tank from 10 am-8 pm and in the refugium from 7 pm - 11 am every day for 10 hours and 16 hours, respectively; as a result, one hour of overplaying will occur between at dusk and dawn which helps to keep oxygen (O2), and pH levels up and make an increasingly steady ecosystem in your tank.

Refugium Lighting Intensity

Some refugiums are used to grow only plants such as mangroves and macroalgae like Chaetomorpha or Caulerpa. These types of plants can survive under natural sunlight or even a red spectrum. For growing, most of the marine algae and plants require more or less 3-4 watts per gallon of full-spectrum lighting.

This lighting also varies based on the size of the aquarium and water depth. If you use metal halide light then fewer watts per gallons are required. See grass requires large amounts of full-spectrum light that should be 10 watts per gallon. As a duration, macroalgae and seagrass need 12-24 hours which is sufficient for their impressive growth.

Algae need a stable duration of light to perform photosynthesis. In this case, you can use a simple timer to regulate a constant and steady ecosystem. If you grow marine algae in a refugium, it needs reverse cycles of light so that light of the main tank turn off and the refugium light turns on during the night. This system helps to stable the pH levels and make sure the safety life of overall tank inhabitants’ otherwise marine plants absorb O2 at night that effects on the pH.To know the pH level in your tank you should use best pH meter.

For smart growth of your plants and reefs, red and maroon hues do exceptional performance while blue lights act as modernize moonlight that makes a sound day-night cycle for your refugium plants. It is remembered that all plants and algae do not require the same measure of light. Among them, some need brilliant light, but others require a regular cycle among day and night to thrive.

Wattage Required For Planted Refugium

For outdoor, the most frequently used and most flourishing bulbs are 6500K CFL Floodlights. A 10 gallons aquarium is required one 26 W actual watt bulb which is equivalent of 75w to illuminate. For more in-depth and wider refugium, you should use one extra bulb every 12-18 inches apart.

Besides, LED bulbs are also famous for the plant. In this case, Par38 refugium bulb does very well too. You can use it with CFL sockets that need less wattage, but they cover up the same area and provide brighter light.

Concluding Remarks

Refugium is a significant device to use in any saltwater or reef tank. It helps to keep the tank environment fresh and healthy by creating natural filtration. The refugium is illuminated using a variety of refugium lights and keeps it just opposite of the main aquarium.

As a result, the algae and other plankton perform photosynthesis during the night time when the main aquarium is not illuminated and provides essential oxygen to the aquarium and thus stops the fluctuation of pH at night.

To ensure good health and balanced ecosystem, you need the best quality refugium light that is available in the pet fish business market at a reasonable price tag.

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