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Top 5 Best Refugium Lights For Your Saltwater Aquarium


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Saltwater aquarium lights are costly sufficient, however now it’s a must to purchase a sort of sunshine for a factor known as a refugium.

Refugiums could be one of the essential elements of reef filtration, and also you’ll wish to set it up accurately. Which means getting one of the best mild attainable to assist with nutrient export.

Maintain studying to search out out every thing it’s essential to learn about refugiums, refugium lighting, and among the greatest choices accessible in your saltwater aquarium! 

What’s a refugium?

In recent times, refugiums have develop into a vital a part of saltwater filtration, particularly for reef aquarium setups. 

Ideally, refugiums are sections of filtration allotted to eradicating undesirable vitamins, specifically nitrate and phosphate, by way of organic filtration.

In principle, this is able to hopefully forestall algae from rising within the show tank and assist hold parameters extra secure. 

Do you want a refugium? 

No, you don’t want a refugium to have a profitable reef tank. In truth, if arrange incorrectly, a refugium can do extra hurt than good in your tank. 

Refugiums can be added upkeep, expense, and take up house that some hobbyists simply don’t have.

Nevertheless, there are often extra advantages to refugiums than cons for those who plan on being within the aquarium-keeping passion for the long term. 

Why do you want a refugium? 

Like another filtration, refugiums are supposed to assist stabilize your tank and foster an ecosystem.

Refugiums can simply be integrated into most sump setups, making a refugium an accessible addition for a lot of saltwater lovers.

However how does a refugium work precisely?

Nutrient export

A buildup of nuisance algae occurs to all of us, and it’s a pure a part of aquatic ecosystems. The issue is that these algae could be ugly and might begin to intervene with the stability of the system and even trigger tools to malfunction; for reef-keepers, algae can shortly smother prized corals. 

Algae develop when there are extra vitamins, like nitrate and phosphate, together with an excessive amount of mild. This algae is self-limiting and can solely proceed to develop till these vitamins have been depleted. 

Algal development is an issue when it occurs within the show tank, however not a lot once we can resolve the place this nutrient uptake occurs. You are able to do this with mild and a extra fascinating species of algae in a refugium setting. 

pH stability

Refugiums can be used to control pH. That is finished by working the refugiums’ lights at evening whereas pH is of course lowering.

The algae will proceed to develop when the sunshine is on, releasing oxygen into the water and in the end buffering the pH again up. 

If that is complicated, we are going to go extra into element about photosynthesis and pH later. 

Copepods, amphipods, and so forth.

Refugiums are among the finest methods to farm stay meals, like copepods, amphipods, and different microfauna. It may be particularly useful you probably have live-food-dependent fish, like mandarin gobies.

Refugiums can be used to accommodate any cleanup-crew-members-gone-bad which may have began choosing at corals, like numerous crab species. Refugiums can be used to maintain barbecue protected whereas they mature.

The way to arrange a refugium 

Refugiums are straightforward to arrange and usually cheap. Many hobbyists get the mistaken concept that refugiums require specialised tools that often carries a hefty price ticket, however this isn’t true. 

As with something on this passion, a refugium could be as costly or as cheap as you want to. The costliest and top-quality refugium mild fixture may not be one of the best factor in your tank in spite of everything!

Refugium container

The very first thing you’ll have to resolve is the place you wish to hold your refugium. It doesn’t should be a big house, however it needs to be simply accessible for upkeep with sufficient room for an overhead tank mild.

Some attainable locations in your refugium are in your sump, in a cling on the again filter, or one other container in or outdoors the aquarium. 

Algae choice

Subsequent, it would be best to decide which forms of algae you wish to harvest in your refugium. Listed here are among the hottest algae selections, together with another options: 

  • Chaeto (Chaetomorpha spp.) is the most well-liked and among the best algae to take care of.
  • Caulerpa spp. have a extra interesting look however could be difficult to regulate their unfold.
  • Pest corals. Some hobbyists wish to hold ‘pest’ corals of their refugiums, like Kenya timber (Capnella sp.) and Xenia (Xenia spp.). These corals develop quick however can simply unfold to the principle show aquarium if left unregulated. 
  • Mangroves are usually not as environment friendly with nutrient export as the opposite algae listed however could make an fascinating addition to the aquarium. Mangroves can develop into tough as soon as they begin to get bigger. 

Some hobbyists hold items of stay rock of their refugiums as a basis for algae and for copepods to cover, however that is pointless and might catch extra detritus; a substrate can also be non-obligatory.


Lastly, you will want to think about lighting. Algae is photosynthetic, which means it makes use of a light-weight supply to transform carbon dioxide and water to create glucose (sugar) and oxygen.

Fortunately, this algae doesn’t want the sunshine depth of your show reef tank, however some most popular selections can be found available on the market.

This mild needs to be designed for vegetation as a substitute of corals, which signifies that the energetic spectrum output needs to be geared extra in direction of reds and blues. An excellent spectrum will emit a pink mild.

This mild needs to be turned on between 6-18 hours per day relying on nutrient ranges within the tank; a extra prolonged photoperiod will take up extra vitamins.

Additionally it is essential to consider the place it would be best to put this mild. Refugiums are often cramped areas, and also you may not have the overhead to suit a light-weight comfortably.

Fortunately, some water-proof submersible choices can be found, which may give you peace of thoughts concerning any electrical issues. 

Finest refugium lights

As with something within the aquarium passion, you possibly can spend as little or as a lot cash on tools as you need; after all, high quality comes with a value, although some issues don’t essentially have to break the bank.

A refugium mild is likely one of the issues the place dearer lights don’t essentially imply higher. For probably the most half, an honest mild programmed to develop vegetation can even develop algae.

Listed here are a few of our high picks contemplating value, measurement, depth/spectrum, and buyer critiques.

ACKE LED Develop Lights Full Spectrum, Plant Gentle, Rising Lamps 12W for Indoor Crops, Hydroponics

Are you in search of an environment friendly refugium mild on a price range? The ACKE LED Develop Lights Full Spectrum is utilized by many aquarium-keepers, though it lacks a recognizable model identify.

Don’t be discouraged, although; this mild delivers a whole lot of energy for its cheap value. 

The 12W ACKE LED Develop Gentle is programmed with pink (630 nm and 660 nm), blue (460 nm), and white (2700K) lights to encourage photosynthesis. These lights are labeled as waterproof and include an adjustable mild bracket for straightforward placement. 

With correct maintenance, this ACKE LED refugium mild can final 50,000 hours. Nevertheless, hobbyists have discovered that it might make electrical noises and provides off extra warmth at occasions. The pre-installed bracket can be inconvenient, and all the system has been recognized to fail quickly after buy. 

Although labeled as waterproof, it’s not meant to be continuously submerged. Hobbyists needs to be conscious that the ability adapter is comparatively massive, which could take up worthwhile house on an extension wire. 

What we like:

  • Reliable, easy rising mild that many hobbyists use for wholesome development of macroalgae
  • Compact measurement and lengthy lifespan
  • Waterproof to some extent
  • Cheap 

What could possibly be higher:

  • Restricted controls for depth or spectrum
  • The bracket is poorly designed 
  • Frequent to overheat and fail 
  • Massive energy adapter which may take away a whole lot of house from the outlet/extension wire

Tunze Eco Stylish Refugium 8831

Tunze Eco Chic Refugium 8831

  • We suggest utilizing the Tunze Eco Stylish Refugium Gentle 8831 as a refugium mild. This mild is submersible and might simply match into the again chamber of a nano tank or in a sump. You may put the sunshine in…
  • Although we champion this distinctive mild as a refugium mild, it may be used as a planted tank mild for aquariums as much as 15 gallons.
  • Wattage: 9 watts

The Tunze Eco Stylish Refugium mild is a submersible mild for refugiums from a reliable aquarium model. 

Having one thing electrical submerged continuously in your fish tank is a wonderful cause to be fearful, and also you wish to just be sure you can belief the tools you’re utilizing.

This Tunze refugium mild is extremely reliable and has some advantages that an overhead or low cost refugium mild doesn’t:

  • A submersible mild is simple to slot in cramped areas the place there may not be room above the refugium for an entire mild unit.
  • The sunshine output is extra concentrated and received’t spill into different elements of the sump or out of the container for higher macroalgae development. Overhead lights can have a whole lot of undesirable unfold, resulting in algae rising in undesirable spots. A submerged mild could be positioned immediately in entrance of the macroalgae for greatest rising outcomes.

The  Tunze Eco Stylish Refugium mild measures 12 L x 0.98 W x 0.66 H inches (30.5 x 2.5 x 1.7 cm) and is 9 Watts; this mild can generally be longer than anticipated, so ensure to measure the world you wish to place it. 

What we like:

  • Submersible design that’s space-saving and gives extra direct mild
  • Reliable aquarium model
  • Versatile mount for greatest placement

What could possibly be higher: 

  • Typically a clumsy size for some refugium setups
  • Restricted management over intensities and settings 
  • Reasonably priced

Progressive Marine ChaetoMax Refugium LED Gentle

Innovative Marine ChaetoMax Refugium LED Light (9 Watt)

  • Designed for Sumps and AIO Aquariums. Matches all Desktop Mannequin Nuvo Fusion Aquariums
  • 45 x 0.2W 60mA LEDs: 5 – 420nm BLUE. 10- 470nm VIOLET. 10- 630nm MAGENTA. 20 – 660nm RED
  • Small type issue (DIMS: 6.7” x 1.85” x 0.39”)

The Progressive Marine ChaetoMax Refugium LED Gentle is designed particularly for Nuvo Fusion aquariums however could be modified for common use with different tanks.

This mild is available in 9W or 18W with double the sunshine. It’s put in with (5) 420 nm blue, (10) 470 nm violet, (10) 630 nm magenta, and (20) 660 nm pink lights; the variety of lights is doubled on the extra highly effective possibility. CHICKEN

The Progressive Marine ChaetoMax mild has little to no warmth switch and comes with a bracket mount. Nevertheless, these lights can generally be underpowered and are usually not thought of waterproof.

In addition they don’t embody a timer and could be costly contemplating what they provide. 

What we like:

  • Totally different energy choices to suit totally different refugium sizes
  • Good spectrum for the expansion of macroalgae
  • Included mounting bracket 

What could possibly be higher:

  • Not waterproof 
  • Usually underpowered and overpriced 
  • Timer not included

Kessil H160 Tuna Flora LED Refugium Develop Gentle

Kessil H160 Tuna Flora LED Refugium Grow Light

  • Kessil H160 Tuna Flora LED Refugium Develop Gentle is a horticultural mild that’s high-quality tuned for photosynthesis and makes use of the identical platform because the Kessil A160. There are not any white LEDs within the Kessil H160,…
  • Weight: .9 kilos (the ability provide weighs an extra .9 kilos). Dimensions: 4-3/4″ (together with knobs) X 2.5″ Diameter.
  • 40 Watts: Efficient mild equal to a 175 Watt steel halide

In case you are trying to go all out in your refugium setup, then the Kessil H160 Tuna Flora LED Refugium Develop Gentle is high of the road.

These light-weight, compact LED lights are 40 Watts (equal to a 175 Watt steel halide mild) and have solely pink and blue mild for one of the best photosynthetic response.

These lights have 4 settings:

  • Blue – targets stem extension and enlargement of the plant 
  • Develop – designed to facilitate general development 
  • Bloom – used through the reproductive stage of the plant for productive flowering
  • Pink – will increase general productiveness and facilitates root and tissue development 

It is very important take into account the depth of the refugium over which you propose on inserting your Kessil H160 because the Kessil H380 gives nice deeper water penetration and is likely to be a better option of sunshine.

General, this mild performs spectacularly nicely. The Kessel H160 is quiet, gives minimal warmth, and works nicely with bigger saltwater methods.

This mild doesn’t embody a mounting bracket and might have an unlimited unfold. 

What we like:

  • A number of rising settings for full management of output
  • Light-weight and produces minimal warmth
  • Optimum plant development mild spectrum

What could possibly be higher:

  • Doesn’t embody a mounting bracket 
  • Very costly

AI Prime Fuge

In case you are already working Aquaillumination (AI) lights in your principal show, you may as nicely use the identical lights in your refugium! 

The AI Prime Fuge delivers 15 Watts of PhytonRed, 13.4 Watts of Pink, 13.4 Watts of Cool White, and 4.2 Watts of UV with 80-degree lenses. You may simply management these intensities with a smartphone software. 

These refugium lights are particularly designed for selling fast and wholesome macro algae development. Whereas the AI Prime Fuge is confirmed to ship outcomes, it doesn’t embody mounting materials. 

What we like:

  • Reliable reef aquarium lighting
  • Exactly calibrated with photosynthesis in thoughts
  • Straightforward-to-use smartphone software

What could possibly be higher: 

  • Very costly
  • Doesn’t embody mounting materials

Can you allow a refugium mild on on a regular basis?

As we talked about earlier than, how lengthy you allow your refugium mild on determines what number of vitamins are taken up within the system. There may be some debate about whether or not or not a refugium runs greatest with fixed mild or with breaks, although.

To know this extra, we have to understand how photosynthesis works.


Photosynthesis is an advanced course of. The primary purpose is for the plant to make meals. That is finished with carbon dioxide, water, and loads of mild, leading to glucose and oxygen.

However how does this occur?

There are two principal steps to photosynthesis: light-dependent and light-independent (often known as the Calvin cycle) reactions. As we’ll see, “light-independent reactions” is a misnomer.

In light-dependent reactions, the plant captures vitality from the solar or one other synthetic mild and shops it whereas taking over water. Oxygen is created on this course of and launched again into the environment.   

Within the light-independent response, carbon dioxide is used together with the vitality captured to create sugar. This course of doesn’t require mild, although it might additionally occur when mild is current.

Photosynthesis within the refugium 

So what does this imply in your macroalgae?

You may have light-dependent and light-independent reactions no matter whether or not the sunshine is on on a regular basis or if just for a set interval.

Dependent versus unbiased reactions isn’t the argument. As an alternative, hobbyists query the efficacy of these reactions below fixed mild situations. Like different animals, vegetation have a circadian rhythm. Which means they use a sleep-wake cycle to control physiological processes.

This sleep-wake cycle is primarily used to find out environmental components, like seasons and different stressors for which the plant wants to organize or adapt.

It has been observed that some plant species want this circadian rhythm to develop correctly; various occasions of dawn and sundown between days have additionally proven sick results.

Whereas that is true, some hobbyists have macroalgae overflowing their tanks on a 24/7 lighting schedule. There don’t appear to be any detrimental results of working a light-weight on a regular basis, although this could develop into fairly pricey and runs the danger of overheating or short-circuiting your tools. 

Additionally, take into account different species within the refugium, like copepods, which are depending on a sleep-wake cycle. 

Causes for holding your refugium mild on 24/7

In the event you’re okay with spending a bit of extra each month on electrical energy and settle for the danger issue, then there are a couple of advantages to holding a refugium mild on on a regular basis. 

The primary advantages are pH regulation and to forestall some species of macroalgae from reproducing and spreading all through the remainder of the refugium and the show tank. 

Regulating pH

There’s water chemistry, after which there’s understanding how your aquatic system is working collectively as an enter and output system.

Considering again to photosynthesis, we perceive that vegetation take up carbon dioxide from the water, immediately inflicting pH to rise. 


Carbon dioxide turns into carbonic acid when dissolved in water, which is acidic. pH is a measurement of acidity and basicity, with acidic values being beneath 7.0 and primary values being above 7.0; 7.0 is impartial pH. 

As extra carbonic acid is faraway from the water by macroalgae, this causes the pH to develop into extra primary and transfer larger up on the pH scale. 

At evening, photosynthesis doesn’t happen in your saltwater aquarium. As an alternative, fish, invertebrates, and different residing microfauna respire introducing carbon dioxide again into the system. Nevertheless, there are not any photosynthesizers to course of this carbon dioxide, so the tank turns into extra acidic, and pH drops. 

This fluctuation in pH is totally regular and often doesn’t have an effect on the life inside your tank. Nevertheless, some hobbyists select to run their refugium mild on a regular basis to reduce the quantity that pH swings between day and evening.

One other various can be to run the refugium lights at evening as a substitute of through the day on a reverse schedule.

Algae replica

Some species of algae are depending on the sleep-wake cycle for copy, specifically members of Caulerpa. This alga can reproduce through sporulation, shortly resulting in algae rising the place you don’t need it to be. 

If this alga makes it into your show aquarium, it might proliferate and take over some corals. Extra importantly, it might begin taking vitamins out of your corals if left to develop freely. 

As talked about earlier than, vegetation use daylight and nighttime to control their physiological processes. If the refugium mild is left on on a regular basis, it’s believed that this may assist your algae reproduce. 

Alternate options to refugiums 

A refugium isn’t obligatory, however you continue to may desire a solution to hold your vitamins below management. There are some options, together with protein skimmers and algae scrubbers.

Some hobbyists select to run a protein skimmer along with an algae scrubber or refugium, however working an algae scrubber and refugium collectively is often overkill. It would strip your tank of too many vitamins. 

If all else fails, you possibly can all the time exchange a protein skimmer, algae scrubber, or refugium with good outdated water modifications!


If beginning a saltwater aquarium or a reef tank, a refugium is one thing it’s best to take into account. These self-contained organic filters will help take away extra vitamins, hold oxygen ranges excessive, and regulate pH ranges.

Some tried-and-true macroalgae species work greatest for a refugium, like chaeto, however different corals and invertebrates could be saved as nicely.

In case you have any questions on refugiums, saltwater, or freshwater aquarium filtration, or have had a little bit of expertise establishing your personal customized filtration, don’t hesitate to depart a remark beneath! 

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