With the incredible variety of colors offered by the African cichlid species, you’ll want to provide lighting that enhances your tank and your fish.
We will cover the key factors of what you should be looking for and also what you should be avoiding! Plus reviewing the following five of the best options for cichlid aquarium lighting:
- NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light
- All Glass Aquarium Fluorescent Strip Light
- KZKR Aquarium Hood LED Fish Tank Light
- Aqueon 48-inch Fluorescent Deluxe Strip
- Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light for Aquarium
Best Lighting For Cichlids
You want to keep in mind that a little thought before shopping will provide you with the best options for your fish as well as for your tank design. Premium lighting for cichlids can highlight their colors and highlight the tank aquascape.
Your first decision for cichlid tank lighting will depend upon if you’re wanting to offer natural lighting or you want to provide the best aquarium lighting for color highlighting.
In their natural environment, cichlid fish live in the darker waters of the lower lake bottoms. This type of lighting will be different than aquarium lighting choices for highlighting cichlid colors. Lighting for cichlids color will be more intense, including the LED lighting.
Types of Cichlid Tank Lighting
When it comes to looking for great aquarium lighting for African cichlids, you’ll have a wide selection of options.
Fluorescent Lighting: This aquarium lighting option is highly customizable, more so than the best aquarium led lighting, for example. They’re affordable, easy to use, and energy efficient cichlid aquarium lighting options.
Compact Fluorescents: Providing higher lighting output, this tank lighting uses dual or quad lights designed to save space. While not as bright as the best aquarium led lighting on the market, they can generate plenty of lighting for cichlids.
Metal Halides: Some keepers may consider this an excellent lighting choice for African cichlids due to their high light output (higher than many aquarium led lighting). Metal Halides light is a bit more expensive and is best used as aquarium lighting for tanks with corals and reefs.
LED Aquarium Lighting: With bright outputs and good contrast, this version of cichlid tank lighting is highly popular and is considered the best choice. They do generate light differently, so if your cichlid aquarium lighting is also supporting photosynthetic organisms, you’ll want LEDs with the best PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) value. This option is also the best for energy efficiency.
Aquarium Lighting Considerations
Your aquarium lighting choices will also depend upon tank size. At a minimum, you’ll be looking at a 30-gallon tank, or larger, depending upon the cichlid species. While you can use one fixture on a small tank, you might need several for large tanks. Other things to consider with lighting for cichlids:
Heat can be an issue with some types of bulbs such as incandescents. The best aquarium led lighting generates no heat.
Watts on lighting for cichlids measures the energy the light uses. Higher wattages produce brighter aquarium lighting. Better choices provides enough lighting for cichlids without using too much energy. The best aquarium led lighting uses the least wattage.
Lumens on lighting for cichlids measures brightness separately. Higher lumens means brighter lighting for your fish. High ratings are preferred by owners using lighting to highlight their cichlid fish colors.
Kelvin Ratings measure color “temperatures” on aquarium lighting. Lower Kelvin ratings emit a “warmer” reddish glow, while higher Kelvin ratings emit “cooler” bluish tank lighting. Aquarium lighting can be selected based on cichlid coloring, with the best aquarium lighting choice enhancing your cichlid fish.
- Some aquarium lighting will require assembly.
- Many owners use timers with their aquarium lighting.
- Lighting for cichlids run for long periods of time. The best aquarium lighting for African cichlids will list the expected lifetime of the bulb. More hours means more cichlid tank lighting for your dollar.
This video shows a fixture placement trick for your cichlid tank and highlights the color enhancement found in the best aquarium led lighting when used for lighting for cichlids.
Five Lighting-For-Cichlid Reviews
NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light
Best aquarium lighting for African cichlids in smaller aquarium set-ups.
This fixture is best for smaller cichlid tank lighting (30 to 40-gallon tanks). It has adjustable brackets, allowing it to perform as single fixture lighting for cichlids on a variety of aquariums. One of the best aquarium LED lighting for African cichlids features is two-mode lighting: the white daytime mode and the blue nighttime mode.
While the fixture is not completely waterproof, it should work great with an acrylic or glass tank lid. No extra heat will be generated by the LEDs, keeping water column temperatures more stable. Its 6-watts of power consumption makes it an efficient running fixture.
The 36 LED lights generate 300 lumens of brightness for bringing out great colors in your cichlid fish. The white lights run at the 7000 Kelvin temperature range.
- Adjustable from 36 to 48-inches
- Two lighting modes
- Energy efficient LED lights used
- Adjustment brackets useless on larger tanks
All Glass Aquarium Fluorescent Strip Light
Best aquarium lighting for African cichlids in fluorescent strip lighting.
This traditional aquarium hood will provide good lighting for cichlids if you provide more than one fixture on your tank hood. Two units should suffice on tanks in the 50 to 75-gallon range, while additional units may be necessary for cichlid tank lighting on tanks of 100-plus gallons.
The best lighting of this type will generate little heat, and this hood should not affect the temperature of the water column during use. Its 30-inch length will allow it to fit on most larger aquarium hoods without issue. As the bulbs are easy to replace, you can customize your set-up with various colors and Kelvin range to bring out the best in your fish.
If your tank also supports any type of plants, these lights will promote growth more so than an LED system will for less experienced keepers.
- This hood is easy to use for beginners
- Bulb replacement reasonably priced
- Cheaper than similar sized LED fixtures
- Bulbs burn out more quickly than LEDs
- Will require more than one fixture on larger tanks
KZKR Aquarium Hood LED Fish Tank Light
A top choice for African cichlids tanks seven feet in length.
The full spectrum range of this system will provide vibrant colors to your fish, a feature that is expected of the best aquarium led lighting you can purchase. Its aluminum casing is more durable than plastic housings would be. The light is easy to use, providing a blue “night time” mode as well.
While the housing is not completely waterproof, placing the unit on top of an acrylic or glass tank top should provide adequate protection. This product uses 43-watts of power in full light mode and generates 2350 lumens of brightness. Its full spectrum light mode runs at 8000 Kelvin heat range, enhancing most fish colors decently.
- Can extend up to 84-inches in length
- Full spectrum and blue light modes when lighting for cichlids
- Full spectrum lighting for cichlids generated by five colors
- This system is not waterproof
- This light system comes at a higher price point
Aqueon 48-inch Fluorescent Deluxe Strip
A great option for those who need a longer hood coverage.
The length of this aquarium hood makes it a fantastic option for tanks in the 55-gallon range, the size many beginners will start keeping African cichlids with. This particular lighting for cichlids comes with a full spectrum bulb, but others can be inserted for a set-up that matches your specific needs. The glass covering allows you to fit it to a 48-inch aquarium without support, while it will sit on acrylic or glass covering on larger fish tanks.
The one-button is accessible on the back of the hood, making it easy to reach and to use.
- Its 48-inch size is great for aquariums up to 55-gallons in size
- Bulbs can be interchanged to provide a variety of color and temperature
- This lighting for cichlids is covered by a one-year warranty from the manufacturer
- Will require more than one light on tanks longer than six feet
- t48-inch bulb replacements cost more than smaller tubes
Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light for Aquarium
Aquarium lighting with remote controls…
White LED lights generate a temperature range of 6500 Kelvin lighting for cichlids in your tank. This should enhance most fish colors in your aquarium and provide visibility throughout the water column. Blue lights are included to offer a nighttime mode as well as the lunar cycle mode.
This lighting for cichlids stand-out feature is the extra modes that simulate natural phenomenon. This includes dimming for cloudiness, flashing for lightning during storms, as well as dusk/lunar modes. This should stimulate your fish in various ways.
RGB lights are mixed in to provide full spectrum lighting in the aquarium.
- Cloud cover, storm, and lunar modes included in this lighting for cichlids
- Its slide docking legs make installation or expansion easy to do
- This product comes with a 30-day money back guarantee
- This lighting for cichlids might require more than one fixture for full coverage
- Remote control range is limited by distance and walls
Our Selection And Final Thoughts
While each of the products reviewed above would make great cichlid lighting, we feel the Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus Light for Aquarium is the best.
- SUPER BRIGHT- 6500k White LEDs and rich 445Nm Blue LED's come together in an amazingly sleek Fixture that's dialed in for freshwater Aquatics like nothing before
- MULTIPLE MODES- With modes that dim periodically to create cloud cover effects, storm modes that will blow you away complete with lightning strikes and innovative evening modes that include lunar and dusk – it’s sure to add excitement and intrigue to any aquarium.
- EASY INSTALLATION- Sliding docking legs allow quick and easy adjustments for a wide variety of installations. This system also makes adding multiple fixtures a snap.
- REALISTIC EFFECTS- Beyond the world of white and blue light, the Satellite LED also features effects that mimic real-world aquatic conditions.
- 30 DAY GUARANTEE-We are so sure you’ll be happy with your purchase that we offer a “30-Day Money-Back Guarantee” to ensure customer satisfaction of our Current USA products. If for any reason you wish to discontinue using the products, we will promptly issue a refund.
Its size allows a single light to cover tank sizes most first-time African cichlid keepers will use while providing easy expansion for multiple fixtures on larger tanks. The bright white lighting is incorporated with RGB lights to provide full spectrum lighting for the best viewing and color enhancement.
Blue lights are used for a nighttime mode, offering changes for your fish. These LEDs are very energy proficient and generate no heat. They will also last for thousands of hours. Finally, the extra modes will excite you and your cichlids!#