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Best Grow Lights for Aquaponics

The Best Grow Lights For Aquaponics Systems

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Many aquaponics practitioners choose to set up their system indoors mainly because of two reasons: lack of space for an outdoor garden or their location experiences cold climate the whole year. These indoor systems are usually built inside a spare room, basement, and garage and don’t have any direct sunlight. The use of grow lights in these systems are vital for plant growth since they provide an artificial spectrum that facilitates photosynthesis. There are many available artificial lighting systems in the market, but choosing the best grow lights for aquaponics is necessary for optimal plant growth.

Since many growers are confused which grow light is suitable for their system, here is a detailed list of the best grow lights used in aquaponics:

  1. Light Emitting Diode (LED) Lights
  2. High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Lights
  3. Induction Lights
  4. Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL)

This article will aim to discuss the considerations in setting up artificial lighting in indoor systems and the best aquaponics grow lights available in the market.

Considerations in choosing aquaponics grow lights

Considerations in choosing aquaponics grow lights

Plant growth greatly depends on environmental factors such as light, temperature, nutrients, and water. Setting up an indoor gardening system would help regulate some of these factors but not the access to natural sunlight, especially if the unit is in the basement. This is why choosing the best grow lights for aquaponics is crucial. However, some growers find this burdensome because there are many types and brands available in different local and online stores like Amazon, and it can become overwhelming. The best starting point is knowing the various factors that should be considered in buying grow lights.

Types of plants

The first and most important thing to be considered is the variety of plants being grown in the system. For crops that do not flower or produce fruits, less intense lighting is suitable. On the other hand, plants that bear fruits and flowers require intenser lighting systems.

Strength and efficiency

Grow light intensity is measured through lumens. This is basically how much brightness the light emits when placed one foot away from the area it is lighting. In buying grow lights, reading the lighting facts label to identify its lumens level is necessary since different plants require different intensities. Energy efficiency should also be taken into account to lessen power consumption. 

Light spectrum

Understanding the different colors of light is another key to successful soilless indoor gardening. Each color has a specific effect on plant growth, and this is often overlooked in purchasing light fixtures. Here is a detailed explanation of the purpose of each light spectrum:

Red light

Red light is imperative in the foliage stage of plants or the growth and grouping of its leaves. 

Blue light

This light color is needed during the fruiting stage. If your plants don’t bear flowers and fruits, this won’t be necessary for your system.

White light

This is also called the full-spectrum since it mimics the solar light given by the sun. 

Visible light

This is also called Photosynthetic Active Radiation or PAR and is the most suggested light color since it works well in different types of plants. Unlike the blue and red spectrums that are very plant-specific, visible light can also be used in various plant growth stages.


There are certain types of grow lights that can be expensive, especially if the right lighting intensity and low power usage are considered. In purchasing the best grow lights for aquaponics, growers should not only look at the upfront cost of buying but also its maintenance and ongoing cost. 

Best aquaponics grow lights

Best aquaponics grow lights

Based on all the considerations mentioned above, aquaponic hobbyists and practitioners should easily choose what types of lighting are needed by their indoor systems. There are five best grow lights for aquaponics they can choose from:

Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights

LED bulbs are one of the most energy-efficient lights available in the market. Contrary to the belief of many, this grow light is handy in facilitating plant growth due to its full spectrum. It also has lesser intensity loss, and it is very durable, which lessens replacement expenses. Here are some other benefits of using LED grow lights:

  1. It can be used 24 hours a day without affecting the temperature.
  2. It is safer for plants since it emits limited harmful wavelengths that cause plants to dry and burn.
  3. It is environmentally friendly because it has no toxic content like mercury, which most light has.

High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lights

Another grow light that is widely used because of its low initial cost is the HID light. HID setups can be configured according to the grower’s needs and budget because its bulbs, ballasts, and reflectors are interchangeable. It works excellent in growing plants; however, the bulbs should be replaced every year. Here are some other benefits of HID lighting:

  1. It can be used 24 hours a day without affecting the temperature.
  2. It is safer for plants since it emits limited harmful wavelengths that cause plants to dry and burn.
  3. It is environmentally friendly because it has no toxic content like mercury, which most light has.

Induction Lights

Growers also use induction light fixtures in their indoor aquaponics systems. This type of light doesn’t need to be replaced just like LED, and its energy is more focused on the light spectrum used by plants rather than on heat generation. The only downside of using this light is its high initial cost. Below are the other benefits of induction lights:

  1. The start and restart times are fast and only takes milliseconds.
  2. It does not produce too much heat.
  3. It uses less electricity.

Compact fluorescent lights (CFL)

The compact fluorescent or traditional light bulbs are the most economical light available in the market. This type of light can last ten times longer than ordinary incandescent bulbs, and they produce lesser heat. Here are some of the reasons to use CFL in your aquaponics system:

  1. It is energy efficient.
  2. It can be placed near the plants since it doesn’t emit too much heat.
  3. It is readily available in local and online stores.


Grow lights are needed to grow plants indoors, whether you are cultivating potted plants or building a soilless system. Choosing which light fits your aquaponics garden can be quite overwhelming, but considering the different factors affecting plant growth, you can easily decide which lamp to install.

The best grow lights for aquaponics are LED, HID, induction lights, and CFL. Choosing among these types depends on the grower’s budget and the needs of the plants.

The Campbells love finding sustainable and fun ways to increase their independence from traditional brick and motor supermarkets. Aquaponics provides a full lifecycle food source for families and a great hobby. #aquaponicslifestyle

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