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The Marineland LED Light Hood for Aquariums, Day & Night Light is pretty popular as an affordable combination light/hood in aquarium starter kits. I have used the 20" x 10" size on a planted 10 gallon tank for several months. While the light is certainly not the brightest LED, it is just enough to grow some low light plants. In this review I will cover some of the pros and cons of this hood.

Planted 10 Gallon Lit by Marineland LED Hood
Planted 10 Gallon Lit by Marineland LED Hood

Pros:

  • Hinged hood design

The hinges that come with this hood allow it to be lifted up to feed your fish or maintain the aquarium without fully removing the lid. I use a small hook in the shelf above my tank to hold the lid open when I am working in the tank.

Marineland Hood Open
Marineland Hood Open
  • Low wattage LED

The integrated LED light bar uses about half the power of a traditional fluorescent tube light, and should have a much longer service life. This light puts out a natural color temperature (around 5500 K according to Marineland) that does a great job of showcasing fish.

Yellow Tiger Endlers under Marineland LED
Yellow Tiger Endlers under Marineland LED
  • Integrated light / hood combo

Having the light bar nested into the hood keeps light from escaping horizontally across the top of your aquarium. This gives it a nice sleek look as all of the light from the LEDs is directed down into the tank.

Planted 10 Gallon Lit by Marineland LED Hood
Planted 10 Gallon Lit by Marineland LED Hood

Cons:

  • Comparatively low light level

While the output on these Marineland LED hoods will keep low light plants alive, it is not anywhere near what you would get out of a more expensive LED fixture. I have been able to grow rotala rotundifolia, anubias nana, and cryptocoryne wendtii under this light, but everything grows very slowly. Since the LEDs are all concentrated in the center of the hood, the light level drops off significantly on the outsides edges of the aquarium.

  • Lack of customization

These hoods are difficult to cut or modify for different styles of filtration because they are made from a thick plastic. You also cannot swap out the light for one that stretches across the whole tank. In my opinion, this is the biggest drawback to their design.

Planted 10 Gallon with Marineland LED Hood
Planted 10 Gallon with Marineland LED Hood

Bottom Line

The Marineland LED Light Hood for Aquariums, Day & Night Light is a good affordable option for aquarists who are looking for an all-in-one light and canopy design. I would not recommend it if you are interested in growing high light plants; but if you want a light that will showcase your fish and keep some plants alive, it is a nice looking option.


1

aquaclear 20
aquaclear 20

The Fluval AquaClear is a hang on back (HOB) aquarium filter that comes in five different sizes: 20, 30, 50, 70, and 110. In my opinion the AquaClear is the best value HOB filter you can buy. It costs slightly more than most of the big box store brands, such as Aqueon or Marina, because it is definitely a premium product. Its defining feature is its media basket and the volume of filter media it is designed to accommodate.

unboxed aquaclear filter
unboxed AquaClear filter

Above is a brand new un-boxed AquaClear filter. Included in the kit you receive the filter, the media basket, and one set of media. The standard configuration comes with one foam sponge, one bag of activated carbon, and a bag of bio rings. Below is an example of a brand new media basket with starter media.

standard media
standard media

These baskets are the key to the AquaClear's greatness. They make cleaning the filter extremely easy because they slide in and out easily while keeping the media in place. As water enters the filter it rises from the bottom of the basket up to the top. In this way the AquaClear functions similarly to a canister filter, where the media is stacked in layers.

aquaclear media basket
AquaClear media basket

Most HOB filters feature one thin layer of sponge and a disposable filter floss insert, requiring frequent replacement of the disposable insert. The AquaClear packs a lot more biological filtration capability. And if configured correctly, it never requires media replacement. This makes it a very cheap filter to operate. You may save $10 buying a cheaper HOB up front, but over one year you will spend several times that on disposable filter inserts.

Fluval's foam inserts are great for both mechanical and biological filtration. They trap debris as water passes through them, and have a huge surface area to culture bacteria. Rather than using the carbon bag, I recommend running the AquaClear with two foam insert sponges. Carbon is not really necessary unless you are specifically trying to remove medication or heavy metals, and two sponges will give you a lot more mechanical filtering capacity.

dirty media basket
dirty media basket with two sponges

As you can see above, the foam inserts trap a huge amount of debris, eventually turning brown. The best thing about them is they never have to be replaced; you just squeeze them out in a bucket of aquarium water to clean them. Below is the same media basket after being rinsed out. Using aquarium water maintains the colony of beneficial bacteria that convert ammonia from fish waste into nitrite and then nitrate. Rinsing a filter sponge in tap water that contains chlorine or chloramine can kill off this bacteria.

clean media basket
clean media basket with two sponges

The quality of the Fluval media is tough to beat, which is what I think makes the AquaClear one of the best all around HOB filters you can buy. I do use other HOB models in my fish room, but I don't purchase the OEM filter refill inserts for any of them.  This post covers how I maintain my other filters economically using DIY methods.

I run an AquaClear 20 on my 20 gallon guppy tank (with an intake sponge) and have had great results. I have also used the same filter for a shrimp tank, and a 10 gallon betta tank.

betta tank running aquaclear 20
betta tank running aquaclear 20
guppy tank running aquaclear 20
guppy tank running aquaclear 20

Note: I did not receive compensation or free products from Fluval for this review.