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Product Review: Nicrew LED Aquarium Lights

For a low cost aquarium light fixture, the Nicrew LED lineup is an amazing value.

There are a lot of options out there for illuminating your aquarium. The aquarium lighting you choose will depend on your specific aquarium dimensions, budget, and aesthetic preferences. If you're not setting up a "high tech" planted aquarium, you will probably want to save money by choosing a lower cost LED fixture. If you're a fan of DIY projects you can build your own aquarium light. But if you want an affordable, quality fixture that looks a little nicer, Nicrew LED Aquarium Lights are an excellent option.

Nicrew ClassicLED on 10g dirted tank
Nicrew ClassicLED on 10g dirted tank

I own four of these light fixtures in a couple different sizes and styles.  All of them have been working without issues, running 8-9 hours per day in my fish room for several months. The oldest one has been running consistently for about 2 years at the time of this review. This gave me a pretty long time to evaluate them for quality and performance, and identify some pros and cons.

Note: The ClassicLED pictured on several of my tanks has since been upgraded to the ClassicLED Plus model, at a very similar cost but with a nicer aluminum housing and better light output. Sizes may be slightly different on newer models. Exact specifications are not listed here due to the fact that Nicrew continues to update their product line.

I paid for all of the Nicrew aquarium light fixtures that I own and did not receive any compensation from Nicrew for this review. I have purchased and tested the older ClassicLED, the ClassicLED Plus, and the SKyLED model.

Nicrew LED Aquarium Light - Pros

Nicrew ClassicLED on 10g planted tank
Nicrew ClassicLED on 10g planted tank

Long LED Lifespan / Efficiency

The best thing about LED aquarium fixtures is that they last for years. A standard T5 light bulb for an older style aquarium light fixture can cost $15-$20, and will need to be replaced eventually. The performance of T5 bulbs also degrades over time, while LEDs maintain their output.

LEDs have a higher lumen output per watt than fluorescent bulbs, which means you can get more light for less electricity. If you have multiple aquariums, this savings adds up. Nicrew LED Aquarium Lights run cooler and use less electricity than T5 fixtures.

Low Cost

If you've looked into different LED aquarium light options, you have seen that some fixtures cost upwards of $300. A high end fixture may be appropriate if you are running a heavily planted display tank with injected CO2, but for the average aquarist that extra output will most likely mean algae issues. Nicrew LEDs are a good option for low light planted tanks, and cost significantly less than many competitors.

Quality Construction & Slim Profile

Since the "ClassicLED" was upgraded to the "ClassicLED Plus", Nicrew's whole lineup of lights is built using aluminum housings, rather than plastic. I frequently set things on top of them and get them wet while working in my fish room, so I can testify to their water resistance and durability. That doesn't mean they can be submerged in water - just that a little water on the housing is not going to do any damage.

The thickness of all the Nicrew lights I've tried is less than an inch - the SKyLED model is the thinnest at barely 1/2 inch thick. This slim profile makes the lights look very sleek on top of your aquarium.

Nicrew SkyLED
Nicrew SkyLED
Nicrew ClassicLED
Nicrew ClassicLED

Nicrew LED Aquarium Light - Cons

Limited Output

Although Nicrew LEDs can be used for lower light planted tanks - I grow plants under all of mine - they don't have the power to turn your stem plants bright red, or grow a thick carpet of utricularia graminifolia. If you are a hardcore aquascaper, or plan to run CO2, these lights won't cut it for your application.

To achieve a higher light level for better growth, I use two Nicrew fixtures on my planted 20 gallon aquarium. A single fixture delivering the same output would be optimal, but this configuration works with good results.

Two 20" CLassicLED Nicrew LEDs on a 20g planted tank
Two 20" CLassicLED Nicrews on a 20g planted tank

Lack of Hanging Hardware*

Nicrew LED aquarium light fixtures are designed to sit on the outside rim of a standard aquarium. The "ClassicLED" models don't have any good mounting points for hanging or include any hardware for this purpose. That may or may not be a problem, depending on your application.

*The Nicrew "SkyLED" fixture does have built-in sliding hooks for hanging, but doesn't include wire or any other hanging hardware.

Summary

For a low cost aquarium light fixture, the Nicrew LED lineup is an amazing value. They won't satisfy the most hardcore aquascapers, but they do a great job of growing lower light plants such as java fern, anubias, mosses, crypts, floating plants, etc.

If you need more information, head over to Amazon.com and check out the reviews there. These lights are popular for a reason.

Nicrew ClassicLED on 20g long tank
Nicrew ClassicLED on 20g long tank

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