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This DIY LED Bucket Light was inspired by a similar build by The King of DIY on Youtube. It only cost about $15 to make, and the entire project took less than an hour.

This light hangs above my 40 gallon Lake Tanganyika shell-dweller aquarium. It uses a single LED bulb, which puts out plenty of light for a shallow 40 breeder layout with no plants.

LED Bucket Light
LED Bucket Light

Materials

All materials needed for this build are listed below, with links to buy them on Amazon.

  1.  1 x two gallon bucket (any color or style)- link
  2.  1 x clamp light (with 5.5 inch reflector) - link
  3.  1 x LED bulb - link
  4.  2 x eye bolts - link
  5.  1 x chain - link
  6.  1 x shelf bracket - link

I had all of the hanging hardware and the LED bulb laying around already. Most of these materials can be swapped out for something similar. For example, you could replace the bucket with a plastic pot.

How to Build a DIY Bucket Light

clamp light

1. Take apart the clamp light:

First remove the clamp. They are usually held on to the base by a thumb screw and come apart easily. Unscrew the metal reflector from the light as well, so that you have just the light socket base and the power cord.

2. Drill a hole in the bottom of the bucket

just large enough for the light socket to pass through, but not as large as the black plastic base. Insert the light socket into the hole as show below. Screw eye bolts into the base of the bucket.

Bucket Base

3. Assemble the light:

Insert the metal reflector into the bucket and screw it onto the plastic base. Install an LED bulb appropriate for the wattage and size of the light socket. The light is now complete.

Inside of Bucket Light
Inside of Bucket Light

4. Hang the light.

This step is pretty straight forward. Attach the chain to the eye bolts and hang it from your ceiling or wall.

DIY Bucket Light in use
DIY Bucket Light in use

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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

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.