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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 Python system allows you to drain and fill an aquarium from any sink without having to carry any buckets.

If you are using buckets to do your water changes, do yourself a favor and upgrade to the Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance System. The Python system allows you to drain and fill an aquarium from any sink without having to carry any buckets. I use my Python all the time to do cleanings and water changes, even though I have a plumbed-in water change system on many of my tanks.

Photo: Python Products

How to Use the Python No Spill Aquarium Water Change System

The Python system comes with a faucet adapter and a hose with threaded male and female ends which allow it to be extended or attached to a gravel vacuum tube. All you do is attach the green faucet adapter to a sink and turn on the water to begin siphoning. When the tank has been drained to the appropriate level, you can switch the Python over to fill mode and refill the tank. The video below covers the system's operation in more detail.

How to Use the Python Video by Big Al's on Youtube

Python Water Changer Accessories and Replacement Parts

The greatest thing about the Python compared to similar products is the great selection of accessories. The Python Hook, for example, allows you to fill an aquarium without worrying about the hose slipping out when you walk over to the sink. I use this particular attachment all the time.

Python Hook in use

Other accessories offer more customization for your particular aquarium. The gravel tube can be purchased in 20, 24, 30, 36, 48 and 72 inch lengths for deeper aquariums! (Links below)

Because of the modular design, you can also build your own custom length Python using clear tubing from a hardware store. I did this to create a 100' siphon hose because I often service aquariums that are more than 25' or 50' from a sink. Since each hose has one male and one female end, they can be connected together. Now, I have a 20', 25', and 100' hose that could all be joined together to form a 145' water changer!

Also, since every single part can be purchased separately, you will never have to pay for an entire new system if one piece fails. I've listed many of the Python products below. Just make sure you get an idea of the distance from your aquarium to the nearest sink before ordering a particular size!

Links to Python Products on Amazon:

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.