Below is a chart to help determine the best retrofit aquarium light for your tank based on the dimensions of your tank and the types of corals in the tank.

We separate reef tanks into three categories based on the lighting needs of the organisms in the tank:
  • Reef tanks with soft corals and live rock (low wattage)
  • Reef tanks with soft corals, LPS corals and live rock (medium wattage)
  • Reef tanks with soft corals, LPS & SPS corals and live rock (high wattage)
Basically, soft corals and live rock need the least amount of light. LPS corals need more light that live rock and soft corals. And SPS corals need more light than live rock, soft corals and LPS corals.

This Reef Chart is limited to retrofit lighting for reef tanks with existing canopies. Retrofit lights typically have the bulbs attached to an aluminum reflector that can be attached to the underside of a canopy. For lights for tanks without a canopy, visit the Chart For Choosing the Best Hood Lighting for a Reef Aquarium. We also have a Chart For Choosing the Best Lighting For Planted Tanks & Fish-Only Aquariums.

CF = compact fluorescent (aka power compact)
MH = metal halide
T5 = T5 fluorescent

Aquarium Size
(length X width X depth)
Reef Tank with Soft Corals and Live Rock Only Reef Tank with Soft Corals, LPS Corals and Live Rock Reef Tank with Soft Corals, LPS & SPS Corals and Live Rock
24" x 12" x 16"
20 gallons
-24" WavePoint T5 HO 4X24W (96W total)

-AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X24W (96W total)
-24" WavePoint T5 HO 4X24W (96W total)

-AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X24W (96W total)

-24" WavePoint T5 HO 4X24W (96W total)

-AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X24W (96W total)

24" x 12" x 20"
25 gallons
-24" WavePoint T5 HO 4X24W (96W total)

-AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X24W (96W total)


NA
30" x 12" x 12"
20 gallons
NA NA NA
30" x 12" x 18"
29 gallons
NA NA NA
36" x 15" x 16"
40 gallons
-36" Coralife CF 1X96W
36" x 15" x 20"
50 gallons
-36" WavePoint T5 HO 4X39W (156W total)

-AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X39W (156W total)
-TWO 36" Coralife CF 1X96W (192W total) NA
36" x 18" x 18"
50 gallons
-TWO 36" Coralife CF 1X96W (192W total) -TWO 36" WavePoint T5 HO 4X39W (312W total)
36" x 18" x 20"
55 gallons
-36" WavePoint T5 HO 4X39W (156W total)

-AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X39W (156W total)



36" x 18" x 24"
65 gallons
-TWO 36" WavePoint T5 HO 4X39W (312W total)

-TWO AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X39W (312W total)


48" x 13" x 16"
40 gallons
-48" WavePoint T5 HO 4X54W (216W total)

-AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X54W (216W total)
-48" WavePoint T5 HO 4X54W (216W total)

-AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X54W (216W total)
-48" Aqualight CF 4x65W (260W total)
48" x 13" x 20"
55 gallons
-48" WavePoint T5 HO 4X54W (216W total)

-AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X54W (216W total)
-48" Aqualight CF 4x65W (260W total)
-TWO 48" WavePoint T5 HO 4X54W (432W total)

-TWO AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X54W (432W total)
48" x 15" x 18"
55 gallons
-48" WavePoint T5 HO 4X54W (216W total)

-AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X54W (216W total)
-TWO 48" WavePoint T5 HO 4X54W (432W total)
48" x 18" x 20"
75 gallons

48" x 18" x 24"
90 gallons
-TWO 48" WavePoint T5 HO 4X54W (432W total)

-TWO AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X54W (432W total)
-TWO 48" Aqualight CF 4x65W (520W total)


-THREE 48" Aqualight PC 4x65W (780W total)


48" x 18" x 30"
120 gallons

-TWO 48" Aqualight CF 4x65W (520W total)

-THREE 48" Aqualight CF 4x65W (780W total)

-THREE 48" Aqualight CF 4x65W (780W total)
48" x 24" x 20"
100 gallons
-TWO 48" WavePoint T5 HO 4X54W (432W total)

-TWO AquaticLife T5 HO Ballast Kit 4X54W (432W total)

-TWO 48" Aqualight CF 4x65W (520W total)
-TWO 48" Aqualight CF 4x65W (520W total) -THREE 48" Aqualight PC 4x65W (780W total)
48" x 24" x 24"
120 gallons
-TWO 48" Aqualight CF 4x65W (520W total) -THREE 48" Aqualight CF 4x65W (780W total) -THREE 48" Aqualight CF 4x65W (780W total)
48" x 24" x 30"
150 gallons

-THREE 48" Aqualight CF 4x65W (780W total) -FOUR 48" Aqualight CF 4x65W (1040W total)
60" x 18" x 20"
100 gallons
NA NA

NA
60" x 18" x 24"
125 gallons
NA

NA NA
60" x 18" x 30"
140 gallons
NA NA NA
60" x 24" x 24"
150 gallons
NA NA NA
60" x 24" x 30"
185 gallons
NA

NA NA
72" x 18" x 18"
125 gallons
NA NA
72" x 18" x 24"
135 gallons
NA NA NA
72" x 18" x 30"
170 gallons
NA NA NA
72" x 24" x 20"
150 gallons
NA NA NA
72" x 24" x 24"
180 gallons
NA NA

NA
72" x 24" x 30"
225 gallons
NA

NA NA

96" x 24" x 24"
240 gallons
-FOUR 48" Coralife CF 4X65W (1040W Total) NA NA
96" x 24" x 30"
300 gallons
NA NA NA