Options for Fluval Spec Light Upgrade

The Fluval Spec line of aquariums has much to offer in the way of features – it’s all-in-one package lends to a very clean look with simple setup and operation.  The one component of this all-in-one design that people often look at upgrading is the light.

The first version of the aquarium (Pre-2016) was especially bad with very dim light and a poor construction.  However the current version of the light (2016 to current) has an LED light with very good construction and decent light intensity for medium light plants.  Despite the improvements, some people may still wish to replace the stock light.  Some of the main reasons to upgrade the Fluval Spec light includes:

  • Construction: This is not a big issue with the current version of the light.  The new light doesn’t droop like the pre-2016 version did.  It also seems more water resistant.  However, some have expressed problems with the new stock light working properly on a timer (has to do with the touch capable on/off controls).
  • Light Quality: The light spread pattern from the stock light is generally good.  What I don’t care much for is the light color – it is a bit on the blue (cool) side for me.  I prefer light that is more warm on the red or yellow end of the color spectrum.  As some background, lamp color is often specified in Kelvin, where lower (5,000K) is warmer (yellow) in color and higher (10,000K) is cooler (blue) in color. A properly selected upgrade light may offer better color and may be capable of custom color adjustments.
  • Light Intensity: The stock Spec lights are adequate for general aquarium use and even to grow low to medium light plants.  However, if you want to really get into planted nano aquariums, getting a more intense light may be necessary depending on your plant selection and goals.
  • Replacement Cost:  If you like the stock light but have it fail, the replacement cost is expensive enough to consider getting an aftermarket alternative that will produce better light.

I have come across a few aftermarket Spec light upgrade options.

Light Upgrade Ideas for the Fluval Spec V Aquarium:

I’m sure there are numerous options for lights for the Spec V, but I have two companies covering a few models that seem to be a very good fit for this tank:

Spec V Aquarium Light Upgrade - Finnex Planted + 16"

  • Finnex Planted+ 24/7 HLC:  This is the light that is currently on our Spec V.  It is beautiful – very slim and modern design.  The silver color looks great with the trim pieces of the aquarium.  This fixture has capabilities of custom color and intensity settings.  It also has a custom 24/7 mode where the light transitions between 8 custom settings throughout the day.  This is the fixture I recommend highest as an upgrade to the stock Spec V light.
  • Finnex Fugeray Planted+: This light was on our tank for the six years previous to the HLC (above). It is a high quality construction and fits very well on the Spec V.  It has 7,000K lights with red accents that lend to a nice, warm color. There are a few options for mounting.  You can set it on top of the acrylic top, or you can do away with the acrylic top and mount the light conventionally on the edge of the glass.  The choice of length to purchase depends on how you want to mount it.  The 16″ long version spans the length of the main display but not over the pump section.  If you want the light to mount on the glass over the entire aquarium (including over the filter media section), buy the 20″ long version. This light is suitable for medium to high light planted tanks.  The big disadvantage to this fixture is that it does not have dimming capabilities, so it is one brightness fits all.
  • Finnex Marine+ 24/7:  This light has many of the same features as the Finnex 24/7 KLC and CRV models, but it has LED’s suitable for a marine (saltwater) tank.  All of this series of lights have challenges mounting to the Spec V (I write about that here).
  • Current USA Satellite Plus PRO LED Light:  I have not tested this, but it seems this light has some great features.  It has a ramp up down capability similar to the Finnex Planted+ 24/7 series.  It is a bit more in cost than the Finnex Planted+ HLC.

Light Upgrade Ideas for the Fluval Spec III Aquarium:

Upgrade options for the smaller Spec III aquarium are less clear cut.  What you are generally looking for is a clip on light made for freshwater nano aquariums.  Here are a few that seem to be getting good user experiences online:

  • Fluval Mini Compact PCL13: This light does not have LED’s but instead has a compact fluorescent bulb.  it is not particularly cheap either, but it gets very good reviews.  I suspect that being a Fluval product it mates niecely with the Spec III.  It will put you in low-medium light territory – great for growing a wide variety of plants.
  • Mr. Aqua Ultrathin Aquarium LED:  This clip on light has a very nice appearance with an aluminum housing.  Apparently it puts out very nice quantity of light, in the medium light range.
  • Finnex StingRAY LED Clip: I like the Finnex name, so this is an interesting model.  I have tried this one out – it can work but with some compromises that I discuss on the review page. The price is right and the use of LED’s makes it efficient and long lasting.

I don’t consider this page to be complete as I hope to learn more and make other suggestions in the future as products change.  If you have experiences, either good or bad, with your aftermarket Fluval Spec lights, please put them in the comments section.

14 thoughts on “Options for Fluval Spec Light Upgrade

  1. I just bought a Spec III this month, March 2016 and it came with a much improved LED light model that is longer (as long as the aquarium) and far brighter than the previous model. I works great and certainly is better for plant growth. I can’t find anything mentioned about this new light style mentioned online by Fluval or anyone else. I was hoping to confirm that the Spec V would also be coming out with an improved light. Do you happen to know about the new light design?

    • I wouldn’t know anything about a redesign except for people commenting here, so thanks! I haven’t heard any reports, from users or otherwise, about any changes to the V model.

  2. The Finnex have horrible warranties, 30 Days on bulbs, 180 days for defects in material or workmanship. After less then 6 months, on top of the Fluval Spec V cover, never came in contact with water, moisture somehow got inside the unit and burned out the bulbs. Finnex support blamed us for not using it right and won’t honor warranty for water damage. Amazon reviews seem to indicate about a 10% defect rate, buyer beware.

  3. I recently purchased a Spec V on Amazon and it came with a new light that is very nice. My anubias and moneywort is growing spectacularly. My dwarf hair grass is growing ok but it’s going to take a while for it to carpet I hope. Anyways, new lights are great for my plants.

    I am dosing liquid carbon fyi.

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