LED aquarium lights are a brilliant option to illuminate any fish tank, from reef aquariums to freshwater setups. There are many different features available on the different options out there, with many price points as well. In this review we will be looking in detail at the Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Aquarium Light. 

Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Planted Aquarium Lighting, 46 Watts, 36-46 Inches
  • Features programmable, gradual 24-hour light cycle settings (sunrise, midday, sunset and night)
  • Includes six unique band waves for full spectrum results
  • Includes optional pre-set habitat light configurations like Lake Malawi, Tropical, and Planted
  • 120 degree light dispersion for full area coverage and uniform lighting
  • Extendable mounting brackets allow easy installation on a variety of aquarium widths

You may recognize the Fluval name; they are a company with a brilliant reputation in the aquarium industry. Not only do they produce high quality lighting, but a whole raft of great products. From fish tanks such as the Fluval Evo and Fluval Spec ranges, to aquarium heaters and filtration units like the Fluval FX6, and even bacteria supplements, Fluval is a brand which you know is going to deliver quality products.

The Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Aquarium Light is designed specifically with planted tanks in mind, and is the sister light of the Fluval Sea LED Marine 3.0 Light for saltwater tanks. 

Key Features of the Fluval Plant 3.0 

The Fluval Plant 3.0 has many great features which make it a great option for you to use to illuminate your planted freshwater tank.

Programmable 24 hour lighting cycle

The Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Aquarium Light has a fully programmable 24 hour lighting cycle, with four distinct modes. four distinct settings. These settings are sunrise, midday, dusk, and night. Having these four distinct daylight settings help to mimic the natural cycle of the sun and moon to create a biorhythmic routine for your tank.

The four different daylight modes are set automatically to predefined settings, and using these settings is absolutely fine and will light your tank well. However you are able to fully customize each of sunrise, midday, dusk, and night. You are able to play around with the light intensity of five colored LEDs, so you can find the perfect color spectrum and brightness for your tank. 

6 Unique Band Waves

Not only are there white LEDs, but blue and red as well. These colored LEDs generate light in 6 unique band waves which encourage plant growth and offer a range of features. The 6 unique band waves are 420 nm, 480 nm, 3000 K, 6500 K, 15000 K, and pink. Emitting the spectrum of light ranging from the blue of 420 nm to the pink at 700+ nm helps to aid in plant growth. Plants convert light through photosynthesis into energy, and use certain wavelengths of light more than others. Having the Fluval Plant 3.0 produce light at 6 unique wavelengths means that your plants will have the light they need to grow and remain healthy.

Full Customization with Fluval Smart App

Sometimes the downside to a great aquarium light is the confusing controller and subsequent hard to adjust settings. However with the Fluval Plant 3.0 instead of using a separate control, it has Bluetooth connectivity so can be directly connected to the Fluval Smart App on your phone. 

Using the app you can fully adjust and set the time of each light cycle, and also the intensity of five different LED colors. These colors are pink, blue, cold white, pure white, and warm white. It is very easy using the sliders to adjust the intensity of each color and see the effect the change has on your tank. Using these sliders there are almost unlimited lighting possibilities, and you can tweak each light cycle to fully suit your preferences and needs.

For added convenience there are also three preprogrammed lighting settings. These are Lake Malawi, tropical river, and planted. These programmed lighting settings are designed to best emulate the environment they are named after. For instance if you have a lot of cichlids, the Lake Malawi setting may be very useful. For those with tropical freshwater fish the tropical river setting will be very useful. And for those with a planted tank the planted setting is designed to aid in growth and photosynthesis. 

LEDs, PAR, and Design

The Fluval Plant 3.0 produces white light at 6500K to fully illuminate your tank. The color of light is measured in Kelvin, and this 6500K temperature of light simulates sunlight, so you get a natural feel to your tank. In freshwater tanks especially, having the color of light at around 6500K is perfect as it helps to enhance the colors of freshwater fish. The LEDs produce a 120° spread of light to illuminate every part of the tank and not generate any dark or dead spots. While the PAR values aren’t huge, they are plenty high enough to grow low to mid light intensity needing plants, and high intensity needing plants at lesser depths. At 3 inches, the PAR is 545, at 6” it is 270, at 12” is 113, and at 18” is 71. 

This unit has an IP67 waterproof rating, which means they can be installed directly above the water line. Other lights need to be raised a little from the water line to reduce splashing, but raising the light can reduce the PAR levels at the base of the tank. Having the LED light at the water line increases the PAR at the base of the tank, but can cause a much lower level of light at the front and back of the tank. This problem is greatly reduced by the 120° spread of light from the diodes.

The construction of the light has been upgraded from previous models, with a lighter frame reducing weight by 50%. New generation H.T.E (High Thermal Efficiency) LEDs have been installed as they function at a higher operating temperature. These LEDs provide improved long-term light output and performance. 

Installation and Ease of Use

Installing the Fluval Plant 3.0 is very simple and easy. Adjustable mourning brackets mean that this LED light will fit a range of aquarium sizes. There are four different sizes; 15, 24, 36, and 48 inches in length. With the extendable brackets these lights will cover tanks of 15-24 inches, 24-36 inches, 36-48 inches, and 48-60 inches. If you have a tank that will fit multiple sizes, for instance a 24 inch tank, you should get the 24-36 size, as the lights will cover the full tank, not just 15 inches as in the smaller size. 

The Fluval Plant 3.0 is simply a plug and play lighting system. All you need to do to get it working is to plug it into the mains power outlet and turn it on. However to have access to the full range of functionality then you need to have a smartphone with Bluetooth connectivity.

Using your smartphone and the Fluval Smart App, you simply find and connect to your LED light. Once connected you can change the timings of the 24 hour lighting cycle, and also easily change the light intensity and color. This is done by sliding the bar to the left or right on the five color settings. You can figure out the perfect setting for your freshwater setup, or you can I stead use one of the three preconfigured lighting settings.

Cons

There aren’t really any major drawbacks to the Fluval Plant 3.0 LED light. However there are a few minor problems which are worth noting. 

One is that as it works via an app, there have been notes of it playing up, especially with older phones. Older phones tend to have less RAM and so run applications slower. In general though the app is very easy to use and works well. 

Another is that of your tank is very deep, you may find that the higher portions of your plants shade the lower portions, and this can lead to leaf dieback, leaving your plant looking top heavy. Normally this can be helped by proper placement and pruning of plants. 

One more downside to note is that algae may grow at the top of the tank where the light is strongest. Don’t leave unwanted algal growth unattended as when it does it will decay and produce ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Species like the Bristlenosed Pleco and snails can help with algal growth. It’s worth noting that algal growth is a very common issue, and not just caused by this light in particular!

Conclusion

Overall, the Fluval Plant 3.0 is a brilliant option for most freshwater fish tanks. It facilitates the healthy and natural growth of plants, and enhances the natural collision of both plants and fish. 

Being controlled by the Fluval Smart App it is very easy to adjust the strength, intensity, and color of the light emitted. Easy to use sliders adjust these settings. It is also possible to change the timings of the biorhythmic 24 hour cycle. 

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