Choosing Aquarium Covers with Lights

Aquariums are not just about the fish and plants inside them; the accessories you choose can make a significant difference in the health and happiness of your aquatic life. One such essential accessory is an aquarium cover with lights. This guide aims to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision when purchasing an aquarium cover with lights.

Why Cover Your Aquarium?

An aquarium cover serves multiple purposes, from reducing water evaporation to keeping curious pets or children from entering the tank. But the question remains: Should an aquarium be covered? The answer is generally yes, especially if fish species are prone to jumping.

Here are some of the key benefits of using an aquarium cover:

It prevents fish from jumping out. Many active fish species, including bettas, goldfish, and clownfish, are prone to jumping. A cover protects them.

  • Reduces evaporation. Water evaporates quite quickly from an open-top tank, requiring frequent top-offs. A cover slows this down.
  • Blocks debris from falling in. Dust, pet hair, and other particles are removed from the tank with a cover.
  • Discourages tank tampering. Curious children or pets are prevented from disturbing the tank.
  • It contains heat and humidity. Glass covers help retain heat while acrylic ones reduce condensation.
  • Provides support for lighting/accessories. Covers allow you to install overhead lighting and other gear.

So, in most cases, an aquarium cover is highly recommended for functionality and for protecting tank inhabitants.

Do Fish Tanks Need a Cover?

Not all fish tanks need a cover, but having one can help maintain a stable environment. Open-top tanks have become popular for their seamless look and easier access. However, they come with increased evaporation and no protection from jumping.

Factors to consider regarding covers:

  • Fish type – Cover is essential for known jumpers like bettas, goldfish, and cichlids.
  • Tank location – Tanks in high-traffic areas benefit from a cover to prevent tampering.
  • Equipment needs – Covers allow installation of hanging filter intakes, LEDs, and other accessories.
  • Evaporation rate – Those in dry, hot climates may lose much more water without a cover.

So, assess your setup, inhabitants, and equipment needs. Active fish and tanks in busy areas require covers. Placid community fish or planted tanks may do fine without if monitored closely. Use your best judgment for a given tank.

Types of Aquarium Covers with Lights

There are a few main types of aquarium covers that also include lighting:

Aquarium Hoods with Lights

These combo units are the most popular choice. An aquarium hood is a cover that sits directly on the tank rim. Built-in lights provide illumination. Standard sizes are available, or custom hoods can be made.


  • Combination of cover and lights in one unit
  • Variety of lighting options from LEDs to fluorescents
  • Can be hinged for easy access to tank
  • Protects lights and electrical from moisture


  • It can be heavy and bulky, limiting access
  • It may not fit rimless or oddly shaped tanks
  • Cleaning/replacing built-in lights can be difficult

Aquarium Lids with Lights

Lids are a cover option that rests on the tank rather than hooking into place. They may have cutouts for equipment and often include waterproof lights.


  • Easy to remove for tank access and cleaning
  • Less visually obstructing than hoods
  • Allows for customizable cutouts


  • Not as secure; must weigh lid down
  • Moisture can still access lights/electrical
  • Can be moved by pets, kids, or fish

Top Covers with Lighting

Custom-made glass or acrylic tops are fitted exactly to the tank’s dimensions. LED lighting can be built into the rim or mounted inside.


  • Sleek, seamless look for rimless tanks
  • Crystal clear view into tank
  • Customizable to exact tank size and shape
  • Considerations:
  • More expensive than standard sizes
  • LEDs may not provide enough spread
  • Condensation and algae growth under Glass

So in summary, aquarium hoods provide an all-in-one cover and lighting solution, removable and customizable lids, and custom tops offer a seamless look. Consider factors like tank type, access needs, and budget when choosing.

Size Considerations for Aquarium Covers

An important aspect of shopping for an aquarium cover is ensuring you get the right size. Standard sizes are available, though customs sizes can also be ordered. Here are some tips on sizing:

  • Measure tank length and width accurately. This gives the dimensions your cover needs to span.
  • For stability, hoods should overlap the tank rim by at least an inch on all sides.
  • Account for 3D backgrounds, overflow boxes, and other permanent tank protrusions.
  • Leave a gap behind equipment like filters to allow for tubing and wires.
  • Lids can be slightly undersized and set atop the rim if needed.

Some common aquarium sizes and associated covers:

  • 10 gallon tanks – 20 inch covers
  • 20 gallon long tanks – 30 inch covers
  • 29 gallon tanks – 36 inch covers
  • 40 gallon breeders – 36 inch covers
  • 55 gallon tanks – 48 inch covers
  • 75 gallon tanks – 48 inch covers

These are general guidelines only. Carefully measure and account for all equipment to ensure the best fit. A tight-fitting cover promotes safety and stability while still allowing access.

Lighting Options for Aquarium Covers

One major benefit of combo covers with lights is the variety of aquarium lighting options available. Consider factors like:

Types of plants and fish – Lighting needs vary. Low to high-light options are available.

  • Tank depth – Deeper tanks may need more intense lighting for penetration.
  • Desired look – Colors like blue or purple create mood lighting. Bright white provides true color.
  • Energy use – LEDs use less electricity than fluorescents or incandescents.
  • Budget – High end LED systems can cost hundreds. Fluorescents are more affordable.
  • Here are some common lighting types found on aquarium covers:
  • LED strips – Energy efficient and long-lasting. Can be too directional at times.
  • Fluorescent tubes – Affordable; provide diffuse, soft light. Bulbs need replacing.
  • Halogen pendants – Focused beams for sparkle and shimmer effects. Run very hot.
  • Incandescent bulbs – Warm lighting but high energy use and heat.
  • Hybrid LED/fluorescent – Combines the brightness of LEDs with fluorescent’s widespread.
  • Remote ballasts – Allow fluorescent bulb replacement without removing the cover.

So consider both the type and intensity of lights needed. LEDs provide the latest technology, but fluorescents work well for planted tanks on a budget.

Additional Features to Look For

Beyond sizes and lighting, certain extra features can enhance aquarium cover functionality:

  • Hinged/sliding doors – Allow easy access without removing the cover.
  • Cutouts for equipment – Pre-marked spaces for filter intakes, heaters etc. Avoid DIY holes.
  • Removable light diffusers – Acrylic panels soften and spread light. Can be taken off for cleaning.
  • Weatherproof electrical – Use moisture-resistant LEDs and GFCI outlets.
  • Timer compatible – It lets you automatically control day/night lighting cycles.
  • Leveling legs – Helps balance cover on rimmed tanks with slightly uneven edges.
  • Filtered intakes – Prevents equipment from disturbing the water surface.
  • Night lights – For lunar simulation or enjoying the tank after dark.

Consider both required features like equipment cutouts and desirable extras like hinged doors. This optimizes both aesthetics and functionality long-term.

DIY Aquarium Covers vs. Purchased Covers

Is it better to build your aquarium cover or buy one ready-made? DIY covers allow for total customization, while commercial units provide convenience. Here’s an overview of the pros and cons:

DIY Aquarium Covers

Making your cover lets you get the exact size, features, and look you want.


  • Fully customized to the tank’s dimensions
  • Can integrate preferred lighting and accessories
  • Fun project for handy aquarium owners
  • Often less expensive than commercial options


  • Requires some woodworking and electrical skills
  • Getting a professional, finished look is challenging
  • No manufacturer warranty or customer support
  • It Can be time-consuming to design and build

Overall, DIY covers are ideal for those on a strict budget or who enjoy hands-on tank projects. But be ready to put in considerable time and effort.

Purchased Aquarium Covers

Buying a ready-made aquarium cover provides a turnkey solution.


  • No construction or installation required
  • A variety of sizes and built-in lighting are available
  • Backed by manufacturer warranties and support
  • Aesthetically pleasing “out of the box” look


  • Less customizable than the DIY option
  • Limited to standard sizes unless custom-ordered
  • It can be more costly than homemade covers
  • It may not work with unconventional tank shapes

Purchased covers provide convenience and quality for those who prefer not to take on a DIY project. Just be sure to get the right size and features for your setup.

Installing and Maintaining Your Aquarium Cover

Once you’ve acquired an aquarium cover, proper installation and maintenance are key to getting the most out of it long-term. Here are some best practices:

Installation Tips

  • Carefully clean the tank rim before placing the cover. Remove algae and debris.
  • Ensure all tubes, wires, and other equipment components are positioned properly under the hood.
  • For hoods, adjust the leveling legs to distribute the weight evenly.
  • Do not plug in electrical components near water without GFCI protection.
  • Test that lights and other features are functioning before finishing setup.

Maintenance Tips

  • Wipe down Glass or acrylic regularly with aquarium-safe cleaners to prevent mineral buildup.
  • Use a toothbrush or pipe cleaner to clear out hard-to-reach light diffusers.
  • Replace fluorescent bulbs annually for optimal light quality and intensity.
  • Check the integrity of any sealants and reapply if any gaps or cracks appear.
  • Verify waterproofing monthly by looking for signs of moisture around lights or circuits.

Proper installation ensures the cover fits right and functions safely. Ongoing maintenance keeps it looking and performing its best as years go by. Adhere to the manufacturer’s specific care guidelines as well. Your aquarium will thrive for years with the right cover and proper upkeep!

Impact on Fish Health and Behavior

Aquarium covers do more than physically protect fish and equipment. They can also influence the health and behavior of tank inhabitants in various ways. Here are key considerations:

Lighting Effects

  • Excess light stresses fish for a long time. Covers allow controlling intensity and duration.
  • Some fish require specific light spectrums. LEDs allow tweaking color temp.
  • Gradual light changes are less stressful. Use timers and dimmers to simulate sunrise/sunset.
  • Nocturnal fish benefit from lunar lights at night.

Environmental Effects

  • Covers help maintain consistent water parameters by reducing evaporation and gas exchange.
  • Glass tops retain heat better than open tanks, benefiting tropical species.
  • Condensation under covers can promote problematic algae and mold growth.

Behavioral Effects

  • Shy fish like bettas and discus feel more secure with covers.
  • Too much light causes skittishness. Keep intensities moderate.
  • Aggressive jumpers are contained safely. Lid lifters benefit from partial covers.
  • Disruptive nocturnal fish stay calmer in darker covered tanks.

So proper aquarium covers protect fish physically while allowing you to create an optimal environment and lighting conditions for healthy fish and plant growth. Careful attention to species’ needs takes covers beyond accessories to beneficial health tools.

Decorating and Styling Around Your Aquarium

While aquarium covers serve essential functions, they can pose design challenges regarding aesthetics and decor. Here are some tips for decorating around your covered tank:

  • Use the cover itself as a decorative element. Opt for stylish black, wood grain, or colored hoods.
  • Conceal unattractive equipment like filter intakes and heaters behind plants or driftwood.
  • Paint the back and sides of the tank to blend better into the room.
  • Position taller plants, hardscape, and decor toward the center and sides to draw the eye from the cover.
  • Hang pictures or artificial vines on the wall directly over the tank to disguise the hood.
  • Extend the substrate landscaping up and around the rim for a seamless look for open-top tanks.
  • Backlighting creates a glow and downplays the cover. Use LEDs or room lighting aimed toward the tank background.
  • Partial open covers can balance utility with aesthetics. Leave the front half open for viewing.
  • Get creative in designing a cohesive look. Strategic decorating and aquascaping let your tank shine while keeping its inhabitants safe and healthy!

Costs and Budgeting

What’s the cost of an aquarium cover with lights? Prices vary widely based on size, features, and accessories. Here are guidelines for budgeting:

  • Standard glass hoods range from $20-60 for 10 to 55-gallon sizes.
  • High-end LED lighting adds $50-300+ to the total cost.
  • Depending on tank size, acrylic or Glass custom covers can cost $100-500.
  • DIY covers cost $20-75 for materials like wood, glass/acrylic, and lights.
  • Replacing fluorescent bulbs every year runs around $10-20 per bulb.

Other costs may include:

  • Filter intake and circulation mods to fit cover: $10-30
  • Glass cutting for custom sizing or openings: $20-60
  • Sealants and adhesives for DIY builds: $10-25
  • Timers, dimmers, and other electrical accessories: $10-50

Budget extra time and labor for DIY projects. And remember, bigger, fancier tanks equals bigger, fancier prices for covers and lighting. Prioritize quality over cutting corners to get the most value long-term.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

While aquarium covers provide many benefits, they can develop problems over time. Here are some common issues and fixes:


  • Increase air circulation over the water surface.
  • Use a cloth or small fan to dry the Glass or acrylic.
  • Switch from a cold glass to a warmer acrylic cover.

Cloudy Covers

  • Clean the inside Glass with vinegar or a scrubbing pad to remove buildup.
  • Apply anti-fog aquarium sealant to acrylic lids.
  • Check for air leaks, allowing evaporating water to escape.

Leaking Water

  • Reapply waterproof silicone sealant anywhere gaps appear.
  • Check light fixtures and outlets for moisture intrusion.
  • Ensure covers fully overlap the rim and equipment cutouts don’t leak.

Flickering Lights

  • Replace old fluorescent, incandescent, or halogen bulbs.
  • Check for loose electrical connections.
  • Install a surge protector to prevent power fluctuations.

With some periodic troubleshooting and maintenance, an aquarium cover should provide years of safe, effective use. Always unplug equipment and disconnect power before doing any electrical work or repairs.

FAQs About Aquarium Covers

Do aquarium covers reduce oxygen?

Not significantly. While covers reduce surface gas exchange, tank oxygenation comes mostly from filtration and aeration. Proper water movement is still needed.

Are Glass or acrylic covers better?

Glass retains heat and clarity while acrylic resists impact and scratches. Glass shows condensation more, while acrylic can discolor over time. Personal preference rules.

How often should LED lights be replaced?

LEDs last years, but their intensity diminishes over time. Replace every 5-7 years for best plant and coral growth.

Can I cut a hole in my glass canopy?

It’s not recommended. Unsealed glass edges can leak and shatter. Acrylic can be safely cut with proper tools. Use manufactured cutouts when possible.

Do I need special aquarium lights?

While regular lights work, waterproof marine and aquarium fixtures are safer. Look for moisture sealing, surge protection, and sometimes higher output.

Reviews of the Top Aquarium Covers with Lights

Ready to choose an aquarium cover with lighting? Here are reviews of some top options to consider:

Aqueon Versa-Top Hinged Glass Aquarium Tops – Best Overall

  • Tight-fitting black anodized aluminum frame
  • Beveled edges for reduced condensation
  • Hinged doors for easy access
  • Cutouts for filters and heaters
  • Glass is very clear and cleans up nicely
  • Sturdy and durable construction
  • Sleek low profile design

Fluval Sea EVO Aquarium Canopy – Runner Up

  • Sleek curved glass canopy
  • Twin LED light bars with touch controls
  • Shimmer technology for sparkling light effects
  • Sliding front doors for access
  • Suitable for saltwater or freshwater setups
  • Provides powerful light for coral growth
  • Expensive but very high quality

Marineland Perfecto Glass Canopy – Best Value

  • Traditional glass aquarium lid
  • Black plastic edging provides stability
  • Affordable pricing for all budgets
  • Allows for custom cutouts
  • Glass remains crystal clear long-term
  • Works with hang-on back filters and heaters
  • Limited warranty provided

Current USA Satellite LED Plus – Best High Tech

  • Fully programmable LED lighting with remote
  • Adjustable color spectrum and lunar effects
  • Sliding doors for easy access
  • Sleek aluminum casing with black finish
  • Linkable to control multiple units together
  • Excellent for planted tanks and coral reefs
  • It has a very advanced but complex setup


The right aquarium cover can take your tank from basic to extraordinary. With protection, light, and functionality covered in one unit, combo covers eliminate the need for multiple purchases. Use this guide to make sense of the myriad options available in terms of sizes, lighting, features, and more. Take into account your tank inhabitants, decor, budget, and maintenance capabilities. With research and planning, discovering the perfect aquarium cover with lighting can be a breeze. Your aquatic pets will thank you for providing them with the best – and safest – home possible!