DIY LED Lighting


I'm looking for advice and resources to create diy LED lighting for my 20 and 65 freshes and my 28 salt. Eventually I plan to have the lights controlled by a raspberry pi system. Im studying programming so this is a learning project for me.

Ive been researching for a couple weeks but what I find is a lot of descriptions of builds where they list parts and instructions, but dont explain why certain LEDs are used for certain spectrums, compatibility with color/dimming control, etc.

Long story short, I know this is super broad but Im looking for DIY LED lighting resources and/or advice.

Specific things I would like help with are choosing LED bulbs for different lighting needs, controlling dimming/color, choosing a mount, and understanding power setup, essentially everything. Anything you can offer would be great.


honestly the expensive lights with WRGB settings are great and the customization is nice... but t5HO lights with just the regular fluorescent tubes will do just fine. I'm currently running a small 10g tank with just a clip-on desk lamp and a 16W led bulb (100w equivalent) rated at 5000k. most LED bulbs are compatible with most dimmers. I could theoretically dim mine but obviously no color control if you go with something cheap like that. the lamp and bulb was 30 dollars CAD total I think. i cant give a proper review yet because i just set it up but its running
  • Thread Starter


Hmm this is good food for thought, thank you. I think the clip on setup you have would work well for my 20 and would be really simple. Do you know what it would involve to make that setup dimmable?


How tall is your aquarium?
If it's less than 12 inches you'd be fine with grow lights from IKEA (
If it's taller, maybe you could go with floodlights. Not sure on different brands, but Cory from Aquarium Co-Op got great results from the Lepower 50W one.


Shanban45 said:
Hmm this is good food for thought, thank you. I think the clip on setup you have would work well for my 20 and would be really simple. Do you know what it would involve to make that setup dimmable?
Any regular old plug in dimmer made for lamps will be fine, you could even use a smart plug and dim it from your phone if you want


I have no idea about why it works, etc, but just a cheap off the shelf LED "shop light" works great in my 60g planted tank. Only cost $20, and no crazy wiring or anything needed.

For the why questions, I'd try looking at Kessel patents and maybe call them directly and see if you can talk with an engineer. Before I switched my major from engineering to history, I found that most engineers LOOOOOVE to talk shop about what they do and how. Unless there is some legal issue, I dont see that they would have any problem with talking to you, especially if you are interested in engineering.


I can't speak to the programming side but the Raspberry Pi is a great idea and I have seen them used in other DIY systems. I've thought of doing this myself but the program side and timing has kept me from pursuing it.

To try keeping it short:
Q1. why certain LEDs are used for certain spectrums-
A1. Part of the answer is in your question. Some LEDs are better at providing the correct spectrum required. There are also power efficiencies, PAR, lumen. etc.
Q2. compatibility
A2. This can be very vague. As long as the power source is compatible with the LEDs you want to use, you should be good to go. You do want to keep like LEDs together. Ex. 3.4v 1a leds in one string- Dont' add 2v .4a leds in this mix.
Q3. with color/dimming control
A3a. For color- this will come down to how you mix led strings. Ideally, due to power (v/a) you would have separate strings for white, blue, red, green...etc.
A3b. Dimming, most leds will work with dimmers but you have to be able to stay within it's power range. LEDs are not like incandescent where you have a wide range of voltage the light will work. The LEDs will get to their low voltage range and turn off. Differences of AC (sine wave) vs DC (square wave) power.

My original build log (unfortunately pics gone)- DIY LED build retrofit 20 Gallon Tank - | DIY - Do It Yourself Forum | 131643 (
Some pics of the build- Reviving 20g Cube | Freshwater Aquarium Builds Forum | 319468 (

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