Introduction: $25 Pico Aquarium Reef Light

This is an ideal light for anyone who has a small tank but doesn't want to invest a lot of money into a light that will be overkill, or a cheap light of unknown quality. I see a lot of forum posts of people asking for cheap light recommendations for picos/nanos and also refugiums. You can tweak the LED colors and use this in any situation where you need a small number of high power LEDs. For SW the best color combination I've found is 2:1 ratio Royal Blue and 4500k Neutral white.

Ideal uses: Pico reef tank, Pico/nano freshwater tank (swap out the blues for more white), algae scrubber (swap out for red/blue), or as a refugium light.

Limitations: This is best suited for aquariums around 3 gallons or less. I wouldn't expect great results in a larger tank unless you scale it (there's a way to do this in the video). Additionally I would use name brand LEDs if at all possible (such as CREE/Luxeon). Using cheap import LEDs could result in less desirable coloration and performance.

Step 1: My Pico Reef

I've been running this light successfully on a 6 quart food storage container turned into a pico reef tank since December 2017.

Step 2: Materials and Links

$5 * Meanwell LDD-700 HW

$8 * 2x Royal Blue XT-E

$3.50 * 1x Neutral white (4000-5000K)

$2.50 * 12-24v LED PWM dimmer

$6 * 12v 2A DC power supply

TOTAL: $25. Pricing and links as of June 2018 and include free shipping.

Other needed materials:

- Old computer heatsink or similar. Try to use as big of one as you have – bar stock won’t be enough unless you use a 350mA driver. I also prefer no fan so I use larger heatsinks (such as one from an old Pentium 2)

- Some wire to go from the dimmer to the LED (I took apart an old phone charger and used the cord)

- Some thermal epoxy (A suuuuuuper thin layer of regular epoxy would probably work – just be sure there’s no air behind the star. Worst case scenario drill 5 holes and jam some short screws in)

- A soldering iron and some rosin core solder

- Double sided tape

- Electrical tape and/or heat shrink tubing

- A screwdriver

- Wire strippers

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