DIY LED aquarium hood

My aquarium hood on my 33 gallon “long” (48″ x 12″ x 12″) shell dweller tank has gone through many stages. I started with a single bright Marineland LED fixture. It was relatively inexpensive, but it was just not bright enough. I then decided to build my own LED hood. Version 2 of this hood is detailed in this post. Version one use the same wooden fixture seen here, but different LEDs. The first version used LED tape kits, one for daylight and a second for blue night lights. The daylights were not true daylight (6100 to 6500K), rather they had a bluer tone that was not as appealing. The other main difference was the inside color of the version 1 hood – white. I painted the inside a bright white originally to act as a reflector and bounce light back into the aquarium. This had the desired effect, but it lit the aquarium so evenly I lost the “spot light” effect I had with the Marineland fixture.

These hood experiments established my requirements for version 2 of my DIY hood:

  • better quality lighting in the daylight spectrum, and
  • more dramatic spot lighting where possible.

The following sections detail the reconstruction of version 2 of the hood followed by full tank shots of the final effects.


A full hood shot of the inverted hood. You can see three JungleDawn 22″ light bars from Todd at There is a darker black strip of LED’s down the middle of the hood – these are my original blue LED night lights. There is a small hole in the rear of the fixture where the wiring is routed out the back. The “front” two LED bars are connected to each other and used for full day light. The single rear bar is on it’s own transformer and used for dawn and dusk simulations.
This is a top view of the hood. It is a low profile fixture 2 inches tall. Of the 2 inches of height, one inch is a stand off to keep the hood elevated off the tank top. The other 1″ is trim around the fixture’s 48″x6″x0.5″ main mounting board.
This is a close up of the corner of the fixture showing the 1″ thick fixture and the 1″ thick stand off. The outer finish is an acrylic black with a clear spray lacquer finish.
This view is from a side of the fixture showing the bar placement and the center strip of blue LED night lights. There are remnants of white paint around the central blue LED strip that are from the original finish. I did not want to remove the blue LED tape fixtures which might have destroyed the original tape, so I masked off the blue LED’s as best as I could prior to spraying a flat black finish on the inside of the fixture. This will not be visible to anyone but the fish.
An image of the timers in use on this project. I used three – one for moonlights, a second for a dusk and dawn LED light bar, and a third for full sunlight driving two more light bars.
Here are the three timers installed in a power strip behind the tank. An electronic heater controller is also visible in the picture, lower right-center.


Lighted tank shots

The following images are labeled with a description, the operating hours, and timer state (timer 1 state – timer 2 state – timer 3 state) for each lighting condition. The timer states correspond to:

  • timer 1 – blue LED night lights
  • timer 2 – 1 x 22″ JungleDawn LED light bar
  • timer 3 – 2 x 22″ JungleDawn LED light bars
I leave the night lights on all day – I suppose I can spring for another $15 at some point and add a multi-stage timer, I just hadn’t gotten around to it and I own a bunch of these little Stanley timers running all the light fixtures on my tanks and vivarium.

Pre-Dawn :: 7 AM to 8 AM :: on-off-off

Dawn :: 8 AM to 11 AM :: on-on-off

Full sun :: 11 AM to 7 PM :: on-on-on

Dusk :: 7 PM to 9 PM :: on-on-off

Moonlight :: 9 PM to 10:30 PM :: on-off-off

Night  :: off-off-off  😉

Resources ::

Todd at LightYourReptiles was extremely helpful in designing a custom lighting solution for my viv. He provided email based consultation prior to the purchase and followed up on the sale. The quality of his products is excellent, and packaging for shipping was top notch. Based on my experiences setting up my dart frog viv lighting, I approached Todd about reconfiguring my aquarium lighting. I am very happy with the finished product, and I would do business with Todd again, but now all my enclosures are lit!

Timers :: Stanley 38424 TimerMax Digislim Daily Digital Indoor Timer, White

LED night light :: PPA OLSHARGB2 Home Accent LED Strips with 1 Foot Extension, Multi Color