Best Budget Refugium Light – Get Massive Chaeto Growth!

Best Budget Refugium Light – Get Massive Chaeto Growth


best budget refugium light



In this article, I will review the Luxbird PAR 38 LED refugium light. If you are looking for a great refugium light to grow macroalgae and you are on a budget, this is the perfect light for you.

There are many different lights on the market that work great as a refugium light. If you are looking to grow macroalgae in your sump or refugium, you will have plenty of options.

Of course, with so many options available, you will see a range of prices that go along with them. Some people prefer to have a higher-end refugium light like the Kessil H160, which I reviewed in this article but it comes with a higher price tag.

I recently purchased the Luxbird PAR 38 LED which I am using on my 120-gallon reef tank. At the time of writing this article, I am loving this light and seeing great results. The best part about it is the price. It’s a fraction of the cost of some of the high-end lights.

Here is my review of the Luxbird PAR 38 LED.

If you are in a rush, you can click the box below to check today’s price for this light on Amazon.


best budget refugium light


The Luxbird PAR 38 Led is an affordable and quality light that will grow macroalgae in your refugium. This is an 18 watt LED bulb that has a total of 18 LED’s. 4 are full blue and 14 are red. The bulb requires an E 26 screw fitting power supply to operate. You need to purchase this separately and I will show you the one I chose which works great.


luxbird led bulbs







Here is the light on my 120 gallon tank day 1. My sump is 34 gallons and mounted the light 8″ above the chaeto. The 18 – watt bulb is not overpowering and won’t cause a purple light in throughout your house.


luxbird par 38 led




This bulb is designed to work on aquariums and therefore is waterproof and comes with a ip65 waterproof rating. This means it can be used outside but not fully submerged in water. It will be able to handle humidity and water splashes from your tank. It is also rust-resistant so you won’t have to worry about that.

Many lights in this price range won’t have a waterproof rating but the Luxbird does so that is a huge advantage.

When I first bought this light, I was concerned that it wouldn’t do the job. I realized that it is not a Kessil and I didn’t expect it to outperform it but I gotta say I am very impressed with the results I am now getting from the Luxbird. Considering the cost, I am certainly not complaining!

This picture was taken 8 days later. Look at the chaeto growth from the day 1 pic above! I am very impressed.


luxbird par 38 led chaeto growth



The purpose of growing macroalgae in a refugium is to reduce nutrient levels and out-compete algae growth in your main display tank. This light will certainly help with that.

I have mounted this light about 8″ above the waterline which gives a great light spread. I found that mounting it lower or higher wasn’t ideal for my tank so 8″ works great.

Another thing I like about the Luxbird LED is that it doesn’t use much power. If you are leaving a light on for 12 hrs per day, you want it to be energy efficient.

There are also no fans to worry about breaking or cleaning. Therefore it is silent. Loud fans are annoying and need constant cleaning.

A few things that I don’t like about this light. Not deal-breakers but worth mentioning. First this light will heat up fast and can be too hot to touch. It’s important to turn it off first before touching it. Next I found it was a bit difficult to mount under my stand. Of course this will be different for everyone, but I found it awkward to get set exactly where I wanted it.


  • Affordable
  • Waterproof
  • Energy efficient
  • Quality build


  • Runs warm
  • Awkward to mount
To use the Luxbird PAR 38 bulb, you will need an E26 power supply/bulb holder. There are many options available but the one I chose was the Bonlux flexible light socket.
I chose this one for a few reasons. I like having the flexible arm which is great for directing the light exactly where you want it.
Also the clip part works great to attach to the stand above the sump tank. You can also clip it to a table or anything underneath your stand that will hold it.
I like the on/off switch as well. A basic rocker switch that is easy to use.  You can plug this into a timer if you like.
Here is my light put together with the light socket mount.

If there is one thing that I don’t like about the mount, is the power cord is quite small. The location of the rocker switch is close to the light so you will need to reach into your stand to turn it on and off.

What is the best refugium light schedule?


This is another hot topic of discussion and if you ask a few people this question chances are you will get different answers. But there is evidence that shows running your refugium light on an opposite schedule to your display tank lights is beneficial.

If your display tank lights are on 12 hours per day, you can run your refugium light for the other 12 hours that your display tank lighting is off. This will help elevate and prevent PH swings keeping stability in the tank.

There is also proof that running the refugium light 24 hours per day does not give better results. Many people will run the refugium light 24/7 but it is not necessary. Many people will see better cheato growth and overall performance by running on a light schedule opposite the display tank lights.



What kind of light does chaeto need? Refugium light spectrum


For chaeto to thrive in a refugium, it’s important to provide it with the right spectrum wavelengths. Kelvin ratings play a role (they are an estimation of spectral quality) but it’s the wavelengths that are most important.

Macroalgae like chaeto will grow best in the blue and red range of light.

The best light spectrum for growing Chaeto is no less than 50% of red light in the wavelength range of 630 to 700 nanometers. Also about 10% to 15% of blue light in the wavelength range of 435 to 495 nanometers.

Looking at the Luxbird PAR 38 LED, you can see that the wavelength range of blue light is within the 435-495 nanometer range, and the red light wavelength is between 630 and 700 nanometers.



Does the chaeto need to tumble?


Most hobbyists that keep macroalgae in their refugium like to see it tumble. The reality is it will be difficult to keep it in a tumbling state consistently. There is always a chance that it will catch on something and stop turning. Of course as it grows, it will take up more space causing it to run out of room and stop tumbling. Removing the excess as it grows will prevent this.

The benefit of the chaeto tumbling is that the light will be able to access all of the algae avoiding dark spots. Instead of the top of the algae receiving all of the light and the bottom not receiving much.

But the truth is, it doesn’t make a huge difference. I have had tumbling cheato and non-tumbling chaeto, and I can honestly say I didn’t notice a huge difference. If you can provide a great refugium light, all of the chaeto will benefit from it whether it’s tumbling or not.



The Luxbird PAR 38 LED light is a great choice for your refugium if you want to grow macroalgae. I have been using this light for a while now and have no desire to switch. This light is not only affordable but it is efficient and looks great. Try it out for yourself I don’t think you will be disappointed.