Fluval Plant 3.0 vs. Finnex Planted+ 24/7: what light should you spend your money on?
Well, you’re here because you want to grow plants in your fish tank, because otherwise you’d probably be looking at cheaper alternatives to these two awesome products. After all, both these aquarium light fixtures have “plant” in their name!
So, this comparison of the Fluval 3.0 and the Finnex Planted+ is going to focus on values that planted aquarium owners are most interested in.
Also, both of these lights are customizable—so, they’re directly competing for your cash! I cover the difference in how you customize these lights in the features section in case you want to jump ahead.
Keep in mind, I’m going to keep this article “approachable” and will be using quick and easy explanations for jargon that some readers might already know. This is because I want this piece to be as useful to as many aquarium hobbyists as possible, i.e. beginners and experts alike are welcome here.
Technical Details Covered In This Comparison Review
What are those details? Well, depending on your current knowledge level you might be wondering what numbers are important: watts, lumens, kelvin, PAR, etc.
Well, they’re all worth considering, but I wouldn’t say they’re all very “important” but they are worth knowing.
For example, watts—not that important to know. In the old planted tank days, aquascapers used to focus on “watts per gallon” because better information was not available.
Fortunately, we live in a time where we now understand that two lights with the same watt value do not necessarily output the same amount of light power.
So, when comparing the Fluval Plant 3.0 and the Finnex Planted+ 24/7 why even consider wattage? Well, maybe you want to save a few pennies on your electric bill? Especially if you want to buy several of these lights for multiple tanks, the cost adds up!
The fixtures don’t come in exactly the same sizes, so we can’t compare them directly. But, generally, the Fluval has higher watt values for around the same size lights. Therefore, you can expect it to cost you more to run on max settings. However, the difference is minimal.
The value of lumens, like watts, was something the planted tank community used to debate. However, we now appreciate that a lumen value doesn’t tell you much about how a plant will respond. Essentially, lumens tell you how bright a light appears to human eyes, but it doesn’t tell you how powerful the light is in the relevant spectrum for photosynthesis.
So, why bother comparing the lumens of the Fluval and Finnex fixtures? Well, because we have to look at it and we’re human! So, while the plants might not benefit from a particular lumen value, you as a viewer of your aquarium should definitely consider it.
Unfortunately, only the Fluval Plant 3.0 has available lumen information. So, here it is.
I don’t hold it against Finnex that the lumen info isn’t available because, honestly, it’s not particularly important for your planted tank.
Okay, now we’re getting to a number that matters: kelvins. I’ll try to keep it as quick and clean as possible.
Kelvin tells you the color of a light. Which is kinda relevant to plants because plants like reds and blues the best! Check out the diagram below to see where exactly different colors lie on the spectrum and what their corresponding kelvin value is.
Low values are red and the higher values are blue.
Simply put, plants use reds and blues and reflect greens—so, that’s why they appear green to our eyes. Plants can grow using a low kelvin because they can use the red light.
So why do planted aquarium people like higher kelvin values? Because without green (which comes into a light between 4300 and 4700) your plants won’t look very green because there’s no green light to reflect!
But, aesthetic is king! We like a higher kelvin because it’ll allow our plants to look lush and green, but if it goes too high it can start to look very blue. Whether or not you like that blue shade to your aquarium is a matter of personal preference (I don’t like an overly blue tank, though).
So now that we’ve laid down the basics quick and easy like, how do the kelvins on the Fluval Plant 3.0 and the Finnex Planted+ 24/7 compare?
Well, there’s not too much difference between them. At around 7000K the Finnex is slightly bluer which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better for growing plants, but it is giving plants some usable blue hue that the Fluval is not.
I want to really emphasize this point: higher kelvin doesn’t necessarily mean better for plants. Although, shorter wavelength blue light reaches deeper into the water than red light. So, if you have a taller tank you might want to go with the Finnex Planted+ 24/7.
But, generally, only worry about the kelvin if you prefer your light to look more blue or less blue. Maybe you’ve got some blue fish and want your light to bring out that blue? All said and done though, it’s mostly personal preference only.
Okay, PAR, we’re gradually getting into the more important information about these lights. This article is meant to digestible for newcomers, so I’ll go into what PAR is before comparing the PAR performance of the Fluval and Finnex aquarium light fixtures.
PAR stands for photosynthetic active radiation. This means radiation (light) that most plants can generally use. When we measure PAR, we measure how powerful the light is within that all important usable range.
PAR-wise, the Fluval Plant 3.0 outperforms the Finnex Planted+ 24/7 fixture.
* The Finnex Planted+ (Plus) 24/7 PAR data comes directly from their official website here. While the Fluval Plant 3.0 PAR data comes from their customer service via barrreport.com forum user “mv1175” in this thread.
Let’s cover price before we go any further. So far, you’re seeing that the Fluval has those better PAR numbers. And to me, that’s fine, because it costs a fair bit more.
If you’re the kinda gal or guy who has the disposable income, has the passion, and literally doesn’t care about price… then heck, just skip ahead to features!
But for the rest of us, myself included, let’s think about how we want to spend our nickels and dimes. The 48’’ Finnex light fixture is (at the time of writing) available on Amazon for $148.25, while the equivalent Fluval is $209.99 (both affiliate links).
So, putting the price and the corresponding PAR values aside, let’s get into features, because what light you pick is going to depend heavily on which feature control method you prefer.
Patently, these two lights do the same thing. With both of these fixtures—the Finnex Planted+ 24/7 CC and the Fluval Plant 3.0—it is possible to program full 24 hour cycles. The level of customization is comparable.
So, you might wonder, how can we separate them in terms of features?
Well, the difference is in the tools used to control the lighting fixture. The Finnex provides you with a neat remote out of the box, whereas Fluval asks that you install their awesome iOS or Android app!
Whether it’s with Fluval’s app or Finnex’s remote, you’re able to dial in color, intensity, and fade throughout a 24 hour period using their respective tools. For me, a typical Android user, the app is amazing and I’d rather use it than Finnex’s remote. But, that’s because I’m definitely of my generation: I always have my cell phone with me. However, I could see a case where a user who doesn’t favor mobile devices might pick the Finnex over the Fluval because they feel more at home with a TV-style remote.
The Fluval Android & iOS App
To see exactly how Fluval’s app works, check out their straightforward and informative video guide on YouTube.
The Finnex Remote!
And there’s a nice video explanation for how the Finnex works too! The Planted Tank is an upcoming YouTube channel and I recommend giving his channel a subscribe if you’re into aquarium plants and aquascaping.
When you’re considering any two manufacturers of any product—in this case the Fluval Plant 3.0 vs the Finnex Planted+ 24/7—you have to look at the warranty.
The Finnex has a six month warranty, while the Fluval has a three year warranty.
So, on the surface of it the Fluval Plant 3.0 wins the warranty war. But, you have to be aware of some plain facts about warranties because they’re not always ironclad.
For example, manufacturers don’t like random third party resellers (perfectly understandable by the way). They much prefer the retailers they work with directly. So, if you want to be protected by the excellent Fluval Plant 3.0 warranty, then be sure to double check that you’re purchasing your light from an official vendor.
In conclusion, the Fluval Plant 3.0 wins on PAR, warranty, and features (if you like your cell phone, anyway). Whereas, the Finnex is the price champion and has the “better” kelvin.
The numbers, though, are close on both fixtures and honestly for 99% of users you’ll be completely happy with either light. It’s a tough choice for sure.
I say, what divides them, is the price and the preference for a remote control versus an iOS or Android app. For me, the choice is extra tough, because I like the Finnex price and I know it’ll grow plants like a champion (i.e. I’m not worried that the PAR value is slightly weaker). But, on the other hand, that Fluval app is cool as heck, isn’t it?
Good luck choosing!
Ready To Choose?
Fluval Plant 3.0
Grab your Fluval Plant 3.0 now on Amazon! (affiliate link)
Finnex Planted+ 24/7 CC
Grab your Finnex Planted+ 24/7 CC now on Amazon! (affiliate link)