Best of 2012 Awards

2012 Marine Depot Best of Awards Seal

The Best of Awards recognizes aquarium supply manufacturers and products that have demonstrated outstanding performance throughout a one-year period. In 2012, more than 180 brands from across the globe were considered for the second annual Best of Awards. Product winners were selected based upon key performance metrics including sales volume, internet searches, website searches, customer rankings and call center data. To see 2011's award winners, click here

Best New Product

Maxspect Razor R420R LED Light Fixture

We test a lot of new products at Few have received such a unanimously positive response from our staff as the Maxspect Razor R420R. It is an elegant, affordable, high-performance LED light that many of our own staff have since adopted for their own reef aquariums. The pre-release demand for the Razor was like nothing we've experienced before. If you're looking for a powerful, programmable LED light with an attractive design and price tag, you can't do much better than the Maxspect Razor.

Best Protein Skimmer

AquaMaxx HOB-1 Hang-On-Back Protein Skimmer

The AquaMaxx HOB-1 was our top-selling hang-on back protein skimmer in 2012 and our second best-selling skimmer overall. Customer reviews have been overwhelming favorable, with users citing how "pleasantly quiet," "slim" and "well built" it is. The HOB-1 is extremely popular with novice marine hobbyists and nano tank owners who appreciate the easy setup, impressive foam production and dark skimmate it pulls from their tanks.

Best Aquarium Light

EcoTech Marine Radion XR30w LED Light Fixture

Similar to EcoTech's own VorTech pump, the Radion XR30w LED light was a game changer when it debuted one year ago. It set a new standard in LED aquarium lighting and it has been the bar which all other high-end aquarium lights have been compared ever since. Outfitted with 34 energy-efficient LEDs in five controllable colors, the XR30w can communicate wirelessly with other Radion lights and VorTech pumps through EcoSMART Live, a cloud-based web app that's accessible on any device with an internet connection.

Best Nano Aquarium

Innovative Marine Nuvo Aquariums

It's hard to believe Innovative Marine has only been around one year! Their Nuvo aquariums went from objects of interest to best sellers in virtually no time. These handsome tanks are available in two colors, white and black, in a variety of sizes, from a pico-friendly 4-gallon to a spacious 38-gallon nano. The most popular choice among our shoppers is the 16-gallon, which hobbyists outfit with aesthetically pleasing LEDs to grow plants or corals. We love Nuvo aquariums for their modern rimless design, rounded corners for panoramic viewing and the spacious back chamber to add a protein skimmer and/or refugium.

Best Powerhead

EcoTech Marine MP40 VorTech Propeller Pump

EcoTech VorTech pumps are on just about every aquarium hobbyist's wish list. The VorTech minimizes the intrusion of equipment in your tank by using a bracketless design. This allows the motor to be placed on the outside of the aquarium. A magnetic field transfers torque through the aquarium wall to the propeller inside your tank. The powerful MP40 produces water flow between 1,000 and 3,200 gallons per hour and creates lifelike waves in tanks from 50 to 500+ gallons. The pumps also synchronize with each other as well as with the Radion light system to coordinate evening and storm modes for a more realistic reefkeeping experience.

Best Fish/Coral Feeder

Two Little Fishies Julian's Thing

Julian's Thing is a multi-purpose feeder and liquid applicator hobbyists are calling "a must have" that is "great for spot feeding corals." Many coral feeders are nothing more than high priced turkey basters. Julian's Thing is different. It consists of a syringe, tubing and applicator to precisely feed your favorite coral, anemone, seahorse or fish. Julian's Thing can also be used to administer pest treatment solutions on Aiptasia and Manjano anemones, siphon out small items or blow detritus off rocks and sand. Each piece of Julian's Thing easily slip fits together, so taking them apart to clean is a breeze.

Best Nano Product

Hydor Koralia Nano-Skim Internal Protein Skimmer

One of the most sought after reef aquarium products is the nano protein skimmer. If you're looking for an in-sump or hang-on style, you'll have an assortment of skimmers to choose from. However, if you want something to place right inside your mini reef, the in-tank options are restricted to just a few models. One of our favorites is the powerful Hydor Koralia Nano-Skim, which pulls the gunk out of aquariums up to 35-gallons. The 3 1/8" square design is slim enough to fit in the back chamber of a nano or set discreetly in the corner of a small tank while the magnetic suction cup keeps it firmly in place.

Best in Show: Reef-A-Palooza 2012

Neptune Systems Apex Dashboard

The new, more graphical user interface for Neptune Systems' Apex controller users is much more user-friendly. You can drag-and-drop various "tiles" on your dashboard to quickly check temperature, pH and other key water parameters at-a-glance. Controllable features can now be adjusted using your mouse, similar to how you might raise or lower the volume on your PC. Another feature that impressed attendees as well as our own staff was the ability to monitor your tank via web cam and have the video stream right on your dashboard.

Best Tank Gadget

Innovative Marine Spin Stream Return Nozzle

Aquarium hobbyists are always searching for ways to increase water flow and reduce their electricity bills. The recently released Spin Stream Return Nozzle from Innovative Marine accomplishes both these feats and does so at a price everyone can afford. Installation is a breeze, too: just slide the nozzle on to your tank's return and voila! Random 40° circular wave patterns, enhanced oxygen levels and happy corals all without using any additional electricity.

Best Supplements

Seachem Laboratories

Seachem aquarium additives are consistently among our most searched, most purchased and best reviewed supplements for good reason: they just work. Freshwater and saltwater hobbyists alike rely on Seachem to help cycle new tanks, make tap water safe for aquarium use and replenish elements essential for healthy plant and coral growth. Seachem is also forthcoming about their ingredients, too, so you know you aren't purchasing snake oil—a major concern among aquarium keepers.

Best Filter Media

Boyd Chemi-Pure

The sheer volume of Boyd's Chemi-Pure we've sold in the last 12 months is staggering. It is our top-selling chemical filter media because it works effectively in both fresh and saltwater aquariums and lasts 4-6 months. Chemi-Pure removes dissolved organic waste, food and other particulates quickly and safely using a high-grade blend of activated carbons and ion exchange resins packed into a nylon filter bag. In addition to keeping tank water crystal clear, Chemi-Pure also helps maintain constant pH levels, eliminates osmotic shock and will not remove desirable trace elements from your tank water.

Best Test Kits

Red Sea Pro Series

Regularly testing your water parameters is one of the most important things you can do to ensure tank conditions remain stable. Yet many tests kits are difficult to use or provide inconsistent results. Red Sea understood and addressed these complaints when they put together the recently released Pro Series. These new test kits include instructions written in plain language that clearly explains how to use the testing materials, plus they also throw in a card with illustrations that show how and why you're testing. Color-coded syringes, glass jars with lids instead of vials and a well-produced video series all help "idiot proof" the Pro Series, as one candid hobbyist points out in a product review. They are a bit more expensive and time consuming than other test kits, but they're also easy-to-use and very accurate so you get what you pay for.