Best New Product

EcoTech Marine Vectra DC Water Pumps

EcoTech Marine has earned Marine Depot Best of Awards every year since their inception. The company has long been considered one of the top aquarium equipment developers in the world. In 2015, EcoTech Marine introduced what may be the world’s smartest return pump, the Vectra. The Vectra not only looks different than other return pumps—with its heavily branded blue and white exterior—it is different.

The Vectra features EcoTech’s QuietDrive technology so hobbyists can choose between return pump or closed-loop configurations and access cool operational modes, like feed mode, lagoonal random, reef crest and gyre. Vectra pumps can be submersed or used inline, are compatible with EcoSmart Live so you can control them (along with your Radion LEDs and VorTech pumps) from anywhere in the world, and can be connected to EcoTech Marine’s Battery Backup to protect your reef inhabitants in the event of a power interruption.

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Best Protein Skimmer

AquaMaxx ConeS Q-Series In-Sump Protein Skimmers

AquaMaxx has earned Marine Depot’s Best Protein Skimmer award for four consecutive years now. This year we are recognizing the all-new AquaMaxx ConeS Q-Series, which combines the space-saving benefits of the AquaMaxx EcoMaxx line with the advanced bubble diffusers and handsome design of the original ConeS Series.

Q-Series skimmers rock a slim profile and are outfitted with reliable and whisper quiet Sicce needlewheel pumps which are placed inside the skimmer body to save you space inside your sump. The popular bubble plate design introduced in the original ConeS Series has been incorporated into the Q-Series as well to eliminate turbulence and deliver a stable laminar flow that is unlike any other skimmer brand. The revamped outlet pipe is one of our favorite features of the new Q-Series because it gives you precise control and is super easy to adjust.

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Best Aquarium Light

AquaIllumination Prime LED Light Fixture

One of the most impressive features of the AI Prime is that it has built-in Wi-Fi. That means you don’t have to buy a separate controller to adjust your light settings wirelessly. It easily pairs with your Apple or Android device. You can also connect the light to your home wireless network if you prefer to control the light from a computer. Similar to other AI lights, the Prime is a full spectrum LED light.

It features 13 LED chips in 7 different colors and can be tank mounted or suspended using a hanging kit. Many hobbyists tilt or swivel their Primes to shine the light right where they want it. The Prime’s spread is 30" x 30" with a peak PAR of 260µMol at a depth of 12". The Prime draws a maximum of 50 watts from the wall and follows in the energy-efficient footsteps of other AI aquarium lights. AI has done a terrific job with the Prime LED. With all the control features plus built-in Wi-Fi, it's an amazing value at only $199.

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Best In Flow

Maxspect Gyre Generator Flow Pumps

The Maxspect Gyre took home Best of Show honors at Reef-A-Palooza last year and this year has become Marine Depot’s best-selling pump. Its unrivaled flow, quiet operation and bevy of cool, controllable settings have helped the Gyre become one of the hobby’s most sought-after products. Compared to traditional powerheads and wavemakers that are based on propeller nozzle flow technology, the Maxspect Gyre uses crossflow technology which produces massive horizontal water movement, leaving little to no dead spots in its wake.

The Gyre can be mounted vertically or horizontally in your aquarium and is far more conspicuous when compared to traditional powerheads. The controller has two buttons and a dial that allow you to adjust the various settings and switch between different modes, including Constant Speed, Pulsing, Alternating Gyre and Feed Mode. Multiple Gyres can even be used together for larger aquariums or to create some very interesting wave effects.

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Best Aquarium

Innovative Marine Fusion Lagoon Aquariums

Another multi-year winner, Innovative Marine has taken home Best Aquarium honors for four straight years. Starting in 2012 with the original NUVO, Innovative Marine also earned the award in 2013, introducing a new 24 gallon model and a complete line of upgrades, including reactors, skimmers and refugium lights.

In 2014, IM got the nod for the NUVO Fusion series, which abandoned the bent glass design of the originals and used higher quality straight-edged low-iron glass in its place. This year, IM has earned top tank honors for their new Fusion Lagoon Series, shallow yet deep “plug and play” aquariums available in 25 or 50 gallons. Fusion Lagoons come with all the perks of its Fusion predecessors, but it’s the larger display volume, thicker glass and superior mechanical filtration that make the Lagoon a worthy Fusion successor.

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Best Media Reactor

Two Little Fishies GFO Phosban Reactor 150

This is the third time Two Little Fishies’ Phosban has earned our Best Media Reactor designation. Media reactors are often the go-to device for hobbyists looking for an easy way to maintain pristine water conditions in their reef tanks. The Phosban is a multifaceted fluidized filter capable of running various types of filter media, from granular ferrous oxide to biopellets. They are so easy to assemble they can literally be up and running in minutes. Our top-selling reactor in 2015, the Phosban Reactor 150, is extremely small yet fully capable of servicing aquariums up to 150 gallons. Many of our staff use Phosban reactors on our home aquariums because they are affordable, reliable, easy to maintain and deliver outstanding results when combined with your favorite filter media.

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Best in Show

Euroquatics E5 Retro Series Aquarium Lamps

Euroquatics made waves in the industry in 2014 when they unveiled their Angel LED lights at Reef-A-Palooza in Costa Mesa, CA. At this year’s show, Euroquatics debuted another revolutionary aquarium lighting solution, the E5 Retro Series Aquarium Lamps. What makes the E5 so special is that it is a LED replacement lamp for standard T5HO bulbs. This new spin on an old design makes T5s a product of the past. The E5 is made to last over five times the life span of an average T5HO lamp while consuming about half of the power. Similar products require rewiring or have less output, or are poorly mixed LEDs which only simulate full spectrum.

E5 lamps will initially be available in four sizes and five colors with PAR values at or above T5HO bulbs. And unlike T5HO bulbs, E5s do not contain mercury or other toxins and are made from recyclable materials. E5 lamps are forecasted to have an 8 year life and are backed by a three year warranty. Without any changes to fixtures, hobbyists will now be able to swap their old T5HO lamps for a more efficient, eco-friendly and cost effective product.

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Best New Gadget

Innovative Marine AUQA Gadget Gourmet Gadgets

Innovative Marine lives up to their namesake once again with their ingenious line of aquarium feeding tools, the Gourmet Gadgets. The Gourmet Defroster—our staff and customers’ favorite—simplifies feeding frozen food to aquarium inhabitants. Just drop a cube inside the magnet-mounted defroster and it will thaw, separate and dispense all by itself! The Gourmet Grazer, another popular choice among our staff and customers, improves upon the standard seaweed feeding clips we are all accustomed to.

The Gourmet Grazer is a magnetic mounted, snap-lock feeder that secures seaweed in place by having contact all around the perimeter. It helps promote the natural picking behavior of fish so they can graze throughout the day. Last but certainly not least is the Gourmet Grinder, the industry’s very first thumb-operated pellet and flake food grinding system that dispenses food effortlessly with a simple pump and grind. Just load your favorite foods, and in a few seconds, grinding them up into various bite size morsels, perfect for small to medium fish.

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Best Food

New Life Spectrum Fish and Coral Foods

You’ll be hard pressed finding a hobbyist who hasn’t fed his/her fish New Life Spectrum food at some point or another in their years of aquarium keeping. It is an extremely popular choice among freshwater and saltwater hobbyists alike. Experienced aquarists often recommend NLS to newcomers because they experienced great success using it themselves.

All NLS foods are hormone-free and made with high-quality, easily digestible ingredients like krill, herring and squid. NLS foods are carefully formulated to provide fish with a well-balanced diet that boosts immune system function and enhances their full spectrum of color. NLS foods also contain essential elements found in nature that are not present inside aquariums. All NLS foods are made in the USA in their FDA approved state-of-the-art facility. Our customers’ top picks are their Marine Formula and Thera-A Large Sinking Pellets; we are big fans of their AlgaeMax, Ick Shield and Finicky Fish varieties.

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Best Filter Media

Boyd Chemi-Pure Elite Filter Media

Boyd is another multi-year Best of Award winner, first in 2012 for their original Chemi-Pure media and again in 2014 for their marine-specific blend, Chemi-Pure Blue. But it’s Chemi-Pure Elite that, year in and year out, tops our sales charts and is consistently ranked as Marine Depot customers’ favorite filter media.

With praise like “my water is always crystal clear,” “helps maintain steady water parameters,” “must have for reef tank owners,” and “would not run a system without it,” it’s no wonder why hobbyists use Chemi-Pure Elite time and time again. It can be used in fresh and saltwater tanks, only needs replacement a few times each year and removes odors, toxic elements and even contains ferric oxide to get rid of phosphate to keep your tank free of slime and algae. There are a lot of aquarium products that can improve the health of your tank—but not many that do it as effectively and economically as Chemi-Pure Elite.

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Best Propagation Gear

Innovative Marine AUQA Gadget ReefRack Coral Frag Racks

Growing a small coral frag into a thriving colony is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a reef hobbyist. Paying that feeling forward by fragging and sharing corals with other reefers is even better! But you’ll need some way to keep those newly fragmented corals safe from clumsy snails and out of the sand bed. Innovative Marine ReefRacks are the perfect solution.

They assemble in seconds, require no tools and feature slide-out expandable shelves to accommodate more corals as your collection grows. Whether growing out a few frags or several hundred, the limitless, multi-tiered ReefRacks are designed to keep your frag collection neatly stacked and neatly stored. With three different sizes and styles to choose from, hobbyists can mix-and-match to create their own unique layouts. With their smart design, versatility and infinite display options, we have no doubt we will be seeing ReefRacks used to showcase and sell corals at many future events and frag swaps.

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