The Marine Depot Best of Awards recognizes aquarium supply manufacturers and products that have demonstrated outstanding performance throughout a one-year period. In 2018, more than 180 brands from across the globe were considered for the eighth annual Marine Depot 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 2017's award winners, click here.

Best In Show

Kessil A360X

Kessil continues to build upon its legacy with a complete overhaul of their popular A360 LED pendant. The brand new Kessil A360X was in full effect at Reef-A-Palooza California over some impressive display tanks showing off a bevy of new features. The upgraded LED pendant from Kessil has shrunk in size to only 2” tall yet they managed to increase the output to be 25% brighter than previous models. Leveraging the very successful Kessil Logic to maintain constant power output throughout the tunable spectrum, they can achieve substantial PAR values no matter which color blend you prefer. The simple dual control dials allow you to quickly adjust intensity and color without the risk of creating an insufficient light spectrum like you could easily encounter with competing LEDs that allow for individual color channel control. With the use of the brand-new Spectral Controller X, you can program a custom light schedule and network up to 32 lights together with the new K-Link communication method. For all you control freaks, the classic 0-10V control port allows you to easily connect the A360X to your favorite aquarium controller for even more advanced control options and custom light schedules.

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Best New Product

Neptune Systems ApexEL Aquarium Controller

The ApexEL is the lower-cost, entry-level version of its big brother, the Apex. The ApexEL shares almost all the features of the flagship Apex except it does not have built-in ORP, salinity monitoring, or 0-10V ports. It does have pH and temperature monitoring and, like all Apex Systems, it can be expanded with modules and probes later on! The ApexEL includes a pH probe, temperature probe, calibration solutions, and the Energy Bar 832 which has power monitoring as well as 1Link and DC24 connections. It works with Apex Fusion and is compatible with the upcoming Trident monitoring system! The ApexEL makes keeping your aquarium easier. It monitors key water parameters and the health of your connected equipment, all for under $500.

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Best Protein Skimmer

Nyos Quantum

Germans have a reputation for building dependable, high-performance aquarium gear. NYOS-brand products are manufactured in Germany and certainly live up to the standards serious reef hobbyists demand. Their Quantum skimmers utilize an extremely quiet and reliable water pump fitted with a custom, hybrid needle-wheel that can only be found inside a NYOS skimmer. The energy efficient pumps combine air and water together to create a mass of foam. The foam then passes through a unique bubble-chamber outfitted with a saw blade-shaped Twister that spins the micro-bubbles further into a vortex, helping to increase contact time inside the Clear-View Reaction chamber for maximum waste removal. Although Quantum skimmers were built with performance in mind, they are also beautifully crafted and have exquisite attention to detail. These skimmers look so good, you may want to keep the doors of your aquarium stand open just so you can admire it in action!

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Best Media Reactor

AquaMaxx FR-SE

The AquaMaxx FR-SE is one of the latest additions to the AquaMaxx lineup of aquarium gear and we could not be more thrilled about it. The classic reverse-flow reactor is made of 100% laser cut acrylic for long lasting performance and superior construction. The easy-to-access reaction chamber lid is sealed with four thumbscrews making it easy to get to your media and clean the reactor. The included hang-on bracket allows you to firmly secure the reactor to your tank wall or sump baffles and includes a couple of holes to hold your inlet and outlet tubing neatly in place without kinking. To top things off, the reactor can hold up to 1 Liter of filter media and comes in under $60—making it one of the most affordable yet high quality media reactors on the market.

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Best Aquarium System

Red Sea Reefer Series

Red Sea Reefer aquariums have become the standard for complete aquarium systems that can be delivered safely to your doorstep. In the past, acquiring an aquarium system of this caliber required a custom build. Red Sea has done the work for you and offers these beautiful rimless Reefer tanks in a variety of sizes from 21 to 160 gallons. What sets these tanks apart from others is the quality construction and easy to assemble plumbing. The sump filtration comes 99% assembled. After putting the tank stand together, all you need to do is screw on a few pipes and you’re ready for water! The tank and stand are built with meticulous attention to detail and go through a series of quality control checks to ensure that each system lives up to Red Sea’s rigorous expectations. Choosing a Red Sea Reefer means you’ll have one of the best looking and performing complete aquarium systems on the market.

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Best Light

Aquatic Life Hybrid

Many have tried, but only Aquatic Life has truly succeeded in merging T5 fluorescent tubes and LED diodes together into a single commercially available light fixture. Many consider a T5/LED hybrid to be the best combination of reef aquarium lighting available today. The reason is because you get the efficiency and advanced control benefits of LED lights along with the amazing color rendition and smooth light blending of T5 lamps. The Aquatic Life Hybrid fixtures make it easy to create your very own hybrid light fixture using the LEDs you probably already have at home lighting your reef. Hybrid kits include two, dual lamp T5 fixtures along with connecting brackets and adapters to fit your favorite LED light right down the middle between the two fluorescent fixtures. Hybrids are available in four convenient sizes including 24”, 36”, 48” and 60” in either a black or white finish. The included LED adapters accommodate the most popular LED brands on the US market like EcoTech Marine, AI, and Kessil, but can also very easily be modified to accommodate that special LED light in your life!

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Best In Flow

Ice Cap Gyre 1K

The IceCap 1K Gyre is the tiniest Gyre pump to date and was a much-anticipated compliment to the original 3K Gyre. As the name suggests, it produces just under 1,000 gallons per hour of linear flow and the included controller gives you five configurable flow modes to choose from that can be set directly via the included controller with LCD display. Measuring in at just under 9” long and consuming a maximum of 18 watts, this little pump is perfect for nano tanks up to around 30 gallons. The magnetic coupling and slim profile allow the pump to be discreetly placed inside your aquarium without taking any attention away from your fish and corals on display.

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Best Test Kit

ATI Labs

Mail-in water testing is rapidly on the rise and for great reason, they allow you to accurately get a glimpse into all the various elements that make up your aquarium water. You can then manipulate these levels to achieve ideal conditions for corals and other animals inside of your tank. Among the four major tests available in the United States, ATI Labs offers the best value to our customers by testing over 40 individual elements along with a free RO/DI water test. The tests are conducted in Germany inside a professional lab with meticulously calibrated ICP machines. The results are then made available online within 10-14 days of mailing your water samples. The web-based interface allows you to save and track your test results plus offers suggestions for correcting any single parameter using the full the line of ATI Elements. When used with ATI Essentials supplements, you can easily achieve a balanced system for maintaining optimum reef tank parameters.

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Best Nano Light

Aqua Illumination (AI) Prime HD Lights

The Aqua Illumination Prime HD took our hobby by storm because you get a WiFi capable, highly advanced, controllable LED pendant inside a sleek housing for only $200. These lights were designed specifically for the wave of contemporary Nano tanks populating dorm rooms, office spaces, and home studies across the nation. A built-in WiFi chip quickly connects the fixture to your home network or allows for direct communication with your smartphone or tablet. The very modern and easy-to-use MyAI app is the interface you use to program the color spectrum, light schedule, and weather effects without the hassle of hard lines or USB cords. With a variety of mounting options, black or white fixture form factor and even a freshwater planted tank version, Aqua Illumination gives you no excuse not to fall in love with the Prime HD.

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Best ATO

XP Aqua Ultimate ATO

XP Aqua hit the US market in a big way this year by introducing five innovative aquarium products. The Ultimate ATO is their flagship auto top-off system and is our hands-down favorite for 2018. This ingenious ATO system houses four optical sensors giving you flawless protection against overfill, dry run, and sensor failure. Better yet, the $200 kit is the most versatile ATO system we have seen yet because it includes the necessary hardware to accommodate any tank situation. First, a small DC water pump for typical water delivery from a freshwater reservoir. For those with large tanks, the kit also includes a switchable AC power socket which allows you to connect a bigger delivery pump for faster top-off. The last option is the solenoid valve with ¼” quick disconnect fittings to top-off directly from your RO/DI water line or precisely control a gravity water feed and eliminate pesky mechanical float valves and switches.

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Best Aquarium Gadget

Polyplab Coral View Lens

Phone camera lenses are changing the way we photograph our tanks. You can finally get a true-to-color picture of corals inside your tank in extreme detail without changing the spectrum of light inside your tank and without the need of expensive photography equipment. Polylab released their version, The Coral View Lens, this past year and is one of the best lenses we have seen yet. The kit itself is a great value because you get three lenses alongside the attachment clip with an MSRP of $39.99. You will get a 15K lens, a 20K lens and a macro lens, all of which can be stacked on each other to achieve that perfect photo of your favorite polyp. Polylab took the time to research the colored filters and used the best material they could find to filter out the extreme blue spectrums of light resulting in very natural color rendering.

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Best Tank Stand

Innovative Marine APS Stand

We love the Innovative Marine APS stands so much we created a new category just to give these stands the recognition they deserve. Aluminum profiles like that of the APS stands have been used to build tank stands before, but the readily available material is not designed for aquarium use—so putting something together is kind of like building a huge Erector Set with no instructions, relying on your own personal capabilities to get the correct parts and make the right cuts. Innovative Marine APS stands are the first full line of knockdown stands utilizing aluminum profiles specifically cut and assembled for aquarium support. The APS stands are extremely strong but lightweight at the same time and can be assembled in a matter of minutes using the ingenious locking clips that hold the entire frame together. They even include the wrench and screwdriver! Various sizes are available to fit the Innovative Marine NUVO, INT and EXT series aquariums in either a matte black or light oak wood finish. Although the APS stands are dimensionally fitted to Innovative Marine aquariums, they are perfectly suitable to support any brand aquarium that will fit onto the stand correctly.

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