Best of 2011 Awards

2011 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 2011, 170 brands from across the globe were considered for the Best of Awards. Product winners were selected based upon key performance metrics including sales volume, internet searches, website searches and customer rankings. The Best Website was selected for overall appearance, usability and helpfulness combined with referral visit and sales data. The Best Warranty was based upon the strength, length and level of supported offered by the manufacturer combined with the brand’s return rate and our own internal call center data.

Best New Product

AquaticLife Water Purification System AquaticLife Four Stage 200 GPD Professional RO/DI Water Purification System

Reverse osmosis de-ionization filters are one of the most overlooked pieces of equipment by reef aquarium hobbyists. AquaticLife’s RO/DI 200 GPD Power System may finally change that. Swapping out filter cartridges using the patented top-loading design is easier than any other system currently on the market. And, while most reverse osmosis systems look complex and industrial, AquaticLife’s systems are housed inside attractive cases that feature a digital dashboard and color-coded, labeled ports for easy setup and maintenance.

Best Protein Skimmer

Tunze Nano Protein Skimmer Tunze Nano DOC Protein Skimmer 9002

If there were any doubts about the enduring popularity of nano aquariums, the proof is in the numbers.’s best-selling protein skimmer of 2011 is none other than Tunze’s Nano DOC Protein Skimmer 9002. This powerful little skimmer, capable of removing organic wastes from tanks from 10 to 52 gallons, was purchased more times than other model we carry. Moreover, it boasts an incredible 4 ½ out of 5 star rating from our customers. Quiet, reliable and extraordinarily efficient, the DOC Nano 9002 is the skimmer of choice for nano hobbyists and proves the adage that "good things come in small packages."

Best Reactor

Two Little Fishies Phosban Reactor

Media reactors were the go-to device in 2011 for hobbyists wanting an easier way to maintain high quality water conditions in their marine and reef aquariums. The most popular reactor we carry also happens to be the 5th most popular item we sell: Two Little Fishies Phosban Reactor. These multifaceted fluidized filters are 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. With two sizes to choose from and the ability to filter aquariums up to 600 gallons, Two Little Fishies Phosban Reactors are truly a "one size fits all" accessory.

Best Light

Ecoxotic Panorama LED Lighting System

LED aquarium lights went from forum fodder to mainstream by mid-2011 with Ecoxotic’s Panorama LED Lighting System leading the charge. This sleek, aluminum fixture can be outfit with LED Panorama Modules and Stunner Strips to create the perfect lighting conditions for your reef tank. You can even add an RGB Controller with a wireless remote to adjust settings from across the room. The Panorama’s modular design makes swapping or replacing light strips quick and easy. We also dig the docking mount and hinge that swings up when it’s time for maintenance. For dazzlingly colors and shimmer effects without the heat and high electric bill, Ecoxotic Panorama LED Lights can’t be beat.

Best Nano Aquarium

JBJ Nano Cube Aquariums

There's certainly a lot to love about these little tanks. JBJ offers Nano Cubes in a variety of sizes, including 6, 12 and 28 gallon models. Mechanical, biological and chemical filtration is built-in and lighting comes courtesy of quad power compact or LED. Upgrading filtration is easy, thanks to JBJ’s own Nano Cube protein skimmer and Nano-Glo magnetic refugium light. Easy-to-assemble stands with cut-outs for cords are sturdy and affordable; the MTS-60 variation even has ventilation and space to accommodate a chiller. Replacement parts and filter media are also readily available, giving peace of mind to potential buyers shopping for a tank that will be fully supported by the manufacturer for years to come.

Best Powerhead

Hydor Koralia Powerheads

Hydor’s Koralia powerheads are considered by many in the hobby to be the de facto standard pump for providing adequate water flow in a reef aquarium. The sheer volume of Hydor Koralia powerheads sold during the past year is staggering, with the 750 GPH Koralia Evolution leading the way. Not surprisingly, the top two and three Hydor powerheads are nano variations of the Koralia. All of the Hydor Koralia powerheads we carry are rated 4 ½ stars or better by users and boast a super-low return rate. Replacement impellers, if and when necessary, are cheap and readily available. And with the advent of the plug-and-play Koralia Smart Wave Pump Controller in 2011, existing Koralia users can easily create alternating or synchronous water flow to replicate more lifelike living conditions in their tanks.

Best Controller

Digital Aquatics ReefKeeper Controllers

Digital Aquatics is at the forefront of aquarium automation with their ReefKeeper line of controllers. Most hobbyists are familiar with the benefits aquarium controllers offer: automated lighting schedules, temperature control plus the ability to make waves and monitor key parameters. What sets ReefKeepers apart from other controllers is how easy they are to program. The interface is very intuitive and user-friendly so you won’t need a degree in computer science to get the ReefKeeper up and running. The compact form factor is handsome and easy to mount. Sales for ReefKeeper controllers and accessories climbed dramatically from 2010 to 2011 thanks to positive word-of-mouth and favorable reviews from satisfied users.

Best in Show: Reef-A-Palooza 2011

Neptune Systems AquaController Apex App for iOS Devices

Reef-A-Palooza 2011 showcased all of the latest aquarium technology, from LED lights to biopellet reactors. But what really caught our eye this year was the AquaController Apex app for iOS devices like the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. This free application, available for download in iTunes, allows aquarium hobbyists to monitor and control Neptune Systems' AquaController Apex, Apex Lite and Apex Jr. from a mobile device anywhere in the world. Now it’s easier than ever to keep a watchful eye on key water parameters like temperature, pH and ORP. You can even control connected devices like lights, powerheads and heating/cooling equipment.

Best Website

EcoTech Marine has been revamped a few times in as many years and only gets better with each redesign. Their ever-evolving website makes it easy to learn more about EcoTech Marine products. They even have a retailer finder when you’re ready to buy. Product pages feature detailed descriptions, specs and extra large imagery. The support section boasts community-powered FAQs and instruction manuals are available for download in PDF format. The recently opened Parts Store offers a variety of cables, replacement parts and upgrades for your EcoTech Marine components. They also have a rich Media Gallery with over 20 helpful videos that teach users how to set up their equipment, fine-tune settings and perform maintenance.

Best Warranty


It’s hard to believe AquaticLife is only a 3-year-old company. They’ve been an industry leader since they first hit the scene back in 2008, producing a steady stream of high-quality, low-cost aquarium equipment. Although AquaticLife took home Best New Product honors this year for a reverse osmosis system, the company is best known for their stylish aquarium light fixtures. In 2011, AquaticLife introduced an unprecedented Lifetime Fixture Guarantee for aquarium hobbyists residing in the United States. It covers all light fixtures manufactured by AquaticLife for consumer use, whether the light was purchased new from a retail store or used from a fellow hobbyist. How does it work? Simple: AquaticLife will perform all labor to repair your light fixture FREE OF CHARGE. You can’t ask for better support than that!

Best Salt Mix

Red Sea Coral Pro Salt Mix

There are many quality aquarium salt mixes on the market and we think we carry the very best. Red Sea’s Coral Pro Salt Mix is truly the best of the best, outselling our next top-selling salt by an astounding margin. One of the primary reasons why Coral Pro Salt is so popular is because it is formulated for use with reverse osmosis water. It also contains elevated levels of calcium for vibrant coral growth and dissolves quickly to reach a stable pH shortly after mixing. The all-natural, ecologically-friendly salt is actually collected from the Red Sea inlet between Africa and Asia. It is such an effective salt mix that with regular water changes, you may find you no longer need to dose your tank with 2-part supplements.

Best Nano Product

Two Little Fishies NanoMag Magnetic Glass Cleaning Device

Algae magnets are an indispensible tool for modern aquarium keepers. The ability to keep one inside an aquarium at all times is not only a convenience, but a subtle reminder to keep our tank glass clean and algae free. Of course, the smaller your aquarium is, the more difficult it becomes to hide an algae magnet. In tanks 10 gallons or less, the presence of an algae magnet can be an eyesore in an otherwise picturesque aquascape. When Two Little Fishies NanoMag first debuted, many hobbyists were skeptical about its effectiveness, our staff included. Fortunately, these concerns were unfounded. The NanoMag is perfect for cleaning glass tanks up to 3/8” thick and fits into tight spaces other algae magnets simply can’t reach.