Reef Builders Editor’s Choice: best products of 2012

By on Jan 11, 2013

We had a great deal of numerous and diverse marine aquarium products to tell you about last year. Many products are incremental upgrades to existing products lines and just another addition to existing categories. Some other products however, refine and redefine product categories, sometimes creating entirely new devices that hold a lot of promise for getting the most of our aquariums.

Fortunately, Twenty-Twelve delivered plenty of new reef toys in this latter category and we believe the following aquarium products will greatly expand our collective enjoyment of the marine aquarium hobby. Of course we’ll be breaking down the best LEDs of the year in a separate installment. Let us know if any of these products have touched your reefing life in 2012 and if there’s any you think we missed, set the record straight in the comments.


Sea Sweep
 – Aquarium Currents first made a name of itself by being the first company to offer an oscillating water return device, the Sea Swirl. Now that many more reefers are using propeller pumps as their primary source of water motion, Aquarium Currents has developed the Sea Sweep to help a new generation of reefers get that old-school back and forth motion from their Tunze Stream and similar pumps.

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protein skimmer neck cleaner

Vertex Vectra seen in use on a hobbyist reef tank


Vertex Vectra
 – We were once on the fence about using automatic protein skimmer neck cleaners at all, but this was partly a matter of the value and cost of the product. With its beefy motor, beefy design and affordable rice, the Vertex Vectra actually makes us want to use it to keep our protein skimmer necks cleaner, longer.

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mesoscope aquarium microscope
Mesoscope 2
 – As a long time and ardent fan of the original mesoscope, we knew that a next generation product would be absolutely killer. With an angled eyepiece, all manner of photography and viewing options, we love the Mesoscope 2 not only for being able to take great smartphone photos, but also for literally helping us see more of the corals we love.

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electronic submersible aquarium heater
Neotherm
 – Cobalt Aquatics really hit it out of the park with the “space-age” feeling Neotherm heater. We just gave you our two cents about the Neotherm heater earlier this week, all we need now is for them to come in larger sizes.

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lifegard lcd aquarium thermometer
LCD Thermometer
 – Temperature is one of the most critical parameters for any biological environment, especially aquaria, so it’s a wonder why we don’t have many more thermometers to pick from. The bright LED Thermometer from Lifegard is an affordable temperature monitoring device that is visible enough to remind you to pay attention to your temperature.

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vertex simplex duplex triplex magnets
Vertex Aquaristik Magnetic Accessories
 – Vertex Aquaristik surprised us with a whole slew of very useful and attractive magnetic accessories for our aquariums including algae magnets, probe holders and line holders. Although they are made of titanium, neodymium and optical quality acrylic, these affordable accessories are for the masses.

algae mower vac is really cool
Algae Mower Vac
 – The Algae Mower Vac is not perfect, it’s a bit janky at times, but for a first generation product, when you need something to really rip out some hair algae there’s nothing that compares to this reef cleanup device.


Aqueon Evolve
 – We don’t love the Aquaeon Evolve for its light, but for its price and functionality. For aquarium under 10 gallons, the Aqueon Evolve is a really great starting point that looks great on the counter and can be purchased from big box stores and LFS all over the country.

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Innovative Marine Nuvo Aquariums
 – For aquarium between ten and 40 gallons, the Nuvo line of All in One aquariums are pretty sweet. You can get the nice glass Nuvo aquariums with built in filtration just about anywhere in the country. Although we don’t much care for the LED lights that Innovative Marine is trying to push with these, other accessories like the spin-stream are well worth looking into. A huge swath of beginner to expert reefers have looked to the Nuvo line of aquariums to be their new tank in 2012.

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reef life support systems protein skimmer
RLSS DB10i
 – Reef Life Support Systems made a big splash last year not only for their pumps, but also for their well-built skimmers. RLSS already had our attention with the skimmers and the Wavelines, but they had to step it up a notch with their DB10i skimmer with integrated volute, which has since been copied by a handful of different companies, even though the new open volute skimmer hasn’t been released yet! The RLSS DB10i is surely a sign of things to come.

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waveline dc 10000 pump
Waveline DC pump
 – There’s been a few DC pumps around before, even a couple of AC controllable versions but by any measure, the Waveline DC pumps will be known as the breakthrough controllable DC pump which really made these features stand out in the aquarium world. Hopefully, this is also a sign of things to come, more power, controllability and efficiency.

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ecogorgs sustainable aquarium gorgonians
EcoGorgs
 – The Eco-Gorg gorgonians from Aquascapers have the distinction of being the first livestock product we’ve picked as a best of the year. In short order, Aquascaper Eco-Gorgs single handedly kicked off a new interest in this distinct group of attractive, colorful, branching soft corals and we all now have access to over a dozen species at an manageable size and affordable price. Hopefully, the look of reef tanks will never be the same.

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cad lights skimmer with no pipes

Pipeless skimmer – The CAD Lights Pipeless skimmer is one of the big breakthroughs in skimmer design of last year. Although right now the pipeless design from CAD Lights really just helps the skimmer to have a tiny footprint, we think that someday it will grow to be a more important feature in skimmer design, like bubble plate diffusers. And if not, well then we still have this tiny footprint skimmer availabel that rock the heck out of a 40 to 80 gallon aquarium.

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Channel One
 – Coral Shop’s latest mad creation is one of the most niche products in our list of 2012 best marine aquarium products. Azoox aquarists have struggled to get enough food of high quality, high nutrition, and often enough into their marine aquariums. If the Coral Shop Channel One can do this job and do it well, then we will see an explosions of awesome Azoox tanks sporting stunning fileds of sun corals, Balanos, Dendros and tons of beautiful azoox soft corals.

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