2009 has come and gone and from where we’re sitting, this has been a very dynamic and exciting year for the reef aquarium hobby. A ton of innovative new aquarium products made our reporting that much more fun and looking back on the reef scene over the last year there is a handful of aquarium products that have made reefing experiences better and more successful for marine and reef aquarists all over the world. Some products were announced in late ’08 and became more widely used and available in 09 and likewise, there are some standout products announced this year that are just now making the rounds for which we will reserve judgment until next year. “Best” is a relative term so don’t get your fin filaments in a knot if you feel we overlooked a stand out product; we probably did but the following nine reefing tools are some that we have had some very extended or personal use with and which we feel will continue to have influence in the reefing hobby for years to come. We look forward to reading your input in the comments where you agree or disagree on our choices for the best aquarium products of 2009. Full rundown after the break.
AquaticLife Power Deluxe Reverse Osmosis unit- Post
The Power Deluxe R.O. from Aquatic Life is arguably the most novel R.O. unit we have ever seen available in the aquarium trade. Top loading canisters, built in booster pump, flush valve and pressure sensors and valves makes this unit the do-it-all R.O. of your purified wet dreams. The AquaticLife power deluxe R.O. includes the kitchen sink but all it is missing is a TDS meter. Oh well, that’s easy enough to add yourself.
Scott Michael’s Reef Fishes vol. 5: Wrasses and Parrotfish- post
There once was a time when new and comprehensive books came out fairly regularly but with the growing reliance on web-knowledge, these days good new aquarium books are hard to come by. This year we were graced by another one of Scott Michael’s definitive Reef Fishes books and the long awaited Wrasses & Parrotfishes was a long overdue volume to satiate the wrasse heads like Kevin Kohen above, one of aquarists to whom this book is dedicated.
Otohime all natural marine fish diet- Post
There have been very few developments in the prepared food segment of the aquarium fish market but the all natural Otohime fish food stands out in our mind as an important one. originally developed for the aquaculture industry, this high quality fish food comes in a range of pellet sizes for fish with all kinds of mouthparts. High conversion ratios are standard with aquaculture feeds and even when feeding this food generously we’ve noticed quite a bit less waste in the tank than we have with some richer fish foods. The notable absence of the preservative ethoxyquin should make this feed a favorite of fish breeders and long term captive pets. Let’s hope Reed Mariculture can devise a good repackaging strategy for this food so that many more reefers can fall in love with it in 2010.
Tunze Silence quiet recirculation water pump- Post
After nearly a year of silent and hassle free operation, the Tunze Silence pump has performed so well for us that we feel like we should take it offline and give it a little vacation. This pump “just works” and it will be at the top of our list for “noise sensitive” and performance critical applications for a long time to come. Definitely click the link above for our glowing review of the Tunze Silence pump.
Neptune System Apex aquarium controller- posts
The Apex aquarium controller from Neptune Systems is truly the culmination of 15 years of experience in building aquarium controllers and an ever escalating arms race between Neptune and rival controller manufacturer Digital Aquatics. The Apex is living proof that competition in the market place leads to good things and with the separation of the display from the hub for all the ports and probes, the Apex is one of the most inviting controllers Neptune Sys has ever made. With a nearly perfect hardware strategy, next we’d like to see Neptune switch gears to concentrate on producing a more intuitive and accessible graphical user interface.
Digital Aquatics ReefKeeper Elite aquarium controller- Post
Dr. Paul Whitby is one of our hottest new writers and he had this to say about the Reefkeeper Elite from Digital Aquatics:
When I sit and think back over the last year and what new innovations or products I have particularly liked, I would have to say that the Reef Keeper Elite from Digital Aquatics is at the top of my list. My reasons for this are simple, it just suits the application(s) I require it to do. My system is quite large, and is spread between two rooms with a dividing wall between. The use of the bus cables between modules allows me a level of flexibility not afforded by the other controllers I have used. The individual power strips can be located where they are convenient for me, and in my case they are spread through the system spanning almost 20 feet apart. I also like the modular nature of the RKE in that it allows for customization as well as innovation. Looking at all the “add ons” available, and in progress, for the RKE shows that Digital Aquatics are working to stay ahead of the curve as far as new applications go. The downside is the lag time between announcement of a new module and it’s availability, but like all good things, they are worth the wait. So, to my mind, my favorite product of 2009 is Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper Elite and it’s assorted modules.
EcoTech Marine Vortech MP10 propeller water pump- post
The Vortech MP10 is the long awaited little brother to the game-changing original Vortech water pump. With a full feature set, a diminutive footprint and a water pushing performance that is more than most people need, the $200 MP10 is quickly becoming the front runner flow device for small and medium sized reef tanks. After 6 months of widespread availability everyone is still holding their thumbs up about how quiet and reliable this pump has been. The radical redesign of the wetside bearing system will likely last for many tidal cycles and we look forward to seeing this next-gen wear technology trickle up to the original vortech’s wetside.
ReefBrite TwinArc metal halide lamp- post
The TwinArc dual envelope metal halide lamp from ReefBrite is easily the most important advancement in metal halide technology in the last several years. If the lamp only came in two envelopes of the same color or if it only came in envelopes of different colors it would still be turning heads. That aggressive $99 price point means that no matter what you will still be getting a whole lot more lamp for your money. The longevity of the single color TwinArc is undeniable and although no one has come forward with a singularly great testimony for using the dual colored TwinArc, we’re confident it will only be a matter of time before some lighting cycle programs for alternating coral photoperiod between 10K and 20K colors are better understood.
NanoCustoms PAR 38 LED spotlight– posts
The PAR 38 LED spotlight from nano Customs may be a late comer to the 2009 reefing scene, the versatility of this affordable reef lamp has not been lost on avant-garde reefers. Available in a wide range of colors and combinations, the EvilC lamp also rocks the house with it’s interchangeable lenses. It’s hard to beat 21 watts of LED Power for $120 and with an adventurous design crew working and tweaking this product behind the scenes, we can’t wait to see what kind of successor we can expect from this breakthrough aquarium light.