A couple of weeks ago we lamented the fact that some pretty useless aquarium products are still widely available to purchase. Today’s piece is the flip side of that coin, with an overview of some great legacy products that you can still buy at pretty much most fish stores.
These are the products that have withstood the test of time, whose value has either increased or stayed the same since their introduction to the aquarium hobby. Most of the legacy aquarium devices or products are bordering on being vintage in age, nearly 20 years, and if they aren’t now they soon will be.
There are so many great aquarium products that have been on the market since before we even got into fresh and saltwater aquarium keeping, it was quite difficult to narrow it down to just ten. Heck, practically all of Seachem’s catalog of core reefing additives are nearly two decades old, Fritz Zyme #9 has been saving fish about as long, and surely we’ve overlooked many more.
The funny thing is that none of these aquarium devices are groundbreaking in any way, but most of all they are all very useful, easy to use, and serve an important function in the marine aquarium. So here are the top ten products that have shaped the marine aquarium hobby that you can still buy today, surely you’ll let us know which items you think should have made the list in the comments.
ASM Skimmer – We already wrote up a little love letter to the fantastic ASM Skimmer. Great value, easy to use and long lasting performance make the All Seas Marine protein skimmers a fractionator for the ‘Hall of Fame’ of reef keeping.
MaxiJet – What would the reefing world have been without this very capable powerhead from Aquarium Systems? The Maxijet has powered everything from media reactors, undergravel filters, some calcium and kalkwasser reactors, and the larger Maxijet 1200 is even suitable as a return pump on small tanks. There’s something about the small size of the Maxijet that has always appealed to us, and it’s really not a surprise that this water pump is still going strong today.
Coralife Luft Pump – Originally a Tetra product, the legendary Luft Pump has been made in the USA and sold under the Coralife brand for many years now. The need for pressurized air may have diminished in the aquarium hobby in recent years, but if you have a need for a very strong, reliable aquarium air pump, you can’t do much better than the Luft Pump.
Iwaki/Blueline – Long before Reeflos and the huge crop of internal DC water pumps started driving our reef tanks, magnetic drive pumps such as the Iwaki and Blueline pumps ruled the roost. We’ve lumped the Iwaki and Blueline together since they share many engineering traits, and they are both just the hardest working pumps. They may not be the most efficient, or the quietest pumps available, but they can push water at great flow rates and pressures, and they seem to last and last even without much regular maintenance.
Salifert Test Kits – Lots of aquarium companies make aquarium test kits, but if there’s one company that has defined testing water quality in reef tanks it’s definitely Salifert. Sure they’ve had some issues with consistency throughout the years, but that doesn’t change the fact that half of you reading this right now can perform most Salifert tests without reading the instructions.
Instant Ocean – Like most of the products on this list, Instant Ocean is neither the best or the worst in its category. Instead, Instant Ocean is the standard, middle of the road, baseline with which to compare other salt mixes. Sure it’s not as clean or as ‘enriched’ as many modern salt mixes, but we are very comfortable with how Instant Ocean mixes up and what it takes to clean it up and boost its levels to reefing standards.
Radium 20K – Ah, the good old fashioned Radion 20,000 Kelvin metal halide lamp. THIS is the aquarium product that dramatically changed our success rate with a wide range of aquarium corals. LEDs aside, it’s hard to compare the combination of growth and color that the Radium 20K produces. The Radium kicked off the reefing hobby’s love affair with ever bluer lighting and this is one of the only brands of metal halide lamps that still enjoys reasonable success in the face of so many great LED lighting choices.
ESV B-Ionic – B-Ionic is the quintessential 2-Part solution which was responsible for greatly simplifying the management of reef aquarium water mineral balance. At a time when the reefing hobby was intimidating due to all the different additives and supplements corals require, ESV came along and practically revolutionized how simple it could be to keep up your calcium and alkalinity levels.
Phosban reactor – It’s incredible to think how successful Two Little Fishies have been with the Phosban Reactor. It may be just a tube within a tube and a couple filter screens, but the Phosban Reactor came along at a time when the use of Granular Ferric Oxide and activated carbon was on the rise. The proportions of the Phosban Reactor are nearly perfect, and its affordable price makes it easy to invest in more than one for using more than one type of chemical media. A TON of media reactors have been marketed to the aquarium hobby since the Phosban reactor was first introduced, but the 150 and larger 550 model are still the best value you can buy in this product space.
MTC ProCal Calcium Reactor – The ProCal calcium reactor from Marine Technical Concept is an odd bird on this list. MTC may have only sold a few dozen each year, but they’ve done so reliably for nearly two decades. This is the first model of calcium reactor we ever used and its design influenced a whole generation of others since its introduction. Despite its age there is even a video review of the MTC ProCal that was released just last year!
Honorable Mention, Supreme Mag Drive Pumps – The MagDrive water pumps are the internal equivalent of the Iwaki/Blueline pumps. The MagDrive was bumped to first runner up for this list because it’s not a really great product, being loud, inefficient and often failing to restart from power interruptions. Hwoever when it comes to getting some serious head pressure for driving tanks, mixing water, and generally pumping water long distances, you could do much worse than a MagDrive pump. There are many models of the MagDrive pump, from the tiny MagDrive 2 to the humoungous MagDrive 24, but our favorite is and always will be the MagDrive 7 which powered our first reef tank with a wet/dry trickle filter.
Do you agree or disagree with our list? Let us know in the comments as it would be great to hear the opinions of all the ‘Old Salts’ that are still reefing.