There’s never been a better time to be a reef aquarist than right now as all the gear is getting better, smarter, more efficient and dare we say a whole lot more fun! This constant wave of new reef aquarium products is what makes blogging and reporting the news for you all from all corners of the globe still very rewarding and exciting, and it was certainly part of the inspiration for us to double down in what we do by investing in the new Reef Builders Studio.
Two thousand and eighteeen saw advancements in a whole bunch fo categories, some of them representing major new achievements, others simply elevated our enjoyment of the hobby, or streamlined important regular tasks of reefing. A whole bunch of exciting new gear was unveiled at InterZoo back in May but as great as many of these are, many of them are still being worked on so only one made it to market in time for this annual list of the reef hobby’s best new stuff.
Without further ado, here’s the best new reef aquarium equipment that actually made it to market in the last calendar year, all of which made reefing a little easier, simpler, and a very, very enjoyable.
From the first time we saw it we knew that the first pump from Aqua Illumination, the AI Nero, would be a contender for best new product of 2018. As great as the pump’s performance is, as small as it is, as quiet and powerful as it moves water, it’s really the dead simple controls that brings hole the proverbial gold. By using Bluetooth LE with its instantaneous wireless discovery, the days of pairing over bluetooth are not long for this world and Aqua Illumination has really set a new standard for wireless control of aquarium devices.
The dream of ‘perfect’ mechanical filtration without having to constantly change filter socks has been a long time coming. Every year we’ve seen improvements in how the auto filter rolls work, and how much more practical they are to use in a reef aquarium setting. We’ve evaluated and considered lots of them over the years but the ClariSea Gen2 is truly the breakthrough device that is both easy to use, affordable, and really delivers the promise we’ve been yearning for. Seriously, you won’t believe how much cleaner an aquarium can be, and how much work the ClariSea relieves from a protein skimmer until you try one.
The Poly View Lens is one of those concept accessories that’s been simmering in various corners of the reefing world for several years. The rise of mobile photography has made sharing our immobile aquariums easier than ever, but their sensitivity to blue-heavy reef aquarium lighting has made capturing the perfect shot quite a challenge. With two shades of yellow orange filters, plus a macro lens and an optional polarizing filter, Polyp Lab really put together a winning package and reef tank photos around the web will never be the same.
The Gyre pump from MaxSpect was an exciting new product when it launched in 2014 but it still had room to grow. Through the last few years of product testing, refinements to the controller – including wireless connectivity – and making the overall design more robust MaxSpect has really brought their creation to a crowning level of maturity. The addition of sine wave power signal to drive the motor was a bit overdue but now that the XF300 series gyre pumps have them, they are both the most unique, efficient and quiet water movers in the aquarium hobby.
Much like the new MaxSpect Gyres, the A360X represents a true revolution of LED spotlighting that could only have come from Kessil. The 360X is everything you’d want in the newest model of an already beloved product – it’s smaller, brighter, more capable, more colorful, and its ecosystemm of accessories are going to make the Kessil 360X pretty much an untouchable LED reef light in the spotlight form factor.
This pick for Deltec’s CR Twin Tech is somewhat selfish selection; this is absolutely not the calcium reactor that you’d recommend to someone who’s never used one! But if you like and need a calcium reactor, and understand how Dastaco’s design only hinted at what was possible with high saturation CO2 calcium reactors, the CR Twin Tech is what the future of crazy bells and whistles can do for the efficiency and precision of dissolving aragonite to supply fast growing corals with the minerals they need.
AccuraSea 1 is not just any salt, it’s THE salt made the one and only Julian Sprung! It would have been so easy for one of the godfathers of modern reefing to license the name and get it made by any number of the salt mix producers but Two Little Fishies took the hard approach – they built a salt mixing factory of their own. This salt mixes up clean, clear and balanced and the closest approximation to natural seawater levels possible. Interestingly one of the most important features of AccuraSea 1 is that it’s packaged in 5 and 50 gallon quantities, eliminating the concern of different ingredients stratifying so that it always mixes to proper levels, each time, every time.
Hydor’s Aqamai is growing its catalog slowly but methodically and the introduction of the KPM water pump keeps the company in a good place. Like last year’s winning KPS pump, the KPM brings the same efficient, quiet and controllable water movement in a premium package at an affordable price. The Aqamai KPM is one of the highest value controllable reef aquarium pumps in the aquarium hobby and we can’t wait to see a larger KPL model sometime in the future.
If you haven’t seen Innovative Marine’s EXT line of tanks and modular stands, then you’re missing out. High clarity glass, exquisite build and finish make IM’s EXT aquariums an incredibly luxurious option for building a high end reef aquarium setup. The external overflow can be run virtually silent and boy are we thrilled to see this quality of rimless aquarium finally be available to nicer aquarium stores around the world. The modular stands really add to the premium feel and although they are only available in black and woodgrain, they are easily painted any color to match any decor.
Dalua Australia is an aquarium company that is breaking out of its home country and beginning to invade the U.S. market. They started by introducing American reefers to the innovative and original Illumagic LED lights but the Great White skimmer is their first original product design. On the surface the Great White isn’t altogether different from other models, but it does have one ace up its sleeve, and that is the highly capable Eden water pump. This is more or less the same needle wheel pump used in the Nyos Quantum skimmers but at a fraction of the price, the Great White is just about the most protein skimming performance you can get for the price in this price class.