Best New Saltwater & Reef Aquarium Gear Of 2021
It's hard to choose a favorite from a list like this. From the Neptune Sky LED Light to Hanna's Marine Master Multiphotometer, nothing short of impressive tech and ingenuity in our hobby yet again. Here are the best NEW reef aquarium products released in 2021.
This year we saw Neptune Systems' inaugural foray into the reef aquarium lighting space with not one, but two different LED lights.
The impressive Neptune System SKY was an ambitious endeavor for Neptune Systems into an already very crowded category of aquarium equipment. Competition aside, the Sky LED proved to be a worthy addition providing some of the most efficient coverage we have seen to date from an LED light. Advantageously learning from the pitfalls of others, Neptune used a panel-style array of diodes shining through a lens and a separate clouded plastic diffuser to produce a very uniform spread of light over our tanks with just a hint of shimmer.
The Neptune Systems GRO is a refugium-specific LED light that solves the mounting problems tank owners face with in-sump refugiums located inside a tank stand. The grow is available with either a classic tank mount or the more unique pipe mount which allows you to attach the GRO directly to the PVC pipes under your tank. It features the classic blue and red spectrum LEDs to optimize photosynthesis among your macroalgae and is IP64 Water resistant to withstand the moisture and salt around your sump.
Hanna Instruments Marine HI97105 Master Multiparameter Photometer & High Range Nitrate Checker
Hanna Instruments also delivered a 1-2 punch this year delivering two innovative products. The High-Range Nitrate Checker was released back in June and is the latest edition to Hanna's very popular Checker Colorimeters. These handy digital water testers have anchored their place under our tanks by providing hobbyists with quick and accurate water parameter measurements without the risks of human error you get with classic analog kits.
In October, Hanna introduced the Marine Master Multiparameter Photometer which was a pretty big deal because it is the first of its kind. This single water testing device takes the place of seven different Checker Colorimeters and can accurately measure 6 of the most critical reef aquarium parameters. It uses the same reagents as the Checker Colorimeters, is just as easy to use and, of course, gives us the same level of accuracy we have come to expect from Hanna.
Accurately measure these important parameters!
- Low & High Range Nitrate
- Ultra-Low Range Nitrite
- Ultra-Low Range Phosphate
Reef aquarists have long realized the value in a single additive that maintains ALL of the necessary major, minor, and trace elements in a reef tank. The original liquid All-For-Reef formula serves that purpose well but is just not a cost-effective solution for larger or high-demand aquariums. Past a particular point of calcium and alkalinity demand, you end up burning through a bottle in a matter of days.
In the summer of 2021, Tropic Marin finally introduced the highly-anticipated All-For-Reef Dry Powder here in the USA. Hobbyists now have a far more economical option and can mix the All-For-Reef solution at home using RO/DI water.
Innovative Marine's contribution this year is something every aquarist should appreciate, a reliable aquarium heater.
The Helio PTC Smart Heaters provide redundant overheat protection right out of the box. The titanium heating elements house a solid-state ceramic chip that regulates the temperature of the heating elements individually while the Helio PTC Smart Controller controls the operation of the elements separately to maintain stable water temperatures. The magnetically mounted temperature probe and heating elements both have quick disconnects which means the controller, probe, and elements are all individually replaceable.
Specifically designed to provide the power required for high-light reef tanks containing SPS corals, the A500X holds twice as much power compared to the original A360X but encapsulates everything that makes Kessil Special.
This includes the popular Tuna Blue color spectrum and built-in Kessil Logic approach to customizing that spectrum along with the brilliant natural shimmer effect created by the dense matrix LED technology. The light will cover up to a 36" x 36" area with the 110° angle optics or you can attach a 55° or 35° narrower angle reflector for those who wish to focus the light and penetrate deeper into the aquarium.
Sicce Ultra Zero, Syncra SDC 3.0, & PSK SDC 1200 Pumps
Sicce has branched out this year with three new pumps that are purpose-built for saltwater aquarists.
The Ultra-Zero Utility Pump makes your water changes and maintenance a breeze because it can operate in as little as 10mm of water meaning it will remove just about ALL of the water from any given container. That means emptying your entire container of saltwater during water changes and helping to effectively clean out your sump without any considerable hassle.
The latest edition to their popular Wifi controllable SDC pump series, the Syncra SDC 3.0 is the smallest of the group providing a range of flow from 260 to 800 GPH. The beauty is, this pump doesn't leave you wanting in terms of features including the full Wifi control abilities you find on the entire SDC lineup and an aquarium water temperature and heartbeat monitor. This means the pump can alert you via a text message anytime should your aquarium overheat or lose power.
Last but certainly not least, we saw the introduction of a DC-powered, Wifi controllable PSK skimmer pump. The PSK series is one of the most widely relied upon protein skimmer pumps out there, and now we have a direct DC-powered upgrade option that will help you fine-tune your skimmer's performance. The pump fits any skimmer using a PSK 1200 pump and gives you the ability to control both water flow and the resulting air intake, ultimately enabling easier and more effective protein skimmer tuning.
Back in 2020, our popular BRStv Investigates lighting tests revealed the Reef Brite XHO strips could take the place of T5 lamps and provide more efficient performance and equally if not better fluorescence among the corals.
Reef Brite saw the opportunity to create the X-Series Customizable Hybrid Kit that allows you to use the XHO strips instead of T5 Lamps alongside single point-source LED pendants. The kits will accommodate all of the major LED lighting pendants (EcoTech Marine, Aqua Illumination, & Kessil) on the market and produce a considerably more robust spread of light over your reef tank, not to mention you get the incredible color-popping UV/Blue spectrum Reef Brite is known for.
Red Sea first talked about their plans of making a dosing pump way back in 2018 with the vision of a complete lineup of wirelessly connectable equipment including their ReefWave Powerhead and ReefLED Reef Tank Lighting. 2021 marked the first time we finally saw the ReefDose pump hit the US market and although they took their time, it was obviously time well spent.
The ReefDose boasts an incredible array of features and is controlled via their ReefBeat app. These Wifi dosers house planetary-gear motors that drive a custom-built dosing head, specifically engineered for precision dosing down to each drop. The powerful and intuitive programming allows you to customize the delivery of additives in increments of only 0.1 mL with each pump head dosing a maximum of 1000 mL per day. That's incredible accuracy and versatility from just a single dosing pump.
It's whisper-quiet too so you won't even know it's running and their color-coded tubing and holder accessory not only look great but also makes it easy to differentiate your dosing lines at a glance.
Neat Aquatics doesn't grace us with too many products but when they do, they sure hit the mark. This year we were lucky enough to see two different products from Neat Aquatics that both fill an incredibly useful niche.
Screen tops have become the preferred way to keep fish inside your reef tank and Neat Aquatics came up with a clever way that allows you to install a handy feeding port right through your existing screen lid. It works with any brand or style of screen lid out there, is super easy to install, and gives you immediate access for feeding or dosing your display aquarium without removing the screen top.
All of you Neptune Systems Trident users have got to check out the Trident Reagent Needle Guides. These simple yet handy guides slide into the top of your reagent bottle and will ensure the needle stands perfectly vertical allowing you to use as much of the reagent as possible and preventing damage to the needle itself during operation. The guides are colored-coded and marked to prevent cross-contamination and can be reused with each new bottle of reagent.
Kamoer has really made a big impression in the way of dosing pumps with their affordable single-channel dosers but this year we saw a big upgrade to their Wifi capable 4 channel dosing system. This isn't the first wifi capable 4 channel doser but the refinements and features certainly make this the best comprehensive aquarium doser yet from Kamoer.
Programming is made easy with their iOS or Android app that serves up an auto, manual, or custom preset option to help users get set up fast yet also not take away from the flexibility we need to accommodate different additives and situations.
The doser itself is slim, making for easy mounting, and it has a built-in battery that will save your dosing settings during a power outage. The dosing heads and INCLUDED tubing are color-coded which is just as popular these days as it is functional because you can immediately tell your additives and dosing lines apart at a glance. This prevents cross-contamination when maintaining the tubing/heads and makes it easy to refill dosing containers should you forget.
Adaptive Reef Custom Controller Boards, Faceplates, & Plumbing Accessories
Adaptive Reef sure has ramped up their game in the past couple of years with a bevy of new products. We were treated with some upgrades and accessories to their popular controller mounting boards including custom controller boards that are made specifically for mounting a spread of branded equipment. The custom faceplates are also a welcome upgrade which are cut to fit specific controllers and easily mount equipment like the Neptune Systems Trident and EcoTech Marine Versa. We also got some Bulk Reef Supply LED-lit logo boards to add a little flair.
Some might agree that the big win for Adaptive Reef recently has been the plumbing accessories including a prebuilt manifold, inline probe-holder, and metric to standard PVC couplers and true-unions. While none of these are incredibly original ideas, it has always been something that was considered a DIY project or just ridiculously difficult to find. This is the first time a company has made an effort to manufacture these particular plumbing accessories with high-quality materials and make them readily available for hobbyists everywhere.
This kind of suggests a theme for Adaptive Reef too, they are making products for everyday reefers that we could only previously have been found on much higher-end custom builds. Things that might be considered unattainable for the masses are now easy to find and use.
AquaticLife has made a name producing quality products that are available for a reasonable price. The original T5/LED Hybrid and SmartBuddie booster pump come to mind. This year, AquaticLife brought us a brand new all-LED Hybrid that accommodates just about any brand of LED pendant or strip lights on the market. Essentially an affordable upgrade to your existing LED system to help accommodate a maturing reef tank or progression of interest into SPS corals.
We already know the benefit of a "hybrid" approach to lighting a reef tank. You get the power of an LED pendant with the spread of a T5 lamp. Together, they produce an unmatched level of penetration and coverage over your reef. The CoralCover is the natural evolution of their original T5/LED Hybrid replacing the T5 lamps with LED strips. More efficient operation but the same great coverage with even better color rendition.