Christmas Wish List For Saltwater Aquarium Hobbyists

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Banggai Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) . Photo by Marylou Zarbock

If you have a saltwater aquarium enthusiast on your gift list, you may want to check out some of the latest gifts that they may enjoy receiving. Keep in mind though that some of these gifts are living animals, so make sure that the recipient has the right aquarium to house one (or more) and also has the knowledge to properly care for them to ensure they live a long time. Other items are fairly new to the hobby while the rest are just great to have. So in no particular order, here is a list of things to consider for the saltwater aquarium hobbyist on your Christmas list.

1. Fluval FX Series Canister Filters

Fluval’s FX4 and FX6 series canister filters are designed for larger saltwater aquariums. Via Fluval Aquatics

Fluval’s FX series FX4 and FX6 are designed for larger saltwater aquariums. The A214 supports up to 250 gallons while the A219 supports up to 400 gallon aquariums. The smaller FX4 can filter up to 700 gallons per hour and features five stages of chemical and mechanical filtration. The larger FX6 filters 925 gallons per hour and supports six stages of filtration. The FX4 and FX6 feature rubber feet to reduce vibration, twin output nozzles for customized water currents in your tank, Aquastop Click Fit valves for leak free assembly and a self priming capability—you just add water. The units are made in Italy. Pricing is around $279 for the Fluval FX4 with the Fluval FX 6 priced at around $334. For more information, visit the Fluval website.

2. Captain Gill’s Look In Sea

Captain Gill’s Look In Sea is a great tool for observing your marine life up close. Via Wilson International

The main reason why folks set up and maintain a fish tank is for their viewing pleasure and enjoyment. Some folks enjoy the calming effect that aquariums can have. Others enjoy the striking colorations that some fish display. Wilson International’s Captain Gill’s Look In Sea is a magnifier that enables you to get a closer look at what goes on in your aquarium. The device, set up like a captain’s wheel, enlarges the fish, corals, plants and other organisms that may reside in your aquarium by up to 3 times. Not only can you enjoy watching your aquarium at a large magnification, it can also help to detect diseases such as Ich before a major problem occurs within the tank. Priced at just $15.99, the Captain Gill’s Look In Sea would make a great stocking stuffer. For more information, visit The Captain Gill’s Look In Sea is available on Amazon.

3. Captive-Bred Yellow Tang

Yellow tang have been successfully captive-bred, and if you can find a captive-bred specimen, buy it, as they are easier to care for than wild-caught fish. Via Rising Tide Conservation/Facebook

The yellow tang is one of the most popular saltwater fish in the aquarium hobby. The fish, which had been the subject of a captive breeding effort for decades, has finally made it onto the “captive bred” list of marine species int he hobby. In March 2016, captive bred yellow tang fish were shipped from The Oceanic Institute at Hawaii Pacific University, which spent the last several decades trying to successfully breed the species, were sent to several fish suppliers for the saltwater aquarium hobby. Since these fish are captive bred, they are already feeding on commercially prepared foods and, with the right aquarium set up, can live for years. For more information visit Blue Zoo Aquatics

4. Captive Bred Blue Tang

If you want to keep a blue tang, look for a captive-bred specimen. Via Rain0975/Flickr

Blue tang, which are also known as the “Dory” fish in the Finding Nemo and Finding Dory Disney animated films, is one of the most popular fish captured for the saltwater hobby, with trade data saying that it is the 10th most popular wild-caught marine fish in the hobby. But that will hopefully change with the announcement last summer that the Tropical Aquaculture Lab in Ruskin, Florida, in conjunction with Rising Tide Conservation, successfully bred and reared to adulthood the blue tang. The duo have been working with the blue tang since 2010, taking them six years to “crack the code” successfully rearing the species. And once that code was cracked, others interested in breeding the blue tang can do so, and the entire hobby benefits. If you are looking for a blue tang, ask for captive bred specimens. These fish are not the easiest to care for, and require a minimum 180 gallon tanks to house properly, so if you are new to saltwater fish keeping, avoid this fish and consider other fish that are easier to care for.

5. Red Sea MAX E-Series 170 LED

The Red Sea Max E-Series. Via Red Sea

Red Sea aquarium systems are generally regarded as the Mercedes Benzes of the reef keeping world. They are all-in-one systems that come with everything you need to get a reef system up and running. Components are high end and the tanks themselves are absolutely stunning.

The newest system from Red Sea is the MAX E-Series 170. The 45 gallon system is constructed with the company’s 12mm thick Ultra-Clear glass for what the company says is the ultimate viewing experience. The rimless design of the system features beveled edges on the top and bottom, and thanks to the 12mm thick glass, no bracing bars are required.

It features Red Sea’s Hydra 26 HD LED lighting with Wi-Fi control, REEF-SPEC filtration and circulation systems, a modular sump system and a one-plug control panel. You can fully control the system’s lighting via built-in WiFi, enabling to use your iPhone or Android device, as well as any WiFi enabled Macintosh or PC computer to tweak the system’s lighting to your satisfaction.

Water circulation is provided via MAX E-Series Circulation Twin European Eco pumps that provides 567 gallons per hour of water flow. The MAX E Series MSK 900 protein skimmer ensures pristine water at all times. The unit also comes with a black or white stand to round out the package. The Red Sea MAX E-Series 170 LED is priced at $1,499. For more information, please visit the Red Sea website.

6. Aquatic Life Edge REEF LED Aquarium Light

The Edge Reef LED from Aquatic Life. Via Aquatic Life

With LED technology further cementing itself as the standard in reef lighting, those who may want to upgrade from older light technologies may want to seriously consider Aquatic Life’s Edge REEF LED Aquarium Light system. Designed to fit aquariums from 35 to 38.25 inches long, or 48 inches long, the Aquatic Life Edge REEF LED Aquarium Light is designed to bing the correct lighting spectrum for your coral reef system.

It features six color LEDs, ((21) 9000K White, (52) 454nm Blue, (4) 440nm Blue, (3) 420nm Violet, (3) 400nm Violet, (4) Pink), a three channel timer control that independently controls each LED,built in moonlights for adding shimmering effects throughout the aquarium, a cUL approved low-voltage power adapter, and adjustable width aquarium frame mounts. The 36-inch Aquatic Life Edge REEF LED Aquarium Light is $199. The 48-inch Aquatic Life Edge REEF LED Aquarium Light is $229. For more information, visit

7. API Saltwater Liquid Master Test Kit

The API Saltwater Test Kit is an essential tool for a successful saltwater aquarium. Via API

For those new to keeping saltwater fish, water parameters is easily the most important aspect of ensuring success. In order to test for correct water parameters, you need a good test kit. The API Saltwater Liquid Master Test Kit is pretty much the standard for aquarium test kits. The system is complete and comes with four test tubes and materials to test for high range pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. It ships with detailed instructions as well as a color chart to compare your aquarium water test results against that of the chart so you know how your water tests out and what appropriate steps, if any you might have to take to make the proper adjustments. $32.99. The API Reef Master Test Kit is priced at $38.99. For more information, visit the API website.

8. MagFloat Aquarium Algae Scraper

The MagFloat is one of the most innovative magnetized aquarium cleaners on the market. It is a staple for many aquarium hobbyists. Via Gulfstream Tropical Aquarium

The MagFloat is different from other algae/tank cleaners on the market in that it floats if somehow the inside magnet becomes dislodged from the outside magnet. The device is ideal for cleaning both glass and acrylic aquarium surfaces. The algae is scraped off the inside surface with the built in pad. If the magnets become disengaged, the magnet inside the tank floats to the top rather than sinks like other cleaning magnets, so you won’t have to retrieve the unit from the bottom of the tank, which can be a hassle if you have a super deep tank.

9. EcoTech Marine Coral Propagation Kit

Any coral reef tank hobbyist would love the Coral Propagation Toolkit from EcoTech Marine. Via EcoTech Marine

If your favorite aquarium lover likes to frag corals, then consider the Coral Propagation Kit by EcoTech Marine. The $99 toolkit features all the tools you need to properly cut coral and glue them onto frag plugs for transportation to frag swaps or to just give to others in the reef keeping hobby. The tools are made out of German stainless steel, the best in the industry and include tweezers, scissors, bone cutting forceps and soft coral clamps, EcoTech Coral Glue and 18 Kiln-fired ceramic coral frag plugs in three different colors. Everything is housed in a bamboo box with magnetic closures. An embossed EcoTech Marine logo on the lid rounds out the gift. For more information, visit the EcoTech Marine website.

10. Banggai Cardinalfish

Banggai Cardinalfish. Via Lakshmi Sawitri

In the late 1990s to early 2000s, the Banggai Cardinalfish was so zealously removed from their natural habitat in the Banggai Islands in Indonesia that it is now an endangered species. Luckily, the fish is easily bred in captivity and because of this, they are widely available in the hobby as captive bred specimens. The fish is beautiful with black stripes accented with white pin lines and long and flowing tails. It grows to about three inches in length and is a relatively peaceful fish. If you can find captive bred specimens, expect to pay $12 to $20 depending on the size. They are beautiful fish that do well in aquariums of at least 30 gallons.

Article Categories:
Lifestyle · Saltwater Fish