How Do We Review Products And Why Trust Us?

Within our aquarium focused site, we meticulously assess an array of products including tanks, filters, food, and accessories. My aim is to furnish you with evaluations rooted in over 25 years of expertise and field usage, designed to streamline your decision making process and safeguard your investment of time, money, and provide you peace of mind.

How We Create Reviews For Aquarium Products


To put it simply, I have actually used the vast majority of products I’ve reviewed on the site. My name is Mark Valderrama, and I am the creator of Aquarium Store Depot. I have been in the hobby for over 25 years and throughout my journey I used to work at two local fish stores. I would regularly sell equipment, make recommendations, and also serviced tanks for clients at the store. I also maintained display tanks. In my personal ventures I have built custom setups, drilled tanks, built sumps, and have kept half a dozen aquariums personally over the years both freshwater and saltwater.

I have purchased products for review and also have had products shipped to me in the past from manufacturers. Here is an example of a review I did for the Finnex STE heater from my YouTube Channel.

My reviews are hand-on and all products are tested thoroughly. I also use my readers and viewers for surveys. For example, on my canister filter reviews, I surveyed my YouTube audience as to what they thought the best brand for canister filters was in the hobby.

Survey Sample

Our Team

Our site is anchored by the profound insights of an author who has dedicated over a quarter-century to the aquarium hobby. With deep seated experience in the nuances of aquatic care and maintenance, our reviews and recommendations come from a place of genuine expertise. Our collective includes seasoned aquarium enthusiasts, aquascaping artists, marine biologists, veterans, and aquarists who have spent years mastering the art and science of successful aquarium keeping.

How We Evaluate Products For Aquariums

In our approach, we meticulously purchase and scrutinize aquarium products under a variety of conditions, such as in different tank setups and water types (fresh, brackish, saltwater), to ensure thorough and practical evaluations. Our process includes not just hands-on testing, but also an extensive analysis of information from leading, authoritative aquatic websites, alongside considering the valuable feedback from fellow aquarium hobbyists. We often seek out insights from our readers and subscribers. With an email list of over 5,000 and a YouTube Channel with subs over 20,000 and growing quickly, we truly get user generated insights and comments that we utilize in our content.

For each category of aquarium product, we establish specific evaluation criteria and assess them on a detailed 10-point scale. Our reviews capture both the tangible qualities of the products and the overall experience they offer during usage. Our recommended lists typically feature the top overall choice, a close second – often a best in value, and the best options for budget-conscious and premium buyers, and products suited to particular aquarium setups or species. This comprehensive approach assists our readers in finding the product that perfectly matches their needs and preferences.

In compiling our reviews, we focus on several key aspects:

  • Overall product quality
  • User experience and ease of use
  • Engineering and safety
  • Brand history
  • Longevity and durability
  • Design and visual appeal
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Practicality for everyday aquarium maintenance and care
Nyos Quantum 160 Protein Skimmer
Fluval 407 Canister Filter
Current USA Eflux Wavemaker


Our investigative process for each aquarium focused article begins with identifying the central theme and determining the most suitable products to evaluate.

When addressing specific aquarium needs, such as products for water conditioning or fish medications, we first look into the essential features required to tackle these problems effectively.

In discussions centering around particular types of aquarium products, we delve into the crucial attributes necessary for that category. Additionally, we cater to aquarists of various levels, recognizing that the needs of a beginner differ vastly from those of a seasoned hobbyist. Our goal is to be inclusive, offering outstanding product recommendations that serve every member of the aquarium community, regardless of their experience or the type of aquatic environment they maintain.

Our selection criteria are comprehensive, focusing on products that not only align with the article’s topic and meet our readers’ diverse needs but also offer good value, durability, and come from reputable manufacturers.

Furthermore, we ensure the recommended products are readily available. In an ever evolving market where products are frequently updated, enhanced, or retired, we strive to link you to the latest versions, ensuring a broad selection in terms of features and options. This diligent approach guarantees that when you follow a link on our site, you’re directed to the most current and suitable product available.

How We Make Sure Our Ratings Are Accurate

We place great trust in the accuracy and reliability of our product ratings, as they are based on comprehensive research that includes inputs from various credible sources and the expert perspectives of our experienced aquarium hobbyists. Our reviews are a combination of reviews of personal experiences, detailed information from manufacturers’ websites, and insights from well regarded hobbyist forums and aquarium societies the author is a part of, ensuring that our product descriptions are all-encompassing and trustworthy.

In our review process, we place a strong emphasis on the inclusion of authentic customer experiences. This involves a thorough review of owner feedback. Prior to finalizing our reviews, we collect and analyze opinions from a diverse range of individuals, encompassing both our team members and external users, to ensure that the information we provide is as comprehensive and accurate as possible.

Cleaning Filter Media

How We Earn Money

Our reviews include links through which we earn a nominal commission if readers make a purchase. It’s essential to understand that this does not affect the product’s price for you in any way. Additionally, while our articles may feature advertising banners, the content of these ads is not within our control. They are automatically customized to each reader based on factors like their interests and frequent search queries.

Our site also generates income through diverse collaborative avenues, including affiliate marketing and sponsored product reviews. We establish these partnerships with companies within the aquarium industry, ensuring a synergy between our content and the brands we associate with. This approach allows us to maintain a focus on products and services that are relevant and beneficial to our audience.

Our team independently conducts research and tests products, carefully selected without any influence from the aquarium brands and manufacturers we collaborate with. We maintain our integrity by not accepting direct payments from any company. Our commitment is to unbiased selections, driven solely by the aim of meeting our readers’ needs and providing them with honest, reliable information.

Our website is supported through affiliate sales. This means when you click on a link and make a purchase from that store, we earn a small commission. This system is how we finance our site. Importantly, this does not incur any additional cost to you, as these fees are covered by the seller, not the buyer. We also focus on relevant retailers that include specialized manufacturers, online fish stores, and coral and plant propagators. We are proud to have the most affiliate partners of any aquarium focus site on the internet, often with small companies, private businesses, and many companies we have might in person at tradeshows.

We also have a YouTube Channel that draws in over 350,000 views a month that generate income through video ads. Currently, we have no channel sponsors and have been asked in the past. We are very selective if we do pick on in the future, but at the moment we are happily to not be tied with a channel sponsor.

Why You Can Trust Us

Maintaining the integrity and authenticity of our blog is paramount. Therefore, all our reviews and product ratings are crafted by experienced aquarium enthusiasts who draw upon their extensive expertise in the field. For more insights into our authors’ backgrounds and qualifications, please visit our ‘About Us‘ page.

Our articles feature authentic photos and videos captured during our product evaluation process. This hands-on approach enables us to objectively assess the quality of the products and their suitability for aquarium enthusiasts at various experience levels, providing a realistic and comprehensive view of each item we review.

Our commitment runs deep in what we do: our goal is to present aquarium hobbyists with products of outstanding quality that not only meet their specific needs but also offer long lasting value. We take great care in maintaining our reputation, ensuring that we remain a completely independent source, characterized by our unique features and style, tailored specifically for the aquarium community.

Questions And Ideas

Should you encounter any errors or inconsistencies in our reviews, or if you have any suggestions or valuable insights about the products we cover, we warmly welcome your input. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and reach out to us via email at [email protected]. Your feedback is greatly appreciated and helps us improve our content. You can also content us via our YouTube Channel. We read and try to respond to every comment.