Mirroring Nature: EcoTech Marine Creates Innovative Solutions for Aquatic Hobbyists

By Pet Age Staff//January 1, 2024//

Mirroring Nature: EcoTech Marine Creates Innovative Solutions for Aquatic Hobbyists

By: Pet Age Staff//January 1, 2024//

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In the marine aquatic sector of the pet industry, EcoTech Marine has established a reputation for setting new standards for aquarium equipment. Now in its second decade, the brand continues to revolutionize the way people think about aquarium technology.

Pet Age recently spoke to Justin Lawyer, co-founder of EcoTech and VP of Aperture Labs, to learn how his products are engineered to improve the health of a marine aquarium’s ecosystem and enhance its natural beauty.


What inspired you to start EcoTech Marine?

When I began my saltwater aquarium journey, the hobby was still in its infancy; there were limited products for saltwater aquariums 25 years ago. While there were some great people to draw inspiration from, the accessibility to the average household was relatively low, especially in the Midwest where I grew up. Living coral in an aquarium was particularly uncommon. As a result, much of my early success came from my DIY skills. I crafted every aquarium, from my childhood through to adulthood, largely from scratch. I built my own lighting fixtures, used in-ground sprinkler heads for water circulation, and even created a custom automation system.

Many of the products we used in the aquarium space back then were adapted from other industries. As my DIY experience began to evolve into a business, I was particularly excited about the opportunity to embrace the creative process and develop solutions that were tailored to the specific needs of the hobby.

With the explosion of the internet in the early 2000s, it wasn’t long before my quest for DIY aquarium solutions led me to discover and interact with like-minded individuals. During my time at OU, I began working on a better solution for adding calcium to my reef tank. This project was a collaborative effort with fellow hobbyist Tim Marks, who was based in Bethlehem, PA. Together, we started selling our creation to others in online forums, and it was through this venture that our first product was born.

This journey from DIY enthusiast to a business focused on creating innovative solutions for the aquarium hobby has been both fulfilling and exciting. It’s incredible to see how far we’ve come, and it’s all thanks to the passion and dedication of the aquarium community and our shared love for this remarkable hobby.


Why do you feel it’s important that your products mimic a natural environment?

As hobbyists, our inspiration stems from the natural environment. Much of what we have learned about successfully keeping fish and coral in captivity has been through trial and error as we endeavor to recreate the conditions found in nature. What we often observe is that many of the animals, including coral, fish, and other invertebrates, which thrive in the vast ocean often encounter challenges or merely manage to survive in captivity. While it’s true that some creatures are not suitable for life in a home aquarium, many can truly flourish when conditions closely mimic their natural environment. The more we can replicate the essential attributes of nature, the more successful our captive environments become.

From a human perspective, the natural world is undeniably beautiful. In nature, everything serves a purpose, and the design is inherently functional and minimalistic. As the designer for EcoTech, I strive to mirror the beauty of nature not only in the functional performance of each product but also in its physical design. Our goal is to create products that are elegant, ergonomic, and aesthetically pleasing wherever possible. This approach is rooted in our belief that it best honors and complements the natural beauty exhibited in the aquarium. Moreover, there’s reason to believe that this aesthetic appeal may also have a positive impact on the inhabitants of the tank, enhancing their well-being alongside the satisfaction of the aquarium owner.


What products are EcoTech Marine known for amongst aquarists?

EcoTech Marine is probably most known for its VorTech propeller pump. Utilizing magnets, we successfully eliminated the need for a motor and electricity within the aquarium. This breakthrough not only reduced heat and the risk of stray voltage in the water but also enhanced the visual aesthetics by making the pump smaller and eliminating the power cord. The VorTech is unique in the aquarium pump market, making it an iconic item in the marine aquarium space.

Our Radion lighting line stands out as one of the most powerful and advanced options available, specifically designed for coral in aquariums. It’s trusted by numerous high-profile marine aquatics locations worldwide, including commercial coral farms like World Wide Corals in Orlando, conservation and coral breeding institutions such as The Coral Conservation Program at The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, and public coral and reefing exhibits across the United States and around the world. Radion lighting was the first commercially available full spectrum LED light fixture for the aquarium industry and is now in its 6th generation, incorporating state-of-the-art LED technologies.


Who is the typical hobbyist who uses your products for keeping marine livestock?

Our typical customer is someone who deeply cares for the well-being of the animals they keep in their aquariums. They seek equipment that will provide them with the best chance of successfully nurturing their aquatic companions. At EcoTech, we place paramount importance on customer service, offering guidance to help them use our products effectively. Our customers understand that we’re here to support them every step of the way.

More specifically, EcoTech customers are often individuals who have spent a year or more in the hobby and have come to recognize the significance of quality equipment and reliable support, sometimes through challenging and heart-wrenching experiences. The value proposition of EcoTech equipment lies in its feature-rich nature, programmability, high performance, and its industry-leading reliability and support. As enthusiasts invest substantial time and resources into maintaining established and flourishing reef aquariums, they soon realize that investing in top-quality gear from manufacturers like EcoTech Marine is a cost-effective way to ensure the longevity and success of their beloved aquatic passion.


How would you describe EcoTech Marine’s relationship with its retailers? 

We’ve always held a firm belief that Local Fish and Pet Stores (LFS) serve as the backbone of the aquarium hobby. For many of us, our journey began by convincing our parents to take us to these stores or visiting them with friends and relatives. Consequently, a significant aspect of our brand centers on our commitment to supporting not only our fellow aquarists but also the retailers and communities that serve them.

Looking ahead to our future as part of the Aperture Pet and Life family, we’re excited about the potential to make a more substantial contribution to the positive developments within the retail sector, commercial coral farming, and the broader conservation community. This involves providing enhanced support and service for LFS, expanding equipment options, and engaging in collaborative product development initiatives to foster industry growth and advancement. We’re eager to play our part in nurturing the industry and the aquarium community as a whole.



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