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Old 01-05-2011, 07:16 PM   #1
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I have been contemplating the Neptune Apex, and will include the pH probe

Hope this is not too redundant, but I am looking to possibly invest in a controller. I have been contemplating the Neptune Apex, and will include the pH probe. I have done a search on this subject in here, there are not too many to be found. I did find one that the conversation was short, and I went to add my question too it and was denied due to the age of the thread.

Thank you AA for all the great information that is available.
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Old 01-05-2011, 10:13 PM   #2
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RenegadeReefers.org • Information
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Old 01-06-2011, 01:07 AM   #3
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So what exactly were you looking for about the Apex? Gotta ask the questions to get the answers! There are a few of us here lurking about that may know a thing or two about them.

But the mother lode of information would be here...

Neptune Systems - Reef Central Online Community

Make sure you download the "Unofficial User Guide" that is "stickied" at the top of that forum. Good stuff that will help you understand the unit before you lay down the $$.
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Old 01-07-2011, 06:03 PM   #4
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Thank you guys for the links. I guess that in a vague way, I was just looking for justification to make this purchase. Being a noob to the hobby, looking through the tons of feedback on items, it can be very overwhelming. There are so many things that are discussed that are way over my head. I would say, that I want something that is going to monitor the basic items that a hand test kit tests, but the results are there constantly/instantly. In looking at different controllers, at Aquacave (I'm sure there are may others out there) it looks like the Neptune is the most easily expandable.

If I am still being too vague, or naive to what I am looking at, I do appreciate having that brought up. Thank you guys for any further information/advice you have for me.
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:40 AM   #5
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Executive Summary of my post: Save your money for now.

The more verbose version of my post...

Since you term yourself a "noob", for that reason, I would avoid buying ANY controller at this point. Don't get me wrong... they are absolutely fabulous pieces of equipment. I have an Apex and wrestled with myself for a year before I bought it. I'm kicking myself for waiting so long. BUT... as with anything, the more complexity you add to things, the more chances for things to fail. Any controller, from any vendor, is a complex piece of electronics, put in close proximity to salt water, that is waaaay more than just a timer circuit. Lots of different ways for things to go wrong. Not saying they're not reliable... it's just that when you add a controller you kind of up the odds that something might go wrong over your basic setup.

When you're just starting out, you have a bunch of things to wrap your arms around. It's best to figure out how things can go wrong with the most basic set up before moving on to even more ways to screw things up! Put your lights on a mechanical timer, and your pumps/powerheads on a switchable powerstrip to enable you to initiate your own "feed cycle" buy turning everything off with the flip of a switch. If you want to get fancy, you can buy a controller for your heaters for less than $100.

But in my opinion, you really need to get the basics down before you move on to a controller. Read through some of the threads on that link I provided... there are a few folks going absolutely ballistic because their controller fritzed out and now "...my tank is sitting here dieing before my eyes. I can't believe they don't make these more reliable..." blah blah blah. Well guess what... great tanks were kept before controllers existed and if you don't know what to fall back to, then yeah... I guess it's going to be rough. But if you have those basics under your belt, it's no big deal to revert back to the "old fashioned way" until you can get things fixed.

As far as monitoring things to replace the test kits... like above, it's best to understand things at a basic (and cheaper) level before relying on electronics. (Again... just my opinion.) In addition, many of the things you're going to want to test for are not available on a controller for constant monitoring. Salinity and pH... yes. Alkalinity and calcium... no. Nitrates... no. Phosphates... no. They definitely *do* make digital meters that measure those things, but at this point they don't make them for the controllers I'm familiar with. So if you're looking at a controller to replace test kits... it's not going to happen.

I'm not against controllers by any means. They really do allow you to simplify your wiring around a tank, more easily control things the way you want to (turning powerheads on/off, feed cycles, automating top offs and dosing, etc), initiate certain actions if a power outage occurs, and keep tabs on your tank from across the world. Great units. And I love the Apex. I just wouldn't recommend it to someone that is just starting up a tank. Give yourself a year or two, then give it some thoughts.

Then again... that's just my 2cents worth!
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Old 01-09-2011, 04:34 PM   #6
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I appreciate your 2 cents Kurt. Thank you very much, I will follow your suggestions. Thank you for bringing it to my attention that I was being lazy, and trying to use technology to get around hard work.
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Old 01-10-2011, 02:24 AM   #7
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I didn't see it as laziness at all. And as far as keeping up the tank being "hard work", I don't see that at all either! The only thing that could be termed "hard work" with my tank is doing weekly 10% water changes. And since that only equates to 4-5 gallons every week, that's really not hard work at all.

Controllers won't help you with the hard work, but they do give you a peace of mind. In my neighborhood, we joke that if a squirrel breaks wind, we lose power. So to have a controller that can shoot me a text message the minute we lose power... that's a real nice thing. Also, I have a fan that blows across the top of my tank when it gets too warm. During the summer, the fan was normally controlled by a timer. At times, I would have my fan blowing at the same time my heaters were going! Not really efficient! With the controller, I can have some intelligent controls on my fan so that it turns off long before my heaters kick in. This last summer, my heaters rarely turned on. It was just an on/off cycle with my fan to keep my tank within a 1/2 degree. That's the first summer that's happened. It's things like that, that make controllers really nifty things. If you're dosing a 2-part additive and want to automate it, they come in handy there too. Yeah... it's cool to have pH and ORP values handy whenever I want them, but it really hasn't changed how I run the tank.

Nope... you weren't being lazy - you just wanted the best for your tank, just like we all do. But that whole "patience is a virtue" thing really holds true to saltwater tanks. Nothing ever good happens in them quickly.

(If you do get itchin' for a controller though, I would highly recommend the Apex. They all have issues, but at least with the Apex you're not waiting months on end for formal releases of software, or seeing a string of broken promises on when something might be available.)
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Old 01-12-2011, 12:56 PM   #8
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Thank you Kurt for your replies. I will hold off on getting a controller for awhile, and will continue learning how to manage my tank.
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