The newest addition to our aquarium is a Neptune Systems Aquacontroller Apex Lite. This little box doesn’t look like much, but it allows us to monitor and control our aquarium from anywhere.
The display module on the right allows us to see at a glance the pH and temperature, as well as easily turning on and off specific outlets. For example, at feeding time I select the down arrow to make my selection, in this case selection “A”. We have programmed the software that comes with the controller to turn off the powerheads for 5 minutes when selection “A” is made. The controller can be configured to whatever criteria we decide. For example, in the image below you can see we have configured the controller via the software to send an email alarm for the following criteria: If Temp > 80.5 , If Temp < 77.0, If pH > 08.30, and If pH < 07.60. The software comes free with the controller and can be accessed from an internet connection anywhere, and even has an iphone application.
We are not only programming the controller to alert us if there is something wrong, but to take corrective action as well. We can program the cooling fan to come on, and the lights and heater to turn off if the temperature gets above a certain temperature. The lights come on automatically in the morning and turn off at night, all without our intervention. It does exactly as the name implies, “controls” the aquarium.
Below are the pH and temperature probes that monitor these levels as well as graphs them into the software, allowing us to keep track of trends for future reference.
This is what a graph looks like over a couple of days, for both pH and temperature.
This is the EnergyBar 8 module that offers 8 individually controlled outlets. Two of its best features are the power failure detection as well as the electrical current monitoring. If there is any problem at all with the controller or power to the controller an email alert will let us know immediately.
Here is everything plugged in. After some trial and error with the programming, it is all setup and ready to go.
I have only listed a few of the many things that this controller can do. Some of the cooler things is the ability to create sunlight, sunset, and moonlight simulation based on real life coral reef lighting, temperature, and moon cycles. Not only that, but create actual waves as well, not just constant flow like we have right now. This can all be done, I just don’t have the cool equipment to do it with. To create lighting cycles I have to have dimmable lights, and to create waves I need vortex powerheads. So what have I learned from all this? I will just need to purchase better, much cooler equipment!
The best feature of this controller, however, is the peace of mind that when I leave for the day or for the weekend I know that if anything goes wrong with our aquarium we will know about it. An email alert is automatically sent and we can take action from there. If we are nearby we will know to come home, if we are out of town we can contact a neighbor or family to help out. With the amount of time and money invested in this aquarium, it would be silly not to have this controller.