Advice needed on monitoring and controllers

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Steph72

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I just finished my 240 gallon build and am considering adding an automated monitoring system like the Apex or GHL. My main concern is having accurate monitoring of parameters rather than a bunch of bells and whistles for automation.

There are so many mixed reviews on monitoring units it’s made me hesitant to spend the money or put my trust in them. If anyone reading this uses automated monitoring I’d love to hear your experiences with it. Was it worth the money? Any regrets or recommendations?
 
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boacvh

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I have the apex for mostly just monitoring. So far really like it.i think many of the reviews just had wrong expectations in many cases. Just got to know it's a tool to help you, not an advanced AI to drive your DT. I use mine very little for control other than alk/ca dosing and the feeding modes. It works perfectly so far for what I want.
I was in same situation. After reading reviews i had even more doubts than when I started looking for it.

I think this question will get as many opinions for one as for the other and potentially confuse you even more haha. It's like the which salt is better question.
In the end I think both systems are great and you would not be wrong either way you pick, so my suggestion is mostly ignore what we say and pick one you like on instinct after the research you already did :). I don't think it will be a bad decision.
 

boacvh

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One additional thought on cost question. By adding it, I realize I am potentially introducing more points of failure to my tank. But the amount of time it saves me on testing/maintenance I would say that's what I value the most. Worth every penny for my time IMO.
Hope this helps and good luck!
 

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I am hugely dependent on APEX. Maybe a bit less now with limited traveling and more "work from home". But still. I have two systems and two APEX.

My primary use cases:
Alarm me regarding temp, salinity, pH, and WATER ON THE FLOOR!
Backup to my heater controllers to shut them at 81 degrees
Turn on fans at 81, turn off at 78.
APEX DOS. It really doesn't get easier than this. Only wish the reservoirs were larger.
IF WATER ON THE FLOOR, shut returns and skimmer off.

Ancillary use cases:
I use Fusion to track my test results, WC schedule, maintenance, bunch of other stuff.
Feed cycle
Make changes to schedules remotely

In 5 years of use, 1 out of 3 Energy Bars went bad. Otherwise it has all worked well for me.

For anything over 50G, or livestock values over 2k, this is a no-brainer. I don't have experience with GHL so cannot compare them for you.

@SuncrestReef published an exceptional series of tutorials here that are worth your review.
 

SuncrestReef

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I have extensive experience with the Apex, but no hands-on experience with GHL. However I have done a lot of research on both. My understanding is that GHL has a more industrial-strength build to its hardware, but is more difficult to program. If monitoring is your only desire, then the programming difficulty may not matter.

However, if you decide someday to move beyond basic monitoring and want to automate some things, then the programming difficulty should be a big factor in your decision making. To get an idea of some of the things you can automate, take a look at one of my previous posts about how I use the Apex:


One of the biggest difference (at least here in the US) is the huge number of Apex users compared to GHL, and the broad base of user community support available. The Neptune Community Forum has thousands of posts, programming examples, and questions answered dating back over 10 years. Additionally, people like me routinely answer Apex questions here on R2R and in Facebook groups. And as @ScottB mentioned above, I have posted a whole series of Apex tutorials here on R2R:

You may also want to check out this video from Derick Picker on his Reef Automation YouTube channel where he compares Apex, GHL, and Hydros:
 
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ScottB

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I have extensive experience with the Apex, but no hands-on experience with GHL. However I have done a lot of research on both. My understanding is that GHL has a more industrial-strength build to its hardware, but is more difficult to program. If monitoring is your only desire, then the programming difficulty may not matter.

However, if you decide someday to move beyond basic monitoring and want to automate some things, then the programming difficulty should be a big factor in your decision making. To get an idea of some of the things you can automate, take a look at one of my previous posts about how I use the Apex:


One of the biggest difference (at least here in the US) is the huge number of Apex users compared to GHL, and the broad base of user community support available. The Neptune Community Forum has thousands of posts, programming examples, and questions answered dating back over 10 years. Additionally, people like me routinely answer Apex questions here on R2R and in Facebook groups. And as @ScottB mentioned above, I have posted a whole series of Apex tutorials here on R2R:

You may also want to check out this video from Derick Picker on his Reef Automation YouTube channel where he compares Apex, GHL, and Hydros:
Many thanks for your countless contributions to the community. Awesome stuff!
 
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Steph72

Steph72

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I have extensive experience with the Apex, but no hands-on experience with GHL. However I have done a lot of research on both. My understanding is that GHL has a more industrial-strength build to its hardware, but is more difficult to program. If monitoring is your only desire, then the programming difficulty may not matter.

However, if you decide someday to move beyond basic monitoring and want to automate some things, then the programming difficulty should be a big factor in your decision making. To get an idea of some of the things you can automate, take a look at one of my previous posts about how I use the Apex:


One of the biggest difference (at least here in the US) is the huge number of Apex users compared to GHL, and the broad base of user community support available. The Neptune Community Forum has thousands of posts, programming examples, and questions answered dating back over 10 years. Additionally, people like me routinely answer Apex questions here on R2R and in Facebook groups. And as @ScottB mentioned above, I have posted a whole series of Apex tutorials here on R2R:

You may also want to check out this video from Derick Picker on his Reef Automation YouTube channel where he compares Apex, GHL, and Hydros:
You make some excellent points...I would prefer to have a broader support base for questions and troubleshooting.
 
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Steph72

Steph72

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I am hugely dependent on APEX. Maybe a bit less now with limited traveling and more "work from home". But still. I have two systems and two APEX.

My primary use cases:
Alarm me regarding temp, salinity, pH, and WATER ON THE FLOOR!
Backup to my heater controllers to shut them at 81 degrees
Turn on fans at 81, turn off at 78.
APEX DOS. It really doesn't get easier than this. Only wish the reservoirs were larger.
IF WATER ON THE FLOOR, shut returns and skimmer off.

Ancillary use cases:
I use Fusion to track my test results, WC schedule, maintenance, bunch of other stuff.
Feed cycle
Make changes to schedules remotely

In 5 years of use, 1 out of 3 Energy Bars went bad. Otherwise it has all worked well for me.

For anything over 50G, or livestock values over 2k, this is a no-brainer. I don't have experience with GHL so cannot compare them for you.

@SuncrestReef published an exceptional series of tutorials here that are worth your review.
You also make some excellent points...I have spent quite a bit on my coral and livestock, but more importantly my fish mean the world to me and losing them would be devastating.
 
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Steph72

Steph72

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One additional thought on cost question. By adding it, I realize I am potentially introducing more points of failure to my tank. But the amount of time it saves me on testing/maintenance I would say that's what I value the most. Worth every penny for my time IMO.
Hope this helps and good luck!
Thank you so much! This advice definitely helps.
 
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Mical

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+1 on Apex. I control/monitor 2 tanks off 1 Apex - it lets me see the "big picture" of both tanks. I can turn stuff off from afar, it sends warnings when something isn't working and I can set parameters for lights, skimmers & powerheads. I wouldn't have a tank without one.

IMG_7626.jpg



IMG_6385.JPG
 

Dunc

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I just finished my 240 gallon build and am considering adding an automated monitoring system like the Apex or GHL. My main concern is having accurate monitoring of parameters rather than a bunch of bells and whistles for automation.

There are so many mixed reviews on monitoring units it’s made me hesitant to spend the money or put my trust in them. If anyone reading this uses automated monitoring I’d love to hear your experiences with it. Was it worth the money? Any regrets or recommendations?
I always root for the underdog. I plan on getting the Hydros controller. It’s less money and does the basics. Besides Apex is so dang ugly
 

Mical

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I always root for the underdog. I plan on getting the Hydros controller. It’s less money and does the basics. Besides Apex is so dang ugly
Honestly I don't know enough about the Hydros controller. It wasn't really a "player" when I considered a controller.
 

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Honestly I don't know enough about the Hydros controller. It wasn't really a "player" when I considered a controller.
Yes, Hydros is Coralvue’s answer to Apex, but they can’t really compete head to head yet. Hydros is still adding functionality.
 

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I agree that it’s ugly! Lol I was also looking at the hydros but am concerned that it will have limitations
Right now Hydros cannot do all the monitoring that an Apex can, but then most people don’t really need all those functions. Like someone earlier pointed out, Temp, PH, and S.G. everything else seems to fall in line when these variables are stable. Some old reefers get a long just fine without any of the modern control systems. So, I think it’s just one more thing that’s cool about reefing but not really necessary.
 

ca1ore

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If you have reasonable expectations for hobby grade monitoring then something like the apex can be very useful. I’ve no experience with any of the other brands. I bought apex because of the support community and presumed health of the company.
 

n2585722

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I agree that it’s ugly! Lol I was also looking at the hydros but am concerned that it will have limitations
I have the Hydros system. So far I have not run into any limitations. I am slowly converting my system from the DA Archon to the Hydros. I started in the garage. I have it doing ATO, auto water changes, refills DI strage tank, refills fresh salt water tank from mix tank if mix tank is ready to go and refills mix tank with DI when it becomes empty. All I have to do is add the salt mix to the mix tank once it is refilled and press a button when the mix tank is ready. It also controls my return pump, skimmer, heaters and tank cooling. The only thing I have left to switch over is the lighting and leak detection. I am doing it slowly. I have a Control 4 and 2 Control 2's in the garage. I have to Control XS units at the tank. I also have 4 of the WiFi power strips. Is there something specific you want to do with one that you are concerned about.
 
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