Controller vs Monitor

Serpentman2024

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I'm a bit of a neophyte when it comes to controllers. Right now, I'm debating the necessity of a controller vs a monitor. Each one of my systems has its own controller so not sure if I need a master controller (Apex A3) for redundancy or something just to monitor like the Apex Jr. I do travel occasionally for work but otherwise work from home for emergencies. Thoughts?

My current equipment is as follows:

Heater: IM Helio
Lights: Ecotech Radion
Flow: MP40
Dosing: Ecotech Versa
ATO: IM HydroFill
Leak Detection: Winees Wifi Water Leak Detector
 

Formulator

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I’m going to qualify myself first since I still have a “new member” badge, but I’ve been keeping a 120g mixed reef for about 10 years now. I’ve had monitors in the past and recently upgraded to an apex A3 system. It has been a game changer and I am thoroughly enjoying all of the added features and dreaming of potential add-on modules in the future.

To answer your question, I think it depends a lot on your personal preference. I am a bit of an equipment and tech geek, so part of the enjoyment of the hobby comes from my controller and fiddling with the programming. A major benefit of a controller is the ability to create additional redundancies and fail-safes, which are great piece of mind if you travel. Additionally, temperature control within a very tight range becomes more feasible, especially if you have both heaters and chillers. I can now keep my temp within +/- 0.3 degrees F and my corals seem to love that. With stock heater controls, I could only achieve about +/- 1.0 deg F. It is also really nice to have an on/of switch in the palm of your hand for every piece of equipment in your setup. Water changes, feeding, adding fish/frags, cleaning, etc are a breeze when you can shut off pumps, skimmers, lights, etc by just whipping out your phone and clicking a toggle switch in the app.

On the other hand, monitors are also a great option if you don’t need the control and still give you a much better understanding of your tank so you can make adjustments and improve stability. If you do go the monitor route, I highly recommend one with pH capability. Being able to see long term pH trends has improved my understanding of the tank chemistry, alk consumption, and day/night fluctuations that inspired me to build a refugium and bring outside air into my skimmer.
 

Doctorgori

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I’m hardly rich but even with its many faults and shortcomings the advantages justify the price point and then some….Id at least cop a Jr head unit for $250 or whatever
 

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