Desperate Essentiality...

Battlecorals

Aquaculturist
View Badges
Joined
Oct 15, 2009
Messages
4,682
Reaction score
7,241
Location
Wisconsin
So, about two months ago I finally updated to the new Apex on my main system. I had lots of outlets programmed, mostly for lighting on 9 Power bars total. I decided rather than try to pull a marathon session and re-setup everything in one shot, to instead “ween” my system off the Apex, in favor of mechanical timers and such, to strip down as many” non-essential” apparatuses as I could, in an effort to simplify the transition. This included taking my KG guardian offline and a few other simple things like switches and such. The only things I left in place were the heaters and PH probe for my calcium reactor. It took me a couple of weeks to "bare-bones" it all, but when it came time to make the switch, it went super smooth and without any stress or pressure at all.


After the new Apex was online I went ahead and reconfigured my halide and T5, lighting programming. After a couple of weeks, everything was back online accept one “crucial” component. The KG guardian was still in a bucket under the stand. I just didn’t really have the drive to set it all back up. Although I hadn't realized it yet, I kind of enjoyed not being fixated on hourly reminders of my alk levels. I mean it's cool as heck. No doubt about it. Alk testing gear are the “wonder machines” we had all been dreaming of for so many years. But with all that in mind, I still didn't really feel like setting it back up. “ Don't need the clutter". The operative word being "need". In no way is this an essential part of my system, and looking back to the few years I had it running I don't think I can't say that it offered me or my system anything close to a "better" result. If anything I was more neurotic about alk numbers because they were so frequently displayed, rather than a single test daily.


So where am I going with this one? Well, I have seen post after post about new gadgets and the “need” for things like the Mindstream and Trident, Reefbot, etc, like we can’t do it without them, and as I’m seeing all this, I’m thinking why do we really believe that we need these things so badly? Will, any of this stuff make our lives easier, or allow our tanks to thrive any better than they would have without? As say innovation in lighting or even water movement may have. Will we suddenly have success where we were struggling before? Will any of these gadgets really simplify or help our understanding of what it takes to keep a healthy reef long term?


I am all for innovation and development of better and easier ways to accomplish difficult things believe me. In no way am I intending to come off as an "Old hat" resistant to change screaming things like" We didn't need that crap in the good old days so why would we need it now". But when it comes to some of these new technologies, the mind set of said gadgets being “essential” and the seemingly desperate desire for these things has me somewhat bewildered. The ongoing heated discussions and total disappointment. Even fear I see in people who can't get their hands on them is quite honestly difficult for me to process. Like all the things we are doing wrong will somehow be “fixed” once the “gadget” is in place. And our reefs will thrive. Sure the trident is cool and the midstream was super cool. Way cooler than the KH gardian, but very far from “essential”. I'd say more of a novelty serving to undermine a basic understanding of the relationships between the "big 3" that I do think is fundamental reef keeping knowledge.


Anyway, I managed to convince myself that the simple upkeep of emptying the KH guardian's reagent reservoir and replacing a ph probe maybe once a year was more of a pain in my but than just doing the titration test that has long been part of my daily ritual anyway. I am guessing that there's a laundry list of things to be on top of, to ensure the trident and other contraptions are working properly as well. So I am thinking to myself, while a new crop of tech may allow us the benefit of not having to worry about certain “things”, it also seems to provide at the same time more “less essential things” to have to worry about.

So I'm interested in hearing from you guys. How have some of this new tech impacted your reef keeping habits and inhabitants?
 
Last edited:

rushbattle

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Oct 19, 2016
Messages
1,296
Reaction score
1,573
Location
WNC
I can totally understand where you are coming from! I have a reefbot that does exactly as you describe, just tests once a day. Then I test Ca, NO3 and PO4 once a week. So it just replaces the labor of doing the test with myself doing the rest. I find that my schedule does not allow testing daily for alk at the same and often for many days away from home. So that is the real reason for it's use.

To speak directly to your post, I had a Mindstream on order, and I can totally see myself getting fixated on the results. I actually canceled my order about a month ago before we knew they were totally kaput because I saw the measurements in tanks drifting all around, and did not reflect real changes in water chemistry. That would drive me crazy!!!

Perhaps you could set the KH Guardian to test twice a day instead of hourly? It would save time and money vs manual titrations, but would not allow the temporal resolution to drive yourself crazy?
 

wkd4b11

Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 24, 2019
Messages
88
Reaction score
68
My life has gotten a whole lot busier with a new home, first child, and working a ton of OT (84 hrs OT this past 3 weeks).
The Trident has helped me in the fact that I know my tank is running okay simply by checking Apex Fusion and looking at the parameters.

I barely have time to feed my tank let alone test. I do a water change maybe once a month because I simply don't have time.

So for me the Trident isn't a machine to help me chase numbers but more as a way for me to "test" without actually spending 30 minutes to do manual titrations. Once in awhile when I get a chance I'll do a manual Alk test just to make sure the Trident hasn't lost its calibration.
 

Skibum

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Apr 29, 2016
Messages
299
Reaction score
246
I can totally understand where you are coming from! I have a reefbot that does exactly as you describe, just tests once a day. Then I test Ca, NO3 and PO4 once a week. So it just replaces the labor of doing the test with myself doing the rest. I find that my schedule does not allow testing daily for alk at the same and often for many days away from home. So that is the real reason for it's use.

To speak directly to your post, I had a Mindstream on order, and I can totally see myself getting fixated on the results. I actually canceled my order about a month ago before we knew they were totally kaput because I saw the measurements in tanks drifting all around, and did not reflect real changes in water chemistry. That would drive me crazy!!!

Perhaps you could set the KH Guardian to test twice a day instead of hourly? It would save time and money vs manual titrations, but would not allow the temporal resolution to drive yourself crazy?
On that mindstream, not sure if you saw this from reefbuilders:

 

rushbattle

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Oct 19, 2016
Messages
1,296
Reaction score
1,573
Location
WNC
On that mindstream, not sure if you saw this from reefbuilders:

Yes I did. I actually got the email spam today as well, with more lies from Degen. I ultimately canceled the order because they lied about everything rather than being honest. Like the measurement inconsistencies!
 

Griev

Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 12, 2017
Messages
58
Reaction score
107
I don't currently have a reefing computer, but I have a feeling Santa is bringing me an Apex/Trident soon... Right now I do have my lights/dosing/ato automated (in that I don't have to do them manually). I'm hoping that the Apex will let me centralize my tank monitoring and help me coordinate some additional minor things. I think there's a ton of value in learning how your tank runs and reacts to maintenance/lazy husbandry so that you can appreciate the automations that something like the Apex brings, rather than take them for granted. Understanding that the Apex can just make your life easier rather than it being some mystical silver bullet of success is important imo.

For me the value boils down into to areas;

Reducing the active maintenance time that I spend on my tank - I'll be the first to admit that I should probably test more. The trident helps automate this and ensures that I catch any unexpected changes in parameters significantly faster than if I didn't have it. It'll also help me feel more confident in stretching out my water changes (I currently do once a week, but not for any real reason other than it's working). Hell, maybe I'll eventually use the Apex to automate my water changes too. For me just being able to tinker and automate is enough of a value proposition on it's own. I'd much rather mess with some software and hardware to automate tasks than to do the tasks themselves over and over again, but I know that's not for everyone. :)

Providing some disaster insurance - Most reefers exit the hobby after a tank crash, a significant number of those crashes come down to declining maintenance due to reductions in personal time/interest in the tank, and my theory is that a lot of those crashes could have been prevented with either more maintenance/parameter monitoring automation. If I only have to spend an hour or less every week doing maintenance tasks I don't enjoy, that'll greatly increase the chances that I continue to be successful with my tank. It also provides some basic redundancy/alerting in areas that could lead to crashes such as temp monitoring for failed heaters, ATO overflows, etc. Sure I've got my dosing set now, but what if I get busy at work or with my kid one week and forget to test and at the same time my ALK solution is running low? Apex/Trident could alert me that *something* was wrong so that I could correct it before all my Acros die from a lack of available Alk.

Just some thoughts :)
 

Skibum

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Apr 29, 2016
Messages
299
Reaction score
246
Now I'm not nearly as experienced as most posters on this forum. One thing for me however, is that I've gotten pretty good w/Hanna checker. Every night, I check Alk with my Hanna checker, it takes me about 2 minutes. I keep going over in my head what replaces nightly 2 minute Hanna test that would be worth the money?
 

Variant

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Oct 23, 2018
Messages
226
Reaction score
277
For me, having an automated alk tester is so I can check up on my alk consumption and potentially adjust dosing while I am away for extended periods of time.

When I am home, my ph is at 7.9-8.0 and jumps up to 8.3-8.5 while I am gone. This makes it hard to have a set amd forget dosing schedule.

I also keep the automated alk testing running even while I am home to avoid having to set it up right before traveling. I would rather keep it going to see any issues while I am home.

I wouldnt think this type of problem is as relevant for a big frag system that is fairly consistent.
 

pelphrey

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Apr 22, 2015
Messages
3,715
Reaction score
5,295
Location
Kentucky
I took the apex off my system 6-7 months ago, I was actually about to take the entire tank down. When I made the system "simple" I liked it more and its doing better now than it ever had!
 

Saltyreef

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 25, 2018
Messages
1,131
Reaction score
741
Location
Bay Area, Ca
The only automation I have on my tank are some brs 1.1 dosers for 2 part, my AI lighting schedule, and an auto feeder so i can have it feed small amounts 4x per day rather than me dumping in who knows how much only once a day.
Oh and the ATO.
Those alone are bare bones minimum for someone who goes on vacation for more than a week a few times per year.
Id love a webcam tattletale but i have a room mate who calls when they either hear my water leak alarm or something smells funny.

I dont know if id be able to bare to look at the webcam if my tank ever crashed and theres nothing i can do about it!
 

DLHDesign

Ex-Noob
View Badges
Joined
Jun 7, 2016
Messages
3,258
Reaction score
5,330
Location
Lathrop, CA
...the simple upkeep of emptying the KH guardian's reagent reservoir and replacing a ph probe maybe once a year was more of a pain in my but than just doing the titration test that has long been part of my daily ritual anyway.
This is basically what it boils down to, I think. You have already established the habits of (relatively) "low tech" reefing, so - for you - that's more comfortable and enjoyable (and, ultimately, productive). The effort involved in changing your well-established habits (both physically and mentally) is likely more strenuous than keeping them the same.
I think the difference between successful reefers and those who struggle are in their desire and ability to develop the habits that lead to a successful tank (or tanks). Whether it's testing, maintenance, husbandry, etc. - every aspect of this hobby can be approached multiple ways. But no matter how you approach it, if you are inconsistent in how you do it, something will be unstable, and that instability will (always?) lead to some level of failure in the tank.

For myself, I never really established the habits required to keep high-end corals alive. Testing daily just wasn't a priority for me (insert excuses about kids and works and life - but in the end, I just didn't prioritize it). So when I went to establish my dosing regime, I didn't have good numbers. And so I struggled to find the right doses. Or the right amount of water to change, once I basically gave up on dosing. In the end, I just decided I wanted my time (and sanity) more than I wanted SPS. So - after many failed attempts to grow expensive SPS and other relatively delicate species - I switched to growing softies and more forgiving corals.
It's not that I didn't want SPS and the like - I did very much. I just didn't want them enough to put in the work to develop the habits.

I now have a Trident on my new tank. I got it because the new tank was designed from the ground up to be a low maintenance system - and it's generally worked out that way. So having eliminated some of the things I used to do through better tank design and redundant automation, I am interested in re-opening the book on higher end corals. The Trident allows me to do that not by reducing the need to develop good habits, but by changing the nature of those habits that need to be developed. I know I can develop the habits required to monitor the Fusion dashboard, examine trend lines, interpret the data, and find solutions to variances that may arise. I can develop the habits involved in setting up and maintaining the DOS lines. These are things I know I can do, because I do them already. What the Trident does for me is changes the "test often" and "determine dosing schedule" habits into habits of "replace reagent" and "deal with the annual service". Those habits, I have much higher confidence in my ability to develop and adhere to.

And I am in awe of - and just a bit jealous of - your ability to have developed your reef keeping habits. Because obviously, they work out just fine.
 

hotdrop

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 29, 2019
Messages
343
Reaction score
397
The problem I have with these electrical systems is that they are designed by programmers who live by the motto “move fast and break things” and there is little thought to redundant setups. Ruining the apex + trident + doser sets up so many new failure scenarios that all have to be mitigated appropriately though programming or hardware but nobody actually sells a fully integrated system that is appropriately setup to eliminate any single point failure so instead of a more stable and fault tolerant reef system you end up with one that’s even more likely to catastrophically fail.
 

DLHDesign

Ex-Noob
View Badges
Joined
Jun 7, 2016
Messages
3,258
Reaction score
5,330
Location
Lathrop, CA
The only people I know with the actual motto of anything like, “move fast and break things” are people who don’t actually write code (they are usually middle- or upper management). Programmers - as a general rule, because there are always exceptions - actually have a pretty big drive to “get it right”. This drive often conflicts with shifting business goals and unreasonable timelines (often driven by market needs, not unreasonable people).
I’m not saying that the result is a perfect system for all use cases - far from it. I doubt that such a unicorn exists (which is ironic give the lead-up to the Trident invoked the idea of it being a unicorn, eh?). No system is 100% fault-tolerant, because it wouldn’t make any sense to produce that. The time invested in such a product would result in a unit cost far and above the actual value of such a system. Instead, business people, marketing people, and programmers (and others, I’m sure) all come together to find what they perceive as a good balance point between all the factors - cost, stability, reliability, market demand, time, etc. The point that they decide on certainly won’t be right for everyone, but their hope is that enough people will agree with their balance point that the product is profitable in the end.

The problem I have with fully integrated systems is that when one component fails, it can be difficult to keep the entire thing from going down. They are also much harder (and more costly) to iterate on. So as the market evolves, they tend to get left behind and become much less useful - leaving their owners with a bad taste, and often a lighter pocketbook...
 

Davy Jones

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Oct 28, 2015
Messages
1,189
Reaction score
956
I think you are forgetting one crucial thing here Adam, you are running a MASSIVE system, connected to a calcium reactor if I remember right. So naturally your levels are pretty stable and shouldn't fluctuate too much even if it's just due to water volume.

Many of us are running tanks less than 100 gallons, where alk can shift .5 dkh or more in a day depending on circumstances.

Yes I agree 100% that this stuff isn't essential. For me it's more peace of mind when I'm away or too busy to do my testing due to work or not being home etc. Buuuut I think that the smaller the water volume, the more useful multiple tests a day actually is as the swings can be much more drastic
 
OP
Battlecorals

Battlecorals

Aquaculturist
View Badges
Joined
Oct 15, 2009
Messages
4,682
Reaction score
7,241
Location
Wisconsin
I think you are forgetting one crucial thing here Adam, you are running a MASSIVE system, connected to a calcium reactor if I remember right. So naturally your levels are pretty stable and shouldn't fluctuate too much even if it's just due to water volume.

Many of us are running tanks less than 100 gallons, where alk can shift .5 dkh or more in a day depending on circumstances.

Yes I agree 100% that this stuff isn't essential. For me it's more peace of mind when I'm away or too busy to do my testing due to work or not being home etc. Buuuut I think that the smaller the water volume, the more useful multiple tests a day actually is as the swings can be much more drastic
i definitely see your point, I also have a much smaller backup system, and my Personal display is only about 100 gall total. Both have an apex on them and calcium reactors, so by no means "bare bones". And ill admit I really thought about setting the KHgardian up on my display but didn't for the same reasons in my OP. lol. For me, one of the best benefits of running a calcium reactor is that it greatly helps keep alk and calcium balanced, and consequently i generally only test for alk. In fact, I have not tested my calcium in years.

So I don't ever run the gamut of testing all three daily at all so my testing routine is quite quick and easy. But If i was dosing 2 part i would be for sure. and could see that a trident would come in a lot handier then.
 

hotdrop

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 29, 2019
Messages
343
Reaction score
397
I think you are forgetting one crucial thing here Adam, you are running a MASSIVE system, connected to a calcium reactor if I remember right. So naturally your levels are pretty stable and shouldn't fluctuate too much even if it's just due to water volume.

Many of us are running tanks less than 100 gallons, where alk can shift .5 dkh or more in a day depending on circumstances.

Yes I agree 100% that this stuff isn't essential. For me it's more peace of mind when I'm away or too busy to do my testing due to work or not being home etc. Buuuut I think that the smaller the water volume, the more useful multiple tests a day actually is as the swings can be much more drastic

There really shouldn’t be any different in stability between a 40, 100, 200 or 500 gallon system at the same tank depth and coral density. I’m going to guess that Adams tank could easily swing 2-3 Dkh a day without the ca reactor running unless his density is low in order to improve stability. You should be able to achieve similar results using a ca reactor of your own at any reasonable rank size. Sampling 5 times a day is simply unneeded and is there to sell reagents and satisfy people who want data for data sake.
The only thing a trident adds is automatically correction when the consumption rate diverges from the expected trend which really should be no more than .1 .2 dkh a day, but it also adds potential new sources of error in both reading and programming/logic. Handy for someone that leaves their tank unattended for weeks at a time but not needed for someone who runs a dedicated grow out system that they monitor daily or every couple days. In fact for this use a trident may actually make the system less reliable if you don’t get the program logic just right
 

greg 45

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 14, 2010
Messages
386
Reaction score
169
Location
bayonne new jersey
Adam I just went through a issue over a period of time trusting and letting these magical boxes control my tank. Needless to say they have been removed from my 1200 gallon system due to majer alk swing . The unit was reading wrong and making adjustments that were not needed . After removing I was able to get a handle on alk . It now takes 5 min to do a test and make a adjustment. There are to many adjustment that can make them read incorrect . Also still use timers on all lamps . This ramping up and down with these new fancy leds cause more problems in my opinion.
 
OP
Battlecorals

Battlecorals

Aquaculturist
View Badges
Joined
Oct 15, 2009
Messages
4,682
Reaction score
7,241
Location
Wisconsin
Adam I just went through a issue over a period of time trusting and letting these magical boxes control my tank. Needless to say they have been removed from my 1200 gallon system due to majer alk swing . The unit was reading wrong and making adjustments that were not needed . After removing I was able to get a handle on alk . It now takes 5 min to do a test and make a adjustment. There are to many adjustment that can make them read incorrect . Also still use timers on all lamps . This ramping up and down with these new fancy leds cause more problems in my opinion.

Hi there,

Thanks a lot for the post. Yeah, this was more the point I was trying to get at. That with some of these "Make our lives easier" gadgets, They may let us take the focus off certain things, but with that comes the need to keep an eye on other " new things" that still need to be tended on order for the thing to be reliable and such.
 

Online statistics

Members online
2,629
Guests online
8,828
Total visitors
11,457
TCK Corals
Top