Full System Reef Aquarium Controllers: What's got control in 2022?

BRS

Full System Reef Aquarium Controllers: What's got control in 2022?

  • GHL Profilux

    Votes: 32 6.9%
  • Neptune Apex

    Votes: 192 41.5%
  • Coralvue Hydros

    Votes: 46 9.9%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 19 4.1%
  • No Full System Controller

    Votes: 174 37.6%

  • Total voters
    463

Dj A-Ron

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I've had just about everything controllable/automated on my tank with the Apex for the past year or more.

Lights with the Apex / Sky
Return Pump flow monitoring and control with the Apex - Vectra
Two Heaters / Temp with the Apex
Auto Water Change with the Apex / DOS
Dosing Alkalinity and Calcium with the Apex / DOS / DDR
Tropic Marin Part C dosing with a Kamor doser and their app
Skimmer monitoring and control with the Apex
Automate a bypass ball valve from my CO2 scrubber to my Skimmer via Apex and the PH level to maintain 8.3+
Auto Top Off with the Apex ATK
Auto refill of the ATO RODI container with the Apex / FMM via high and low sensors
Leak detection with the Apex and FMM
Auto Feeder with the Apex / AFS
Automate the pump in my salt water mixing bin to run for 5 minutes four times a day to circulate the water
Auto water testing of Alk, Calcium, and Mag via the Trident
I use Mobius for control of my Vortech and Nero pumps (hopefully Mobius releases WiFi capability SOON!)

The only things that I don't have automated but would like to implement is a roller mat some day. I change out the filter socks every 3-4 days. I also would like to automate Nitrate and Phosphate testing some day if possible via Neptune equipment.

I am currently going through a divorce and living away from my tank for the past 3 months now. So my Apex is my main connection to my tank and the only reason I haven't had to breakdown my tank and get out of the hobby temporarily. I do go to the house every few days to change out the filter socks and clean the glass once a week. I manually test Nitrate and Phosphate a couple times per month. I did have a web cam on my tank and sump but the wife ripped those out of the house so I don't get to see the tank in its glory much. I can say that ever since I've been away from my tank and not able to tinker with it as much that it has really taken off. To the point where it's almost over grown... Going to need a bigger tank after these next few months are over....

Tank.jpg
 
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rjmm

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I use an apex for everything except left to right flow and use a hydros wave engine connected 0-10 to my apex for the flow. I have also added a battery backup to my wave engine to ensure those pumps always stay on
 

CRD23

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I control the lights through App (AI Prime). Heater has its own controller. Testing is all manual. I am hoping to build a DIY controller using ReefPi later this year.
 

Richsoar

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I have no Automation or controller's on any of my tanks. I would like to trying some flow control, changing rates and direction on my "quasi new" 72gal, but can't figure out even where to start.
 

n2585722

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I have no Automation or controller's on any of my tanks. I would like to trying some flow control, changing rates and direction on my "quasi new" 72gal, but can't figure out even where to start.
What flow pumps do you have?
 

Heabel7

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I have an apex on the way. Main goal is to monitor PH. I thought about a pinpoint just to do that. But then I cannot see the trends and come up with a plan for long term fixes. Plus temperature as a secondary level of protection. Everything else is moot with so many items now having app control. Even cheap Jebaos have an app these days. It’s a shame to pay $500 to monitor 2 things. But if I had a secondary backup for just those 2 items for the past 10 years. It would have saved more money than that in corals and other DIY projects.
 

cryptodendrum

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I am the innovator and creator behind the High Availability Home Assistant (aka HA-HA) based Aquarium Controller.

I have a small coral nano reef farm that itself consists of 7-12 aquariums which I scale up and down based on my current demands and needs. As I have decades invested in my coral reef aquariums, reliability and dependability were core to my operational requirements of my aquarium controllers. As a professional veteran of the GSM Mobile phone industry, where I had become use to architecting, designing and building High Availability systems which delivered 99.97% system availability uptime for mission critical mobile phone network elements, I was motivated to build my own aquarium controller solution that could deliver the same level of dependability and reliability that could and would deliver this same level or better I was used to in the Telecommunications world. At the time, there was no commercial controllers who could guarantee this level AND combine it with economical and affordable scalability. I saw online that commercial remote probe boxes were retailing upwards of 200Euros, and when I saw the inside of one of these only contained a SPI bridge chip with an integrated ADC / DAC (estimated chip price - 5-10 euros), where as a RaspberryPi with it's 40-pin GPIO (which can handle SPI, I2C, etc.) & 4 USB ports - I knew I could do a whole lot better for a whole lot cheaper price. One 200 euro SPI only based probe box or 5 RaspberryPi Model 3 computers for 175 Euros? The hardware cost decision was a simple one.

In fact, as I choose to design the High Availability Architecture around the design philosophy of the IBM System 4/Pi computer (Not related to the RaspberryPi, despite the same "Pi" name) which was designed for military flight control computers & was used as the flight computer for the Space Shuttle. Instead of just using Operating System level High Availability, this computer uses Application Level High Availability and Sanity Checking of Operations - each of the 5 computers are constantly sanity checking each other's decisions and operations looking for anything that is "out of bounds" in terms of expected operation. If one of the 5 computers is detected as performing errant functions or ceases to respond, it is ejected from the pool of operational controllers. If it was the specific primary controller at that time, another computer is escalated to status of the new primary controller. And this same design principle I carried over to the High Availability Home Assistant based aquarium controller I ended up building over 5 years ago now.

An additional bonus of Application level High Availability is that it gives the controller flexibility and portability in terms of hardware requirements, and allows me to run HA-HA nodes simultaneously on different hardware platforms. This means while I started with a 5 node RaspberryPi implementation - I can (and already have) migrate one or more nodes to other hardware platforms, such as a BananaPi, or a Pine64 small board computer, or an Intel NUC, or an AMD based NUC-like computer, or even a Virtual Machine.

I see from time to time, people with brand name aquarium controllers complaining about "controllers that glitched & dumped 5 liters of Calcium or Kalkwasser unexpectedly into their aquariums." Or the ATO device or controller function glitches out and doesn't shut off flooding the sump and dropping salinity.

This is where in my professional opinion, these controllers do not "Fail Safely & Fail Securely" by design, where my controller is designed to do just that - always Fail Safely and Fail Securely by Design -the very same principle followed at Mobile Phone Network Operators have to design and build for, and which I've professionally done for 32 years now.

All of this allows me to achieve my architectural performance requirement of my Aquarium Controller, and that is this:

My Aquarium Controller in my dedicated fishroom can be smashed with a hammer and it will continue to function. It can be smashed with a hammer and destroyed in the middle of a 180 liter batch water change operation & the aquarium controller will continue to function and not allow water to hit the floor or anything else with the aquarium to go catastrophically wrong.

This way, if I'm on the other side of the planet for work or holidays, and a node were to crash, while I will get an alarm notification to my phone, I won't have to panic. In fact, the remaining nodes will try to recover / reboot the failed node if that ever happens.

And all the hardware costs for that original 5 node RaspberryPi, including even a Seneye Sensor, 12 Temp probes, 15 Water level sensors and much more: 550 Euros.

And once I proved all of this was as reliable as I had designed it to be, I expanded the Automation controller to run my entire house too. The benefit of this is once my wife or house sitter knows how to operate the Home Automation side of this solution, they know how to use the basic User Interface of the Aquarium Controller side of this solution - they don't have to learn another User Interface to something different. And that level of reliability is also dependable enough for Home Security.
 

Heabel7

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I am the innovator and creator behind the High Availability Home Assistant (aka HA-HA) based Aquarium Controller.

I have a small coral nano reef farm that itself consists of 7-12 aquariums which I scale up and down based on my current demands and needs. As I have decades invested in my coral reef aquariums, reliability and dependability were core to my operational requirements of my aquarium controllers. As a professional veteran of the GSM Mobile phone industry, where I had become use to architecting, designing and building High Availability systems which delivered 99.97% system availability uptime for mission critical mobile phone network elements, I was motivated to build my own aquarium controller solution that could deliver the same level of dependability and reliability that could and would deliver this same level or better I was used to in the Telecommunications world. At the time, there was no commercial controllers who could guarantee this level AND combine it with economical and affordable scalability. I saw online that commercial remote probe boxes were retailing upwards of 200Euros, and when I saw the inside of one of these only contained a SPI bridge chip with an integrated ADC / DAC (estimated chip price - 5-10 euros), where as a RaspberryPi with it's 40-pin GPIO (which can handle SPI, I2C, etc.) & 4 USB ports - I knew I could do a whole lot better for a whole lot cheaper price. One 200 euro SPI only based probe box or 5 RaspberryPi Model 3 computers for 175 Euros? The hardware cost decision was a simple one.

In fact, as I choose to design the High Availability Architecture around the design philosophy of the IBM System 4/Pi computer (Not related to the RaspberryPi, despite the same "Pi" name) which was designed for military flight control computers & was used as the flight computer for the Space Shuttle. Instead of just using Operating System level High Availability, this computer uses Application Level High Availability and Sanity Checking of Operations - each of the 5 computers are constantly sanity checking each other's decisions and operations looking for anything that is "out of bounds" in terms of expected operation. If one of the 5 computers is detected as performing errant functions or ceases to respond, it is ejected from the pool of operational controllers. If it was the specific primary controller at that time, another computer is escalated to status of the new primary controller. And this same design principle I carried over to the High Availability Home Assistant based aquarium controller I ended up building over 5 years ago now.

An additional bonus of Application level High Availability is that it gives the controller flexibility and portability in terms of hardware requirements, and allows me to run HA-HA nodes simultaneously on different hardware platforms. This means while I started with a 5 node RaspberryPi implementation - I can (and already have) migrate one or more nodes to other hardware platforms, such as a BananaPi, or a Pine64 small board computer, or an Intel NUC, or an AMD based NUC-like computer, or even a Virtual Machine.

I see from time to time, people with brand name aquarium controllers complaining about "controllers that glitched & dumped 5 liters of Calcium or Kalkwasser unexpectedly into their aquariums." Or the ATO device or controller function glitches out and doesn't shut off flooding the sump and dropping salinity.

This is where in my professional opinion, these controllers do not "Fail Safely & Fail Securely" by design, where my controller is designed to do just that - always Fail Safely and Fail Securely by Design -the very same principle followed at Mobile Phone Network Operators have to design and build for, and which I've professionally done for 32 years now.

All of this allows me to achieve my architectural performance requirement of my Aquarium Controller, and that is this:

My Aquarium Controller in my dedicated fishroom can be smashed with a hammer and it will continue to function. It can be smashed with a hammer and destroyed in the middle of a 180 liter batch water change operation & the aquarium controller will continue to function and not allow water to hit the floor or anything else with the aquarium to go catastrophically wrong.

This way, if I'm on the other side of the planet for work or holidays, and a node were to crash, while I will get an alarm notification to my phone, I won't have to panic. In fact, the remaining nodes will try to recover / reboot the failed node if that ever happens.

And all the hardware costs for that original 5 node RaspberryPi, including even a Seneye Sensor, 12 Temp probes, 15 Water level sensors and much more: 550 Euros.

And once I proved all of this was as reliable as I had designed it to be, I expanded the Automation controller to run my entire house too. The benefit of this is once my wife or house sitter knows how to operate the Home Automation side of this solution, they know how to use the basic User Interface of the Aquarium Controller side of this solution - they don't have to learn another User Interface to something different. And that level of reliability is also dependable enough for Home Security.
Wow!! Impressive for sure. Please make and sell a controller that’s more affordable, more powerful, and is more reliable. If you can do that for all of us we would be most grateful. Unfortunately, it seems those who have tried have failed. Once you add everything up and try to put it to market AND make money. It just goes down hill.

Maybe you could publish a rock solid DIY book to make our own. I’m into electronics and computers and have soldered my own parts into multiple boards over the years. But the diy reefPi thread is not easy to follow and doesn’t actually save that much cash when I started adding it up. With all the problems trying to DIY it. Just doesn’t seem worth it.
 

Eye H8 Empty V

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I use Neptune Apex in conjunction with Control4 Home Automation. ( https://www.control4.com/ )
C4 Controls Kessil Lighting Schedule, Moving RODI and Salt Water through out the system, overflow emergency shutoff on the display tank, low and high sump level, Kalk Top Off 3 gallons per day during lights off period. Food mode for return pumps and auto UV on off depending on stage of return pump. Programming with C$ is endless and 100 % bullet proof. C4 has never failed me in 10+ years. At 6000 gph it doesn't take long to flood the house. The overflow protection is priceless for me.
I thought about building a system and using my Crestron processor as my controller but decided to go full Hydros. One of these days I’ll actually get my tank up!
 

dlaird76

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I have a full apex, but everything has a secondary controller, heater lights pumps skimmer I have never really relied on any controller we all know electronics fail. Even in the medical industry. That being said there isn’t a single best controller , pick one that works for you and the simplest one you can use to your knowledge
Could you sum up how you have achieved this please. I understand the secondary controller for the heating. How do you achieve this with the other items?
 

The Farmer

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I use kessil for light they have there own app. I use varios 8 pumps and they have there own controller, my skimmer is a reef octopus dc that has its own controller, basically my apex is secondary redundancy
Could you sum up how you have achieved this please. I understand the secondary controller for the heating. How do you achieve this with the other items?
 

bkhunt

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I am using an Apex but not for everything. I bought a broken unit without probes and had it repaired. Running an 823 plus 2 ph probes an temperature probe. Skipped buying salinity due to not being accurate and price. Biggest thing I have it doing is controlling the CO2 for calcium reactor and heater. Maybe someday I will make expand to do more but would like another EB to plug in the rest of my stuff.
 
BRS

How close to perfect, for you, is your reef aquarium?

  • IT'S PERFECT NOW

    Votes: 17 3.7%
  • It's getting close

    Votes: 65 14.3%
  • It's about half way there

    Votes: 85 18.7%
  • It's slow but progressing

    Votes: 134 29.5%
  • It's not even close

    Votes: 142 31.2%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 12 2.6%
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