How To Coordinate Feed Mode Between Vectra Pump and Apex

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Tony Galdikas

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Hello fellow reefers!

PROBLEM:
I have an Apex and I use its "Feed A" button to turn off my Vectra, turn off my skimmer, and turn off my ATO when I feed my tank. However, I am planning to make a DIY backup for the Vectra, so cutting the power to the Vectra will simply make it go into battery backup mode instead! So, what I really want to do is have the Apex activate the Vectra's feed mode, but the Apex can't trigger the Vectra into feed mode.

(Yes, I can manually put the Vectra into feed mode, and then put the Apex into feed mode too. However, I spent a lot of money on the Apex and I want this to happen automagically!)

Therefore, when I go into feed mode I want the following things to happen:
  1. The Vectra return pump should be in feed mode which slows the amount of water it is pumping from the sump up to the tank to a trickle.
    Side effect: Since my return pump has slowed down, the water level in the sump will rise. Therefore, 2 and 3 are necessary...
  2. Turn off skimmer: Otherwise it will overflow because the water level in the sump has risen.
  3. Turn off ATO: Otherwise it will detect the high water level in the sump and it will turn on its really annoying alarm (and I will lose the will to live).
When I leave feed mode I want to:
  1. Put the Vectra back to its normal flow setting.
  2. Wait 5 minutes for the water level in the sump to get back to normal, and then turn the skimmer back on.
  3. Wait an additional 2 minutes for the skimmer to get rolling (which affects the sump water level, too), and then turn the ATO back on.
I figured out a way to do this so I thought I would document it in case anyone else wants to do the same thing.

SOLUTION:
Rather than use feed mode on the Apex, I can use the controller buttons on the Vectra to put the Vectra into feed mode. Now, I can hear you asking "How can I have the Apex turn off the skimmer and ATO automatically when the Vectra goes into feed mode?" Well, I'm glad you asked!

First, I created a virtual switch called "ReturnLowPwr" to detect when the return pump is using less power than normal, such as when I activate its feed mode. Then I add instructions for my skimmer and ATO to turn them off when the ReturnLowPwr virtual switch is ON.

HOW TO DO THIS:
To add a virtual switch go into the Apex Fusion dashboard, click the Expand icon (the one that looks like a gear), click on the Outputs icon (looks like a plug receptacle), click the Add/Delete icon in the upper right corner (this one looks like a gear, too), select "+Add Virtual Output", and call it something like "ReturnLowPwr".

Go back to the dashboard and find your new virtual switch and go into the configuration and put in these instructions:

Set OFF
If Output Return-Pump Watts < 58 Then ON

By default, the ReturnLowPwr is OFF. However, if it detects that the return pump is using less than 58 watts then it switches to ON. My pump normally uses 84 watts so if it is lower than 58 watts I consider it to be in low power mode. This will happen when I manually put the Vectra into feed mode. You will have to adjust this value for whatever is right for your pump.

Next, in the configuration for my skimmer I added the following instructions:

If Output ReturnLowPwr = ON Then OFF
Defer 005:00 Then ON

And in the ATO I added this:

If Output ReturnLowPwr = ON Then OFF
Defer 007:00 Then ON

While my return pump is in feed mode and using less than 58 watts, the Apex will detect this and turn the virtual switch called ReturnLowPwr to "ON". When ReturnLowPwr is ON, my skimmer and ATO will now turn off. When the return pump comes out of feed mode ReturnLowPwr will turn back off. When the ReturnLowPwr switch turns off, the Defer statement will make the skimmer wait an additional 5 minutes and the ATO an additional 7 minutes before they turn back on.

I thought this was a good solution that others might find helpful too.

Happy reefing!
 
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MnFish1

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You won't like this perhaps. I would use the vectra software to do this. It seems like Echotech wants people to use their equipment. I"m sure others will weigh in. FWIW - I am not sure that turning off pumps while feeding is 'good' - it spreads the food throughout the tank - and lets the fish find it.
 
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Tony Galdikas

Tony Galdikas

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I prefer to turn off the flow while I feed. That lets me target specific areas of the tank so my more cryptic fish are guaranteed a meal, and it doesn't blow the pellets all over the place before the fish can get to them. I waste less food this way.

After I've fed everyone I turn on the powerheads in the tank and that suspends anything that was missed and lets the corals feed too. I leave it that way for 10 minutes and then turn everything back on.

It has worked well for the last couple of years.

Thanks!
 
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