Neptune Apex vs. GHL

Neptune

StevePhx

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Not another question about which is better. I thought I would share my experience having used both systems for over a year.

First, just a little history. I’ve been reefing since the mid 80s and started getting serious in the early 90s using 100w 5500k MH pendants with a Top Fathom skimmer.

Fast forward to today and I’m keeping a 350g SPS system.

The current system has been up for about 3 years. I started the system with a full Neptune build and all the bells and whistles. I had flow sensors and optical sensors everywhere. I had every gadget you could buy and was the ultimate fanboy of Neptune including being part of NSI and having the ultra rare Neptune hat.

About 2 years in my Neptune started having all kinds of issues. I had to send in the main unit twice, a few EB832s and a DOS.

I would spend lots of time on the phone with Neptune, leaving work early to have them dial into my system and try and work through the issues.

Typically all the issues came from an Aquabus cable getting wet or one of my many FMMs disappearing.

Finally one morning I woke up to everything blinking orange yet again and I said enough is enough and and bought an entire GHL system.

Got the full Profllux4 system along with a KH director, 3 dosers, power bars, optical sensors etc. It was a smaller system overall from my Neptune system mainly because GHL didn’t have as much to offer.

In the time I’ve owned my GHL I’ve had one doser die. Hardware wise everything else has worked perfectly.

That’s where the good part of GHL stops. Just to get the system up and running I had to have a random person from Facebook remote into my system and start playing around.

Every 30 to 90 days my GHL app would have to be reset. Programming isn’t straight forward. I made mistakes numerous times and a few to the determinant of my tank.

The switch function was glitchy so turning off a pump for maintenance always resulted in having to unplug the unit versus using a slider in the app.

I worst of all just loading up the GHL app could take minutes. Frustrating when you are trying to do maintenance or dealing with an issue.

As of today, I am taking my GHL system off my tank and putting my Neptune system back. I’ve been debating this switch for a month since getting my Neptune system out of the garage would take some time.

I had to send my Trident out for advanced maintenance. I had to do a repair order for my main unit and I just bought all new Aquabus cables versus risking any of them causing issues again.

My thoughts on both systems.

GHL is very well built. The idea behind it allows a reefer to easily setup and store in a cabinet. The setup and programming is a nightmare. It isn’t hard but a miss step can hurt your tank. I’m still waiting for my Ion Director. When I bought the system I fell for the hype that GHL was the best controller out there and you just had to be a diehard to learn it and make it work.

The KH Director has to be calibrated often but the task isn’t as simple as the Trident.

Neptune setup is simple. Neptune’s programming is easy and very logic driven. Neptune has a ton of accessories probably too many and we end up adding stuff to the tank that just isn’t needed and can actually hurt the stability.

The community supporting Neptune in the US is massive and getting ahold of them through R2R, FB or their support system is very easy. This is one of the largest positives.

The negatives are hardware. Neptune equipment in my experience tends to break down; whether though a rusted Aquabus or corrupted internal programming. Since everything is linked one bad Aquabus cable can shut down the entire system. It can be very difficult to diagnose a bad component or cable without tearing the entire system apart.

My flow sensors have always been in my tank but worked maybe 50% of the time. I just got tired of messing with them and trying to get a reading.

As I mentioned at the start, I’m having numerous pieces swapped out now due to issues when I started my system back up. I had taken for granted with Neptune how simple this was to accomplish.

In conclusion, I am back to using Neptune. I won’t be the fanboy I once was realizing the short comings of the system. I won’t put all my trust into having every gadget I can add.

I would love to see Neptune develop “pro-grade” Aquabus cables that have a protective rubber cover to keep water and humidity out similar to the the special covers dealers have for their pH and ORP probes or rubber covers that will help protect the bottom of our equipment from drips and splashes.

I know my Neptune will break again. I already own a main unit and a backup EL. I already have a backup EB832. Knowing items will break and have redundancy built into the system and the ability to get everything back up and running quickly will make the repair time less painful.

If I was helping a new reefer I would definitely put them into a Neptune system and recommend Neptune to anyone on the fence about picking between the two.
 
Top Shelf Aquatics

BeanAnimal

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I looked at both and bought into the GHL recently.... even after watching a decade of complaints about the stubbornness of GHL on many fronts.

Every time I considered the Neptune I ended up walking away, mostly due to the perceived quality/durability and the fact that the form factor of every part of it is (frankly) silly, if not obnoxious.

I don't have an issue with the complexity of programming the GHL but fully understand why some people do. I will be upset if the logic does not perform as programmed though and have read about issues where events (switches, etc) are missed. However, I am not sure if there are actual problems or people's application of logic has undesired side effects.

I like the idea of the full parameters testing that Neptune offers (even if the shape of the thing makes no sense) and think that GHL missed the boat on the ION detector. That said, I am not sure that I would ever automate dosing (other than ALk/CA) based on a testing machine of any kind.
 

Sleepydoc

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Thanks for the writeup.

Salt water is a very tough environment. I wish Neptune would have made some changes to make their system more resistant but when it comes down to it, I've decided having a controller in the sump is a bad idea, regardless of how convenient it may be.
 
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