Buyer's Guide to Neptune Systems Apex Controllers

Neptune Systems is the most widely trusted brand in aquarium control with the largest userbase across the globe. Their growing product line consists of a myriad of expansion modules, equipment, and accessories that work together to streamline and protect your aquarium.

The first step into the Neptune Systems universe is choosing one of the three different Apex Controllers and knowing which option is best is much easier than you might think.  All of the Neptune System Apex Controllers have the same expansion capabilities, include an Energy Bar 832, interface via Apex Fusion, and are compatible with the very same probes, modules, equipment, and accessories. No matter which option you choose, the possibilities are the same and it's just a matter of knowing which capabilities you will value most right now, then prioritizing those future capabilities when they are needed. As with most reefing gear, it's all about choosing the right tool for the right job. 


Neptune Systems ApexEL
The entry-level, more
affordable Apex

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Neptune Systems Apex Value Release
Apex Value Release
Everything minus the
salinity probe

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Neptune Systems Apex

The original flagship
aquarium controller

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The only difference between the various Apex systems is the included control ports and monitoring probes which are reflected in the price. Simply choose the system based upon the capabilities you need right now and should you someday decide to expand the system, it's as easy as plugging in a new module. 

Neptune Systems Apex Comparison Chart

  ApexEL Apex Value Release Apex
pH Probe Yes Yes Yes
ORP Probe No Yes Yes
Salinity Probe No No Yes
Temperature Probe Yes Yes Yes
Orp/pH Port #1 Yes Yes Yes
ORP/pH Port #2 No Yes Yes
Temperature Port Yes Yes Yes
Salinity Port No Yes Yes
Variable Speed Dimming Ports No Yes x2 Yes x2
Auxiliary Power Yes Yes Yes
Ethernet Port Yes Yes Yes
Wifi Yes Yes Yes
Aquabus Ports Yes x6 Yes x6 Yes x6
Energy Bar 832 Yes Yes Yes
Power Monitoring + Heartbeat Yes Yes Yes


Apex EL

This is the most affordable Apex and will be sufficient for a majority of reef tank owners. By monitoring power, pH, and temperature you are going to be able to identify a vast majority of problems that may pose a threat to your aquarium's livelihood. Because you have access to Apex Fusion, you can control and monitor your aquarium from anywhere in the world with an internet connection using your smartphone, tablet, or computer. It works with any of the Neptune System Accessories and modules so you can expand the system to grow with your tank and won't be forced into any features you just won't use. 

Apex Value Release

For those looking for complete control, less the salinity probe. While the exclusion of the salinity probe might seem menial, you will save $150 which is a pretty significant savings, especially if you just don't see any value in actively monitoring your aquarium's salinity level. Salinity can easily be monitored using refractometers or digital salinity meters which is something you should be doing alongside the use of a salinity probe anyway. In fact, among Apex users the salinity probe is actually the least used monitoring probe, presumably because it can be quite sensitive.  


The original flagship controller with the largest range of control and monitoring capabilities right out of the box. The full Apex is best suited for serious saltwater aquarists who value the most advanced monitoring and control capabilities and employ complex filtration and husbandry techniques. It is also the most economical route to get all of the available probes and control ports. Even though the ApexEL and Value Release are more affordable upfront, you would wind up spending more to achieve the same level of control by purchasing the additional modules and probes a-la-cart.