Neptune Systems A3 Apex Jr - At Last, Affordable Reef Tank Monitoring Is Here
Neptune Systems has heard our calls and finally delivered the reef tank monitoring device we have been asking for. The A3 Apex Jr. includes the ability to monitor temperature, pH, and the water level inside your aquarium as well as detect leaks outside of your aquarium for just under $300. It uses the Apex Fusion cloud-based interface and connects to your home's Wifi network so you benefit from around-the-clock monitoring and can be notified whenever something goes awry via push notifications, text, or email.
A3 Apex Jr Base Unit
- 2 FMM Ports
- 2 Aquabus Ports (expandable)
- 1 pH probe port
- 1 Temperature probe port
- WiFi compatible only (no Ethernet port)
- New built-in audible alarm
How Can The Apex Jr Help Me?
What makes the Jr so attractive is the fact that a majority of the issues that arise in a reef tank can be identified by monitoring temperature, pH, and water level. Combine that with constant communications via Apex Fusion on your phone and the near limitless expansion capabilities and you get the most accessible Apex system to date.
All of the monitoring you need and ready for control when you are.
The included AquaBus ports mean you can connect any of the available Neptune Systems modules and accessories so even if you're not quite ready for control and automation today, it's still an option for tomorrow.
Right out of the box, the installation and setup are guided via on-screen instructions using Apex Fusion. Everything from unboxing the system, connecting to your home's Wifi network, and installing the probes and sensors.
From there, simply navigate the dashboard to set up your individual probes and sensors that each have their own setup task making the process incredibly easy. Be sure to accept the push notifications from Apex Fusion and then configure the probe and sensor alarms to be notified when parameters fall out of range or when sensors are triggered.
The temperature probe keeps track of the water's temperature. When setting up the temperature probe alarm for a reef tank, you will typically want to be notified when temperatures rise beyond 80° F and fall below 75° F but this could vary depending on your tank's target water temperature. Regardless, temperature swings are the #1 threat to aquarium life because they are the most common.
Common Causes of Temperature Swings
- Heating Element - Gets stuck ON or OFF causing the temperature to rise or fall rapidly.
- Heater Controller - Fails to switch the heating element correctly or read the correct water temperature in the tank.
- Home Thermostat - Somebody changes the thermostat settings in your house causing the air temperature to rise or fall in your home.
- HVAC System - What if your A/C goes out during the summer? Your tank's water temperature is sure to rise alongside your home's air temps.
With Apex Jr, you can get notified of those changing temperatures and correct the problem before your livestock is in danger.
pH is not as complex as the scientific definition makes it sound; simply put, it's a measure of the water's acidity and is the best indicator we have for changes in water chemistry. In a reef tank, the goal is to maintain a very stable pH within a range of 7.8 - 8.3, with most hobbyists striving to hit 8.2 - 8.3 throughout most of the day because anything lower can inhibit corals' ability to calcify (create skeletal structures).
pH is most often affected by additives and the levels of dissolved CO2 but nutrient levels and various natural processes can also have an effect on pH. Should pH start to fall out of range, you know something is happening that is affecting the water chemistry and you should move very quickly to diagnose and resolve the problem. In the event of the most severe pH swings, it could be a matter of minutes before corals start to perish.
Common Causes of pH Swings
- Overdosing additives - Kalkwasser and alkalinity supplements cause pH spikes
- Running out of additives - not enough additives cause pH to drop
- Failed dosing pump - not enough additives cause pH to drop
- Calcium reactor failures - Running out of CO2 or overdosing on the effluent solution can both cause pH drops
- Too much CO2 - When the air around your tank becomes concentrated with CO2, the pH will drop because of natural gas exchange and your protein skimmer injecting air from around the tank.
The Apex Jr. can send you alerts as pH begins to fall out of range giving you the ability to correct the problem. While some cases are going to be more severe than others, watching pH closely is not only ideal for optimal coral health but will help you avoid chemistry-related disasters.
Water Level Monitoring
The MOS device is an optical water level sensor that is used to detect rising or falling water levels which can be extremely useful in a variety of different applications. When setting up the alarm, you can have the system notify you when the sensor is dry or "open" which would indicate a drop in water level or you could have it send you a notification when the sensor gets wet or "closed".
Common MOS Applications
- Failed Return Pump - Place the MOS in your return pump chamber above the set water level, if the pump stops working for any reason the water level will rise and trigger the sensor to alert you. Would also happen in the event your ATO overfills the tank.
- Dry Run Protection - Place the optical sensor a few inches below the set water level in your return pump chamber, if the water level drops too low, the MOS will alert you before the pump runs dry. This could happen because the ATO fails to fill or if you have a clog/blockage in the drains or filtration.
- ATO Reservoirs - Place the MOS at the bottom of your Freshwater ATO reservoir to notify you when it's empty.
- Additive Containers - Place the MOS in your additive containers to notify you when you're running low on additives.
- Clogged Drain - A clogged or slow drain will cause the level in your display tank to rise and the level in your sump to drop and the MOS can detect that.
Finally, every aquarist's worst nightmare has got to be water on the floor. Whether it's an entire tank's worth of water or simply a leaky pipe, water on the floor is never a good thing. The LD-2 sensor can be placed anywhere around the sump or aquarium where water will collect first in the event it overflows, cracks, or leaks. The sensor has conductive strips on the bottom which will detect the moisture and then trigger an alarm to notify you as soon as water puddles on the floor.
Common Causes of Aquarium Leaks
- Cracked tank
- Failed plumbing or bad seals
- Overfill from ATO
- Clogged plumbing
- Flexible tubing pops off fitting