Congratulations! You’ve got a brand new 2016 Apex from Neptune Systems! This is a state-of-the-art controller that will give you almost limitless options for controlling your reef! While unboxing your new Apex can be exciting, that excitement can quickly turn to some serious bewilderment as you consider the task of getting your new controller installed. Where do you start?

Unboxing and mounting is your first step after reading through the Neptune Systems Get Started Guide

Step 1: Unboxing and Verifying Components

As you open your brand new Apex, the first thing you’ll need to do is take a quick look and verify that all of your new gear arrived safe and intact. As you review the items that should have arrived with your Apex, you’ll want to identify the following items which all should be included with it (You can identify the items with their corresponding letter in the photo below):

A. Apex Brain/Base Unit
B. Salinity/Conductivity Probe (Lab Grade)
C. pH Probe (Double Junction; Lab Grade)
D. Orp Probe (Double Junction; Lab Grade)
E. Temperature Probe
F. pH Calibration Fluid (10.0)
G. Salinity/Conductivity Probe Calibration Fluid (mS 53,000)
H. pH Calibration Fluid (7.0)
I. AquaBus Cable
J. Energy Bar 832 (EB832)
K. EB832 Mount Plate
L. Mounting Screws
M. Get Started Card
N. Neptune Tank Sticker

Neptune Systems Apex Setup Guide

Step 2: Determine a Plan for Mounting Your Apex

There are literally limitless options when it comes to how you will mount your Apex. The two basic rules you will want to keep in mind are 1) keep it away from water and 2) make it easily accessible. There are many examples of options for mounting the Apex somewhere on the aquarium stand. However, the preferred option for many aquarists is to use a controller board (a panel or “board” designed specifically for mounting your controller). In this article, we will be using the Adaptive Reef Deluxe Aquarium Controller Mounting Board.

Step 3: Gather your materials and tools:

In order to mount your controller, you will need:

  • Controller Board (or planned location where you will mount your controller)
  • Mounting Screws (provided with Apex)
  • EB832 Mounting Bracket (provided with Apex)
  • Printed Mounting Templates
  • Scissors
  • Drill
  • 1/16” Drill Bit
  • Philips Screwdriver

Step 4: Layout your plan for your mounting

Before ever beginning to mount your controller, you should layout your equipment as you plan to mount it on your board or stand. This can be done with a drawing, but is probably best done by physically laying out the pieces of equipment as you plan to mount them. In the image below, you will see that we’ve laid out not only the Apex Base Unit and EB832, but also the other equipment controllers and modules we plan to mount (return pump controller, skimmer control, MP40 driver, and other Apex modules).


Neptune Systems Apex Setup Guide


NOTE: It’s always best to make a longterm plan for mounting your equipment to include any foreseeable upgrades or additions. These can be laid out on your board by researching the dimensions of additional equipment that you haven’t yet purchased and then cutting out a “placeholder” that can be used within your equipment layout to indicate the location and space needed for the planned later addition.

Step 5: Print and Cutout Your Mounting Templates

Before we can move on to actually mounting the Brain and EB832, you will need to print and cut out the mounting templates provided by Neptune. The mounting templates are available for download online here.

NOTE: When printing your templates, be sure to print in “Actual Size.” Do NOT print with the options to “Fit” or “Fit to Page.” Doing so could result in your templates being printed too small.

Neptune Systems Apex Setup Guide
Neptune Systems Apex Setup Guide

Then cut out each of these templates. Both templates include a margin of space which MUST be left open around your Apex modules. This means that when you cut out the templates, you should include those margins within the cutout itself. This will ensure you’ve left the proper space for your Apex units.

Neptune Systems Apex Setup Guide


Once you’ve cutout the template, place the template onto the mounting area to be sure that your planned layout will be adequate.

NOTE: You will need to leave 1-2” of open space on the right side of the EB832 for the fan to operate without obstruction. However, this space is not included in the template, so double check to be sure you have left that space to the right of the EB832 in addition to the template.


Neptune Systems Apex Setup Guide


Because I prefer to avoid any surprises, I took the extra step of placing the EB832 over the template in order to get an exact impression of how this will be when fully mounted.


Neptune Systems Apex Setup Guide


Step 6: Mark and drill holes for mounting your EB832

Now you’re ready to begin mounting your EB832. The first step will be to place the mounting bracket over the template to ensure that all of your holes line up correctly.


Neptune Systems Apex Setup Guide


Next, mark each of your holes on your mounting surface. This is done by taking a pointed object (e.g. pencil or pen) and pressing down on the center of each of the holes so that it makes an indention in the surface where you will be mounting your EB832. You may also find it helpful to go back and mark each indention on the surface (as seen in the video).

Now use a 1/16” drill bit to drill a pilot hole for each of the mounting screws.

NOTE: It’s probably a good idea to check the position of your holes one more time by placing the mounting bracket over your marks. This will keep you from drilling holes only to discover that your positioning is off somewhere. The old adage “Measure twice, cut once.” is useful wisdom here.

STEP 7: Mount your EB832

Install the mounting bracket using 3 of the mounting screws provided with the Apex. Affix your EB832 onto the mounting bracket by sliding it down over the bracket so that it locks into place.

Step 8: Mark and drill holes for mounting your Apex base unit

Before you mark the holes for the base unit, you will need to check the holes by placing the base unit mounting holes over the mounting template to be sure the holes line up.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT attempt to remove the bracket from the base unit! Instead, you will rotate the mounting bracket on the base unit. Simply pull out on the tab and turn the tab to rotate the bracket around (as shown in video).

Holes should line up as shown in this image.


Neptune Systems Apex Setup Guide


Next, place the template on the location where you intend to mount the base unit, and mark your holes as you did before with the EB832 template. Use a sharp object for making the indention, and then mark your hole indentions. Using the same 1/16” drill bit used before, drill 2 pilot holes for the mounting screws.

Step 9: Mount your Apex base unit.

Affix 2 of the mounting screws provided with your Apex onto the mounting surface, but do not tighten them all the way down. You will want to leave space between the mounting surface and the screw head so that the base unit can lock into place.

Place base unit and bracket over mounting screws and slide unit downward to lock Apex into place.

Step 10: Connect your Apex base unit and EB832

Before connecting any other cables to your Apex (including ethernet, power cables, or any other cables), you will need to connect the Apex base unit and EB832. DO NOT connect any other cables on your Apex prior to this step!

Using the provided AquaBus cable that came with your Apex (DO NOT use a USB cable!!), connect one end into one of the AquaBus ports on the Apex base unit, and connect the other end of the cable into one of the AquaBus ports on your EB832.

IMPORTANT: As stated above, DO NOT use a USB cable for connecting modules on your Apex. While the AquaBus cable is a USB-type cable (using the same connection type), a standard USB cable is not made for AquaBus cable use. If you use a USB cable, you run the risk of severely damaging your Apex equipment, and you will, void your warranty.

Step 11: Connect your Apex to power.

Plug your EB832 power cord into any standard 110v outlet. As you connect the unit, you should observe the Apex base unit and EB832 cycling through various initiation stages of establishing communication between the two modules (see video below).

The status light (the Neptune logo) on the Apex base unit will flash from green to purple to green to orange to blue where it will remain.

The EB832 status light (the Neptune logo) will flash rapidly and then turn solid orange.

Congratulations! You have successfully mounted and connected your Apex base unit and EB832! Now proceed to our next article on connecting the Apex to your internet network.