Aquarium Controllers and Monitors Overview
Aquarium monitors and controllers have gained in popularity over recent years, and while not essential they do provide some very useful functions. There are four general uses for aquarium controllers and monitors. Some monitors and controllers have one specific function and some have many.

Function #1: Monitoring
An aquarium monitor will monitor parameters such as temperature, pH, ORP, salinity, pump flow, TDS and power usage in real time and put them into an easily viewable layout. Sometimes the layout is a digital screen with a single parameter and sometimes with controllers like a Neptune Apex the layout is a web based program where you can view multiple parameters in real time from anywhere with an internet connection. The more sophisticated monitors will keep a record of the parameter over time. This can provide peace of mine and can be easier than traditional testing.

Function #2: Alarms and Notifications
All controllers have some form of notification. This can be a blinking light or an audible alarm. Some controllers with internet connections, such as a Neptune Apex, can send you notifications when something has gone wrong. For example: the tank is too hot, the pH is too low, a pump has failed, there is a power outage, or there is water on the floor. These notifications are extremely helpful as you canít do anything about a problem unless you know about it and problems often happen when we are away from home. Notifications are excellent for those who travel frequently as they can give you peace of mind and allow you to call a friend or family member to check on the tank should something go wrong.

Function #3: Controlling
Controllers can control specific parameters by turning an outlet on or off whenever the temperature, pH, salinity, or ORP is above or below a particular level. This can be used to control CO2 additions, pH buffer dosing, heaters, chillers, and calcium reactors.

NOTE: Be careful using controllers. If a controller fails, it can lead to a horrible disaster. Controllers are often best for redundant control.

Function #4: Providing Redundancy
Perhaps the most important role of a controller is redundancy. For example, aquarium heaters are notorious for sticking in the on position. If you use a heater alone, and it fails, it may overheat your tank and kill your fish. A solution to this potential problem is to use a heater with a controller. You can set the heater to turn off at 78 degrees and then set the controller to turn off the heater at 80 degrees. With this set-up, if the heater fails to turn off on its own at 78 degrees, the controller will turn it off at 80 degrees. Two things would need to fail in order for a disaster to happen.

This kind of redundancy is extremely important to the long term success of an aquarium as everything eventually fails.

Some other ways a controller can be used for redundancy include the following:

-Turning off a dosing pump if the pH spikes. The spike suggests the pump has overdosed a chemical.
-Turning off an auto top off if there is water on the floor.
-Turning off the skimmer and sump return pump if the sump water level is too low to stop the pumps from burning out.
-Turning off a protein skimmer when the cup is full so it doesnít overflow.
-Turning off non-essential equipment to reduce heat in the event of an air conditioner failure.
-Turning off a CO2 system in the event the pH drops too low.
-Turning off an ozone generator when the ORP is too high.
-Turning off an RO system when a container is filled or when there is water on the floor.

If you have specific questions about a solution using a monitor or controller please send an email to [email protected].