Aquaponic Gardening

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Got one of these and getting it set up today, have a friend that set one up about 2 weeks ahead of me. 

 

Seemed like best out of the box monierting system.  They are also about to come out with addtional atomosperical moniters and controllers also.

 

I am starting with temp, PH, and EC moniters and hope to expand to PH control, and DO monitering.

 

Kit cost about $500

 

Anyone else have any expereinces?

 

See below for more details

 

http://www.neptunesys.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=45

 

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=368

 

 

Features:

Connectivity

  • Ethernet Interface
  • Embedded Web Server
  • Only controller with web browser Monitoring, Control & Configuration.
  • Email Alarms

 

Expandability

  • Most expandable Controller.
     Up to 240 modules, hundreds of probes, and thousands of controlled outlets.
  • Simple menu driven Configuration

     No program language knowledge required.


Robust Timers

  • Simulates Sunrise/sunset
  • Simulates moon cycle
  • Wave Maker with flexible configuration
  • Built-in Variable speed pump control
  • Still water feed mode (multiple modes)

 

Ultimate Control

  • Monitor/Control Temperature, pH, and ORP
  • Digital Calibration on all probes
  • Seasonal temp & lighting control
  • Flexible Control Options

 

 


Apex System

The Apex System delivers a professional quality controller at hobbyist prices.

Built-in Ethernet

Integrated Ethernet port

Most advanced web server available

Interactive flash graphing application in the web server

Interfaces with AquaNotes iPhone application

Compatible with all Major web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari)

Only aquarium controller with web server monitoring, control, and configuration

Compatible with wireless bridges or game adapters (802.11x) so that wireless network communication is possible

Email or text message alarms

Email alarms or audible alarms when Energy Bar power fails

Interactive flash graphing application in the web server

Interfaces with AquaNotes iPhone application

RSS and XML Support

Very simple menu driven configuration

Menus to easily setup pumps, lights, heater, chiller, co2, etc

No programming required for configuration

Can name the outlets (unlike competing products)

Can be configured through LCD Display or a standard web browser

In advanced mode an enhanced AquaController programming language is available

Sophisticated non standard control available

Virtual Outlets allow even more complex control options

Monitor/Control - pH, Temp, and ORP

The base unit includes software which is capable of monitoring pH, ORP, and temperature. The ORP probe input is modal and can be used to either monitor ORP or monitor pH; the AquaController Apex can monitor 2 different pH sources simultaneously! The monitored data is continuously displayed on the large LCD display and also logged into the internal nonvolatile memory for later retrieval. All probes support digital calibration.

 

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I am not familiar with this product, but if you can access real-time info online about your AP system from any location via intenet that is huge.  Also having information being recorded with graphs is one of the best things you can do to fully understand whats going on in your system and how one thing affects the next.  I am really curios about this product or products like this.  This should be a great discussion :)

Sounds interesting, let us know how it works out for you.

 

I will caution that EC monitoring for aquaponics is of only very limited use.  Don't go trying or expecting the EC readings to match up with anything like what you might try to do in Hydroponics.  (I know the options are probably limited but if you have the choice between EC and dissolved oxygen, go for the DO meter instead.)

TC can you give some more detail on your experences with EC and aquaponics? 

I have read that these sorts of automated/electronic measuring devices need recalibrating and testing a lot to stay accurate.  I think I read on one pH meter I was considering that I would have to replace the electrodes or something every few months.. I ended up deciding these aren't really worth it if you're going to be around a lot anyway and are willing to test by hand 2-3 times/week.  Of course, for internet monitoring these are a must, so if you have the $$$ and are willing to maintain them for accuracy, they should be very nice.

 

Can anyone comment on the recalibration & maintenance requirements?

 

Well I can't really commend on EC and how it relates to aquarium stuff but I do know that EC as it applies to Hydroponics really has no bearing on Aquaponics.  See Hydroponics uses EC to estimate the nutrient strength.  EC being a measure of electrical conductivity and pure water isn't all that conductive when compared to water with salts in it.  Anyway, Hydroponics uses this to help estimate the strength of the nutrient mix.  If the EC drops because of large water top ups or the plants using up lots of nutrients relative to the amount of water, then it will show weak while lots of transpiration and evaporation will cause the EC to rise and this can help the hydroponic gardener know if they should add more water or more nutrient mix.  Of course since the EC is just taking the total conductivity and can't tell which particular nutrients might be high or low, this means that to keep a better blend of nutrients for their plants, hydroponic gardeners must dump and re-place their nutrient mix every so often.

 

However, Aquaponics doesn't depend on synthetic mineral salts to provide the nutrients for the plants and therefore EC is not an accurate measure of the nutrient strength in aquaponics at all.  I could have nitrate readings off the chart according to the nitrate test kit while an EC meter might perhaps read 0.2 or you could take a brand new system with no nitrates at all but when you salt to say 3ppt to sooth new stressed fish you will wind up with a EC reading so high that according to Hydroponics texts would kill tomatoes in no time but I've found that tomatoes don't seem to mind 3 ppt of salt at all though I don't recommend salting an aquaponics system except in times of expected nitrite spikes (like during initial cycle up with fish.)

 

I have used my EC meter on occasion to help me estimate the salt levels in a system but it has otherwise done nothing for me since I quit doing hydroponics.

 

jrtroubleshooter said:

TC can you give some more detail on your experences with EC and aquaponics? 
Greener,  recalibration is different for each meter, company, and model.    For example i have a blue-lab guardian combo meter which measures PH, EC, and Temp.   For this the temp and the EC never need to be replaced or calibrated unless it is damaged through misuse.  The PH needs to be calibrated monthly and replaced every 1-3 years.   But Ive had cheap electronic ph meters that needed replacement after 6 months or even less.  I think what i said earlier about my PH probe is a common time frame for a quality piece of equipment.  I check my PH probe against the readings of a PH water dropper test, in order to tell if my PH probe needs recalibration or replacement.  The water dropper PH test kits are really accurate, if you can match the color correctly, which can be a challenge.
I'm "so glad" to see that normally sighted people battle with the dropper tests - I assume you are not colourblind, as I am.  I use the dropper for a ball park but for accurate checks I need a digital reading.  That goes for all my tests, not just pH.

AJ Grottke said:
The water dropper PH test kits are really accurate, if you can match the color correctly, which can be a challenge.

Kobus, 

That's why I have an artist wife. . . I just mix my test tube and hand it to her and say "give me a reading."  She uses her super-color seeing skills so I don't have to.  : )

 

I use my EC meter sometimes (I actually run an EC datalogger constantly) but it's mostly curiosity and as a diagnostic thing.  Some feeds are high in a lot of salts so it's good to have if salt sensitive plants (like strawberries) start kicking the bucket.  It helps you know what's going on.

 

I have a pH monitor but I don't even use it anymore.  I just use a hand held digital pH tester (pH TESTR) and use the kit for nitrates, nitrites and ammonia every couple weeks.  Honestly, everything is so stable I don't ever really need to test anymore.  I haven't had an emergency in a very long time.  (With the exception of the time accidentally turned on an over-tank light in the middle of the night and had almost all my tilapia spook and jump simultaneously.  The small ones hit the net and bounced back.  The large ones punched through and I spent half an hour cleaning them all off of the floor, out of the corners, etc.).  Don't do that, by the way.


Kobus Jooste said:

I'm "so glad" to see that normally sighted people battle with the dropper tests - I assume you are not colourblind, as I am.  I use the dropper for a ball park but for accurate checks I need a digital reading.  That goes for all my tests, not just pH.

AJ Grottke said:
The water dropper PH test kits are really accurate, if you can match the color correctly, which can be a challenge.

I'm with TCL with regards to EC readings in aquaponics...

 

Despite many years of hydroponic experience, I'm unable to correlate any EC readings from my aquaponics systems with any of my previous knowledge and experience in hydroponics...

 

Let me know how the "Neptune System" goes over time... as it's a system that I'd like to evaluate over time... particularly in real time aquaponics usage... that so far has dealt a death knell for any of the cheaper on-line probes/systems that I've used

 

I will get the wires cleaned up more soon...

 

Got it set up and basically running, Thank you post concentrating on the EC features on the monerting but the tool is soooooooo much more. 

 

I have my lights, pumps, and fish feeder all controlled by the unit.  (Still working on the fish feeder time programing)

 

Heaters running on separte high amp control

 

You can graph all the paramiters that the unit is controling and or monitering.  I think this is going to be very good long term data.

 

It can send email noticifications for anything you want to set it up for.

 

Progarming very simple but does take some time if you want more than just the basics but the salt water guyes have tried almost everything.  While you can do the programing from the display I have been doing most of mine from PC

 

 

Wow that looks cool!  Keep us updated on how it works out for you over time :)
wow.  I want one.

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