Reef nutrition

GHL or Apex

Which Controller do you use?

  • Apex

    Votes: 16 80.0%
  • GHL

    Votes: 2 10.0%
  • None

    Votes: 2 10.0%

  • Total voters
    20

IOnceWasLegend

Secretary
BOD
I've used both the Apex Trident/DOS and GHL KH Director/2.1 doser combos. I haven't used the Profilux before, but just the dosers/KH director for GHL; though I've used both EL and 'full' Apex.

I started with GHL, then switched to Neptune. My impressions were that GHL is excellent hardware with bad user interface (UI), while Apex was middling hardware with excellent UI. I'm fairly tolerant to 'blah' user interfaces (I worked as a research scientist for a decade, so I'm used to GHL's approach), but the UI was just...bad. It would routinely drop my connection, frequently require me to exit/restart the app (often several times) to do something as simple as changing dosing amount, and setup was very non-intuitive.

It eventually stopped allowing me to connect over wifi, and the final straw for me was when a random app update removed my ability to connect to the doser locally. This meant I could not change dosing levels, and would have had to hard-connect it to a PC in order to factory reset/reconfigure it.

So far, I've had no such issues with the Apex. Connectivity has been great, UI has been easy, any modifications I've wanted to make (even with having very little programming knowledge) have been very easy, so I'm happy with my choice. One bonus has also been that, since Apex has a larger market share, there's more support available from hobbyists online and it's easier to find gear for Apex on the secondhand market.

I will say, however, I prefer GHL's alkalinity testing approach (using a pH probe as an indirect assay of alkalinity) versus the Trident (color-based testing). In part, this is because the GHL alk testing is cheaper, and you can make your own reagent in a pinch if you need to (I think it's just 0.1N hydrochloric acid). I also prefer this approach because it makes the Trident a fairly complicated piece of equipment if you need to tweak/fix something yourself.

Example: when I got the 'no water sample' error in my Trident, it took me the better part of three hours to figure out what was wrong and rectify it. I got the same error again a few months later, and it took me a little while to figure out what the cause was. Neptune customer support was willing to help out both times, but did fall into a (personal pet peeve) routine of script-based responses and asking me questions I'd already provided the answer to.

Finally, a small point: while Apex offers native integration of Kessil light control, I'm not really a huge fan of it and have had a few hiccups using it already.

That being said: I like my Apex setup better than my GHL, to the point I wound up buying a second one for my frag tank.

(And I was in the middle of writing this when @Srt4eric responded, proving he lives inside my head)
 

Srt4eric

Public Relations
BOD
I've used both the Apex Trident/DOS and GHL KH Director/2.1 doser combos. I haven't used the Profilux before, but just the dosers/KH director for GHL; though I've used both EL and 'full' Apex.

I started with GHL, then switched to Neptune. My impressions were that GHL is excellent hardware with bad user interface (UI), while Apex was middling hardware with excellent UI. I'm fairly tolerant to 'blah' user interfaces (I worked as a research scientist for a decade, so I'm used to GHL's approach), but the UI was just...bad. It would routinely drop my connection, frequently require me to exit/restart the app (often several times) to do something as simple as changing dosing amount, and setup was very non-intuitive.

It eventually stopped allowing me to connect over wifi, and the final straw for me was when a random app update removed my ability to connect to the doser locally. This meant I could not change dosing levels, and would have had to hard-connect it to a PC in order to factory reset/reconfigure it.

So far, I've had no such issues with the Apex. Connectivity has been great, UI has been easy, any modifications I've wanted to make (even with having very little programming knowledge) have been very easy, so I'm happy with my choice. One bonus has also been that, since Apex has a larger market share, there's more support available from hobbyists online and it's easier to find gear for Apex on the secondhand market.

I will say, however, I prefer GHL's alkalinity testing approach (using a pH probe as an indirect assay of alkalinity) versus the Trident (color-based testing). In part, this is because the GHL alk testing is cheaper, and you can make your own reagent in a pinch if you need to (I think it's just 0.1N hydrochloric acid). I also prefer this approach because it makes the Trident a fairly complicated piece of equipment if you need to tweak/fix something yourself.

Example: when I got the 'no water sample' error in my Trident, it took me the better part of three hours to figure out what was wrong and rectify it. I got the same error again a few months later, and it took me a little while to figure out what the cause was. Neptune customer support was willing to help out both times, but did fall into a (personal pet peeve) routine of script-based responses and asking me questions I'd already provided the answer to.

Finally, a small point: while Apex offers native integration of Kessil light control, I'm not really a huge fan of it and have had a few hiccups using it already.

That being said: I like my Apex setup better than my GHL, to the point I wound up buying a second one for my frag tank.

(And I was in the middle of writing this when @Srt4eric responded, proving he lives inside my head)
Regarding alk testing he could always get the KHG to test alk instead of the trident. The khg also uses a ph probe to test. You can also plug the khg into your apex.
 

IOnceWasLegend

Secretary
BOD
Regarding alk testing he could always get the KHG to test alk instead of the trident. The khg also uses a ph probe to test. You can also plug the khg into your apex.
This is true.

I'd also caution, however, that the KHG manufacturers can brick your system for using "unsupported reagent" (eg, 0.1N hydrochloric acid) and unbricking it requires mailing them your unit at cost plus a $100 fee.

Not a fan of those kinds of business practices.
 

Qwiv

Supporting Member
I have used both and prefer the Apex. I don’t use the advanced kit mentioned above as it is pretty over the top for most users. The Apex EL will take care of 90% of users out of the box. I have used Apex since they were called AquaController 2 and 3 and the first actual Apex Now Apex Classic. Just got the new Apex EL and pretty happy with it so far. Apex Fusion is awesome.

The GHL stuff is made really well, but was just to frustrating to use.

saw you were looking for pumps too, the Wav pumps will suite your tank well and are a great bang for the buck pump and they plug into your 1link outlets saving you 2 power plugs and no control boxes. If I hade a bigger tank, I would 100% get those.
 

L/B Block

Supporting Member
I've used both the Apex Trident/DOS and GHL KH Director/2.1 doser combos. I haven't used the Profilux before, but just the dosers/KH director for GHL; though I've used both EL and 'full' Apex.

I started with GHL, then switched to Neptune. My impressions were that GHL is excellent hardware with bad user interface (UI), while Apex was middling hardware with excellent UI. I'm fairly tolerant to 'blah' user interfaces (I worked as a research scientist for a decade, so I'm used to GHL's approach), but the UI was just...bad. It would routinely drop my connection, frequently require me to exit/restart the app (often several times) to do something as simple as changing dosing amount, and setup was very non-intuitive.

It eventually stopped allowing me to connect over wifi, and the final straw for me was when a random app update removed my ability to connect to the doser locally. This meant I could not change dosing levels, and would have had to hard-connect it to a PC in order to factory reset/reconfigure it.

So far, I've had no such issues with the Apex. Connectivity has been great, UI has been easy, any modifications I've wanted to make (even with having very little programming knowledge) have been very easy, so I'm happy with my choice. One bonus has also been that, since Apex has a larger market share, there's more support available from hobbyists online and it's easier to find gear for Apex on the secondhand market.

I will say, however, I prefer GHL's alkalinity testing approach (using a pH probe as an indirect assay of alkalinity) versus the Trident (color-based testing). In part, this is because the GHL alk testing is cheaper, and you can make your own reagent in a pinch if you need to (I think it's just 0.1N hydrochloric acid). I also prefer this approach because it makes the Trident a fairly complicated piece of equipment if you need to tweak/fix something yourself.

Example: when I got the 'no water sample' error in my Trident, it took me the better part of three hours to figure out what was wrong and rectify it. I got the same error again a few months later, and it took me a little while to figure out what the cause was. Neptune customer support was willing to help out both times, but did fall into a (personal pet peeve) routine of script-based responses and asking me questions I'd already provided the answer to.

Finally, a small point: while Apex offers native integration of Kessil light control, I'm not really a huge fan of it and have had a few hiccups using it already.

That being said: I like my Apex setup better than my GHL, to the point I wound up buying a second one for my frag tank.

(And I was in the middle of writing this when @Srt4eric responded, proving he lives inside my head)
Thanks for the link. Very helpful indeed.
 

CaptainB

Supporting Member
I'll jump in here rather than start a new thread.

I don't want to get into automated testing at this point and I don't think I'd ever run a Trident due to reagents. I have a standalone ghl doser I can hook up so I'm mostly just looking for monitoring, not control.

Is hydros viable here? GHL is hard to setup and apex build quality feels like it came in a Happy Meal.
 

Thales

Past President
I like to recommend apex because they are localish, which can make a world of difference if you have issues.
The feels like it is in a happy meal construstion often confuses me because what are you doing to the equipment that requires it to be more robust and can justify the extra expense and the extra material? Personally, I love that they aren't putting time and money and material into this part of the products. This kind of discussion started a milliion years ago with ER skimmers vs ASM skimmers. One of the selling points of ER is that it was made of cast cel acrylic, so it was stronger, but I was so confuse about what people were doing with their skimmers that they needed stronger and heavier acrylic. Am I missing something important or is it really just a personal preference?
 

rygh

Treasurer
BOD
I like to recommend apex because they are localish, which can make a world of difference if you have issues.
The feels like it is in a happy meal construstion often confuses me because what are you doing to the equipment that requires it to be more robust and can justify the extra expense and the extra material? Personally, I love that they aren't putting time and money and material into this part of the products. This kind of discussion started a milliion years ago with ER skimmers vs ASM skimmers. One of the selling points of ER is that it was made of cast cel acrylic, so it was stronger, but I was so confuse about what people were doing with their skimmers that they needed stronger and heavier acrylic. Am I missing something important or is it really just a personal preference?
The Apex hardware complaints were not really about the case.
The older Apex units had rather cheap low-current relays, and there were quite a few failures. (I had this failure) The new ones are better, but still could be larger.
The DOS peristaltic pumps need the head changed a lot. Cheap plastic or tubing. (I find this to be an issue myself)
I have seen old analysis of someone that opened up an Apex and looked at components. Cheap caps/logic/etc supposedly. (Not something I have researched though)

That said: I use an Apex, and have no plans to switch.
Opinion: Local + great support + good software makes up for a lot.
 

kinetic

Supporting Member
I've only used Apex, so can only speak for that. I've very little issues with my Apex Jr. that I've had running for 5+ years, and it was a used one to boot. I have it maxed on aquabus controllers, a couple FMM, VDM, DOS, and more. The only issue I've ever had is recently I exploded my drain trying to clean out the dumb red sea reefer valve, and it definitely shorted something out with one of my DOS. That's more of a "me" issue than the Apex.

My next build I'm going with the A3 Apex Pro, mostly because I have a bunch of Apex items already, so no need to switch, but I have the confidence in Neptune at this point.
 

CaptainB

Supporting Member
It's not just the brain but an ecosystem at least to some extent.

I hear the point about keeping costs down with inferior build quality but it's wildly expensive for what it is (like a lot of reef gear, to be fair). It's not like it's new and they need to recoup R&D, this thing has been out for decades. Neptune is a business but c'mon.
 
i prefer the apex due to the monitoring and controlling abilities. the reagents for trident does get expensive ($104.95 for 6 months supply vs 59.00 abc 6 months), but its more as a peace of mind as protection when you have over $10k in high end sps/torches.
 

JVU

President
BOD
I like Neptune Apex and peripherals. I like the design, user interface, programmability, customer support, and local/hobby ubiquity. Apex equipment isn’t perfect and there are several things that I’d prefer to see done more robustly (and be willing to pay for). But this is a hobby market not a professional industry market, and I’m aware that my preference to pay more for more reliable equipment puts me in the minority, so I’m happy to get the excellent (not perfect) options we have. It’s way better than it used to be.
 

JVU

President
BOD
i prefer the apex due to the monitoring and controlling abilities. the reagents for trident does get expensive ($104.95 for 6 months supply vs 59.00 abc 6 months), but its more as a peace of mind as protection when you have over $10k in high end sps/torches.
I just program my Trident to test half as often (alk at 6a, combined at 6p) so I can still use Neptune reagents and get all the benefits without the extra waste/expense/time of going through the reagents twice as fast.
 

phatduckk

Supporting Member
I use & like apex. The reason I bought it still stands as a good reason to keep using it: there’s a ton of info and experts out there.
 

L/B Block

Supporting Member
I just program my Trident to test half as often (alk at 6a, combined at 6p) so I can still use Neptune reagents and get all the benefits without the extra waste/expense/time of going through the reagents twice as fast.
I thought you couldn’t do that.
 
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