10 Best Aquarium Controller & Monitoring System (2021 Reviews)

Keeping an eye on everything that goes on inside your aquarium is nearly impossible. That is why every aquarium owner needs the best aquarium controller and monitoring system. These devices help to control and monitor all the major conditions in the aquarium. From the pH, salinity, water motion today water temperature.

Finding the best depending on what your aquarium holds can be really exhausting and difficult. Fortunately for you, I have compiled and reviewed some of the best that you can find on the market. I will also throw in a buying guide to help you weigh your options and select the best for your aquarium.

Why do you need an aquarium controller?

There are various reasons as to why you will need an aquarium controller or a monitoring system. The main reason is to be able to identify a certain condition early that may turn into a problem in the aquarium. Also, it will ensure that your aquarium maintains a healthy environment without the need of you doing anything aside from setting it.

You will need one so that you are able to monitor and control the following conditions in the aquarium. The pH, water motion, salinity, lighting, temperature, heating and cooling of the water. These controllers will ensure that whatever you are keeping in your aquarium gets the natural environment like that of an ocean or a sea.

Best Aquarium Controller and Monitoring System Comparison Chart

Product NameBrandWeightMonitor and controllerPrice
Zoo Med AquaSun Aquarium TimersZoo Med2.88 ouncesLED lights controller
Hydor Smart Level Controller, Automatic Top OffHydor1 poundWater level controller
AutoAqua Smart ATO Micro Automatic Top Off SystemSmart ATO micro12 ouncesWater level controller
Milwaukee Instruments 716690 ph ControllerMilwaukee1.85 poundsPh controller
Inkbird Dual Stage Temperature Controller Heating and CoolingInkbird12.6 ouncesTemperature controller
Current USA eFlux Wave Pump KitCurrent USA1.3 poundsWave controller
Salinity Refractometer for Seawater and Marine Fishkeeping Aquarium 0-100 PPTAgriculture solutions7.2 ouncesSalinity monitor
Hygger Titanium Aquarium Heater for Salt Water and Fresh WaterHygger1.9 poundsHeat controller
American Marine PINPOINT pH MonitorAmerican Marine inc10.2 ouncesPh monitor
SENEYE Reef Aquarium Monitor and Par MeterSeneye8.2 ouncesMonitors all major conditions

Contents

Best Aquarium Controller and Monitoring System Reviews

Here are our recommended aquarium controller and monitoring system that you can find on the market today. Check them in details to help you make the right selection.

Wouldn’t you love a 24-hour timer that is easy to use? Well, the Zoo Med Aquasun might be what you need. It is a 24-hour programmable aquarium timer that will surely enable you to manage the whole cycle of your pets in the aquarium. Whether it is during the day or at night it will provide them with a natural cycle at the right time.

What I like

The program analogue design is easy to set and read, unlike the complex advanced digital designs. You don’t have to worry about safety thanks to the grounded three-prong receptacle. You will be able to use it with any kind of aquarium lights.

What I don’t like

Its analogue design comes with a few setbacks, for example, the time setting will at times turn out to be inaccurate. Also as it counts down the time the ticking sound is usually annoying. It has an instructional manual that is hard to understand if you are not familiar with the timer.

Furthermore, the timer is compatible with any type of aquarium lights. It also comes with a one plug design and an analogue design which is easy to program. The grounded three-prong receptacle is designed to ensure safety. It will automatically turn off the LED lights of the aquarium without you lifting a finger. It is also equipped with an LED light indicator as well as a manual Overdrive.

Pros
  • LED lamp indicator
  • 24-hour programmable time
  • Reliable can automatically turn on/off aquarium lights
  • Grounded 3-prong receptacle ensures the safety
Cons
  • Annoying noise from ticking timer
  • The time setting dial is sometimes not accurate

Are you tired of trying to find a decent and reliable aquarium controller perfect for Freshwater? Well, you don’t have to keep trying because the Hydor smart level controller might be what you need. It comes equipped with a magnetic suction cup as well as a cable clamp to easily and safely Mount the controller and keep the cable in one place. To top it all it comes at a reasonable price.

What I like

The aquarium controller doesn’t discriminate and a tank or sump size. It is also not affected by any surface movements such as waves. I like that it has got a unique design which is well constructed with waterproof material. You don’t have to worry about high energy consumption because it is a low voltage unit.

What I don’t like

Since it’s a smart controller it will take some time to set it up. Also if you own a pico reef aquarium that controller will not be ideal for it.

Pros
  • Dual alarm sets off sound and light
  • Durable waterproof design
  • Great value for money
  • Low voltage unit
  • Not affected by surface movements
Cons
  • Not suitable for use with pico reef tanks
  • Set up takes sometime

If you are looking for a super-compact auto top off the system then this unit might be what you need. It comes with a magnetic sensor which you can easily adjust to suit the water level you desire. Aside from that, it is very easy to install and it will come with everything you need to get it working. These include a power adaptor, DC refill pump, a siphon break a 6.5 feet tubing, universal tube holder and a smart micro-controller itself.

What I like

The quick security technology that protects it from failure. It is also equipped with an optical level sensor that comes with a magnetic mount. It barely takes up any space since it is really small but high performing. Additionally, it is very simple and quick to install.

What I don’t like

Can’t be mounted close to bright lights as this can cause the controller to have problems detecting the water levels. The alarm also needs to be unplugged in case it stays on for more than 4 minutes.

Pros
  • Included with everything needed
  • Quick security technology
  • Ideal for nano and pico aquariums
Cons
  • Not good to Mount near bright lights

If you are inexperienced with controllers then you need try the Milwaukee instruments 716690 model. This unit is an easy hassle-free controller that will surely monitor your aquarium’s pH levels. You will only need a few minutes to set it up and you can easily calibrate it in just 5 minutes. Personally, I liked how accurate it is meaning if you are new to such devices you won’t have to do much or get frustrated by this unit.

What I like

Equipped with LED visual alarm active as well as a power socket plug. It will keep carbon dioxide levels today that are needed in the aquarium. It provides accurate results at all times. On top of that, it is easy to install and calibrate.

What I don’t like

To calibrate it you will need the calibration fluid which can only be used once. Also, this controller will not be capable of controlling ph in a livestock aquarium.

Pros
  • Ideal for aquariums and hydroponic systems
  • Provides accurate results
  • Easy to use and install
  • Included with a mounting kit and a probe holder
Cons
  • Not suitable for livestock aquariums

If you are in need of a temperature controller for your aquarium then I think the inkbird dual-stage controller might be what you need. Its main duty is to monitor the water temperatures and also maintain stable water temperature in your aquarium at all times. It is easy to use thanks to the plug and play design.

What I like

It has a dual relay output meaning you will be able to use the heating or cooling devices separately or at the same time. This temperature controller is waterproof and stainless adding to its lifetime. It has a simple design which is easy to install and set. You’ll also be able to view the set and measure temperatures at the same time through that door display window.

What I don’t like

The only downside I saw on this unit is that it required to be hung on a wall or under the tank so that you can be able to see the readout.

Pros
  • Waterproof and stainless sensor
  • Dual display window
  • Controls and stabilizers water temperature
  • Dual relay output
  • Easy to setup
Cons
  • Can only be hung on a wall of Baroda aquarium

Wouldn’t you love your aquarium to have natural ocean waves and Currents? Well, the current USA efflux wave pump kit will help you with that. This pump can easily be controlled to give your aquarium pets the natural water flow found in Oceans. It will also improve water circulation as well as water quality. You will surely get a healthier environment that will promote the growth of strong corals and healthy fish.

What I like

It comes as a complete system with everything you will need to set it up. These include LED lamp display, remote control, micro USB, IR sensor cables, foam cover among others. The adjustable direction of water flow is also an amazing feature of this unit. This pump will be able to provide natural water flow found in Oceans.

What I don’t like

Tends to make a knocking sound when placed in wave mode. It is not durable as some users found they couldn’t run for more than 3 months.

Pros
  • Comes as a complete kit
  • Features wireless remote control
  • LED display
  • Adjustable directional water flow
Cons
  • Not very durable

One of the best salinity monitors on the market is the salinity refractometer. This monitor is specially made for use in saltwater and marine aquariums. It will come with everything you will need to get it working including a user manual, cleaning cloth, screwdriver, droppers as well as a hard case.

What I like

The monitor is easy to use as measuring and calibration is done in just a few minutes. It also measures into different units. The automatic temperature compensation or decrease the impact temperature has on accuracy.

What I don’t like

The readings are displayed in small numbers and if you have a bad sight you will not be able to see them well.

Pros
  • Comes with necessary accessories
  • It is easy to use
  • Compensates for temperature automatically
  • Ideal for saltwater and marine aquariums
Cons
  • Small readings displayed

Best aquarium heater controller is specially made for small size Aquariums of 5 to 10 gallons. It is easy to install and it will come with everything you need to know about keeping fish in suitable water temperature. It has a wide temperature range which allows you to set the perfect temperature for your aquarium pets.

What I like

The wide temperature range that you can choose from. Also, the digital LED display which shows both set and water temperature at the same time. It is durable and it will serve you for many years thanks to its titanium build.

What I don’t like

The suction cups on this unit tend to slide down after a while. Also, the digital readout can be hard to read for some users because of the display.

Pros
  • Has full automatic control
  • Titanium construction is durable
  • Has a wide temperature range
  • Good for salt and freshwater tanks
Cons
  • Poorly built suction cups

This high-quality pinpoint pH monitor will effectively monitor the pH in your marine and freshwater aquarium with the help of a ph probe. If you have a carbon dioxide system this monitor will be a great choice. It will turn on the carbon dioxide when the pH levels raise. When the pH reaches the desired level it will then turn off the carbon dioxide system.

What I like

The monitor is very easy to install and use. It also comes with a durable construction that will so early serve you for longer. It will effectively monitor and control the pH levels in your aquarium.

What I don’t like

The unit will not be able to record or show the pH levels. It will only sense if they are high or low and act upon them respectively. Also, it doesn’t have an alarm to alert you of the different pH levels.

Pros
  • Easy to install and use
  • Monitors and controls pH levels
  • It is lightweight and small
Cons
  • Won't record pH levels
  • No alarm

Do you have a crushing aquarium what do your colours not look vibrant enough? Well with the seneye Reef Aquarium monitor you’ll be able to monitor the key conditions of your aquarium. It will monitor almost everything that goes on in the aquarium including pH levels, LUX, water level, PAR, free ammonia, temperature as well as Kelvin.

What I like

It is an advanced monitor that lets you track your results from anywhere using a smart gadget. It is also capable of monitoring all the major conditions in your aquarium and later predicting future water conditions. You will get an early warning which allows you to get a quick solution in order to keep your corals vibrant.

What I don’t like

The suction cups are not built well as they tend to slide off the tank. Since it has some advanced features it comes at a higher price compared to the other monitors.

Pros
  • Monitors several major aquarium conditions
  • Easily sends alerts to your phone via email
  • Predicts future water conditions
  • Provides 5600 readings monthly
Cons
  • It is expensive
  • Poorly made suction cups

Buying Guide

When buying an aquarium controller and monitoring system, here are some tips that will help you choose the best.

Type of fish

There are different types of fish and not all of them require the same water conditions. You need to first look at the required temperature suitable for the type of fish that you are keeping. You also need to consider the heating setup or any other water conditions that the type of fish you are looking to keep requires. In this way, you’ll be able to get the right controller or monitor that will provide the specific water conditions that will keep your fish healthy at all times.

Ease of setup

I suggest you go for a controller and a monitoring system that comes really easy procedures to set up. Preferably consider a unit which will allow you to use your digital gadgets and one that uses a small display or easy push buttons.

Size of controller and monitor

The size of the controller or monitor that you select will depend on the size of the tank that you have. Always remember to go for a controller that will be suitable for your aquarium size.

Aquarium type

There are various types of aquariums and some of them include freshwater, saltwater, nano, pico, marine, reef among other aquariums. When selecting a controller and monitoring system, you must choose one that will work in the type of aquarium you have. For example, some controllers and monitors will not work in saltwater aquariums while others are made especially for them.

Price and warranty

Consider a controller and monitor system which will come at a reasonable price without compromising on its quality. This way you’ll get something that you can afford while it is able to satisfy all your aquarium needs. Additionally, it is best to go for a unit which comes backed by a good warranty period which is guaranteed by the manufacturers. This way you will not have to worry about quality issues.

Advantages of an aquarium controller and monitoring system

As I mentioned before, controllers and monitoring systems come with a number of advantages. These advantages will depend on the type of controller or monitor that you have. One of the major advantages of a control and monitoring system is 2 help maintain a healthy environment for your aquarium pets.

Another thing is they will not let you do a lot of work like cleaning or testing the water. All this will be done by the controller and monitoring system.

Also, they come in different types with each being able to do a different task. Some are even capable of monitoring everything that happens inside your aquarium. 

They are capable of monitoring the lighting of the aquarium. Such controllers will be able to provide your fish with the right natural cycle of either daylight or night light. They are also capable of the following monitoring pH levels, salinity, temperature of the water, and the water motion.

These devices will also replicate the natural water environment of oceans and seas in your aquarium to provide your pets with a healthy environment.

What are the functions of an aquarium controller?

The major function of an aquarium controller is to make the work of the aquarium owner easy by providing a natural healthy environment to the aquarium pets. Below I will discuss the major functions of a controller in your aquarium.

Check ammonia levels

An aquarium controller is designed to always keep track of the ammonia concentration in the aquarium. When the ammonia levels are detected, it can help you to take the right measures before any serious issues arise.

Lighting

Another thing that it can do is to check the light setting and also schedule the suitable light intensity required by your fish or aquatic plants.

Check Oxygen levels

Furthermore, it is responsible for determining whether the oxygen levels in the tank are ideal for your fish. 

Pump control

The water circulation in your aquarium is another thing that the monitor system keeps track of. It is also capable of activating the filtration system when necessary.

Water level

When the water in the aquarium drops the level below the normal range, it is the duty of the aquarium controller to trigger a top off in such cases.

PH level

An aquarium controller is also responsible for checking the acidity level in the aquarium.

Feeding

Another function for an aquarium controller is to ensure that the fish are fed accordingly depending on how you program the feeding.

Oxidation-reduction potential

This is the level of water quality and cleanliness. An aquarium controller is responsible for keeping the water clean and maintains its quality. It also sets the safety standard between 200 to 400 millivolts inside the aquarium.

Heating and Cooling

As I mentioned before not all fish types require the same water temperature to thrive. Therefore, the controller will ensure that the water temperature and is kept at an appropriate range depending on the type of fish that you are keeping. It will also a the activate or deactivate the heater to provide the required temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How relevant is the pH in my aquarium?

A: The acidity level is measured in the pH unit. When your aquarium has a lot or less acidity level it will affect the fish by lowering their lifespan. In case you have saltwater fish they will require an acidity pH of 7.5 to 8.0 and above. Freshwater fish, on the other hand, will require a pH of 5.0 to 7.5.

Q: Will my temperature controller be able to prevent heat from being too much?

A: Most of them will only notify you when your aquarium temperature reaches the set temperature. Meaning they will not be able to prevent it from continuing to heat up. Others, on the other hand, will automatically turn off for longer in order for the tank to cool down.

Conclusion

When you want the best aquarium controller and monitoring system you will have to consider a number of things especially what you are aquarium holds, its size and type. With the top 10 controllers, I have reviewed along with the guide, you can now be able to weigh your options and select the one that will satisfy your aquarium needs.

Using an aquarium Controller and monitoring system will offer your aquarium pets a number of great benefits. It will also help to make your aquarium maintenance less and easy. Make your fish happy by choosing the right unit for them.

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