Historically speaking, the real big advancements in the aquarium hobby have always been in step with the development of new and better ways to move water. In the early 1900s, air driven aquarium devices radically changed the way we keep aquariums. Ensuing decades saw rapid gains in water movement technology first by pumps with external motors a-la Supreme AquaMaster, and then with epoxy-sealed powerheads and more powerful internal and external pressure pumps.
The next big leap in water moving technology, especially for the reef aquarium side, was the introduction of propeller pumps which have seen incredible refinements with special efforts at improving efficiency, creating laminar flow, and more recently with specialized gyre-generating pumps. The last few years have experienced a real surge in the availability of peristaltic dosing pump systems with every permutation from the micro, the jumbo, and everything in between.
The Neptune Systems DoS is the logical yet extreme progression of this trend with a level of micromanagement of every function that really qualifies as “control freak” territory. If Neptune Systems hadn’t called the DoS a Fluid Metering System, they could just as easily have called it a water moving robot. The DoS’s highly sophisticated stepper motors are beyond overkill, with the ability to dose fluids one drop at a time, an incredible accuracy that is unlocked with calibration, and the ability to both pump and draw water in either direction.
Of course the coup-de-grace of the Dos Fluid Metering System is its ability to be controlled, networked, and interoperable with a wide range of secondary sensors to give feedback about what the DoS should be doing. The diverse ecosystem of accessories and modules for the Apex aquarium computer is already a fertile ground for the DoS to grow and flourish as a great aquarium tool, but there’s going to be a flood of great ideas to perform aquarium functions with the Dos that simply are not possible, in a practical sense, with any other device or contraption.
In addition to the hardware features that enable the DoS to be such a versatile water mover, the software side of the controls in Apex Fusion allow for a granular degree of control and management which is unheard of with any other system. Graphical representations of fluid metered and delivered by the DoS as well as reservoir levels means that the DoS will always self-regulate what it should be doing and when, and through a networked Apex it constantly gives feedback of the status of all of its operations.
There’s already been a great deal of tinkering with the DoS since its release a couple of months ago, with intrepid reefers coming up with automatic frozen food dispensers, and various ways to turn the two channels of the DoS into an easy-automatic water change system. When we first soaked in the spec sheet for the DoS our mind immediately turned to using it as a water exchanger for an Azoox aquarium which would be “sort-of” in line with a larger system.
With two heavy duty and high-precision peristaltic pump dosing channels, we created a refuge aquarium for Azoox to be in a slightly higher nutrient water environment inline with an existing large marine aquarium system. The 5 gallon Vitrea aquarium can be fed nice and rich meaty foods to feed the hungry NPS corals and instead of having water flow through like a typical system, we’ve installed and programmed the DoS to exchange about 30% of the water volume by first draining the Azoox tank a certain amount, and then refilling it with ‘live’ water from the main aquarium.
The enriched water from the dedicated Azoox tank goes into a long gyre frag tank where all the little corals can benefit from the food particles, but only after the more feeding-dependent Azoox have had their fill. The biggest surprise for us came when we were programming the DoS, and it was only then that we realized that each channel could pump and draw, freeing up the second channel of the DoS to be reapplied to automatic dosing of foods from a refrigerated space.
Our satellite Azoox aquarium system is still in developmental stages and we haven’t yet figured out the plan of attack for using the second channel to automatically dose refrigerated foods. However we have been running the DoS to exchange water from the main aquarium system with this semi-isolated Azoox refuge to test its usefulness and reliability for this purpose. Even without the use of feedback sensors to gauge where water levels are really at, the DoS has performed remarkably at performing a task which would be nightmarish to attempt with any other technology.
Again, we’d like to reiterate that the DoS is still spanking new on the aquarium scene and the potential it has to revolutionize so many different aquarium functions is staggering. Yes, on its surface it’s easy to look at the peristaltic pumps on the front of the DoS and think of this as a highly over-engineered dosing system for automatic additions of important mineral solutions. And if you want to micro-manage your dosing additives of calcium, alkalinity and magnesium the DoS certainly is an impressive sub-ecosystem of the Apex controller that can definitely do that.
Despite their drawbacks, basic dosing pumps have been doing a decent jobs of automatically injecting two, three and multi part dosing solutions for maintaining aquarium chemistries for some time now. Their rate of failure and problems can be on the high side, but it usually results in non-catastrophic lack of mineral additions that are easily replaced. The strength of the DoS is its ability to be both the best dosing pump for the largest systems requiring liters of additive dosing per day, as well as the smallest of tanks where extremely small and precise amounts of fluid additions are necessary.
If the DoS fluid metering system was just a simple doser, $349 would be a lot to ask for a device that doesn’t work on its own. But the DoS is really made for the control freaks, and the aquarists demanding the most critical management of moving ‘peristaltic’ volumes of water. The most exciting part of the DoS is not the device itself but the tool it represents to unlock a myriad of diverse aquarium functions and we are really looking forward to seeing what the aquarium community will accomplish with such an exacting and versatile fluid delivery system.
FCC regulations require us to inform you that we were given this product for review but our opinion and review of a product is never affected by how we acquire it