Product Review INTAQO (Integrated Aquarium controller)

H.Alves

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20 Sep 2018
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78
Location
Braga, Pt
This time i want to leave the overview/review for an amazing aquarium smart controller.



I was lucky to be able to use the device for some months now even before it was released and i am now ready to make a informed review of it, since the pre-order just became available to public at https://intaqo.com/

So the equipment is made of a main device, which controls all the settings, and comes default with: a pH probe, a temperature probe; an inline solenoid valve, or optionally an 110/220v controlled plug. Not included is the PAR sensor, but all the equipment is ready integrated, and one just need to buy the sensor.

The unit is offered with different power adapters (12v, 24v and different maximum) or without Power supply unit (PSU). Although the device can use the lights own DC adapter, i strongly suggest to purchase one of the offered DC adapters since the device itself uses around 24w and that can provide suboptimal power to the led fixture. Also since you can control 2 independent light fixtures using the same device and a single dc adapter, take that into account so that the PSU is powerful for both fixtures plus basal wattage.

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The device works well with either Android or iOS operative systems and the company support is best to none. I have never seen such a great product support from any company. Any issue is quickly addressed and communication is super fast. They are also very receptive to customers requests for improvements, bug fixes, etc, so the software will be able to be continuously developed depending on customers requests to make it even better.


Functions:

1) Light Control
As mentioned before, you can control two independent fixtures. For each light, and for each day, you can set 24 points of light intensity (%). But in case you want to change the schedule just for the present day without interfering with the defined weekly schedule, you can also set "override day schedule" and that new scheme will apply just for that day... both lights will work independently, but for easy programming you can select all the days or just the ones you want and set the same schedule in one go. Pretty handy. In a secret menu you can also change PWM frequency to avoid noises that can occur from certain fixtures if kept at bellow 100% light intensity.

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2) Temperature
Included in the device is a temperature probe so you can check the variations in real time.

3) CO2 control
Here you have several options. You can set the specific times where the solenoid valve will be on, or off.. or instead you can set it to auto, where it will be controlled either by light intensity (ex: shut when lights are at 60%) or by pH. If you decide to use the pH method, you can define a pH interval (usually you should aim at 1 value of pH drop between CO2 injection on and off, which will yield roughly 30ppm CO2). For the pH interval you can input kH and software will automatically define the pH interval, or, if you are more advanced, you can set a minimum and maximum pH value manually. The software will open and close the valve automatically to reach the aimed pH. You can also set at which times, the software should do this and, at which times it should be always off. As a purchase option, you can chose a version provided with solenoid to add to a regulator, or in case, you already have a regulator with solenoid, you can opt for a controlled plug version instead.

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4) Dosing
Included are two independently dosing pumps. Once calibrated, they are very precise (i check and seemed around 0.25mL). PS: Although i checked consistency several times, this might change with time and i have not checked for that.... Most manufacturers advertise 1mL as minimum advised pumping volume. You can set the time, volume, hour, day, etc.... for each independently. Most people dose macros and micros, but it can be used for an ALL-in-one and Liquid carbon instead.

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5) Reminders
There is a section for reminders, so you get important notifications that you can personalize.

6) Wireless app and continuous monitoring
You get real time updates either via local wireless network or cellular 3/4/5G, however, for security reasons, you can only change settings when connected to the local wireless network. (This has been discussed and might be offered in the future as an SW version that allows user to change it even on 3G if users decide to). Device uses only the 2.4 GHz network. In case of power outage, device will instantly resume function normally. It also continuously log everything so any desired parameter can be checked whether it has functioned normally.

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General video about the app
(sorry but its not commented)


Summary:
I am very happy with the device since i can almost always pinpoint problems in real time and take appropriate actions. Ex: if i forget to plug heater after maintenance, if pressurised CO2 cylinder is running low, etc... pH control is so much more reliable than the drop checker that i have now ditched it. I can easily fine tune as needed and, wherever i am, i can always see if things are looking normal or not.

Lets face it, its not a cheap device, and not for everybody, but for all it offers, and taking in account competition is nowhere near in terms of price/functionality, i find the device incredibly useful. Nothing pays the peace of mind of having everything under control of a click.
 

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Nuno Gomes

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1 Nov 2018
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133
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Portugal
To be honest, just like the 24/7 light timers and other similar devices, it's a gimmick. A planted tank does not need all this BS and even things like the co2 control through a ph probe will not improve anything at all, I'm speaking from experience after trying a very expensive JBL set....

I would invest the pile of cash that thing cost into something more useful, like a better light, more plants, more filtration etc.
 

H.Alves

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20 Sep 2018
Messages
78
Location
Braga, Pt
Obviously we have quite a different experience. I have been using it for quite some time now and i must say i do love this device. Could i live without it, of course, but it does make my life easier. i can precisely control CO2, i save a lot of it since its only on when needed, and allows me to immediately pinpoint if something happens outside ordinary.

In my case, it definitely improved the overall experience and allow me to have a much more fine control of CO2 injection. I also dont need to dose, it does it for me... Basically the only thing i need now is weekly water changes and feeding...

just pretty much like almost everything in the hobby (expensive soils, bacteria blends, prime, chemical filtration, twinstar ionizers, skimmers, starfire/ultraclear glass, expensive scissors and other aquarium tools, XPTO rocks and exquisite wood, etc...), are they really needed? NO! but many do make our life a lot easier.
 

Simon Cole

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25 Dec 2018
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Buckingham
Very good review. Thank you @H.Alves - appreciated. It sounds wonderful. Obviously I've got tonnes of questions and this is mainly because they are new and don't have a lot of info out there:
Is there a company address and company registration number?
Has the device been externally tested or verified yet (BSI etc.)?
Is the device suitable for import with a valid CE mark and safety sheet?
Are they an accredited ISO 9001 company?
Do they offer after market assistance?
Do they oblige by data compliance regulations and the protection of consumer data, like keeping your credit card number safe?
Who actually makes them, and is this factor ethical in terms of child labor, hazardous materials and worker safety?
Now would be a good time for them to add this to their website. Even a picture of the factory or their full names would go a long way.
Thanks again.
 

H.Alves

Member
Joined
20 Sep 2018
Messages
78
Location
Braga, Pt
Hi Simon

Some of the questions I am not the right person to reply since I am just one of the many external beta testers.

For more company specific details I would suggest you to reach them directly via their website or Facebook page.

I know the device was being tested by many independent people from all over the world. Non of us are actually affiliated with the company.

I understand your concerns but honestly I did not cared whether they had CE or ISO certification. Usually not something I usually ask about a new product...

As a disclaimer I want to say I was not asked to make a review. Just did it because I honestly believe in the product, really like their way of doing things and want to help them out. I am not affiliated with the company but I was provided a test device with the only request to provide honest feedback to the development team.

What I can tell you is that their customer support is amazing. As with all starting apps there were some minor bugs on the software that were promptly addressed on frequent firmware and software updates. For a while, I had almost daily communication with the CEO, who is really helpful in explaining all the technical details and addressing any issue. I can vouch for them on that.

I am sure software will continuously being updated and we have already compiled a lot of ideas to improve it further/add further functionalities.

These beta devices were assembled locally by them (with electronic engineering background) but I know they use very high quality materials. The cables, for example, are 18AWG. My device has been working flawlessly
And I know they have tested plenty of materials/probes and there were some hardware revisions before this last one.

As data privacy, the software was audited by an external member and data is secured, reason why at the moment you can’t change settings except from the local network. It passed all penetration tests but it’s only as secure as your router own security...

Actually regarding that, I personally would risk having it less secured and being able to modify settings also on 3g/4g but I understand their concerns about data safety and that was the reason why they did not have allowed 3g/4g changes for now. This is still under discussion and maybe it could become available to members that willing to take the risk of IOT for added functionality. Most people use all sort of IOT devices with crappy security so if one would want to access your network, having access to your device would be the less of your worries.

Hope I was able, at least, to reply to some of your questions.


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Ed Wiser

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22 Apr 2018
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355
Location
Louisville,Kentucky
Aquarium controllers are a pretty mature market. Not so much in the freshwater side of the hobby but in the larger saltwater market for equipment.
Just last year two companies when under in the controller space. Neptune and GHL are the big players in the controller market. When one can run an aquarium without one once you get one you would never set up a tank without one. The ability to touch a button on a LCD panel to turn off a device. Or press on button to turn off all the equipment required to do and water change and one button to turn them all back on is a big thing. How many hobbyist have forgotten to in plug a heat during a water change and have it over heat when the water level is low.
Aquariums run better when things happen the same time every day.
Hope this product makes it looks nice uphill battle in the freshwater space as many hobbyist in freshwater don’t want to spend the money.
 

H.Alves

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Joined
20 Sep 2018
Messages
78
Location
Braga, Pt
I totally agree. I had aquariums for many years without having a smart controller but once you have one, you become addicted to data. Being able to constantly monitor all parameters or like you say, turn on or off a device makes everything easier. I now know, by the injection curve, when my CO2 canister is about to run out and take action accordingly.

Like you said who has never forgot to turn a heater after a water change? It happened to me and I quickly realized that by looking at the temperature graph.

Also like you said consistency is key. I remember pre-INTAQO, somedays I had to figure out whether it was a macro or micro day but I easily got them confused, dosed whenever I fed fish, which varied depending how busy day I had. Now I dose at alternate days, same volume, same time... before lights go on, so that plants have all nutrients ready.

I agree reef people are more used to these devices and more willing to spend money on it and it was something i also told the development team. They know if something goes south, that the losses are pretty hefty, not to mention how much you have to spend to put things back on track. Salt water material and fish are also more expensive.

However on freshwater I would almost say many people spend more money fighting algae than actually running the tank... and part is due to inconsistencies in parameters, settings and husbandry.

It’s definitely not a “cheap” device but the piece of mind it offers, pays off. It’s definitely not for everyone, but there is certainly a market for it.

Just like ADA, for example, they are targeting a niche client and not the masses.


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Simon Cole

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25 Dec 2018
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Buckingham
Thank you for the reply @H.Alves. Sorry for all the odd questions. It was a very good review. Please don't stop reviewing. I guess from my perspective I think that these controllers are a good thing. I am useless at dosing and I have been looking at a pump, so the idea of having a high degree of automation helps me want to maintain my interest in the hobby. At the moment I'm getting snowed under with tanks, and I'm almost at the point of contracting out my water changes :lol: In the future, particularly as my career gets going again, I'm going to be looking at something like this because I'll have less time and I also suffer from multiple tank syndrome MTS, although my sister thinks there might be a cure (she is a psychiatric doctor).

I spent a lot of money on a light unit a while back, and it arrived faulty, with fake signatures and conformity statements. The owners of the business were very unpleasant and refused a refund. It was a UK company. I felt especially stupid for not checking whether the company was certified. The item never would have been released if quality control checks and product quarantine were present. I see the same cowboys promoting no end of products in the UK aquatic market today :crazy:
It got me thinking about how poorly regulated the industry is. We are dealing with water and electronics, compressed gas, and toxic hazards. Sooner or later somebody is going to get hurt.

I think the company made a big mistake by not even providing their business address or names. For a development team they are really not selling this product in any way that I would find acceptable. That is a barrier to entry that they could do without. I'll get hold of the MD and put my suggestions to them. In the meanwhile, it is going to be very hard to resell these units in the UK until they are compliant. I'm guessing that is the next stage of product development.

Bowman's strategic clock is a good way to look at company pricing. We always see price from the consumer end. I would say that they are close to position 6 on the clock. Generally any products between 6 and 8 are thought to be destined for failure. Well it looks like they have already had to cut their prices, and they do not have a monopoly, so I would say that with a bit of focus they could get into the valuable focused differentiation category (5), which is the place to be right now.
strategy-bowman-clock-basic.png

However, I think the the next leap on from this will be to integrate these features into a filter unit. It just makes sense to have a gravity valve as opposed to a fertilizer pump. I would imagine that the next generation of high tech filters could include all of these features - with a service plan as the maintenance and customer "lock in" solution. In the PSF world it is all about locking clients into services as opposed to developing upgrades or direct competition. I still think this is going to be about 20 years' off. So there is a huge market for INTAQO selling your/their unit in the meanwhile.

More reviews like this are only a good thing. I just want to give these smaller companies a good chance at competing with the big boys because we will all benefit in the long run if there is more competition. I sound like Margaret Thatcher :woot: I'm not sure that I would have done the same thing. Colorimetry just makes far more sense to me in terms of CO2, but having read so many threads where people are using pH as a proxy - I can see the value.
 

dino21

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17 Mar 2020
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Derbyshire
@Simon Cole - thats a troubling story about the Light controller, did you not follow up with CAB and Trading Standards ?

Sure we would all be interersted to know what company you refer to, but that could be very liabelous on your part , short of a court case !

As for dosing pumps, like anything else you get what you pays for, sure other more experienced members will guide you to the correct type there.

If you are after first class controller products then what about something like the PLC controller that Zeus built, it looks an exciting project, expect that could be programmed to serve more than one tank ? and importantly , you would have total control over quality and safety, plus you cannot get much better quality than Sieimens, think you can safely say their units will have genuine quality pass marks etc!
 

Simon Cole

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Buckingham
THIS BIT IS ABOUT ANOTHER PRODUCT AND COMPANY IF YOU HAVE JUMPED DOWN NOT THE ONE REVIEWED

@dino21 The forum rules don't really allow us to talk about this. One of the product promoters is also on this forum, so I want to be very careful. What shocked me was the nastiness of the staff member - effectively telling me "we sell thousands each week and we've never had this before so we don't believe you and you are lying". I was stuck on the phone for 35 minutes pleading with him for a return and telling him that I was telling the truth. As a grown man, I was almost in tears. Even after I sent the photographs through and spoke to the product engineer, they were still treating me with disrespect. But I did eventually get an email. I had lost my money. As an ISO consultant I knew that a certification body or UKAS could review my complaint and take action on my behalf, but unsurprisingly they did not meet this standard and did not conform to any other validated quality standards. It was the first time that I made a big investment into aquascaping and it left a very bitter taste in my mouth. Trading Standards did cross my mind, but I was suffering from suicidal depression and was struggling to even go out the house. Letting the issue go was the only way that I could deal with it at the time. The irony was that I started aquascaping to mitigate depression.

My mind feels more normal now. I used to build and make everything (house extensions, furniture, computers, bicycles, wine - you name it). I was also a very talented multi-instrument musician, and also a politician. I had the mental breakdown after an unlucky series of 3 road rage incidents, one hostage incident, two house floods, loss of my job, victimization by neighbors (racially motivated), and the death of two very close friends (my only best friend) - most in the space of a year. When I look back over my postgraduate work - it is like I am not even the same person - I wrote my dissertation in three days without a break and got a distinction. I was that kind of guy. I've changed so much now that I'm thinking seriously about changing my name. I'm in a form of transformation. I'm still very passionate about aquascaping and I'm happy again. I'll probably be able to make the controller made by @Zeus. when I'm fully over it. We are lucky to have a truly magnificent forum, where people make and experiment with technology. I'm quite happy being dragged along :)

For somebody like me these controllers could really work.
Thank you for your support @dino21. Glad to finally get it off my chest. :cigar:
 
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jaypeecee

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21 Jan 2015
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Bracknell
Hi @H.Alves

I think INTAQO have made a mistake by inviting you to openly 'review' this product before it's ready to be sold. @Simon Cole has raised some important points. And the INTAQO website is not very helpful in answering some of my questions. Clicking on either 'Installation & Setup' or 'Help Centre' does nothing.

JPC
 

H.Alves

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Joined
20 Sep 2018
Messages
78
Location
Braga, Pt
Hi @H.Alves

I think INTAQO have made a mistake by inviting you to openly 'review' this product before it's ready to be sold. @Simon Cole has raised some important points. And the INTAQO website is not very helpful in answering some of my questions. Clicking on either 'Installation & Setup' or 'Help Centre' does nothing.

JPC

@jaypeecee they haven’t invited me to openly review the device. I did it by free will, since it has now become available for pre-order. I did let them know I have published it though. Have not done it before because it was still in beta test. About website, it’s being updated. I agree Simon raised good points and I believe by the time the device is ready to be shipped a manual/instructions should somehow be included. Anyway it’s a pretty straight forward device but I do understand you. If you have specific questions about the device that I can answer/know how to answer, I am more than happy to help. Otherwise, please get in touch with INTAQO via Facebook. They reply very fast and are very helpful replying all your technical questions.


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H.Alves

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Braga, Pt
@Simon wow I am kind of speechless after reading what has happened to you. We live in a very demanding society and, unfortunately, these days, everybody is prone to breakdowns.

Those were some unfortunate series of life events that definite would take a toll to anyone. I am happy to hear you are, at least, recovering the way you can and moving on.

I think to most of us, hobbyists, aquascaping is a way of escape from the overwhelming harsh day life. For me, at least, it’s somehow my escape. And I find myself contemplating the tank, the way plants are growing, fish behavior, very often. I find that very soothing and calms me down. I have spent more money and time on it, then i am willing to confess. Whenever I am working on the tanks, I don’t think of anything else, and that’s the reason why many of us end with MTS. Sometimes, I find myself struggling to give attention to all, and ask why I keep so many, if I don’t have all the necessary time for them as they deserve, also because I have a small 4 year old that demands a lot of time from his had. But its something that gives me so much joy, that even though I have not all the time/conditions i wished, I find it so pleasurable that I keep on going.

I totally feel your pain and now, more than ever, understand why you raised those concerns. In your situation I would fell exactly the same.

What I can tell you is that they are very, very nice and very friendly. Have been dealing with the CEO for months now and would definitely vouch for him, but hey, thats just my personal opinion. As I have said, I have never dealt with such great feedback from a company. All my doubts were promptly answered and my suggestions not only appreciated, but action was actively taken to address them. I can say that I was seriously impressed. But hey, don’t just take my word for it. Talk to other beta testers and I am pretty sure all will have the same feedback. Not sure if others are here on UKAPS but I would say Lucian Cimpoeriu, at least, should be.

I would suggest you to get in touch with them via Facebook and have a talk.

I hope I could do more to help you.

PS: although all this was offtopic, these kind of experiences should always be shared and thats what makes these fora so great.

PS2: I do these reviews by free will and even though I don’t do them often I usually like to support companies that make great products. These days, there are so many products out there with the same function, that good purchases should be give appropriate credit. If you check my profile, I still praise my AQUAEL ultramax, which is a filter that I truly believe has not received the credit it deserves, well at least, in Portugal. I had to order mine from Germany, even though most shops here sell that brand. I actually purchased it upon members recommendation and was pleasantly surprised by its performance. I would have never purchased it, if i havent read good praises and reviews over here. There are still almost no videos on them on youtube. So why not help out other fellow members in their doubts about a product. Even that one, some members had small issues i did not had, but I still believe all the issues were promptly fixed by them. I have eheim, fluval, and would definitely replace any of them for that. I think price has raised significantly over the past year or so, which probably makes its purchase decision less straightforward since it enters the price of very well established and proven performers filters.

If you check my profile you will also see that I have raised some concerns over twinstar S series. I was one of the first purchasing an 1200SA, which cost me quite some money, to receive two independent units with very evident cosmetic flaws. They probably were not very happy I raised those concerns but honestly if I have to say something I will. By that time I was a bit upset of paying top money to receive a product with evident cosmetic and what I believed at that time, design flaws. Don’t get me wrong, they are amazing lights and still use 3 of them these days. As an example, an almost 500€ led fixture comes with no manual and not even a basic dimmer is included, when companies that sell products for half include independent Bluetooth or wireless single color independent leds control via apps.
I have told them my concerns and the feedback I got was... they “optimized” LED performance for the best plant growth in terms of light intensity and color patterns so they did not felt the need for an end user to tweak it, as if all the tanks were the same and that, to me, kind of felt they were passing a stupid certificate to the buyers :/

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Last edited:

dino21

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17 Mar 2020
Messages
95
Location
Derbyshire
@Simon wow I am kind of speechless after reading what has happened to you. We live in a very demanding society and, unfortunately, these days, everybody is prone to breakdowns.

Those were some unfortunate series of life events that definite would take a toll to anyone. I am happy to hear you are, at least, recovering the way you can and moving on.

I think to most of us, hobbyists, aquascaping is a way of escape from the overwhelming harsh day life. For me, at least, it’s somehow my escape. And I find myself contemplating the tank, the way plants are growing, fish behavior, very often. I find that very soothing and calms me down. I have spent more money and time on it, then i am willing to confess. Whenever I am working on the tanks, I don’t think of anything else, and that’s the reason why many of us end with MTS. Sometimes, I find myself struggling to give attention to all, and ask why I keep so many, if I don’t have all the necessary time for them as they deserve, also because I have a small 4 year old that demands a lot of time from his had. But its something that gives me so much joy, that even though I have not all the time/conditions i wished, I find it so pleasurable that I keep on going.

I totally feel your pain and now, more than ever, understand why you raised those concerns. In your situation I would fell exactly the same.

@Simon Cole , do not think I could add any words better than @H.Alves above, hope your recovery continues .
 

Tim Harrison

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We are lucky to have a truly magnificent forum, where people make and experiment with technology. I'm quite happy being dragged along :)
And likewise Simon, we're lucky to have you as one of our key members :)
 

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