The Seneye.com website claims of ‘Seneye’, ‘the biggest innovation in aquatics has arrived.’

It goes on, ‘Understanding what is happening inside your aquarium is vital to ensuring that the aquatic life remains healthy. This revolutionary water monitoring device allows you to continuously track the changes in the water parameters, alerting you to the problems before they affect the fish. Protect your fish with a seneye monitor.’

If your first reaction is, ‘I’ve got a pond, not an aquarium!’, fear not, the Seneye comes in 3 variants, Home, Reef and Pond, the latter being the one on which this review is based, in fact it’s based on the ‘Pond Pack’, but we’ll discuss that in more detail later.

Seneye Pond

Seneye Pond

Seneye Comparison Specifications

Seneye Comparison Specifications

 

Seneye is not a new product, in fact the product’s history is over 10 years old, the project being started in 2008. For a long while I’ve been aware of the product through magazine adverts, seeing point of sale material in various dealers I’ve visited and indeed meeting one of the founders Matthew Stevenson, and then team member Andy Lister, in Holland at the NVN Koi Show back in 2015.  However, as I had no real use for it at that time as I was too busy travelling and not proactively keeping fish, I guess I didn’t really take a lot of notice of it.

A few months ago, now having a much more definite need for monitoring water parameters, the Seneye system came onto my radar again having seen several references to it on a USA based Facebook group.  The more I started to look into the product the more I couldn’t help but think using it was surely a no brainer, why wasn’t everyone using it?  A product that offered 24/7 monitoring of pH, ammonia, temperature and water levels.


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A quick post on Facebook unveiled a number of very happy users and positive comments, some cited issues over internet connectivity and others felt the recurring cost of the slides to monitor pH and NH3 (ammonia) levels was high.  Personally I felt (and still feel) the 6 months supply of slides costing £45.98, equating to 25p per day, for constant monitoring along with SMS and email alerts is a pretty reasonable price to pay.

Speaking to Matthew Stevenson at Seneye he felt that the reliability offered by ‘ethernet over power’ option would be better than the wifi option – simply this means plugging 2 small boxes into electric plug sockets, one connected to your wifi modem/router, the other connected to your Seneye Web Server box (i.e. near your pond), and the internet signal is directed through the electrical circuit.

On the verge of ordering one Seneye offered me the chance to trial one so the Seneye Pond Pack was ‘ordered’, along with the ‘ethernet over power’ option.

Seneye Pond Pack

Seneye Pond Pack

The Seneye Pond Pack (RRP £306.99) contains everything you need to get started, including a slide to monitor pH and Ammonia for 1 month.  It also includes a waterproof connection box to keep everything nice and safe and dry.  The Pond Pack has a float that can optionally be used to hold the Seneye sensor on the surface of the pond, however of course this negates the water level function so its use somewhat depends on your personal configuration.

Seneye Pond Pack Contents

Seneye Pond Pack Contents

The diagram below shows how everything links together, however in our setup using the ‘ethernet over power’ option the ‘wifi’ box is replaced by the ‘ethernet over power’ box.

To give you an idea of the logistics of install the Seneye, the Seneye sensor is connected as standard via a 2m USB cable to the Seneye Web Server (SWS) box.  This can be extended with a 5m extension USB cable.  The SWS box need to be housed ‘dry’ and connected to the mains.  In our installation it also needs to be connected to the mains by using a standard ethernet cable.


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Seneye Network Setup Diagram

Seneye Network Setup Diagram

The image below shows the ‘Ethernet over power’ unit that we were supplied with, the TP-Link AV600, a different unit to that detailed on the website.  One warning it gave regarding installation was not to use extension cables, and certainly that warning proved valid as the network connection failed when I tried to use one.  For more details about these units and their suitability for your needs it may be prudent to check the TP-Link website – https://www.tp-link.com/uk/home-networking/powerline/tl-pa4010-kit/

Ethernet over Power box

Ethernet over Power box

I have to confess that thanks to the guys at Seneye I was able to skip a few steps of the installation, my account had already been set up online for me in advance.

So, having set up the Seneye, registered your account and activated the slide (which should have been soaked for 24 hours otherwise it takes a while to stabilise) you have several ways in which you can monitor the readings which it is giving you.

Firstly, and the most comprehensive way to view data, is to log in via a web browser to your personal seneye.me page.

The first image below shows the default page layout.  This is easily customised and configured as you wish, each widget can be moved, resized or completely closed as desired.  Obviously in the standard ‘pond’ setup there is no light reading making this superfluous.

The 3 parameters we are interested in in this setup, temperature, pH and ammonia can all be customised to show a list view, rather than the default graph view, and you can also change the time period which is displayed.


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Seneye.me default overview screen

Seneye.me default overview screen

Seneye.me overview screen showing readings in 'list' form

Seneye.me overview screen showing readings in ‘list’ form

If we look more closely at the temperature widget we can see that the green line shows a standard ‘desired’ temperature.  The 2 red lines show a maximum and minimum temperature.  All 3 of those levels can be configured by the user (as can pH and ammonia).

Temperature parameter graph

Temperature parameter graph

One of the great features of Seneye is that it will send a warning when the parameters move outside of their desired range.  This warning can be sent by email and/or SMS text message.  Whenever a warning has been sent it is marked as the red exclamation mark shown in the image above, and if your refer to the earlier image you will see this warning mark shows on all graphs.

Seneye warning SMS

Seneye warning SMS

Seneye warning email

Seneye warning email

The warnings are also all recorded in the ‘Event Manager’ window where details can be recorded regarding investigation or resolution that may have been undertaken to maintain a full ‘diary’ of the system.

Seneye Event Manager

Seneye Event Manager

If you wish you can also download the Seneye app which is available on iPhone, iPad, Android & Windows 10 and offers continuous updates of the parameters and easy access to the full dashboard.

Seneye App

Seneye App

So, above I’ve given an overview of the system, of course it’s only ever going to be as good as the data it provides.  Both the temperature and pH readings are very simple to correlate against other test kits and thermometer and provide perfectly accurate measurements.

Ammonia however is not so simple to validate.  The Seneye system is recording NH3.  The majority of test equipment will be recording TAN (total ammonia nitrogen) NH3 and NH4.  Basically NH3 is toxic and what kills/damages Koi, NH4 is harmless.  The proportion of NH3 in any given TAN value is affected primarily by pH and temperature.


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Graph showing % of TAN as NH3 at a given pH

Graph showing % of TAN as NH3 at a given pH

There is a lot more about this subject at http://answers.seneye.com/en/water_chemistry/what_is_ammonia_NH3_NH4

It’s generally accepted that 0.02mg/l NH3 is the maximum tolerable level.  When I combine the results from standard test kits, the continuous readings from the Seneye, and observation of the Koi themselves, I have to conclude that it’s a reliable continual indication of the parameter, and most importantly will provide an early warning should the ammonia level be veering to the wrong direction for whatever reason.


A disaster averted?

Having run the system for 1 month I have to say I was impressed, it seemed to do exactly what it claimed.  I decided to invest in a 6 month pack of slides to continue my trial and see whether any issues would maybe show up on longer term use.

I used the term ‘early warning’ above.  Had I not extended my trial of the Seneye it’s quite possible that I could have had a disaster on my hands a week or so ago.

My understanding is that the Seneye will struggle to report an accurate pH level in the absence of a ‘reasonable’ level of KH in the water being tested.  For this reason those running RO water and super low KH levels may find the Seneye is not suitable for you.

Two weeks ago my Seneye was suddenly reporting pH levels


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Low pH levels reported by Seneye

Low pH levels reported by Seneye

The tap water here has a KH level of around 8-9°KH.  Throughout the summer when the system was first setting up I checked the KH level occasionally and it was always in the 8°KH ball park.

When the Seneye was reading in the 4’s above, the JBL drop kit was telling me that the pH was still in the 7.5 range.  A KH test kit shocked me by telling me it had dropped to 2°KH.

Through the 4th December a trickle of fresh water bolstered the KH by a degree, and the pH on the Seneye crept up a little to reporting in the 6 range.

At around 8.30pm on 5th December a delivery of Bicarbonate of Soda enabled me to boost the KH more effectively and over the next 24 hours it was increased to 5°KH, and with it the Seneye’s pH reading returned to the actual correct reading where it’s stayed since.

Seneye pH reading increasing with KH level increase

Seneye pH reading increasing with KH level increase

Some may consider that the Seneye’s lack of accuracy in a low KH environment a negative.  I think the reality is that it provided early warning of depleted KH levels by throwing out a skewed pH reading in advance of what could have been a disastrous pH crash had the KH level dropped lower.

I’ll be monitoring this more closely over the coming weeks and months.


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Conclusion

On 8th October I stated on Facebook, ‘On the face of it it seems like something everyone would have’, whilst searching for people’s practical experiences of Seneye.

Having run the Seneye for almost 2 months it’s very hard to conclude anything other than, Seneye is something that every serious hobbyist, and professionals alike, should be looking at running.

Speaking to some people in the industry it seems that early adopters perhaps encountered niggles with the product.  I understand that this is now version 4 of the product and those early niggles have been ironed out.  Certainly to date I’ve not encountered any problems regarding connectivity.

Yesterday my friends at Kitsu Koi described Seneye as, ‘The next best thing to koi insurance!’.  It’s certainly a good insurance against many problems arising, that’s for sure.

As mentioned, I purchased the 6 slide pack of which 1 has just under a week left to run.  Five more months of usage will surely show up any issues that are likely to occur if they haven’t already.

With a plan to build a couple of ‘remote’ ponds in the spring to grow fry, as it stands at the moment and in the absence of any major issues cropping up during the coming months, Seneye will be incorporated on them as an invaluable tool in monitoring the running of those systems when I won’t be so hands on.


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You can find out more about the Seneye range of products at – https://www.seneye.com or on their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/seneye/

 


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