My experiences with Seneye Reef

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15 Jun 2014 15:19 - 15 Jun 2014 15:44 #1 by Bohrio
This is a copy and paste to a reply to a user in the LFKS (Leinster Fish Keeping Society) who was asking about our experiences with Seneye products and what we thought of it, if we would recommend them or not.

The post was banned for some reason (probably a mistake) but, as it took me so long to write it I thought I should share it with you guys so it doesnt go to waste

Hey there

I have been using Seneye Reef for over a year now, I bought it of a friend who had never used it so after coming back from my holidays to a crashed tank I decided to give it a go.

The idea is great, you could even argue that so is the price. Even if you can only monitor free ammonia, pH, temperature and water level it is still great. Another reason why I bought it was because on their website I also said that soon they were going to be releasing new slides that will allow you to test for nitrates and chlorine,So I went ahead and got it (btw, to this date, testing for nitrates and chlorine is not available)

This is what they tell you that your seneye will do

- Monitor water parameters (pH, free ammonia, temperature and water level)
- To read this parameters you will need to buy slides from seneye. One slide will last for one month, after a month you will need to buy new slides (3 slides go for around 20 euro), the reason for the slides is because after a month they stop being accurate and they would need recalibration and as this is not possible you need to get new ones
- The reading will be upload to a webserver so you can monitor your aquarium regularly.
- If one of the parameters goes beyond certain threshold the webserver will send you an alert (via SMS and email).

Sounds great doesnt it... well keep reading

Right after installing the seneye I almost immediately started to see lots of flaws... In theory, the seneye sensor is supposed to send your water parameters to the seneye servers so you can check them online.

However, there are two things that most people dont know:

First that for this to happen a computer must be connected to the seneye (even if you have the seneye wifi router, which I have, a computer will need to be connected to it), only then, the seneye will send the updates.

Second, the updates dont happen instantly, the information will only refresh every hour or so.

The second part is not much of an issue for me the first part is. The fact that you need a computer always connected to the seneye (either directly via a usb connector of wifi via the seneye router) it might be a major drawback for some people. In my case it wasnt much of an issue but to others it might be.

But to add to this my main problem was that I wasnt getting any updates whatsoever (maybe one every 20-24 h), aside from that, the router kept losing connectivity every day or two, which meant that I had to restart it on daily basis (and then, go to the computer and reconnect).

When I contacted seneye support, they were very quick to reply, however, the first thing I noticed is that, whatever I would tell them the problem was or what I did to try to solve it, the problem was always on my side, not wrong with the seneye.

They blame it on my computer so I connected from other computers and made no different. They still blame it on my computer. So decided to leave the router on its own, no computer connected to it and just let it gather data for a day or two and, after 10 hours, the same thing happened (the router lost connectivity to the seneye sensor).

No matter what I would say they will always blame it on the computer, wireless interference, etc... To this date I have never been able to get this fixed so I had no choice but to stop using the wireless router (I find the router pointless anyway as you still need a computer for the router to upload the data to the webserver).

The first issue (regular updates not working) fixed by itself after a few weeks, which made me think that the problem was probably on the seneyes servers (at the same time my seneye started updating on regular basis, I saw a notification from seneye saying that they had updated/upgraded their servers).

I stopped buying new slides for a few months as I only needed to monitor my tank when I would go on holidays. However, call it murphy's law, everytime I would go on holidays and buy new slides, after a day or two I would stop getting updates from my seneye decive which was a major inconvenience. It seemed that the issue was with the seneye app (it would stop responding after a few hours), so I had to set the computer to reboot twice a day and to automatically logon and connect to the seneye by itself. This has done the trick and since then I have had no issues with this (this will probably mean that the problem is either with my computer or with the seneye app).

For the last 6 months I have been running the seneye 24/7. I recently upgraded my nano to a bigger aquarium.

After the aquarium cycled I decided to use the seneye in the new aquarium (before moving my livestock) to make sure that the ammonia levels were in check and werent fluctuating. This was actually very helpful as I could see how my bacteria colony will react to ammonia spikes and how long it would take for the colony to get rid of the ammonia.

So as I was running out of slides I bought 3 new slides, left them to soak in tank water for 48 h, and as soon as I put the new slide in, my free ammonia went from 0.001 (normal reading) to 0.004. From my experience, this would be expected, and, after a few hours, you will start to see the ammonia levels to slowly go down until they reach 0.001, However, in this case, this never happened.

Twenty four days later (6 days before I was supposed to change the slide) and, as I was going away for a week I decided to put a new slide in (after soaking it for 48 hours).

As soon as I put it in my ammonia levels went up from 0.003 to 0.014 and my pH went up from 8.21 (at the time I did the change) to 8.40. I waited until next morning to see if the level will go down but nothing changed.



To explain the above picture, below the ammonia value, you can see another number (0.011), this is how much I had to decrease the reading the seneye sensor was sending to bring it down as close as possible to 0.002 (I do this so I dont get alerts from seneye every night)

Normally my pH at 8am will be around 8.12-14 and go up to 8.23 at night

So I had to manually reduce the value (you can calibrate this on your seneye app) 0.011 points so the ammonia would read 0.002 (the app will only go down in steps of 2 so 0.002 was the closest I could get to 0.001).

When I I contacted seneye they said that there was nothing to worry about and that this was normal. Again, the same type not our fault response. They said that a variation of 0.002-3 is insignificant and that I should not worry unless the levels were close to 0.020.

Obviously they missed the part where I said that I have manually lowered the levels 0.011 points, so I sent them another screenshot with the value reset to 0.000.


they replied that, then, the reason why my ammonia was higher is because my pH is high. This is exactly what they replied:

We can see the differences, but we would normally expect a significant jump up rather than a gradual increase in the pH if something was faulty. This did not jump to 8.4 but increased smoothly with more than one data point increasing up. The day night cycles in the pH are doing exactly what we would expect. We have exported the data into Excel and have plotted a trend line. This is shown on the image below. This is a fairer representation of the increase, as opposed to the straight lines that were represented on your E-mail. We have no reason to believe that your seneye is not reading correctly judging from the results.



To explain the picture above, the black vertical line indicates the day I changed my slide, on the left is my pH before the change and on the right, after the slide change.

Now if you look at the picture, to me, it doesnt look like a gradual increase of my pH but a drastic change from one day to another, but maybe I am seeing things wrong.

So I told them that, although I understand what they are trying to say (basically my ammonia is higher because my pH is higher), I said that I dont think my pH is that high, and that, I was going to get a digital pH meter to measure the right pH levels as well a chemical pH tester. This would clear any doubts we have about the current accuracy of my seneye reef. They came back to me with the following:

Please feel free to let us know how you get on with the different test methods. One word of caution though, all readings from different pH test methods can be inaccurate.

Basically saying that I can't trust those testers. So again, even if I get a reading and it is not what the seneye is giving me, the fault will be on the pH meter/tester I used and not the seneye.

So I have given up on them, IMO their support team, although responsive, are very stubborn and no matter what the fault will never be on their equipment. In my opinion, this is not a good sign as if you dont listen to your customers and accept the possibility of an issue with your devices you are never going to be able improve your product.

In my opinion, the impression that the seneye reef gave me is that is not a finished product by any means although they are selling it as if it was.

They recently released a new product called seneye webserver, this is supposed to eliminate the need for you to have a computer connected to the seneye 24/7. It is a beta at the moment, I was supposed to received a message when they were supposed to release this product but never go it. When I went to check it out (dont ask me why) and saw the price (140 euro) I had to laugh, how can they charge 140 euro for a beta product I dont know.

At least this new device is labelled as "beta" which I think it should also be used when referring to the seneye reef sensor.

So in conclusion, great idea, pointless customer support and an unfinished product. My advice, avoid it, however, I dont know if there is an alternative out there...

I am getting an Apex controller soon, for the time being, I will stick to it, I am pretty sure that the current issue I have (wrong ammonia/pH levels) is due to a faulty slide/batch, I will know this when I change my slide next month.

Hope this helped you somehow... sorry for the long email
Last edit: 15 Jun 2014 15:44 by Bohrio.

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15 Jun 2014 15:35 #2 by JohnH
That's an excellent review Bohrio, thanks for posting it for everyone to read.

John

Location:
N. Tipp

We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl - year after year.


ITFS member.



It's a long way to Tipperary.

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16 Jun 2014 10:25 #3 by hammie
Thats what I call a comprehensive review

I am surprised to hear that the updates are not real time and that the computer has to be connected at all times otherwise updates and so on will not happen!
I thought these were a complete stand alone system that monitored and reacted of it own volition

Thanks for the info....

I am also surprised to hear the customer service isnt more helpful and seems to lay blame with the user at every given opertunity! Surely this goes against what customer service is and they should be trying to do?

Neil

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16 Jun 2014 10:53 #4 by Bohrio
Thanks guys

The whole thing is a bit confusing. It makes sense to think that, to power the seneye reef you will need some sort of power source. this can be a computer connected via USB or you can also use the USB wall charger included in the box (i think it was included). At that point it would makes sense to think that the seneye will only send updates when connected to a PC (doesnt work with Macs yet, but they said it is coming soon... ahem)

However, what I find completely odd is that the wifi router (that by the way costs 120 euro) doesnt! Initially I thought that the reason why the updates werent happening was because of the router but when they told me that the router doesnt send updates and for the updates to happen you need to have a computer connected to the seneye via the wifi router I thought that the router was absolutely pointless. This is the reason why the have recently release that "beta" webserver, to precisely send updates without the need of a computer.

So the router purpose is only so you can connect several seneye at the same time (there are 4 USB ports on the back, so thats' up to 4 seneyes connected at the same time) and manage them from another computer using your wireless connection. Nothing else and tbh, to me that is pointless. It might be useful to other people with more than 1 seneye but otherwise is pointless.

Now, I forgot to mention, as long as the seneye is plugged to a power source it will store data, and when you connect a computer, it will upload all the data to the webserver, until then, the data is kept in the seneye.

Their customer service is just odd, I have never come across anything like this. Everytime I contact them they reply very quickly (even during the weekend) but their response is normally useless to me and I always feel like no matter what I say it is always my fault... is like if i was talking to my wife... so I do the same thing I do with her, just say ok and say sorry....

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25 Jun 2014 18:18 #5 by Bohrio
Ok so the time has come today to replace the slide. I was looking forward to this day as this would prove if the fault was with the slide (as I suspected) or with everything else but the seneye equipment (like seneye support suggested). Remember that they were blaming my high ammonia readings in a sudden pH swing (which curiously enough happened at the same time I changed my slide) or, if like I told them, my pH never changed and the problem was with a faulty slide/s giving the wrong ammonia/pH readings.

So I took a screenshot of the seneye app before the swapping the slide.



So as you can see I have the local time running, 18.12.27 IST (25/06/2014).

At that moment, my seneye was reading ammonia 0.014, pH 8.38, temp 25.3.

Remember that the app is saying that the ammonia is 0.000 but that's because I had to readjust the app and reduce the output value by 0.014 (you can see this if you look at the number below the green ammonia value is set to -0.014)

I proceeded to replace the slide (which I was previously soaked for 48 hours)

Despite the fact that it normally takes a few minutes for the new slide to stabilize and give the proper ammonia values, I reset the app to show the real values (the ammonia was no longer set to -0.014) as soon as I put it in this is what I got



The pictures was taken at 18:16:21 (the time it took for me to swap the slide). The first thing is that, my ammonia went down from 0.014 to 0.004, and second, my pH went down from 8.38 to 8.25. Which is what I was expecting and proves that the problem was with the two previous slides.

Normally, it takes a few minutes (or couple of hours) for the new slide to give the "proper" ammonia reading. It always starts with a higher value (around 0.004) and then slowly goes down to the desired value of 0.001.

So at 18.31 I took another picture and here it is!



So everything is back to normal now. Ammonia and pH as what I expected and, I was right, the seneye slide was not working properly, it was no misterious pH swing combination that made my ammonia increase in 5 minutes but a faulty slide...

I will email them now and see what they have to say and if they will accept that it was their fault or just blame it on me, my computer, my fish or the buggy... we will see!

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25 Jun 2014 20:20 #6 by hammie
Its odd that you kinda get a feeling for whats going on in your tank without even testing
Then when you do test the water and the results dont come back the way they should, we kinda know how accurate those results actually are!

Glad you getting the resulta now you should have been getting all along

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27 Jun 2014 14:20 #7 by Bohrio
Hey guys

Just to let you know the guys in Seneye have contacted me. They were not happy with me posting this, specially since I only pasted excerpts of emails and not the entire piece. I actually agree, so they feel that you should hear their side of the story as well. I couldnt agree more so we are waiting for them to reply to this thread as I would also love to hear what is their point of view on this matter in case I was wrong and I just failed to see their point.

So good news, personally I would love it if they would reply, I would love to stand corrected and I will gladly apologize if I did something wrong and learned from my mistake.

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27 Jun 2014 15:48 - 27 Jun 2014 15:51 #8 by Bohrio
Hi again guys

Seneye Support have asked me to paste their reply here, I havent read it yet and I am pasting exactly what they have sent

“All pH systems and in tank systems need calibrating because they all drift over time. Our system requires a slide change it is normal to see a difference. With PH we have attached the image an image of your PH results with slide changes for your post. Please let people see it and decide for themselves. You need to put some of these results in a real context such as your NH3; you claim a difference of 0.010 ppm is not acceptable on slide change. This is an inaccuracy of 1 part in 100,000,000. We have already cover the toxicity of this with reference to the colour of the background of the NH3 widget on seneye.me, so why do you think this is a problem and feel the need to trash the brand? Our technology is priced at under £100 pounds I would say this ground breaking its understandable that we should not take negative criticism for it lightly. To our knowledge there is no NH3 test in the domestic market that could even tell you if we were inaccurate at these low levels so I’m not sure what testing your assumptions are based on. Especially when made public in posts on a forums. When we do things wrong we correct the issues fast as possible – that’s why our customers service team reply so quickly. No continuous measurement device will be drift free and no device will give the same exact values after recalibration. As a point of interest this is illustrated in the second image in a journal published by the world respected Hanover Fish Institute using an ISE O2 probe by a leading brand; the line where it jumps in the middle is recalibration and the trend line down is drift. I only send this to illustrate what happens even in the labs and hopefully give some real world perspective. Monitoring for sudden changes is the most important thing that we do as aquarists, If we change the test equipment values through calibration this does not count as a sudden change.

From your email and posts you have been angry the with us over matters such as your buying a Belkin home base not working without a PC. The Belkin home base is Wi-Fi bridge it always has been and always will be. Belkin have never made any false promises over how it works and nor have we. Your comment : So the router purpose is only so you can connect several seneye at the same time (there are 4 USB ports on the back, so thats' up to 4 seneyes connected at the same time) and manage them from another computer using your wireless connection. Nothing else and tbh, to me that is pointless. It might be useful to other people with more than 1 seneye but otherwise is pointless. This is the Belkin product and what it does. Any number of articles, web pages and its packaging would have told you this. We cannot accept this a negative criticism of us for this.

So in a nut she we have no grounds to feel that what you have shown us is anything other than normal in the context of aquarium biology and our device. The long and short is you want us to say we are wrong we don’t feel we are. This could go on for ever and we don’t want it to as we have lots of customers to help and serve, we feel that we have tried to help you but you just want to draw us into a combative situation. For that reason we will only be replying to genuine issue or help issues from you.

On a brighter note we thought the forum members may enjoy this article on zooxanthellae in corals it’s a really interesting subject and something the embedded seneye PAR meter can really help with, answers.seneye.com/en/Aquarium_help/What...at_are_zooxanthellae


I will have a read now

PS: Forgot to add the pictures



Last edit: 27 Jun 2014 15:51 by Bohrio.

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27 Jun 2014 16:44 - 27 Jun 2014 18:37 #9 by Bohrio
Ok so after having a read (more or less what I expected) I want to reply to a few of their points

All pH systems and in tank systems need calibrating because they all drift over time. Our system requires a slide change it is normal to see a difference. With PH we have attached the image an image of your PH results with slide changes for your post. Please let people see it and decide for themselves.


I am not going to reply because I rather let people judge by themselves. I personally can't see it so clearly.

You need to put some of these results in a real context such as your NH3; you claim a difference of 0.010 ppm is not acceptable on slide change. This is an inaccuracy of 1 part in 100,000,000. We have already cover the toxicity of this with reference to the colour of the background of the NH3 widget on seneye.me, so why do you think this is a problem and feel the need to trash the brand?


I am not trashing the brand, I am stating a fact. Your website says that the reference levels (toxicity levels) for pure ammonia are as below:


NH3 level
PPM (mg/L)

safe 0.000 0.020
alert 0.020 0.050
alarm 0.050 0.200
toxic 0.200 0.500
deadly 0.500+


You told me that I shouldn't worry because your device, one minute was testing 0.001 (well within safe levels) and the next one 0.016 (4 points below your "alert" level). So I am sorry if I did worry when, after placing the slide I saw such increment (even if it was still 4 points below the alert level) just bear in mind that, at that point, I didnt know if either the previous slide was faulty (it was an 1 month old slide so it could be the case) or the new one. I was just concerned as I didnt know if my ammonia was that highish or if it was just the device.

Our technology is priced at under £100 pounds I would say this ground breaking its understandable that we should not take negative criticism for it lightly.



Dont get me wrong, I love the idea of your product, but this doesnt mean I can't (or we can't) criticize it. Personally I dont like this type of response (I am not sure how to read your response) "well for that price, what do you expect?" Sorry but that's not acceptable. I understand that the seneye might not be as accurate than a 1000 euro ammonia tester, but thats not what I was complaining about. My complaint is with your type of answer.

A more appropriate answer, in my opinion, would have been, "well, our device will not be able to measure ammonia as accurately as other more expensive devices, and from time to time, it might be slightly off, but as long as the value doesnt increase I wouldnt worry much about it, just use the calibration (+ and -) buttons to bring the value as close to 0.001 as possible and keep an eye on it for a few days, if the value increases let us know. At the same time, if you want to be sure that your ammonia is within safe levels, I recommend you use an alternative ammonia testing method such as a chemical testers, if you dont have one, I am sure your LFS will kindly test your water for you, please let me know how you get on". aka good customer service.

Now, that answer is much better than the 100 pound device what do you expect type of answer (in my opinion) and, implying if I want to prove them wrong I will find it hard as there is no other similar device out there for the price... (unless I wanted to spend a lot of money which I obviously wouldnt) is not a proper answer.

To our knowledge there is no NH3 test in the domestic market that could even tell you if we were inaccurate at these low levels so I’m not sure what testing your assumptions are based on




You are right, there is no other device out there that could come close to your, for the moment that is. I would have to spend 200 pounds on a hanna device to maybe, and only maybe, be able to compare results. But I am not comparing results, I am merely stating a fact, and that was, 2 minutes before changing my slide my ammonia was 0.014 and 15 minutes later 0.001. To me that was suspicious and, the main problem I had was, if there such difference between slides then I need to be more open minded and leave a higher margin for error.. and dont take for granted what my seneye says.

Especially when made public in posts on a forums.


Again, everyone is entitled to give their opinion, this is a democracy I am not trashing or making things up, just giving my experiences with your device/support.

When we do things wrong we correct the issues as fast as possible – that’s why our customers service team reply so quickly No continuous measurement device will be drift free and no device will give the same exact values after recalibration. As a point of interest this is illustrated in the second image in a journal published by the world respected Hanover Fish Institute using an ISE O2 probe by a leading brand; the line where it jumps in the middle is recalibration and the trend line down is drift. I only send this to illustrate what happens even in the labs and hopefully give some real world perspective. Monitoring for sudden changes is the most important thing that we do as aquarists, If we change the test equipment values through calibration this does not count as a sudden change.


Yes, and you are correct, in fact, I mentioned before (right at the beginnings until two post back) that, after a slide change, it is normal for the seneye to give higher values when the slide is replaced, but normally, it slowly goes down and until it settles, and this can take from a few minutes to a few hours, my slide was in the seneye for over a month!

From your email and posts you have been angry the with us over matters such as your buying a Belkin home base not working without a PC. The Belkin home base is Wi-Fi bridge it always has been and always will be. Belkin have never made any false promises over how it works and nor have we. Your comment : So the router purpose is only so you can connect several seneye at the same time (there are 4 USB ports on the back, so thats' up to 4 seneyes connected at the same time) and manage them from another computer using your wireless connection. Nothing else and tbh, to me that is pointless. It might be useful to other people with more than 1 seneye but otherwise is pointless. This is the Belkin product and what it does. Any number of articles, web pages and its packaging would have told you this. We cannot accept this a negative criticism of us for this.


You got it all wrong, I mean, so wrong.

First of all I never said I was not happy with the theoretical application of the product, I know what it does and I accept it, in fact, even if I would have bought it thinking it would do something, and then realize that it didnt, it would be my fault and I would never complaint about something like this.

What I said it was just that, in my opinion, the wireless router is pointless unless you have several seneyes connected to it. This is my opinion (and I am probably not the only one as you have recently released the web-server to address precisely this issue).

I based my opinion in the fact that to upload the data (which is what I needed as I wanted to use my seneye while on holidays) I needed a computer connected to it anyway, so I might as well, connect the computer directly to the seneye instead of going through the router. This will remove 1 possible point of failure, the router (as it was randomly disconnecting from my broadband wifi router and I couldn't risk this while I was away) and give me a bit more reliability.

My complaint was that, after several attempts of trying to get it sorted, my router still now keeps dropping the wireless connection to the wireless router. In fact, i think my belkin wireless router (seneye) is connected directly via ethernet (not sure about this I would need to check) in an effort from me to eliminate any possible points of failure. So to this day, or since I last used it, it is still happening.

So in a nut she we have no grounds to feel that what you have shown us is anything other than normal in the context of aquarium biology and our device. The long and short is you want us to say we are wrong we don’t feel we are


All I wanted is for you to explain why the sudden sift in my ammonia 2 minutes after I changed the slide and so far you havent. You have blamed it on a sudden pH change happening at the same time (which doesnt explain why, yesterday, when I put the new slide in the ammonia went back to normal parameters).

That part in bold pretty much sums up how you have made me feel for the past few months everytime I have contacted you.

This could go on for ever and we don’t want it to as we have lots of customers to help and serve, we feel that we have tried to help you but you just want to draw us into a combative situation. For that reason we will only be replying to genuine issue or help issues from you.


Actually I wasnt expecting a reply from you at all, I honestly though you were going to ignore my email. So that's fine,

Just a word of advice, it is good customer experience that, when one of your customers has a problem or a "bad" experience with one of your products, not to attack that person in public and call him troublemaker, instead, you should apologize and try to work things out and make me try to understand. You were being quite polite until you saw I had posted this here.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am pretty easy going, if people want, I will gladly paste my mails so you can see what type of messages were being sent back and forth and you will see that they were all polite, genuine and honest and I was, by no means, trying to be "combative", I mean, wtf?.

So i need someone else to tell me whether I am being a preek or what, please... unlike other I do welcome criticism

On a brighter note we thought the forum members may enjoy this article on zooxanthellae in corals it’s a really interesting subject and something the embedded seneye PAR meter can really help with, answers.seneye.com/en/Aquarium_help/What...at_are_zooxanthellae ”


Smooth... but thanks for that I was actually looking for information about the seneye par sensors and its application as I feel there is a lot there that I am missing, specially since I will be getting my new GHL LEDs tomorrow and this will def help me setting them up, so thanks.
Last edit: 27 Jun 2014 18:37 by Bohrio.

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25 Jan 2015 01:05 #10 by paulcavan
Wow totally put me off seneye. Sorry for my very short opinion here but wow seneye were rude just because you questioned there products. Tbh these days with technology we know and expect things to malfunction and sometimes not work and getting a batch of faulty slides wouldn be the end of the world your right they could have explained themselves in a more polite customer friendly way or just offered you a complmetuary batch of slides. In my average mind when you done the slide change and got such a difference in readings it proved it's wasn't working right even if that value was 1 part per 100.000.000

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