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Automated Fish Tanks


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This is an idea that me and my brother thought up. We are both engineers and also keep fish. We thought of an automatic control system for the goldfish tank. It would esentially control everything from the air pump to water changes if we could get it working right.

The basic idea is to have a nitrate meter in the tank which is hooked up to a computer. When the nitrate level gets too high it would automatically do a water change. The water would be drawn out through a sump at the bottom, thereby cleaning the gravel at the bottom of waste while also filling the tank with perfectly aged water.

Hopefully a pH meter and a dissolved oxygen probe would also be connected to the computer which are in turn connected to a dosing system and an air pump respectively.

The filter could also be linked to a turbidity sensor so that the flow rate could be varied so as to save power and reduce currents for the fish.

Just wanted to know what you guys think and has anybody tried an idea like this before. Also would anybody be else be interested in a set up like this. I think it would be good for peopple with very large aquariums. The main thing stopping us at the moment is money. Proper meters are very expensive.

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A very lofty goal indeed. :blink:

It has been done before. But, it is a VERY, VERY expensive project with MANY ways for it to fail. Calibrating meters, in itself, could prove to be as much of a chore as just dragging out a few buckets and a syphon.

In my opinion, nothing can replace, or replicate, the human mind (besides Mother Nature, that is) when it comes to taking care of living, breathing beings........ ;)

Paul

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I know it will be hard, but i have some experience using this kind of equipment and really enjoy getting a process to work automatically without intervention. Tis a thing of beauty when it works out.

I might wait until i get a better paying job to start it though.

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My husband designs lab courses at uni, he's a physicist, he's thinking next year of designing the sensors course to get the kids to create nitrate/nitrite/ammo/GH/KH sensors... he's up for the idea of having one piece of electronic equipment that you stick in the tank water and it comes up with all parameters.

I think he's being a bit ambitious, after having to use an electronic pH meter at work on a regular basis (can be a real bugg3r to calibrate from use to use.), but I'm not gonna dis him for this because he's got ambitions greater than I....

Good luck with your design! Maybe if you are succcessful you could market your idea and make a mint!

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Yeah, money seems to be the only factor that is holding me back from doing the same.... ;):D

The most expensive part of this project would be in the sensors and actuators for opening and closing drains/taps and dispensing liquids like dechlorinators. Then you can purchase (or write) the computer program for monitoring levels and instructing the actuators.

There are some more aspects where money is an issue. All in all, I would put the total somehwere around 1-3 thousand bucks for a 55-100 gallon tank....

Tosakin, let us know how they work. that would be a neat thing to have....... :yeah:

Paul

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  • 2 months later...
  • Regular Member

Why don't you start out with an automated water changing system? Maybe simply using a timer to change the water one a week and being able to vary how much water is changed at a time? If this works out well, then we could think of better things.

I am an engineering student and so far, the only thing I've been able to use my studies is for the design of filteration systems. Never thought of making things automated. :)

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Your engineering skills are showing. :exactly

I've been pondering this recently. another member has one set up that actually takes half RO water and half tapwater into a vat that the water added back to the tank draws from and he promised to post something about the schamtics but he hasn't been around. :unsure:

You could easily make a waterchange and replenish set-up with a couple digital timers and two submersible pumps. But, you'd have to set it up each week by adding water to the fresh water vat. Unless you went a little further and added and automatic dechlorinator dispensers. But then you would still need a switchboard or computer to run everything on a tight schedule.

Paul

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I found a fellow who has an "automated" tank system - much along the lines you are considering. It draws water and replaces it on a schedule as programed into his laptop.

Flaws include not being able to clean waste stuck to tank sides. Not being able to selectively clean corners and such. The need for a carefully constructed "fence" to keep all the fish away from the outtake and intake ports.

Easier to solve, but as of yet something he has not yet addressed - a power cutoff to the heater and filter as the water goes in and out. On occasion the filter will lose prime and grind, and the heater is far too exposed to the air for my tastes. He needs a submersible turned horizontally. The filter problem is......not hard to work around but needs to be addressed.

He does have a wonderful water parameters test setup - each is included in a block of probes for the tank - a very fun and rewarding challenge for an engineer to dream up. Sensors are my thing, and I love messing with that type of problem. :)

I think I would rather have a more hands on approach. It allows me to see what type of poop the fish do, where they do it, how the tank is shaping up, algae needs or problems, filter cleaning, intake cleaning, polishing the covers for optimum lighting, etc.

This reminds me a bit of the story of Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine. He worked so hard to make a machine that would do all his work for him, but he failed to realize that creating the machine and monitoring all it could do required much more work and understanding than if it was simply done the "old fashioned" way.

:lol:

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