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Fully Automated Tank

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I have been looking into fully automating my tanks (initially my 3 display tanks).

This means everything that can be done automatically.

  • Sensors - water level, ph, ammonia, chlorine, temperature, light level, ammonia, carbon dioxide, oxygen and flow rate of filters.
  • Controllers - lights, heaters, chillers, auto feeders, filters, air pumps, fertilizer/medicine dosing, co2 injection and water changes (using reverse osmosis water).
  • Displays - Lcd display or multiple displays near the tanks to show vital information.
  • Data Logging - Post to a pc or similar device to log readings
  • Remote control - For example to kill the power to the room in case of an emergency or turn off the filters to manually feed a tank.

I have seen a lot of controllers that can do some of these things like the "sensye reef" priced well at $150 but very limited and really only covers some of the sensors seneye reef and the "open aquarium fish tank monitoring for arduino" system allow $1000 per tank for this one open aquarium  "robo tank" priced at about $400 one of the better systems I have found so far robo tank website the kit I like the best so far complete controller kit

So before I go buying components I would like to know how far everyone who has traveled down this route has got with their own automatic systems and if they have any advice or suggestions.

Also here is a few videos of some systems that are pretty close to what I was thinking of trying to replicate.

Arduino controlled Aquarium Video

Jarduino Aquarium Controller

Robo Tank Video (currently the best option)

 

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What do you mean by fully automated? What are your goals? 

a) automatic detection of artificial environment variables with alert?

b ) automatic correction if environment variables move? 

c ) monitoring of life support systems themselves? 

d ) simplifying fish keeping. 

 

 

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I hope u got deep pockets haha but if you can do it why not I back you up because at the end of the day we like to enjoy our tanks as a hobby not a chore. I'm slowly getting my reef tank to self maintain apart from water changes and stuff

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@Donny@ageofaquariums the neptune apex looks very well thought out and at a good price considering what you get for your money, I will have to look into it more when I get a chance but it is up there with the robo tank as one of the best solutions. I really love the remote monitoring/control apps for the pc and phone.

@aquaholic99 Automatic correction of environment variables would be nice but not essential. My first and foremost concern is monitoring the variables in the tank, things like temp, light, ph, ammonia etc.. A single display to collect all the info to show the levels with an alarm of some sort would be helpful. Secondly auto feeding and auto water changes. I want to do whatever I can do to simplify my current setup to give me more time to enjoy and monitor the fish. I am not looking for a set and forget option as I still have some time available to do most things but for the days I can't get time to maintain the tanks some automatic features would be an advantage.

As it stands I have a lot of separate probes, water test gear, auto feeders for the basic foods (I feed all "treats" manually) and ph/temp sensors on every tank. It is starting to get out of hand and space is limited. My wiring is a mess and needs a full overhaul as the "just add more as we need it option" has resulted in power boards, sensors and timers every where.

I have tap water to the room and drains in place with garbage bins to hold the water during water changes and cleaning. This system is effective but takes up a lot of room (I could have more tanks if I get rid of the bins).

So I am at a point of overhauling the system. On top of it all most of my fish are now breeding and there is the fry to raise up as well. Whatever I can do to make my time in the fish room more orientated around the care for the fish and not the care for the tanks themselves would be an advantage.

As an example I was going to do a scheduled water change but never got around to it due to having to strip out all the decor from a 6x2x2 tank (120 kg of rocks and plants) to catch the fish that had fry and strip them. As a result I never got around to doing the water changes and now I feel bad that the water change has had to be delayed while I set up more grow out tanks and deal with the fry. It was 2 weeks before I got time to do the water changes.

 

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The main reason I ask is the aquaculture facilities  (insane stocking rates) and public aquariums  (enviable budgets) which do automate and monitor systems get the most benefit from the person who hand feeds the tank as that's the best time to observe fish behaviour. The number of false alerts or incorrect readings are alarming (ha ha) and that's assuming good design, calibration and positioning.

What type of fish do you have? I'm  thinking 95% of your work including backup would be eliminated by constant water change. Tap -> carbon filter -> tank (s) -> waste. No need to monitor water parameters, adjust conditions, have alerts or auto corrections. When you feed (and monitor fish behaviour) you visually check the water change is dripping. 

In winter you may have to reduce the rate of water change but unlikely. 

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@aquaholic99 Excellent point. I think that that the Reverse osmosis drip auto top off/water change system will be the best place to start. It can be added into any controller later and gives the best "insurance" for the money and it will stop most problems before they start. I agree the more time we have to watch our fish and find out what they need is essential to succeeding.

The fish/tanks I have that I want to automate are:

4x2x2 (4 @ 15 cm+) and (4 @ 8 cm+) Electric Blues

6x2x2 (12 @ 10 cm) Maingano and (15 @ 10 cm) Electric Yellow

8x2x2 (5 @ 15 cm+) Frontosa and (10 @ 8 cm) Lemon Neolamprologus Leleupi

5.5x1.5x1.8 50+ assorted Bristlenose/peppermint, corydoras and dwarf otocinclus

All tanks have anubias and java fern

Plus 7 smaller tanks that don't need to be monitored/automated.

 

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When I saw the title , the first thing I thought of was a cross between an M1 Abrams and a Dalek or a Cylon or some similar Scifi Automoton .

That said , it sounds like rather wallet emptying exercise but it would be interesting to see .

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44 minutes ago, pony-tail said:

When I saw the title , the first thing I thought of was a cross between an M1 Abrams and a Dalek or a Cylon or some similar Scifi Automoton .

love the imagery - a hybrid then, the three combined. 

 

 

 

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49 minutes ago, pony-tail said:

When I saw the title , the first thing I thought of was a cross between an M1 Abrams and a Dalek or a Cylon or some similar Scifi Automoton .

That said , it sounds like rather wallet emptying exercise but it would be interesting to see .

Cost is an issue but I am most likely going to go for the cheapest option I can. I have a massive supply of most of the parts already and it would be good to put them to use. I am a D.I.Y. sort of person so I feel that most of the work I can do myself. I will do a  post in projects/D.I.Y. section to show what I come up with as it happens. 

Don't get me wrong I would love a Dalek or a Cylon to watch over my tanks, hahaha.

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Your profile location says Ipswich. With the fish species you listed, I would slow drip tap water into your tanks and let the overflow take to waste. 5% tank volume over a week won't need neutraliser, RO, pH, hardness buffers, salt etc.  

That makes your monitoring system easy too. Just box it up. 

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On 14/09/2016 at 9:40 AM, aquaholic99 said:

Your profile location says Ipswich. With the fish species you listed, I would slow drip tap water into your tanks and let the overflow take to waste. 5% tank volume over a week won't need neutraliser, RO, pH, hardness buffers, salt etc.  

That makes your monitoring system easy too. Just box it up. 

That seems like an awseome idea and will cut the costs down a LOT. My only issue is I will need to drill my tanks.

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Drilling is really easy or you can pay someone to do it. Don't need to fully drain the tank to drill. 

If you are slow dripping,  you only need a small overflow hole & drain line. But the usual tempation is to increase this or add more tanks (because no manual water changes are needed) so future proof accordingly. 

The other benefit is you can go away on long holidays or not stress if power goes out for several days.  And not temperature adjust over winter. 

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