- Computerized Tank
by tom/visix.com (Thomas Carstensen) (28 Jan 92)
- Tank timings
by tom/visix.com (Thomas Carstensen)
Date: 28 Jan 92
After some interest regarding details of my computerized Reef and FW
Tank, I though I'd make a general posting describing these tanks.
I have been in the Aquarium hobby for about 4 years, with mostly FW
tanks. About a half a year ago, I decieded to set up 2 full blown,
computerized tanks, both for my own enjoyment of building and running
these systems, and also to take a look into the feasibility of marketing
a computer controller. This arcticle describes the FW tank. If there
is interest, I'll describe the computerized Reef tank as well - although
I'll include a summary at the end describing the additions to the system
for a Reef tank.
The tank setup consists of a 120 gallon 2' x 2' x 6' TruVu acrylic tank, with
a completely enclosed oak stand and open-top hood. There is a 10 gallon
trickle filter, with reactors for C02, Carbon, MA Disks and an empty one
for whatever I may want to put in it at a future date. There are 2 pumps,
one returns water through the bottom of the tank at both ends of the tank,
and the other runs the reactors. There is an corner overflow box that
brings the water to the trickle filter. There are also 3 hanging MH lights
with 175W 5500K bulbs. There is a vat with vitamins and fertalizer, etc.
that gets added to the sump of the trickle filter via a metering pump. There
is also 2 additional 35 gallon vats located in the adjacent room. They are
connected to the tank via 1/2" pvc pipe coming through the wall. All
connection are hard piped with gray PVC schedule 40 pipe.
The computer is a 8031 microcontroller, which runs on its own, but is
connected to a Mac (or any other PC with a terminal program) via the RS232
serial port to program the controller, or download measurements. The
controller has a 4 digit LCD display, which will show on a continuos basis
any 1 of the following: pH (location #1), ph (location #2), water temp,
air temp, time of day (for the Reef tank, 2 ORP and 1 conductivity reading
is also given). There is a button on the controller to rotate through the
various readings. The controller is connected to an external power strip,
which the controller can individually turn on/off any of the 12 outlets.
The outlets are assigned to:
1. Pump #1 7. Heater(s)
2. Pump #2 8. Chiller (optional)
3. Light #1 9. CO2 solenoid
4. Light #2 10. Drain Pump
5. Light #3 11. reserved
6. Water changing pump 12. reserved
The controller also has plug-ins for 2 pH probes, and a water temperature
The controller can be programmed in any fasion, via the Mac or PC to control:
a) Lighting schedule, turning individual lights on/off at any time
of the day
b) Control the pH, buy indicating the ph value to mainting. The controller
will turn on/off the solenoid accordingly.
c) Taking Measurments: Programs the 2 times in the day to make measurments.
These measurments are stored in the system, until you connect your Mac
or PC and download the measurements.
d) Water changing: Program the time of day to begin water changing, and the
amount of time to keep the water changing pump on. The controller
turns on the water changing pump, located in the 35 gallon reserve water
vat, which goes into the sump of the trickle filter. The trickle filter
contains 3 float switches, high, low and normal. The water changing
process will raise the water level, eventually to the high level mark.
When this happens, the drain pump, located in the sump, will turn on,
and pump water in the the 35 gallon drain vat, until the water reaches
the normal level again. The 35 gallon drain vat also has a float switch
on it (high level) which sets of an alarm (in the controller) to alert
you that the drain vat needs emptying. The water changing vat can be
any height. I have a solenoid connected to the output of the water
changing pump the is NC. The pump and the solenoid are connect to the
same outlet. This prevents the siphoning of all the water in the water
I suppose if you had a tank with out a trickle filter, or corner overflow
box, the float switches would need to be in the tank itself, to maintain
a proper tank level.
e) Top-off: Top offs can be incorporated into the daily water changing.
The controller will automatically pump water in from the
water changing vat if the water level in the sump reaches the low point.
It will pump in water until the water level in the sump reaches normal.
f) Temperature: The controller maintains a speicific temperature by turning
on/off the heater and chiller. The chiller is necessary if you can't
keep the water cool enough.
g) Feed Switch: Turns of the pumps for a specified period of time during
The reserve water vat contains properly prepared water, and is heated to the
same temperature as the tank. There is also an air pump with an airstone
in the vat. The water used is RO, DI water, and sodium bicarbonate used
to bring the carbonate hardness to ~6dKH, and calcium carbonate to bring
the general hardness to ~5dKH.
I also have a completely graphical Mac application the interfaces with the
controller. This is a replacement to the "terminal" interface.
The Reef System
The reef system is the same as above, with the addition of alternating
pumps and powerheads (wave making), control of ozone to mainting ORP,
measurment of ORP in 2 places, and conductivity, control of brine and
reserve vats to maintain salanity, control of water change and top-off vats
This a description of the prototype. Over the next year, I hope to refine
and perfect the controller. The main idea for me, was to have fun building
the system, and then to have beautifual tanks that require minimal maitanence.
(If mail does not get through - I can also be reached at 703.758.2741
From: greg-at-enterprise.NoSubdomain.NoDomain (Greg George Area SSE - Midwest Area)
Date: 30 Mar 92 13:09:26 GMT
If you want to do things automatically, go to your local
Radio Shack or Heathkit store and ask them about X-10. These
are little devices that can control virtually anything in your
house from either your home computer, a handheld remote, or
a wall switch. There are outside lights based on X-10 that
will turn on an inside light if someone is near your house,
or chime a bell. There are also very easy to install burglar
alarms base on X-10.
I use X-10 to control the light intensity and lenth of time the
tank is lit. I also have my filters tied to another X-10 circuit
so I can turn them on and off from a remote control when I want
to feed the fish or clean the tank. Check it out!!