Aquarium Micro-Controller (part 1)

By | December 13, 2012

Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami, school of Narrow-Wedge Rasbora, Siamese Algae Eater

One of the first projects that came to my mind when I started learning about Arduino was the possibility of controlling LEDs, relays and solenoids for my planted aquarium. Of course I’m not the first person to think of this… link link link

A few features I’d like to plan for…

  1. Timers / Schedulers
  2. Relay switched outlets
  3. LCD display and reminder lights, buttons for input
  4. Dimmable LED (PWM) accent/night lighting
  5. Sensors: temperature, co2 flow? PH?
  6. PWM main LED lighting

My current tank setup uses two banks of t5 high output lights, which are switched on and off at the same time. I’d like to control those banks separately with relays. When I can afford it, I’d love to eventually replace the fluorescent lights with dimmable banks of high output LEDs in wavelengths matched to the plants photosynthesis. I’d like PWM controlled night lighting, maybe even something that can simulate sunrise/sunset, and be an accent light for after the main lights turn off. I’d eventually like solenoid control of Co2 and fertilizer dosing.  But I could start with some kind of reminder system, and maybe add some kind of optical sensor to time CO2 bubbles and warn when adjustments need to be made.

I was originally thinking this would be an Arduino based project, but now that the Raspberry Pi is available I’d like to have some kind of network availability for reminders and scheduling. Either way, this project will require I2C I/O expansion for sensors and relays, and a Real Time Clock. I may try to use a controller common in RGB pixels to simplify LED control.