Hey Everyone - I just thought I would check in with an update. In keeping with some very good advice here, I have made zero changes to my dosing, cleaning and water change patterns to keep things stable with my tank and to see what (if anything) I really need to change. The tank continue to grow very fast and require a lot of trimming. I thought I was trimming too much but as it turns out , it all grows back so fast it is just amazing:
So my son and I took several hours yesterday cleaning up and trimming up the tank and then doing our weekly water change. I am still doing about 60% a week with dosed RODI and with a filter cleanout once per month for both filters.
In other news, in the end, my daughters opted for hamsters instead of fish so my son who helps with the tank ended up with the new 5-gallon tank in his room. I used roughly 50% new and 50% existing substrate from our 75-gallon tank, plants from the 75-gallon and bio-media out of our canister filter from the tank. We then filled the tank with dosed RODI and immediately added 7 small, inexpensive fish. None of them have died as of yet, so I think using existing stuff actually prevented the need to cycle the tank in a traditional manner. He is very happy. We are going to run the tank for a few months with the existing fish before moving them to the main tank and getting the fish he really wants, however, he is not sure that that is going to be right now.
On the programming front, I am making great progress on our Hydroponic/Irrigation control system. The backend is Python, SQLAlchemy (accessing MySQL and InfluxDB), Flask, Apache and thousands of lines of CSS. I have most of the major core irrigation framework completed and have been working on refactoring, learning SQLAlchemy, dealing with all the nuances of actually scheduling and running specific jobs, conflicting schedule management, and instant feedback using Flask Flash messages and css. I have been playing around with how I want to manage scheduled jobs and spent a lot of time working on and setting up APScheduler and interfacing Neptune (my control software) with it, and overall job management. It is an extremely robust scheduling platform and I am leaning towards its use as opposed to say a crontab style approach, but I am still playing around with my various options. Since all of my jobs are stored in a MySQL database, plugging in the scheduling end should be pretty simple once I decide which direction to go.
I spent a lot of time on system management and error checking around the availability of old fish tank water stored in a 300-gallon IBC tote. This includes pump management, zone management, water availability both before and during a scheduled job, the best way to monitor water levels in a 300-gallon tote, automation of selecting the appropriate water source, tracking overall, and per-zone water usage and more. Right now the system is lightning fast as it utilizes flask, apache, and almost 100% of the button changes and interactions are done via CSS as opposed to images of buttons. The overall design is based completely around using a cell phone web browser as it's the interface. Since I have zero experience writing apps for cell phones, I am sticking with a web-based approach.
As I shared with you before, this system will also be running my tank water change and chiller systems albeit not in a 'fully automated' mode, just as a system manager. The goal will be to automate the chiller operation between the fish tank (as primary), our RODI storage tank, and our Hydroponic solution tank. I have selected a Penguin chiller, shooting for about 1.5HP after talking with them and discussing overall heat rejection and delta-T loads. My only concern at this point is switching between chilling say our hydroponic solution with all of the nutrients the plants need and going back to chilling the fish tank water. Right now I am working on the algorithm that will never switch directly from hydroponic chilling to tank chilling but rather would "flush" the lines with RODI water back into my hydroponic tank before switching. I am likely overthinking the problem and the solution, but hey, I have time on my hands so why not!! The problem is that I really cannot find an answer to if there would be an issue so I am not going to take a chance. I am working on a chiller class that will manage everything and prevents the possibility of pumping a hydroponic solution into my fish tank during the chilling process.
It will semi-automate the water change process by managing all of my filters, skimmers, UV-lights, and any other equipment that needs to be shut down during the water change process. I will have to manually open a valve that allows water to be pumped from the tank by the water change process and I already have most of the electrical management interface up and running on my current tank control project. Regardless of how automated I make it, someone will always be there to watch over the process so we don't kill our beloved pets.
Well, I am sure this was way more than people wanted to read, so here are some screenshots and I will leave you with that. I really enjoy having this forum to read and post to and I hope everyone is doing well during this pandemic.