Aquarium Convert Program - The Planted Tank Forum
Old 02-02-2008, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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Aquarium Convert Program

I am a Mechanical Engineering major and this semester I am taking a programming class. I been working on a program to calculate the volume after the user enters the length, width, and height. So, I'm sure you all are saying that you could just multiply L, W, and H together divide by 231 and get the volume yourself. However, I also added a couple other features. The user is also prompted to enter the thickness of the glass. The program then calculate the volume of the glass and subtracts it from the total volume. Since the aquarium substrate takes up volume, I added a place where the user can enter the depth of the substrate. The program then subtracts this from the volume. Then since the water in most tanks is not level with the top of the tank, I added a feature for the user to enter the height of the water below the top of the aquarium. Then the program subtracts this from the volume. After this, the program displays the volume, the volume minus the glass volume, the volume minus the glass and substrate volume, and then the volume minus the glass, substrate, and water level from the top volume.

Some of you might be wondering my motivation behind writing this simple program. My reasoning all has to do with dosing aquariums with live plants. I have a 75 gallon planted and when I add ferts, I use to add the amount for 75 gallons of water. However, one day, I stopped and thought about it and came to this realization. Technically, I should not be adding this much because the substrate takes up quite a bit of volume. If I neglect this and dose for 75 gallons, I will be overdosing, which could lead to unwanted results, like an algea outbreak. So, I wrote this program to calcuate a more accurate volume.

I might add a part to the program that would calculate a percent of the total volume for a user. For an example, let's say a user wants to do a 20% water change. The user would enter that as 20 and the computer would calculate how much water the user should change.

So far, this is all I have thought of to add. I am sure I will think of more things to add sitting in class in the weeks to come. If anyone has and thoughts on it, feel free to comment.
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Old 02-02-2008, 05:24 PM
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My only comment is that 3" of substrate in a 12" x 48" tank does not take up 7 gallons of space, because it is not a solid mass. Probably close to half, or maybe a quarter of that is still water. Also, take into account the porosity of the substrate being used. It would be a nice feature to have, and I agree some gallonage should be removed in order to avoid overdosing, but I don't think the straight volume of the substrate is in accurate means by which to find this number.
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Old 02-02-2008, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, I do realize this about the substrate. It all depends on if you are using a sand type substrate or a substrate with a larger grain size. Now, what I did not add in the program is the volume of other decor rocks and driftwood because I thought that this would make up for the extra volume subtracted from the substrate. Now, if the user has a really large grain size, then you simply can just type in half the depth for the substrate. This will give a more accurate value. I understand that the volume can not be exactly calculated, but this program still gives a better estimate for the volume.

Here is an example of where I have used the program. I have a 2.5 gallon planted that has been up for close to 2 years. The substrate is sand and is about 2 inches deep. For a long time I was dosing for 2.5 gallons of water. After typing in the values into the program, I found that I should really be dosing for between 1.75-2 gallons. This program is not perfect because there still is water between the grains of sand, but it does give a better volume for dosing.

This program will never be able to calculate the exact volume, but it comes closer than just using the declared volume. If anyone has any comments about this or other comments about the program, please feel free to comment.
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Old 02-02-2008, 05:42 PM
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Porosity of the substrate would be very hard to calculate just with a program. You could do averages but that's about all. Substrate comes with other materials because the real world is in the mix so it's as pure as can be. I Think even if you took sand from say home depot in California and then some from Florida the make up would be different and so would the wet weight. A lot of hobbist's mix or layer different material for their substrate so that would be another variable. I also think even if you took several of the most popular substrates and wet them with the same amount of water this would not be accurate. Doesn't some of our water have chemicals that could help or deter the absorption? These are just a few thoughts. I am definitely not a biologist.

I do agree that it will give you a little better estimate for dosing of your tank. I just don't think it would work well with mine. I would have to do a lot of test first.

Last edited by Crystalview; 02-02-2008 at 05:46 PM. Reason: ninga'd
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Old 02-02-2008, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crystalview View Post
Porosity of the substrate would be very hard to calculate just with a program. You could do averages but that's about all. Substrate comes with other materials because the real world is in the mix so it's as pure as can be. I Think even if you took sand from say home depot in California and then some from Florida the make up would be different and so would the wet weight. A lot of hobbist's mix or layer different material for their substrate so that would be another variable. I also think even if you took several of the most popular substrates and wet them with the same amount of water this would not be accurate. Doesn't some of our water have chemicals that could help or deter the absorption? These are just a few thoughts. I am definitely not a biologist.

I do agree that it will give you a little better estimate for dosing of your tank. I just don't think it would work well with mine. I would have to do a lot of test first.
Thanks for the comments. I agree with you. In experimental science, you can never calculate things exactly because there will aways be errors in measurement instruments. However, you can come pretty close at times.
Like I have stated, this program will give a little better estimate of the volume for the "average" hobbyist.
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Old 02-02-2008, 05:53 PM
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I totally agree with the above statements, and was in no way trying to say it was futile or pointless to calculate that.

All in all, its nice to see someone go a little more in depth with the basic things. It makes life a little easier for all of us
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Old 02-02-2008, 06:50 PM
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How about VB scripts in Excel to calculate and track how much fertilizer you've got in the tank? You could take into account molar mass of the fertilizers.

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Old 02-02-2008, 07:57 PM
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Or even the plants themselves :p

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Old 02-02-2008, 10:03 PM
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With all the variables at stake with different subs and combos, and like you said, it's impossible to be totally accurate here, I think you're safe just calculating only about 3/4 of their actual sub depth. The guess work gets even more weird when you're talking about products like SMS or Turface that are actually designed to absorb a large amount of moisture and do so pretty efficiently IME. For that reason I don't include much of the depth of my SMS at all, I just round up part of the calculation to make up for it, should be a close enough guess.

How on earth do I ever calculate the volume of my huge, odd shaped driftwood?? The only real way is to submerse it in a known volume container. And that's only realistic for people who remember to do it before setting the tank up.

I tried to be slick when I first filled my 65gl, by using a 5gl bucket to fill it. I lost count at around 40gl and ended up pulling my back bad enough to miss work for a day. <one of the stupidest aquarium related decisions I've made. A GPH meter and a clock might have worked a lot better.... or not.

Some of my favorite ways around not knowing my actual volume:

1. Estimative Index
2. Using things that are safe to overdose like Prime.
3. Dosing meds in a 5gl bucket QT that I marked with proper gallon levels.

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Old 02-02-2008, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post

Or even the plants themselves :p

LOL! Maybe some of us can contribute some RAOKs for research, measure stems of particular species, mash them up into a solid ball and see how much volume they take up in a container.

X" bacopa monierri = -***ml tank volume

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Old 02-03-2008, 03:17 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post

Or even the plants themselves :p

I was waiting for someone to get more technical! Well since you threw those out there, how about the volume of the fish!
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Old 02-03-2008, 03:22 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by fishscale View Post
How about VB scripts in Excel to calculate and track how much fertilizer you've got in the tank? You could take into account molar mass of the fertilizers.
I like that idea. The only problem is that I am not that great with Excel yet. Excel is great for making graphs!
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Old 02-03-2008, 03:23 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jaidexl View Post
LOL! Maybe some of us can contribute some RAOKs for research, measure stems of particular species, mash them up into a solid ball and see how much volume they take up in a container.

X" bacopa monierri = -***ml tank volume
The only problem is that plants are or should be constantly growing so their volume would be increasing constantly.
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Old 02-03-2008, 03:25 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post

Or even the plants themselves :p

Driftwood would be tricky because it becomes water logged.
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Old 02-03-2008, 04:56 AM
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I'm all for writing scripts and programs for fun, I occasionally write up PHP scripts for my own amusement.

In this case, if I really did want to know just how much water was in my aquarium taking into account the substrate and decor... I'd just drain the thing into buckets. Or at least clock a pump and then see how long it took to drain the tank. It doesn't matter if my "75 gallon" is really that, anything between 60 and 80 gallons gets the same EI dose anyway.

If I wanted to know how much water above the substrat, I'd just subtract that thickness from the height of the aquarium and use the standard calculations.

So, I guess my whole point is, the 'average' person isn't going to care about this precision and the 'advanced' person knows how to figure everything out on their own already.
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