Need feedback on Automatic Fish/Coral Feeder - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-31-2014, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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Question Need feedback on Automatic Fish/Coral Feeder

I am a Mechanical Engineer, and I am new to the world of aquariums.
I am developing a automatic system with the following features:

1) Automatic fish/coral feeder controlled over the internet

2) Lighting System which can recreate a specific daylight/night pattern from any part of the world.

3) Heating and circulation system - controlled over the internet

Since my expertise lies in electronics and controls, I was hoping to get feedback from experts on this forum about the usefulness of the system.

From my rudimentary understanding of the topic, this is useful for the following reasons:
1) People who might need to travel a lot.
2) I would assume that the lighting pattern is critical, and a simple manual switch on/switch off system which provides constant wattage isn't a optimal solution.
3) The circulation/heating system doesn't need to be a continuously ON, as that wastes energy.

Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 10:08 AM
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1. There are plenty of auto feeders out there and there mostly all crap; I wouldn't pay alot of money for any auto feeder regardless of features unless it worked 100% consistently for whatever food I desire; good luck.

2. Relay Banging Timers work just fine and once setup hardly need adjusting; unless a DST adjustment is needed. Lighting Schedules revolve more around the owners needs and less about trying to mimmic a natural environment.

3. Again this is a once setup its never adjusted and no need for internet control; heaters have built in and external thermostats and require little additional maintenance... If its continuously on its undersized; as for circulation that needs to run all the time to promote stability.

I suggest you run a tank for a while and find out first hand what's actually needed and what'd be more snake oil on the fire.. For example automated changeouts, fluid top off, nutrient dosing and remote monitoring parameters would be the direction you need to travel if your looking to overengineer a fish tank.

The ONLY reasons I can think of for hooking an aquarium up to the internet are for:
WebCam - For when your away.
Email/SMS - Alerts/Alarms & Reminders of Maintenance

both are quite passive systems, simply for monitoring; last thing I want is some smart ass hacker kid to dump a months of food into the tank, cook all my fish at 100F and burn out my light ballasts by cycling them as fast as possible just because he can.. Just because you can design something dont mean you should; There is a reason nobody has invented the front door that unlocks when you knock on it.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 10:24 AM
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-02-2014, 09:36 AM
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I generally agree with the excellent post by nayr.

I would also suggest that you check out the existing control systems currently on the market. Most are geared toward the SW reef keepers, but could do the same things on a FW planted tank.

Also check out existing lighting control for high end LED lighting. Again, most is geared toward the SW people, but still applicable.

While there are plenty of devices to look at, here are a couple of links to get you started -

As you can see, most of what your talking about has already been done. Also, some of the controllers can deal with monitoring and controlling areas you have not mentioned, such as pH and ORP.
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automatic, daylight, feeder, lighting

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