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Discussion Starter #1
What if there was a gizmo that either lived in your tank or on the back of it and tracked in real time all the things you could possibly want to know about your planted tank, then reported them to your computer/twitter/facebook/blackberry/sms/you name it.

You can imagine the interface as pretty and customizable as you want, with charts, graphs, recommendations, schedules, and real time tracking of whatever you want.

How many parameters do we want to check and track?

1. pH
2. Temperature
3. Hardness
4. Light output
5. Ammonia
6. Nitrites
7. Nitrates
8. CO2
9. KNO3 ?
10. KH2PO4 ?
11. Water level ?
12. What else??

Now, don't think about whether it could be done. Suppose that technologically it could be done.

A. Would this be of interest?

B. How much would you pay for this device?
 

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Fear the Swamp!
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I think someone would be a billionaire if they could create this. At a minimum, I would love to have an electronic meter (handheld would be fine) that could measure nitrates and phosphates without using the test kits. I'm surprised that with all the technology out there, professional labs still test nitrates using titration.
 

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i think geneus is being facetious. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Those guys are crazy... Once again, sure the idea is there but not even close to what I proposed in the OP.

I am imagining a black box the size of an average HOB filter. All it would have would be a probe in the tank, a power cord on the other side and an ethernet port for initial setup.

And, don't think DIY of course - I imagine tens of thousands of dollars would go into the chemical and engineering research and making the first prototype. Think big! (Ermm.. or small, nano technology small ;))
 

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Children Boogie
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A little black box is not feasible. With all those sensors to detect all of those parameters, it would be pretty large and very expensive. I wouldn't spend more than $100 on an instrument and this might be up in the thousands.

I actually wouldn't bother getting an instrument now that I think about it. I'm fine with letting the plants & algae tell me what's wrong.
 

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here's my input...

A) yes, as long as it doesn't create a lot more work to maintain it nor have significant recurring costs.
B) $99 per tank
 

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Discussion Starter #12
A little black box is not feasible. With all those sensors to detect all of those parameters, it would be pretty large and very expensive. I wouldn't spend more than $100 on an instrument and this might be up in the thousands.

I actually wouldn't bother getting an instrument now that I think about it. I'm fine with letting the plants & algae tell me what's wrong.
IANAC (I am not a chemist), so it might not be feasible. However, I wonder how much water and reagent is actually needed to do a test. If you think in basic terms of a collection of miniscule pathways to carry water and some reagents together for a reaction, then a microchip and a few sensors to evaluate those reactions - that could definitely fit into a small box. I'm dreaming but I'm so curious I might go check out a local university's chemical engineering department and talk to some people.

here's my input...

A) yes, as long as it doesn't create a lot more work to maintain it nor have significant recurring costs.
B) $99 per tank
Thanks!
 

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I think having a portable device that can be used for different tanks would be the best solution. Like a pH meter, but you can test everything with it by just holding a probe in the tank. It would have to have a small screen, so I wouldn't necessarily have to go back to my computer every time I want to communicate with this thing.
Measurements should be pretty exact (e.g. pH in .1 increments) as most manual test are not nearly exact enough and too much can be interpreted into result colors.

Continuous live monitoring and recording of all parameters would be neat for lab experiments but for everyday use I find it highly obsessive.

Things I'd like to monitor with it:
1. pH
2. Temperature
3. Hardness (especially kH as it can change faster than gH)
4. Light output (IMO rather unnecessary)
5. Ammonia (with an auto alert)
6. Nitrites (with auto alert)
7. Nitrates (like all other ferts with integrated calculator that will recommend how much N you'd have to add to raise it to a certain level that one needs to be able to set themselves)
8. CO2
9. KNO3 ?
10. KH2PO4 ?
11. Total dissolved solids
12. All other ferts (Fe, etc)


Decent pH meters are fairly expensive, so paying $150-$200 if I its portable and I can use it in all my tanks would be OK. More than that and you could only sell it to people with SEVERAL tanks, who really need the time savings of testing all parameters by hand. Cost is very important and you could rather include less features but make it more affordable.

Still though, it needs to be pretty simple to use, easy to calibrate w/o much maintenance and added reoccurring costs. A whole set, if I have to look at prices for all the different components I will need, I'm not interested anymore. Nevertheless, we don't have grant money to spend on this :wink:.
 

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I've seen it. It's lame. Unless I'm mistaken, they only measure pH, temperature and ORP (what is ORP?)

Did you see the list I made in the OP? Again, don't worry about feasibility. Just whether you would buy it and how much you would pay ;)
The controllers they make are great. Build your program and you have so much control on how to manage your tank. Lighting programs, CO2, heat, cooling, it goes on.


The idea of making an all in one monitoring system is a dream, but the likely hood is very small.

A pH probe (that you would plug into your black box) is $40 alone. you would need 1 probe for each item you are measuring. Many of the parameters that you are looking for do not have probes available.

It is a nice dream, but to break down the levels of ferts in the water column, you are talking hard core chemistry, not a simple drop in and get a digital read out.
 

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All you need is a sexy mass spectrometer and power controller for lights and heater :) oops a little over that $100 cost, I left off 3 zeros.
md
 

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i think geneus is being facetious. ;)
Well, with his vocabulary, it sounds like he trying to impersonate a 14 yr. old ("lame"?) ;)

Besides temp, pH, and ORP, the latest Neptune systems also do TDS and dissolved Oxygen. Taken all together, they'd give you a pretty good idea of what's going on inside the tank, and alot of the parameters listed in the OP can be inferred from them.

AFAIK the only method of doing continuous, non-reagent reading of nitrate levels is with a UV probe. That's $10+K.
 

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i have to agree with mistergreen. while technology is great, it also fails. things go wrong. and with electronic readings, things are often a little off.
that being said, i think relying on the plants themselves to tell you whether they are happy or not is the whole fun of it all. i think if we all didn't "have" to spend as much times on our tanks as we do, the hobby wouldn't exist. we'd just set it up, look at it, make one or two adjustments, "stare at the little black box to make sure things are on point", and then be done. it's the feeling of success when all is said and done in figuring out the balance to a fantastic, algae-free, crystal clear, and healthy tank, that i think most of us stick around for. it's like painting a picture and the world comparing you to Picaso. at least that's how i see the fun in doing something and putting it up on the forum for people to see and compliment and critique my work.
JUST my opinion...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well, with his vocabulary, it sounds like he trying to impersonate a 14 yr. old ("lame"?) ;)

Besides temp, pH, and ORP, the latest Neptune systems also do TDS and dissolved Oxygen. Taken all together, they'd give you a pretty good idea of what's going on inside the tank, and alot of the parameters listed in the OP can be inferred from them.

AFAIK the only method of doing continuous, non-reagent reading of nitrate levels is with a UV probe. That's $10+K.
Hey now! No, I am far too far from 14 to even remember that age... :)

i have to agree with mistergreen. while technology is great, it also fails. things go wrong. and with electronic readings, things are often a little off.
that being said, i think relying on the plants themselves to tell you whether they are happy or not is the whole fun of it all. i think if we all didn't "have" to spend as much times on our tanks as we do, the hobby wouldn't exist. we'd just set it up, look at it, make one or two adjustments, "stare at the little black box to make sure things are on point", and then be done. it's the feeling of success when all is said and done in figuring out the balance to a fantastic, algae-free, crystal clear, and healthy tank, that i think most of us stick around for. it's like painting a picture and the world comparing you to Picaso. at least that's how i see the fun in doing something and putting it up on the forum for people to see and compliment and critique my work.
JUST my opinion...
That is my opinion also, btw. It always amazes me how my gf likes the tank because it's "pretty" while I like it because it's "adventurous." She likes the destination and doesn't care for the process, while I like the process sometimes more than the final result. (But maybe it's also because I suck at it? hehe :))

I was just curious about people's opinions and whether someone actually had some technical knowledge about it. I love the feedback.
 
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