Welcome to the long overdue part 3 of my Arduino powered aquarium and aquaponics controller. In this post I am going to outline some major design challenges I faced, the resulting changes I had to make and detail getting some simple data logging running. Before we continue, if you have not seen the earlier posts in this series be sure to check them out so you can follow along. Here are the links for Part 1 and Part 2.Continue reading

There have been a raft of changes to this tank since I got it. I have drilled the bottom to install a sump, several aquascaping changes and a few new fish.

The sump I am using was the bottom tank in my previous set-up. It is a 3’x1’x1′ tank that I have partitioned about 1/5 of for the pump and an automatic top up system.  The rest of the tank is filled with the expanded clay I was using in the grow bed of my previous set-up. The automatic top up system is using a cistern float connected to my main water supply via a tap next to the sump. I have also installed an overflow from the sump into a pond outside which I plan to use as an auto water change system. The plan at this stage is to set the cistern float height so that the sump always overflows a small amount, meaning that I am doing a constant water change. Once I have ironed out the bugs in the top up system and sump I will make a post about it.Continue reading

Welcome to part 2 in building an Arduino powered aquarium and aquaponics controller. In this post I will look at putting together and testing the hardware we discussed in part 1. Speaking of part 1, if you have not read it yet, I suggest you check it out.

The Equipment

Through this blog I will be using the following equipment:

  • Arduino Uno with USB cable
  • Adafruit CC3000 and Data Logging Shields
  • Waterproof DS18B20 temperature sensor x 2
  • 4.7k ohm resistor x 2
  • HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Ping sensor
  • 4 core cable
  • Soldering Iron and Solder
  • 3 and 4 segment plugs (Optional)
  • Pins for the end of the cables into the shields.

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Arduino Powered Aquarium Controller

I thought I would write a few blog posts on an Arduino powered aquarium and aquaponics controller that I have been planning for some time. I have tried to start this project a few times now with various micro controllers, but each time I reach a point where I had some sensors logging to a SD Card and then the project falls over. With my recent desire to learn more about the Arduino community, I figured why not try again but this time document my success (or failure) for the world to see.

To start off, I will take a look at the hardware options, the ones I have chosen and why. Bear in mind, especially if you are new to electronics, that there is no right or wrong way to do things. If you see merit in another way then do it. Make it your own project. You will learn far more than just copying me. If you do go another way, then let me know. I would love to hear why you went a different route and how successful you have been.

Initially I will just be looking at a simple system, looking at water and air temperature as well as the water level in the aquarium. I plan to add more to the system over time, but I wanted to start simple and actually get something working. With that in mind lets dive into the hardware.Continue reading

New house so… New aquarium??? Sure, why not!

Within a month of moving to the new house I had my eye out for a new aquarium. I wanted a larger one but more importantly I wanted one that was a bit more aesthetically pleasing. Keeping an eye on the classifieds on some local club forums I spotted this tank and stand up for grabs for only $250. A bargain in my opinion considering the tank is a 4x2x2 and the stand is custom made. To make things that much sweeter, it was only a 45 minute drive away to pick it up. The only thing I had to buy in addition to the tank was a canister filter. In order to try and keep things looking good I have moved away from the aquaponics style of filter I was using previously.

I painted the rear of the aquarium black to try and hide all of the hoses etc behind it. This alone has made a huge difference to the look. Putting together this system was a bit of a rush job because I had a very small amount of time to get it all running and my fish in there. So I wont detail the system too much but to give a brief idea; there is a lot more drift wood which came with the tank in there, all the plants I had before and the previous occupants.

Things I want to do in the short term:

  • I want to use an overflow and a sump rather than just the canister I am using now.
  • Use a better substrate for the plants.
  • Remote logging so I can keep an eye on the system at work. Parts have been ordered, so keep an eye out for a future post.
  • Add a few cichlids into the tank. More room means I can keep bigger fish.

Things I want to do long term/cash permitting:

  • CO2 injection for even better plant growth.
  • Make a hood to hide all of the lighting.
  • Breed some fish, species unknown at this stage.

There is still a huge amount of work left to do on this tank. This post was just an introduction to the new tank and few plans I have. I will try and get some decent images of the setup in the coming weeks rather than these smartphone pics.

Just a small update on the aquarium system, given it has been so long. I have put a plant growing fluro tube in the light above the grow bed. This has allowed me to have a bit more luck growing succulents. Everything has been ticking along ok, although the tank is not looking anywhere near its prime. Once I have moved house I am hoping that it will be getting back to its prime.



The bristlenose are still breeding like crazy. I am yet to separate them but it is getting to a point where i am not going to have much choice. I have started moving to all the ones that are a suitable size for sale into my first aquarium in the hope that i will be able to sell them next week. I have named one of the females ‘Nessy’ because she has grown a huge amount over the last few months. She is probably about 30% larger than the other female now.

Unfortunately my ghost knife fish died while i was away last week. I don’t know what killed him, but it looked like some fish had been nipping at him just before i left. Unfortunately i didn’t have anywhere else to put him while i was away. Hopefully the shrimp numbers will start to increase now that there inst anything in the tank trying to eat them.

There has also been 3 new additions to the tank in the form of Rummy Nose Tetras. These guys seem to able to hold their own against the other tetras when it is feeding time, so hopefully they will do well. I am hoping to get a few more in the next few days so that they have a school of around 10 fish.

I have removed all of the plants except the stringy non growing chives and the aloe vera. I added strawberries and some succulent that is supposed to be dry feet only. The succulent has doubled in size in the last 4 weeks or so since it went in. Yet more proof that Aquaponics can do some unexpected things.

Well the bristlenose have been breeding very well. So well in fact that i have been considering moving the male to my other tank to try and control the rate they are turning out the babies. Hopefully i will be able to sell the number that i have already. The plants are doing well. One of the species in there is almost a weed it is growing that well.

I have also put an under gravel filter in the sump tank that the pump draws from. I was having problems with the java moss blocking the pump inlet every few days. So far i have not seen any reduction in flow from the pump which is a good sign. Soon i will add some worms to the gravel to try and help keep it a bit cleaner.

There are no photos of the plants in the grow bed because, well, they are doing crap and no one wants to see that! I really need to sort out some better lighting for them.

A member on the Backyard Aquaponics forum was good enough to give me a couple of female bristlenose catfish, a whole heap more Cherry Shrimp and some duckweed. My plan is to breed up the catfish and shrimp to sell to the local pet store. Fingers crossed!


I took a few photos of my fish to share. The stars today are my brostlenose catfish, harlequins, pleco and the new addition of 3 clown loaches. They are terrible photos as usual but it is hard to get good ones when they move so fast.