Let's Make Robots!

The LMR Nano Reef

Marine Aquarium Controlled by MRS1

I like robots but I also like fish. I used to keep a large sea aquarium and due to moving arround and work I had to get rid of it. Bummer. But now I convinced my wife that we need another one. We have some wasted space in the kitchen so there it will go.

In the bottom niche is Ted. Ted's a gold fish. Guess he has to move eventually since he doesn't like salt water. There's room there for 2 aquariums of 485x350x270 so it will contain under 100 liters of water.

First thing I'm staring on is the light system. I'll try to make a multifunctional one. Suited for both marine and regular tropical aquariums. It's all about color spectrum and intensity. I found a 10 watt high power led rated at 10000Kelvin on ebay. You want your marine aquarium lights anywhere between 10.000K(daylight/white, fish/colors/nice for the eye/soft corals) and 20.0000K (visible blue, stone-corals). In addition 1 watt per liter will do the job (with TL systems, some lighting systems can do with less). I went for little less.

The red and yellow leds can be switched on instead of blue for sweet water tropical aquariums or plants as they like the red spectrum. I will try to program some sequences that will simulate a day and maybe even the seasons in tropical oceans. Something like switch on the blue leds at 06.00 switch on the white leds at 08.00 and switch on the high power led at 10.00 (and vice verse when night time sets in). Why? Because if you want sea life to get turned on you need to screw arround with the light. The clownfish is already a succesfull bread sea creature but most of them don't go funky in aquariums. Let's picaxe them and see if it makes a difference :)

A friend of mine will do the platework (0,5mm rvs). Maybe I'll try and sell some of the frames once they work. :)

The box will be 450x260x20.

Since the aquariums will be build into the niches they will stick some 15cm out of it so I can get my hands in there for cleaning etc. The top one will be equiped with a tunze nano skimmer (handles up to 200 liter reefs). In there will go a symbiotic anemone and 2 clownfish (nemo's) probably. Anemone's can swallow a whole mussel. Very polluting especially in nanoreefs (what goes in must come out). The skimmer should take care of most of it before it releases the clean water to the lower aquarium. In the lower one I'll put some corals and small critters and maybe a small fish (like the mandarin fish). A clamp would be nice to (doopvont). These are all "more" sensitive creatures.

But this will take months from now and I'm not even sure at this point. As soon as I get things setup I add salt water (syntetic salt). Leave that for few weeks and then add live rock, as much as possible. That will cure for at least a month (depending on the quality) before the first fish goes in there. Between every new animal you need a few weeks.

In addition, not so long ago it was deemed impossible to maintain a reef aquarium that contained anything under 200 liters of water. I tried small ones also and they had a point. The more water the better as any variable that changes goes with smaller steps if the volume is bigger. Reef aquariums don't like changes so there you go. I might even hack into the walls to create more volume. (more volume is also more life). If I make the lower aquarium 20cms higher I might well reach 160 liters. Next to the niches I can setup some small aquariums (sumps) that hold up to 50 liters. Wow, 210 liters. Nano is getting bigger already (but trust me bigger is better).

Things to try also;

Wave control

Monitoring readings (ph/temp etc)

Automated dry food feeder

Automated water treatment (adding minerals etc)

Explaining my wife that bigger is better

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Hey I like it my friend. Will tell my bro about it,he's got a big huge salt fish aquarium....very impressive. Thanks for posting.

Don't let him try the wavemaker in that, it will be reaaaaaaaaaaal noisy with larger volumes :)

A friend of mine had a disco ball (you know the ball with small mirrors) rotating above his aquarium, and had a large spotlight at 90 degrees. That gave this great illusion of light being broken by waves before entering the water.
With your LED setup this should be easy to mimic. I see your adding a microcontroller to your system, you might also add a IR receiver so you can remotely control the lighting (for the romantic evenings). And maybe also add a real time clock like DS1307 to handle the night and day sequence.

I just spent some time reading about the ds1307, thanks great tip I dont think it could work without! Not sure about the discobal :) Since the tanks are not that big and the pumps doing 15 to 20 times the volume an hour + the wavemaker the water will cause wrinkels that will reflect the light as in the real ocean. In the old aquarium I added some small halogen bulbs, that with the top layer of watermovent caused that bright sunny effect also. I'll try to mimic real life lighting sequences. If you switch them on and off as you like it will be very hard to get the fish in any romantic mood ;) For the lower animals it's probably even of more importance, not enough light will often kill them. Many of them (and all reefbuilding corals) contain symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) that work like solar cells for the animal ;) They like blue light 460nm. think I have to go for the propellor as it can control more leds to produce the day/night thing. Also it can handle 24 volts (the high power led needs that).

Since my paycheck came in I got arround ordering some stuff. For now I got 4 x 10 watt led in 20.000k and 2 x 10 watt 10.000k high power leds from ebay (arround 10 bucks each).

These will simulate the daylight routine. The 10.000k is pretty much standard, the 20.000k leds are more blue and more suitable for reefs.

So next is a search on the other leds I want to put into the system. For plants I'll need led's that emit 440nm and 680nm + 480nm and 650nm. These ranges are absorbed by chlorofyl A and chlorofyl B. Chlorofyl is the stuff that plants use to produce food by converting carbon dioxide into carbonhydrates.

In addition there's a process called morfogenessis, basically the proces that shapes plants by migrating certain cells into leafs and branches. These will be in the 600 - 700nm (light red) and 700 to 800nm (dark red) range. There's a catch here, to actually benefit from this range I will need to shutdown the 20.000k lamps (which was the plan anyway, 20000 is for reefs) and have more then 10 watts of it (since the 10k one is 10 watts). From a ratio bigger then 1:1 (white:red) it works best.

Then the blue, anything between 400 and 500nm. Most readily available reef lamps peek in the 420nm. Many smart dudes have been thinking about that so hey, why not. Anyway, the symbiotic algae in corals will like it.

I found this shop http://www.superbrightleds.com/ that have most of the leds we'll need (sorted by nm's).

Since I can't edit my previous post I got the second batch of leds from http://www.topledlight.com I'll use this post to show the progress of the lighting system.

I checked for the wavelenghts, they are arround but it's near to impossible to find high power leds that emit at these specific levels. Since the 5500K, 10000k and 20000k cover most of the spectrum I'll stick to that with these;

4 uv leds (all 1 watt) 405-410nm (in addition to the 20000k leds, they have very little range at the UV wavelenghts).

12 blue ones (460-470nm) (for stoney corals)

8 red ones (620-630nm) (for tropical aquariums, they will not be used in the reef, maybe just shortly in the evening/morning, have to see how it looks)

12 5500K ones (again mainly for sweetwater but also in support of the 20000 and 10000k ones, still have to see how it works out, these emit more light in the red spectrum which is nice for bringing color to the aquarium that you would miss otherwise)

I also got some 30 lenses (90 degree angle). These will increase the output and stop my kitchen from lighting up like a summer fair.

With so little red these systems wont really be suitable for growing plants but they will be more than fine for the botanical life in regular tropical aquariums or paludariums.

That's for 2 light systems. Per system there's now 18 watt's of 1 watt leds and 30 watts off 10 watt leds. That's 48 (LED) watts on a 50 liter tank if switched on toghether. Since it's a nano reef and not very deep I just figure (in comparison with readily available systems) that it's a bit of overkill but heck, lights can be switched off. Especially the 20000k led can penetrate deep into saltwater so I'm pretty much sure you could also use these on deeper tanks (+/- 70cm).

Spoke to MIF's friend and it seems his corals do pretty good under the leds even showing growth. Thats good news for starters. I'm going more blue however and will be using more of the spectrum (as 10.000k vs 5500k) and some ultraviolet. We'll see how this eventually will affect life.

Then the armature will look like this;

There's a 10.000k 10 watt bulb in the middle square and 2 x 20.000k on the outer squares.

Then theres 6x white, red (4), blue (6) and uv leds (2) all rated at 1 watt.

Now waiting for my pushbuttons and having my friend to make the armatures. Hopefully this will be high polished rvs.

Update 18-10-2010

Miguels tip on the aquarium of his friend and testing the leds gave some more insight. The things get hot. In addition I couldn't find a cool way to connect the leds to the armature. My metal working friend has no access to a machine that can machine metal (that sounds strange). So we came up with a multi layer led housing.

The top plate will be made out of aloi and I will glue the leds right on there. The aloi will help guide the heat off the leds as it's after copper the most heat conductive material (that I can get hands on). Copper is a big NO anyway since it's pretty much toxic to aquatic life.

The inner plates are RVS and will house the leds. The "empty" square will contain the wiring. Bottom plate will be a highly reflective RVS one.

I gave up on the lenses. Since the leds won't hang very high above the water they should be fine. In addition they would make the lamp a lot fatter then the 7mm it will be now. The whole frame will act as a heatsink. Little more waiting to do. I'm hoping the parts will arrive wednesday.

PS Don't look into a 10W 20.000k lamp directly. Seriously.

Yesterday I got the metal work in.

YES! It took some time but it turned out pretty nice.

All stacked on top of eachother

The leds all fit in their corresponding holes.

Top mirror plate and lenses (they still might go off depending on brightness).

All good so far, now for the hard part, building something that will control the leds so I can simulate day and night.

To control water and airflow i got some valves, again from ebay.

4 pieces, I think I'll use them for the wavemaker also.

I have a project that needs solenoid controlled air valves. Out of curiosity, how much did these cost  you?