The Aquaponics Control Box?

Yesterday we had a visit from our good friend Wolfgang Seemann, who happens to also be an electrical engineer and computer systems builder.

Wolfgang had seen our Aquaponics system before and had been thinking independently of a way to automate the whole process a lot more efficiently. His idea was to build a prototype smart box for us that could monitor our aquaponics system completely and notify us electronically when something needed attention.

Could such a thing be built?

Wolfgang wanted to see our system and he asked a lot of questions about the efficiency of the pump, the backup power system and what other regular tests an aquaponics system required?

We explained that our power to the pump ran constantly but he felt that this was an inefficient way to run your pump 24/7 and a waste of energy.

Wouldn’t an inbuilt timer be a more efficient solution he asked? We replied that some people do run their aquaponic system quite successfully with a 15 minute on cycle and 45 minute off cycle on their timer already. A variable timer could be of some advantage. But what is the optimal time span to run your system before it reaches a crisis level?

How will the fish, plants and bacteria cope if the timer delay is too long?

In order to build an Ultimate Aquaponics Master Controller Wolfgang wanted to know what features were the most important?

This got our heads scratching.

For most people in a backyard situation, such a system may not be necessary. Most people enjoy testing their system on a weekly basis for pH but for others running a small commercial enterprise, a gadget like this could be an ideal way to run their systems automatically. A way to also monitor your system remotely, if you were away on holidays and alert you via SMS or email could also be a very useful gadget.


Aquaponics Master Control Box

Our checklist may be different from yours but here’s our list.

    • Main Power / Timer Switch

Optimizing your power efficiently and eliminating waste is a good idea.

    • Backup Power System

This system would also have to monitor the health of you battery and alert you to problems.

    • pH Monitor

Being able to monitor the pH and also the option of automatically dosing the system with either acid or base substance should the pH rise or fall could be very useful.

    • Oxygen Level Monitor

Knowing exactly the amount of dissolved oxygen in your system would be great to know if you are running increased fish load.

    • Water Clarity Meter

Wolfgang felt this could be implemented with an electronic sensor that could shine a reflective beam into your fish tank.

    • Auto Fish Feeder

Keeping your fish on a scientific diet for optimal growth rate.

    • Temperature Gauge/Bacteria Health Monitor

Keeping your system functioning at an optimal 20 degrees C would be nice.

    • Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate Monitor

Always good to know how much feed is available to the plants.

Such a system may not need so many monitoring features built in and an Oxygen level monitor might make such a kit horribly expensive. Such a system may also never be built. But its a general list and perhaps not all the items on the wish list may be necessary. What are your thoughts on such a monitor like this? What monitoring features you would like to see built into your Aquaponics master control box if you had an electrical engineer like Wolfgang ready to build your dream kit?