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Aquarium Controller


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

This is a project for someone with an interest in tropical fish. Many fish are difficult to breed because the conditions in an aquarium are too different from the natural conditions that induce spawning. The goal is to as accurately as possible reproduce those natural conditions. The project has two parts.
  1. Information gathering
  2. Environment control
The first part requires building a rugged data collection unit powered from a 12 volt car battery. You take it out to the natural environment where some native fish species live and let it collect data for a year. It collects such data as: In addition natives from the region note when the fish spawn, collect stomach samples from the fish to find out what they are eating. They may collect sample insects, plants and data about the fish populations, debris and rock in the water.

The second part of the project is an environment controller. You feed in the profiles of temperature, light, pH etc. you want, (which may be natural or enhanced natural) and create a fish heaven for your target species to breed. Some aquarists might choose to keep many species, all that live together naturally. This may prove cheaper than importing hard to breed species such as clown loaches, or simply a fun toy for the wealthy aquarist.

You might create a very large cheap shallow aquarium from a waterbed frame.

If the idea caught on, it could create a cottage industry for people in the third world, collecting data for aquarists on every conceivable species.

This project has a more serious purpose, preservation of endangered species of fish, amphibians and reptiles. The only way you will manage to keep sufficiently large breeding populations in captivity is by engaging amateurs and possibly even people with a very casual interest in the details of fish keeping, but who wish to help preserve species. With sufficiently clever computer control, even a bungler could keep delicate endangered species alive.

The Raspberry π and Arduino microcomputers now make implementing this much easier and cheaper. You can purchase all manner of sensors off the shelf.

Aquarium Sand Depth Calculator
Raspberry π

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