Finally we have come to the end of my series where I will set out some future desires of mine that are totally non-existent today or are very close to market. These are the wholes in my system that I have currently no automated solution for yet. This allows me to further innovate on my own for D.I.Y. specials or plant the seeds to entrepreneurs in the industry. I should probably write up some patent applications but I doubt my employer would pay to process them. These patents take at least 4 years and a lot of money for patent lawyers to process. I currently have 2 patents for my current work industry and it took such a long time I almost completely forgot about them.
But ultimately innovation is still the key to advancing anything. For example, how much innovation did it take to get from the Lee’s wood airstone protein skimmer to today’s recirculating cone skimmers? Just think even the solutions of today can be improved to further our hobby even more.
So what are the things I am planning to do and wish I had for my system of the future?
My ultimate wish list!
Returning home to a fairly stable system has always brought me to wonder what more can I do to alleviate any of my travel stresses. Currently I have a short list I’ve been pondering about this last week while away in New Hampshire.
I came up with the top 5 list of things I would like to have and the reason:
- Automated Quarantine system
Yes I have a small 20 gallon long quarantine system setup primarily for fish but I have been lazy and reluctant to use it just because it is not connected to anything and reminds me of all the manual things I used to do before automation. I would love to add the tank downstream of my sump so every time I perform a water change it automatically fills the quarantine tank with freshly used water as a way to recycle and use the saltwater I have to the fullest yet any medicine added will never enter the display system and dump straight to my drain. I would also add a Salinity probe and dosing pump from my RO tank in case I need to perform hypo salinity treatments.
- Automated Refrigerated / frozen food dispenser
Since I already bought a new Thermoelectric refrigerator and 4 channel doser for this I might as well complete this project giving my livestock better nutrition for better health and growth. The current designs available online seem to work well but the cost of the fresh suspended liquid foods are too high in my mind so I would like a dispenser for some DIY foods I would be able to prepare as well. My one worry is spikes in PO4 if something goes wrong so there needs to be some type of safety check available.
- Automated saltwater mixing station
I would like to create saltwater on demand to the exact temperature and salinity since I ran out of saltwater even with a 100 gallon reserve available while out 2 weeks in Paris. This can be my next DIY expansion project since I know what I need to make one but will need to include a hopper and some industrial grade components to measure the amount of salt to be mixed. Unless I can find some low pressure electronic valves to redirect the flows I will be forced to increase the amount of pumps used from my current manual mixing design.
- Automated glass cleaner for the rimless tank
I already have 2 robotic glass cleaners that have been in the market which do fine for my 125 and 90 gallon display tanks but I would love to try something that would clean more than 1 side on my 80 gallon rimless since I need to clean all sides of the frag tank.
- Real time water parameter monitoring
When it comes to SPS water parameter maintenance is king. As much as I love my Hanna meters I won’t be able to perform the measurements away. If there were probes for each I would buy them. The closest innovation I’ve read about for this request was the Mindstream Aquarium Monitoring System. If it works the way they claim and is affordable I’ll jump on it in a heartbeat. As a product development engineer I know how long it takes to get a product ready for market and I’m willing to wait for it if meets all its quality, design, reliability, and cost goals. With this I can truly dial in all my dosers for improved stability even more.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my thoughts on reef automation. It was a great way for me to help document my system and rethink how it is used and figure out how to improve it. As in everything in life you have to strive for continuous improvement. There will always be more than one way to solve a problem, it will always depend on your system and what resources you have at your disposal. Ultimately my investments on automation have truly allowed me to stay in the hobby with the increasing demands from work, family, and life in general through the years. I am sure I have contemplated getting out like many who have hit life’s challenges but being a hardcore reefing enthusiast for the last 25 or so years I am glad I stuck with it. The stresses of maintaining a reef system is nothing compared to other stresses in life so it actually becomes a therapeutic activity during the long western New York winters. Once you conquer these little stresses then you can have you vacation and worry free reef too!
As always learn from each other. Let me know if you have any ideas to improve on what I have suggested. Keep in mind that good husbandry will always trump all the automation in the world. From my point of view the reefing community is great to be apart of these days. It is the closest thing to being on an adventure with Jacques Cousteau and it helps bring the next generation to understand why we need to maintain and preserve our ocean resources.