Project Aquarium

Project Aquarium

Well, I dug out my 55 gallon aquarium from under a big pile in the garage the other day. Most of the pile of crap on the aquarium originated from inside the tank with the excess flowing out the top. (The ole “tip of the iceberg” analogy fits here.)

Fire Tail Goby
Fire Tail Goby
Paisley Scooter Blenny
Paisley Scooter Blenny

What was behind my drive to reacquaint myself with my aforementioned garage cleanup project was  that a girl at work began talking about starting up her aquarium again.  She was setting up a fresh water tank, but anyone who knows me, knows that  I’m a saltwater guy. I love those little clowns playing in their adopted anemones. Gobes,  Blennies, crabs and shrimp can contain someones imagination for hours.

However; I didn’t know I really wanted to take on the job of re-setting up the old fish tank because it was already performing a great job of being a catchall in the garage. After all, where would all that stuff go if the tank was absent?

I typed the word “aquarium” into the search engine text area and pressed enter. Up came more sites about aquariums than the national debt. However one caught my eye that swayed me to dig out that ole aquarium.

But first, let me tell you one of the problems I used to have with my previous aquarium incarnations. This problem is shared by pretty much anyone who has pets, be it cats, dogs, birds, fish or pretty much anything. It’s that 500 pound chain strapped to your legs connecting you to your pets. That’s the chain that comes from needing to get someone to come over and care for them whenever you leave the house for any extended length of time.

Arduino 2560
Arduino 2560 Micro Controller

This is where the site that caught my eye in the search results of the term “aquarium” comes in. It was a site about how this guy built his aquarium and controlled it with an Ardiuno micro-controller computer. It even had an computer controlled “Fish Feeder!”

WOW!    It was like I just went “ALL-IN” on a pair of deuces. Out came all the crap from on top and inside the tank in the garage. I moved the tank to the back porch and checked it all over. The tank tested good for no broken glass or frame parts, so I began filling it up with the water hose.


Out came the old wooden aquarium stand and it got a coat of polyurethane and some new shelves. Down came the box of aquarium crap from the attic where the tubing, filter material, heaters and other related stuff was stored. The base rocks and that really cool piece of coral I’ve had in the tank for years all came down from the attic too, along with the wet/dry filter with its cool little spinning sprayer. All inspected and tested good. Most all the old tubing was discolored and so was discarded and replaced with new.

I must say that Home Depot and Lowe’s are loving my new aquarium project. However, I can not easily confuse their employees with my un-normal use of some of the stuff I’m looking for. I’m sure many of them think that what I’m going to use the stuff for would not be up to “code” and may fear that I’m about to cause a major catastrophe.  But all becomes good when I explain: “I’m using the stuff on an aquarium project.”  Whew!

One of the cool things about that web site that is controlling his aquarium with an Arduino controller was that he has a top-off tank. This tank is used to refill the main tank when the water level drops below a predetermined amount. This level is set by a float switch located in the main tank. The main reason the water level drops in a healthy aquarium is because of evaporation.This is especially prevalent with a tank with hot lights such as those used with many reef tanks. So… My tank will sense this and fill itself back up!

Aquarium Project Links:


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DANG, I wish I had taken more pictures of the tank before I started and during this re-build, but I guess in my hurry to get “the show on the road,” I just spaced it. Anyway, I’ll post whatever I can as I get them ready.

More coming soon – Stay tuned.

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