EcoSphere Self Enclosed Aquarium

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Josh Hess
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EcoSphere Self Enclosed Aquarium

Postby Josh Hess » Thu Nov 26, 2015 4:55 am

About two years ago, I built my first ecosphere, a self contained aquarium, and I have learned a lot from observing it over those two years. I am in the process of building a much improved Mark II version and will be posting updates on it in this thread. First, here are some videos of the Mark I ecosphere:

First video (shortly after construction)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XNjuToGITQ
Update 1 (several months after construction)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-1Z6ygRMcU
Update 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cDP1IisOhc
Update 3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIx8KEpNDsE

I will be posting more regarding the new version once I make good progress on it.
Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination.

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Josh Hess
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Re: EcoSphere Self Enclosed Aquarium

Postby Josh Hess » Tue Feb 23, 2016 2:39 am

Lots of progress since last post! I decided to go with a "clamshell" acrylic housing for the ecosphere because it allows for easy access to the neck of the flask while holding it securely. It also has a nice clean look to it. I have also decided to incorporate an arduino into it to monitor how long it has run for, temperatures, and light functionality. The LED is a 30 watt COB round LED that is pure white. This should provide the right spectrums for plant growth. I am powering everything from a 20v laptop charger leftover from the speaker project. This feeds into a boost converter for the LED, and a buck converter for the arduino. The cooling fan runs off of 5v provided by the arduino.

If you would like to build this yourself, here are the files to do so:

Laser Cutting Template: http://www.radicalcreation.com/forums/v ... ?f=22&t=14

Arduino Code: http://www.radicalcreation.com/forums/v ... ?f=22&t=20

Anyway, let's take a look at some pictures!

A foam prototype to test the fit:
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Testing the light:
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My workspace: (EcoSphere housing and electronics on left)
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Here is the housing right before gluing. I achieved the bevel inside of the holder where the sphere goes with a router. This is a necessary step to ensure that the sphere sits right.
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Some more shots of the electronics:
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Some shots of it testing with water:
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So the electronics are not finished just yet, I am still waiting on the LED buck converter to come in. This will allow me to control the LED brightness with PWM from the arduino. I will also be uploading both the code used for the arduino and the vector files for the housing if anyone would like to make their own! That's it for now, more updates to come!
Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination.

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Josh Hess
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Re: EcoSphere Self Enclosed Aquarium

Postby Josh Hess » Tue Feb 23, 2016 2:51 am

I ran into some issues today with the LED. More than half of the rows have gone out and the light is getting fairly hot to the touch. This is strange as I am feeding it only 30v when it is rated for 34v. Checking the current draw shows that it is drawing less than an amp, which is also within spec. Not sure if it is defective or what but I order another one. I also decided to get some critters from the local pond. Over the course of a few hours, I acquired plants, scuds, shrimp, minnows, and even a tadpole.

Here are some shots of the semi-finished EcoSphere:
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Not sure what this worm thing is, but it was pretty cool looking:
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Here you can see in the reflection that only three of the rows are illuminated in the LED. Hopefully it holds up until the replacement comes.
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That's it for now! More updates to come when parts arrive!
Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination.

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Josh Hess
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Re: EcoSphere Self Enclosed Aquarium

Postby Josh Hess » Tue Feb 23, 2016 8:38 pm

I presented the sphere at a student maker showcase today and won best display!
Here is a video of the EcoSphere at the end of day two:

youtu.be/r-b3FLSEdKM
Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination.

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Re: EcoSphere Self Enclosed Aquarium

Postby Josh Hess » Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:50 am

A few updates on the EcoSphere. I finally got the dimmer buck converter board in the mail and have it installed. I still need to wire it up and write code for it but I am short on time now so it will have to wait. Once I get that done, I will draw up a formal wiring diagram and upload it along with the code for the arduino.
Since the last post, the EcoSphere has had two resets. The plants, like I predicted died after a few weeks and fueled an algae bloom which collapsed the ecosystem. For the first reset, I tried to run the ecosystem off of algae biomass alone. Check out the oxygen production in this setup:

youtu.be/obKf6onbrgc
Although this worked for about a week, the snails ended up eating too much and producing so much waste that there was not enough biomass to filter nitrates and ammonia out of the water. This again, led to an ecosystem collapse. The third reset, occurring just after this, involved me ordering Java moss, a common shrimp tank plant, that grows very well in almost any environment. I let the sphere run for a few days with only the plants and some snails before introducing some shrimp and baby minnows yesterday. Everything seems to be holding up fine as of now, but only time will tell if the moss is well suited for this setup. Once I find the perfect combination of plants and animals, I will write a formal report with my findings for future reference to anyone looking to replicate this project. In the mean time, here is a video of the current setup:

youtu.be/SBt-CSWhVb8
Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination.

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Re: EcoSphere Self Enclosed Aquarium

Postby Josh Hess » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:33 pm

A major update with this project. I have identified the problem with the plants. They had a nutrient deficiency mainly of Nitrogen and also some magnesium. This was identified by yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and spots in the leaves. To mitigate the problem, a nutrient additive was added to the water as well as an air bubbler. The ecosystem was reset with new plants, minnows, shrimp and snails from a nearby pond.

This video shows the progress after about two weeks:

youtu.be/hkrav_z13e8
As you can see the plants are very green and healthy. Also, some plants began reaching for the light with new growth, something that has never happened previously. SInce the system now has a stable air supply, it can support more organisms which require oxygen. Previously, the system was limited to about 2 fish and 3 shrimp. Now the system has 4 fish and 5 shrimp as well as some snails.

This video shows the progress after about a month:

youtu.be/bbWvhTcetcs
Here it is apparent that the plants have begun to root themselves to the bottom and spread. Again, this is something that has never been seen before in this system. Some of the plants floating on the top have begun to die off as they did not develop roots and are at a disadvantage. The water is slightly cloudy since the system is recovering from minor algae bloom As time passes, it is expected that the rooted plants will continue flourishing and spreading while the floating plants slowly die off and get broken down into nutrients.

Updates to come!
Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination.

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Josh Hess
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Re: EcoSphere Self Enclosed Aquarium

Postby Josh Hess » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:19 am

Another update with the ecosphere. The plants have continued growing faster than expected. Here is a video showing the results:

youtu.be/nz4YZLoDUXk
As you can see, the plants are doing very well, the algae bloom has almost fully recovered, and all the shrimp and fish are healthy. More updates to come!
Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination.


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