Fish tanks, for busy people with too much money...

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Magnum Man

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so I was going to title the thread "fish tanks for lazy people" but decided against that ;)

so a while back I saw this mushroom fruiting chamber, talked about on a kids Saturday morning invention show... ( my wife is a huge mushroom head (( no I did not say my wife has a huge mushroom head )) anyway she has gone through numerous classes for picking wild mushrooms... so I thought this Fruiting chamber would be cool, I got ahold of the company, while it was in development, & bought her one for Christmas 2 years ago... the company looks at various inventions & looks at ways to bring them to market... they currently have an indoor food smoker they are doing, that seems pretty interesting, & as a past buyer, I get e-mails... on their site, I was scrolling around, & I found that someone is pushing for a maintenance free aquarium ( technically one that would do all the maintenance for you )... I personally think, that futzing with my tanks is part of the charm, of having tanks, granted sloshing 5 gallon buckets of water around, gets old at times, but there are water change systems that some people have built, that could be home built... & I understand that some people just like to look at the fish, & don't have any interest in getting their hands wet...

anyway, I'm not promoting them, or their aquarium project... just figured some of you "fish heads" might find this interesting, or actually like sharing ideas...

 
That takes the fun out of it. I also noticed that it said "water replacement reminder". Do they mean to do water changes or topping off.
I don't want to judge anyone. But if someone is going to be uninvolved with their aquarium and is spending the money, then just hire someone to do it.
 
Much of what they suggest is currently being done on a stand-alone basis already, ie automatic feeders, temperature control. Water replacement reminder is just a timer. What they would like to provide is a single App to control the system, and a hardware framework to plug the items like the heater, lights, TDS monitor, and maybe some dosing systems using peristaltic pumps. I haven't looked into it but I believe such systems already exist in the saltwater reef area of this hobby.

It won't be maintenance free, it won't clean the glass, filters, or change the water, these are the biggies for me. And like all automation you also have to maintain the automation. Some sensors are not long lasting and are quite expensive. You start having to have maintenance schedules for the automated aspects.
Example:
- Replace or service TDS sensor every 2 months
- Replace or service the pH sensor every month
- Clean and service the feeders monthly
- Keep the app updated

And now you will have to be able to diagnose issues with the system, ie linking to the app, what if it doesn't do what you asked it to. What happens if some water drops on some of the sensor connectors. What if the auto feeders get plugged. You have now traded aquarium maintenance with systems maintenance.

Most of what they are suggesting is not really needed. Temperature (most heaters work pretty reliably, and you have instantaneous feedback if you have a thermometer in the tank, mine has a green light if it is good). TDS monitor doesn't really provide anything, not a parameter most people monitor on a daily level. 4 levels of filtration seems kind of pointless.

I would think the biggest aspect I would like to see automated is the water changing, one would just to control the rate water is added to the tank with either waste water storage or directly plumbed drain. It is an area I have looked at. You would need a water flow control system, drain or waste monitoring system (so you don't overflow the waste water), and a dosing pump for the chlorine treatment. The plumbing for such a system would still likely cost more than the system itself, and would bring with it additional risks such as if the flow rate was too high or overflow on the tank became plugged.

Overall, it is interesting to consider but I don't think it would be worth the expense. FYI, I work in industrial automation, so I am not speaking from a point where I dislike computers or automation.
 
I will sound really cynical, but this is an idea I have seen sold so many times. It goes back to my childhood. And those systems vanish, to be replaced by new miracle systems. You get guys my age selling no work aquarium systems online all the time. People love listening to what they want to hear.

The only thing I've seen come close is a continuous drip water change system, and even that broke down.

Could it be done? Probably, some day, if this hobby is still around when we properly understand all the elements that go together to make a tank work. Find me an affordable machine that changes water, trims plants, cleans glass, spots and treats parasites and simple diseases, grows and delivers live food for insectivores and zuccini slices for the herbivores in the same tank, and I'll buy one.

Every system I have heard pitches for goes on the old balanced aquarium mythology with no water changes. I have however seen some cool devices rigged up by mechanically inclined aquarists. They weren't integrated systems, but were clever labour saving devices used together. That's a different story now.
 
And I’m the guy that would rather pay a worker to weigh up ingredients, than rely on automation… I worked in the same industry, at a plant that was one of the 1st to do a lot of that automation, and every time it rained that 1st year, the system went down, and no one on the production crew could bring it back up, so production stopped… down the street from my plant, there is a box plant that prints consumer packaging for companies their systems come from all around the world, and they have to keep a couple full time electricians on hand to keep their systems going, even today… I like things simple, and the service I do on my tanks, I would call stress free, as aquariums should be
 
I essentially ended up having 20 tank for most of the last 13 years. They are spread out I do not have a fish room. There are two times I may see what is up in all my tanks. The first is when I feed. But this is not a long stop at each tank. But it lets me see enough to spot any obvious issues, like injured fish, fish which should come out for food but don't etc. I should slso spot any issues with filtration or air etc. The easy to spot stuff.

The one time I do get into tanks in depth is during weekly maint. and water changes. Plants get pruned, substrate gets vacuumed in non planted tanks. I Flashlight pleco caves and hiding places to check on things.

If it were possible to automate most of it, I would never spot problems with the fish. Now may be AI and cameras all over the place might work. But I am nowhere near close to that rich. It is probably cheaper to pay somebody to do the maint./wc work. I do know this one old guy who does it for free.
 
While this is obviously not true for my personal tanks, I do occasionally work with tanks (at a public aquarium) that have "automatic" water changes in that they're all on a flow-through system, where old water is constantly draining out and fresh, new seawater is constantly pumped in. And yet. We still have to prepare fresh artemia (BBS), chop up fish, squid, mussels, cube foods, etc. every morning. We still algae wipe nearly every day, we still siphon tanks to clean the bottoms, and we still have to pick out leftover shells and such from the animals that eat bivalves and crabs.

So even with the most-hated task eliminated via automation, the majority of the day is spent doing maintenance.
 
The best water change system I have seen was for a huge tank (freshwater). It relied on tapwater, which was dechlorinated as it was filtered before being poured into the tank via gravity. The fish were tropical, and the water Canadian, so it did need to be heated.
The aquarist went away for a week in winter, a section of a tree fell on his power line, and when he returned a few days later, the water heating hadn't happened and the whole tank was full of corpses.
All the gauges were working (this was before anything like this would have been internet connected), but... Murphy's Law is always lurking.
 
Talk to me when Real complete automation arrives.

With control panel where you can input the plants you have in the tank and the system automatically adjust lighting, fertilization, Co2, minerals.

Fish control that enables automatic feeding with individual nutritional surveillance and environmental modification with Yearly schedule and species specific breeding modes.

Automatic disease diagnostics and medication.

All monitored by SAI with an assortment of targeted maintenance drones patrolling the tank.
 
Talk to me when Real complete automation arrives.

With control panel where you can input the plants you have in the tank and the system automatically adjust lighting, fertilization, Co2, minerals.

Fish control that enables automatic feeding with individual nutritional surveillance and environmental modification with Yearly schedule and species specific breeding modes.

Automatic disease diagnostics and medication.

All monitored by SAI with an assortment of targeted maintenance drones patrolling the tank.
I have to say, the question that strikes me next is why bother? At that point, buy a picture of a tank, or a screen.

Imagine though - a large tank with drones created to act like kingfishers that always fail. Then we'd get to see more natural small fish behaviour.

People are looking at automation the wrong way. We don't need corporate profits in our tanks, and we don't need everything done for us. We need to be able to do things we can't now.
 
Fishkeeping is a hobby, hobbies need dedicated time. There are gadgets that will make your water changes and your hobby easier to maintain, I was done carrying buckets years ago, I now use a hose. There are other exceptions I guess... People traveling, working long hours etc and of course, these will need to balance out. As for people with $$$$$$$, most likely they have bigger tanks and pricier fish, I'm sure they've made their fishkeeping easier to maintain by dumping more cash into the mix. At the end of it all, if I couldn't dedicate time to my fish, it would not be so much of a hobby but a decoration.
 
Fishkeeping is a hobby, hobbies need dedicated time. There are gadgets that will make your water changes and your hobby easier to maintain, I was done carrying buckets years ago, I now use a hose. There are other exceptions I guess... People traveling, working long hours etc and of course, these will need to balance out. As for people with $$$$$$$, most likely they have bigger tanks and pricier fish, I'm sure they've made their fishkeeping easier to maintain by dumping more cash into the mix. At the end of it all, if I couldn't dedicate time to my fish, it would not be so much of a hobby but a decoration.
I'm probably going to work until I die. But if I were to hit the Powerball, I'd probably have a house full of aquariums and spend my day doing water charges, aquascaping, cultivating live food, etc. Some houses give garden tours. I'd give aquarium tours.
 
There are gadgets that will make your water changes and your hobby easier to maintain, I was done carrying buckets years ago, I now use a hose.
I'm still very old school when it comes to water changes. A hose and buckets. I don't need an automatic water change system. Not even with the number of tanks I have.
 

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