Using Wireless Sensor Network to monitor and control an indoor Aquaponic System Side: 1 of 1
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RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) Site on Sensor
Networks, Electrical Engineering Department, and
Institute of Applied Sciences, UNT, Denton, Texas. This
material is based upon work supported by the National
Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. 1132585 and
the IEEE Control Systems Society (CSS) Outreach Fund.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or
recommendations expressed in this material are those of
the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of
the NSF or the IEEE.
Aquaponics is a special form of recirculating aquaculture systems - namely a
polyculture consisting of fish tanks (aquaculture) and plants that are cultivated in a
soil free environment (hydroponics). The primary goal of aquaponics is to reuse the
nutrients released by fish to grow crop plants. By exploiting this natural
phenomenon one can easily design and build an aquaponics system that is capable
of sustaining plant growth and producing crops and food that is essentially
chemical free and healthier. Our design is not unique but instead mimics different
parts of various systems. One of the draw backs one encounters in aquaponic
systems is the difficulty in maintaining optimal levels of production and the time it
takes to monitor and manually reset parameters to the required amounts. A primary
goal for this project therefore is to integrate various sensors that would remotely
monitor and respond to changes in water parameters; namely pH, temperature and
dissolved oxygen. A self monitoring system would enhance a system that has
already been tried and proven and would take away a lot of the 'grunt work'. Our
hopes with developing our own aquaponic control system is to control pH levels,
dissolved oxygen and water levels in the fish tank.
There are a wide array of uses for control systems in industrial and commercial
platform. Autonomous control systems are designed to perform well under
significant uncertainties in the system and environment for extended periods of
time, and they must be able to compensate for significant syst m failures without
external intervention (Antsaklis, P. 1991).
Control systems aimed at monitoring the
conditions of a stream are of importance " - _' .
as water resource availability increases.
As the demand increases so too does the
need for smart aquatic technology.
Aquatic Networked InfoMechanical
System (NIMS- AQ) centers around
critical water resource monitoring objectives , .
such as temperature, flow and contaminant
levels. Experimental results for autonomous depth profiling using a submersible
sonar system were also of research interests (Stealey, M. 2008). Similarly, Robotic
Networked InfoMechanical System (NIMS-RD) is technology for measuring
hydraulic and water quality conditions in rivers, lakes and estuaries and is capable
of authoritatively mapping flow, velocity fields, contaminant loadings and mass
balances, and groundwater accretions. NIMS-RD supports aquatic sensors,
including acoustic Doppler velocity, pressure/depth, temperature, turbidity,
salinity, fluorescence, pH, salinity, nitrate, and other water quality parameters
(Hmnon, T 207).
' _ .
included a pH
bubbler for DO
levels & a
refill fish tank--
worked off of
Our sensor cluster
utilized an Arduino
and Xbee shield
to transmit and
receive data. High
Using Wireless Sensor Network to monitor and
control an indoor Aquaponic System
UNT Research Experiences for Teachers on Sensor Networks
Jose Guerrero, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, Fern Edwards, Frisco ISD
Mentor: Dr. Yan Wan, Grad Student: Vardhman Sheth, EE Department
This research uses a wireless sensor network (WSN) node to monitor and remotely control various water parameters in an aquaponic system. The aquaponic system
served as a model for an aquatic ecosystem found in nature. Research indicates that dissolved oxygen (DO), pH and water levels are the most important parameters
to monitor and control for successful growth in both fish and plants. Temperature and ammonia levels were also monitored but a control system was not developed
because of the difficulty in re-establishing these two conditions using a control system. An aquaponic system is not entirely a closed system as fish need to be fed
almost daily so an automatic dispenser was created. The aquaponics control system used an Arduino as the microprocessor and an XBee shield--radio transmitter
and receiver respectively. Dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature were collected in a database initially for 24 and then later at 48 hrs. When this data was compared
to the more developed and commercially used sensor probe ware, PASCO, less than a 3% error was calculated. Data was also collected for dissolved oxygen, pH,
and tank refill control systems and results show reliability and sustainability in each control.
Sensor Cluster collecting 35hr. & 48hr. of data from fish tank. Readings for pH, DO, and temperature were compiled onto a database
every 8 seconds.
35 hr. collection 48 hr. collection without algorithm pH & DO without algorithm
2 I llM .. : jl .. -
6 hr. collection with algorithm
DO with algorithm
pH with algorithm
Temperature with algorithm
Water level Control
Our initial data collection gave satisfactory readings for the first 5 minutes of testing. DO, pH and temperature probes of cluster gave less
than a 3% error when compared to the PASCO probe ware. The problem arose when left for more than 5 minutes and also having the DO and
pH probes in the tank at the same time. When each of these probes are taking live readings at the same time there is a voltage interference
that then translates to a digital error reading.The errors were significant, more than a point off. This error required to isolate DO from pH
using a 6N137 single-channel and utilizing a dual-channel HCPL2630. This change isolated ground for each of the probes. Monitoring the
tank's conditions for 48 hrs. and activating controls gave us the graph and data table shown above. After adding a disturbance for pH there is
no immediate control input, instead there is a 2 min delay but we do continue to gather data in our database.The actuator only dispenses
after the average results are collected. This average are o0 data points or collections at 8 seconds apart. So a total of 80 sec. passes before
there is some action from actuator. This allows the added control (fluid, etc.) to diffuse through water before taking the appropriate next
steps. The disturbance in this experimental trial was added at 20 sec. (pH right above 7), levels dropped to just under 7 (fluctuating a little),
and after 2 minutes a volume of pH corrector was added; the system continued to collect data, averaging the points. One factor different to
this graph compared to all others is that the algorithm allows for a much smoother sloped line. The graph also shows where control is turned
off and levels rise back to normal. Similar to pH we used an isolated volume of water to test tank refill. We began our data collection with
water depth of 19 cm, pump turned on for a total time of nearly two minutes.
S"Ardui HWomePage." Arduno - HomePage. .p. n. d. Web. 1 July01. htt://www.arduino/>.
" Antsaklis, P., Passino, K. An Introduction to Autonomous Control Systems. IEEE Control Systems. 1991.
* Stealey, M.J., Singh, A. NIMS-AQ: A novel system for autonomous sensing of aquatic environments. Robotics and Automation, 2008. ICRA 2008.
" Harmon, T., Kaiser, W. Robotic Sampling of Coupled Hydraulics & Water Quality. Networked Ingo-Mechaical Systems (NIMS) for Aquatic Environments. 2007.
n"-ent of Electrical
Level 1 tank was raised 2.5' off the ground and set
on a sturdy table. We used a 30 gallon storage tank .
to house 6 goldfish and 6 gambusia; a bulkhead
inserted through one side of tank served as the tanks "
overflow drain; a second bulkhead with a control
valve allowed for water to fill level 2 which housed
plants; a bubbler was added and a hose was clamped
which came from level 1 pump. The tanks lid was
modified for placement of our controls along with
the sensor cluster and they were braced using a
combination of zip ties, bonding solutions, and
Level 2 was raised 13" off the ground and
positioned on top of a 3 1/2' plywood which sat
on two 10 gallon aquariums boxes (boxes were
used because of accessibility). In total we grew
3 tomato and 3 cucumber plants while utilizing
an ebb and flow system which allows for plant
roots to get both water and free 02 at variable
times. The Ebb and Flow is a form of
hydroponics that is known for its simplicity,
reliability of operation and low initial
investment cost. Pots are filled with an inert
medium which does not function like soil or
contribute nutrition to the plants but which
anchors the roots and functions as a temporary
reserve of water and solvent mineral nutrients.
The hydroponic solution alternately floods the
system and is allowed to ebb away.
Level 3 was reserved
as our drainer/sump
and included a small
pump with a 4' uphill -
power. Both level 1 & _
2 drained down to 3rd
level. We grew 3
water lilies in a le e *
The costs of building a classroom aquaponics depends on the scale and
purpose you intend it to serve. There are numerous designs available online,
some which utilize household supplies and others that are more
extensive and of greater scale.
In each case, students should have
researched extensively to cross out _
any designs that do not fit with the
constraints of the classroom or
which require a budget beyond their
means. Our summer trainings project
expectations were to build a cost ;
efficient aquaponic system and
maintain it making sure plants and
fish receive their daily nutrients. We
purchased all of our supplies from Lowe's
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Guerrero, Jose; Edwards, Fern; Wan, Yan & Sheth, Vardhman. Using Wireless Sensor Network to monitor and control an indoor Aquaponic System, poster, 2013; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc181656/m1/1/: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Engineering.