Annex B: Group Engineering Proposal



Names: Rachit Agrwal, Chow Zi Jie, Darelyn Lim Qi Xuan    

Class: S2-07       

Group Reference: A

  1. Indicate the type of research that you are adopting:

[    ] Test a hypothesis: Hypothesis-driven research
e.g. Investigation of the antibacterial effect of chrysanthemum

[    ] Measure a value: Experimental research (I)
e.g. Determination of the mass of Jupiter using planetary photography

[    ] Measure a function or relationship: Experimental research (II)
e.g. Investigation of the effect of temperature on the growth of crystals

[    ] Construct a model: Theoretical sciences and applied mathematics
e.g. Modeling of the cooling curve of naphthalene  

[    ] Observational and exploratory research
e.g. Investigation of the soil quality in School of Science and Technology, Singapore  

[ X ] Improve a product or process: Industrial and applied research
e.g. Development of a SMART and GREEN energy system for households  

  1. Write a research proposal of your interested topic in the following format:

Title: Development of a Temperature Control System in an Aquarium

Type of Aquarium Biology: Freshwater

A. Problem being addressed:
          Many fish rearers have had problems trying to maintain an aquarium, mostly due to the lack of time. For optimum growth of fish, they have to maintained in the top conditions and have to be fed at the right time to ensure that the fish remain healthy. One crucial factors that affect a fish tank is temperature. Temperature is specific towards each fish species, but almost all tropical fish live within a 24-27ºC range, in which outside the temperature range they will not survive. Rapid and significant temperature changes, as well as frequent temperature changes throughout the day, are stressful for fish. These types of sudden or frequent water temperature changes may occur for a multitude of reasons, including:

- Tank located next to a door or window
- Tank in direct sunlight part of the day
- Large water changes
- Lighting that produces heat
- Faulty Heating Systems/ Air-conditioning

When fish are stressed, they developed a much lower immunity to viruses, bacteria, fungi and other pathogens. Often they will fall sick and eventually die. The death of fish are a frustrating issue for fish-owners, and they would want to avoid fish casualties at all costs. To ensure that fish remain healthy, a water temperature around the 24-27ºC range must be achieved constantly. In this case, chillers are used to control and constantly cool the water to at desired temperature. However, most people leave chillers operating constantly, 24 hours per day. This is an excess waste of electricity, and can increase electricity bills unnecessarily. Because the temperature at night is much cooler and not prone to heat changes, the chillers are often redundant at night. Thus, developing an intelligent temperature control system will help reduce electricity usage and maintain the fishes’ health at the same time.

B. Goals / Expected Outcomes

Engineering goal: The goals for this project are to build a Temperature Control System that is able to monitor the temperature and maintain water temperatures at a minimum cost of electricity. The fishes placed in a tank where the Temperature Control System is utilized should have a 100% survival rate by the end of four weeks.

  1. Tank must be indoors to prevent the unwanted algae bloom.
  2. Must be a freshwater aquarium.
  3. Must be operated through electrical supply.

  1. Arduino-based system
  2. Computer-based system
  3. NXT-based system

Arduino-based Temperature Control System

Reasons for Selection:
The Arduino is a data logger capable of constantly recording data from multiple sensors while executing operations in connected devices according to its program. Therefore, it is suitable for use for our Temperature Monitoring System, where the chiller has to be activated according to a certain temperature. Also, it is cheaper as compared to a computer-based system or a NXT-based system.

C. Key Procedures and Information

Equipment list:  
  • Fish Tank 4ft by 2ft [x1]
    • 121.92cm x 60.96cm x 65.5cm
    • 458.3 litres capacity
    • 1.5cm glass thickness
  • Temperature Sensor (self-constructed) [x1]
    • TMP-36 temperature sensor chip [x1]
    • USB cables (cut open) [x1]
    • Aquarium-safe Silicone Gel [x1]
    • Pen Case (Hollow Tube) [Approximate Length: 10cm]
    • Black duct Tape [x1]
  • Arduino® Uno Set (Including Books, Device, Tool box etc.) [x1]
  • Vanson® Universal Regulated AC/DC Adapter [x1]
  • TC1602A LCD Display [x1]
  • 1x16 Standard Pin-header [x1]
  • W612 - 2 Channel HI/LO Relay Board[x1]
  • Hailea® HS-28A 1/10HP Chiller [x1]
  • Discover® HNP800 Water Pump [x1]
  • Plastic hoses for chiller [Approximate 1m]
  • Fishes (as indicators)
    • Black Tetras [x6]

Diagram: Schematics of the Temperature Control System
Procedures A (Construction of Temperature Sensor)
  1. Acquire materials for temperature sensor construction
    1. LM-35 sensor
    2. Pen casing (Hollow tube)
    3. USB cable
    4. Aquarium-safe silicone gel sealant
    5. Duct tape
  2. Cut off the Type B plug at one end of the cable.
  3. Remove 2.5 cm of cable jacket at where the Type B plug was removed and strip the ground (red), data(white) and black (positive) wires from their individual jackets.
  4. Solder each of the three legs of the LM-35 Sensor to each wire.
  5. Wrap black duct tape around the ground and positive wires of the LM-35 Sensor.
  6. Slide the sensor into the pen casing and place the nozzle of the aquarium-safe silicone gel sealant over the pen casing.
  7. Start squeezing the silicone sealant through the pen casing and ensure that the whole pen casing is filled with silicone.
  8. Slide the sensor out so that it sticks out of the pen casing by about 2mm.
  9. Wipe excess silicone from the head of the sensor.
  10. Leave the temperature sensor to dry for 48 hours.
  11. Solder jumper wires of the same colour to each individual wire (at the end of the temperature sensor) to allow easier connection to the Arduino.
  12. Carry out the testing of the temperature sensor.

Procedures B (Setup System)
  1. Connect using jumper wires the 1602A LCD Display to the breadboard linked to Arduino
  2. Connect the temperature sensor's individual wires to the Arduino's breadboard according to the connection diagrams on the temperature sensor's data sheet.
  3. Connect the relay using jumper wires to the Arduino breadboard.
  4. Remove the wiring of the Hailea HS-28A Chiller used for power supply and connect the chiller's wires to the relay.
  5. Connect the water pump to the chiller to allow water flow into the chiller.

Procedures C (Program System)
  1. Upload programming the processes the temperature data from the temperature sensor.
  2. Upload the programming on the Arduino sketch that will allow the 1602A LCD Display to display the temperature sensed by the temperature sensor.
  3. Upload programming that switches on or off the relay upon reaching an unacceptable range of temperature (above 27ºC or below 24ºC)
  4. Set the desired chilling temperature of the HS-28A Chiller to 26ºC

Procedures D (Calibrate System)
  1. Calibrate of programming such that the values given by the sensor in Volts are converted to degrees Celsius so that it can be shown on the 1602A LCD Display
  2. Calibrate the relay to accept only a voltage pertaining to a particular temperature range of > 27ºC to switch on the relay, and a voltage pertaining to a range of < 24ºC to switch off the relay.
  3. Operate any tank maintenance regime (as a control) and startup the filter cycle. (The water passes through the filter before going into the chiller.)
  4. Observe for a period of 5 days and ensure that the fish tank is operating at maximum efficiency at the lowest amount of electricity, and tabulate data.

• Risk Assessment: Identify any potential risks and safety precautions to be taken.
  • List: Electricity and water is always a risky combination, especially in a water-filled aquarium. There would be a risk in handling the electronics, not just to prevent unwanted electrocutions due to its voltage, but also to ensure that the Arduino device does not get damaged. The soldering iron and the silicone gel also poses a risk when we have to use it. The list of sensors, procedures or device at risk or posing a risk is as follows.
  • Temperature Sensor
  • Arduino Data Logger
  • Relay to Arduino-compatible Chiller
  • Soldering Iron
  • Silicone gel
  • Assess: There might be a risk in handling the temperature sensor and the Arduino data logger as there might be a significant amount of voltage. Also, handling the Arduino with wet hands might cause expensive damage to the Arduino which we cannot afford to repay. The soldering iron it touches the skin, may cause 3rd degree burns and serious flesh damage. The silicone gel, when uncured, exposed to the naked eyes may cause irritation, and pose a danger to the eyes when in contact. It may also irritate skin and stick onto skin.
  • Safety Measures: The temperature sensor had been waterproofed with 100% silicone gel sealant. We must ensure that the area around us is dry and there are no frayed wires. A towel should be kept constantly near to wipe away any water near the Arduino or other electronics. The aquarium should be handled carefully at all times and must be kept out of the reach of children or non-aquarium animals. When using the soldering iron, it must be done so under supervision and instructions of the lab tech or teacher. When applying silicone gel, ensure that gloves are worn on both hands, and that goggles are worn.
  • Proper Disposal: When turning off the soldering iron, it must be cleaned by dipping the iron into the tip cleaner before being placed back on its stand properly. The tip of silicone gel tube should be cleaned off after usage, and any spillage should be removed to avoid hazard to other people. The waste tissue used to clean off the gel should then placed in a wrapped plastic bag and disposed in the bin to prevent the fumes from irritating the eyes of other lab users.

Data Analysis: Describe the procedures you will use to analyze the data/results that answer research questions or hypotheses

  1. After the setup of the ARDUINO data logger, temperature sensor, and the chiller, the water pump should be started to start the flow of the water in the tank to the chiller and the filter, where they would be pumped backed to the tank.
  2. The datalogger will the temperature of the water once per second, but only the 1 hour average and other greater time period will be put to significance.
  3. We will compare the data gathered from the temperature sensor with the advised levels of the temperature that is appropriate for fishes to live in, i.e. 24ºC - 27ºC.
    1. The optimal temperature of an aquarium lies within 24ºC to 27ºC. This should be controlled by a chiller which should be set to 26ºC. Should the temperature falls out of acceptable levels as indicated by the temperature sensor beyond the chiller’s control, possibly due to strange weather conditions or overexposure to heat, then the chiller will be adjusted accordingly.
  4. A relay is connected to the Arduino-compatible chiller acting as a in-between for the Arduino datalogger and the Chiller. The relay would also compute the amount of electricity used up by the chiller, in the unit of watts and send them to the datalogger where it would also be recorded.
  5. The chiller is only turned on via the relay by the Arduino when the temperature rises above or decreases below the 24ºC to 27ºC acceptable range.
  6. Fish are bred to be used as indicators to observe if any unwanted fluctuations occur and if the Temperature Monitoring System can ensure the fishes’ survival. Aquatic plants will also be bred to keep dissolved oxygen levels and ammonium levels in check for the fishes’ survival.
  7. By comparing all the data, we would be able to find the average temperature and the total electricity used over a week, and compile them into a table. The observation would be held for a period of 4 weeks.
  8. The total electricity would be compared against that of a chiller running continuously for 4 complete weeks. This number would be achieved by measuring via the relay the power input of the chiller running for 1 hour at 26ºC without any human-incited temperature fluctuations (so that only one variable - the amount of electricity is differing). The 1-hour value would be multiplied by 672, the number of hours in 4 weeks, to simulate the chiller running continuously.
  9. By comparing the total electricity in both cases, we can determine how our Temperature Monitoring System is more efficient in terms of electricity usage than a continuously running Chiller system. Also, the amount of fish casualties and illness (evident by fish’s skin) rate per fish, is also recorded, and Fish Survival Rate calculated so that it can be determined if the Temperature Monitoring System works to keep the fishes alive and healthy.
  10. When conducting the test, NO other variable can be changed by addition of chemicals and such. That includes the dissolved oxygen, turbidity, ammonium level, and pH value, or additional changing of filter media. The tank would most likely use a sump filter already set up by the school, so as to allow the fish breeding inside to be free of waste that may affect water temperature. The filter and Nitrifying bacteria levels would be already stabilized if we use the school’s sump filter.

D. Bibliography:

Bajwa, S. K., Aslam, M. W., & Mulik, M. (n.d.). S.m.a.r.t aquarium. Retrieved July 13, 2013, from:

Chiu, M. (2010). A multi-functional aquarium equipped with automatic thermal control/fodder-feeding/water treatment using a network remote control system. Retrieved July 13, 2013, from:

Dumas, D. N. (1961, June 13). Automatic aquarium attachment. Retrieved July 14, 2013, from:

J. DeTolla, L., Srinivas, S., R. Whitaker, B., Andrews, C., Hecker, B., S. Kane, A., & Reimschuessel, R. (1995). Guidelines for the Care and Use of Fish in Research. Fish, Amphibians, and Reptiles; Issues for IACUC, 37(4), 159-173. doi: 10.1093/ilar.37.4.159

Sharp, Shirlie. (n.d.). Aquarium Water Temperature. Retrieved July 14, 2013, from:

Unknown Author. (1998, October 29). Optimum Freshwater pH. Retrieved July 13, 2013, from:

Vassallo, E., & Vassallo, H. I. (1977, November 22). Automatic aquarium lighting and fish feeding device. Retrieved July 13, 2013, from:

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