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Making it rain in an aquarium.

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by acroholic, Sep 2, 2011.

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  1. acroholic


    Sep 1, 2011
    Hi everyone,
    I'm a new Member here, from Atlanta in the US. I keep reef aquariums with live coral and fish.

    I am using modular LED lighting for my reef tank. The brand I use is called Aqua Illumination. Just FYI, here is their website: I have their Sol Blue modules over my reef.

    A very interesting feature of the controller unit (a fancy flash drive, I believe) that comes with these lights is a simulated random thunderstorm option. I can set the number of storms per day and the percentage likelihood they will happen, but they are random as to when they happen. If the storm occurs during the daylight period, the light intensity darkens by 50% to simulate cloud cover, and the thunderstorm consists of the white LEDs in the modules flashing on and off to simulate lightning. If it is night when the thunderstorm happens, the LEDs just flash on and off. Each storm lasts for 5 minutes or so. Imagine an LED flashlight turning on and off, and you get the idea

    What I would like to do is simulate rainfall, but need a method of triggering a pump to come on and spray water over the surface of the tank to simulate rainfall in addition to lighting. I have discussed this with the lighting manufacturer, and there is nothing I can do to get into the controller programming to use it to trigger a relay due to the randomness of the storms. They can happen anytime. I know how to get the water to spray on the tank water surface, but triggering it to come on is the problem.

    My idea was to have a photocell switch that could sense the LED flashing to energize an electrical outlet for a predetermined length of time, like 5 minutes or so. If I could make something like this, then the randomness of the storms would not be an issue as the LED lights themselves would trigger the pump.

    Particulars of this setup needed, and this is where I hope anyone can help me:

    1. The photocell switch would need to be triggered by the flashing of the LEDs, and not the intensity of the light. It would need to work in the dark or when the lights are on. I don't know if something like this is even available? The LED Modules themselves ramp up or down slowly in intensity in normal operation to simulate sunlight at the equator, no more than a 5% increase or decrease. Thunderstorm mode could mean a 100% increase in intensity as the white LEDs go from 40% to 80% or similar.

    2. The photocell switch needs to energize an electrical outlet for a preset period of time, perhaps 5 minutes or so. Adjustability of this period is preferable.

    3. Would a possible alternative to a photocell switch be some type of voltage sensing switch wired into the power cord going to the LED module? The LED module draws a pretty steady stream of voltage during normal operation, but I assume this voltage draw varies a good bit as the thunderstorm mode flashes the LEDs on and off. Could a voltage sensing switch turn on an electrical outlet in the same way a photocell could?

    These are about the only methods I could think of to do what I am trying to do. Any thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated, along with specific components to achieve what I am looking for. I understand this is a Great Britain Board, and I would find US 120 volt equivalents, but I don't even know what to look for at this point. Thank you for all your help.
    Best regards,
  2. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    When you say "Atlanta" and "Aquariums", are you talking really big aquariums? Like the ones near the CNN centre?

    For a relatively small area, you could just redirect the water from the filter onto a textured piece of glass above the water. Drops would form and drip off it.

    However a problem you're going to get with any method is the build-up of salt.

    For a really large aquarium, (and I'm talking several square metres of surface area) I'd just go with sprinklers above the water surface.
  3. donkey


    Feb 26, 2011
    I don't think this is about the pump or the delivery of water more the fact acroholic wants it to rain when the LED's simulate the thunder. I have an idea on how to do it.
    my idea is taking out one of the LED's and replacing it with a relay (you need to make a specific boards for this as some relays won't trigger with such a small current). use the relay as a trigger to activate the pump for rain. I foresee issues relating to making this ipx8 (waterproof) but its a concept at the moment anyway.
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