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Alligator Gar and Asian Arrowana in Vientiane, Laos

Friday, February 5th, 2010

I’ve recently found these photograph in my holiday snaps when I went on holiday to Vientiane, Laos.

Alligator Gar in a tank in Vietnam

Alligator Gar in a tank in Vientiane, Laos

Asian Arrowana on display in a fish tank in Vietnam

Asian Arrowana on display in a fish tank in Vientiane, Laos

Asian Arrowana on display in a fish tank in Vietnam

Asian Arrowana on display in a fish tank in Vientiane, Laos

Asian Arrowana on display in a fish tank in Vietnam

Asian Arrowana on display in a fish tank in Vientiane, Laos

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Servicing my Vintage Hy-Flo Model C Air Pump

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Over a week ago, the socket ring main tripped, and shortly afterwards my vintage Hy-Flo Model C Air Pump stopped working, I don’t think this was the reason for it stopping, just coincidence.

Hy-Flo vintage reciprocating piston aquarium air pumps were manufactured by Medcalf Bros. Ltd. of Potters Bar, England. They ceased trading many years ago.

I think they were manufactured in the 50/60s for the laboratory and research establishments, universities and polytechnics some were used in the ornamental aquatics industries, but as they were expensive, many fish keepers, used Rena, Whisper or Hoffman pumps of that time. Most aquarium air pumps of this generation were manufactured from bakelite or plastic, and used a rubber diaphragm, which needed regular replacement due to wear, and were of the vibrator design. Most of the pumps on the market today use this design.

The Hy-flo pump is made out of a solid cast iron block, the Model C weighs approx 5kg, a metal flywheel moves between an alternating current electromagnetic coil (motor), causing the flywheel to start and rotate, the flywheel gets a little hot due to eddy currents induced in the flywheel, even if the flywheel gets jammed the flywheel can get very hot, if it does important to turn off, otherwise damage to the coils (motor) could occur. The flywheel spins on an axel/rod, at the end of the axel, cams connect to a piston and valve chamber which generates air.

My Hy-flo air pump, had stopped spinning. Using a electrical power meter from JLB Electronics, the Hy-flo pump was still drawing 50 watts of electricity, and the flywheel got very hot (see above eddy currents).

flywheel, pistons and cams removed

flywheel, pistons and cams removed

I removed the two piston assemblies and valve chambers but the flywheel still didn’t spin freely when power was applied.

just a block of iron

just a block of iron

piston and valve chamber

piston and valve chamber

cam from Hy-flo Model C

cam from Hy-flo Model C

piston and valbe chamber

piston and valbe chamber

So I sent an email to Sonik Systems for guidance, they re-sale, service and repair Hy-flo pumps (Medcalf Bros. ceased trading many years ago). They advised me that because the flywheel was getting hot, but not spinning, the motor (electric coils) were still working, and it was either an alignment or dirt on the axel that was causing the issue. The axel could be moved, and was not rubbing against the motor (coil). Sonik Systems confirmed that the flywheel should spin freely for approx 30 seconds when pushed with power off. My flywheel was not free spinning.

back together after oiling

back together after oiling

close-up of flywheel

close-up of flywheel

The axel would not move freely by hand, so a small tap with a rubber mallet freed the axel. The moment that this was freed, the flywheel span for 40 seconds un-aided. I suspect due to build up of dirt, and the possible dry/humidity in the fish house, had dried out the oil, and the remaining hard residue had caused it to cease.

Hy-Flo Model C

Hy-Flo Model C

All oiled and working

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LED Luminaire from CoralLed

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

I was reading a review of the LED Luminaire from CoralLed in the January 2010 issue of Practial Fiskeeping Magazine by Jeremy Gay, he states ‘It’s Good … British Made … built by hand”

Yes, it looks like it, my cat could do a better job with a solering iron, if you look at the poor soldering joints in the photograph attached.

Note the soldering joints

Note the soldering joints

As an electronics engineer, this is very poor, I’m all for British Made products, but there’s no excuse, these connections are poorly made, there are much better ways for terminating connections onto a PCB than this! Price from £600 - £2000! (if they’ve had hidden them from view it would have been better, I would be embarrased of a photo of a product constructed like this!).

Another electronics company stated “we are disgusted by this quality of workmanship, we would be embarassed if we produced a product like this and if we did, we might as well close up shop”.

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X10 Computer Control

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

With this blog post comes a warning, this post is for Geeks, Nerds, Techno-freaks, or people that just like 100% Tech! (you’ve been warned!).

This isn’t new Tech, the X10 protocol was invented 30 years ago, the X10 protocol sends packets of information across house hold mains wiring to receivers to turn items on or off. Computer software is then used to build macros and timers, which can be downloaded to the standalone programmable computer interface to instruct various modules (appliances) to turn on or off, so no need for a computer to be left on and running. What X10 can do for you is limited only by your imagination or programming skills!

I’ve recently invested in X10 computer control, because

  1. various appliances which need timers.
  2. take more advantage of Economy 7 and reduce electrical consumption.
  3. and I like my tech!

okay, I could do this with manual/electronic timers from a well known DIY store, but there would be no fun, but on a serious note, the timers I’ve been purchasing in the last few years, have all failed, the manual segment timers (which I need for the fish house, because digital timers will not start the ballast units on the lighting circuit, because digital timers will not start-up fluorescent tubes). Also various other projects, and I also wanted to create a moonlight light in the fish house, a ceiling rose light which comes on before tank lighting (goes off), and then on before tank lighting goes off - since I’ve turned off fish house main lighting 2 x 70 watt tubes, the fish frighten to easily from dark –> light (vice versa).

So I’ve purchased a Marmitek CM15PRO standalone programmable computer interface, and various X10 Modules, the modules I’ve purchased are plugin modules which plug in to a standard UK 13Amp socket, your appliance then plugs into this socket, you can also get DIN rail modules, wall switches, micro modules as well, and wired modules, and also lamp modules which plug into bayonet or edison screw light fittings. The modules I’ve purchased are:-

  1. AM12 Appliance / Switch Module
  2. AM12W Appliance / Switch Module (Wired)
  3. LM15 Bayonet Lamp module

The following screen shot shows all the modules (appliances) in the house, that are currently being computer controlled. The green light currently indicates they are on. Macros and timers vary the on and off times for every module.

Active Home Professional Software

All Rooms in the house with modules

Screen shot of the software, rooms can be created to organise your modules.

ActiveHome Professional screen shot

ActiveHome Professional screen shot

Here are some pictures of the computer interface and the actual modules in use:-

Now if you think this Tech is OTT, it gets worse, I’ve also found that sometimes I need to be able to control these modules when I’m not at my main production workstation. I could purchase an X10 remote control to send signals to the transceiver to send to the units, but hey that’s too easy, lets find a Tech way to do it!

I leave this to another exciting Geek, Nerdy, Techno-freak blog entry here!

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Arnie is now Bulleyproof!

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

I’ve been having a few issues with Arnie, he took a serious beating from Bert (the Zebra Tilapia) , why a 22″ Arrowana, should have a problem with an 8″ African Tilapia, I don’t know, so I’ve removed Bert (the Zebra Tilapia)  from the Oddball tank, leaving Arnie and a few large clown loaches. However, Arnie  did stopped feeding, so I’ve got him feeding again on Live Crickets! He didn’t like Locusts (nor did I, difficult things to feed), but Ernie loved them!

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Arnie the Arrowana

Friday, October 30th, 2009

I’ve been meaning to get some photographs of Arnie for a while, But he’s very difficult to photograph, as he moves so quick, so here’s are a few quick photos

Arnie The Silver Arrowana

Arnie The Silver Arrowana

Arnie The Silver Arrowana

Arnie The Silver Arrowana

Arnie The Silver Arrowana

Arnie The Silver Arrowana

and here’s a quick video clip

I’m trying to rear him off muscles, because of the high fat content may have caused slight drop-eye, in one of his eyes. So he’s currently on a diet of raw tiger prawns, I’m going to try him soon on crickets, wax worms and earthworms. He’s not keen on a dry food at present.

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Balance of Power

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

The balance of power has changed in my 6 foot oddball tank, after introducing Arnie (the Arrowana), after 24 hours, I noticed that Ernie the Giant red tail gourami, had been attacked, I’m not sure if it was by Bert (the Zebra Tilapia) or Arnie (the Arrowana).

So I’ve moved Ernie into the large quarantine tank with Cedric II! (the rescued pleco!).

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New tankmate for Bert and Ernie

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

I’ve got a new tankmate for Bert (the Zebra Tilapia) and Ernie (the Giant red tail gourami), a Silver Arowana, Osteoglossum bicirrhosum, and he’s called Arnie!

I’ll take some pictures, when he’s settled in to his new surroundings.

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Spotty my 20 year old Large-spot Catfish

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Spotty my 20 year old Large-spot Catfish, Synodontis ocellifer died today.

I removed him from the large quaratine tank, and moved him into a small 17l tank, and started to treat with Melafix and Primafix, a three day treatment, but it wasn’t working, so I finally switched to anti-biotics last night. He survived the night, and was looking okay this morning, but Lindsey has just found him dead.

I don’t normally name fish, and I don’t know why I named him, but he’s been with me 20 years.  I first purchased him from Blagdon Aquatics in Plymouth, when they first opened their store at the front of the new Hombase Store and multi-storey car park, in the green house dome at the front. (Toy’s r Us are there now, I think).

He will be sadly missed, so I’ve buried him in my front garden under the trees. (most dead fish go in the dustbin but Spotty was special).

Spotty the 20 year old Large-spot Catfish, Synodontis ocellifer

Spotty the 20 year old Large-spot Catfish, Synodontis ocellifer

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Co2 for Aquatic Plants

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Dupla CO2 Omega Reaktor

Dupla CO2 Omega Reaktor

I’m going to start experimenting with CO2 fertilisation for plants with this simple Dupla Co2 Omega Reactor, it’s just 200g of sugar and yeast, in a bottle with an airline tube into a tank. A DIY version can be made very easily with a pop bottle. I’ve dissolved the sugar in warm water from the kettle, I’m just waiting for the temperature to drop to 25 degrees C before and add the yeast, I don’t want to kill the yeast, if the water is too hot.

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Ruto Frozen Fishfood

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http://www.plymouthdiscus.com/

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Dyed Fish Campaign