Aquaponics at Robot Garden


Have you been wondering what the tank under the stairs at Robot Garden was for? It’s our aquaponics automation project, so it’s really the garden part of Robot Garden. There are fish too!

We love both Robots and Gardens. One of our goals has always been to have a demonstration garden, managed as much as possible by robots (automation). We started working on this at our original location on Longard Rd, but we have a lot more opportunities to do great things in our new location at The Switch, 2324 Second St Livermore.

As phase 1 of the Aquaponics Interest Group, we are putting together an aquaculture system, utilizing the nitrogen cycle.


Nitrogen Cycle

  • Fish produce ammonia
  • Bacteria convert ammonia into nitrite
  • Other bacteria convert nitrite into nitrate
  • Plants use nitrate as a nutrient and remove it from the system

This is the most significant chemical cycle in an aquaponics system so for the health of our fish and plants we need to monitor it.

system diagram

Initial sketch of aquaculture system


We have a fully functioning but rudimentary aquaculture system in place:

  • Fish tank – basically an IBC tote with the top cut off.
  • Biofilter based on the ‘traschcan biofilter design’ (see The
  • Water circulation and aeration accomplished by means of an airlift system (see The great benefit of this system is there is no need for a mechanical pump to move water.
  • Automatic Fish feeder (
  • Fish. We only have four little fish in there now (two goldfish and two catfish). The biofilter is fully ‘cycled’ now so we can accommodate more fish but we’re holding off until we have monitoring systems in place.

Next Steps:

  • Build and install a remote monitoring and control system. We have a Raspberry Pi and OpenSprinkler Pi relay board as well as temperature and other sensors.
  • Get more fish!

Some other to-do’s:

  • Build a settling tank for removing sediment from the system
  • Attach a drain hose for removing waste water to the garden

Would you like a tour? Or to join the group?

Contact us at We are also raising funds to move the aquaponics project forward. Any donation is appreciated. We are a 501c3 so your donation is tax deductible.

What’s are some more things happening this week at Robot Garden?

More Ham Radio antennas and the Reflow Oven assembly

Tuesday, Oct 18, 2016, 7:00 PM

Robot Garden
2324 Second Street Livermore, CA

1 Makers & Mechanics Attending

We worked on a couple of antennas and started the assembly of the solder reflow oven.  Come join us for more antenna work, SDR and continued work on the oven modifications.We’ll likely do every Tuesday for a while…

Check out this Meetup →

From R/C car to Robot

Saturday, Oct 22, 2016, 12:30 PM

Robot Garden
2324 Second Street Livermore, CA

3 Makers & Mechanics Attending

ENTDECKERBIGFOOTThis is a planning meeting. Robot Garden is already home to Programming Robots Study Group (PRSG), dedicated to ROS and has built wheeled robots.This event may evolve into:• a short-lived PRSG subgroup• classes• a separate Special Interest Group like PRSG• a one-day lecture, with follow-on 1-1 or group discussionsWe decide…

Check out this Meetup →


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