I recently purchased the Canary. For those unfamiliar with the device, it’s a sleek little tower that functions as a home security system. The Canary has a 1080 p, wide angle camera that keeps an eye on wherever it’s placed, it uses a motion detector to alert you of arrivals and has an air quality sensor along with temperature and humidity. The best part, the device takes literally minutes to install. I aimed it at the front door, so if I have a fish or coral arrive, I will be alerted the minute the Canary spots movement on my porch.
The market is suddenly becoming flooded with simple tech. These are devices that cram a lot of unique functions into one small, often stylish piece of equipment. The days of underground wires, individual motion sensors, multiple routers and hardwired devices seem to be long gone. While home automation offers a diverse market, making high-tech simple products affordable, it appears like Fish Bit hopes to strike that same balance, right in our reef tanks.
Most of us are familiar with controllers. In fact, many aquarists, myself included, rely on them to maintain reef aquariums. We all know the power players in the controller world, and we also know these aren’t the easiest, or sleekest systems to set-up. Sensors, power bars, etc, etc need run to every items you want to control and in some cases a wired connection to a router is needed. To properly set-up a controller with aesthetic appeal takes time, and looking at all the parts makes many less than tech savvy aquarists stay away.
Fish Bit hopes to change that, offering the simplicity of a device like the Canary. One part of the unit is where items you wish to control are plugged in, the other part magnetically attaches somewhere in the aquarium and controls and monitors parameters, wirelessly.
What we know?
Sadly, Fish Bit’s website is a little scant on information. The promise is there, and during the unit’s promotional video, it’s claimed that it can aid aquarists in knowing when to complete a water change. Does this mean there is a nitrate or phosphate probe within the unit? We don’t know. The promotional material shows that the Fish Bit connects to a smart phone, likely both Android and iOS – but most of the controllers already on the market offer the same functionality. neptune Systems has greatly improved their mobile connectivity, with a sleek and reliable online application. So much about Fish Bit remains a black hole, it’s hard to make any credible conjectures about the product.
Any type of probe used by a controller requires calibration. Some aquarists calibrate ph probes weekly, or at least once per month. Without doing so, the data you are getting back can be skewed, giving you a false impression of your tank’s water quality. In time, probe’s lifetime expires, and they need replaced. Will Fish Bit, with it’s sleek and simple design allow aquarists to open it up and calibrate or replace probes. If not, how have the developers worked around calibration? Will the Fish Bit include a light sensor, such as the Seneye and if so, what method of sensing will it employ. On the topic of nitrate probes, anyone who has experience with them knows, they are not easy to use. To function properly, nitrate probes need calibrated during each use, and during calibration the aquarist must decide what range they predict nitrates will be in, using the proper high or low calibration fluid. Even then, it’s not uncommon to get false readings are be prompted that nitrates are either higher or lower than the probe is calibrated to read. Nitrate probes alone cost over $ 200 for a simple probe, but if Fish Bit can aid in planning water changes, I would assume it contains something. How could so many functions be crammed into one device, and also be affordable?
Lots of hush-hush:
It seems like Fish Bit’s developers are keeping a lot of details in the dark, which to me, is very promising. Perhaps they have developed some new technology, a method of converting nitrate, phosphate and other key parameters to electrical signals that can then be read and turned into data. If they have, and they make do on their promise to make keeping a reef tank possible for everyone, Fish Bit could be a revolutionary piece of aquarium technology. I am anxious to know more about what the Fish Bit can do, and would suggest any serious aquarist keep an eye out for information.
I’ve jumped on the bandwagon of several simple, connected and easy to install smart devices, and have been very pleased with all of them. It seems like a natural progression of technology, things get easier, sleeker and more reliable. Hopefully, that kind of convenience will make its way into our reef tanks soon.
I’m also anxious to hear more detailed info regarding the Fish Bit. You stated you have the Canary (a cool little device with a lot of creative uses) and also use several other smart devices. Other than the features that come with an aquarium controller and various wireless cams (e.g. FosCAM, DropCAM), what other smart devices do you utilize?
Dustin. I have a Honeywell smart thermostat. It has several functions. One, it can be logged into remotely to adjust the temperature and humidity of your home. Another, is that it can be programmed to automatically adjust temperature inside, based on outside conditions. Here in MD where I live, it’s not uncommon for temperatures to drop low at night then rise during the day, so the thermostat can automatically adjust heating and cooling so the house stays the same temp, during large outdoor temperature changes. The thermostat also controls the home’s dehumidifier as well, which mainly measures humidity in the basement fish room. I also use Nest’s smart smoke detectors and a host of smart outlets. These are very handy for aquariums, and in conjunction with a dropcam give you full control of your tank from afar. I also use a roomba for vacuuming since you can program them to clean while you’re at work.