Paludarium Waterworks


I finally have all the stuff I need for the construction of all of the plumbing around the paludarium. So next was to decide where to place what. And that proves to be quite hard; I have less space than I initially anticipated…



How to place plumbing inside a cabinet

The first question was: How do I place all of the required plumbing in a cabinet while I’ll still be able to work on it properly without having to hang inside the cabinet all the time? The answer was to build everything onto a piece of multiplex and then placing the entire multiplex board inside the cabinet (and then connect up all of the hoses).

I ended up with something like this:

The wooden board where most of the plumbing will go.

The wooden board where most of the plumbing will go.

At the top left tap water will be connected via the hose laying on top. This hose will connect the 3/4″ water connection to the board. From there, the water is divided into four parts, each with it’s own faucet to be able to close down, or limit the flow of water:

Small water faucets will be used to either limit the flow of water of close it down completely.

Small water faucets will be used to either limit the flow of water of close it down completely.

Of those four faucets, three have electromagnetic valves connected, the fourth one is a spare connection for some future use. The electromagnetic valves are of the “normally closed” (NC) type, and need 230VAC to open. This will of course be supplied by a control unit (which I have yet to build) which in turn will be directed by the Raspberry Pi which lives in the Canopy:

Closeup of the electromagnetic valves. A controller will drive these valves, so in the end the Raspberry Pi can open and close them at will.

Closeup of the electromagnetic valves. A controller will drive these valves, so in the end the Raspberry Pi can open and close them at will.

The valve in front will deliver the reverse osmosis water unit you will find in the first picture at the right (the three white columns). You can see the hose to be connected here is very small, which makes sense as the flow of water through the reverse osmosis unit will be very very slow (estimated at 100 – 180 liters per 24 hours). Here’s a detail of the reverse osmosis filter:

The reverse osmosis filter. Via a valve I can start or stop production of osmosis water by this unit.

The reverse osmosis filter. Via a valve I can start or stop production of osmosis water by this unit.

The second valve in the picture above will control the supply of tap water into the paludarium’s aquatic part. This means the Raspberry Pi can perform water changes at will (as any excess water is automatically flushed into the sewer).

The third and last valve will control rainfall. For now I’ll be using tap water to feed the rain directly using pressure from the water supply feed. In time I might build some kind of “boiler without heater” so the water will have time to reach room temperature before being rained in. I’ll have to go and figure out if I need that or not.


More watery stuff

So the external filter is a 1400 liter per hour type, and as you may have guessed would not fit on a board. It will be sitting in front of this board, as the cabinet under the paludarium is about 60cm deep I have plenty of room there. The feed from this filter will flow through a heater though:

The 300W external water heater in detail. This heater will be controlled by the Raspberry Pi as well, so the Pi can control the water temperature.

The 300W external water heater in detail. This heater will be controlled by the Raspberry Pi as well, so the Pi can control the water temperature.

The external filter will feed water through this heater to generate the water temperature needed. This heater will be controlled by the electronics as well; a controller will constantly measure the water temperature, then actuate the heater as needed. As a safety precaution, I’ll set the heater at 29 or 30 degrees centigrade as a fail-safe so any inhabitants can never become the fish that go with the chips 🙂


So where’s all of the electric stuff?

As I wrote in the beginning, I did not have as much room as I initially hoped for. I was hoping I could have the electronics onto the same board as the plumbing (with a divider in between), but there just isn’t any room left. That is why I now laid out the board for water only.

The electronics I require inside the cabinet will only consist of a controller board (a plastic case of about 20x10x7cm) and a four electric outlets. They will be mounted on a separate board which I will mount on the ceiling of the cabinet. I figure placing it on the ceiling will have maximum protection against leaks.

Finally, I’ll be adding some sensors here and there just to monitor stuff. For starters, I’ll be measuring the water temperature (as I need to control the heater). I also want to measure water conductivity flowing through the external filter (to determine how dirty the water is), as well as a water detector for any leaks that will be placed under the water plumbing board.

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