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Monitoring pH, Nutrients and PAR in an Aquaponics System

OceanView Dashboard for Real-time Monitoring of pH, Nutrient Level and Lighting Conditions

OceanView is the flagship software program for Ocean Optics spectrometers. Beyond simple data visualization, OceanView allows users to generate, customize and save spectroscopy projects using its Schematic View function. Saved projects can be reloaded or shared with others. The Schematic View presents each data processing step in a diagram format with icons representing the different devices and actions in your project. In the Schematic, you can view and manipulate the flow of data from your spectrometer through each of your processing steps. Data flow is represented by the use of arrows that connect different nodes. The nodes represent points where data is processed or manipulated.

In this project, we created an OceanView dashboard to monitor aquaponics system parameters such as pH and nutrient levels.

About OceanView Schematic View

The Schematic View provides all of the functionality of the OceanView graph view, plus additional capabilities to customize your spectroscopy measurements:

  • More than 70 algorithm nodes enabling a range of math functions for basic and advanced calculations
  • Subrange node to specify a subset of the spectrum or a single wavelength
  • Interpolation of spectral data to output data at consistent, evenly spaced intervals
  • Scalar view for monitoring a single value such as TEC temperature or an integral or average over a specified wavelength range
  • Ability to preview spectra at every step in your process

Create, configure and connect schematic nodes to read data from devices, to transform and combine that data through a library of built-in spectroscopic functions, and then to output the results to visual graphs and Microsoft Excel-ready CSV files.

Project Description

This project was created to provide an OceanView dashboard for the real time monitoring of pH, nutrient level and lighting conditions in an aquaponics system. Here are the setups:

Also, we could have added to our measurements noninvasive dissolved oxygen monitoring in the fish tank using the NeoFox-GT phase fluorimeter with a BIFBORO bifurcated fiber and RedEye patch (NEOFOX-KIT-PATCH).


Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics to produce crops. In an aquaponics system, fish (or other aquatic organisms) and plants share a symbiotic relationship that requires careful maintenance of critical parameters to keep the system in balance. Unhealthy fish will lead to poor crop production if pH, dissolved oxygen, water temperature, nutrient concentration and other critical parameters are not maintained. Real-time monitoring of these parameters enables farmers growing crops with aquaponics systems to react quickly to bring systems back into balance for optimum crop production.

Project Import Procedure

Import the project into OceanView by going to File| Share project| Import. OceanView will guide you through the steps necessary to swap the spectrometer you are using into the project including allowing you to measure new reference and background spectra as needed for the different measurements.

For this project, we focused on visible absorbance for pH, UV absorbance for nitrate levels and absolute irradiance for PAR values. Note that this project reports nutrient levels as relative nitrate levels based on the absorbance measured at the peak near 220 nm. Actual concentrations for nitrate and other nutrients could be displayed in OceanView using the Concentration options (Beer-Lambert or Calibrate from Solutions of Known Concentration) in the Absorbance wizard to generate standard curves for known concentrations of the various nutrients.

Schematic Views

This schematic shows the steps in a simple pH measurement using absorbance spectroscopy.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Data flow in this absolute irradiance setup demonstrates the steps leading to calculation of PAR values over time.

Click on the image to enlarge.

One of the big advantages of using the schematic function is saving projects like this one for absorbance of nitrates. There’s no need to recreate work done previously.

Click on the image to enlarge.


We used OceanView to create an aquaponics system dashboard with pH, nitrate level and PAR values available for real-time viewing and analysis.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Additional OceanView Schematics