FishBit: So Easy Even I Can Use It!

Here's the FishBit monitor mounted in my 125 gallon reef

Here’s the FishBit monitor mounted in my 125 gallon reef

Regular Saltwater Smarts visitors are well aware that I’m not exactly what you’d call “tech-savvy” or an “early adopter” when it comes to the latest gadgetry (though I am intrigued by this newfangled doohickey the kids call an “eight-track player”—it’s gonna be yuuuge!). So, it should come as no surprise that I take a pretty low-tech approach to the marine aquarium hobby.

Nothing in my system is really automated (unless you count the timer on my lights), and I don’t use a lot of devices beyond your basic heater, protein skimmer, and submersible pumps. And, until very recently, I monitored all my water parameters the way God intended—using a hydrometer, floating thermometer, and various and sundry colorimetric test kits.

I tell people that I like to keep things natural, but the truth of the matter is, my lone functioning brain cell has always struggled with technology and figuring out how the various components of a high-tech system interconnect (how I managed to finish Air Force Crypto School with high marks back in the day is anybody’s guess!).

So, when Nathan Levine, founder of Current Labs, asked me to beta test their new FishBit monitor and controller, I was a bit apprehensive. How embarrassing would it be if I had to admit I couldn’t figure the thing out or, much worse, if I somehow damaged the unit by installing it upside down or…I don’t know…accidentally swallowing it? But after hearing that FishBit is specifically designed to be easy, trouble-free, and intuitive for people like me (analog folks trapped in a digital world), I felt somewhat reassured and agreed to give it a try.

FishBit allows you to monitor key water parameters in real time as well as control multiple aquarium devices, such as your lights, pumps, and heater, through an app on your smartphone or other device. You can also program the unit to send you important reminders, such as when it’s time to do water changes, dose additives, or what have you. Thus far, I’ve only experimented with the monitor component, so I’ll limit today’s discussion to that, but I look forward to trying the controller and sharing my impressions of it in a future post. [If you’re interested in learning more about FishBit, be sure to check out Episode 1 of Salt Speak.]

FishBit aquarium controller

Having used the monitor for a few weeks now, my take on FishBit is that, for the most part, it truly is as easy to set up and use as the designers claim. Basically, the monitor goes inside your tank and connects via magnet to the BackPack power unit situated outside the tank (if you’ve ever used an algae magnet, you’ve got the idea). Then you just need to download the FishBit app to your phone or tablet and follow the steps outlined in the app (under the Settings icon) to connect the monitor to your Wi-Fi network.

I did run into one obstacle while trying to make this connection because in one of the steps, I mistakenly thought I was supposed to be in the Settings menu of the FishBit app but I was actually supposed to be in the Settings menu of the phone itself. But as soon as I got that cleared up (with a little nudge from CC), everything fell into place rather quickly and easily.

Once the Wi-Fi connection is made, data will begin to show up on your phone or other device for the first time within about 10 minutes. Thereafter, readings will be updated about every 5 minutes. The water levels that the unit tracks include temperature, salinity (expressed as specific gravity), and pH. I can see how some hobbyists might want to track additional data, but for me, a first-time aquarium monitor user, those values are perfectly adequate. I also love that I can now check my vital water parameters whenever and wherever I happen to be. It’s quite freeing!

So, as I mentioned, I’m now excited by the prospect of experimenting with the FishBit controller and all the different features that technology offers. Who knows, I might just abandon my Luddite ways and morph into a truly tech-savvy reefkeeper—just as soon as I can figure out how to set the clock on my VCR.

FishBit kicks off Kickstarter campaign!

Coincidentally, FishBit just took a big step beyond beta testing today with the official launch of their production version on Kickstarter. Check it out here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1758456789/fishbit-your-aquarium-made-simple

Photo credits: Saltwater Smarts/Jeff Kurtz, FishBit

Related posts:

SUBSCRIBE TO THE “SALT SMART” NEWSLETTER

If you enjoyed this post, subscribe to get our new posts in your email.
About Jeff Kurtz

Jeff Kurtz is the Co-founder/Editor of Saltwater Smarts, former Senior Consulting Editor for Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine, and the aquarist formerly known as “The Salt Creep.” He has been an aquarium hobbyist for over 30 years and is an avid scuba diver.

Comments

  1. Jeff I am also like you and new electronic gadgetry goes over my head. (I also had to take Army crypto School but in those days my crypto machine was made out of wood)
    My only controller on my tank is like yours, a lamp timer to turn the lights on. Anything else that needs to be done, the fish or hermit crabs will have to do themselves. So after saying that, when they make one of those controllers steam powered and out of wood, I will buy one.

    • Jeff Kurtz says:

      Paul, I wouldn’t be surprised if you and I worked on some of the same crypto equipment. I went through the school in the late 80s, but some of the gear was Vietnam era or earlier.

  2. Andy Henson says:

    I am like you, not very tech savvy, I haven’t gotten a controller for my tank yet either. All i have for automation on my tank now is two simple timers for my lights. I am interested in the fishbit hope that the price is reasonable when they do come out. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more from you regarding the controller part, such as how easy or difficult it is to set up with your lights, heater, etc

    • Jeff Kurtz says:

      Hi Andy! I haven’t seen anything on pricing yet, but one of the company’s goals in developing FishBit was to provide a modestly priced unit. Stay tuned for the controller post. I hope to tackle that very soon.

    • "Caribbean Chris" Aldrich says:

      Hi Andy – I believe FishBit is treating this Kickstarter campaign as their first production run. On the right hand column of the campaign page, you can see what the various pledge amount will get you in terms of the monitor and controller.

Leave a Reply to Jeff Kurtz Cancel reply

*