Question: Day/Night cycles

JAK

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As I work towards assembling my habitat I find questions as often of as answers, the latest deals with the importance of natural day/night periods and how best to maintain them. I've already got the light figured out but I'm not sure about the best way to control it. I could just do it manually but with my erratic schedule that's going to be rather inconsistent. Logically some type of programmable timer is in order. I do wonder though if it would be better to use a 12 on 12 off period or an astronomic timer that matches the natural sunrise/sunset times depending on the date. I'm going to be housing adult Eastern Newts, but I'd be curious to know the type of lightning controls and periods others have found successful. What do you use to light your habitat and how do you control it?

Posted from the newt-phone!
 

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I always control day length with cheap plug in time switches. For the species i've kept I pretty much keep to a summer or winter day length and that's been good enough, along with appropriate temps to induce breeding.
I do think it's important is to have a dawn/dusk period, especially for species that are crepuscular by nature. I have a dimmer function on the lighting I have now, but before that I just made sure I turned the room lights on an hour or so before the aquarium lights came on. I hate to see dazzled newts recoiling or swimming for cover when the lights come on in one hit!
 

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I use a cheap timer too, but I adjust the time every month.

This can give you sunrise/sunset times for anywhere in the world:
Sun or Moon Rise/Set Table for One Year

I've previously used devices to detect whether it's light outside, and turn the newts' lights on, but never found them very reliable.

I'm in the process of building an Arduino-based device to control lights and temperature- this will know what day of the year it is, and calculate the daylength and temperature appropriately. It uses a clock chip that has battery backup, so it'll recover correctly after a power cut.
 

JAK

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I considered putting something together on a prototype board and a trying to cobble together a working timer from parts I have lying around but I haven't done anything that complicated before and doubt my current supply of PICAXE bits and bobs would be enough to get anything useful going. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable working with that much current anyway, it'd be neat to see your Arduino based controller if you get it all worked out tough. Part of me is surprised more people don't roll their own lighting controls considering how much some of the fancy commercial ones can cost.

I ended up just buying a ready made Programmable/Astronomical timer. It's an Intermatic Model DT620 (if anyone is interested) and I've got it set up to turn the lights on at dawn and off at dusk. After programing in the current time, date, and my location it will automatically update the sunrise/sunset times based on that. Because I don't have any newts yet, I set it up with a desk lamp a few minutes ago to test it out, can't wait to see if it comes on at the right time tomorrow!
 

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it'd be neat to see your Arduino based controller if you get it all worked out tough.

Finally got it finished, finally got round to taking a photo, should be attached. It's an Arduino Duemilanove, with a DS3231 clock board, a 10A 2-channel relay board, and an HD44780 LCD display. It has three buttons for changing the display/adjusting time/maximum photoperiod etc.

Everything is automatic- it estimates photoperiod using a sine function, and even adjusts for daylight saving. It has an 'always on' time, so that I can set a time I can guarantee the lights will be on every day.

Maximum photoperiod and 'always on' time are saved in the alarm registers on the DS3231, so they'll persist if there's a power cut.

The Arduino's USB connection is exposed so it can be reprogrammed in-place, and there's a manual override switch so this can be done with the lights still on.

One of the relay channels controls the lights- the other is unused at the moment, but I'm intending to use this for day/night temperature control. There's a DS18B20 temperature sensor plugged into the socket on the front panel, at the moment it just shows the temperature on the LCD.
 

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Photo seems to have disappeared, should be here now.
 

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caleb

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After a couple of months the light relay failed, refusing to switch off.

I cut it open to have a look, and the contacts had welded themselves together.

I think the electronic ballasts for my fluorescent lights are momentarily pulling a high current when switched on, so I've replaced the relay with one rated for high inrush currents (16A continuous, 100A inrush).
 
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    He's my first yes...
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    if you have the API water test kit, check all the perimeters in the tank. We can check the cycling process with the perimeters. And I’m actually not sure how to upload a pic lololol I thought it would be easier but I tried it myself and now I’m confused! It says to attack a link, I’m not sure how that works
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    I will do that for sure this afternoon! I really hope he pulls through :( He's so freakin cute
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    Thanks for your help :)
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    You’re so welcome! Keep a close eye on him and try to offer food a couple times a day. Maybe try some pellets too for a different smell, might get him interested. Keep me updated!
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    Will do, thanks!
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    @Paige1warren, turns out my pH was spot on, the test strips I had used were no good. I bought an API kit and the levels are all fine. So not the issue :( I just posted in the forum
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    Hey @Josiane ! I just responded to your post. Your little guy actually looks fairly decent for his size despite not eating well. I think it is stress from the environment
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  • Paige1warren:
    Also I forgot to add to my response on ur thread, keep trying to feed him bloodworms and see if he will start to take them. If you get a turkey vaster you can suck up dethawed bloodworms and dangle them right infront of his nose, might get his interest.
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  • Josiane:
    I rotate between blood worms and brine shrimp. He's in my bedroom and will stay there for a while, I closed the light and just left a salt lamp on. I will bring him a hiding place right away! Isn't he the cutest thing! 😂
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    Thanks for the reassurance!!
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  • madcaplaughs:
    @Josiane An axolotl of your's size should be on a diet of chopped earthworms or live blackworms (if they're under 3"). Bloodworms and brine shrimp are not a sufficient diet.
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    @Josiane Based on the photo, I believe there is a chance your axolotl may have become impacted from ingesting sand. Axolotls under 5" should not be kept on substrate for this reason.
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  • madcaplaughs:
    @Josiane The nearly diminished gill stalks are also indicative of poor water quality. You need to test your tap water's parameters using a liquid test kit (not strips! Those are inaccurate). The slime coat coming off may also be due to water quality or the water conditioner.
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    Hey guys! Could anyone tell me like the span earth worms are good for once cut? I’m wondering if I can prepare worms for days in advance or no? I normally will cut the worm the day I feed it to my axie, but I really hate the cutting and was just wondering if I can do a few at a time so I have them already prepared. Do they lose nutritional value once cut?
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    Im not sure to b honest. Id think once dead they aren't good anymore. Also I think0
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    I'd avoid feeding dead earthworms.
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    Kk thank you I’ll just suck it up with cutting the worms :D
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  • Genie SynahMoon:
    My Axolotl just laid eggs!!! I have had Axies for years, but this is the first time I got eggs. I know that I can not handle them all because I was not prepared. Is there anyone who would like to buy some? Mother is Golden, Father is Albino
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    Genie SynahMoon: My Axolotl just laid eggs!!! I have had Axies for years, but this is the first time I got eggs... +1
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