Over the past years, we've built an Automated Larval Fish Rearing System (ALFiRiS) to conduct factorial experiments on the climate sensitivity of fishes. It consists of a 3 x 3 array of recirculating units (600L/150gal) that have independent computer-control over their temperature, oxygen, and pH conditions.

We use a self-developed LabView (National Instruments) platform to sequentially monitor tank conditions via industrial-grade oxygen and pH sensors (Hach) and then control gas solenoids (air, N2, CO2) to maintain and modulate environmental conditions. The system can apply static as well as fluctuating conditions on diel and tidal scales. Computerized temperature control allows simulating heatwaves and other non-static thermal regimes.


ALFiRiS has been used in numerous experiments over the past 5 years to conduct NSF and NOAA-funded research on the early life stages of two important forage fish; the Atlantic silverside (Menidia menidia) and Northern sandlance (Ammodytes dubius). Despite its name, the versatility of the system extends to a large variety of marine organisms beyond fishes.

Acknowledgements and special appreciation

Numerous people contributed their ideas and expertise to the creation of ALFiRiS, and we owe them our deep gratitude. The sequential design was inspired by conversations with Dr. Paul Grecay. Structural build-up designs were developed and constructed by Gary Grenier and Bob Dziomba from UConn's Marine Sciences machine shop. Charlie Woods (Rankin Lab manager) and Dennis Arbige (electrician, building manager) helped with everything from plumbing to electrical installations. Our LabView muse and teacher is Dr. John Hamilton, without whom our routines and virtual instruments would not work as reliably as they do. A UConn start-up grant financed the roughly $35K USD in parts and sensors, but it is the unmeasurable hard work and ingenuity of all the above and the dedication of involved graduate students and post-docs that truly made it work.

Hannes Baumann and Paul Grecay at the University of Delaware lab in Edgewater (DL).
Hannes Baumann and Paul Grecay at the University of Delaware lab in Lewes (DL) in fall 2014.
Gary Grenier (UConn Machine Shop)
Gary Grenier (Machine Shop)
Bob Dziomba (Machine shop)
Charlie Woods (Rankin Sea Water Lab manager)
Dennis Arbige (electrician, building manager)
John Hamilton helping Chris Murray getting the hang of the inner working of the LabView program.
John Hamilton helping Chris Murray with LabView.

Selected publications


Curious how our LabView routines look like? Click on the picture to explore the different subroutines and loops (note: proprietary content, for information only)