Fish tank temperature probe: an ideal beginner’s project

Determined to redress the moggie-doggie bias of the internet Lauren Orsini decided to use a Raspberry Pi and a waterproof temperature sensor to monitor her fish tank.


It’s not a recent project but it deserves a place here because it’s such a brilliant introduction to physical computing on the Raspberry Pi: one sensor, one purpose and a few lines of “English with a funny syntax” (aka Python). It’s a great tutorial too—Lauren writes clearly and shares her beginner’s point of view, documenting things that more experienced people might take for granted. The setup is based on a tutorial from Adafruit and although Lauren hadn’t done any “hardware hacking” before, she says that the hardest part was “taping the wires inside the temperature sensor to the wires that fit inside the breadboard.”


So it’s a real beginner’s project but one that can be expanded as you learn. Lauren, for instance, extended the project to turn it into a true Internet of Things device that texts her when the fish tank gets too hot. All in all it’s a great way to slowly build your Raspberry Pi computing skills.

It’s also pocket money cheap. In fact if you already have the CamJam EduKit #2 then you already have the kit needed for this project. And of course the sensor doesn’t have to be in a fish tank. Monitor the temperature of your bathwater; your cup of tea; the fridge; your dad’s armpit while he dozes in front of the TV. If you’re looking for something to do with your Pi on the last day of your summer holiday then this comes highly recommended.


Bonus back to school question #1: If ‘dogs’ = 5; ‘cats’ = 2; and ‘cheese’ = 1, what is the value of ‘fish’? Answer tomorrow…


Chris S. avatar

In case you also want to log the temperature I have written a tutorial on my blog at

Or if you are interested in the generated charts check out the site hosted directly on my Raspberry Pi:

Alex Ellis avatar

Nice accessible project – I wonder whether there needs to be a longer time limit between text messages. I.e. until we hit a reset button (nice extra homework?)

Instead of tape, I’ve found terminal strip (google images) is fantastic for a secure connection between wires and or pins. Alternatively cut off one end of the jumper pin and solder it onto the sensor lead.

Clive Beale avatar

Thanks Alex — the “extra homework” is why I like this project, very extensible in lots of ways (both hardware and software). You are right about terminal strips and soldering of course but I like the hacky friendliness of the tape, everyone has some knocking about :)

Silas avatar

What’s The answer to the extra Homework question??

Silvio avatar

In my opinion: 1 :)

Clive Beale avatar

3 — it’s the number of times the’ve been tagged in blogs :)

jak usunac avatar

Thanks Alex for the“extra homework”

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