Remy, the rat (named from the movie Ratatouille), is named because this rat has to forage for it's own food in the biosphere. Â In the movie the rat has to cook. Â It's been in the sealed biosphere for two weeks and the CO2 levels have averaged around 400 ppm. Â Sometimes less. Â And sometimes more. Â Obviously not high enough to kill the rat. Â
The rat eats off the plants growing in the biosphere. Â Plants are watered by the dehumidifiers in the center of the tanks. Â The waste products from the rat are consumed within the soil. Â It takes about two weeks for the waste products to start decomposing. Â The smell in the tank went very "ratty" for while and then started to smell again like organic soil. Â The CO2 levels raised when the rat is first put in. Â There was a surge ofÂ required water.
The rat's health improved. Â The coat (fir) is shiner and the rat has more energy than when I first got it from the pet store. Â When the rat was first introduced, it ate none-stop. Â After about two days, it slowed down and the rat'sÂ movements improved. Â The O2 levels in the biosphere are around 22%. Â It's a bit higher than the outside.
Pictured below is Remy sleeping on the air pump pushing air from this tank into the marine tank. Â The average temperature in the tank is around 21 degrees C.Â Â The light was turned on to take the picture this morning. Â Rats seem to sleep hard.Â Â That pump is vibrating. Â They are nocturnal animals. Â Â
Below is the complete setup. Â The rat is resting on the air pump. Â Air is constantly moved between all of the tanks. Â That can be seen on the left two pipes.
The air pump moves air into the marine tank off to the right. Â CO2 from the plant/farming tank is mixed with the phytoplankton growing in the water and produces more O2 while absorbing CO2. Â Pictured below is the air bubbling within a glass chimney to provide water movement. Â There are no pumps in the marine layer. Â The only pumps are the water/air glass chimneys. Â There are also no plastics within the biosphere. Â Plastics gas off toxins that slow/stop reproduction of microbiology within the water and air.
Carbon Dioxide Levels
The RH levels in the tank effect the readings from the CO2 meter. Â When the RH is around 99%, the CO2 meter reads around 2000 ppm CO2. Â This is not the case. Â Once the meter is removed from the tank and is left to stabilized in around 40% RH, it goes back to around 400 ppm. Â (the earth's CO2 level is around 400 ppm)
When taking readings using current CO2 meter, I've learned to take RH into consideration with the measurement. Â The CO2 levels hang around 350 to 450 ppm. Â
The light levels in the tank effect the CO2 levels more than I realized. Â This past week, oneÂ more light isÂ added to each tank. Â This decreased the CO2 levels by 30% within the first 15 to 20- minutes. Â One light is added to each day and night tank. Â CO2 levels started to hover around 350 ppm. Â
The habit of the housed animal needs to be understood and configured within the biosphere. Â Rats make paths, chew on things and like to dig. Â See the pictureÂ below. Â Â
They drink water and can eat insects, worms and plants. Â This is a small rat, if it gets larger, I may have to switch out the animal for this test.
A small grade (1/4 inch square) galvanized screen is used to cover the soil top in the left biosphere. Â It's anchored with 5-inch pins. Â This prevents the rat from digging up the plants. Â You can see in the picture the rat dug up the sorrel plant. Â The original shape of the pot can be seen.
In addition to screens covering the ground, all equipment is raised out of reach. Â
Last, rats have to chew on things to keep their teeth short or they will starve because they can eat anything. Â This is a common problem with rabbits. Â Wood for chewing is provided. Â It is also raised into the air. Â Rats don't have homes on the ground; they live in trees and small bushes. Â That is why thisÂ rat picked the air pump location for sleeping. Â
Rabbit with overgrown teeth pictured below.
The left plant tank received new soil and potted plants.Â Â Plants are placed directly into the soil. Â This tank is left along from about 2 weeks to let it get established before the rat enters for feeding. Â The plants are on the bottom and the dehumidifier is on the ceiling dripping water into the beaker.
The left biosphere tank is a plant growth tank. Â It's used to house the rat every two to three weeks. Â The rat grazes in one tank at a time; while the other tank has time to recover.
It can be seen in the center of the tank, there is a 100 ml beaker planted in the soil. Â This is a water source for the rat and plants. Â Water drips from the dehumidifier attached to the ceiling of the tank. Â Because of the behavior of the rat, wires and fans need to be placed where the rat cannot climb along the wires or hoses. Â This includes wires and small paths leading to fans and equipment. Â Â
Attached on the ceiling is a small fan blowing air over the condensation fins. Â Everything is hung from the ceiling to prevent the rat from climbing and chewing on the wires/hoses
Air movement does many things. Â Air movement does more than we realize. Â Air movement (wind) strengthsÂ plants for stability. Â Air moves bacteria and microbiology around onto the canopy and under canopy to promote diversity. Â Air movement also keeps a steady flow of high RH air over the condensation fins. Â The RH went from 99% to 76% with in one hour after the fan was introduced. Â Water drips occurred and dripped into the beaker below. Â It has a rate of around 100ml per 4 hours.
Pictured below is one fan used for moving air around. Â Since the discoverly of the importance of air movement, all of the fans are getting upgraded to something larger.