Our Color Sensor

The delta smelt is an endangered fish that currently eats zooplankton, which depends on phytoplankton. Phytoplankton is an organism that is in steady decline in the Sacramento Delta because of the Asian Clam, an invasive species that eats phytoplankton. If the phytoplankton level decreases in the food chain, that puts the zooplankton species into decline, too. This, in turn, puts the delta smelt, and many other fish that depend on these two organisms in danger. Scientists are finding ways to efficiently measure the level of phytoplankton in the delta.

It is important to study the level of phytoplankton while collecting the delta fish samples because scientists take water samples and bring it to the lab for analysis. Dr.Hung, who is a researcher from the Fish Conservation and Culture Lab mentioned that it would be a good idea to measure the level of phytoplankton at the point of fish collection. The basic component of phytoplankton is chlorophyll. We have created a prototype of a chlorophyll sensor that is made out of a low cost Arduino color sensor. This sensor senses the levels of chlorophyll levels based on the RGB (red green blue) values of the water reflection in the Sacramento Delta. Scientists and the Delta Smelt will benefit from this because one of the issues the Delta Smelt is facing is the lack of food. The results convey information needed for a possible phytoplankton boost. This project can help other fishes that are being affected by the same cause. We also plan on raising awareness for the Delta Smelt- like this website- and informing the general public through various forms of media. This project benefits the Sacramento Delta as a whole.

Photo Gallery


  • Color Sensor Setup


  • Tap Water Tests


  • Arduino Uno


  • Color Sensor