Public aquariums and similar institutions often use video as a method to monitor the behavior, health, and status of aquatic organisms in their environments. These video footages take up a sizeable amount of space and require the use of autoencoders to reduce their file size for efficient storage. The autoencoder neural network is an emerging technique which uses the extracted latent space from an input source to reduce the image size for storage, and then reconstructs the source within an acceptable loss range for use. To meet an aquarium’s practical needs, the autoencoder must have easily maintainable codes, low power consumption, be easily adoptable, and not require a substantial amount of memory use or processing power. Conventional configurations of autoencoders often provide results that perform beyond an aquarium’s needs at the cost of being too complex for their architecture to handle, while few take low-contrast sources into consideration. Thus, in this instance, “keeping it simple” would be the ideal approach to the autoencoder’s model design. This paper proposes a practical approach catered to an aquarium’s specific needs through the configuration of autoencoder parameters. It first explores the differences between the two of the most widely applied autoencoder approaches, Multilayer Perceptron (MLP) and Convolution Neural Networks (CNN), to identify the most appropriate approach. The paper concludes that while both approaches (with proper configurations and image preprocessing) can reduce the dimensionality and reduce visual noise of the low-contrast images gathered from aquatic video footage, the CNN approach is more suitable for an aquarium’s architecture. As an unexpected finding of the experiments conducted, the paper also discovered that by manipulating the formula for the MLP approach, the autoencoder could generate a denoised differential image that contains sharper and more desirable visual information to an aquarium’s operation. Lastly, the paper has found that proper image preprocessing prior to the application of the autoencoder led to better model convergence and prediction results, as demonstrated both visually and numerically in the experiment. The paper concludes that by combining the denoising effect of MLP, CNN’s ability to manage memory consumption, and proper image preprocessing, the specific practical needs of an aquarium can be adeptly fulfilled.
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