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Friendly Aquaponics
Special Newsletter

Special Edition Newsletter Number 1
May 20th,  2011
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend,
This is our FIRST "Special" newsletter. We had so much news this week that we couldn't fit it all in a single newsletter (well, we could have, but you would have been asleep halfway through).

In today's newsletter, we include a survey so you can respond about your interest in the upcoming Aquaponics Association Conference in Florida in September 2011. We also detail our new training format, and announce the dates for the Florida 2011 Friendly Aquaponics Training.


Aquaponics Association Conference in Florida September 16-18, 2011, at DisneyWorld in Orlando, Florida.

Please help us make this conference fit your needs; click on this link and fill in the survey.

We've included an easy survey that will help us understand your interests and needs for aquaponics information. Please click on this link to respond to this survey. It will take a couple minutes of your time, and will make this conference better for everyone.
New Friendly Training Format Makes Aquaponics Information Accessible To All

After our last four-day training, we realized we needed to add a day to the course to cover the commercial aquaponics aspects completely for those who intend to do this full-time. At the same time, we realized that many people had attended our training who were simply planning large backyard systems or to sell at their local produce outlets. These people didn’t need the full commercial training, but simply wanted good aquaponic information, plans and operating instructions.

So, we added a day to the course and split it into two separate sections we refer to as "technology", and "commercial". Now, you can take just the course you need. If you want to learn the best state-of-the-art aquaponics technology, the cost is much less than previously. The first three days of the course is "The Aquaponics Technology Training", and the next two days "The Aquaponics Commercial Training"; detailed descriptions follow. They are available both in Hawaii and Florida, dates and locations are further down on this page!

Also, and this is in bold so it catches your attention: We do NOT make you sign anything saying you won't teach aquaponics. On the contrary, we encourage you to use what you learn in our courses to teach others, and even have an "Affiliate Program" that allows you to use our name, our website, and our course materials when teaching your aquaponics courses in your location. Please see our "Affiliates" page for more information.

The three-day Aquaponics Technology Training:

This training gives you all the aquaponic technology we’ve developed over the last four years. It includes comprehensive information on: vegetable varieties that grow well in aquaponic systems; planting, germinating, sprouting, and nursery techniques for vegetables; low-cost and efficient tilapia breeding, egg hatchery, fry care, and fish nursery techniques; aquaponics system design and construction from 2 square feet up to 100,000 square feet; and site design and greenhouse design and construction. The course materials consist of: complete materials lists and suppliers contact information that make it easy for anyone to build any size system; accompanying sets of detailed CAD plans including site plans and piping schematics for eight different sized aquaponics systems; an “Aquaponics Course Manual” covering all aspects of aquaponics, and an operations manual with checklist covering day-to-day operations aquaponics systems.

You’ll also learn everything we learned this past four years building and operating five USDA organically certified aquaponics systems, a tilapia hatchery and nursery, a State of Hawaii Health Department Certified vegetable processing facility, and most recently, improved water circulation and aeration designs that use as little as one-tenth the electricity for pumping water and aerating fish and plants that our original UVI designs did. This translates into about $8,810 per year savings on electrical costs for our three commercial aquaponics systems, two greenwater breeding tanks, two Family systems and two Micro Systems than if they were built with the original designs we started with. The technology training includes three full days of classroom instruction with additional hands-on instruction at our farm or our affiliate’s farm each day.

We have been continually improving construction economy in our systems for the last four years so that now you can build a 1,024 square foot “small” commercial aquaponics system for $15,000 in materials (in Hawaii), or about $11,000 in materials on the mainland. This type of system construction will save you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in expense as compared to buying commercial “kit” systems, while giving you the only aquaponics systems in the world that are organically certifiable, something the “kit” systems can’t do. Organic vegetables bring from 40% to 100% more than non-certified vegetables, and this simple fact means that much more income for your farm in the same production area. We developed a “sloped grading” technology for farm locations that are hilly, which saves up to 80% of the grading costs of making flat “pads” to put your troughs and fish tanks on, and that is included with these plans.

We will show you how to build your own tilapia egg hatchery for under $300 in materials, not including the cost of whatever tanks you use. Having your own tilapia hatchery means you save money you would have spent purchasing fingerlings, AND gives you an additional income stream on the farm with the extra fingerlings and young fish you have to sell to others. We spent over $25,000 on our own hatchery before discovering how to build this simple, elegant, and effective tilapia egg hatchery system!

In addition to showing you how to design and size equipment for your own custom aquaponics systems from 10 to 100,000 square feet in size, we include a step-by-step “Construction Manual” complete plans and materials lists for three different sizes of outdoors aquaponics systems: a 1,024 square foot system expandable to 4,096 square feet; a 256 square foot system expandable to 512 square feet; and a 64 square foot system expandable to 128 square feet. In addition, plans and instructions are included for four indoor/outdoor systems from 2 square feet in size up to 32 square feet. These small systems can be operated outdoors under natural light or indoors under flourescent lights, so you can easily build a small, inexpensive system to gain experience and confidence with aquaponics whether or not you have an outdoor space to grow in yet. It’s easy to graduate to the larger systems after building and operating a smaller one.

You will learn everything you need to know to build and operate aquaponics systems of any size. You will have all your aquaponics technology questions answered, and the trainers will make sure you understand every detail completely. Please note: information on the specifics of commercial aquaponics is not included in this course, but is the main focus of the two-day Aquaponics Commercial Training. Cost to attend the three-day Aquaponics Technology Training is $995, additional persons from the same project are $595 each. Fees for qualifying non-profit groups are HALF this, and we have a CAP on non-profit attendance of 10 persons at our trainings, so get started early if you want to attend.

The two-day Aquaponics Commercial Training:

This training includes the additional information you need if you want to make money feeding other people, and have already mastered aquaponic technology on your own or through taking our Aquaponics Technology Training. We will show you how we got our aquaponics farm USDA Organic Certified AND Food Safety Certified (no small feats! We have gotten certified both through Oregon Tilth of Oregon, AND through Organic Certifiers of California. They have said “As long as people build their systems exactly as Friendly Aquaponics has done, then their certification process will be a slam dunk.”). Eight additional Friendly students have gotten USDA organically certified as of June 2011.

Specifics covered are: how to get USDA organic certification for your aquaponics system; food safety certification and how to achieve it; how to do crop variety and market research; the different ways to sell produce to wholesalers, brokers, and distributors, farmer’s markets, retail stores, to restaurants and hotels, through CSA’s, and how to build awareness of you and your products through farm tours of your farm. Also, we cover the ins and outs of statutory regulations, County Building Department regulations, permits required for operation, National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) cost-sharing grants, State Health Department requirements for waste water discharge, State Agriculture Department Plant Quarantine Branch regulations, processing requirements for vegetables (for value-added processing), processing requirements for fish and how to sell fish, business information and help available for the aquaponics operator, general business advice, how to find and use State Extension Agents as a resource: Agriculture, Aquaculture, State Fish Vets; how to apply for loans and grants; and how to plan and layout a commercial aquaponics operation for maximum construction cost-saving and ongoing work-flow efficiency.

We cover a lot of ground in this information-packed two days, and these commercial aquaponics systems grow a lot of food in a small space with high energy efficiency. However, our commercial aquaponics training will not magically turn you into a success (as we say “Don’t quit your day job just yet!”), so please make sure you get business training from local sources in addition if you do not already have experience running a successful business. Please note: information on general aquaponic system construction and operation is not part of this course, but is covered in the three-day Aquaponics Technology Training. Cost to attend the two-day Aquaponics Commercial Training $1,995, additional persons from the same project are $1,195 each. If you wish to save money and attend BOTH the Aquaponics Technology Training and the Aquaponics Commercial Training, the cost is $2,495 ($500 discount if you attend both trainings), additional persons from the same project may attend both days for $1,495 ($295 discount).

To sign up for either the "Technology Training", or the "Commercial Training",
at our Florida or Hawaii locations, please go to Aquaponics Trainings, where you will have all your questions about the trainings answered.

Click to see our new Video!

Free Farm Tours
Aquaponics tour at the Friendly farm!

We hold a free workshop on our farm the FIRST Saturday of every month,  focused on growing food with aquaponics and permaculture.  Click here for information. See you there!

If you are a school, a non-profit organization, an organization working with the poor, Native Hawaiians, or ex-inmates, or if you are a church, we will hold a free farm tour for you anytime. You DO need to email us first to schedule, or we might be out on errands!


3-1/2 pound kalo (taro root) grown in a 2" net pot (little bump at bottom)


4-month old prawn (macrobrachium rosenbergii) grown in hydroponics troughs of our aquaponics systems

Special Offer! Sign up for any of our October 2011 Hawaii Aquaponics Trainings OR our September 2011 Florida Aquaponics Trainings now, and we will email you our Micro System package so you can begin studying aquaponics!

Sign up for Hawaii OR Florida  Aquaponics Training

In The Farmily

I (Tim) first noticed the nails bending sometime in 1991, when I was building my house on the Big Island in Hawaii. I had been using a hammer since 1954 when I was two years old and had an old orange crate from the market and a bag of nails my Mom bought me to practice with. After using hammer and nails for 37 years, you'd imagine I would have just gotten better at it. But all of a sudden, I'd start a nail and it would bend over when it was halfway sunk. I'd bend it back and try again, and it would bend the other way. I looked for knots, hard spots, and found nothing behind the nail but good clean wood.

At first I thought I'd lost it and was getting old. I thought this was a natural consequence of being 40 (ancient!). However, eight years later, I noticed that I still had the same trouble with the nails. In fact, it had gotten worse. Even after the bendy Chinese common and box nails hit the market, finish nails had still been made in the USA or Germany. They were dependable, iron-hard things you could drive through oak. Now, they would just bend like the other nails.

What I found is that a 16d (sixteen-penny) common nail would bend as easily as a 16d box nail (much skinnier nail) used to. The box nails were nearly unusable, because they would bend if you even looked at them crosseyed. I found myself taking extra time on jobs, and drilling pilot holes for critical nails.

If I hadn’t looked deeper than that, I would have just thought there was something wrong with me. The problem was, I'm a blacksmith and an amateur metallurgist and know how production metal items are made. Nails are made from a big roll of nail-sized hard wire in a machine that has two or three dies. One die cuts the piece of wire to length, one makes the head, and one makes the point.

If the wire is nice and hard, the resulting nail is nice and hard, and can be pounded forcefully into rather hard wood without it bending or causing the pounder any difficulty. BUT, if you make nails out of hard wire, the dies that cut the wire and make the head and the point wear out much faster, AND the machine has to be run more slowly, making fewer nails per hour, than when making nails out of softer wire.

The conclusion was obvious: using softer wire to make nails from results in more profits for the manufacturer. The only problem with this is that the nail-pounders out in the world thought they had all gotten retarded overnight when confronted with the new, improved, bendy nails.

It's practically guaranteed that you have experienced this in some form or other in the past few years. The equation goes something like this:

Nails are now made in China and are useful for frustrating the heck out of the person trying to pound them, but not for much else.

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This email, our manuals and construction plans are all copyrighted by  Friendly Aquaponics, Inc, Susanne Friend and Tim Mann, 2008-2011

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Friendly Aquaponics, Inc
PO Box 1196
Honoka'a, Hawaii 96727

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