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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 127
June 20th,  2013
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend,

I'm writing this from Elora, Tennessee, where my 12-year-old son Jack and I are giving two back to back Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse trainings. Today's Thursday, and we're on the "Greenhouse  Day" of this five-day training.

Jack is learning how to spread the "aquaponics virus", as we jokingly call it. As has happened at all our trainings for the last five years, we've had people share with us: "I could hardly sleep last night, because of all the ideas I was having. Could you do this.........?".

Today's "Nugget" is Part 3 of the "Water" section of our Commercial Aquaponics manual. It contains 
important new information about pH.

Our "In The Farmily" column today is about why we share, by Susanne.

Nugget #127: Water To Fill Your Aquaponics; The Game Just Got More Complex (Part 3):

City Water, Ag Water, and Bad Water:

If you signed up recently, and would like to catch up by reading last week's newsletter and the week before last's newsletter first, which are Part 1 and Part 2 of this article (is that proper grammar?), then just click on these blue underlined links to do so. The rest of this article is about water to fill your aquaponics system with.

pH: We have started systems with water having a pH as high as 8.3 with no seeming ill effects. The pH starts trending downwards immediately as the fish breathe CO2 into the water and it transmutes into carbonic acid, lowering the pH. When the system pH is down around 6.2 or so, we add calcium carbonate in the form of crushed oyster shells or coral sand, and continue to monitor pH, adding calcium carbonate as necessary to buffer pH and bring it down. Our systems typically need this pH buffering additive from every year to every year and a half. They are extremely stable.


WARNING! Do NOT try to bring down a high pH caused by highly basic water or by having a poorly neutralized concrete tank in your system by using citric acid! Citric acid is an organic HERBICIDE, and will kill your plant’s roots. They all turn black, then the plants all die (courtesy of one of our students whose name we forgot!). We do not YET have a safe and approved method of bringing pH down, just buffering it up with calcium carbonate.


Ag water can be ditch water out of a ditch, or water out of a pipe that has come from some sort of an open water distribution system without treatment of any kind. It's PROBABLY okay to use as is. In reality, it can have anything in it, from deadly bacteria to fish disease vectors, or plant and fish parasites, and you need to be sure you have killed anything that’s in it before you put it into your system.

IMPORTANT!How you do this is to fill the system with whatever nasty agricultural water you have, and put in a quart of Clorox for every 600 gallons of system volume to get all that water sterilized.  Turn on your pump and your blower, and run the system like that for two or three days, with the RAFTS OFF THE TROUGHS. Every living thing in the system should be dead at the end of the first hour or two. (You don't want to be downwind from this.)

The next two or three days will blow and burn off the chlorine in the system, until you can test it with chlorine test strips and find none. Do the same to any Ag water you add to the system later, unless you want some interesting problems to deal with. You MUST USE a makeup water tank separate from the system to dechlorinate any new water after you chlorinate it, then transfer this safe water to your system, because you CAN’T chlorinate the system again with fish and plants in it without killing it all.


Stream water is deceptively clear and sweet smelling. I once drank water out of a clear stream, and then hiked a half-mile upstream to find a huge dead cow floating in a pool. Use the same precautions with stream water as you use with ag water.


Well Water can be extremely clean and pure, or can have heavy metals, toxic agricultural chemicals, and/or chemicals introduced by industrial processes nearby. Because of the wide range of possible contaminants and water quality in wells, it is up to you to determine if your well water is safe for use in your aquaponics system. The best way to do this is to submit a sample to a reputable testing lab and ask for “the works”. Test for everything possible that could be considered a contaminant or toxin. Then decide if you can decontaminate and use it.  If you are planning to sell organically certified produce from a commercial scale operation, make certain your organic certification agency will allow use of your well water purified with whatever method you plan to use before you literally buy the farm.


WARNING: Bad Water! If it's not “city water” or well water that tested clean coming out of the pipe you should treat it as Bad Water and chlorinate it as explained previously. You have no way of knowing and are gambling if you don't.


If you are planning to sell organically certified produce from a commercial scale operation, also make certain your organic certification agency will allow use of your “Ag” water purified with whatever method you plan to use before you literally buy the farm. Does it sound like you should check out your water source and get it approved before you buy the farm? Yes!


If you don't mind a little disease in your fish (because none of the fish diseases or parasites transfer to humans or plants) then you don't have anything to worry about. Except getting a dose of Roundup or pesticide-laden water in from an unknown source like an irrigation ditch or stream that there was overspray into, and killing all your fish and plants. I know two Hawaii koi farmers who lost their entire ponds full of stock when herbicide-contaminated ditch water came through them. If you’re using ag water, this is a good reason to have a makeup tank; chlorinate the water in the makeup tank, wait until it tests negative for chlorine, THEN put a few sacrifice fish into that tank to see if there are any herbicides or other poisons in the tank water, BEFORE adding it to your aquaponics systems.

For smaller home backyard and apartment systems, please read on:

Purchase Construction Plans and Operating Info for 4 Different Sizes of Table Top Aquaponics Systems $49.95

Our TableTop System package includes easy-to-understand building instructions and operating information for 4 different sizes of small aquaponic systems based on our years of experience. Anyone can build a system out of plastic barrels or IBC totes, but operating one successfully without good and easily-understood information can be frustrating. You simply use the "Daily Operations Checklist" in the manual and follow the step-by-step instructions on your way to success. We also cover how to make aquaponics systems out of weird things like old refrigerators and door frames; this makes aquaponics much more economical to get started in, and fun too!

We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and built our first commercial aquaponics systems with FAR less information than this manual contains. We included all the information learned from that experience in this manual so you don't need to make any of the same mistakes we did.

Learn about our TableTop Systems!


Friendly 2013 Training Schedule:

One-Day Benefit Trainings are all finished; we'll announce more soon! (Email us if you're interested in having us give a benefit training for your non-profit organization).

5-Day Commercial Trainings:

Although our normal price for these 5-day trainings is $2,495, we were offering a special discount of $1,000 off, or only $1,495, until our deadline of April 25th. However, we've had so many requests to extend the deadline that we've decided to extend it right up until the courses themselves.

We are happy to give this gift to you. We hope it helps you attend the most advanced comprehensive commercial aquaponics and greenhouse training in the world.

(Below) Randy and Katie's Chinese-style Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse in Tennessee in the February snow, 2013. 70 degrees inside and you had to take your coat off when working with the vegetables!

GreenhouseSnow3Small 2

Tennessee Commercial Aquaponics and Energy Efficient Greenhouse Training, $1,495 per person. First 5-day  training: June 17-21st (register here for first Tennessee training). . Second 5-day training: June 24-28th (register here for Tennessee second training).

(Click here for more information on Tennessee trainings).

This five-day training is designed to allow you to travel during the weekend so you only need to take a week off your busy life to attend.

(Below) Randy and Tim showing attendees at the training how easy it is to use a DO (dissolved oxygen) meter to measure oxygen levels in the vegetable troughs.


These five-day trainings all include our $999 DIY Commercial Aquaponics package, $998 DIY Farmer's Market Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse package, $1,998 DIY Commercial Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse package, and new $295 DIY Commercial Tilapia Hatchery manual as course materials, plus our Plywood/Epoxy/ Tank manual, CAD construction drawings for all greenhouses and aquaponics systems, and much more!

(Below) Tim drinking water from one of Randy and Katie's aquaponics systems. "I've been doing this for six years; it's the reason I absolutely know the food from these systems is safe and healthy" (Tim).


If you're located near Tennessee, Randy and Katie give regular free farm tours of their aquaponics systems and greenhouses to introduce the public to the benefits of aquaponics and energy-efficient greenhouse growing. Call Randy and Katie at 256-679-9488 or email Randy to find out when the next farm tour is scheduled.

More details of the Aquaponics Technology course here.

More details of the Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse course here.

More details of the Commercial Aquaponics course here.

(Part 4 of "Water" in next week's newsletter. Thanks for reading!)

Costco cold room small 2

Our Farmily with our product in a "Big Box" store; the first time ever that a little mom and pop (Aquaponics!) farm took an account away from a multimillion dollar agribusiness. You'll see more of this, because you as consumers will demand it!

Watch The Friendly  Aquaponics Philosophy Video!
Back Issues Of Newsletters Now Available, Click Here!
Purchase Trough Liner Directly From Manufacturer!

New Source! Trout Fry/Fingerlings Shipped Directly From the Hatchery To You!

Free Farm Tours
Aquaponics tour at the Friendly farm!

We hold a free workshop on our farm the FIRST Saturday of every month at 10:00,  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!


Thousands of inch-long "fifty-cent" baby tilapia from our "backyard" hatchery


What they turn into about a year later: a beautiful 2-pound white tilapia grown in the fish tanks of our aquaponics systems

Special Offers!

Sign yourself up

for the New York June 10-14th, 2013 Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse Training
NOW, and get a $1,000 discount, plus you receive a free Micro System DIY package so you can begin studying aquaponics! ($99.95 value)


Sign yourself up for the FIRST

Or sign yourself up for the SECOND

TENNESSEE June 2013 Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse Trainings
NOW, and get a $1,000 discount, plus you receive a free Micro System DIY package so you can begin studying aquaponics! ($99.95 value)

Why We Share:

One of the biggest reasons we share EVERYTHING we learn as freely as we do is that we believe time is short. Metaphorically, we believe our species is in what we call “the 45th Minute”, due to the stresses our vast human population is putting on the planet.


Exponential is a hard concept for us to grasp, so we love the Stadium example, modified a bit from Chris Martenson's Crash Course, which is highly recommended reading!
“Imagine that you’re in a massive stadium, in a seat right at the top, at the back. For some reason, you are handcuffed to the seat you are in, and cannot escape. There’s also a whole group of other people in the top row, all chained to the seats, with nowhere else to go.
A drop of water appears on the pitcher's mound, and it's magical. It’s going to grow exponentially and will double every minute. This means that at the end of the first minute, there’s one drop of water, at the end of the second, two drops, at the end of the third, four drops and the end of the fourth minute, there will be eight drops of water. You get the picture.
The question is: how long do you have before the stadium is full and you drown?


Do you have hours, days, weeks, or months to get free?
Our human brains tend to be linear and therefore wildly over-estimate the time we have. We intuitively conclude that the answer is many hours or possibly days or even weeks.

Actually, it’s just 49 minutes.
But the real surprise is that at 45 minutes, the stadium is still 93% empty. That’s right, with just four minutes to go, you will look down, notice there's only two feet of water on the infield, and you might see a dangerous situation developing. But you'd look around you, and because no one else seemed too concerned, you'd probably still fail to do anything to save yourself”. 


Human population doubled between 1960 (3 billion) and 1999 (six billion). That's only 39 years. Even if you do not agree that the human population is putting incredible stress on our environment, how long do you think our population can keep doubling before you would agree that there are too many - 12 billion? 24 billion? 48 billion? 96 billion?

At some point, everyone agrees that the human population must stop its exponential growth.


The wonderful example above completely hits the nail on the head for us. We believe Humanity is in the 45th minute.

To a large degree, things still seem fairly normal. There's food on the grocery store shelves, gasoline to be purchased at the gas stations, and anything we could possibly want to buy at the wonderful Wal-Mart nearby (LOL!).

However, if you are willing to look deeper, you might find that there are real problems developing - droughts, food shortages, crop failures, resource depletion in many areas, and in the face of all this, our population keeps growing - exponentially.

We see aquaponics as a wonderful solution - no matter what the future holds. And because we believe that time is short, we're not "holding on to our aces", as the saying goes.

We're not patenting anything, we're not proprietary, and we're completely willing to share everything we've learned in six amazing years of being Primary Food Producers.

Thanks for reading

Aloha, Susanne....

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This email, our manuals and construction plans are all copyrighted by  Friendly Aquaponics, Inc, Susanne Friend and Tim Mann, 2008-2013

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