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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 158
March 11th,  2014
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend

If you bring a second person to our Tennessee, Texas or California trainings, their registration is only half price!

We've made it more affordable for aquaponics projects being done by husband and wife, father and son, or two business partners working together, by only charging
$747.50 for the second person (normally $1,495).

To take advantage of this offer,
just sign up for the Tennessee training, sign up for the Texas training or sign up for the California training You will see the "50% off" option for the second person at checkout.

We've been getting raves for three months now about how "complete and easy to understand" our new book is. Check out this page; it's a free 87-page download of the Introduction, plus chapters 1, 3, 12, and 19; so you can get a feel for the information the book contains before you buy it.

Today's "Nugget #158" covers the basics behind making money with aquaponics: do what's profitable and works; and don't do things that lose money and don't work.

Our "In The Farmily" column covers a fishing trip I took in Tomales Bay, north of San Francisco, in 1975. It will make you appreciate the safety of dry land and give you a feel for commercial fishing.

Friendly 2014 Commercial Aquaponics and Greenhouse Training Schedule:

Tennessee Training from April 28th-May 2nd, 2014, Info here

Texas Training from May 5th-9th, 2014, Info here

California Training from May 29th-31st, 2014, Info here

(Below) One of Ben and Alysha Godfrey's aquaponics systems in a greenhouse in Milam County, Texas. Their system water tastes great! It has a pale blond hue, with a hint of apple and pear blossoms. lettuce2-385px

(Below) Another of Ben and Alysha's aquaponic greenhouses.

(Below) Tim drinking water from one of Randy and Katie's aquaponics systems at a Tennessee training. "I've been doing this for six years; it's why I'm certain the food from these systems is safe and healthy".


These five-day trainings allow you to travel during the weekend so that you only need to take a week off your busy life to attend, and include our $999 DIY Commercial Aquaponics package, $998 DIY Farmer's Market 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) Randy and Tim showing attendees at a Tennessee training how easy it is to use a DO (dissolved oxygen) meter to measure oxygen levels in the vegetable troughs.


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.

(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

An Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse with the participants in our second June 2013 course in Tennessee!

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

Our Table Top 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!
Learn about our Table Top Systems!
Aquaponics Nugget #158, "The Basics: How To Succeed With Aquaponics"

We’ve talked about this a LOT in these newsletters, so WHY are we still beating this same drum?

For two important reasons: one, we want you to not fail in commercial aquaponics; and two, we want you to succeed when you enter commercial aquaponics as a business. 

In the last three years there have been some massive commercial aquaponics failures in the $500,000 to $1,600,000 price tag range. Always interested in how others approach aquaponics, we kept an eye on them from inception to failure to see what we could learn.

Most amazing to us is that more than a few newcomers to aquaponics are now duplicating the exact same technologies (and failure modes!) these businesses used to fail!

One odd thing we noticed is that all of these businesses began operation after we had developed a profitable commercial aquaponics technology in Hawaii, and then freely offered it to the world in our courses. You'd think if you were going to invest $500,000 or up, you wouldn't think twice about spending $1,500 to take a commercial aquaponics course from someone who had already been successful; especially a well-documented course based on proven technology that could help guarantee your success in your new business venture.

Another odd thing we noticed is that these people seemed to want to invent aquaponics themselves. They didn't even start at the obvious place we did, with the technically sophisticated UVI systems (based on 20 years of university-level research). They developed their own ideas for systems that were odd hybrids of racks, raft aquaponics, media beds, monster water pumps, and huge fish tanks. Many of them built their raft troughs (which weigh +/- 1 ton per 8 foot length) up off the floor at waist height, adding a huge, unnecessary expense to their system construction costs.

As anyone who has ever operated a raft system knows, one of the major benefits to them is that you never work on the vegetables bent over; neither for planting nor harvesting. Rather, you take the rafts to a set of sawhorses at waist level for both operations. This hugely reduces the expense of construction, but even more importantly, the ever-ongoing cost of labor to plant out and harvest these systems.

I asked my gorgeous, intelligent, and incredibly talented wife Susanne why people insisted on doing this. She's our Farmily expert on why people behave irrationally (even when good reasons for not doing so exist within arm's reach). Her answer surprised me, it was so simple:

(Below) Susanne and some of her gorgeous lettuce. We've been successful with commercial aquaponics because of her innovative way of thinking and coming up with solutions, and my ability to build them effectively and inexpensively.

Susanne and Lettuce383px

Aquaponics is so new, she said, that the people who get involved in it usually fall into one of two categories: she called the first one the "innovators"; the second, the "early adopters".

While successful innovators come up with new ideas no one else can imagine (and they must do a lot more besides!), successful early adopters are those who take the technology the innovators develop, build it economically, and operate it profitably in the marketplace.

However, not all innovators are successful; in fact, most are not. To be successful as an innovator, you not only have to come up with the idea; you also have to implement it economically and figure out how to operate it profitably for it to be meaningful in the marketplace.

This is the pitfall most innovators get trapped in: they think because they have a cool idea that it is a guarantee of success. We know of many aquaponics innovators who have bet on their ideas in the commercial aquaponics arena and have failed.

Early adopters often attend our courses. When they go home and faithfully duplicate our technology, they are almost always successful with aquaponics. The pitfall for early adopters is that they often have difficulty finding new ideas on their own.

On the other hand, many of the "innovators" who attend our courses and (in spite of our advice to the contrary) start changing the system designs and/or "inventing" new stuff often experience ongoing frustration with their poorly operating systems. We can't help them; they have wandered off into unknown territory without a map. We would never have invested in the things they try because we already knew they produce poor results.

(Below) Here's a graphic that illustrates the standard bell curve with respect to innovators and early adopters:

Diffusion_of_ideas383px 2

So why were Susanne and I successful? How did we skirt the pitfalls that lurk for both innovators and early adopters? Because she's an innovator who is married to an early adopter (me!); and our skills were mutually supportive of developing profitable commercial aquaponics systems.

Susanne has ideas I could never conceive of because of the way her mind works. I build them and together, we figure out how to make them as profitable as possible.  She has the idea, I build it; we figure out how to operate it together.

And what we bring to our courses is our combined skills and background as both innovator and early adopter. We do our best to teach you how to function in both those areas, as well as everything we know about running a small business (I haven't had a job in 40 years; rather, I owned a series of small successful businesses employing up to 20 people, and Susanne has been an entrepreneur for years).

(Thanks for listening! We'll have something interesting and technical in next week's newsletter about aquaponics; and remember: our ongoing series of newsletters discussing agricultural solutions to the California drought problems comes out on Thursdays.)

The Friendly  Aquaponics Way Video!
Back Issues Of Newsletters Now Available, Click Here!
Trough Liner Distributors:
West Coast USA
East Coast USA

Click here for Trout fry and fingerlings directly from the hatchery to you!


Sign yourself up for the Tennessee Training (April 28th to May 2nd)

Or the Texas Training (May 5th to May 9th)

Or the California Training (May 27th to May 31st)

2014 Commercial
Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse Trainings
NOW, and receive a free Micro System DIY package so you can begin studying aquaponics, as soon as you register! ($99.95 value)

Spanish Language Micro System package now available!
Free Farm Tours

Aquaponics tour at the Friendly farm!

We hold a free Farm Tour on our farm the FIRST Saturday of every month at 10:00,  focused on growing food with aquaponics.  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.


Micro System Classes!

Our four affiliates are now offering Micro System courses.

Click here
for a listing of affiliates and course locations!


Our new book: "Aquaponics The EASY Way!" is done!

It covers how to successfully build and operate tabletop aquaponics gardens from 3-1/2 to 18 square feet in size, using materials and equipment you can buy locally at Home Depot, Lowe's, and Petco.

The "3.5" costs you under $100 in Hawaii (where things are expensive) and the "18" costs $320.30. Click here to get our free "System Cost Calculator", an ExCel spreadsheet that you can put your own local numbers into (for parts) to find out what your system will cost you.

To purchase this E-book for only $29.95, click here. It's an excellent textbook for aquaponics for students from 6th grade on up. If you are a teacher, school administrator, or other faculty member, email us for information on pricing and volume discounts for textbook use.

The "Spice Chronicles", #2: "A Great White Is A REALLY Big Dog!"

I started my career in commercial fishing in 1975, in Tomales Bay, California. Tomales Bay is like a miniature version of San Francisco Bay that is located north of the Bay in Marin County. It’s in an area that doesn’t see the pollution and suburban sprawl that defines the Bay Area; it still has white sand beaches you can sail your boat up to and tie off to a live oak tree.


It also has flounder, halibut, rockfish, and occasionally, Great Whites. The Bay is a major breeding ground for Great White Sharks, which meant that when we swam there, we swam carefully and quite near to shore.


It wasn't because Great Whites intentionally eat people. They intentionally eat seals, and may get confused and accidentally bite into a person. I've been told by shark experts that they don't like the taste, and quite often spit out the bite after taking it (not that it does the person much good).


My friend Chuck Raymond and I were fishing in the Bay in his 12-foot plywood skiff. It's defining characteristics were that it had a 25 hp Johnson outboard, and leaked. Not alarmingly; just enough that you had to remember to bail, and to not lose the bailing scoop overboard. We were only a quarter mile from shore at any point in Tomales Bay, so weren’t too concerned.


Chuck, who grew up in Alaska and had fished salmon and herring there,  introduced me to several methods of commercial fishing in Tomales Bay.

I don't think all of them were strictly legal, because Chuck was always on the lookout for the "Tuna" which was the big grey local California Fish and Game enforcement vessel, and had me keep an eye out for her too.


We caught bottomfish and halibut in what were called "trammel nets", sometimes picking up a good-sized halibut. We caught valuable fish that we could sell, and other fish that weren't worth much on the market, but tasted fine barbecued over a beach fire.


So, one day Chuck and I are out on the Bay in the little leaky plywood skiff, picking up the trammel net after a three-hour set. We get about half the net into the boat, then we see the far end of the net coming up off the bottom by itself. It was moving, slowly rotating and undulating through the water.


Chuck defined the moment clearly: "Great White!" he whispered under his breath. In other words, our boat, which weighed 600 pounds soaking wet max, was irrevocably attached to about 2,000 pounds of live marine animal by 100 feet of very strong net.

We could have dumped the rest of the net back into the Bay and left it there, but it was Chuck's only means of earning an income at the time, and he couldn’t afford to buy another net.


So we did the only thing possible that didn't involve dumping the net: we started the outboard and motored slowly towards Chuck's house on the other side of the Bay, about 1/2 mile away.

It was the longest half mile I had ever traveled on the water, and when the skiff touched the beach, with the shark about 100 feet behind, we literally jumped out of the boat onto the land.


Chuck got his 4-wheel drive pickup truck hitched to the net, and dragged the shark, net and all, up onto the beach. After shooting the shark several times in the head with his 30-06, and leaving it for three hours to make sure, we filleted it, retrieving about 1,000 pounds of fillet from a 2,000 pound fish.


Somewhere in my stuff I have a picture of Chuck's 12-year-old son, Tyone, sitting on the shark on the beach with his legs hanging down on either side, feet still about a foot off the ground. It was a large shark to us at 12-1/2 feet long and 2,000 pounds, but they get much bigger! So we literally caught a fish “bigger than the boat”!


The funny thing? Although white shark is one of the tastiest and best sharks you can eat, people have this “little thing” about eating Great Whites.

So the market we sold the 1,000 pounds of fillets to labeled it “Tomales Bay Whitefish”, which, technically, it was. It sold out within a few days, and everyone loved it!

Aloha, Tim.....

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Honoka'a, Hawaii 96727

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