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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 154
December 19th,  2013
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend

We're offering a Christmas special on our Texas and Tennessee aquaponics trainings: if you bring a second person, their registration is only half price!

Although the second person is normally $1,495, we and our training partners have decided to make it more affordable for the 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.

This offer continues until five days before each training begins. To take advantage of it, just sign up for the Texas training or
sign up for the Tennessee training It's set up to sign up the "second person" at checkout.

In addition, anyone who signs up between now and December 25th will receive five free copies of our new E-book: "Aquaponics The EASY Way" (a $29.95 value), which we will email to five friends of your choice. We've been getting raves about how "complete and easy to understand" our new book is. This is a great way to give $150 of really practical and fun Christmas gifts to your friends interested in learning more about aquaponics, while registering for a training you were going to attend anyway. You will be the aquaponics expert to your gift recipients!

Today's "Nugget #154" subject is "Seeding, Germination, and Sprouting" (below our sales pitch for our trainings). Today we cover all the things to not do, in order to get your plants to germinate and grow well.

Our "In The Farmily" column today
is about a little kid changing Christmas lights on the edge of a dark roof; and should bend your funny bone just a little!

Friendly 2014 Commercial Aquaponics and Greenhouse Trainings:

Texas Training from January 13th to the 17th at Ben Godfrey's farm in Milam County, Texas (Click here for more information!).

One-day CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) Course given by Ben and Alysha Godfrey at their farm on January 18th, Saturday (click here for more information!).

Tennessee Training from January 27th to the 31st at Randy Campbell's farm in Elora, Tennessee (Click here for more information!).

(Below) One of Ben and Alysha Godfrey's aquaponics systems in a greenhouse in Milam County, Texas. I can't wait to taste their system water! 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; I'm certain the food from these systems is safe and healthy" (Tim).  TimWaterDrinkingNugget

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.


In Tennessee: Call Randy and Katie at 256-679-9488 or email Randy to find out when the next farm tour is scheduled.

In Texas: Call Ben at 254-697-2927 or email Ben to find out when their next "Family Day" farm tour is scheduled ($15 fee per family is charged).

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!

June2013Class1-385px 2

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!


Aquaponics Nugget #154, Part 1: What's Necessary For Profitable Commercial Aquaponics

It's funny how many people claim to be "commercial aquaponics experts", but have never done it for a living themselves.


From a couple of people who have done so, and who came up the hard way (we didn’t have our manuals, our CAD drawings, and our unlimited support services to draw on when we started!) here's our short list of what's necessary for success in commercial aquaponics:


1.   Research thoroughly and learn everything possible you can about aquaponics before starting. Doing your due diligence first can save you from mistakes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, or worse, thousands of hours of your life! How do you do this? Contact people who are doing it, and confirm that their approach really works. Insist on numbers, contacts to call,

real people that you can confirm are really operating the farm. Ask for the number of their produce distributor, or three of the markets they sell to; you get the idea.


Why This Is So Important: There’s one aquaponics farm that recently lost their $1.4 million investment after only 5 months in actual operation. When we analyzed their failure mode, we realized immediately (from publicly-available photos) that they were planting their lettuce at one-third the density we successfully grow ours at.

Dry troughs, no fish, no plants, no income. Not where you want to end up!



They were only getting one-third of the production that was possible out of their greenhouse and raft area. The solution would have been so simple: all they needed to do was to drill more holes in their rafts, and use the planting and transfer technology that we teach. The really sad thing about this failure is that if they’d simply invested $1,495 in one of our trainings before investing $1.6 million in their farm, they wouldn’t have made this mistake, and might still be in profitable operation.


Insist on getting information from people who are actually doing it, not just talking about it. See their operation, don’t just listen to “how much they know”. If they truly want to help you, why don’t you have them send you a copy of the cash flow spreadsheet from their profitable commercial aquaponics operation? And remember: keep a sharp eye on your wallet!


2.   Don't wait until you have lots of money to invest in your operation: start building and operating an aquaponics system now! Build a small backyard system if that's all you can afford; the food you grow with it will save you money. You will gain valuable experience with even a small system that will be critical to your success at a commercial-scale venture.


There are many reasons to start this way, even if you have several hundred thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket now. Here are two of the most important ones:


A. Even we have no idea what will grow best in your location, with your greenhouse, your sunlight exposure and hours, temperature, humidity, etc. After doing two or three “test grows” in a small, affordable system (and greenhouse, if necessary in your location), you will know what grows best.

More importantly, you will know the “cycle times” for these vegetables, and know how many “cycles” a year you can produce. Now you can insert real production time data into this aquaponic business spreadsheet (hit the underlined blue link to get a free copy of this valuable aquaponic business assessment tool. Our thanks and admiration for this spreadsheet tool to Rich Becks, a successful organic soil farmer who is now an aquaponic farmer) so that you know what your real production will be.


B. Even we have no idea what will sell best in your location, with your local economy, your local produce distributors and outlets, and your local consumers. After each of the “test grows” mentioned in “A” above, you will have produce to do test marketing with. You take this produce to all the outlets you’ve identified that might be interested, and find out what they’re willing to pay, as well as the quantities they need. Yes, need, this is not about the “great produce” you have, but about your market’s needs.

Full troughs, lots of happy fish, lots of healthy plants, a decent income for honest work. This is where you want to end up!



There are places that may not take 20 pounds of something a week, because they need a minimum of 200 and won’t bother with 20. After two or three rounds of production out of your test grows, you will know what your market is willing to pay for your product, and how much of it you need to produce for them to want to buy from you. Now, you will be able to insert real produce income numbers into this aquaponic business spreadsheet (hit the underlined blue link to get a free copy of this valuable aquaponic business assessment tool. Our thanks and admiration for this spreadsheet tool to Rich Becks, a successful organic soil farmer who is now an aquaponic farmer) so that you know what your real income will be.

We got an overwhelming vote for this newsletter's subject. Next week, we'll finish with Part 2, then do a series on how and where to get fish to start your aquaponics systems with, economically! (as in NOT $2-3 for a 1-inch long tilapia!). Also, how about "how to grow your own fingerlings" after you've got your aquaponics system up and running?

We are still welcoming suggestions on the next most important topic that you, the readers, want to hear about. What are you interested in learning more about?

Please email Tim and make your request for a subject, either for a single newsletter, or for a series. Thanks for listening!.

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!

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.



Sign yourself up for the Texas January 2014 (13th-17th)

Or sign yourself up for the Tennessee January 2014 (27th-31st)

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


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.

Sincere thanks (!) to everyone who purchased our new book at our presale discount. A number of you had problems due to glitches with the download service we used, Hightail. We sent you an updated email newsletter explaining this, also a new link to download your copy of this E-book from, a more dependable download site than Hightail. If you purchased the book but did not receive this link, email me (Tim) and I will fix it.

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.

"Big Brother Knows Where You Sleep"

A friend of mine just forwarded me a post about Google’s “Location History Browser”, and about how it tracks your movements all the time; or rather, tracks the movements of your personal device, whether it be laptop, iPad, or smart phone.

It’s an “option” you have to agree to, of course, but during the endless “setup” procedures that some devices have nowadays, what’s another little box that you click “yes” to? His point was that it was scary to him that his location was so available in a database somewhere. I just laughed!

I've known that they've known where I was for about the last 40 years. When I was 22, and had my 37-foot sailboat in Half Moon Bay, California, I was approached by a fellow who wanted me to sail "a cardboard box" up from Central America in my boat. “Box man” was going to pay me $25,000 for this, which was two year's wages at the time.

Because I knew what he was talking about, I wasn’t tempted, even for a moment. I knew that guns and violence went along with that “little cardboard box”, and that people had gotten killed for far less.

I had my little boat paid for, and was getting ready to go on a world cruise. At 24 years old, I’d decided I was going to retire first, sail around the world, then get serious and have a career and a family. No way I was going to risk that bright future for a box.

And fortunately, I'd gone to the bar before I talked to “box man”. That would be the little bar in Mountain View, California, just down the street from the Moffett Naval Air Station. While I had my beer, I’d sat next to a guy who was a crewman on a P3 Orion Subchaser aircraft, based at Moffett Field, just across the highway from the bar.

We got to talking, he found I had a sailboat, and he started talking about where they flew and the detection and tracking capabilities of the aircraft. I love planes, and was very interested in anything involving boats, ships, or the ocean, so of course I was a really good listener.

The gear they had on the P3 aircraft was capable of detecting two whales 500 feet under the surface of the ocean; and he said they could tell which one was the mother whale and which one was the baby.

He went on to describe how they routinely tracked drug trafficker’s boats on the trip up from Mexico; for a boat on the surface was extremely easy for these aircraft to keep track of, compared to the submarines they were designed to hunt.

When the drug supplier in Mexico sells the drugs to the smuggler with the boat, the next thing he sells is the information about the boat and the guy to the Mexican and American authorities.

Thus, they know what kind of boat it is, its range and speed capabilities, and its name, where it departed from on the Mexican coast, and when it departed.

This information goes to the Vandenburg Air Force Base dispatcher (a US military airbase in Southern California), who passes it to the crew of the P3 aircraft based there, which patrols a roughly 750-mile radius circle of ocean centered on Vandenburg.

That P3 picks the boat up about 500 miles out, right around the tip of Baja California, then tracks it up the coast. Somewhere around Santa Barbara, the Vandenburg P3’s “territory” overlaps with the Moffett P3’s territory, and they “hand off” to the P3 crew based at Moffett Field.

Those guys track the boat the rest of the way up the coast, keeping the Coast Guard notified, in case the boat makes a run for the coast, then hand off to the Coast Guard at the appropriate time.

Most of the time, the drug smuggler is just cruising along, thinking he’s gotten away with it..... two miles inside “the 12-mile line”.... four miles inside..... Whoa!

There’s a 90-foot Coast Guard cutter coming at them from the ocean side, who just appeared out of nowhere: they’ve got a loaded .50-cal machine gun pointed right at the drug smuggler’s boat; plus several crewmen in bulletproof vests with AR-15’s. You can guess the rest.

The moral of the story? Figure they’re always watching, and just be a good person. That’s the easy way out, and is what I teach my kids. It makes it a heck of a lot easier to sleep at night, too.

Aloha, Tim....

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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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Honoka'a, Hawaii 96727

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