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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 155
December 24th,  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 #155" subject is Part 2 of "What's Necessary For Profitable Commercial Aquaponics" started last week (below our sales pitch for our trainings).

Our "In The Farmily" column today
is about a "business offer" I got when I was 21 and had a 37-foot world-cruising sailboat. I declined, needless to say (I knew better).

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).


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 #155, Part 2: What's Necessary For Profitable Commercial Aquaponics

In last week's newsletter we were talking about "starting small", and how important "test grows" are to establishing what will grow best and make money in your location.


In addition, the confidence and the experience you get from operating your small system are two of the most important factors in whether or not you will be successful with commercial aquaponics. Who would you hire to run your commercial aquaponics business?


A confident and experienced person, right? It is much easier to gain experience in a new skill when you don’t have a lot of stress overlaid on the learning experience; and a small aquaponics system, with its low costs, but the exact same functionality as a big system, offers a big advantage here.


In contrast, although you may dream of starting with a BIG system, you don’t want to. The worst possible situation to have to deal with is starting up 20,000 square feet of aquaponics system with a $5,000 a month business loan on top of another $8,000 a month operating and labor expenses. If you stumble here, you can hit the asphalt pretty hard.  


Starting commercial aquaponics off too big with not enough experience or knowledge, but with too much debt can end you up here. Not where you want to be!


Even though the aquaponics technology you are starting with may be well-developed and already profitable (as ours is) your situation is guaranteed to be different than ours in ways we can’t predict and can’t plan for. You want to be prepared for that and be able to take advantage of new information you discover. If you’ve already built your 20,000 square feet of aquaponics and then discover something that gives you 20% more production, it’s too late: you’ve spent your money and you just have to live with your system the way it’s set up.


What we can guarantee is that, in your physical environment, with your market, your temperature regime, and your skill sets; you will learn so many things in your first few growing cycles (in your small test system) that you will be able to build your large commercial system more economically, and also operate it more productively, than if you hadn’t done the test grows with the small system.

It’s also fun: it’s easy to get started with a small system, but they’re just as much fun as a big one to see the little sprouts and fish get big, and finally harvest and eat, or share with your friends.

3. Next: Find money and put together a business based on what you learned in #1 and #2. Even if you can access capital and can get a loan, it may not be the best move: starting small is guaranteed. Our suggestion is to get your cash flow going, then expand off cash flow. You won't owe anyone if you do it this way.


And what we mean by small is: you can start with a 128 square foot Micro System that only costs around $2,500 for system and greenhouse! The production of the “128” will be 1-2 pounds per 10 square feet of system area per week; or 12-24 pounds per week of organic vegetables. If you figure your average price for organic vegetables in your area is $3/pound, then this system will bring in a gross income of $36-72 per week, or $1,872 to $3,744 per year.


Not bad for a business that only cost $2,500 to get set up! Even after operating expenses (which run from $200 to $400 per year, depending on prices in your area), you still have a net income of $1,600 to $3,300 per year for wages and profit. And, you can use these funds to build your next, larger system with.


What’s the next step? Build a 512-square foot system with greenhouse, using the cash flow from your 128. This is 4 times larger than the 128, and will give you four times the cash flow. Don’t forget the 128! It’s still operating and producing vegetables (and cash flow), and what you have now is really five times the production and cash flow you had when you just had the 128.


And the next step? A 1,024 or 2,048 square foot system plus greenhouse, built with the cash flow from the 128 and the 512! This way, you are taking small steps, gaining experience at each step along the way, expanding out of cash flow, and you don’t owe anyone any money!

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



4. Business experience is critical! If you don't have it, hire some, borrow some, or marry someone who has it! Aquaponic produce practically grows itself. If you have economical systems that are energy and labor-efficient, then the only thing you have to worry about is getting the produce to your customer and getting paid for it: the business part!


Businesses often fail because the people running them don't know enough about business to make them work. Aquaponics is not a "magic bullet", and is no different from any other business in this respect. Business skill is what will make your commercial aquaponic farm a successful reality. As we say: "Don't quit your day job yet!". And the best thing about running your own business is: if you pay attention, and never give up, you gain business skills and get better at it!


5. BTW, this is farming! It's real work! We had some out-of-work realtors come to a course once. Somehow they'd gotten the idea they would make the same $10,000 each per month they used to (back when the market was booming) by sitting behind a desk and fielding phone calls.


Didn't happen! Another student (who used to be in real estate also, but wasn't allergic to hard work) is now making around $85,000 a year (net income) working 48 hours a week on his aquaponics farm, at home.


We had three other students take our courses over the years; these three all spent 20 years or more farming; either growing up on the farm or operating a farm as an adult. Their feedback to us after they'd started their own commercial aquaponics farms was all the same: "It's half as much work, and my back doesn't hurt anymore!".


6.   Work your butt off until you are successful. If you fail, go back to numbers 1 through 5 and figure out what went wrong, then try again until you succeed. Don't ever give up, and don't ask for guarantees, because there aren't any. Welcome to Real Life!

We have no idea what we're going to do for our next newsletter! We've got four kids and it's almost Christmas, so we're going to take some time off and spend it with them. You all have a wonderful Christmas, we'll be back next Monday with something valuable and interesting aquaponic. 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 22 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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PO Box 1196
Honoka'a, Hawaii 96727

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