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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 14
August 6th, 2010
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend,

Yes, this is newsletter number 14, and you're right, you just got #13 a little while ago! We're sending it out the day after number 13, not because we're superstitious, but because I (Tim, the writer), made a mistake and put a dead link in the previous email. Yes, we frequently make mistakes.

However, we don't make mistakes because we are stupid, but because we are trying to improve ourselves and our aquaponics systems. I made this mistake last night because I promised my kids I would stop work at 6:00 (instead of working late and not even seeing them before bed as I've done before), and I hurried my check of the email so I could keep my promise to them.

We hold mistakes as evidence that we are stretching our boundaries and learning new things. If we just do what we already know how to do, we would stay in the same place forever. And in today's business world, stagnation and the inability to adapt to current reality can mean you are out of the game pretty quickly.

This is why Friendly Aquaponics is continually stretching to learn new things about how aquaponics works. We have improved the energy-efficiency of our systems by a factor of five over the last three years, and found other cost-saving measures to make them more profitable. We don't have a trust fund, salaries, or a government grant for aquaponics; we've funded it ourselves and are minimizing our risks by learning everything we can about it as fast as we can. Growing food is the most stable business we can think of right now.

If you're considering getting into commercial scale aquaponics, don't you want to learn as much about it as fast as you can
? If so, please take a look at our Commercial Aquaponics Training (Special Offer in right sidebar of this email), where you will learn more about real-world operation of a commercial aquaponics system than you can anywhere else in the world.

Special Introductory Offer on our Apartment & Condo Aquaponics Systems: for August only, this $49.95 package is $29.95!
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Construction Plans and Operating Information for 4 Different Sizes of Indoor Aquaponics Systems $29.95

This manual is written so understandably that it makes it easy for a twelve-year old to build and run these systems. Build four different sizes of stable, durable, and productive indoor aquaponics systems that can be operated indoors OR outdoors, or even MOVED between indoors and outdoors, depending on the season. These affordable systems range from a COUNTER TOP 2.5 square foot system to one with 32 square feet in grow bed area. The 2.5 square foot system costs $95 for materials, the 32 square foot one costs $250 for materials. Most materials are available locally; some items may need to come from suppliers whose contact information is given in the materials lists. In addition to the four standard sizes of systems in the manual we show you how to build small aquaponics systems out of Igloo coolers, discarded refrigerators and freezers, plastic garbage cans and barrels, concrete mixing tubs, and other easily-procured items. Most importantly, we show you in complete detail how to OPERATE them successfully!

The Indoor System package includes new and easy-to-understand building instructions and complete operating information for small aquaponic systems based on our years of experience operating a commercial aquaponics farm. Anyone can build a system out of plastic barrels, but operating one without good and easily-understood information can be frustrating. Operating information is given in the form of a "Daily Operations Manual" where you simply use the checklist and follow the step-by-step instructions on your way to success with aquaponics.

We've 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 spending that money and time in this manual so you don't make any of the same mistakes we did.


Learn about our Apartment/Condo Systems!

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Aquaponics Nugget #14:
System Start-up (Part 2)


There are many ways to start your aquaponics system (this means how to get your nitrifying bacteria established in your system). The simplest is called: "Do Nothing: The Two-Month Start-Up". Nitrifying bacteria occur naturally throughout our world. If you fill your system, put fish in, and just wait, the bacteria will show up within two to three months. This is what we did on our first system and it works. It's just very slow and lost us a couple of productive months.

A much easier method could be called: "Inoculate: The Five-Day Start-Up". Here's how it works: we started our second commercial system with fish in it, and ProLine nitrifying bacteria concentrate in the one-gallon size for $42 (catalog #239211) from Aquatic EcoSystems. We had nitrites in the system in three days and nitrates showing in five days. We didn't know how to avoid a hard nitrite spike at that time, and so our fish went through a 10-day nitrite spike of over 10 ppm, with no mortality. We were lucky that time! This is the easiest and best way to start a system, if you include the information in the next paragraph. 

When nitrifying bacteria are introduced to a system, the fastest breeding and feeding bacteria are the ones that eat the ammonia and produce nitrites. The ones that convert the nitrites to nitrates have slower reproduction rates and are much slower to get established, resulting in what is called a "nitrite spike" where you have very high levels of nitrites for a week or two before they start getting converted to nitrates by the slower-growing bacteria. This is a concern because nitrite is as toxic to fish as ammonia. Theoretically, over 6 ppm of either will stress and eventually kill tilapia. We've had our fish in an ammonia spike of 24 ppm for a couple weeks because we didn't know what we were doing then, but they lived. We also had them in nitrite spikes of over 10 ppm for a couple weeks, and they all survived those.

Here’s how you start your system: put the fish in your system. If your fish are coming soon but are not available yet, you can start by putting Aquatic Ecosystem’s ammonium chloride (catalog #239100, $13.39) into your system water to a concentration of 1 ppm, OR using a cup of household ammonia per thousand gallons of water in your system, BUT NOT BOTH!. Then you pour in the Proline nitrifying bacteria. Keep the water pump on 24/7, AND keep the air pumps on 24/7 during this time because these bacteria need oxygen. Test once a day hereafter for about a week, and you should see nitrites showing on your test strips within two to three days at about 2-3 ppm. Within another couple of days, the nitrites should go up to between 5 and 10 ppm, which is potentially dangerous for your fish. Now, if you don’t do something to modulate this nitrite spike, you could end up with so much nitrites you damage or kill your fish.

(Next newsletter will have information on how to modulate the nitrite spike so there's no danger to your fish!)


Only two more weeks to our  Free Workshop

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Organically Certified is worth more to your farm!

We invite you to our first  "Organic Certification and Tilapia Breeding Workshop". This FREE one-day workshop will be held August 21st at our farm in Honoka'a, Hawaii, just off the main highway between mile markers 40 and 41.

Training starts with a two-hour free farm tour from 10-12, a potluck lunch from 12-1, then the workshop from 1-4. See you there!

Installing the HapaInstalling a hapa in a tilapia breeding tank.



Tilapia fry

White tilapia fry from our nursery system


Special Offer! Sign up for our October 4-7th, 2010 Commercial Aquaponics Training now, and we will email you  our Micro System package so you can begin studying aquaponics! ($99.95 value)

Sign up for Commercial Aquaponics Training

In The Farmily
 Our Farmily now consists of  ten people; here are a few: Rose, Queen of the Known Universes, is five going on 21. She knows what everyone should be doing, and tells them what to do and how to do it frequently. We are doing our best to teach her that she lives in a world where there are actually other people (just like her) that deserve consideration. The trick is to give her a sense of respect for others without chasing her wonderful spirit away.

Jack, our 9-year-old,  works in the aquaponics with us. Jack  understands how the systems work and always asks intelligent questions. Jack is a saver, and  took the money he made working;  bought his first surfboard and leash the other day, and is on his way to becoming a grommet (young surfing newbie).

Lucky, our seven-year-old, has traditionally been interested in the kitchen cabinet where the sugar treats are kept, as well as the X-Box, but today he went out and did his first day at the lettuce harvesting shed. He impressed everyone and was SO proud of himself for being so big.

The way we let our kids work is this: they work until they want to stop, then they quit. We look at how much they helped out, and pay them accordingly. We feel this gives them valuable experience in how the real world works, as well as confidence and abilities that will come in handy their whole lives. What do you mean, you worked an hour but want to be paid for four? LOL!
This email, our manuals and construction plans are all copyrighted by  Friendly Aquaponics, Inc, Susanne Friend and Tim Mann, 2008-2010
Email: Friendly Aquaponics




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

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