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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 80
June 9th,  2012
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend,

Today's newsletter's "Nugget" is on intake filters for pumps. We covered biofilters in our back newsletter "Commercial Newsletter #9"., and covered solids settling tanks in our regular back newsletter "Newsletter #79". That back newsletter number 79 also talked about why it might be a good idea to NOT try and raise a lot of fish. "But I thought the idea WAS to raise a lot of fish!". We hear that all the time, from people who haven't raised any yet, and don't understand that it costs money to raise fish. What this means is that you either need to make more money when you sell them, or if you're raising them as a hobby or to feed yourself, they should at least cost less than buying fish at the store would cost.  

If you're interested in our Solar Greenhouse technology, please take a look at our Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training (Special Offer in right sidebar of this email), where you will learn more about how to grow affordably using aquaponics in greenhouses than you can anywhere else in the world. The next training is in Hawaii in June 2012. For smaller home backyard and apartment systems, please read on:
Purchase Construction Plans and Operating Info for 4 Different Sizes of Apartment/Condo Aquaponics Systems $49.95

Our Apartment/Condo System package includes new and easy-to-understand building instructions and complete operating information for 4 different sizes of small aquaponic systems based on our years of experience operating a commercial aquaponics farm. 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!

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 Apartment/Condo Systems!

Aquaponics Nugget #80: Water Pump Intake Filters

In With The Good, Out With The BAD!

Today we're going to talk about how to keep stuff out of your aquaponics system water pump that you need to keep out (like gravel, leaves, grass, plant tags, and so on); while at the same time allowing plenty of the stuff to get to the pump that you need to get to your pump (the water!).

Regardless of how your aquaponic system is set up: whether it's a flood-and-drain gravel system, a deepwater raft system, an NFT system, or vertical aquaponics, at some point you will need to pump your water from the lowest point in your system to the high point. At the very least, you will need an intake filter at the lowest point in your system (where your pump picks up its water) to keep stuff out of the pump. You may need water filters at other locations in your system also.

If you are using tilapia, you DEFINITELY need a filter between your fish tank and wherever the water goes next. This filter stops tilapia eggs and fry from getting out to your aquaponics and eating all the plant roots off. Ask us how we know :)

We'll show you some pictures that illustrate a simple and inexpensive way to make these filters, and then a little about cleaning filters and general water flow information.

FilterParts 2 
Materials for making a 2-inch filter that will thread into a 1-1/2-inch female threaded adaptor fitting (like a bulkhead fitting or female PVC adaptor fitting). The parts used are: a piece of 1/2-inch mesh plastic screen, a piece of "pet screen", which is like window screen but much tougher, a stainless steel hose clamp, a 1-1/2" male threaded adaptor, a short piece of 1-1/2" PVC pipe, a 1-1/2" to 2" slip adaptor, a 2" PVC coupling, and a 2" PVC cap.

Finished 2" filter threaded into a 1-1/2" bulkhead fitting in the end of a (mocked-up for this photo) deepwater raft trough. Simply screw the filter in loosely, then you will be able to unscrew it to check it and clean it later. The pet screen on this filter will keep tilapia and catfish eggs and fry from getting to the other side of the filter. The 1/2" mesh is installed under the pet screen, and keeps it from collapsing when the pet screen is almost full of crud. If you don't use the 1/2" mesh, the pet screen will collapse in no time at all and completely cut off flow through the filter.

Building this filter is easy: cut out 12-inch by 18-inch rectangular pieces of the two types of screen shown in the previous picture, lay the pet screen down first on a horizontal work surface; lay the 1/2-inch screen on top of it; then put the pipe cap at the left corner of the screen nearest you and the pipe coupling at the right corner of the screen nearest you. Then, roll the entire thing up like rolling a sleeping bag or a sushi roll, with the pipe cap and coupling tightly held inside the mesh. You will end up (hopefully!) with a tightly-rolled unit that you will need at least two additional hands present for to pick up the hose clamps. Slip the hose clamps over each end of the thing, and tighten while your hands are full simply holding this assembly together (Tim somehow manages to do this by himself, but we think he cheats and uses his teeth!).

Using the filter is easy too: every day when you feed your fish, simply check the filter, by running a hand over it, or, if it's a filter on a gravity-fed system, such as a filter in a fish tank that the water flows through to get to a lower level, just visually inspect it. If it is clean, the water level will be near the bottom of the filter; as it gets progressively clogged up with crud, the water level will rise until the filter is nearly submerged. This is a clear sign that you need to clean the filter!

GrownOut1medium 2

Friendly Aquaponic's FIRST Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse in full bloom, Honoka'a, Hawaii, March 2012, (on a grey rainy day) showing PV panels, and growing plants.

Next week: We'll do what we did this week, but for standpipes; we'll also show photos and give instructions on how to install a very simple and inexpensive trough end fitting for deepwater aquaponics troughs. Thanks for listening!

Click Here To See Our New Aquaponics Video!
Back Issues Of Newsletters Now Available, Click Here!
Purchase Trough Liner Directly From Manufacturer!

Free Farm Tours
Aquaponics tour at the Friendly farm!

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


3-1/2 pound kalo (taro root) grown in a 2" net pot (little bump at bottom)


4-month old prawn (macrobrachium rosenbergii) grown in hydroponics troughs of our aquaponics systems

Special Offer! Sign up for our June 27-28th Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training
or our
June 24-26th Aquaponics Technology Training, and receive a free Micro System DIY package so you can begin studying aquaponics! ($99.95 value)

More Information on Hawaii Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training

"In The Farmily"

Every farm needs a cat. It's really that simple. I know I'm going to get in trouble for writing this column, but cats are really the lesser of ALL the evils possible, especially for an organic farm.

Let me explain: we'll start with the obvious; you know that a farmer grows food, right? That's the basis of the problem; because every mouse and rat around the farm knows about the food too!

Mice and rats are nocturnal: they will gnaw holes in your walls and crawl into your greenhouse at night, then go right across your rafts to get to whatever is most appealing to them.  They leave feces and urine behind them, and the worst part is that you can't tell when something's been contaminated.

This is not a situation that is unique to aquaponics farms; every soil farmer has mice and rats in his fields at night, sampling the produce and using the area for a bathroom too!

The Food Safety people will require you to use poison baits and rat and mouse traps. The fact that these poisons are in such close proximity to the food, and could possibly contaminate it doesn't bother them.

Although the Food Safety folks like the poisons, the Organic Certification agencies will not allow you to use them, and there are no organically certified rat and mouse poisons available, so you're left with just traps. And any farmer knows that traps just catch the dumb ones. So if you want organic certification you can't use poison, and you still have a rat and mouse problem!

So, what do we do? We have cats. They stay off the rafts, because the rafts are floating on water, which cats hate with a passion! (We've observed the cats for years around the aquaponics, they quite simply stay on the ground and never get up on the rafts!).

We live in the tropics; and there are lots of rats and mice here. And the only time we have ever seen a rat or mouse is when the tail end of it was disappearing down a cat's gullet. We don't ever see any of those little holes gnawed in things like fish food bags and cardboard boxes; we haven't ever seen any rat or mouse droppings anywhere in our aquaponics systems or support buildings.

We love our cats!
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This email, our manuals and construction plans are all copyrighted by  Friendly Aquaponics, Inc, Susanne Friend and Tim Mann, 2008-2012

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PO Box 1196
Honoka'a, Hawaii 96727

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