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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 69
January 18th, 2012
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend,

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This is the Friendly Aquaponics Solar Greenhouse at the end of the day on January 18th, with the crew of farm interns and Farmily that built it. The fish tank, heat exchanger, and aquaponics troughs are in and full of 8 tons of water. The water circulation system is finished, and tomorrow we'll put in the aeration system and stock the tank here with fish from our overcrowded nursery aquaponics system.

We'll put the ETFE film on the structure in the next few days, then put in the geothermal cooling system. THIS is the benefit of prefabricating these structures in a shop, then assembling the prefabricated pieces on your greenhouse site.
Sixteen days ago, there was nothing here except a flat pad with a covering of weed mat; most of the work was done by one person. The Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse is 19 feet by 32 feet, with about 600 square feet of usable floor  space.

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A close-up of the inside of the greenhouse, showing the fish tank being moved into position, with an intern trainee learning to wire the AC receptacles and switches. You can see one of the "foundation" aquaponics troughs. This trough contains four tons of water, as does the one on the other side of the greenhouse; they provide enough weight to eliminate the necessity for a concrete foundation to hold the structure down, even in hurricane country. At the left is one of the laminated curved wooden beams that are made with two-part epoxy glue and a simplified technique that anyone can manage.

We've extended the 50%
discount on ALL the February trainings for the entire registration period (until the courses start). The purpose of this is to make it as affordable as possible for as many as possible to attend these courses. If you've already registered, thank you for helping support this work.

If you're interested in
learning about our new 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 FIRST training is in Hawaii in February 2012. For smaller home backyard and apartment systems, please read on:
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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!

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Aquaponics Nugget #69:
A Primer On Sustainable Energy-Efficient Greenhouses, Part 9


This column is an ongoing series on how to understand, build, and operate energy-efficient greenhouses. If you missed the previous newsletters in this series, you can click here: "Back Issues Of Newsletters" to read them first, because understanding all the concepts previously presented is essential to understanding how the Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse works.

In the last "Nugget" in this series (in our newsletter #68), we discussed how to provide backup heating for the aquaponics water in our greenhouse in the winter when there's a prolonged period of no sun so that the solar water heater that normally heats the greenhouse water doesn't provide any heat.

If you read our
newsletter #67, you'll remember we cooled the aquaponics water in the summertime with underground geothermal coolers; with the water circulating through them provided by an economical small electric pump.This cooling system depends on geothermal cooling coils, which are installed from four to six feet underground, where the temperature (in most locations) is more or less constant, AND, depending on your location, will be from 45 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition to the geothermal cooling system in your aquaponic solar greenhouse, which cools the water in your aquaponics system, you may also have installed energy-efficient exhaust fans to move hot air out of your greenhouse; you may also have installed Aluminet or another type of shade cloth that will block and/or reflect the sun's rays, resulting in less heat transmitted to the inside of your greenhouse; and if you are located in a non-humid location, you may also have installed a water wall (AKA swamp cooler), that offers additional cooling through the principle of evaporation. These are all energy-efficient methods of cooling, but the water wall only works in non-humid areas because the evaporative process works less and less well as humidity increases. Greenhouses located in Hawaii or Florida, for example, would be poor candidates for using water walls effectively.

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The Friendly farm's current crew of interns in the Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse, with Tim (in yellow shirt) writing something on his clipboard (his BRAIN, LOL!).
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So, what is an economical way to provide backup cooling when your main cooling system is a geothermal cooling system? Well, there really isn't one. You can burn something when you need heat, but it's difficult and involved to produce COLD by burning something. You can install a big three-phase air-conditioning system that uses electricity as if you own the hydroelectric company, but for most of us that's too expensive: the energy costs simply make the greenhouse too expensive to grow food in and make a profit from doing so. So, what can we do?

If your Solar Greenhouse is still too hot, after you've done all you can do in terms of shading (with Aluminet or some similar product in a roll-down curtain over the ETFE), providing lots of ventilation, using energy-efficient fans, and utilizing a water wall (if you're in a low-humidity area), and the interior is still too hot, then the only economical thing you can do is expand the capacity of your geothermal cooling system. It is the ONLY nearby energy-efficient source of cold, and so you just need to extract MORE of the cold to do the job.

There are a couple of ways to do this:
if, when you built your geothermal system, you intelligently installed a LARGE size of tubing or pipe in your subterranean geothermal cooling ditch (and a LOT of it), you can simply put a larger size of circulation pump that brings more cool water through your heat exchanger. This will reduce the temperature immediately.

If you did not install a LOT of LARGE tubing in your LARGE geothermal cooling ditch in the first place, then you are up a creek, and simply need to dig another ditch and put a second set of tubing into this second ditch. If you have sized your tubing correctly, you should be able to hook your first geothermal system up to your second one in parallel, and install that larger size of circulation pump onto these parallel tubing circuits, and this will reduce your temperature immediately. However, this second option costs a LOT more! Because digging and refilling the ditch is a major cost, and a little more pipe doesn't cost that much, it's much simpler to be conservative and purchase a little more tubing than you think you need, and put it in the first ditch.

The worst that could happen is that you end up with too much cooling. This is easy to solve, because the circulation pumps we use for this system commonly come in 3-speeds, and if you have one of these 3-speed pumps, you can simply turn it down to a lower speed if you find you are over-cooling.

We'll deal with backup methods for keeping the greenhouse cool in the summer in next week's newsletter.

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Franz Schreier's FIRST Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse in full bloom, Heppenheim, Germany, 2011, showing lamellae PV panels and growing plants!

(Next week: More on energy-efficient greenhouse technology, and how you can build your own! Thanks for listening!).

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



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!


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



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


Special Offer! We've decided to extend the 50% discount for our February 16th-17th Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training and ALL of our Aquaponics Trainings for the entire registration period, right up to when the courses start.

Sign up now, and receive the 50% discount, plus we will email you our Micro System package so you can begin studying aquaponics! ($99.95 value)


More Information on Hawaii Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training

In The Farmily
Last week we had just gotten the downstairs shower working in our partially-finished house, and this enabled us to move out of our $1,100 per month rental house and into a tiny 16-foot by 20--foot building we'd built on our property as a "music room". This was our combination living room, bedroom, and closet for three adults and three children for the next six months or so.

We had a separate, rudely constructed and plumbed plywood platform with a Costco tent on it; this was our "cook tent" and dining room. It was about 30 feet away across the sea of mud from our bedroom, and it could be a windy and rainy trek on a blustery day.

We got really dirty building the house during the daytime, and the thing we loved the most was the hot shower at the end of the day. We'd built a huge shower stall that had two complete showers in it. This meant that Susanne and I could shower at the same time, relieving the "bottleneck in the bathroom" by just a little. It had a shower head at 4 feet off the ground, another at 5 feet off the ground in addition to the two at normal adult height. We did this because we wanted the kids to have something that was "their size", and was easy for them to use.

We kept on building the house. We'd run out of money and materials, and would do paid work for awhile. Also, we had to do be flexible, because sometimes the paid work took precedence because of it's need to be finished on the client's schedule. Then, we would do a day of work on the house on the weekend because we were chafing at the bit to finish it.

The house seemed to progress so slowly, we would get frustrated because nothing seemed to be happening. We finally got all the walls up and started concentrating on the roof, so that we would have a dry interior. After a couple of months of a day here and a day there, the roof began  to take shape, and we even started to find DRY areas inside the house!

A milestone moment was when we got the master bedroom closet SHELF to stay dry no matter what happened. The floor of the closet would have an inch of water in it any time it rained, but by the gods the shelf above it was dry!

We had our precious items stored in  cardboard boxes on pallets with tarps covering them  out in the shop, and quickly moved a number of these items onto this master bedroom shelf as soon as we realized it would stay dry. We were still keeping a towel at the foot of the bed to dry our feet off before getting into bed, because we often had to slog through an inch of water on the floor in our slippers to get to bed; this got our feet fairly wet.

We continued to make more progress, and got more and more areas of the house to stay dry. Just before our 6-year-old Rose was born, we managed to get the toilet installed and plumbed in the master bedroom, and we no longer needed to make the long walk through the sea of mud to the outhouse.

Of course, we kept the outhouse around until we got the second toilet in the house installed, because if the single toilet was occupied, we wanted options!.

Thanks for listening!

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This email, our manuals and construction plans are all copyrighted by  Friendly Aquaponics, Inc, Susanne Friend and Tim Mann, 2008-2011

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PO Box 1196
Honoka'a, Hawaii 96727
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