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Our son Jack

Jack with fish

Our son Jack invites you to our fourth Commercial Aquaponics Training being held April 19th through 22nd, 2010, in Honoka'a, Hawaii. Your trainers Susanne and Tim guarantee it will be the most valuable training of any kind you have ever taken or your money will be cheerfully refunded in front of the entire class!

You can do this too! We'd never farmed before, and now, just two years after breaking ground, we're delivering 650 pounds of organic lettuce mix per week to our local Costco!

Our students now operate 12 commercial aquaponics farms (3 are USDA certified organic), as a result of the training we gave in October 2008. Many more projects by our students are currently underway. Complete plans, manuals, materials lists, and contact information for suppliers are all included in your course. Our training will hugely reduce your learning curve with aquaponics and allow you to do this in months instead of years!

Building the troughs

Building the troughs

New Aquaponics Technology at April Training:

Energy-efficient Aquaponics System uses one-tenth the energy, produces the same volume of vegetables

Economical fish hatchery/nursery technology

New, faster sprouting and growth technology

No-hormone fish culture retains organic certification for vegetables, same fish yields

Most important: how to sell high-quality aquaponics produce to the "Big Box" stores

Sign up now for your Aquaponics training ($1,500) and we will email you a free copy of our Micro System package for you to begin studying aquaponics now! ($49.95 value)
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First Hawaii biogas training

This training will be held on April 23rd right after the Aquaponics Training, hosted and taught by David House, the author of the "Biogas Handbook", which will also be included as the course textbook. The training will cover:

The many uses of biogas (methane) on a small farm: heating, cooking, hot water, light, engine fuel, refrigeration, and more

Explanation of the use of diverse substrates (the "stuff" you feed the biogas digester) allows you to use available wastes for energy from biogas

Use of appropriate technology (read cheap!) to build and operate economically

Hands-on sessions at the farm give you practical experience in building and operating systems

Sign up for Hawaii BioGas training ($250) and receive your copy of the "BioGas Handbook" to begin study now!
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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter #2

Our first newsletter was received by readers with appreciation and requests for more in-depth information about aquaponics, so that's our committment with our second newsletter and these "nuggets" of aquaponics information. If you have any specific questions about aquaponics, please either check our website at, or email us at training@friendly with your question, and we will include the answer in future newsletters as well so everyone can benefit from it. Thanks for your interest in the future of aquaponics!.

For our aquaponics students, see the "Special Offer!" at the end of this newsletter to attend this training for only $75!

 Nugget #3: Duckweed at your own peril!

A student from our 2008 Commercial Training gave us some duckweed to try feeding to our tilapia. He insisted "My tilapia eat a five-gallon bucket of this every day. They love it!". What we didn't find out until much later during a phone call to his farm manager was that the reason his tilapia eat duckweed so enthusiastically is that he doesn't feed them ANY commercial fish food. They're in a perpetual state of starvation, so OF COURSE they eat the duckweed! If you were starving you'd eat grass, or old shoes, or anything you could get.

A little explanation is in order here: you've heard duckweed is 38% protein, right? Well, that's on the DRY weight of the duckweed. Duckweed is about 95% water. The actual protein content of regular wet duckweed is therefore 38% of the 5% that is NOT water, which is 2%. We could have done some simple math and avoided all this trouble!

Fortunately, before we ever fed any of this duckweed to our fish (thereby introducing whatever might be in it to our aquaponics systems) we quarantined it for 45 days in a separate tank. We found crawfish in the tank at the end of that period, which had been brought in somehow with the duckweed. We meticulously cleaned the crawfish out of the duckweed and transferred the duckweed to another tank, then fed it to our fish. We ate the crawfish.

You want to raise crawfish? Crawfish are like piranha with opposing thumbs: they will eat anything and everything in a closed system, including each other (except any tilapia that are too big for them to eat). They can crawl out at night and traverse long distances cross-country in the cool darkness, and so will transfer themselves to other nearby systems.

If you get them in an aquaponics system the only sure way to get them out is to dry and sterilize the system. This means chloroxing everything in the system: tanks, rafts, troughs, piping, pumps, and so on, then letting it dry for a couple of days. It would be a huge job, and you would lose all that system’s productivity for a month or so. Keep crawfish out of your farm!

When we finally fed the duckweed to our fish, they didn't eat it. We left it in the tank for three days; they didn't eat it. We fed them no other food for a day; they didn't eat it. When we starved them for two days; they finally ate about a quarter of what we put in the tanks, then stopped.

That would have been OK, score 1 for the tilapia, duckweed 0, but the duckweed spread through every system we had so that now it's impossible to eradicate it. We totally dried out and chloroxed one of those systems by way of an experiment to see if we COULD get rid of it, but it was back a couple of weeks later. So we just scoop it out of the troughs each time we harvest and throw it on the compost pile. It’s an ongoing maintenance problem we’ll have FOREVER. Keep duckweed out of your farm!

 Nugget #4: We Have A Tank And Some Fish

Or, “Can't I Just Raise Some Fish And Vegetables In My Pond?” Everyone wants to do it more easily and simply, so we always get this question: I have a tank (or pond) already, can't I just put some fish in it and raise them? If you know that aquaponics works because the hydroponics acts as a biofilter for the fish tank water, cleaning and recirculating it so the fish stay healthy, then you'll understand why a pond or tank that is not recirculated through a hydroponics vegetable growing system will just grow algae, and not very many fish.

In a stand-alone fish tank or "pond", the fish excrete urine and solids into the water. Because there's no recirculating aquaponics system that cleans the water by converting this stuff into plants that then get harvested and taken out of the system, the urine and solids just build up in the pond until you get an algae bloom, i.e., a whole lot of phytoplankton taking advantage of the nutrients in the water.

When algae blooms, the result is a high DO level (dissolved oxygen) in the daytime because of all the algae photosynthesizing and creating oxygen. Oxygen is good for the fish, but algae isn't, because there is a reverse cycle in the dark of night (Diel cycle) that is caused by the die-off of the phytoplankton, which have a 2 to 4 hour long life cycle. The nightly die-off of phytoplankton consumes much or all of the oxygen made by the algae in the daytime, which reduces the DO level, sometimes to dangerous levels.

The DO can easily go so low it stresses the fish at night, which means they grow poorly and may not reproduce at all. Some of these stunted fish may manage to breed, and some of the fry make it to very small adult size. What this means is that without a biofilter similar to an aquaponics system connected to it, or a WHOLE LOT of water being flushed through it daily, a tank or pond will have a lot of slimy algae and just a few 7" to 8" long tilapia in it after a year of operation.

So after you answer that one, people ask, "why can't I just put some vegetables in a raft on top of my pond/tank?". If you somehow manage to put plants in a floating structure on top of your pond or tank, and you manage to protect their roots from getting eaten by the fish, then you will have about five percent of the area in plants that you need to really clean the water to acceptable quality for the maximum amount of fish you could raise in that volume of water with enough filtration and aeration (which, by the way, the pond doesn't have).

This means you need to reduce the amount of fish to the point there is no appreciable production from your tank, either vegetables or fish. It's a lot easier to build a shade cover for your existing tank and connect it to a couple of newly-built hydroponics troughs. Then you'll get decent production of both.

 Stay tuned for more Nuggets!
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Special Offer! For any of our students who have taken either our Commercial Aquaponics Training or a Personal Intensive in the past, you may audit this course for $75 for your course materials and refreshments. Please respond and let us know you are coming so we can expect you!

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Friendly Aquaponics, Inc
PO Box 1196
Honokaa, HI 96727

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