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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 84
July 29th,  2012
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend,

In Today's Newsletter:

We've got a great "Nugget" in today's newsletter about hatching your own tilapia in your backyard. Why buy expensive tilapia fry and fingerlings from a far away supplier, when you can breed your own, and even sell them to other aquaponicists around you who are getting started? This technique will surprise you, because it's so easy, and can be done with inexpensive equipment and materials.

If You're Asking Yourself: "Whose Commercial Aquaponics Training To Take?"


We've operated a commercial aquaponics farm for five years. Ask them how long they have (for a laugh, ask them if they were once one of our students!).


We've been USDA organically certified for four years, and were the first in the world to achieve this certification (we also teach you how to get certified). The only other who teaches organic certification uses the exact same system we developed four years ago (wonder where they got that from?).


Our students are profitable, and we can give you contact information for them so you can confirm this for yourself. Ask them for this.

One of our students built and is running what we think may be the largest aquaponics operation in the world: 34,000 square feet of greeenhouse space.

We're willing to share our financial data: it and our business plans are included in our courses.
Ask them for this.

We will help you be successful in the world of commercial aquaponic food production.

If you're interested in earning a living from aquaponics, we have three trainings scheduled in the balance of 2012:


Training 1: In Hawaii, August 26th to September 1st. Our Aquaponics Technology Training, plus the Solar Greenhouse Training, plus the Commercial Aquaponics Training. Attend one or more trainings to suit your needs. More information on those trainings on our webpage here.

Training 2:
In Tennesee, the same six days of training from September 16th to the 22nd at Randy and Katy Campbell's farm, Ellibell Farm, in Elora, Tennesee. You can sign up now for these trainings on our webpage here. You can also call Randy directly at 256-679-9488, or email Randy for information.

Training 3:
The same six days of training, October 21st to the 27th in Hawaii.

 
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 August 2012 and in Tennessee in September 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 #84, "What If You Don't Have A Hatchery Nearby?

What if you don't have a tilapia hatchery nearby, or it has high prices? There are tilapia in many local rivers and lakes. Get a cross net or a friend with a cross net, a couple of buckets, and you are in business. Go to your nearest lake, cow pond, or standing body of water, or ask locals if they know where there are tilapia. Cross net the body of water, pick out the biggest, healthiest looking fish, and put them in the buckets full of water to take home.

If catching your own fish is more than you can handle, find somewhere to purchase some breeding age tilapia. Tilapia are breeding age when not much more than 1/2 lb in size, or 8" or so in length. Males have TWO rearmost apertures, and females have THREE. You want a ratio of two females for every male.
 
Breed Your Own! Method Number One: This is the simplest and cheapest method, and will provide far more than "replacement" fish for your system; you will have a spare hundred or so a year to give away or sell. You must have a minimum size 300-gallon fish tank in your Micro System for this to work (anything smaller, and the fish will be so crowded they won’t breed!). First, you need to put a mesh barrier “corral” made from half-inch plastic mesh across one end of the tank, about 12 inches in from the end. This barrier completely blocks the end of the tank from top to bottom so no fish can jump over, pass under, or get by on the sides.

The purpose of this barrier is so the half-inch long babies (which can easily swim right through the half-inch mesh!) can shelter there and not get eaten by the larger 2-3” long fish in the same tank on the other side of the mesh barrier. Put two pieces of 6” PVC pipe that are 12 inches long each (these are the breeding habitats for the tilapia) on the bottom of the tank on the “big” side away from the mesh corral, and the tilapia will take care of the rest for you.

Once or twice a month, you will need to go through the “small” side of the mesh barrier “corral” with a dip net and dip out all the tilapia in there that are too big to swim back out through the mesh; then just put them on the big side of the tank; they will not be able to swim back through the mesh and eat the little guys.

This is how you give the little guys a protected area inside the tank to grow in without getting eaten. To make it more attractive, you can put some “water weeds” such as water hyacinth into the “small” side of the tank for the tilapia fry to shelter under; a natural behavior for them. You can hatch babies and raise big fish all in the same tank! We use this method in one of our Micro Systems, and it works really well!

Breed Your Own! Method Number Two: This is more of a backyard "production" breeding setup: put 8 to 10 total of select breeding tilapia (two females to one male) in a separate minimum 300-gallon tank that has the same two PVC pipe breeding habitats, but no mesh “corral”. This tank has two or three airstones in it, and is not hooked to any aquaponics system! This is what’s called a “greenwater system”, because the water in the tank becomes green from all the algae that grows in it. This is what you want! The only sneaky thing about this is that you have to totally dump the tank water and refill with clean water about twice a year, so the tank water doesn’t go anaerobic and kill all your fish. You need another tank (or kid’s plastic swimming pool) to move your fish to while you do this, you can’t do it with them in the tank.

You also need two 55-gallon plastic barrels, which are connected to your greenwater fish tank with a small (2-3gpm) submersible water pump located in the bottom of the fish tank, which pumps water up and into the first barrel through a ¾-inch piece of tubing. Then the water flows by gravity through a 1-inch PVC pipe between the two barrels to the second barrel, then it flows by gravity from the second barrel back to the fish tank. Can you visualize that? This is so that the fish tank water is also the water that’s in the two barrels. One more picky little detail: you need to put a screen filter in each barrel on the PVC pipe where the water goes out so the little fish don’t migrate from barrel #1 to barrel #2, or from barrel #2 back into the fish tank.

Feed your breeding fish, keep the water temperature in the fish tank higher than 72 degrees F, and when the babies appear (about a half inch to three-quarters of an inch long) scoop them off the top with a fine-mesh scoop net (1/32 inch mesh is a good size) before any larger ones can eat them. Put these little ones in barrel #1. Net the tank again with a scoop net with larger (1/2” mesh is a good size) and get all the little 2-3" ones out, because these will eat all the babies the big ones can produce, and put these 2-3” guys in barrel #2 separately from the babies in barrel #1.

Remember the screens between the barrels so the little fish don’t flow through to the other barrel or the big tank. The half-inch fish will grow to 2-3” in size within a few months. The 2-3 inch fish will grow to 4 inches, at which point it’s safe to throw them into your Micro System or aquaponics system fish tank, because they’re big enough to survive with the bigger fish there; or sell them to someone who’s starting up a home aquaponics system.

WARNING: Here’s a possible problem with setting up a home tilapia hatchery! There are tilapia hatcheries and growers that sex-reverse all their tilapia fry shortly after hatching with a hormone: methyl testosterone. Beware of purchasing stock for breeding from one of these growers! Even if you ask, they may not honestly inform you that your fish have been sex-reversed. Why is this a problem? Well, think about it: if you bought fish from one of these growers, you will have a tank full of all-male fish. They may eat a lot of food, they may get big and fat, but they will never, ever, lay a single egg! So, it is buyer beware here if you are trying to find tilapia breeding stock. Just remember, you need to set up a coed dorm!

The photo below is our Solar Greenhouse. It's cool when it's hot, and warm when it's cold (hope that makes sense to you, it's the best greenhouse we've ever seen!).

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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: Something interesting and valuable to know about aquaponics. 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!

Free Farm Tours
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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!


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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! Sign up for our HAWAII August 30-31st Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training
or our
HAWAII August 26-28 Aquaponics Technology Training,
or our
TENNESSEE September 20-21 Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training
or our
TENNESSEE September 16-18th 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

"The Fish's View"

This is a fish story from 1983, when Tropic Bird and I were fishing off the coast of Kona on the Big Island. It’s about how I developed the mahi-mahi call. If you’re a fisherperson, or a commercial fisher, you probably already know about “holding your mouth right”; a major component of catching fish in any waters anywhere, whether salt or fresh. I’ll explain that first, for our non-fishing readers:

“Holding your mouth right” simply refers to the unquantifiable ingredients that go towards a fisher’s success or failure in the enterprise. If you don’t hold your mouth right, you don’t catch any fish. If you hold your mouth really right, then you are the one that comes home with the fish hold filled to the brim, because when you hold  your mouth right, it helps you figure out where the fish are. No one can ever catch a fish until he can answer the question: “where are the fish?”.

The subtle, often interconnected clues (that tell him or her where the fish are) don’t always jump right out and salute you, they often have to be figured out from slight hints and differences in the way the tides and currents are interacting, from the wind, from the temperature of the water, and sometimes just from “the way it feels”.

This isn’t shopping, where you know what section of the store to go to to find light bulbs, or cream cheese. This is fishing, and it’s not the least bit amenable to logical analysis.

You’ll get a hunch, or for some people it’s a feeling. The good fisher learns to listen to these hunches, and play them. Often that good fisher will put a baited line in the water, or troll for a while in a certain area to get a little more information.

What’s happening here is that they are trying to reduce the variables. It’s like a mathematical equation; a 1-variable equation is easy to solve: 2 plus X = 5, you know what “X” is, right? A two-variable equation is those parabolas and hyperbolas that we did in high school algebra; a three-variable equation is calculus, and the answer is expressed as a range of possibilities rather than a single-number “answer”.

But fishing? That’s more like a seventeen-variable equation, with the variables shifting all the time: some being subtracted from the equation, and more being added, as the tide changes, as the schools of bait fish move around. It is something that can be solved only by approaching it using a special kind of “fuzzy” logic, in the fastest and most complex computer in the world: the human mind. I’ll give you an example that will demonstrate the “fishing computer” in action:

We were on our way to the shrimp grounds, to pull and reset our three lines of shrimp traps. I knew we were going to pass by a deepwater fish aggregation bouy, and about two minutes before we got to the bouy, an uncontrollable urge seized me, and I yodeled for an entire minute: heeerrre, mahimahimahiiiiii! (repeat). Now, imagine this yodeled at the top of one’s voice, with the same intonation and cadence that is usually used in “soooweeee, here, pig, pig, pig!” when one is calling the hogs to feed.

My crewman just looked at me like I’d lost my mind! I told him: “get ready”. About a minute later two mahi mahi, each about thirty pounds, hit our trolling lines, one on each side of the boat. I idled back the engine, went and pulled one of the lines in and gaffed the fish, while he did the same with the other line. We had sixty pounds of fish in the boat, we’d made some money over expenses, and we hadn’t even pulled the shrimp traps yet.

We knew it was going to be a good day. And I used the mahi mahi call a lot, after that.

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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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