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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 144
November 5th,  2013
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend

In today's "Nugget", we continue with Part 10 of our series on "Energy-Efficient Greenhouses For Aquaponic Growing".

Our "In The Farmily" column today
is Part 2 of the story of our son Lucky, and why he got the nickname "Lucky". He really is lucky, as you will understand when you read it!

We have a new "mini-column" called "Fish Bites" with technical information and supplier information we recently developed.

Aquaponics Nugget #144, Part 10: Energy-Efficient Greenhouses For Aquaponics

(You can catch the first 9 of this series on our "Back Newsletters" page, starting with #135, if you wish!)

Geothermal cooling ditch and heat exchanger for active cooling:


We talked about how to get rid of hot air from the greenhouse, and bring in cool air from the “cold side”, but there’s a much more energy-efficient way to keep your greenhouse cool: cooling your aquaponics water. To cool it, you utilize the biggest, coldest thermal mass in the area: the ground four to ten feet down below the surface.

In most of the US, the ground six feet down is at a nearly constant temperature all year long, ranging from 45 degrees up to 70 degrees F. We will make use of this huge “reservoir of cold” to construct a geothermal cooling system for your aquaponics water.


This is really simple: you dig a trench or series of trenches (depending on the size of your installation), and run lines of type "L" copper tubing (GOOD heat exchanger but expensive, you need LESS of it), or lines of Pex tubing (cheaper, but a lot MORE of it because it's a POORER heat exchanger) in the bottom of your trench. Then you pump water through your pipe in this cool dirt, then back up through your heat exchanger in your fish tank or separate tank to cool your aquaponics system water.


Do your research first before you dig an expensive trench: dig as small as possible a hole ten feet deep, put four pieces of 1-1/2” PVC pipe in vertically, one with its bottom at 4 feet below the surface, one with its bottom at 6 feet below the surface, one at 8 feet, and one at 10 feet, with a cap glued on the bottom end of each pipe and a threaded cap on the top of each pipe. Fill the hole back up, wait a day or so for the temperature to stabilize, then put a thermometer with a 10-foot probe down each piece of PVC in the hole to check the temperature at each respective depth below ground.


This thermometer can be purchased from Aquatic EcoSystems; it’s their catalog number 8040, $18, or catalog number TH99, $20.99, 877-347-4788. If you find that it’s 68 degrees F 10 feet down, this does not give you much cooling power; if you find that it’s 55 degrees F 6 feet down, you definitely have a valuable geothermal cooling resource! This test will give you an idea how deep you need to dig to get some cold before you commission or dig an expensive but possibly useless trench.

The copper cooling coil, with ¼-inch thick polyethylene sheet “spacers” (the white things) to hold the copper pipes the correct distance apart while being buried in the bottom of the ditch.

IMPORTANT! If your area is rock, or otherwise difficult or impossible to dig in, this trench system of geothermal cooling may not feasible. If you hit rock soon after starting to dig your test hole, you are stuck, but not completely!

You may be thinking you are limited to shading, passive hot air venting, water walls, and energy-efficient fans on your cold side as your only sources of cooling; but you haven’t thought about drilling a geothermal well yet. (Covered in our next newsletter!).

An Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse with the participants in our second June 2013 course in Tennessee!

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(Next newsletter in this series will cover  additional methods to achieve energy-efficient cooling for the aquaponic solar greenhouse. Most important for those of you who are "lightly funded", a bit later in this series we will explain how to purchase and erect your own energy efficient greenhouse for pennies on the dollar, even if you never purchase any of our offerings! Thanks for listening!)

For smaller home backyard and apartment systems, please read on:
Purchase Construction Plans and Operating Info for 4 Different Sizes of Table Top Aquaponics Systems $49.95

Our TableTop System package includes easy-to-understand building instructions and operating information for 4 different sizes of small aquaponic systems based on our years of experience. 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, and fun too!

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 TableTop Systems!


Friendly 2014 Commercial Aquaponics and Greenhouse Trainings;

Texas Training from January 13th to the 17th at Ben Godfrey's farm in Milam County, Texas (Click here for more information!).

Tennessee Training from January 27th to the 31st at Randy Campbell's farm in Elora, Tennessee (Click here for more information!).

These trainings are $1,495 per person for five days of the most comprehensive and profitable Commercial Aquaponics and energy efficient Solar Greenhouse technology on the planet. If you can't wait until Jamuary to learn about profitable commercial aquaponics, check out our Personal Intensive trainings in Hawaii.

(Below) One of Ben and Alysha Godfrey's aquaponics systems in a greenhouse in Milam County, Texas. I can't wait to taste their system water! lettuce2-385px

(Below) Another of Ben and Alysha's aquaponic greenhouses.

(Below) Tim drinking water from one of Randy and Katie's aquaponics systems at a Tennessee training. "I've been doing this for six years; I'm certain the food from these systems is safe and healthy" (Tim).  TimWaterDrinkingNugget

These five-day trainings allow you to travel during the weekend so that you only need to take a week off your busy life to attend, and include our $999 DIY Commercial Aquaponics package, $998 DIY Farmer's Market Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse package, and new $295 DIY Commercial Tilapia Hatchery manual as course materials, plus our Plywood/Epoxy/ Tank manual, CAD construction drawings for all greenhouses and aquaponics systems, and much more!

(Below) Randy and Tim showing attendees at a Tennessee training how easy it is to use a DO (dissolved oxygen) meter to measure oxygen levels in the vegetable troughs.


If you're located near Tennessee or Texas, Randy and Katie Campbell (in Tennessee) and Ben Godfrey (in Texas) give regular free farm tours of their aquaponics systems and greenhouses to introduce the public to the benefits of aquaponics and energy-efficient greenhouse growing.

In Tennessee: Call Randy and Katie at 256-679-9488 or email Randy to find out when the next farm tour is scheduled.

In Texas: Call Ben at 254-697-2927 or email Ben to find out when their next "Family Day" farm tour is scheduled ($15 fee per family is charged).

More details of the Aquaponics Technology course here.

More details of the Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse course here.

More details of the Commercial Aquaponics course here.

(Below) Randy and Katie's Chinese-style Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse in Tennessee in the February snow, 2013. 70 degrees inside and you had to take your coat off when working with the vegetables!

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The Friendly  Aquaponics Way Video!
Back Issues Of Newsletters Now Available, Click Here!
Trough Liner Distributors:
West Coast USA
East Coast USA

Click here for Trout fry and fingerlings directly from the hatchery to you!

Spanish Language Micro System package now available!
Free Farm Tours

Aquaponics tour at the Friendly farm!

We hold a free Farm Tour on our farm the FIRST Saturday of every month at 10:00,  focused on growing food with aquaponics.  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!


Thousands of inch-long "fifty-cent" baby tilapia from our "backyard" hatchery.


What they turn into about a year later: a beautiful 2-pound white tilapia grown in the fish tanks of our aquaponics systems.



Sign yourself up for the Texas January 2014 (13th-17th)

Or sign yourself up for the Tennessee January 2014 (27th-31st)

Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse Training
NOW, and receive a free Micro System DIY package so you can begin studying aquaponics, as soon as you register! ($99.95 value)


Micro System Classes!

Our four affiliates are now offering Micro System courses.

Click here
for a listing of affiliates and course locations!


"Fish Bites: Food-Grade Liners and Fish Tanks"

Corrugated steel round fish tanks come from Scafco Grain Systems,

Tell them you need an open-top tank, not one with a conical steel roof, which you don't need or want for a fish tank.

For Liner, order standard sizes AND custom-sized round and rectangular food-grade vinyl liners from DLM Plastics, 1530 Harvard Avenue, Findlay, OH, 45840, 419-424-5250. Get "White NSF-61 PVC", it is FOOD-GRADE vinyl (the "NSF" on the label means "National Sanitation Foundation").

"In The Farmily: Lucky's Story, Part 2"

Lucky was born at home around one PM, but by three or so, our midwife Nina had diagnosed that he had a problem, and told us we should get him to the hospital as soon as possible. I grabbed my wallet and shoes, and Susanne grabbed Lucky and a baby blanket.

The hospital was only about twenty minutes away, so we were there soon, about 4 or 5 in the afternoon. I was so naive that I thought we’d be coming back that night, after the doctors in the ER treated Lucky for whatever the problem was.


We took Lucky in, and Nina told the admitting physician in the ER the story of his birth and why we’d brought him in. He listened to Lucky’s heart and lungs, and called Kapiolani Children’s Hospital right away (the best children’s hospital in Hawaii), but we didn’t know about this call until later.


A nurse came in and started trying to put an IV line into Lucky’s foot, but he wasn’t having any of it; a 10-pound, 2-ounce baby, he screamed his head off and kicked vigorously. It eventually took two nurses and about fifteen minutes to get the IV line in. We didn’t know what was happening, and were pretty upset by this time.

After they got the IV line in, they sedated him and “intubated” him (means putting a tube down his throat to help him breathe) and installed a ventilator with an oxygen line on the tube. He was just a newborn baby, who wouldn’t understand what was going on, except that it felt bad: he would have screamed and choked on the tube if he hadn’t been sedated.


We asked our midwife Nina what was going on, but she didn’t know much more than we did. She was handicapped because nurse midwives like her are sometimes looked down on by the “medical establishment”. She had attended over 500 births, but in spite of her training and professionalism the doctor wasn’t happy about answering her questions.


Around ten or eleven, we realized we were going to be there a while, so Susanne and I curled up where we could and tried to get some rest. They told us that Kapiolani was sending over an infant medevac team with an incubator for our baby; but then we didn’t hear any more about them for awhile. When we did get news, it turned out that because of bad weather, the medevac team couldn’t make it over in the normal 4-seater plane.


By this time, we’d realized from what we overheard from the doctors and nurses, and from talking with Nina, that Lucky had a dangerous condition, and that he might not make it. I started worrying about the plane and the bad weather; with no news, we were in the dark and completely freaked out by now.

Then about ten in the morning (the next day), someone came and told us they were “sending a plane”, and Susanne and Lucky should get ready for an ambulance ride to the Kona airport.


I said my goodbyes to Susanne at the hospital, and got on the phone and bought a plane ticket from Kona to Honolulu, where they were taking Lucky to Kapiolani Children’s Hospital. Then I simply got in my truck and drove to the Kona airport.

I’d checked in by phone with Susanne’s mom Isabelle, who was at home with 1-1/2 year old Jack and seven year old Victor, and she said everything was OK, she could handle the kids, and I should just go.

Although my plane took off later than Susanne's plane did, I actually got to Kapiolani a bit before Susanne and the baby did, without hearing anything from her about what was happening: we had left home in such a hurry that Sus had forgotten her cellphone; I was the only one with a phone.

No one at Kapiolani seemed to know who Susanne and Lucky were, until I went into their Infant Intensive Care Unit ward; someone there had heard a baby was being transferred over from the Big Island, but not much more than that.

I fretted and paced outside the infant ICU, then perked up when I heard Susanne’s voice around the corner; there she was with the two infant medevacs and Lucky in a high-tech space bubble on wheels. They wheeled Lucky in and started putting him on a better ventilator, and administering a new “surfactant” that would open his lungs up and help him breathe better.


We got conducted to a small room for a talk with the head MD in charge of the infant ICU. He told us flatly that he didn’t expect our baby to live. “Your baby is the sickest baby in the whole ward of 52 infants”, he said. We’d seen a 26-ounce premature baby that had been born with his intestines on the outside, so this was quite a shock to us.

The doctor went on to explain that this small baby wasn’t sick, just small and needed an operation; Lucky was extremely sick with something they couldn’t just “operate” out of his lungs.


They were making arrangements to fly Lucky to San Diego the next day if he didn’t improve, to one of the two places in the country where they had an infant ECMO machine.

Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation is a heart-lung machine that both breathes for the baby and pumps their blood while they get better. It is a last resort for babies who are certain to die without it.

(to be continued)

Aloha, Tim....

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This email, our manuals and construction plans are all copyrighted by  Friendly Aquaponics, Inc, Susanne Friend and Tim Mann, 2008-2013

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