Let’s Consider the Two Principle Workers:

Aquaponics utilizes natural processes. We rely on these natural processes to produce a truly organic nutrient bank.

- Nitrosomonas Bacteria
- Nitrobacter Bacteria

These two bacteria are naturally occurring. They are in the soil and water all
around us.

When we provide the starter compound, ammonia, the bacteria
swing into action and grow and multiply according to their food source.

The nitrogen cycle

The nitrogen cycle

TheNitrosomonas bacteria
convert the ammonia to Nitrite, and when Nitrite is present, then
theNitrobacter Bacteria convert the Nitrite to Nitrate.

Nitrate is, of course, the principal plant food for all plants, in particular leafy green plants such as vegetables.

To reiterate - it is important to understand that there is a myriad of microbes and bacteria at work in an Aquaponics system and eventually as the system matures many naturally occurring
nutrients become available to the plants.

Ammonia is the major waste product of the Kish.
released across the gills as a gas, and immediately dissolved in
the system water. Ammonia is TOXIC to fish at low levels and therefore, needs to be made
non-toxic as quickly as possible.

This is where the Bacteria play their role. The Bacteria convert the Ammonia (NH3) to Nitrite (NO2), then to Nitrate (NO3) Nitrate is non-toxic to the fish at small to medium levels ( This bacterial conversion of Ammonia to non-toxic Nitrate occurs in the bio-filter and on all the wetted surfaces of the system.

The breakdown, or mineralisation of solids in other areas eg, media beds and mineralisation tank, or sludge tank. This process occurs on all wetted surfaces. Grow media, underside of rafts, sides and bottom of raft beds, walls of fish tank and inside vertical towers.

So we have a system that is home to many, many forms of beneficial oxygen dependant microorganisms that perform very valuable tasks for us, providing the necessary ingredients for nutrient dense produce and healthy fish.

Aquaponics Courses.  Go HERE

It’s Like The African Jungle – Indy 23

Prue and Andrew decided to build an Indy 23 Aquaponics system after completing one of our 4 day Aquaponics Future Farm courses.

Well, without too much text we will show the photos.  These were taken just two months after the system was planted out.

The system is cycled although there are still some lingering pH issues that will settle down soon.

Seasol seaweed extract.

Seasol seaweed extract.

The system is regularly dosed with Seasol seaweed extract as per what we recommend for new systems.

The growth is remarkable from a new system that has 100 Jade Perch fingerlings and 25 x 1 year old Jade Perch in the second fish tank.

Beneficial bacteria are establishing their presence in the system processing the ammonia from the fish waste. This together with the action of the Seasol, myriads of microbes are at work building up a wonderful nutrient base that is in turn delivering excellent plants for food.

Indy 23 system builds are currently underway in Australia, USA, Spain, Cyprus, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, Israel, Philippines, Namibia, Thailand, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Austria.

So as the photos that follow testify...the shocking truth is that the INDY 23 Aquaponics system produces extraordinarily well.

Large healthy plant leaves.

Large healthy plant leaves.


Cucumber and Climbing Beans Aquaponics Indy 23 system

Cucumber and Climbing Beans






Climbing plants.

Climbing plants.

Zucchini in flower

Zucchini in flower









passion fruit

Passion fruit.


Lettuce. Many varieties.










More details about the Indy 23 Plan set can be found here.

The Four Hard Questions For Commercial Aquaponics.


Aquaponics Course

A student from Egypt receives his Certificate on completion of the February 2014 Practical Aquaponics Commercial and Small Farm course.

I have been most fortunate over the last few years in that I have travelled widely around the world and visited and consulted on many Aquaponics farms.  It is always on my mind to identify and clarify the most common reasons some farm projects succeed and some fail.   There is a multitude of reasons both ways, but here I am attempting to condense it down to the four most obvious.There are many many successful farms. For the most part they are quietly going about their business, doing business, expanding business and making money.  Bad news travels fast so it is not surprising that we hear the failure stories.   Almost all Aquaponics farms I have been involved in have either failed or succeeded based on how well or otherwise they have dealt with these four issues.

There is nothing wrong or inherently bad about growing top quality produce. In fact, it is a business activity for this time, without doubt. We see everywhere an increasing demand for quality pure food.  People from all socioeconomic groups are seeking better food for their families.  I should not need to spell out all the bad things that are happening in our “normal” food supply chain. Instead we can concentrate in delivering the “good news” about Aquaponics;  nutrient dense, clean, tasty food.  People everywhere get excited about the possibilities Aquaponics offers, from a commercial business perspective and as a consumer.

It really is a “no brainer”. Good, pure, high nutrient density produce will sell for premium prices.

Aquaponics produce is a great product to sell and should be relatively easy to market in most parts of the world.

Many see the beauty and the opportunity Aquaponics offers and set out to create a business plan, a construction plan to “Go Commercial”.

The four big questions you must ask yourself and your business partner if planning to “Go Commercial” are:

Q1. Will I have a viable and vibrant Marketing strategy?
This is the most important aspect of any business and Aquaponics is no different. The old adage “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door” is just not true, unfortunately. You will need to be very intentional in researching your particular location, identifying just who the clients are, then getting your message to them.   And this task will NEVER end.  It is not a “set and forget” type of thing.

Q2. Do I have enough capital?
Make sure your set up costs and earning projections are realistic.  Remember Murphy’s law? “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Any form of farming is a risky business. Make sure you have enough cash to see your project into profit. Go over your cost projections over and over again. Be very conservative in your numbers.  Ignore the crazy claims made by some - “1100 vegetables and 400 pounds of fish per year” from a system about the size of a snooker table, and tens of thousands of pounds from something as big as a family tennis court.  Growing produce by the Aquaponic method is not some “dark art” that will produce magical harvests and truckloads of money.  Gather information from a reliable source, or two.

Q3. Do I have a good work ethic?
This may sound like a silly question, but many an “investor” type person’s idea of running a farm is sitting all day in an air-conditioned office and expecting the “hired hands” to get it all done.  If you are going to be a successful farmer then you need to be a farmer. That means getting out there at daylight, harvesting the produce and getting it to your clients.  I have seen a couple of farm failures that have flopped for this very reason. The guy turns up at 10 am and is gone again by twelve.  Farming is farming.  Having said that, one very experienced and successful farmer says that Aquaponics farming is the easiest farming he has ever done, but it is still farming.

Q4. Do I have unrealistic expectations and have I set unrealistic pre conditions?
Some contact me and ask for advices and then place unrealistic conditions on their proposed project. The most common one I see of late is: “I expect to be introduced to a half-dozen successful farms and I demand that these farms reveal their last two years profit and loss statements and that the farm only has one revenue stream”.   This attitude reveals an underlying desire to just copy someone else’s plan and be guaranteed success. If this was actually done it would almost guarantee failure.  Someone else’s plan can never be your plan.  Their marketing strategy can never be a perfect fit for your location. Their work ethic is most likely very different from your work ethic. Their capital availability is very likely to be different from yours and so on it goes.  It is just plain silly to demand such things.  People that are successful farmers are not very likely to open their books to any old Tom, Dick or Harry that demands to take a look.  You need to be first convinced that Aquaponics produce is a good and saleable product, then you need to have a plan to sell it for the highest possible price.  Having said that, it is good and worthwhile to be able to view some case studies. No one makes money from growing produce, money is made from selling the produce.

Never discount other revenue streams from your Aquaponics farm plan. Businesses everywhere and of every type strive to create and identify as many revenue streams as possible to incorporate into their business plan.  In my view it is a recipe for failure to place such revenue restrictions on your Aquaponics business model.   We see this idea of revenue only from one source being sprouted on forums and email groups, interestingly from people that do not even have a Aquaponics farm or, in some cases have not even had a small Aquaponics home system.  Most promoting these fanciful ideas have never even had and run their own business; of any type.

In creating your business plan it is prudent to be assured that you can ultimately make it pay from the core activity alone.  However, do not discount or exclude other possible revenue streams.   Other revenue streams are very useful in providing cash flow, especially during the development and bedding down phases of the business plan implementation. Every business has seasonal or circumstantial dips in revenue from the core activity. That is when the other smaller revenue stream activities carry the business through those down times.

So, the questions you need to answer very truthfully to yourself are:

1       Will I give due attention to my marketing plan?

2       Will I have enough cash to see the project through to profit?

3       Will I work like a farmer and do on a daily basis the work that needs to be done? and

4       Do I have very realistic expectations?

Murray Hallam's Practical Aquaponics.

Truly excellent Commercial and Small Farm training delivered by Murray Hallam himself.  Find out how you can attend one of these 4 day or 1 day Aquaponics courses HERE.

Murray Hallams Practical Aquaponics - Aquaponics based on practical experience.

Discover Aquaponics Extended – a Premier Event in Texas.

A premier Aquaponics event will be held in Spring Texas, Sat - Sun 9/14/13 - 9/15/13  and Mon - Tue 9/16/13 - 9/17/13

Discover Aquaponics Extended.  Spring Texas.

Discover Aquaponics Extended. Spring Texas.

Aquaponics Institute team with Murray Hallam will present Home Aquaponics instruction at its best. There will be two x two day sessions.   Choose the two day session that suits you best.

Discover AQUAPONICS Extended -

Course content. – Day #1

Discover Aquaponics –

Includes;  What is Aquaponics. Aquaponics description/history. What you can grow. Plants. Fish. The Aquaponic advantage. Comparison, Hydroponics, Aquaculture.  Is Aquaponics Organic.

Cycling a new system –
The nitrogen cycle. Cycling without fish. Cycling with fish.
Recycling nutrients. Environmental parameters.

System Parameters –
pH. Dissolved oxygen. Temperature. Conductivity (EC)

Water Chemistry –
Managing system chemistry.  Nutrient origins.

Protected Aquaponics –
Why protect. Protection criteria. Climate control. Structure types. Geodesic domes. Hoop houses.  Heating and cooling methodologies.  Layout and planning.

Dragon Heaters –
Wood burning combustion chamber technology.

Practical Workshops –
Dragon heaters.  Greenhouse system inspections. Backup systems.

 Discover AQUAPONICS Extended -

Course content – Day #2

Types Of Aquaponic Systems-
Media Grow Beds. Nutrient Film Technique. Deep Water Culture. Wicking Beds.

System Design-
Pumps. Plumbing. Siphons. Timers.   CHOP. CHOP 2. FloMedia. Filters. Clarifiers.
Swirl filters.  Canister Filters.

Fish and Plants-
Fish diseases. Treatment.
Integrated pest management. Common plant diseases.
Nutrients balance/shortfall. Compost. Vermiculture. Grow bed health.
Which species of fish. Fish food.

Practical Workshops –
Home system build. Plans. Liner. Specifications.
Water testing. Aeration devices. Fish handling.
Seed raising. Planting. Pruning. Buffering the system.

Aquaponics Institute team with Murray Hallam will present Home Aquaponics instruction at its best. There will be two x two day sessions.   Choose the two day session that suits you best.

Aquaponics Gold. – Here it is

Aquaponics Gold

Where is the Gold in Aquaponics?

Where is the gold in Commercial Aquaponics? How will I make it pay?
Most think that the profit is somehow connected to a clever plumbing layout or some other construction secret. While it is important to have a well designed installation and have good knowledge on day to day farm routine, that is not where the money is.  Obviously, if the design, structure and farm management methodologies are not robust, then there is no foundation from which to reap profit.

Making it pay is all about having the product that people want, and getting it to them.  This is the part of the plan that should occupy 80% of our overall planning, implementation and ongoing enquiry.

The health and better living movement is growing rapidly and it takes many turns as it does.  Like never before people are realising that food purity and quality is the pinnacle, the thing to strive for, that will improve and restore personal well being.

We Aquaponics practitioners are in the health food business.  We are at the cutting edge of the clean, pure health food chain.

Enter the concept of "Super Foods".
A "super food" is one that delivers a truck load of very beneficial elements.  A super food does not come in a can , bottle or plastic packaging.

Plant based foods are the super foods, the ones that can guard your health and improve your health.  What a wonderful thing for Aquaponic growers.   We are able to produce plant foods that are better than organic, nutritionally at the top and as pure as you can possibly get in our very impure environment.

Aquaponics Kale

Kale - a super food.

Right now a "Gold" product is Kale.  That's right;  old fashioned Kale.   Comes in a number of varieties and there will be one that you can grow in your climate and season.
The health and nutrition gurus are recommending strongly that people go out and get Kale.

Kale ticks all the boxes when it comes to nutrition, and it ticks all the boxes as an Aquaponics farm product.  It is easy to grow,  and right now you will be able to sell as much of it as you can produce and for a premium price.

Producing a premium quality product, and sold for a premium price, now, that's Aquaponics Gold.

For truly expert Commercial and small farm knowledge Go HERE

Nutrient and Sunlight

We have put together a short video clip to show the amazing difference between plants from the exact seedling batch, planted in different systems.
One system is young and new and has not yet built up a good solid nutrient bank. Obviously the nutrient does not yet extend across the full spectrum of that needed for good plant health.  This is so important for the follow on effect this has for the food consumers personal health and well being.

Nutrient in a well found Aquaponics system comes from a variety of sources but principally from the fish waste.  There is a variety of ways that nutrient can be provided, all of them relatively easy and very effective.

Nutrient capture and distribution is vital to ensure the system produces well.

Our FloMedia methodology, utilising media beds together with raft systems connected in the right configuration and proportions provides good plant nutrition across the plant side of the Aquaponics system.

This is evidenced by the plants we grow in our research and client systems.  Good examples of wonderfully healthy plants can be seen in the video clip.  I have visited on Aquaponic farms where, frankly, the growth of commercial crops was poor.  This is due to insufficient balanced nutrient properly distributed across the farm systems. A successful Aquaponic operation needs to maximise the output from the farm, community or home system while working within good cost structures.

Learn about these and other very practical methodologies from those with the actual practical experience on farms from all climate zones.

The next Practical Aquaponics Workshop will be held in Pescadero California Feb 24 - 28, 2013
See here for the course outline.

This course is heavily biased toward a practical hands-on experience. Not hours and hours of boring monologue but useful, practical how-to-make-it-work information.

There will be an excellent info filled comprehensive Manual for the attendees to take away with them......

Aquaponics In Disney World.

That is right,
Practical Aquaponics in conjunction with Planet Stewards will conduct worlds best Aquaponics training and workshop right at Disney World Orlando September 16 thru 19 inclusive.

If you want to learn about Aquaponics this is an event not to be missed.

Practical Aquaponics greenhouse.

Murray Hallam in his FloMedia research greenhouse.

Learn and train hands on with Murray Hallam  - Aleece B. Landis (TCLynx) - Sahib and Cosmo.
Spend 4 full packed days at the beautiful Hilton Doubletree Disney Resort. (Why not stay a few days extra and enjoy Disney World - special rates for attendees - more about that later.)
The most in-depth training and class on the many different systems used in Aquaponics today right through from Home systems to Commercial scale operating information .

This 4 day event will include the following.

Starting with 7 hours of packed classroom education and training to prepare your for the following two full days in the field learning and doing.
Learn Backyard - Small Farm - Urban and Commercial methods

Day two in the field with a full day of hands on workshops and training at TCLyx’s farm with Murray Hallam and TCLynx. Training and building of the new unique Rail Beds and Media hybrid systems. Learn about the Vertical Zipgrow towers for commercial production.  Over 15 different components used in 5 different Hydroponic systems. Learn how to sell your produce in the most effective way.

Day Three in the field with a full day of workshops and training Sahib’s Urban Aquaponics with Sahib and Cosmo.  At Sahibs amazing Urban farm we will be training on Deep and Shallow Water Culture, Vertigro and Sandwich vertical systems. Sahibs unique Zero Lot Aquaponics. Greenhouse and Wicking beds.  Explore and learn about over 6 different Aquaponic systems.

Day Four at the Doubletree will be intense with more Classroom training on more systems designs, Marketing and several hours of breakouts with the instructors on the components and technologies you just learned about.  Each day will  end with in-depth Q&A sessions.

main street Disneyworld Orlando

Main Street Disney World Orland right across the road from the Doubletree Hotel

Of course with all the intense learning you will need to spend some time unwinding and enjoying the entertainment of Disney just across the street from the hotel with special rates for our conference attendees.  The DoubleTree suites are all 2 room suites that can sleep 6 and at an amazing Practical Aquaponics conference rate. Practical Aquaponics will provide your breaks and full lunch all four days. This is not your one way only Aquaponics Training.  This is the Full Monty, the Real Deal in Aquaponic Training.

Practical Aquaponics greenhouse.

Murray Hallam in his FloMedia research greenhouse.  Media and DWC combined in the most productive way.

Go HERE for more detail and to reserve your space.

Sustainable Passive Solar Greenhouse – Aquaponics.

Practical Aquaponics Greenhouse

Green house employing passive heating and cooling.

Murray Hallam. Good morning, my name is Murray Hallam of Practical Aquaponics and I’m here this morning talking to Cord and Penn Parmenter from  Wycliff in Colorado. Now I've been told that you pair are going to be at the training that is going to be happening in Florida in April. Is that correct?

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Listen to the Podcast.

Penn Parmenter.  That’s right. We’re looking forward to coming to Tampa to teach people about sustainable greenhouses.

Murray Hallam.  Yeah, well this has really got me interested because we get a lot of people talking to us from colder climates and I understand you two live in the Rocky Mountains somewhere is that right? Where’s Wycliffe?

Cord Parmenter.  Well actually it’s called Westcliffe.

Murray Hallam. Oh, sorry.

Cord Parmenter. It’s in the south central part of the state of Colorado, and we are at about 8,100 feet (2,500m) and yeah, we get some pretty cold weather and our greenhouses seem to do pretty well in this cold climate.

Murray Hallam.  And, do you get warm summer days as well?

Practical Aquaponics Greenhouse Parmenter passive solar house.

Passive Solar greenhouse under construction.

Penn Parmenter. Oh boy does it get hot in the Rockies. The sun is very intense at high altitude and so the normal greenhouses can spike really hot and get very cold in the day, so these greenhouses can stabilise those fluctuations using thermal mass.

Murray Hallam.  Ok, do you mind explaining to me what you mean by thermal mass and ah just exactly how does that work, and look I'm looking at your website at the moment and I think I can see some barrels in the back of the greenhouses. Is that right?

Cord Parmenter.  Yes, there are a lot of different kinds of thermal mass, earth mass being one that is readily available, we like to use water mass, basically, thermal mass is any dense material that gives and takes heat. The water mass is much more efficient about absorbing the heat, also giving it back at night. So we like to lean our greenhouses mostly toward water mass. We also use the thermal mass of the earth, raised beds and any other concrete or brick structures within the greenhouse.

Murray Hallam.  That is really interesting. And, how much constant temperature can you obtain? Is it good enough for the plants to be ok during your really cold winters?

Practical Aquaponics Parmenter greenhouse 4

Passive solar greenhouse nearing completion.

Penn Parmenter.  Well, this is my favourite part - We have two different greenhouses, and one of them we use less water in and so it gets a little cooler in the winter, so I grow cooler plants in the winter in that one, but the warmer greenhouse, that has an optimum amount of water in it, it can grow tomatoes year round, and that is the holy grail of the Rockies, the tomato.

Murray Hallam.  I reckon. That is fantastic because in the extremely cold climate that you have in some parts of North America, you know to be able to grow tomatoes and that kind of thing year round is just fantastic.

Penn Parmenter.  It is. These greenhouses are proving out more than we even thought they would, so it has been fantastic.

Murray Hallam.  Wow. And the interesting thing about it I think, if I understand you correctly, is there’s nothing all that high tech about this.  We’re not, we haven’t got any fancy pumps, or gas heaters or anything like that have we?

Cord Parmenter.  No, in fact it’s mostly very simple passive solar concepts, you know, this is old talk technology. It’s all about balancing the bringing in of the heat and the storing of the heat.  Which is not to say that you can’t use some active solar to increase the effectiveness of it, we’ve just been very happy with the results of the regular passive solar and just how well it works just on its own.  We haven’t had a need really to go beyond that because we can grow year round without a lot of expensive systems you know.  Once the basic structure’s in place it works really well.

Murray Hallam.  So tell me this, are you going to be able to give people instructions at the course sufficient for them to be able to go ahead and build their own greenhouse, or is it more complicated than that?

Penn Parmenter.   Great question, because that is what our class is all about.  It’s empowering people to do this themselves. We teach them the formula, there’s a ratio between glazing, insulation and water.  And we also teach them that they can salvage much of the materials, or they can buy them all new, or they can do a combination and therefore they can keep their costs down and the whole thing just works great that way, whether you want to buy it new, or salvage I mean.

Murray Hallam.   That’s the good thing about Aquaponics I think, as we move into a new age I believe, where oil is going to go up so much in price that people are going to have to grow a lot of their own food themselves or locally, to be able to obtain it locally, and this is just an amazing thing to have a greenhouse that is this efficient I think, and it’s exciting isn’t it because this kind of knowledge is just so much needed, don’t you think?

Cord Parmenter
.  Absolutely, um, it’s really simple technology and it’s available to everyone and that is what we love about it. Because of its simplicity it can get as complicated as you want to. You could get really scientific about designing these greenhouses, but we found when we made our very first greenhouse we had read a book about it and we had actually loaned the book out and were unable to get it back, and so when I actually built that first greenhouse I did a lot of guesswork and there were some things I got wrong, but you know it worked so well even on that. Later we got the book back and we reacquired the book and we were able to see where we had gone wrong and improve upon it.  It’s a very forgiving technology too, it’s very simple and yet you can improve it by using a lot of common sense.  I find the more that I think about the designs and the more I build the better my designs get. I’ve had such great success, right from the beginning, so I am starting from a really great place and have always been just improving on that and to me that’s very exciting . In fact I have a lot of new ideas as far as venting, cooling. As we have said before we are in a cool climate that gets very cool at night and it can get very warm in the day. Other climates may be warmer and not cool off as much at night, so I have some ideas about that. I am really looking forward to exploring some of these ideas and also it’s very satisfying to me to be able to share this with other people
Murray Hallam .  That’s fantastic thanks for that.  Just to finish off,  there is another thing you’re going to be doing there and I think we will have to talk about that in another podcast; but, aren’t you people into seed saving? Do I understand that is another one of the things you do?

Penn Parmenter.  We do, we’re really excited about this because this is something gardeners have dropped here in America since world war two. Seed saving should be a part of everybody’s garden system and this is putting seed saving back in the gardener’s hands.

Murray Hallam.  Fantastic. I just wonder, how you’re going to fit all this into one day, that’s what I’m beginning to wonder, because it’s going to be an intense day when you’re training for this, and I’m telling you, I’m going to be there with ears all open. I ‘m really interested in the greenhouse and I am very, very interested in the seed saving as well. But look, that’s it for now. We’ll get together again and we will do another podcast shortly. Thanks for talking to me today.

Penn Parmenter.  Thank you Murray
Cord Parmenter. Thank you.

Practical Aquaponics Murray Hallam Greenhouse

Greenhouse employing passive heating and cooling.