Growing marijuana with aquaponics
Susanne and Tim at a beach sunset in Anaehoomalu Bay in 2005
Or, how the 2008 Financial Crisis pushed us into crippling debt and illegal activities so we could save our family farm.
We were content, living in sunny Hawaii, designing and drawing house plans. But in 2007, our business began to lose momentum. We looked for a new opportunity (we certainly weren’t thinking about growing marijuana; it hadn’t even been a cloud on the horizon).
We knew not everyone needs a new set of house plans, but everyone needs to eat. We knew we wanted to do something with food…. but what?
Then we discovered aquaponics, and got super excited! We borrowed $250,000 and built a huge aquaponics farm. We wanted to live more sustainably, and be able to work at home, to be with our kids. That loan, along with our hefty mortgage, put us just over a million dollars in debt.
But we weren’t worried. We’re hard workers, and we’d always been able to pay our bills. But we didn’t realize that our architectural business slow down in 2007 was just the first sign of the looming Global Financial Crisis.
Suddenly, in late 2008, our house plans business went from slow to ZERO, overnight. And the farm wasn’t making any money yet! After our first year’s operation, we looked at our books and realized we’d spent all our loan money on a theoretical aquaponics technology that came from a university. It worked just fine, but lost money. This was OK for the university, because they have their salaries and costs paid. The fact that their technology was untested and unproven in the real world did not matter to them. As one of the first to test it, we were unpleasantly surprised to find that it lost a lot of money for the grower.
We couldn’t pay our bills or our mortgage. But thank God for our aquaponics systems – at least we were eating well, with lots of fresh organic vegetables and fish. Otherwise, we would not have been able to feed our kids in those dark days.
We were terrified that we were going to lose our home and farm, so we made the stupid choice to break the law and grow a really high-priced crop: marijuana. We were busted by the DEA after seven months of failed experiments, because growing marijuana in our raft systems DID NOT WORK! If you’re thinking of learning how to grow marijuana in aquaponic raft systems from us, forget it; it doesn’t work.
And if you’re thinking “It’s legal in my State”; you need to be really careful about that one. Hawaii has been very progressive about marijuana. At the time we were caught by the DEA, the amount of marijuana we had at the Hawaii State level would have produced a misdemeanor charge and a $75 fine for us. A fellow arrested by the State police (about 6 months before we were arrested by the DEA) had 37 pounds of marijuana and several hundred plants; he got a six-month suspended sentence because he was a single Dad with a child. It’s still illegal on the Federal level (even in Colorado and Washington!), and they can arrest you any time they want.
Where does an 800-pound gorilla sit? ….. Anywhere he wants. That’s the Federal Government.
Humiliated, we stood before a Federal judge…. and were horrified to discover we were looking at serious prison time. We’d gone straight from the frying pan into the fire!
Fortunately, all our Aquaponic Friends sent letters to the Court on our behalf. We were overwhelmed by the support they expressed in the hundreds of letters we received. These were NOT letters supporting our growing marijuana, by the way. They were letters supporting the work we’ve done in sharing our cost-effective and profitable greenhouse and aquaponics technology with all these people. Read them if you wish; we cried frequently when we did.
Ten years later, we’ve recovered from that stupid mistake. Susanne and I have each done our Federal prison time (just three months!), and will be felons for the rest of our lives. We learned some incredibly valuable lessons, though:
- How to build aquaponics systems for less than one-fifth as much as the University system.
- How to get Aquaponics USDA Certified Organic (we were the first in the world!)
- How to get AquaponicsFood-Safety Certified(also the first in the world!)
- Best of all, we discovered how to grow 10-150 times as many plants in our aquaponics systems as the University systems we learned from.
We turned adversity into triumph. Today, we’re widely acknowledged as leaders in the field of aquaponics. And we’ll never lose sight of our true mission again, which is to develop and share cost-effective aquaponic and greenhouse technology with the whole world.
The most important thing we learned is that it’s critical to start your commercial aquaponics venture SMALL, and not take on crippling debt.
HOW TO SUCCEED by starting small is what you learn in our world-class, 100% guaranteed DIY packages.
You also get the hundreds of other lessons we’ve learned in the past twelve years, including all the SECRETS that allow commercial aquaponics to be wildly PROFITABLE.
We give you everything we know, with nothing held back. No upsells. No gimmicks. Just powerful, tested and true information, being used by thousands of our students, all over the world. And, we also tell you all the mistakes we made, so you can avoid them, and get it right the first time.
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Take Me To The Friendly Commercial Aquaponics Systems With Greenhouses
A Friendly Testimonial:
Hi Tim, My son, Carl and I attended the training in Texas this year. Just to give you an update. The Sunday after the training, I was coming home from the church I pastor and passed by a co-op that has several greenhouses out front that seemed not to be in use anymore. I drove through to check them out and they were not in use.
A couple of months later. we are now the owners of the 7 greenhouses and all that comes with them! We were able to purchase them all for only $2800. My son and I begin deconstructing them on Thursday.
I’m attaching a couple of photos for you to look at them. They have propane heaters, roll up sides, boxes and lights for electricity, fiberglass front and rear walls, and a lot of odds and ends that I believe will come in handy.
I am so glad we listened when you spoke on ways to find greenhouses without spending a fortune. It has been tempting to just “jump in” but I’m glad we waited.
Thank you and many blessings, Rob Rolison
(Below) About $50,000 worth of greenhouses and equipment that Rob Rolison and his son Carl picked up for $2,800 after we explained how to do so in our March 2016 Texas 5-day training. They’re going to disassemble them and reassemble at their farm. If they’d bought them new, they be at zero now; another way to look at this is that they have $47,200 to spend on the aquaponics systems to go inside their greenhouses.
Come to one of our live trainings, or purchase our Commercial DIY package to learn even more knowledge that is as valuable as this.
How we grew some marijuana, got arrested by the DEA, and went to Federal prison for it. Don't do it! Really! Not until the law changes.
Growing Cannabis with Aquaponics: An Overview
Wednesday June 12, 2019
W hat if we told you that there’s a way to grow cannabis and provide organic nutrients to your plants directly from their source while giving some home-grown pets a healthy, happy environment in which to thrive? And what if we told you that, after the initial setup, your plants (and fishy pets) would be able to grow on their own with minimal need for outside interference?
The best part? This grow technique already exists and doesn’t require any fancy technology, either. In fact, aquaponics, or the act of growing plants and fish together in the same closed-loop system, has been in practice since 1000 AD by the ancient Mayans who grew plants on rafts afloat lake surfaces. The Aztecs (1300-1521) improved the technology through a series of canals and artificial islands on which crops thrived thanks to the nutrient-rich soil and ample access to water. Today, aquaponics is often used as a means of environmental protection or simply by those wishing to cultivate their own food in small spaces – and, of course, for cultivating cannabis!
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is the combination of fish farming and soilless hydroponics. The premise of aquaponics is that nutrient-rich fish waste can be used to fertilize plants and that plants can filter out the waste to maintain a healthy living environment for fish.
Essentially, fish water is pumped directly onto plant root systems. Then, after the plants have filtered out the waste, the water is pumped back into the fish tank or pond.
Fish are happy, plants are happy, and farmers (who can cut their labor by 75 percent and increase plant size an average of 10 times) are extremely happy. When it’s all said and done, both plants and fish can be harvested and either consumed or sold.
Why Grow Cannabis with Aquaponics
There are many advantages to aquaponic cannabis cultivation that go well beyond easy, accurate nutrient applications. Aside from turning a cannabis crop into a fish farm, aquaponic grows take up considerably less space than soil grows while producing plants that are both larger and denser, as well. Plants also tend to reach maturity quicker thus speeding harvest time and turn-over rate. No other cultivation method produces the volume and speed of an aquaponics grow with such little effort and resources.
Additionally, aquaponic setups do not experience the weed and pest problems that soil grows do which helps eliminate the need for laborious weeding and pesticides like neem oil – a common potential contributor to conditions like Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome. Aquaponic grows also use 90 percent less water than traditional cultivation practices which is especially important given scarce water supply.
Best Fish for Aquaponic Grows
Though many different kinds of fish do well in aquaponic setups, choosing the right fish for a cannabis aquaponic grow requires a bit more consideration. First, because cannabis requires more nutrients than, say, lettuce, you’ll need to find fish that do well in crowded, sometimes unfavorable environments. Tilapia is the most common fish type to use in cannabis grows, followed by trout and goldfish because of their reliance and easy adaptability. They also thrive in temperatures comparable to cannabis’s ideal temperature (between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit) and require little attention to survive.
It’s also important to consider what will happen with the fish after harvesting the plants. Though fish have a lifespan of many years, eventually they will need to be displaced or disposed of to prevent excessive crowding. Aquaponics setups usually require one pound of fish for every five to seven gallons of water; if the fish breed, they’ll need to be thinned out for the best results. So, what to do with fish from an aquaponics grow? Should they be eaten? Moved to a more spacious pond? Answers to these questions will largely determine the type of fish to use in an aquaponics grow setup; ornamental fish like goldfish or koi adapt well to outdoor environments whereas edible fish like tilapia and trout can make for a nice entre come dinner time.
Aquaponics is both a fun hobby and an environmentally-friendly cultivation practice. Those with an existing hydroponic cultivation setup can easily modify their system to accommodate aquaponics and will no doubt be pleased with the results.
Have you ever tried aquaponics cultivation systems for cannabis grows? We’d love to hear about your experience.
There are many different ways to grow cannabis, and some are more unique than others, Growing cannabis with aquaponics is not the most popular method around, but certainly is a fun way to take your marijuana cultivation skills to the next level and experience something new!