Aquaponics USA is a big hit at the Self Reliance EXPO


At 5 AM on October 25th, we climbed into our Honda Pilot packed with two traveling fish tanks and 35 Tilapia in the back supported by two air pumps, two aerators, a back-up battery pack, inverters and a lot of prayer. We got on the Interstate 10 and headed East followed by our Installation Team in a Toyota Tacoma with a trailer full of supplies for our Fish & Veggie Road Show.

After stopping for breakfast, and hitting a couple of roadside rests, we arrived in Mesa, AZ around noon to begin the rigorous job of moving everything, via dollies, from our vehicles to our Exhibit space, which was directly in line with the main stage. The fish came into the Mesa Convention Center in nets supported by buckets one and two at a time.

The next day, Friday, October 26th, the EXPO opened at 11 AM. Below are a series of photos showing us putting the final touches on our Booth that morning. This was only the second time we had set up this Booth, so we were still figuring out the logistics; but this set up went twice as fast as our set up in Los Angeles at the KNOWPHEST.

Our close neighbors were Equip2Endure. They are a broad based survival website that features Survival Training, Survival Hunting, Survival Gear and much more. They were teaching people how to start fires without matches in their Exhibit. Equip2Endure is a member site and you can join for free. They have hundreds of YouTube Videos up and  saw all the exhibitors and customers coming over to see what we were selling and asked us if we would allow them to do a Video Interview of Aquaponics USA. Of course we said, “Yes”, and just last night that Video went into the YouTube stream. It was a real splash as now less than 24 hours later, it already has over 1,000 Views and counting! Just click on the Equip2Endure website; and you’ll find us on their Home Page, or if we’ve scrolled off their Home Page, just go over to our Aquaponics USA TV site to watch our Video. The editing, video, interview team from Equip2Endure really know what they’re doing; and they created a great promo piece for us. Thanks, Guys!

Between the KNOWPHEST and the Self Reliance EXPO we also added another component to our Food Forever™ Growing System Series, which are insulating skins made out of Double Bubble Foil Insulation. It gives our systems a high tech look and feel while adding warmth to both the Grow Beds and the Fish Tanks. Below is a photo of Fred, our Systems Builder and Installer, placing the new skins on our FFGS-20 Demo System. The next picture is of our completed Exhibit as it looked from the Main Stage. We had a perfect location; and since we were the only booth in the EXPO that used EZ-Ups, we were impossible to miss. We heard through the grapevine that there were over a thousand people at the EXPO, which really isn’t that big of a turnout; but we were so busy we hardly had time to eat. We gave out every System Flyer we printed, every Brochure and ended up hoarse from talking so much. We were definitely a big hit; and we went away wondering how we would deal with a 5,000 or 10,000 strong crowd, which, by the way, turned out in the Utah Self Reliance EXPO.

As I explained in my previous post, there’s a movement happening called the Prepper Movement; and it’s all about getting and being prepared for whatever disaster, natural or manmade, that may be coming in the future. There are literally millions of Americans actively involved in this movement. To date, over 4 million Americans self identify as Preppers. The Self Reliance Expo and the several other Expos listed in our previous post are proof positive that Preppers are here to stay and are offering interesting out of the ordinary, creative, off-the-grid products for their fellows in the marketplace. These products meet needs for being self reliant and independent in the areas where survival is the most important including Food, Energy, Shelter and Water.

This explains why Aquaponics USA was so intriguing to this clientele. We offer something in the realm of becoming more Food Independent that goes beyond stored food, which is what most vendors catering to Preppers are offering. We believe a combination of both stored food and food you grow yourself are important to insure food security in uncertain times.We offer Food Forever™ Growing Systems that are Survival Food Growing Systems, which with added Grow Lights,  can grow food in a basement, a garage, a spare room or an enclosed back porch. And, of course, what’s growing isn’t just veggies. It also includes protein in the form of fish. And once we get our Solar Systems hooked up to our Growing Systems, which won’t be too far in the future, Greenhouse growing will appeal all the more to this new, savy customer.

As we shared in a previous post, our first Fish & Veggie Road Show was in Los Angeles. The clientele and the venue of that Show was very different from the Self Reliance EXPO; but nevertheless, a comparison can be made. Most of the people who came into our Booth in LA did not have a clue as to what Aquaponics was; and we introduced them to the concept. Not so at the Self Reliance EXPO. There, very few of the people who came into our Booth did not already know what Aquaponics food growing technology was. Of course, many had never seen an operating system, so seeing ours was very exciting; and they appreciated the embellishments on their basic concepts that we had to offer.

What we discovered in Mesa, AZ is that Preppers are intelligent, well-informed and determined to not be victims of the next disaster, whatever it may be. One way or another, they’ve given up on the false, albeit comforting, belief that the government will be able to save them when TSHTF. They are putting their money behind their belief that they have to be able to save themselves and their families. Prepping is almost a religion. It has a fervor, drive and enthusiasm behind it that is contagious.

Check the Self Reliance EXPO website for their 2013 Show Schedule. The EXPO offers way more than a unique line up of Vendors. It also offers classes in subjects like “Suturing/Stapling Hands-On Lab”, “Preparing and Using Nature’s Medicine”, “Bread Baking” and “Soap Making Demystified” to name just a few. The EXPO also offers Guest Speakers who share information on everything from “How To Sprout Seeds” to the state of the U.S. Economy to how to be your own Doctor or Dentist when one isn’t available. Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy were two such featured speakers. Their website, Doom and Bloom™ Nation is full of life-saving information that we would all need in a national disaster.

The following photos create a collage of a few our fellow entrepreneurs who exhibited at the Self Reliance EXPO in Mesa, AZ. Under the photos or before the photos is the link to their websites should you care to learn more about them. Many of these Exhibitors did all the venues of these EXPOs, which concluded their 2012 Tour with the Mesa Show. So here comes the Line Up of some of the Self Reliance EXPO Exhibitors offering products in the first important survival category, FOOD, starting with yours truly, Aquaponics USA.

And here’s the link to our website at www.aquaponicsusa.com

Here are a few of the Food Storage Exhibitors.

And here’s the link to the Thrive website.

And here’s the link to the Grandma’s Country Foods and other important survival products.

And here’s the link to Survival Cave.

And here’s the link to Noah’s Pantry.

And here’s the link to Go Foods.

As we explained earlier, we were so busy we barely had time to eat, so believe me, we didn’t see much of this EXPO on this trip. We had every intention of rubbing shoulders with our fellow exhibitors and we did; but it all happened in our Booth as we explained what we were up to. Oliver did a quick run through the EXPO to shoot these photos; but we can’t tell you much about our fellow vendors. If you find that the time has come for you to start  storing food, check out these websites. We haven’t tried any of their products (although we plan to) and can’t give recommendations, this is just a place to start your exploration into becoming more Food Independent. By the way, if you Google “Food Independent”, you will get Aquaponics USA.

On to the next important survival topic, Water; and we only have one water purification system company for you to look at. This company is advertising on every Prepper website on the net; so it was no surprise it was exhibiting in Mesa. It’s the Berkey Water Purification System

Next comes Energy and an innovative company featuring compact-powerful, renewable-energy solar power generators that are built in the good old USA. This company is called ARK SOLAR SYSTEMS. Like so many of the entrepreneurs in this EXPO, it’s a family company that came up with this idea in order to solve a problem for itself–how to have a reliable energy source while camping. Again, we discovered this while chatting with them in our Booth rather than theirs. If you’re interested in a compact solar powered generator, check out their website.

There’s a second solar company we want to mention called GO Solar. It features a variety of portable solar power packs.

Now, on to Land and Shelter, two other very important survival necessities. Due to low lighting conditions the photo below is quite blurry; but you get the idea of how roomy a yurt can be. This company, Groovy Yurts, is building some of the most eye-catching, versatile and easy to assemble shelters on the planet. Made to resist extreme climates, this circular domed abode is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Easily dismantled, the yurt is portable and self-supporting. Check them out at Groovy Yurts.com.

Need some land to put your Groovy Yurt on? Check out Rivers Edge. One plus acre plots in Arizona on the Verde River and backed up to a National Forest. This land is in the cool Ponderosa Pines at 5,500 ft. We’re not sure how yurts do in the snow. Go to the Groovy Yurt website to find out.Here’s the opposite of a yurt for shelter. Instead of cloth, it’s made of steel and it goes underground instead of on top of it. If you had one of these at Rivers Edge, no one would know it. Take the virtual tour of the ATLAS on the ATLAS SURVIVAL SHELTERS Website. We actually took a few minutes to tour the one that sat outside the entrance to the Mesa Convention Center. It was very interesting. Below are a couple of photos of the exterior and the interior of an ATLAS.

This company was our immediate neighbor, the Homestead General Store, that offered everything from soup to nuts and more. You can actually see our tent tops on the left side of the picture below. We’re posting two pictures of the Homestead General Store because the hand grinding mills are quite literally works of art from a time that many believe is not gone.

Hope you enjoyed your virtual attendance at the recent Self Reliance EXPO in Mesa, Arizona. We plan to take you on a lot more of these Reliance EXPO Tours in 2013. If you want to know more about the Prepper Movement, be sure to read our previous post and look into joining the new website called PreppersPost where you’ll get lots of information about this Movement and remember, IT’S TIME TO GROW FOOD SO GET GROWING!

Packing for and Traveling to our 2nd Fish and Veggie Road Show in Mesa, Arizona!


This post is all about packing and traveling about five hours with Live Fish. We were heading for the Self Reliance EXPO in Mesa, AZ and were crossing the state line into Arizona so we didn’t take the veggies and had to purchase and plant veggies once we got to Arizona. In a way, this is a tutorial about how to travel with Live Fish. We learned a lot in our first Fish & Veggie Road Show to the KNOWPHEST in Los Angeles as we lost a couple of fish. This time all of our fish arrived safe and sound. Here’s what we did differently.

The first thing we did was we stopped feeding our fish a couple of days prior to transporting them. Unlike mammals, fish can easily handle not eating for a couple of days. The reason that’s important is that with empty stomachs, they won’t pollute their traveling water with their own waste and tox themselves out. Once they are at the Show, their waste will be converted to nitrates by the friendly bacteria in the biofilter that is the Grow Bed with plants in it.

The next thing we did differently is we took two traveling tanks instead of one. In our first Fish & Veggie Show, we put the big fish in with the fingerlings and two of the fingerlings didn’t make the trip. We don’t know what happened; but figured the safer way to protect the little ones was to not mix them together in one tank.

The next thing we did that was different is we added a Titanium Heater to their traveling tanks to get their water temperature up to the levels that they are used to and like. The first picture below shows Oliver hooking the Titanium Heaters to their two traveling tanks. The second picture shows the heater and the box it comes in. This is a really great little electric water heater that really does the job. We sell two of them, one is a 200 Watt Heater and the other is a 300 Watt Heater. They are both on our website Here. At the Show, the 300 Watt  Heater kept our 120 gallon fish tank at a cozy 76 degrees for our fish. The third picture shows the temperature rising as the Titanium Heaters heat up the water prior to our putting the fish in their traveling tanks.

Of course we also had aeration using our favorite 4″ Aerators that you can also find on our Accessories Page and using our Air Pumps that you can find on our Pumps Page.  Fish can’t survive without it. We bought inverters and had a backup battery pack that ran the heaters and the air pumps during the times that we stopped on the road to eat and take bathroom breaks. The photos above show the two air pumps sitting in front of the traveling fish tanks.

The important thing that makes these traveling tanks is they have lids on them. The lids are important to keep the water in the tanks and not on the bed of the Honda Pilot. However, driving behavior must be adjusted to keep the water in the traveling tanks even when they have lids. We ended up having to turn around and go home to get yet another back up inverter when we first took off at 4 AM and sloshed a lot of water into the bed of the Honda killing our original inverter. Traveling with fish is, indeed, tricky.

The final new thing we did to make traveling safer and more comfortable for the fish was we covered the traveling tanks with a blanket while the heaters went to work heating their water. Then we slept for a few hours before hitting the road. The total amount of time that the fish were in their traveling tanks was about 24 hours, which was a long time; but they did fine due to all of the extra precautions we took this time.

We were able to reduce the number of cars it took to carry everything needed for our Show down to two cars because we added a trailer, which the truck towed. Here’s the cartoon image of our Fish & Veggie Road Show followed by an actual picture of our Tacoma with its trailer.

Here’s a picture of what was packed in front of the traveling tanks in the very convenient bed of the Honda Pilot. We definitely jam packed both vehicles and the trailer. But once again, the result was impressive.

Watch for our next post which will be all about what happened once we got to the Self Reliance EXPO. It was such a scene. We so appreciate being able to take you on the  ride with us as we share how important Aquaponics is in this challenging 21st Century. See you again, soon.