Aquaponics Application

River City Aquaponics

Owner: Josh Clark

Shelbyville, KY 40065
Shelby County

Mailing Address:
118 Flint Ridge Rd.
Shelbyville, KY 40065

daytime phone: (502) 410-5451
evening phone: (502) 410-5451
Web site:

Application Date: 2020-02-29

Applicant Details

Please briefly tell us why you are applying to be part of the Certified Naturally Grown program: *
We would like to join the community of other reputable producers in our area. We believe that this certification will give additional confidence to our customers in the quality of our produce, becoming a valuable marketing tool. We also believe that this certification will be beneficial in maintaining quality standards for our farm.
Are you currently third party Certified for your produce operation by any other organization (Organic, Biodynamic, etc)? *
Have you ever been certified in the past? *
Have you ever been denied certification? *
How did you hear about Certified Naturally Grown? *
We first heard about this certification from Nelson Pade, while attending their aquaponics master class in Montello, Wisconsin. We also learned more through conversations with extension professionals with Kentucky State University.

General Information

Please check all crops you grow in your aquaponic system. *

Please specify what other crops (if any).
Please check all markets you grow for (this will be displayed on your farm profile to help potential buyers find you). *

Please specify what other markets (if any).

System Design and Management

Please indicate what type of system you use (for hybrid systems, check all that apply): *

If you indicated you use an "other" system type, please specify what other type of system you use here.
If you use wicking beds, describe how the water his handled after it is used in the wicking beds. Does this water recirculate? If not, how is it disposed of?
What materials are used for root support, growing media, tubing and pipes, tanks, troughs, and other materials that come into direct contact with system water? (check all that apply) *

Are there any other materials you use in your system that are not listed above? If so, please indicate them here.
pvc- plumbing that connects tanks
If you use soil or compost in your system, where is it used? Is it used only in the dead-end portion, or also in in the recirculating sections of the system?
If you use compressed grow plugs, what is (are) the product/s name/s? Have you been able to confirm with the supplier that it/they do not contain synthetic nutrients?
If your system contains cement, does it come into direct contact with the water? Please describe how cement is a part of your system.
If you use wood in your system, is it treated wood? Does it come into direct contact with the water? Please describe how wood is a part of your system.
If your system includes IBC totes purchased used, have you been able to confirm with your supplier that they were used only for food grade uses? If so, how have you confirmed this? If not, how do you intend to confirm this?
Please note that while IBC totes can be grandfathered in when they're in already in use at the time CNG certification is sought, CNG standards prohibit the introduction of IBC totes once CNG status is obtained. Please indicate that you understand this restriction on IBC totes by checking the box here. *
Does water circulate at a rate sufficient so that the water volume of the fish tanks(s) recirculates each hour? If it recirculates at a lower rate, please explain. *
Briefly describe how your system achieves appropriate aeration. *
We have a blower (as well as a backup blower) that provides aeration to all fish tanks, degassing tanks, raft tanks and a bioreactor. Dissolved oxygen is tested monthly at a minimum.
Briefly describe how your system achieves appropriate degassing. *
We have a dedicated degassing tank in both our commercial and our nursery system, containing large air stones, that off-gas CO2.
Does your system include any of the following: roofing materials, recycled plastics, or plastics that contain BPA? *

Water Sources

CNG standards vary according to water source. Please indicate below ALL water sources you use for your aquaponic system, and answer the corresponding questions.
Do you use Municipal water? *
Does the municipal water contain chlorine? If so, how is chlorine removed? *
Does the municipal water contain chloramine? If so, how is it removed? *
Yes, we use an Aquasana EQ-400 carbon filter.
Do you have a copy of the municipal water testing results? *
Do you use well water? *
Do you use rainwater? *
Do you use surface water? *
If you use a water source that is not named here, please elaborate.

Water Quality: Nutrients, pH, solids

How do you ensure a good match between stocking density and crop production? *
We follow Nelson Pade's recommendations that are backed by 30+ years of aquaponic research. We also test water and leaf tissue samples regularly using AgSource.
Please describe how you design and operate your system to provide biofiltration that corresponds to production of fish waste and crops. *
We use a Nelson Pade Clear Flow aquaponic system that is gravity based and recirculating. It uses large baffles in the clarifiers to settle out heavy solids, which are drained to a bead filter in order to extract nutrient-rich water for extra crop production.
Do you ever add supplemental nutrients? If so, what materials or products have you used? List ingredients and product names. How much of these do you use? How frequently? *
DTPa 11% iron chelate. Additions of 2mg/L are made as necessary, according to water quality analysis through AgSource.
Do you use worms in your system? *
What materials do you use to buffer pH? *
Calcium Hydroxide and Potassium Hydroxide
What methods do you use to prevent the build up of waste solids in your system? *
Filters and filter bags are used to prevent solids from continuing where they shouldn't be. Clarifiers are drained to the ZDEP (zero discharge extra production) bead filter on a 3-day rotation. Filter bags are replaced and cleaned daily.
Please indicate how often you monitor each of the following:
pH? *
Temperature? *
Dissolved oxygen? *
Ammonia? *
Nitrites? *
Nitrates? *
Use this space if you'd like to share additional information about your water quality and monitoring practices.

Seeds, Transplants, and Crop Health

Do you grow some or all of your own transplants? *
Do you purchase some or all of your transplants? *
Describe your primary insect pest challenges AND methods of prevention and control. (Do not answer "none". You MUST indicate actual pest challenges or LIKELY challenges, and you must ALSO indicate how you manage or how you would manage them. If you indicate a product, also specify how often it's used.) *
We have only been growing since the late fall through winter so far, and we haven't encountered any pest issues to date. However, we do expect to potentially see pests such as aphids or thrips as the weather changes. Our greenhouse and vents are screened with insect screening, but we know that will not prevent the problems altogether. We use sticky traps in our raft tanks with our produce to identify any potential pests. Any pest problem would be dealt with using biological control. No chemical pesticides will ever be used in our greenhouse. Approved biological foliar sprays and the use of beneficial insects (from Green Methods) are potential solutions for future pest issues.
Describe your primary plant disease challenges AND methods of prevention and control. (Do not answer "none". You MUST indicate actual disease challenges or LIKELY challenges, and you must ALSO indicate how you manage or how you would manage them. If you indicate a product, also specify how often it's used.) *
Due to an abnormally wet winter, we have had some trouble with powdery mildew. In order to manage this issue, we have taken several measures to ensure this is not a problem. We have lowered the setting for our dehumidifier to further lower humidity in the greenhouse, significantly increased ventilation by angling our HAF fans down towards the plants, and we have also applied approved, biological fungicides such as Cease and Kaligreen on a 7-day rotation.
CNG certification requires the use of certified organic or Certified Naturally Grown seeds whenever available. Please indicate the suppliers from which you source - or will source - your seeds if your application is accepted and you continue the certification process. *
Johnny's and Paramount Seeds
Please indicate, by entering your initials, that you understand that CNG strictly prohibits the use of chemically treated or GMO seeds. *
Please indicate, by entering your initials, that you will as a general rule purchase organically grown seeds, AND that you will only purchase conventional seed when the variety you wish to grow is not available in certified organic or CNG form. For each variety purchased in conventional form, you will identify (and keep records of) at least three commercial organic seed suppliers who do not carry that variety. *

Fish Management

We do not offer certification for fish, but do set some limited standards for fish management where they might affect the produce and or quality of life for the fish.
Does hormonal sex reversal treatment ever occur on-line / within the recirculating system? *
Please describe the practices you use to prevent and treat fish disease.
We buy our tilapia from Americulture, who provides a fish health certificate. We keep our fish nursery water temperature at 83 degrees to prevent possible disease. Fish are fed in person between 3 and 5 times per day, and fish health is monitored at each feeding. Our purge tanks are available as a fish hospital/isolation tank in the case that disease is suspected.
Have you ever found it necessary to use antibiotics? *
Please describe what kind of fish feed you use. Is it organically grown? (For aquaponic produce certification CNG standards do not require that the feed be organically grown, but we are interested to know what producers are using and to give credit to any producers who may be using organic feed) *
Purina Aquamax Starter 100-400 & Pond Fish 4000. I do not believe it is organically grown.
Do you use black soldier fly larvae or duckweed as supplemental feed? *
Do you use any supplemental feed besides BSF larvae or duckweed? If so, describe it here, and indicate how you protect against contamination of your system. *

Protecting Against Contamination

Is your operation partially or entirely INdoors? *
What are the nearby land uses? Are there any that might pose risks of contamination? *
Our greenhouse sits in the center of a 28 acre farm. The farm is cut for hay, but no chemicals are sprayed.
How does your ventilation and air filtration system prevent possible contamination? *
Our side curtains and ridge vent shut if winds reach 25mph. This will protect against any possible contamination coming from outside the 28 acre farm.
Do you share space (including fish tank, seedling starting, or plant production space) with other producers? *
Is your operation partially or entirely OUTdoors? *

Waste & Energy

These questions will not determine certification status, but are intended to encourage producers to review our recommendations in these areas and to give credit to producers who have made investments in the sustainability of their operation.
How do you dispose of fish solid wastes? *
Our ZDEP system only disposes of a small amount of solids that are backwashed from the bead filter. In the near future, we hope to discharge those solids into storage totes, and to use contents as fertilizer. We also have the option in the future to use the discharge in media beds.
When necessary during system change over, how do you dispose of nutrient-rich water? *
Until we can expand our operation, this water is drained out of the greenhouse through an approved grey-water line.
What measures have you taken to conserve energy, improve energy efficiency, and/or use energy from renewable sources? (This could include system design, siting, insulation, crop and fish species selection, and more.)
We insulated around the entire base of the greenhouse structure. We redesigned Nelson Pade's heat exchanger loop in our greenhouse to lose much less heat. We use our shade cloth to hold heat down in the greenhouse. We raise tilapia and grow leafy greens that perform well between 72-74 degrees. The crop choices prevent us from having to heat/cool the system water from one end to the other.

Inspections & Networks

A core requirement of CNG certification is the on-site peer-review. Getting this completed is facilitated if you're a part of a network of aquaponics producers who might serve as your inspector. Are you a part of a network (informal or formal) of aquaponic producers in your geographic area? *


I understand that only the produce, NOT the fish, can be labeled and sold as Certified Naturally Grown. *
I will not label, or in any way lead consumers to believe that produce not raised in accord with CNG standards is Certified Naturally Grown. *
I understand that I have to complete at least one Inspection(s) of another CNG aquaponic producer in my area each year, if there is one within a one hour drive. *
I understand that the inspection I conduct will NOT be of the same producer that inspected me. *
I have reviewed the Certified Naturally Grown aquaponic certification standards, I understand them, and I will abide by them. I understand that if I have any questions I may contact CNG for clarification. *
You may use this space to tell us anything else you think we should know about your operation.