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FischMagazin Interview with Dr. Michael Timmons

The follow interview was conducted by Imke Zimmermann (Press Relations for German Fish International Trade Show, Bremen Germany-February 9-11, 2014, which was then published in the German expert magazine on our topic, FischMagazin, Contact Info for Ms. Zimmermann   1.    With a RAS you can earn a small fortune – if you beforehand invest a large one, people say half-jokingly. Indeed we’ve seen lots of projects go bust. You, Prof. Timmons, even pledged a mortgage on your house ((if I understood that correctly from the cv in your book??)) to get the money to co-finance a RAS for Tilapia. Apparently you were optimistic … So please tell us: Which conditions must be fulfilled for a successful project? In June of 1996, four individuals created Fingerlakes Aquaculture, LLC, including Dr. Michael B. Timmons of Cornell University, who mortgaged his own house to get the initial capitalization.  After a rocky startup, Fingerlakes Aquaculture stayed in business for 12 years and produced over 3,000 tonnes of tilapia. By those statistics, Michael can claim a success.  This success or at least FLA’s longevity at being in business for such a long time can be attributed to several factors: Implemented in a series of stages (university prototype, small 100 tonne farm, followed by larger 500 tonne farm) Large scale operations, economy of scale and market Trained and motivated workforce Improved technology Adequate water Electrical rates below typical market prices ($0.04/kwh) Targeted marketing approach Probably the most important of these was a phased production program, i.e., a ramp up over time. Many business plans start with some large scale operation, which is usually necessary to show a positive cash flow. Unfortunately, almost always, these operations, if funded, are unsuccessful. It is extremely difficult to […]

Posted in Engineering, RAS - Recirculating Aquaculture Systems | 34 Comments

Biographies of the the Engineering Catergory Chairmen

Michael B. Timmons, Ph.D. Dr. Timmons received his B.S. in Agricultural Engineering from the Ohio State University, his M.S. in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Hawaii, and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. Dr. Timmons has worked in aquacultural engineering for 25 years as a researcher, teacher, and extension specialist.  He has published widely and has served as primary editor on many of the Aquacultural Engineering Society meeting proceedings and for the series of bi-annual meetings sponsored by Virginia Tech on Water Recirculation Systems. He was one of the founders of the Aquacultural Engineering Society and has served in several officer positions including President. Dr. Timmons was a J. Thomas Clark Professorship of Entrepreneurship and Personal Enterprise (1999-2006) at Cornell University where he is still a professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Timmons has been a principal investor (he put his house on the line!) in the design, construction, and operation of a commercial recirculating tilapia farm (~500 tons per year of production) and thus provides the viewpoint of a commercial aquaculturist in addition to his experience as a researcher and extension specialist. You can contact Dr. Timmons by email,


James M. Ebeling, Ph.D. Dr. Ebeling has a B.S. and M.S. in physics from Albion College in Albion, Michigan and Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, respectively. He has a second M.S. in agricultural engineering from Washington State University and has three years of formal training at the University of California, Davis in aquacultural engineering. He obtained his Ph.D. in Biological Resources Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, where he worked on the kinetics of biofilters operating on aquacultural systems. In November 2006, James was selected as a Fulbright Senior Specialists Candidate (Council for International Exchange of Scholars, Washington DC)

Dr. Ebeling has been involved in aquaculture for over 25 years and has cultured over 20 species of fish. He spent three years at the Mariculture Research and Training Center, University of Hawaii as a research coordinator, and one year as project manager for the design and construction of the “Fish Barn” at the North Carolina State University. Dr. Ebeling also spent five years as a research and extension associate at the Piketon Research and Extension Center, Ohio State University, Piketon, Ohio where he was responsible for design, construction, and maintenance of the aquaculture facilities and for maintaining the fish as well as for the Center Aquaculture Extension Program. He spent six years at the Conservation Funds Freshwater Institute as an Environmental Research Engineer, working in basic and applied research as well as the application of monitoring and computer control to biological and aquatic ecosystems. Most recently, Dr. Ebeling was employed as a Research Engineer by Aquaculture Systems Technologies, LLC, New Orleans, LA, conducting research as part of several Small Business Innovative Research grants on denitrification, waste management and system engineering and design.  Currently, Dr. Ebeling is a semi-retired aquaculture engineer, who immigrated to Tucson Arizona in 2012 with tentative plans of doing NOTHING, but…. E-mail:; phone 504-837-5575.