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Aquaponics Tomatoes Are Most Requested Crop

Tomatoes are the single most requested crop to grow in the Portable Farms™ Aquaponics Systems. The expected yields in this article are based on growth from a single Grow Tray (shown below) and are very conservative. They are based on the lowest yield per plant, the shortest harvest cycle and the longest time a plant will remain in the Grow Tray Table of the system. The actual production and yield is often two to four times the stated amounts in most cases especially after the operator becomes more skilled.


(Photo above) Each of these tomatoes weighs approximately 1/2 pound. We harvested them yesterday (February 1, 2012) from a Farms™ Aquaponics System. THEY ARE DELICIOUS.

If tomatoes from a Portable Farms™ Aquaponics Systems are planted, raised and sold as ‘organic,’ the grower can receive higher prices based on their organic origins further reducing the ROI than stated in this article.

Tomatoes from a single full size 5′ x 40′ (200 sq ft) [1.5m x 12m (18m2)] Grow Tray:

  • Each Grow Tray Table can hold 200 plants (1ft or 30cm centers) and be planted twice per year
  • Production (harvest time) is normally over a 60 to 85 day period
  • Because the plants are very small when initially planted there is a three month growing period before harvest begins
  • Staking or trellising is required and can be installed permanently
  • Tomatoes yield is between 5 lbs and 9 lbs [2 and 4k] per plant depending on variety
  • Yield per plant is 25 to 35 tomatoes per plant, depending on variety
  • ‘Determinate’ tomato varieties are common in aquaponics due to space constraints but indeterminate tomatoes taste better and the plants can be pruned judiciously
  • No pesticides, fungicides or artificial fertilizers are ever used
  • Tomatoes can be harvested and used the same day for peak flavor and texture
  • Yield is 880 lbs to 1,760lbs [400 to 800k] every six months
  • Yield is 1,760 to 3,500lbs [800 to 1600k] per year
  • Yield 55lbs [25k] per week
  • PLUS 330lbs [150k] of Tilapia per year

Each Module contains one Grow Tray Table, one Fish Tank and one Clarifier. The components to make the Module functional also include a special pump and valve system, a control panel, air pumps and related hardware and wiring.

This is a simple diagram of a Portable Farms Aquaponics System

Each Module cost approximately US$4,000 completely installed. This does not include the growing medium, seeds or fish because the owner will be in charge of the seed variety and the fish will be procured locally at best prices.  The number of Modules required will need to be housed in a climatically adapted greenhouse with one or more thermostatically controlled exhaust fans. In cold climates, more insulation is needed and in the tropics, the sides can be screen or netting.

By using the lowest yield with the shortest harvest season and two crops per space per year the Return On Investment will be approximately 55lbs per week at US$1.00 (very low price) or US$55.00 per week x 52 weeks = US$2,860 or a 1.4 year pay back. This does not include the greenhouse. In most cases this number will be much higher and will continue to rise as the operators become more skilled.

Please note: The above numbers are based on the lowest expected yields from field grown crops, using the shortest possible harvest time, plus the longest time from transplant to finish harvest. In other words, the lowest possible output from the Module for this crop is shown. The actual output from each Module can ,and probably will be, from two to four times as high resulting in a much shorter ROI.


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  1. Antony Jose

    Greetings Mr. Davis,

    Thank you for all the info. provided.

    Just wondering how much water will a system of one 18m2 grow-bed hold, along with the fish tank and all…


    1. portfarms


      The initial amount of water to begin operating the PFAS Module is 1,600 liters (430 gallons). Under the most adverse conditions of very high heat and low humidity the maximum water usage per day will never exceed 100liters (30 gallons). Under normal conditions the water usage (from transpiration only) is less than 30liters (10 gallons) per day.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

  2. Michael B

    How many heads of iceberg lettcus or red lettcus can you grow in your tray system

    1. portfarms


      The number of plants depends on the size of the Grow Tray, the variety of the lettuce, the temperature, the available light and the time of year. The Operator is critical in the overall success of the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems and that’s why we train everyone who buys the PFAS. The longer the systems run and the more experience the Operators have the more ‘crowded’ the Grow Trays can be and raise the output.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

  3. Albert

    If I can keep the summer temperature year round do I have to replant the tomatoes? Couldn’t I keep harvesting after the crop has matured to fruiting size? I am guesstimating with ideal conditions/plant/nutrition your yields are closer to 10 lbs a plant, a month, is that correct?

    1. portfarms


      The temperature in the climatically adapted greenhouse needs to be kept between 40 and 104 degrees. That is a huge range. By keeping the minimum temperature above 60 degrees your tomatoes will blossom and fruit better. We suggest the tomatoes be rotated out after six to eight months because the root ball gets so big it starts to impede the flow of water in the Grow Tray. The yield depends on the variety and how long you leave the plants in the Grow Trays.

      I trust this helps.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

  4. May & Peter

    Good Day,

    We like to start aquaponic.
    We estimate 650km south of Manila/Philippines. And the vegetables on our area is coming around
    1000km from the north after Manila.

    We like to produce first for our use.
    Second for the Marketplace.
    Like Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Beans,etc.

    We have estimate 350 Floor sqm old Building.
    On this place we like to install Aquaponic System incl. With Tilapia Fish
    ( Tilapia Fishpond is outside, extra 200sqm )
    Can you give us a price for this.

    Thanks for al infos

    May & Peter

    1. portfarms

      May and Peter,

      Thank you for your inquiry. That is a very small installation and will barely cover your own needs. Having the Tilapia tank outside will create problems for you. Please see the price list for a better idea of what it will cost to install a Portable Farms™ Aquaponics Systems please see http://portablefarms.com/thank/pfapl.pdf .

      Good luck.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

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