– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Kale and Bok Choy grown with FF Mineral Rock Dust by Phyllis Davis, co-inventor, Portable Farms.

Our Fish Friendly Mineral Rock Dust gives your aquaponics system a HEALTHY KICK for growing health plants and fish without the use of chemicals:
– Iron
– Magnesium
– Calcium
– Potassium (vital for blooming plants, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc.)
– It also includes other trace elements for successful growing in your aquaponics or hydroponic system and it is FISH SAFE. 

One head of tokyo bekana (a mild Asian green) and one head of Swiss Chard grown with FF Mineral Rock Dust by Colle Davis, lead inventor, Portable Farms.

Just sprinkle FF MINERAL ROCK DUST ROCK on your growing medium, water the medium and then plant your seeds. It’s as easy as that.

PFAS LLC is making available our FF (Fish Friendly) Mineral Rock Dust that enhances the health of your plants and your fish and adds the trace elements vital to your system for encouraging healthy green plants and prompts your blooming plants to continually blossom in your aquaponics system!

FF (Fish Friendly) Mineral Rock Dust. It looks like chocolate talc.
It’s very light and powdery.

(Photo above shows FF Mineral Rock Dust spilling out of a salt shaker onto a dinner plate)

To Order FF Mineral Rock Dust: CLICK HERE. (Ships from San Diego, California)

FF Mineral Rock Dust provides aquaponics growers the perfect balance of many trace elements not consistently available from just plain ordinary fish poop. Now you can grow consistently blooming plants with the addition of FF Mineral Rock Dust, as your plants and your fish poop will now contain adequate levels of calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium, just to mention four of the vital elements for successful growing in aquaponics.

mineral rock dust sprinkle

Just sprinkle FF Mineral Rock Dust on your planting medium, plant the seeds and water them. That’s it!  It works like MAGIC. 

The use of FF Mineral Rock Dust keeps you from playing the ‘chemical numbers game’ and constantly guessing whether you’re doing it correctly.

  • Question: What trace elements should I use to solve a variety of growing and blossoming issues in aquaponics?
  • Answer: Calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium

  • Question: How much FF Mineral Rock Dust should I add to my aquaponics system?
  • Answer: We recommend one pound per 200 square feet of growing space.

  • Question: Is it safe for my fish?
  • Answer: YES, if used as directed in the instructions sheet that accompanies the FF Mineral Rock Dust.

  • Question: How often should I use the FF Mineral Rock Dust in my aquaponics systems?
  • Answer:

Sprinkle FF Mineral Rock Dust on your growing medium and wet with water before planting your seed.

When the plant has grown 1.5” to 2” (and becomes a seedling), simply sprinkle the FF Mineral Rock Dust on the area and wet with water in your Grow Tray prior to planting the new seedling.

Sprinkle the FF Mineral Rock Dust again on the base of any plant that stays in the Grow Tray for 60 days (for example, tomatoes, etc.) and wet with water. 

  • Question: What is the cost of the FF Mineral Rock Dust? Is it affordable?
  • Answer: YES, It is extremely affordable. A minimum order is a 5 pound bag is $29.95 (plus applicable taxes) plus shipping. Again, we recommend using one pound per 200 feet of grow space in an aquaponics system.

FF Mineral Rock Dust is easy to apply and it’s very affordable for both backyard farms and commercial aquaponics growing.

  • FF Mineral Rock Dust does NOT contain nitrogen which is already being generously supplied by the fish waste from the fish in your fish tank(s) so the combination of the freshly produced nitrogen from the fish waste and the many macro and micro mineral elements in the FF Mineral Rock Dust provides the perfect combination for growing healthy plants in aquaponics systems.
  • The FF Mineral Rock Dust that we recommend is an amendment or addition to a system that is safe and effective to use in all types of aquaponics systems (medium base or raft systems). The pristine mineral product is used by Certified Organic Growers and is 100% Natural. These minerals are vital to growing both green plants and blooming plants in every stage of growth: Seed planting, root development, plant growth, plant health and plant blossoming. The use of this FF Mineral Rock Dust produces plants that are healthy during every stage of growth and development. This product is also environmentally friendly and does not pollute nor does it ‘burn’ plants.

One of the expressions we use frequently regarding planting in our Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems is, “If a plant has a ‘happy childhood,’ it will grow to be a healthy plant.” And it’s so true. If you take care of every stage of planting your seed, growing a seedling and placing it into your Grow Tray, you have a far better chance of growing a healthy plant. If any step of this process during ‘childhood’ is neglected, you will be disappointed with your growing efforts.

One head of india mustard, an Asian Green grown with FF Mineral Rock Dust grown by Phyllis Davis.

Below is the ordering information for FF Mineral Rock Dust. Please note minimal order size for shipping outside the US.

To Order FF Mineral Rock Dust: CLICK HERE. (Ships from San Diego, California)



Product Name



FF – MRD 105 FF Mineral Rock Dust for Aquaponics

5 lbs.


FF – MRD 110 FF Mineral Rock Dust for Aquaponics

10 lbs.


FF – MRD 150 FF Mineral Rock Dust for Aquaponics

44 lbs.


FF – MRD 2200 FF Mineral Rock Dust for Aquaponics Export Minimum Order outside US is 2200 lb./1000kg   tote

Call for more information about price and shipping   costs

Start a Hobby Farm for Family Fun 

Start a Hobby Farm for Family Fun
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Start your own hobby farm and invite your entire family to care for the fish and plants to grow your own food. A small farm requires only five-minutes a day to feed the fish and tend to the plants.

For most people, having a built-in cushion of almost anything provides a really great feeling of comfort. The topic of ‘food security’ for families is in the news today especially in cold climates where fresh food must be imported up to eight months per year instead of being grown locally. Aquaponics offers the choice for growing fresh food grown near your kitchen and available year round.

To have a few months of money that you’ve saved safely tucked away, or a full tank of gas, or cupboards stocked and supplies in the house makes us all feel much more secure. Now, add to that a nice garden, some survival foods tucked away and the means to obtain more food on short notice and you begin to feel that you and your family are ready for whatever might happen in the future. And something will happen, let’s all hope it is something nice.

Assuming you have some of the items (listed above) taken care of and you can afford to create a real survival farm/garden, consider an aquaponics system inside a weatherized greenhouse, basement, garage or even an outbuilding. To size it properly, use the formula for a highly efficient aquaponics system (think Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems) of 25 sq ft of grow space which is necessary for each adult. This ‘small acreage’ will feed that adult all of their surface vegetables year round forever and provide a source of protein: fish. You may want to increase the total area slightly to insure you can feed those who show up at your door if times do become more difficult.

Lanai Aquaponics in the tropics. This tray feeds four people.

Lanai Aquaponics in the tropics. This tray feeds four people.

Ah yes, the cost. To build a greenhouse (10 x 30′) to house a single PFAS Module for feeding four adults will cost somewhere between US$3,500 and US$5,000 depending on many factors. Cost of greenhouse, climate considerations, floor covering, local lumber costs, etc.

There you have it. If you put the PFAS in your basement or garage there is no cost for the greenhouse, only the PFAS Module materials and some grow lights for indoor growing. Neat, elegant, practical and affordable and the best part, it’s AVAILABLE TODAY.


Aquaponics for Beginners

Aquaponics for Beginners
By Colle and Phyllis Davis

There are literally millions of pages on the Internet about the topic of aquaponics.


PFAS LLC’s website has been visited several million times over the last 12 months, and we are only one of the many other sites available. To start the journey of having a working aquaponics system, the best place to start is to begin to search the Internet and devote several hours of time to do the research and then assemble your own unique aquaponics system.

Begin with one beta fish or gold fish in a bowl to support one lettuce plant. Grow your interest to feed your family and then if the stars align, install a community garden. BEGIN SMALL and grow from there.

If you’re interested in owning your own aquaponics system, your first goal is to select the size aquaponics system you’d like to operate for your own unique purposes. We always suggest to our customers that they learn how to successfully operate an aquaponics system and if it fits their needs THEN expand to multiple aquaponics modules (the sky’s the limit).

There are literally thousands of websites that can show you how to set up a small workable open-source backyard hobby-aquaponics systems without paying for the information. For those who are not able to purchase our systems, we suggest you START TODAY by working with online/open source information so you can learn about aquaponics and build your own farm. We also suggest you visit online aquaponics forums so you can ask questions you may have from other aquaponics enthusiasts. 

Please do all the research you need to feel comfortable moving forward with your aquaponics project. Some quick numbers that will be helpful:

  • IF you place your small system inside, as in garage or basement, be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars on the very smallest system that will be a joy to show off to your friends and enjoy a few vegetables each year. Indoors, if you build a larger system (4 x 8’ grow tray size) be prepared to spend a little over $1,000 and that will help feed one and a third people. More fun and more bragging.
  • If you go absolutely crazy and put up a greenhouse or ‘big’ installation to feed 4 to 8 people then you are looking at an investment in the US$3,500 to US$8,000 range (depending on your choice of greenhouse).

farm 8 18 2012 aquaponicsWe call this process of starting small and expanding the size of your aquaponics system ‘getting your hands wet’ because even if one possesses all the knowledge in the world about a topic (in this case aquaponics), it will not feed a single person; only ACTION GROWS FOOD and in this case several steps are required before it creates food that nourishes someone and that action has an impact.  Start with research, build a small aquarium and dish pan system, move up to garbage cans or IBC totes, go crazy and build a ‘real’ system so you can kill fish and plants. Oh, sorry, you may not want to hear that, but that is what will happen. That is how one learns, by making mistakes.

aquaponics back yard farmIn the world of makers and successful businesses there is a motto: Fail fast and fail often. This means you will try things and if they work, keep them, if they fail, try something else. Side note here: we have killed thousands of fish in our 45 years in the field of aquaponics. Some we ate, some were our own dumb mistakes coming to bite us and some were out of unintended consequences.

Back to getting a running start in aquaponics. Start somewhere, at some level, now. Modern aquaponics is a brand new field because it encompasses recent technology and innovation along with successful techniques from the past. Aquaponics is evolving rapidly and slowly becoming main stream. The commercial side of aquaponics may take another ten or twenty years to accept on par with hydroponics, but it will happen.

It is the hobbyist, gardener, cook and home owner who are leading the charge on this ‘new’ technology, not the big companies, governments or NGO’s. Aquaponics is up close and personal as only eating can be and it is the opportunity to eat the best food on earth, every day, for a long as you live.

The important part is to get started NOW. Have fun, make mistakes and eat great food.

Jump Start Your Summer Growing with an Aquaponics System

Jump Start Your Summer Growing.
Better YET . . . Grow Food for your Family YEAR ROUND in any Weather!
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Your first step is to determine the SIZE for your aquaponics system.

One grow tray containing what we call ‘wasabi lettuce.’ It tastes exactly like wasabi.

Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are high intensity food production systems that produce prodigious amounts of food year round in any climate.

Here is a small grow table of a Portable Farms Aquaponics System that feeds two people.

Here is the formula for correctly sizing your backyard aquaponics system: In a highly effective system with gravel as the medium base, a tray space of 25 to 30 sq. ft. will feed one adult their table vegetables year round – FOREVER.

  • Use the number of people you want to feed times (x) the 25 sq. ft. required for each person and the resulting figure will be the size of grow tray space you will need.

One module of a Portable Farms Aquaponics System.

Example 1: You have four people in the house (any child over the age of 11 eats like an adult) times 25 sq. ft. equals 100 sq. ft. of grow tray space. A grow tray that measure 5 ft. x 20 ft. long (6 ft. x 16 ft.) will be the perfect size. This size tray will fit comfortably inside a 10 x 24 ft. (or a 12 x 20 ft.) greenhouse.

Example 2: There are 8 people you wish to feed. 8 people x 25 sq. ft. per person equals – 200 sq. ft. The formula of number of people times the 25 sq. ft. required to feed them can be applied no matter what the number of people you want to feed. A commercial installation with 10,000 sq. feet of enclosed space provides 6,000 sq. ft. of grow space and will feed 240 people.2. Find the ideal location in your backyard for your Portable Farms® Aquaponics System that has at least six hours of direct sunlight available in the chosen location. If you don’t have an area to receive 6 hours of sunlight, you must supplement the lighting to provide your vegetables with grow lights. Or, can you use an existing building, or extend an existing building to save money and reduce the carbon footprint?

Example 3. Explore the materials that are required for the grow trays and other items that are required for your system to operate at its peak. We supply this list of materials in our course Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems Course©.

Example 4. Learn the actual operation of your new aquaponics installation regarding ways you can be assured that you will be operating it effectively and not kill fish or plants.

JUICING with Foods from Portable Farms®

JUICING with Foods from Portable Farms®
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Nutritionists report that juicing is not a substitute for including fresh fruits and vegetables unless you put the ‘pulp’ back into the juice.

After juicing, we feed our leftover pulp to the wildlife on our property (birds, squirrels, dozens of rabbits, and sadly, even our large gopher population). If we begin feeding our tilapia the pulp when their still babies (fingerlings), they’ll develop a taste for it too, but it we don’t start them out on pulp, they won’t eat it once they are several weeks old.

Again, back to the wise advice of nutritionists who suggest including at least two whole fruits and three to four fresh vegetables of different colors (which offer different minerals and vitamins) into our diets every day as a goal for health and even weight management.

Owning a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System that is only steps away from our kitchen is an ideal way to harvest perfectly ripe and organic vegetables for eating raw or for steaming (we own large electric steamers that very fast are easy to use) and we also enjoy juicing whenever the mood strikes us. We love nothing more than sharing a variety of fresh juices with friends and family when they drop by instead of serving coffee or iced tea. Fresh juice is a healthy pick-me-up and juicing is a great family activity.

It’s Sunday morning and this morning we had the time to photograph the steps involved in juicing to show you how easy and ultimately, how delicious it is.


For this juice recipe, we’ve included freshly harvested vegetables from our own Portable Farms® (left to right) cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, fresh baby kale and fresh baby Swiss chard.


We wash and prepare the vegetables to be juiced. We don’t fully remove the
skin of cucumbers because the rind is high in nutrition. 


We put one glass bowl under the center of the juicer to capture the juice from the extraction process and one glass bowl at the end of juicer to capture the pulp from the vegetables. We feed the pulp to the many birds and animals who live on our property. If we have carrots or apples left over, I’ll occasionally make carrot cake or muffins with the leftover pulp to give to friends or those who come to tour our farms.


We simple drop the vegetables into the juicer (push them down into the shoot with a small plunger) to run them through the extractor.

This is a photo from the freshly extracted juice and pulp from the vegetables.
The juicing process itself takes less than five minutes.


We take our juicing as a special event and always serve it in pretty wine glasses. Each of these wine glasses holds one-half cup of juice which is generally enough for us to juice each time.


As you can see, these vegetables created a little over two cups of fresh juice.
I’ll use the rest of the juice in a nutritious soup for lunch today.


As you can see, there is about one cup left after filling our glasses.


See how the Swiss chard (red) juice has settled to the bottom of the glass. The ‘foam’ on top is from the vigorous activity of juicing which is light and very refreshing!juicing11

Colle Davis, Lead Inventor for Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems toasting ALL OF YOU today and wishing you health and happiness. CHEERS!juicing12

This tells the rest of the story. Delicious and healthy and one of the great joys for owning your own Portable Farm!  As the Buddhist expression says, “First ecstasy and then the laundry.” So it goes; now I get to wash the juicer (not my favorite thing to do in the world), but it’s part of life.

Portable Farms® – Go Solar and OFF GRID. So, Sexy.

Portable Farms® – Go Solar and OFF GRID. So, Sexy.
– By Colle and Phyllis Davis

PFAS LL offers Portable Farms® Kits designed for SOLAR installations.  

The PFAS LLC Research Center installation at our headquarters in Southern Florida has operated on solar power since last August and has not missed a beat. The system is 100% solar powered and you too can have a system solar powered Portable Farms® with 12v air compressors and timers.

Full disclosure: We use a slightly modified solar electric system with a 12VDC to 110v AC converter for the large air pump because of the noise factor. We have on hand and have used a 12v air compressor for the CAD Pump and it works just fine but is much noisier than the 110VAC compressor. You have been forewarned. 🙂


Solar Aquaponics GOLD

Let us show you HOW, WHY, WHAT, WHERE and HOW MUCH it costs to install your own solar powered system for YOUR aquaponics system.

The PFAS LLC Florida solar electrical system:

solar panel

  A single 100 watt panel installed next to a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System        

The increasing demand from our students in areas of the world where electrical power is erratic or non-existent has prompted us to offer the Portable Farms® Kit that is part of the Aquaponics University Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems Course© with a 12 volt DC OPTION. The price is exactly the same as the regular 110 AC system, but we need to know when you order the AU Course or additional Portable Farms® Kits that you want the 12volt option.

With the price of solar panels continuing to drop, the price/value proposition has swung over to favor the solar installations EVEN IF YOU HAVE GRID POWER. For example, the system in use –shown above – is a 100watt panel, MPPT controller, a 12v constantly on air pump for the air stones, a 12v timer, (here is where the difference in our system lies) a 700watt converter 12/110 to run a 110 VAC 65lmp air pump to run the CAD Pump and one deep cycle marine battery. That’s it. The system is bullet proof with all the controls on a panel under the Grow Table.


What will ‘going solar’ do for you?

  • Reduce the worry of a power failure that could impact your fish.
  • Reduce the cost of electrical power from your house. Our system will take about 2 year to pay for itself because so little power is needed for the Portable Farms®.
  • Increasing the solar installation size to run Grow Lights for winter growing will quadruple the size/cost and will take about 3.5 years to pay off depending on the size of the installation.
  • Give you incredibly huge bragging rights.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint.

There you have it, PFAS LLC has made solar power components an option with their Portable Farms® Kits. If you are planning a commercial installation the needs of a 10,000 sq ft (1,000m2) climatically adapted building on solar is about the same as a small 2 bedroom house. The main difference is that the Portable Farms® uses the most electricity when the sun is shining so the battery bank can be much smaller than for a house.

To insure you receive the correct power components for your Portable Farms® Kit(s) you must notify us when you receive your Congratulations on Graduating Letter (or before) so we send you the right Portable Farms® Kit.

Begin reducing your carbon footprint and enroll in the Aquaponics University Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems Course© today and let us know when you start, that you are joining the solar revolution and want the 12volt Portable Farms® Kit for your installation.

Reduce Your Use of Plastic in the Kitchen

Reduce Your Use of Plastic in the Kitchen

Friends of Portable Farms, we wanted to share a simple plan to reduce the use of plastic in your kitchen by using a simple technique to protect food instead of using plastic. 

This is a fun project takes less than a hour to create a dozen Waxed Fabrics of various sizes. These Waxed Fabrics will last through months of regular use before they need to be refreshed. If they get dirty, just use cool soapy water to rinse them before reuse.


  • Beeswax. You can buy a block to shred the wax with a kitchen shredder. Make sure the wax doesn’t have fragrance or pesticides. We used organic bees-wax pellets for our project. 
  • 100% Cotton fabric scraps. You can also use old cotton t-shirts or other lightweight cotton fabrics.
  • Scissors to cut the fabric.
  • Wax kitchen paper parchment
  •  Iron
  • Your favorite happy music playing in the background along with a glass of sweet tea or lemonade. 

One pound, 16 ounces, beeswax pellets is about $10.00. We used 8 ounces to make the Waxed Fabrics shown in the seven examples shown in this article. 

Place cotton fabric on top of of a piece of waxed kitchen parchment paper. Then sprinkle about 1/4 of a cup on  HALF the fabric (about 12″ x 12) and then fold the fabric over. After your fabric has been prepared with pellets and place another piece of waxed kitchen parchment paper. 

Set your iron on the highest heat setting and place the iron on top of the waxed parchment paper. Melt the wax by moving the iron around on the fabric for about 2 minutes.  After melting the wax onto the fabric, remove the waxed parchment paper and pick up the fabric to open it. 

Hang the piece of Waxed Fabric up for about 3 minutes to dry and then, it’s ready to use.

Here is a small apple to wrap to include in a lunch bag. The Waxed Fabric also protects the food unlike a thin plastic bag.

Fold and wrap the apple. The warmth of your hands seals the fabric to secure the apple. 

We make homemade bread every three days on average. The Waxed Fabric keeps the bread moist and fresh.

Again, just wrap the bread and fold over the edges. Hold you hands on the seal to heat the wax to seal it. 

This works great for packing lunch boxes. Use it to wrap sandwiches, sweet rolls, treats, chips or fruit. Again, if the wrap is dirty, just use cool soapy water to clean the fabric and reuse.

Waxed Fabric is ideal for putting over bowls or pie pans in the refrigerator for leftovers. 

Pleat the Waxed Fabric along the edges of the bowl and hold your warm hands over the pleats to seal the fabric to seal it. 

Here is a variety of selections of Waxed Fabrics of varying sizes and shapes. HAVE FUN and experiment with ideas for your personal choices.

Cost of An Aquaponics System and Operating Tasks

Cost of An Aquaponics System and Operating Tasks
by Colle and Phyllis Davis


The majority of daily tasks include planting, harvesting and feeding the fish. Repeat the next day.

aug 20 interior2There are two assumptions that will be made here regarding the operations for a backyard aquaponics system:

1) your installation is, or is similar to, a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System.

2) You have built a medium/media based (not a raft based) aquaponics system. Operations include the steps that are necessary for you to keep the fish and plants alive and healthy. 

A backyard farm that feeds 8 people generally takes about ten to fifteen minutes per day to maintain. This includes feeding the fish, planting seedlings and harvesting. Operations are NOT time consuming but they are DAILY operations that cannot and should NOT be skipped.

When you’re dealing with living aquatic animals, they require daily care, attention and yes, even affection to remain healthy and grow to their full size. If your fish are ‘stressed’ for any reason, they won’t eat – – – – and if they don’t eat – – – – they don’t poop – – – – and if they don’t poop, your plants will not be healthy.  So, if you’re going to be gone for longer than a day or so, ask a friend or neighbor (that you trust) that will take care of your aquaponics system.

Here’s the full cost breakdown of a backyard aquaponics system: READ ON . . . 

  • Greenhouse: Must be able to keep the interior temperature between 40 and 104° F. The costs are dependent on your choice of design
  • Wooden or concrete floor/slab – from $100 to $300
  • Insulated stem wall to set the greenhouse on top of for more height – 2×4’s and plywood – $250 to $350
  • Fish tank – sometimes known of as a livestock watering trough  – $150
  • Lumber for the Grow Tray – 2×4’s, 2×6’s, plywood, etc – between $800 and $1,200
  • PVC pipe and fittings  – $100
  • Misc – $250 
You may even have some of the materials on hand or have access to recycled materials at a reduced cost. Even if you have to pay full retail price for everything, an operating aquaponics farm is a fantastically good deal. Plus, a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System is infinitely expandable because of it modular design. You can expand it and begin selling the excess to create a small income. tilapia Oreochromis mossambicusOperational tasks include: 1. Maintaining adequate levels of water in the fish tank at all times 2. Feeding your fish a high protein fish feed each day (singing to your fish is optional but they do enjoy human contact and they do enjoy the sound of talking and singing) 3. Always wear disposable gloves when preforming tasks in the building 4. Keeping the pH balanced in the fish tank 5. Stocking the appropriate number of fish in the fish tank that is in balance with the area of the grow tray
6. 24/7 aeration provided for the fish at all times (bubbles).

Origins of Aquaponics

Origins of Aquaponics
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis


Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are easier and more productive than dirt gardening or traditional agriculture and uses less water, less electricity and less labor than any other aquaponics system in the world.

Please note that aquaponics does not grow ‘field crops’ such as rice, wheat, corn or root vegetables, but it DOES grow table greens and many blooming plants (not all, but some) such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and beans.

Phyllis Davis holding a single head of Bok Choy grown in a Portable Farm.

Aquaponics with Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems 

 — Build, own and operate your own backyard aquaponics system.

— Feed a family of eight year round with one module of Portable Farms® Aquaponics System.

— Start a commercial aquaponics installation by installing twenty to thirty modules and sell the food you grow.

The Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems duplicate what nature has been doing for billions of years. The water, containing the fish waste, is pumped out of the fish tanks to a settling tank, where the solids settle to the bottom of the tank while the nutrient-rich water then flows, by gravity, through a series of trays where the plants are growing, and then back into the fish tanks. The small amount of separated fish-waste water in the settling tank is drained off at regular intervals, and can be used to fertilize crops such as trees, ornamentals or lawns. The cycle of the water flowing through the system repeats itself several times each day. Some make-up water has to be added at regular intervals to compensate for the water used in the settling tank cleaning, and for the water used by the plants for growth (transpiration). And, that’s how the system works. Simple, elegant and with very little energy to produce high quantities of locally grown food.

Learn more about owning your own Portable Farms® Aquaponics System

Aquaponics has been explored for several decades as a possible solution to the foregoing environmental, energy and food shortage problems.  Aquaponics combines the art of growing aquatic animals (fish), known as aquaculture, with the modern technology of hydroponics in which plants are grown without soil. In aquaponics, fish and plants are grown together in an integrated closed loop re-circulating system with a very low rate of water usage or water loss due to evaporation. This symbiotic relationship between the fish and the growing plants is the goal of aquaponics by creating a sustainable ecosystem in which both fish and plants can thrive and as a result, produces safe, fresh protein and healthy vegetables.

Oreochromis Mossambicus Tilapia. This is the male tilapia used in aquaponics systems in the Northern Hemisphere.

To work efficiently, Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems require ‘warm water, fresh water fish’ of some kind to provide the essential waste and their nutrients for your plants. Generally, aquaponics systems use warm-water fish instead of cold-water fish (like trout) because the plants don’t like the cold water.

Aquaponics is the growing of fish, or other water-based animals, along with land plants in a controlled environment, to maximize the use of the energy and nutrients in the system in order to harvest the greatest amount of vegetables and fish protein from the system.

The word aquaponics comes from words aquaculture, which is the cultivation of fish or other `water- based animals, and the word hydroponics, where plants are grown in a sterile medium or completely in water.

By combining the fish, water and plants, Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems use an integrated environment to produce vegetables and fish in very small space, with very little water.

Aquaponics has its roots in ancient China and parts of the aquaponics system were developed in other areas of the world where high concentrations of people lived who were observant of the relationships that existed naturally in their environment.

In China, farmers knew that land livestock waste could be added to their fields or ponds to increase production of vegetables and fruit bearing plants. They also noticed that different fish had different tolerances to the level of land-animal waste in their water. For example too much pig or chicken waste caused many fish to die (the modern explanation for this is lack of oxygen) so they were careful about balancing their system for maximum yield and minimum fish loss.These Chinese farmers were able to refine their systems so they could grow chickens in pens above pigs, (with the waste dropping through along with any spilled food) who were in a pen over a pond with carp in it, and then the water flowed to another pond with other less tolerant fish such as catfish, and perhaps other aquatic animals and certainly other water plants were grown and harvested. These systems were so called flow-through systems, meaning that water was used once through the ponds, and then released to the local paddies, streams, lakes or ocean. The sludge from the bottom of the ponds was used on the fields and some of the water was used in the paddies for fertilizer before it was released.

dry-riverbedIn the twenty-first century, the world faces an environmental crisis, issues related to climate change (drought and flooding as well as record-setting heat waves) and an energy crisis. In addition, many parts of the world face severe food shortages. Twentieth century agricultural techniques have harmed the environment and consume an inordinate amount of energy and water. Many countries lack the large amounts of arable land and water needed to sustain growing human populations. Developed nations use large amounts of pesticides and artificial fertilizers to grow their grains, fruits, and vegetables. At the same time, they use huge amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel to power their farm machinery, large amounts of electricity to process their food, and enormous amounts of fuel to deliver the processed food to grocery stores. The raising of farm animals, particularly cattle and swine, is notoriously inefficient in terms of the amount of land and energy required to raise corn and other animal

Community Aquaponics is the HOT NEW TREND

Community Aquaponics is the HOT NEW TREND
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

The impact of a single community aquaponics system is much larger than the excellent ROI (Return on Investment) and high monthly income. The impact of multiple units has a profound effect on virtually every aspect of a community.

botswana10,000 Sq ft Portable Farms Aquaponics System Commercial Farm Installed in Botswana, Africa


Commercial and community aquaponics systems have now proven themselves over the last two decades and are becoming more effective and efficient as the technology improves. Many people are contributing to the movement and it now appears that community aquaponics has finally arrived as a viable alternative to the easily disrupted food supply and the huge increase in the demand for locally grown, pesticide free food.

For investors looking for an ROI in the two to four year range, a construction company looking for a new arena to expand into over the next decade or two or even a Ministry of Agriculture or an NGO wanting to improve the lives of local people, community aquaponics is a viable option to address their desired outcomes to provide food and work for local people.

The large community installations employ local people on both a temporary (building the systems) and permanent basis (operating, harvesting and planting) and contribute to the local economy. The initial markets are necessarily local markets; resort hotels, high-end restaurants, foodies and specialty markets catering to the wealthy. Within the next few years, community aquaponics systems will contribute to local food supplies on a much broader scale (supermarkets and institutional growing for schools and prisons), but initially they may only contribute to the local economy through job creation.

For instance: An investor group planning to install a commercial (10,000 sq ft – 1/4 acre, 1,000m2) Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems next to a restaurant in a major US city. Here is what they are planning to accomplish with their very first installation:

  1. Showcase the use of aquaponics as a LOCAL FOOD SOURCE

  2. Deliver locally grown, pesticide free vegetables to their customers not treated with chemicals

  3. Place locally grown fresh-water healthy fish on the menu that were not treated with chemicals or any kind

  4. Reduce transportation costs for most vegetables to ZERO

  5. Serve food that was harvested on the DAY it was meant to be harvested which enhances both the flavor and the nutritional content of the food

  6. Dramatically reduces their carbon footprint

  7. Reduces storage costs because the food is harvested as needed

  8. Reduces prep time because the crops are harvested only as needed

  9. Supply their patrons with the excess production at regular store prices.

Plus the investor group will also reap these benefits:

  1. Realize an ROI of two to four years

  2. Net-net income for 1/4 acre is approximately US$100,000 or more depending on restaurant margins and the selection of crops you grow and sell to them

  3. Become their own supplier for many of the vegetables they now purchase through wholesalers

  4. Have the marketing lead to themselves in their niche for at least two years

  5. Become local spokespersons for using local suppliers and growers

  6. Offers owners ‘bragging rights’ to attract news coverage in the media. Also offers a ‘hook’ for advertising and articles about their aquaponics system to talk about on their website to boast the use of locally grown organic food that was planted, raised and harvested onsite or locally. This alone is worth its price of investment. Word travels fast and people will drive for miles to experience an innovative approach in dining and shopping.


To have the opportunity to invest in anything that has an ROI of less than five years is very tempting and when the investment comes with all of the above benefits, the long term impact for both the investor and the community continues to grow.

Multiple installations add several more benefits to the equation.

  1. The impact on local employment grows in direct proportion to each new installation

  2. The ancillary services to support the aquaponics installations creates jobs and even new businesses

  3. Tax revenue increases to better serve the community’s needs

  4. A stabilized workforce is more resilient to economic disruptions

  5. The less a community depends on imported energy and food, the more stable the community

  6. Eventually, a surplus may be developed and shipping to other areas

  7. The area could even become a net exporter of food.

The question now is, “How can an individual or group step into the community aquaponics business?”

The answer is, “Be prepared to spend some money to determine the feasibility of your chosen location and to work with engineers and experts to establish the cost and benefits for your project.”