The Wonder Fish: TILAPIA in Aquaponics

The Wonder Fish: TILAPIA in Aquaponics
Grown in Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Mozambique tilapia

Mozambique tilapia

One of the most commonly asked questions we receive is concerning the fish that we use in Portable Farms®, “Why Tilapia?'”

In the US, please check with your local Fish and Wildlife Department in your State and see if Tilapia are legal in your area.

It generally takes between 7 and 9 months for a tilapia to grow to maturity and we harvest them then at 1.25 lbs(approximately) which yields two four-ounce fillets.

Tilapia is still our champion and will probably remain so for a long time:

Tilapia are considered a fresh water, warm water fish.’ The plants grown in aquaponics systems grow faster in a warm environment, which requires warm water flowing through the systems. Plants do best at 73° F no matter where they are in the world. They may grow faster or slower in warmer or cooler temperatures, but they grow best with a leaf surface temperature of almost exactly 73° F. That means that the fish in the system need to love and enjoy warm water.

Please note, different countries have different choices for their aquaponics systems with fish that are ‘fresh water, warm water fish’ other than tilapia. For example, in Australia we’re told they favor using barramundi, silver and golden  perch, and catfish. Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems favor using tilapia.

tialpiaswimming21-300x199

  • Most trout/salmon do not like water over 60° F at which point they begin to experience stress and become susceptible to diseases above this temperature level. This means either the water must be cooled and heated each cycle, or the fish or the plants will be unhappy and not grow well.
  • Trout/salmon are also carnivores and are grown best on animal protein. Commercial trout chow contains fish meal as the protein source and that fish meal is from ocean harvest fish, depleting the ocean fisheries.
  • Catfish, which was our personal first choice, have a different problem. The fry or fingerlings are only available three months of the year (May, June, July) so there is no way for farm owners to constantly restock their fish tanks. Catfish grow quickly, they like warm water, they will eat almost anything, they taste good and are a hardy fish. But, stocking off season is impossible.
  • Perch are carnivores and eat bugs, crayfish and other animals to grow. These are tough to get in the winter time unless you grow them inside for some other purpose. Perch food is tough to get almost any time of the year. Perch taste sweet and are easy to work with but are difficult to find food for them.
  • Crayfish and freshwater prawns are cannibalistic and need to have separate ‘apartments’ built in the tanks so they don’t eat each other. They are sometimes used in the tanks with other fish to clean up the bottom of the tanks. They are very hardy, but the housing for them is a problem.

That leaves the incredibly, tasty, hearty and adaptable Tilapia. They are very easy to prepare, taste great, grow quickly, and are available year round. They will eat and prefer plant protein and are very hardy. They prefer a water temperature in the low 80° F’s, the water can be fresh water, brackish water or even salty water, and they do just fine. They will thrive in water that can be dirty looking and still grow and be ready for eating almost anywhere in the world. Of course, our newly configured Portable Farms CAD pumps remove all sediment from the tanks and they swim in clear, clean water that turns over at least twice per day.

Tilapia, ‘The Wonder Fish’ is our choice.


Portable Farms® Really Are Portable

Portable Farms® Really Are Portable
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

lettuce cWe suggest that you view the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems technology as software along with several unique hardware components. This makes the portability factor much more apparent. The ‘technology’ is in two separate pieces. The Aquaponics University (AU) Course explains/teaches the technology of building the complete system (Sections A-M) and also teaches the operating functions (Sections M-Z) of the system efficiently and also covers raising healthy plants and fish.

  1. Our own Portable Farms™ Aquaponics System Course© is the first piece.
  2. The second ‘piece’ is the Portable Farms® Kit which is sent to each graduate of the AU course upon satisfactory completion of the course work. The PFAS Kit (technology) all fits into a 1 cubic foot box. Yep, it’s that compact and we ship them all over the world.
  3. Most modern buildings (greenhouses) are straightforward in their design and construction to make them easy to build and maintain. Even a simple wooden framed greenhouse is easy to build and make climatically adapted for the specific location. Today’s greenhouse manufactures have made their building extremely easy to build and maintain because the industry is intensely competitive. The flip side of this ease of construction is the ease of dismantling and moving said greenhouses.

warehouse3 aquaponicsUsing an existing warehouse or basement is even easier because the only real modification is to the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) system to insure some temperature control and clean air.

Now the ONLY tough part of the installation: The gravel. Gravel is heavy, dirty and not easy to prepare and place. Every bit of it must be washed thoroughly and placed carefully. However, if you’re moving a long distance, we recommend leaving the heavy gravel behind and replacing it when you reinstall your Portable Farm. It’s easier. 
The rest of the ‘technology’ along with the plumbing, electrical and any fans, lighting and controls are easy to repack and move to their new home. The Grow Trays may or may not be worthwhile moving, most of the ones we know of that have been moved, the owners moved the Grow Tray and reused them.

So, are Portable Farms® really PORTABLE? Yes they are. The idea is to move the technology and leave the gravel behind.


Feeding a Family of Five with a Portable Farm in 125 sq ft

Feeding  a Family of Five with a Portable Farm in 125 sq ft
by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Family at homeHow much food does a family of five consume in a year?

Starting with USDA data for a healthy diet and accepting that a majority of carbohydrates will come from grains and root crops, the table vegetables for one person can be grown in 25 sq ft of aquaponics grow tray space. So a family of five will need 125 square feet of grow tray space or a Grow Tray 5′ wide by 25′ long.

A climatically adapted greenhouse that is 10′ by 30′ will feed the family of five year round, forever. That space is only slightly larger than a modern living room. Some of the protein source for the family will come from the fish that are grown in the Fish Tanks of the Portable Farm and the settling tank waste can be used to grow other crops and fruits outside the structure. Plants love the nutrient-laden settling tank waste water and reward the Portable Farmer with exceptional crops yields. The waste water can also be added to compost to speed up the process.

The average family of five consumes one head of lettuce per day for salads, garnish or sandwiches. The lettuce is planted on 8-inch centers in the Grow Tray. The lettuce needs approximately 30 to 40 days from ‘planting to harvesting’ which means there will be 40 lettuce plants in the Grow Tray at all times. 40 lettuce plants require 27 square ft of grow space. Each time a lettuce plant is harvested, a new seedling is placed in the same space to be ready to harvest in 40 days.

What other favorite vegetables are enjoyed by your family? Zucchini, any variety of peppers, egg plant, basil, Swiss chard, kale, cucumbers or maybe you would like a little space beans or bok choy. Find the spacing needed on the seed packet and begin planning out ways to fill up the rest of the Grow Tray.

With 90 square feet to fill up, the space that is 5′ wide and 18′ long will be beckoning to you even in your sleep.

Here is the trick that is the hardest for new Portable Farmers to grasp: THINK AHEAD AND PLAN LIKE A FARMER! Refrain from planting all of the space at once.  That is 27 square feet of open space for lettuce will tempt you to fill it up. Don’t do it. Plant a new baby lettuce plant every day into the gravel. Yes, it will be incredibly hard to do until the entire Grow Tray is finally full and you can stop buying vegetables at the store. It will happen, be patient and know that you are doing the best possible planning for your family’s survival.

The Aquaponist’s Daily Prayer: “PRAY FOR POOP”

The Aquaponist’s Daily Prayer: “PRAY FOR POOP”
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

fishpooping

Portable Farms is proud to show you Before and After Photos highlighting the 40-day progress of our newly constructed PFAS LLC’S Experimental and Research Center in San Diego, California, that was completed and planted on May 28. Because of improvements in our seed choices, planting methods and technology, our farm is exploding with fresh organic food after only 40 days. The 600 tilapia fish in this system know our voices and ‘frenzy’ when we walk into the farm (a good sign because a happy fish eats well and POOPS A LOT and that’s the fertilizer for our plants). In case you didn’t know it, the Aquaponists’ Daily Prayer is, “PRAY FOR POOP.”

 

 

empty-gravel-colle2

BEFORE: Gravel Grow Trays in a Portable Farms Aquaponics System with Colle Davis, Inventor, Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems.

gtt 40 days with colle3

AFTER: 40 Days After Planting with Colle Davis, Inventor, Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems, July 6. Many green leafy organic vegetables are already READY TO HARVEST and other blooming plants already have blossoms and are ready to produce organic fruit or vegetables after only 40 days (such as tomatoes, peppers, green beans, zucchini, and cucumbers). Portable Farms grow enormous amounts of healthy, organic, nutritious food in small spaces. This small farm feeds TEN adults . . . FOREVER. This greenhouse is 16′ x 33′ (528 square feet) and contains 264 square feet of Grow Tray space.

Install your own Portable Farms Aquaponics System after taking the Aquaponics University  Simple, Easy and Fun online course! It only takes about one hour per day for about two weeks and when you finish the course you will receive your own Portable Farms Kit to build your own commercial or backyard farm that will feed people forever.

zucchini leaf 40 days ruler

One single leaf of an organic zucchini plant measured after 40 days of growth in Gravel Grow Tray = 10.5 inches wide

zucchini height ruler july 7

Height of the same organic zucchini plant (above) after 40 days growth in a Gravel Grow Tray = 20.5 inches tall

india mustard ruler july 7

Organic India Mustard plant (a spicy lettuce) after 40 days in the Gravel Grow Trays = 19 inches tall

 

This is a photo of that same head of India Mustard at harvest:

indiamustard3

romaine with ruler after 40 days

Organic Cos Romaine Lettuce after 40 days of growth in a Gravel Grow Tray = 12.5 inches tall

We’re growing a variety of organic seeds in each of these categories in this farm:

  • Basil Green Peppers
  • Swiss Chard
  • Cucumbers
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • India Mustard
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Long Green Beans
  • Zucchini
  • Bib Lettuce
  • Basil
  • Pak Choi
  • Kale
  • Eggplant
  • Leek
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Green Onion
  • Green Swiss Chard
  • Hot Peppers
  • Yellow Crookneck Squash


Teach Your Daughter Aquaponics

TEACH YOUR DAUGHTER AQUAPONICS
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Besides all the love and attention you currently lavish on her, what else can you teach this joyful addition to your life  – – this legacy to your genes, to insure her health and survival? Can you do anything differently than your parents did for you to give her a better-than-average chance to pass on your genetic material to future generations?
Yes, the biggest advantage you can give your child today is an aquaponics education so she will always have the knowledge, skills and abilities to grow her own nutritious, healthy AND ORGANIC food. Even if she is only three years old, buy her a Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems and teach her how to operate it.
As much as we all hate the thought, the worlds ability to feed and provide water for all seven billion of us on this spinning planet is becoming a cautionary tale. Today, there are over 1 billion people without access to clean drinking water. Frightening thought!
Young girls, especially teenagers are fascinated with the Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems. Of the thousands of people who have toured our installations over the years, the young teenage girls are the ones who have asked the most questions, and often the best questions, went back into the greenhouses the most often, and were the ones pressuring their parents and grandparents to buy one so they could, ‘have some of these wonderful vegetables and fish in our backyard’ even before they left the property. These young women are the vanguard of the future; let them be working for you and your family.
Teaching skills to a child is what parents and grandparents do, it’s their job. Teaching the next generation to be better prepared and more productive, live healthier and longer lives and to prepare their children to continue the process is how we have arrived here. Our parents did their best in their efforts to raise us to become responsible adults. They may have made some silly or sad mistakes is the process, but for the most part they were there to teach us to survive and sometimes even thrive.
Now you can add a new layer of protection for your daughter(s) or granddaughter(s) by teaching her/them how to raise their own fresh organic food, even in an urban environment. Oh, the young sons are not being left out of this equation; they simply are much less interested in raising food until they have daughters of their own. In one of the most interesting anomalies of life, men, at some level, understand that their daughters have a much better chance of maintaining their linage than their sons. If you are a man and have a daughter or granddaughter, you have a very deep understanding of this article.

Portable Farms® Zucchini Bread

Portable Farms® Zucchini Bread

Give homemade Zucchini Bread for gifts during the holidays. Not too sweet and it’s healthy too!

There is nothPatioPonics Portable Farm Cucumbers Harvested February 9, 2012ing like home-made, home-grown zucchini bread to give away as gifts during the holiday season! While many cooks may boast they cook from scratch, we can ‘trump that’ and say we grew our zucchini’s ourselves too in our own Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems! In this upcoming holiday season of giving, keep life simple and give from the heart by sharing good food with people you love and respect. Our kitchen was filled with great smells yesterday as we baked and wrapped fresh bread for our friends and neighbors. The recipe is simple and fail proof. Wrap in Saran Wrap, add a bow and away you go!

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (I occasionally add some canned pineapple instead of carrots)
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts (walnut or pecan)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Directions

  • In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon; stir into sugar mixture just until moistened. Stir in the zucchini, carrots nuts and lemon peel.
  • Move mixture into two greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield: 2 loaves (12 slices each).

Feeding the Poor with Portable Farms®

Feeding the Poor with Portable Farms®
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

In today’s world of chaos, fear, hunger, poverty, dishonesty and crushing bureaucracy, there is a way to help those as close as your family or as inclusive as your community or even a larger section of the earth by installing an aquaponics system. Now you or your organization can really make a difference in people’s lives, forever, by feeding people and providing employment to those who need it most.

Our article on the Portable Farms® website, Feeding a Family of Five, went around the world in 24 hours and drew interest from readers in over 140 countries. After all, our loyal readers are looking for immediate solutions to their own food needs. They want to avoid worrying about the cost of food, relying on coupons, tainted food, and staying current on sales from local grocery stores; they’re interested in creating a never-ending supply of fresh, pesticide free food near their kitchen so they never have to buy their table vegetables at their grocery store again, EVER.

Please note: The majority of the food grown in Portable Farms® that is not consumed by the owners MUST be sold and not given away to those in need. Why? Because the focus of donor funding always shifts, over time, to various causes and if (for whatever reason) the funders or donors who are supplying the money for the ongoing costs of labor, water, electricity, etc., required to operate a Portable Farm decide to reallocate that funding to another cause, the aquaponics system will eventually fail. While good deeds are encouraged in the world, nothing (not even funding) lasts forever. However, if food grown in Portable Farms® is SOLD to pay the necessary operating expenses for the Portable Farm, the operation has a chance for long-term survival in that community.

The question we have received most often about community aquaponics installations is:  “How can a larger group use an aquaponics system to become more locally self reliant?”

Here is our answer: “By using the same formula of 25 sq ft to feed one adult, any group can sit down and figure out what size system they need to feed their members or target audience. For example, if a group wants to feed 240 people, they would need 6,000 square feet of grow space which fits perfectly into a 10,000 sq ft greenhouse in ¼ acre. That will provide them with most of their table vegetables and fish, a regular source of healthy protein, forever. It would not include root vegetables like potatoes. carrots nor legumes and grains.”

If your organization is focused on ways to help the children in your community or somewhere else in the world, the same formula can be applied. In many cases, part of that help can also include jobs for their parents and help teach the children about ‘the cycle of life’ and the value and benefits of healthy nutritional habits. 

A religious organization can very easily address the needs of their congregation or a target group that they are assisting by using the same ‘people to grow space’ formula. For a group of one hundred persons in need, a PFAS Unit containing only 4,000 sq ft of enclosed space will do the job. That is a greenhouse only 50 x 80 feet. Nearly every religious organization has that much space in their parking lot or in an open area next to their main church building. This size will provide all of the table vegetables and some of the fish needs for the 100 people or it will also help supplement the needs of nearly twice that many people.

Community groups can also start a locally supported installation and be able to leverage their resources to a much greater degree with an investment in a permanent food-production facility run by local semi-skilled labor. The opportunity to serve the community and actually have the system help pay for itself over time is a huge advantage over nearly any other source of food items. Plus, it offers employment to a few of the locals ‘in need’ for a permanent full time job.

Even nonprofit organizations can step in and serve their community in a way that outlasts the original donor’s money. By using donor money, they can erect one or more Units, perhaps under the name of the donor, and the system becomes an income-generating fixture to the organization, or at least self sustaining investment, as it serves the target group. Even programs that are designed to provide ‘in-home help’ can benefit from having an aquaponics system on site or close by to provide food for the recipients.

For those who wish to give to, and to support those who are less fortunate, our aquaponics systems are a way to leverage their giving. By setting up a foundation or charity which actually owns the installations, an individual, or family, or organization can dramatically impact the lives of those they wish to help and insure their money is put to work doing the most possible good.

 


Warehouse Aquaponics? Yes, Here’s How . . .

Warehouse Aquaponics with Portable Farms®? Yes, Here’s How . . .
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

We cracked the code so you make money faster and easier and with LOWER ELECTRICAL COSTS to increase your ROI for warehouse aquaponics! You’re welcome.

Those huge empty warehouses seem to be begging to be repurposed again in some productive and sustainable way. The enclosed space runs from tens of thousands to millions of square feet of usable space. There must be some way to turn that empty space into a money maker.

How about making this available warehouse space into a huge aquaponics setup using some special grow lights to grow plants? It sounds so reasonable and straightforward. Every week PFAS LLC receives requests from all over the world from those interested in making use of abandoned warehouses in their area. They dream of converting the interior space of warehouses into a high-intensity food production facility to grow, sell and distribute food locally and make lots of money. 

Below is the process that nearly all warehouses must go through in order to be ready for Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems:

  1. Obtain the use of the building through leasing or purchase or whatever means of legal transfer is required to secure the right to use the space.
  2. Obtain the necessary permits to make changes to the electrical, HVAC, surface water diversion, sewage hook ups and security systems. This may also require a zoning change.
  3. Permission from Fish and Wildlife Department in the local jurisdiction.
  4. Permission from the electrical utility to ‘up the load coverage’ to keep the grow lights on.
  5. A thorough cleaning. Steam cleaning and even sand blasting walls and floors may be necessary to make the space clean and usable for growing plants and fish.
  6. Painting all surfaces and using an epoxy coating on the floors.
  7. Replacing or updating the entire HVAC system.
  8. Installing an effective grow light system first before installing the aquaponics’ Modules.

 

TILAPIA is the Fish for Aquaponics


TILAPIA is the Fish for Aquaponics

-by Colle and Phyllis Davis
tilapia Oreochromis mossambicusTilapia is the fish most used in aquaponics.

Tilapia prefer a water temperature in the low 80° F, the water can be fresh water, brackish water or even salty water, and they do just fine. They will thrive in water that can be dirty looking and still grow and be ready for eating almost anywhere in the world.

Most trout/salmon do not like water over 60° F at which point they begin to experience stress and become susceptible to diseases in warmer water. This means either the water must be cooled and heated each cycle, or the fish or the plants will be unhappy and not grow well.

WATERBLUEFISH2Trout/salmon are also carnivores and are grown best on animal protein. Commercial trout chow contains fish meal as the protein source and that fish meal is from ocean harvest fish, depleting the ocean fisheries.

Catfish, which was our personal first choice, have a different problem. The fry or fingerlings are only available three months of the year (May, June, July) so there is no way for farm owners to consistently restock their fish tanks. Catfish grow quickly, they like warm water, they will eat almost anything, they taste good and are a hardy fish. But, stocking off season is impossible.

Perch are carnivores and eat bugs, crayfish and other animals to grow. This feed is tough to get in the winter months unless you grow them inside for some other purpose. Perch food is tough to get almost any time of the year. Perch taste sweet and are easy to work with but are difficult to find food for them.

Most crayfish and many freshwater prawns are cannibalistic and need to live in separate ‘apartments’ built in the tanks so they don’t eat each other. They are sometimes used in the tanks with other fish to clean up the bottom of the tanks. They are very hardy, but the housing for them is a problem.

tialpiaswimming21-300x199That leaves the incredibly, tasty, hearty and adaptable Tilapia. They are very easy to grow, prepare, they taste great, grow quickly, and are available year round. They are herbivores and prefer plant protein and are very hardy.

 

You Can Feed Your Family Healthy Food Forever OR Buy a Used Car

portable-farms-questionFeed Your Family Healthy Food Forever OR Buy a Used Car 
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Create Food Security and Food Safety for Your Family!

Which is a better investment?

          • Providing your family with fresh, healthy food that will last FOREVER . .
          • Or, buying a used car? 

 

portable-farms-affordable-food-forever-used-car

 

Do you want to provide your family with food for the rest of their lives, or spring for that used car that you will have to replace again in a few years? Interestingly, they cost about the same amount.

 

 

 

 

portable-farms-aquaponics-system-farmThe cost will vary mostly depending on the cost of the greenhouse itself. (Please note: We don’t sell greenhouses but we can recommend you to reputable greenhouse companies that we trust.) Some greenhouses are fancier than others and you may have most of the materials already available, there may be an empty greenhouse you can rent or you may be able to build a lean-to type structure on the side of your house for less money. You may even find a greenhouse that someone wants taken away for FREE.

This total amount includes the Aquaponics University Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems Course© which even has the PFAS Technology Kit as part of the purchase price.

 

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.

Imagine a 12 ft wide lean-to greenhouse 24 ft long off the south side of your house. In this arrangement the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems is a carbon negative installation because it contributes more energy to the house than it consumes on an annual basis. There are installations with wood burning stoves inside them to keep them from freezing in very cold climates. Every installation is different and unique. You are only limited by your imagination and your budget.

In commercial installations, our foreman, with a crew of four, can build 30 operating Modules that are 5ft x 40ft in one week. Building a module is not rocket science and the construction is straight simple carpentry and the Aquaponics University Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems Course© has pictures and step-by-step instructions about how to build the Portable Farms Modules. You can have your own aquaponics farm up and running in a matter of weeks and be enjoying fresh home-grown greens is a little as five weeks after completion. Now THAT’S exciting.

Where will you be investing your money? In your family’s health and future or in that used car that will depreciate the moment you pay for it? Take our Aquaponics University Course now and build an aquaponics farm that will be producing food for your family within a couple of months. That food will continue to be there for your family FOREVER.


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