Here is The Difference Between Hydroponics and Aquaponics

Here is The Difference Between Hydroponics and Aquaponics
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

  • A commercial aquaponics system creates immediate jobs and food for semi-skilled people trained in less than a week.
  • Permanent full-time jobs and year round food production in three months in greenhouses or warehouse.
  • Grows pesticide free food, table vegetables and fish, raised in simple yet revolutionary new technology that replicates nature.
  • Installation can be solar powered.Total sustainability can be achieved by selling most of the food production to local markets.

Hydroponics (image above of lettuces) is a very recent technology first noted in the 17th Century; the name itself was only coined in 1937 from the Greek words for ‘water’ and for ‘work’ by William Frederick Gericke of the University of California at Berkeley. He grew a 25′ tomato plants in his backyard using only mineral salts in water.

As amazing and productive as hydroponic is, there is a built in problem with the technology. The nutrient solution used in the growing of the plants eventually has to be ‘changed out’ or it will become toxic to the plants, even if the system is being run organically because some of the nutrients become concentrated in the water and even adding water to dilute it, there comes a time when it must be changed out. Therein lies the rub . . .

Hydroponics lettuce root.

The ‘liquor’ as it is called, is now designated by the EPA as toxic waste and must be disposed of properly by qualified personal using approved techniques. Another way to say this is that the waste disposal for hydroponics is expensive and needs to be disposed of by experts. This makes the hydroponic waste removal a much larger expense than most people realize and it’s a topic that’s almost never discussed by those selling hydroponic systems.

Hydroponics has a much older and more benign sister, aquaponics that has been around for over 4,500 years and is the exact same system that nature uses to break down waste to reuse the resulting byproducts to grow new plants and this process has been going on naturally for billions of years.

In aquaponics, there are no toxic chemicals used in the system. After all, chemicals would kill the fish.

Oreochromis Mossambicus Tilapia

The waste products in aquaponics are non toxic, usable on other plants and can even be dumped down a sewer system because they will not harm sewage systems. The waste from an aquaponics system is a valuable fertilizer for plants, shrubbery, trees, or grass. One owner of a small commercial Portable Farms® Aquaponics System even sells his Settling Tank waste as an organic fertilizer and gets US$25 per 5 gallon container and the client picks it up at his greenhouse. Considering that each Module of Portable Farms® produces approximately 50 gallons of waste water every six weeks which can become a nice extra source of income for the installation owner. 

Insecticides that help control pests on the plants will nearly always kill the fish. Pesticide free-food creates a safer and healthier food supply. Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems use NO dirt and no chemicals (insecticides or fertilizers) to grow the plants.

One Grow Table of blooming plants in a Portable
Farms Aquaponics System: tomatoes, cucumbers and beans.

Today, your family can enjoy one of the oldest food-growing technologies wrapped up in a modern, easy to build and operate system in your own backyard, patio or greenhouse.

  • There have been over 300 different varieties of plants  that have been tested and can be grown successfully in a Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems. For example, lettuce is considered a variety but there are hundreds of variations of lettuces that grow well in aqupaonics. The same is true for peppers, beans, etc.
  • The major food groups that are not recommended for Portable Farms® are root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, onions, etc.) and field crops such as corn, wheat, soy or rice. Perennial plants (strawberries, blackberries, asparagus, etc.) are not recommended because the plants are dormant many months each year and do not produce harvestable food year round. Plus, we recommend growing all plants from seeds and not bringing in plants raised in soil into the structure which can introduce pathogens that can harm the other plants in the structure.

Basil is a High-Value Crop for Aquaponics

Phyllis Davis harvesting fresh delicious basil
from Portable Farms Aquaponics System

Basil – A High-Value Crop for Aquaponics
by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Basil is a high-value crop for aquaponics. It is enjoyed as a fresh-leaf herb on meats and vegetables, prepared in sauces such as pesto, or dried and used in many recipes in cultures throughout the world. Basil grows well in aquaponics systems because of the ideal growing conditions created with warm water and ample sunlight.

When basil is grown in traditional in-ground growing, it is a ‘summer crop,’ but when grown year round in aquaponics systems, it is considered a ‘high value crop,’ especially when sold locally in cold climates when basil would normally be normally be considered ‘out of season.’

Basil growing in a  Portable Farms® Aquaponics System. These plants are 24″ tall and were grown in 55 days. Pesto anyone? Read on . . . 

  • The normal pH of the water in Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems ranges from 6.5 to 7.2 for ideal growing.
  • Basil enjoys a very wide pH range between 5.1 (strongly acidic) and 8.5 (alkaline) with a preferred range of 5.5 (strongly acidic) to 6.5 (mildly acidic).
  • The roots of herbs enjoy being well-drained between watering cycles.
  • Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems allow for full sun or the option of grow lights so herbs and vegetables can be grown year round which is ‘out of season’ in many areas and owners may collect top dollar for crops from local customers.
  • Basil seeds grow well in rockwool or Oasis Horticubes.
  • Basil plants may be placed on 8 inch centers and planted off-set in each row within a grow tray allowing for ample room for lush growth for each plant.
  • The root systems for basil do not spread out and are not complex root systems which makes for consistent and easy water flow throughout the grow bed during watering cycles.
  • The basil plant usually grows to a height of 18 to 24 inches and produces many offshoots for harvest per plant.

You can cut back basil two-thirds of the entire basil plant twice before replanting the basil to begin the process again. This extends the harvest of the basil leaves and provides more cash-value crops instead of a one-time ‘grow and harvest cycle’ like lettuce. Basil can also be raised in batches and sold to customers as entire plants.

  • Since one plant will produce for four months (after a two-month initial growth), you would only replant new basil plants every six months and be continually harvesting during each four-month harvest cycle.
  • Each 40′ tray will grow 450 basil plants (on 8″ centers) which allows for 900 basil plants per year grown in a single tray. These 900 plants allow two cuttings each which can be sold to local consumers at wholesale or retail prices in your area.

Bonus – Pesto Recipe We Use When We Harvest our own Fresh Basil

We cannot count times the many times we’ve invited friends to sit with us to enjoy an entire meal of fresh pesto sauce made from our own basil that was spread thick on hot homemade whole-wheat bread and served with sliced, freshly-harvested tomatoes from our own vines in our Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems. It’s a real pleasure to share healthy and simple food with friends. This is our definition of ‘the good life.’

Portable Farms® Pesto Sauce – Fresh off the Vine

This recipe makes about 2 cups. If you plan to freeze the excess pesto, avoid adding the crushed garlic to the recipe and wait to add it until you thaw and serve the pesto because the garlic can taste bitter after freezing.

Ingredients List:

  • 8 cups fresh basil leaves, torn off vine (discard the stem/vine)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese from a deli or fine store (don’t use the powdered Parmesan you shake out a canister for pasta)
  • 3 cups of pine nuts – slightly oiled and then toasted brown in an oven for 20 or 25 minutes
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¾ to 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (depending on how thick you like your pesto sauce). If you plan to freeze your pesto for later use, do NOT add olive oil until you defrost.
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh black pepper


  • Place basil, ½ of oil, cheese, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse several times, until well chopped.
  • With machine running, quickly add olive oil in a steady stream, allowing pesto to mix blend and become cohesive but don’t over blend. Process until desired consistency is reached, season with salt and pepper, and serve. Again, if you plan to freeze your pesto for later use, do NOT add olive oil until you defrost.

Twelve Year Anniversary Sale – $1,200.00 – July 12 – 18, 2020

Start a backyard aquaponics system and install one module or a commercial aquaponics installation by installing twenty to thirty modules and selling the food you grow.

Students may purchase an UNLIMITED number of Portable Farms® Kits for our sale price of US$1,200 – July 12 – 18, 2020.

This new online aquaponics course teaches you to assemble and operate one module and provides you the technology that allows you to feed up to 8 people FOREVER. After you’ve learned how to assemble one module, you can order more Portable Farms® Kits to build an unlimited number of modules to feed an unlimited number of people.

One Portable Farms® Kit provides you with the technology to build one Portable Farms® Module which feeds 8 people FOREVER. One Portable Farms® Module requires less than 10 minutes of care per day to plant, harvest and feed the fish.

To find out what is IN the Portable Farms® Kit and what is NOT in the Portable Farms® Kit , please request the FREE AND INSTANTANEOUS PRICE LIST (second box on top panel on every page of this website).

Buy Your Portable Farms Aquaponics System. PFAS LLC offers an online course that teaches users how to assemble and operate a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System.

Sale Price $1,200 – July 12 – 18, 2020.

To learn more about the details of your purchase, read the details below.

You may pay with PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, Cash App and Wire Transfers. If you’d prefer, you may call us to give us your credit number over the phone: 800-906-0256 OR 800-952-6224. We also accept checks, wire transfers and money orders.

  • Shipping and postage are included to addresses in the US only, BUT for all order outside the US there is a US$140 shipping and handling charge.
  • PFAS LLC offers an online course that teaches users how to assemble and operate a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System.
  • Students my purchase an UNLIMITED number of Portable Farms Kits for this sale price of US$1,200 during the sale, July 12 – 18, 2020.
  • When the user finishes the online course, we mail them a Portable Farms® Kit to use in the assembly of their aquaponics system. The student must complete the course within one year from date of enrollment.
  • Most students dedicate one hour per day for a week or ten days to complete the online course.
  • They often build and install their backyard Portable Farms® Aquaponics System over a single weekend.
  • Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are in fifty US states and twenty-five other countries.
  • You will need these tools: power saw, hammer, power drill, level, hydraulic jack (for leveling), staple gun, hack saw or PVC pipe cutter, box cutter and maybe a few band-aids.
  • Think of the Grow Table as a large shallow tray on legs. You will need two people, three is better because the Grow Table is heavy.
  • The hardest part of the process is washing and placing the gravel a slow, heavy, and wet process best delegated to young, strong helpers.
  • Building a Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems Module does requires some carpentry skills and a person with the skills to hang a door or build a cabinet will do a fine job.

One module of a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System can be sized to feed two people (5’x10′) or sized to feed eight people (6’x32′). This translates as 25 square feet per adult. 

Our humble beginnings have grown and now our Portable Farms are all over the world in 25 countries and all 50 US States.  

“On June 8 2008, we sent out one single 400-word Press Release on PR Newswire that we had written ourselves at the kitchen table, announcing our new aquaponics system and within 10 days, we received thousands of inquiries from people in 110 countries.”


$100.00 – One-Time Offer – 5 Aquaponics E-Books by Colle and Phyllis Davis, Inventors, Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems

After we receive your payment and your email address, we will personally email you the five eBooks. So, give us a few minutes to prepare the email so you may download these files to your computer.

These 5 books have a retail value of US$194.75

SALE PRICE FOR ALL 5 E-Books: US$100.00

Sale July 12 – 18, 2020

Commercial Aquaponics GOLD     $69.95 (normal price)
Solar Aquaponics GOLD     $14.95 (normal price)
Greenhouse Aquaponics GOLD     $ 9.95 (normal price)
Aquaponics GOLD     $39.95 (normal price)
Grow Table Aquaponics GOLD     $59.95 (normal price)

Phyllis Davis,  (photos above), Co-Inventor, Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems holding
armloads of greens grown in Portable Farms.

Quick Read: What Can Portable Farms Grow?

Primarily, Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are capable of growing green table vegetables year round if the interior temperature of the greenhouse ranges between 70 degrees F and 100 degrees F and receives a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight per day or with the use of grow lights during winter months to extend the grow day (generally from 4:00 PM to 7 PM each day).

Peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes (blossoming plants) grow best in warm months (to avoid blossom drop) when average temperature within the green house is 70 degrees F with extended sunlight by use of grow lights.

Here are a few of the table vegetables that can be grown in a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System:

    • Swiss Chard
    • Basil
    • Kale
    • Mustard Greens (what we call Wasabi Lettuce – hot hot hot)
    • Dozens of varieties of Lettuce
    • Dozens of varieties of Asian greens
      Boc Choi
    • A wide variety of herbs
    • In warm climates or acclimatized greenhouses with extended days of sunlight (grow lights), blooming plants grow well in aquaponics including beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and zucchini.
    • Starting with USDA data for a healthy diet and accepting that most 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 eight will need 200 square feet of grow tray space or a Grow Tray 5′ wide by 40′ long.
    • The major food groups that are not recommended for Portable Farms® are root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, onions, etc.) and corn, wheat, soy or rice. Perennial plants (strawberries, blackberries, asparagus, etc.) are not recommended because the plants are dormant 9 months per year and do not produce harvest-able food year-round.
    • Plus, fish tank-raised fish are vital to aquaponics but unless you are operating a commercial farm with several tanks, they will not supply a steady supply of tilapia fillets for a family of eight. We recommend Oreochromis Mossambicus Tilapia. It’s a mild white fish that we harvest in 7 to 9 months when they weigh 1.25 pounds and produce 2 four-ounce fillets. The fish are a bonus in aquaponics that are primarily used to provide nitrogen to the plants and other nutrients.

Colle Davis, Lead Inventor, Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems. 

To find out what is IN the Portable Farms® Kit and what is NOT in the Portable Farms® Kit, please request the FREE AND INSTANTANEOUS PRICE LIST (second box on top panel on every page of this website).


Free Visual Tutorial to Build an Above-Ground Vegetable Tub Garden

Colle Davis, inventor, Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems

Grow Food in an Above Ground (movable) Tub

This page offers (free) suggestions and a visual tutorial for building an above-ground garden, often referred to as a raised bed. 

In the past 24 hours, June 15, 2020, Colle and I have built a small raised-bed garden to show you how to grow food.  This is a great family project with tasks for every member of your family to join in the fun.

The cost of this garden was approximately $100 for the materials. You can prepare the parts and then assemble it anywhere that receives six hours of direct sunlight. Some vegetables require less sunlight, but most like lots of sunshine.

We realize many folks may not be able to afford one of our aquaponics systems right now, but perhaps you can build one of these gardens at home, or consider building several in a community garden to grow food to feed families during this pandemic crises and high unemployment.

This grow tub is 2’x2’x8′ and is built near our kitchen door off our driveway and receives many hours of sunlight.

Personal note: We live in a very dense forest with 100′ trees and there are very few places with direct sunlight. (Robin Hood and Friar Tuck pass through our property quite often and wave at us from our driveway.)

In the final image (below) you’ll see we planted some tomatoes and basil to start our garden but we’ve also planted carrot seeds, radish seeds and many more basil seeds. 

Here are the layers necessary for building an above-ground tub garden.


Picture Tutorial for building your own above ground tub garden.

1. A few bag of garden soil.

2. Two sheets of 10′ metal sheeting and ten pieces of 8 foot 2’x4′ treated lumber. Avoid contact with the treated lumber and use non-treated lumber on the rim of the tub.  

3. Build a simple 2’x8′ frame for the metal sheeting and then screw the metal sheeting to the lumber. Build the two frames for the end pieces 2’x2′.

4. Move the grow tub components to an area that receives six-hours of direct sunlight that (preferably) has access to water or you can carry water in a bucket. 

5. Connect the side panels to the end panels using 3 inch screws. Notice the end pieces are longer to nail through.

6. Fill the box with dried wood-branches and logs. They will ‘settle’.

7. Add mulch. Our neighbor gave us access to his mulch bed of leaves. These leaves have tremendous nutrient value. 

8. Spread the mulch on top of the branches and logs and push the leaves into the spaces until the bed is even. 

9. Phyllis Davis and Scarlet watering the mulch and dried branches.

10. Next, we spread a layer of dried leaves mixed with grass clippings and some twigs to act as another nutrient base.

12. Then, we spread some garden soil on the top for planting.

13. Next, we leveled the soil to prepare the garden for planting.

14. Finally, we planted two tomato plants and a basil plant in our new garden and planted carrot seeds, radish seeds and more basil seeds. We cannot grow ‘root vegetables’ in aquaponics so planting carrots and radishes in soil is a big adventure for us. 

We’re not finished yet! Next, we plan to put bird netting around the farm to protect our vegetables from the deer, squirrels and birds that live near our house.  Stay tuned for our additions!

June 25, 2020: Today, we finished a much larger above-ground garden for plants that do not require trellising (tomatoes, beans, cucumbers). We’ve relegated this garden for a variety of lettuces, Swiss Chard, basil, carrots, bok choy.

This garden weighs about 2,000 pounds because it’s layered with large tree trunks and branches,  several varieties of nutrient-rich mulch, grass clippings mixed with twigs and then top soil. 

Similar to the smaller grow tub behind this one, we will provide a bit of cover to protect it from the heavy rains we receive in Virginia and we’ll surround it with bird netting to protect it from the deer, birds and squirrels who share our land.


Aquaponics is So EASY: Plant, Harvest and Feed the Fish

Aquaponics is So EASY: Plant, Harvest and Feed the Fish
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Aquaponics is a balance of water, fish, plants and bacteria.

A balance of these four components is what makes a successful aquaponics system.

Mozambique tilapia


The tilapia fish in Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are healthy. Our plants grow to maturation and ripeness because our systems work and we know how to operate them because, over time, we’ve learned our lessons from trial-and-error mistakes and we’ve learned our wisdom through experimentation, guidance from botanists, chemists, other aquaponists around the world (there are far fewer than you might imagine), and our customers.

We seldom, if ever, lose fish. We have lost a few, but very few over the years and it was due to unique reasons and not disease. Because of our technology and the ‘human factor,’ which we teach our customers, we are happy to report our fish are extremely healthy and here are some tips you can use in your own aquaponics systems to create a productive system:

  • Always provide your fish with proper aeration, good food, insulation from cold or excessive heat
  • Keep your fish from being stressed. When fish become stressed, it lowers their immune system and they can become susceptible to disease.
    • Experiment with plants and seed selections and determine what works best in your aquaponics system in your climate.
    • Since space is at a premium in any aquaponics Grow Tray, maximum production is achieved by careful attention to size, quality and grow time for seeds.
    • Implement stalking and support systems to encourage vertical growth of plants that bear heavy fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, zucchini, etc.)
    • Protect plants at all times of their growth and maturation. Protection from wind, humidity, extreme temperatures (hot or cold), insects, disease or predators.
    • Pay close attention to water flow with appropriate levels of nutrient from fish waste.
    • Take care of plants that require pruning unneeded branches.
    • Don’t allow plants with large root systems to remain in grow trays too long. For example, the root system on a tomato plants grows very wide and very deep like a 4 inch thick carpet under the gravel and will alter water flow for the rest of the Grow Tray.
    • Study indoor pollinating techniques designed for non-pollinating and self-pollinating plants.
    • Apply effective and safe oportable-farms-greens-swiss-chard-kalerganic methods for treating plants IF they need support (seldom needed, but occasionally, you might have a problem) for any type of bugs including ants, aphids, red spiders, etc.
    • Learn effective harvest and planting cycles that are crucial to maximize yield in all aquaponics systems.
    • Use grow lights from 4:00PM to 8:00PM from Mid-November to March 1 if living in the Northern Hemisphere so you can grow various crops year round that require a longer grow day.
    • Tilapia are friendly (even clown like) and they enjoy human interaction. Talk to your fish when you feed them and treat them with respect and they will respond by being healthy and growing to maturation.
    • Never overfeed your fish. It’s tempting to overfeed them because they ‘frenzy’ when you feed them and it’s entertaining to watch them jumping around, but the fish are healthier if you’ll feed them only what they can eat in 15 seconds.
    • Don’t overcrowd the fish tanks and make sure the tanks are always clear and clean.
    • Empty the Clarifier/Settling tank regularly so their water does not foul with ammonia buildups.
    • Never, ever, use chemicals that could harm the fish, plants or the system.
    • Add make-up water during times of hot weather by placing the hose in the grow trays before it circulates back into their fish tank.
    • Feed your fish nutritious a high-protein fish food and even duckweed if you have it available.
    • Give your fish occasional treats of organic chopped greens grown in the farm.

Cheap Aquaponics “Startup Fish”

Cheap Aquaponics “Startup Fish”
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

“Can we use goldfish or crayfish or something besides tilapia in our backyard aquaponics system?”

gowithflowThis is a frequently asked question and prompted a conversation with a new ‘aquaponist’ at my local Home Depot store which has prompted me to make a list of the fish that can be used in aquaponics for new aquaponics farmers to get started with because of choice or local regulations or restrictions.

The gentleman in the plumbing section of Home Depot had to help me find a component we use to manufacture the PFAS Kits and he asked me what I was using so many, I told him they were used in our manufacturing process. He said, (you will not believe this), ‘Oh, are you doing aquaponics?’

I nearly fell down from surprise. He explained that he had a small aquaponics system in his backyard and was using goldfish poop to raise the most amazing basil and peppers he had ever seen. It’s a small world to meet someone with an aquaponics system that actually guessed what I was building. His explanation was that another fellow builds hydroponic systems for people and uses the same item in a very different way. But back on topic. . .

The list of aquatic animals below includes enough species so you can get started today with a tiny aquaponics system to learn and grow with to see how amazing the technology really is at growing vegetables and fish. My original setup was a dishpan with aquarium gravel laid across an aquarium. The fish happened to be tilapia because it was my job at UC Davis (back in the early 1970’s) to clean the fish tanks, a nasty smelly job.

Each species has different requirements and are more or less hardy and easy to maintain. The list below is not all-inclusive, but is meant to be a basis for an inexpensive beginner aquaponics setup so you can get your hands wet.

By providing these fish with a clean water supply, aeration and food, you are ensuring a constant supply of the finest poop your system can handle.

Two caveats here:

  1. You will lose fish – this means some of them will die. Get used to it, its farming.
  2. Unless you are using the PFAS, you will have problems with sediment in the gravel so you will have to clean the gravel occasionally. Get used to it, its farming.

With the PFAS the #2 above is not true. Oh, and to use the PFAS you will need to complete the Aquaponics University Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems Course.

GoldfishHardy, readily available, poop a lotCheapTough to find a constant market – not for eating
KoiHardy, readily salable as ornamentals, can be fed cheap dog food, do not have to replace very oftenRelatively cheapNo one eats them, limited market
CatfishHardy, grow fast, seasonally available, chow is commercially availableRelatively cheapSeasonal availability of fry and depressed markets
CarpReally hardy, fast growing, will eat almost anythingMay be tricky to obtain fryNo food market in US
Crayfish/PrawnsCan be raised in conjunction with any other fin fish or by themselves.Relatively inexpensive to obtainMost are cannibalistic and must be provided housing (short sections of PVC pipe) to keep any number to harvest size.
PerchNew candidate – Feed just becoming availableNot cheapRegional markets only
BassNot recommended because you have to feed them live baitRelatively inexpensiveFish and Wildlife regulations on sale for food


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.

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.

Vertical Growing in Aquaponics

Vertical Growing in Aquaponics
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis


Every inch of space in an aquaponics tray is high-value ‘real estate’ for growing food. Unlike ‘dirt gardens,’ there’s no room for plants to spread their luscious leaves, vines and blossoms across a large area as they mature to produce food.

The rule of thumb (make that a GREEN thumb) is for food to grow as quickly as possible. In other words: Plant it, grow it, harvest it and then repeat the process immediately by planting a new plant that was grown from seed (over a few days) on the SAME DAY the previous plant was harvested, so there is always a continuous cycle of production, and there are always plants in various stages of growth within the farm.

The two years PFAS LLC spent in our Research Center in the Tropics highlighted the problems created from the constant heat and high humidity which forced us to find solutions to this ongoing problems for creating ample air flow, suspension of the plants for vertical growing and allowing for adequate sunshine within the greenhouse. By continual experimentation with locally available materials, we invented a simple trellis system using chicken wire (made of wire or plastic) with 2″ openings and clothes-line rope which solved all our problems. It was very inexpensive and easy to install. THE PLANTS LOVED IT. Their blossoms stayed dry. The new system took the pressure of the stems and vines and allowed for sunshine to reach all parts of the plant and happily, our production soared. When the plants were small, they did require a minimal amount of tying (to the clothes line rope) and then they did the rest on their own! Some of the larger stems require us to delicately thread them through the chicken wire so they would grow naturally.

After 30 days of plant growth (green beans) with the Portable Farms Trellis’ System

After 45 days of plant growth (green beans) with a Portable Farms Trellis.

Two frames containing plastic chicken wire suspeded above grow trays to support growing blooming plants.

Tie soft clothes line rope on top wire from top tray to support growing plants for vertical growing.

The Portable Farms tropical trellis system is yours to copy, modify and use in your own backyard ‘dirt farm,’ your backyard aquaponics system or your commercial aquaponics installation. It’s our gift to you. Now go grow food and send us pictures.


Marijuana Growing in Aquaponics – Part 3

Marijuana Growing in Aquaponics – Part 3

By Colle and Phyllis Davis 

Read our Three-Part Series on Marijuana Growing in Aquaponics

Marijuana Growing in Aquaponics – Part 1

Marijuana Growing in Aquaponics – Part 2

Marijuana Growing in Aquaponics – Part 3


We devote our final article in this three-part series focused on growing medicinal herbs in aquaponics for maximizing the growth of marijuana. This article excludes all other aquaponics’ crops and focuses solely on giving the herbs the most significant advantages they require to produce the best plant, bud, and quality.

Marijuana growing in both hydroponics and aquaponics has been a mainstay in both industries for years.

We have offered a state-by-state list of US states that allow and those
that do not allow growing marijuana in
Part 1 of this series.

  • Growing marijuana with hydroponics has been popular for decades. Growers simply put a few seeds in a half-dozen pots filled with soil and placed the pots in the bottom of their closet with artificial lighting and enjoyed the results.
  • In addition, growing marijuana in aquaponics has been a popular way to raise the plants in grow tables installed in private garages and basements with the addition of artificial lighting.

Mustard Greens growing in a Portable Farms Aquaponics System Grow Table.

Maximizing your production requires more time, effort, and money in the planning, building, and growing phases of your operation.

    • Start by creating a completely controlled environment for your crop. Each facet added to increased production and better product.
    • Monitor the air temperature, air mix, air flow and humidity. each facet added to increased production and better product.
    • Establish 16 to 18 hours of red/blue LED lighting for highest bud growth, and healthy fish. (the fish also need full spectrum lighting)

Interesting side note: Today’s herb is of such high-quality, a user rarely sees any seeds. A few years back, they were added to increase the weight. Now, the seeds are removed so the consumer cannot grow their own plants.

  • Indoor growing is best because it allows the control of all the growth factors and reduces the public view of your operation. Marijuana has been grown this way for decades, and the art and science of indoor growing are well established. The major difference is that aquaponics uses fish affluent and Fish-Friendly Mineral Rock Dust as the nutrient source instead of using hydroponic’ s chemicals or soil.
  • A light-tight space where the lighting is controlled by timers is the most effective. The red/blue LED light fixtures are available from many sources and yes, they are expensive. When growing a single crop consistently in the same space, it will always be costly, and it needs more care and attention. Plus, you will have a slight cost-uptick in your electrical costs.
  • We are starting with the growing medium and the Grow Tables. The best depth for growing marijuana appears to be 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30cm). The medium is less critical and the use of clay pellets (expensive) or ¾ inch (1.9cm) gravel are both equally effective.

Important note: Medium, especially gravel, is HEAVY. A Grow Table 10 inches (25cm) deep by 6 ft x 32 ft (1.8 x 9.75) will weigh several tons. Build the Grow Tables to support that weight. Wherever the Grow Table is resting, needs to be very sturdy and preferably installed on concrete.

The flood and drain method of watering the crop (filling the Grow Table and draining the Grow Table) produces the best conditions for healthy root-systems, top growth, and full maturation of the plant.

In nature, marijuana prefers a sandy soil that receives water regularly and then drains quickly. The medium (gravel or clay pellets) used in the aquaponics’ Grow Table retains the moisture for a full day, plus, the large gravel or clay pellets stay moist. Cycling the available water once a day is adequate. This timing allows the roots to be exposed to air most of the time. The plants grow faster and healthier using this once a day watering.

Providing water for an hour or two (two full cycles of flood and drain) early in the morning provides all the water and nutrients the plants can use for the day. Set the Grow Table to drain fully twice and make sure the fill water stops just as the second draining begins. This timing allows most of the water to drain out, so the roots are not sitting in water all day.

Growing Medium for seedlings to be moved into a Grow Table.

The only additional nutrient you may want to include is the FF-Mineral Rock Dust that provides the micro-nutrients necessary and does not add aluminum (retards root growth) or nitrogen (fish effluent provides ample nitrogen) to the water.

Fish Friendly (FF) Mineral Rock Dust provides aquaponics’ growers the perfect balance of four major trace elements not consistently available from your fish poop. Growing flowering herbs that blossom in aquaponics flourishes with the addition of FF Mineral Rock Dust. For example, it is widely used for growing tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, etc. Your marijuana plants will receive the nitrogen from your fish poop. The calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium are available from the FF Mineral Rock Dust and 57 other trace elements that promote plant growth. FF Mineral Rock Dust is best applied to the seedlings during their sprouting stage prior to installing in the Grow Table.

The fish effluent is an ideal fertilizer source, so you can use any warm water, freshwater species of fish you want, including catfish, tilapia, perch, crayfish, prawns, and others. Make sure you can buy the feed for them before choosing your fertilizer source.

One more suggestion that may be the hardest for you to pull off. Raise two crops of lettuce in the Grow Table before you plant and grow your marijuana plants. The Grow Table bacteria needs to cure, and the lettuce is a quick easy crop that will help the medium cure to prepare it to produce a great crop of herb. Lettuce only take 28 to 35 days to mature, and the wait is worth the effort. Besides, you can eat the lettuce while you wait for the system to cure.

Good luck, and if you have specific questions on any of the information in this series or want to start your own Portable Farm, please send us an email so we can respond.