Become a Backyard Farmer with Portable Farms®

Become a Backyard Farmer with Portable Farms® Aquaponics System

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

Phyllis Davis, Co-Inventor of Portable Farms® Aquaponics System.
To see Phyllis Davis and get to know her and see her knowledge and passion for aquaponics, view her 8-minute YouTube Video of her award winning presentation (Second Prize) at an inventors contest in Southern California.

See photographs of food grown in a
Portable Farms® Aquaponics System.  CLICK HERE.

This 10′ x 16′ greenhouse is large enough to hold one 5′ x 12′ grow table
capable of feeding two people table vegetables FOREVER. 

In addition to the our aquaponic’s course (which which includes a Portable Farms® Kit) here is 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


Build a small backyard hobby farm to raise table greens and fresh tank-raised fish.

You can learn everything you need to know about building your own aquaponics system and growing healthy food by taking our FUN and easy-to-follow ONLINE correspondence course.

  • Learn how to grow healthy fish and vegetables so you can become increasingly self-sustaining.
  • Our 45 years of experience in aquaponics is now available to teach you how to feed your family FOREVER. [Read our History: CLICK HERE] It only takes a few days to learn the areas related to assembling an aquaponics system  so you can build your own Portable Farms® Aquaponics System!
  • Aquaponics is easier and more productive than organic gardening or traditional agriculture and uses 95% less water. Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems also use less electricity and less labor than any other aquaponics system in the world.

Aquaponics with Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems 

 EMAIL us if you want the solar version of the Portable Farms® Kit.  It’s the same price.

CLICK HERE TO READ Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems Online Course© that includes a Portable Farms® Kit.

This 10′ x 16′ greenhouse is large enough to hold one 5′ x 12′ grow table
capable of feeding two people table vegetables FOREVER. 

Aquaponics is easier and more productive than organic gardening or traditional agriculture and uses 95% less water. Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems also use less electricity and less labor than any other aquaponics system in the world.

“What will my installation cost me?”

The larger the aquaponics system you build, the better the investment it is because you’re growing more food and saving on food costs at your local market. It’s a true but sad fact that a very small backyard aquaponics system is not the best ‘financial investment,’ but you WILL have a year round supply of the freshest, best tasting and most nutritious food you can buy. Please note: IT’S THE GREENHOUSE THAT IS EXPENSIVE and NOT the aquaponics technology or building materials.

SOLAR POWERED Portable Farms® Aquaponics System

CLICK HERE to read article and view more images of this farm.

This new Portable Farms® Aquaponics System (above) is fully solar powered. This new Portable Farms® Aquaponics System has one grow tray that is 6’x16’ (96 sq ft of grow space) which feeds four people FOREVER. 

  • We have incorporated all that we have learned into this sleek new state-of-the-art aquaponics system which is an upgraded version of all the systems we have ever designed or built and it is an efficient and beautiful system that is easy-top-operate and FULLY run on one single solar panel (off back left side of photo on outside of lanai).

Five Simple Steps for Becoming a Backyard Portable Farmer

1. How many people do you want to feed? With the Portable Farms® technology you can build a system that will feed as many as 8 people in a space of only 400 sq ft! If you want more Portable Farms® Kits for larger installations, you can purchase those separately. It generally takes 25 square feet of grow tray space to feed one person.

2. Consider your climatic requirements. You’ll need a small greenhouse in an area that gets six hours of sunlight every day. Take into consideration the climatic considerations for your geographic location. Does your area get very hot? Or cold? If so, You may need extra insulation in climatically adapted greenhouse or you may want to add Grow Lights to maintain maximum production year round.

Online Education on Yellow in Flat Design.
  1. Enroll and graduate from our online Aquaponics Course and be ready to receive the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems Kit that comes with the Course. If you’re interested in a backyard or a commercial aquaponics system, you’ll need to take our Course FIRST, and upon satisfactory completion of the course, you’ll receive one Portable Farms Kit  to build your own Portable Farms® Aquaponics System. This price for the Course© includes the entire assembly, operations and maintenance course.

4. Determine the best location for your Portable Farms® Aquaponics System in your backyard and install a greenhouse to protect your plants and fish from the weather and bugs in your area. Your location will require good sunlight exposure (6 hours per day, minimum), electrical service and available water.

5. Install your Portable Farms® yourself, or hire someone who can do it for you. Then plant your seeds, put some fish in your fish tank and in 40 days you’ll have lettuces and greens. Easy.


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  1. Nice post. I learn something new. Thank you for sharing such a useful information.

    1. Murray,
      What a delight to hear from you, and with a compliment no less. Thank you. We have been sending people to you for years and trust some of them have given you money.
      Wonderful updates on your site also. Love the new PVC piping setups. We are slated to follow suit in the Spring (here). Moving into a huge new house with barely 6 hours of sunlight where the greenhouse is going. The new technology will be covered in our newsletter and on the site.
      The best to you kind sir.

    • Michael Lee on 2017-03-16 at 11:13 am
    • Reply

    I watched & listened very carefully to your video presentation a number of times and I’m quite surprised that you only run your system twice a day. Does this mean you only fill your grow tray once & drain it once in the morning & then do another cycle may be in the evening? 12 hours apart? If not, then how many hours apart? Do you drain your grow tray completely or do you leave an inch or two of water in it till the next cycle? If you drain it completely, I do wonder how the plants in the grow tray can survive without another cycle of water for the next 12 hours or so & especially if the temperature is in the 80s F.

    Since you only run your system twice a day according to your video presentation, I am very curious to know , am I correct to say that your tilapia fish in the fish tank will depend almost solely on the air pump to provide them with oxygen to survive since there will not be any more oxygenated water at all flowing back to the fish tank again till the next cycle? Thank you very much.


    1. Michael,

      The Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems are designed specifically to minimize energy input. The water circulates twice a day on a seasonal and plant dependent schedule. All the water is drained out each time. The gravel remain wet ever after a couple of days so the plants are no stressed. The air pump insures the fish water is always oxygenated and if the power goes out the system can be operated by hand. The cycling of the water also oxygenates the water.


    • jordon on 2016-02-13 at 9:07 pm
    • Reply

    I am looking to purchase a few shipping containers, would this system do well if they were built inside a shipping container that was never going to have natural light inside of it?

    1. Jordon,

      As long as you can keep the temperature between 45 and 104 F (5 and 40C), the humidity controlled, nearly free electrical power and accepting the limits to growth because of the size, then sure you can use the shipping containers. We have NEVER recommended or encouraged the use of shipping containers. You are on your own and we strongly suggest if you go ahead that you use a different aquaponics system that ours.

      Good luck.


  2. Any advice for someone starting up aquaphonics in Phoenix, AZ. Shade is the big deal, huh?


    1. Patrick,

      The key phrase is ‘climatically adapted structure’ and yes you will absolutely need shade cloth even on the sides.

      Good luck.


    • Angela on 2016-01-27 at 5:23 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Colle:

    I am totally impressed. I have been doing raised beds lately but want to return to aquaponics. What is the best media for the grow beds? Also, in order to grow vegetables to their full potential, is the goal to ensure that nitrate levels remain at “0”? What is the acceptable deviation +/1?

    1. Angela,

      Thank you. We recommend and have had the best success with regular crushed gravel. We never have measured nitrate levels. The plants will tell you what they need. The fish and bacteria always produce more nitrate than the plants can use.

      Best of luck to you.


    • Pedro Prado on 2016-01-17 at 11:27 pm
    • Reply

    I live in Tampa, Florida. Do I still need to build a Greenhouse for my Portable Farm or can I install it in my backyard without one since I don’t have a lot of temperature fluctuations?

    1. Pedro,

      As you can see on the website, we lived in Florida for a couple of years and stated many times: You need an enclosed space even in the Tropics because the rain must be kept off of the Grow Tables and the insects will literally eat your entire production if you do not keep them screened out. Even using a lanai is iffy and you will need a transparent cover over the Grow Table to keep the rain out. If you want to do aquaponic without protection from the elements and insects, please use some other system.


    • Duane on 2015-10-02 at 10:23 am
    • Reply

    I am in research mode for the aquaponics growing systems. I am planning to build a fairly large 24×48 greenhouse for my system(s). I live in western/central North Carolina where the climate ranges from the teens (and occasionally dips to single digits) in winter to upper 90’s and sometimes 100 in summer. Do you have any suggestions for heating the space in winter? Since the fish tanks would no doubt have to be heated, would residual heat from the water help? I would think it would give somewhat of a sauna effect? Any comments or suggestions is appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Duane,

      There are Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems installation that are heated by passive solar, small electric heaters, wood burning stoves, natural gas and geothermal sources. Pick the one that works best for you situation. The key is to keep the temperature at the surface of the Grow Tables between 45 and 104 degrees F without wild swings over short periods of time. The Aquaponics University Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems Course© covers the temperature requirement in great depth. Insulating all non solar gain surfaces also helps tremendously to curtail heat loss.

      We trust this helps advance your project.


    • Robert & Pamela Taylor on 2015-02-01 at 10:59 pm
    • Reply

    We would like tot know the success you have growing some of our favorite vegetables…tomatoes, carrots, onions, potatoes, green beans, and sweet corn.

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Robert and Pamela,

      We have had amazing success with tomatoes and green beans as you can see by the photos on the website. In a variety of places on the website it is noted that

        root vegetables are not grown

      in the Portable Farms because the medium is not conducive to their growth. We also highly recommend against sweet corn because it is a field crop and takes up way too much space for the small yield.

      We trust this information helps.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

    • ali Rasheed on 2014-11-30 at 1:04 am
    • Reply

    I would like to try this on a small very dry Island. Lots of sunlight ,about 9-10 a day. temperature ranges from 75 to 90 degrees quite windy at times. How would I go about getting fresh water fish there as there are none on the island.

    1. Ali,

      The fish would arrive the same way everything else does, including the materials to build the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems, by ship or air freight. If there are people living on the island, then in today’s world they have access to everything everyone else can buy. The cost may be higher because of the shipping, but they can buy nearly everything. The Tilapia breeder who is our supplier, ships all over the world and you can make arrangements with him to ship the fish to you.

      Good luck in all of your endeavors.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

    • Drew Browning on 2014-09-21 at 7:14 pm
    • Reply

    I was wondering could you create a basement grow room with lighting?(you mentioned sun and greenhouses) and would it still produce enough to off set additional costs of energy use? I was wandering if different plants effect growth of fish? Shrimp only ok for the system or do fish make big difference?

    1. Drew,
      There have been many successful Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems installed in basements and even a few in garages and a couple in ‘extra’ rooms in homes. (They are about as noisy as a large aquarium.) All of these installations required grow lights and, yes, indoor farms are usually more expensive to operate because all of the light needs to be provided, BUT in nearly all cases the ‘heat’ was adequate so very little additional heating was required. A set of grow lights to provide 12 to 14 hours of light over a Grow Table of 100 sq ft (feeds 4 people) [a 5 x 20 or a 6 x 16ft] will take approximately $90 per month’ depending on your local electric rates. You are the only one who can decide if that cost is worth being able to eat the finest, locally grown, pesticide free food on the planet.

      Interesting question on the affect of plants on the fish. We never saw any impact because the fish are so amazingly healthy no matter what we grew.

      Shrimp or prawns or crayfish all work well. Some are cannibalistic so research the type before you put them in the tank. These creatures are detritivors so a few in the Fish Tank also help keep it clean. The most important aspect of the fish is the loading factor which is covered in the Aquaponics University Course.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

    • Joyy on 2014-06-07 at 7:16 am
    • Reply


    I am from India.I liked your concept PFAS very much.You have mentioned ” A 100′ x 100′ ( 30m x 30m) unit produces 80,000 vegetables and 23,000 pounds (10,400 kg) of fish”. I have question that what mean by 80000 vegetables? is it a 80000 plants or how.It it a total number of vegetables that have to take around the year from PFAS.

    2nd – Can we grow any other species of fish than Tilapia.

    3rd – What kind of material you use or recommend for covering the green house.

    WIth warm regards

    1. Joyy,

      Thank you. Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems technology is not a concept, it is a proven aquaponics system. There are hundreds of PFAS Modules in action around the world already.

      A head of lettuce or bunch of greens in one vegetable. One tomato or one pepper is one vegetable. Because nearly everyone wants a variety of produce from their installation we chose the unit to be per vegetable not on a per/kg basis. 80,000 heads of lettuce would certainly weigh less than 34,000 kg and even large tomatoes would not reach that weight, but many vegetables are sold as bunches, heads, each and other measurements. The yield is on an annual basis. Also one tomato plant will produce many tomatoes and only use the surface area in the Grow Table of 30cm x 30cm.
      2. Yes. Catfish, koi, carp, prawns and several other warm water, freshwater species have been raised successfully. We recommend tilapia because it is available nearly everywhere in the world, is easy to raise, is hardy and is a vegetarian.
      3. Any greenhouse film that is guaranteed for 5 years or more will work well. Remember, you will also need shade cloth to protect the young plants.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

    • hasso on 2013-10-26 at 2:17 pm
    • Reply

    I am in central VT and we have very cold winters. Can this system be seasonally used? The idea being when the temps get too cold for survival of the fish and plants, can we shut the whole thing down easy and wait until warmer weather to start it up again?

    1. Hasso,

      No. The PFAS is designed for year round food production. That’s why they are housed in a climatically adapted structure.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

    • Tony Agovino on 2013-10-07 at 12:00 pm
    • Reply

    I was curious, are the roots and the bit of starter medium able to be composted? Thanks.


    1. Tony,

      Yes the remnants of the plants and starter medium can be very easily composted.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

    • Chimaki Furusawa-Oguz on 2013-07-01 at 9:31 pm
    • Reply

    Dear Sir,

    I am a small business owner residing in Tokyo.
    I would like to give this a try in Tokyo, Japan, starting at my own flat balcony which is about 10sqm (not sqft).
    Are you able help me with this?


    1. Chimaki,

      That is a very small space to use for a PFAS even in metric, but ‘yes’ it will work. The PFAS can be scaled down to a Grow Tray of only 3m2 and that will feed one adult. The important parameters are layout, light and temperature must be observed the same as in a larger Unit. If you enclose the balcony to keep the bugs and weather out, insure 6 hours of direct sunlight (or provide grow lights) and keep the temperature between 4 and 40 C, you will have great success. You also need to take the AU Course so you can receive the PFAS Kit.

      I trust this helps.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

    • Sam Martinez on 2013-05-13 at 5:58 pm
    • Reply

    What is the cost for a do it yourself system to feed two adults?
    I would install everything into my own building.
    How much room would a small system like this take?


    1. Sam,

      The questions are answered at least a half dozen times on the website. It takes 25 sq ft of grow space to feed one adult year round. The cost of a small system is covered on .

      Colle Davis – Inventor.

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