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Hydroponic Buying Guide

Choose a hydroponic system that fits your space and growing style. There are many types and options available, each with their own pros and cons.

Hydroponic Buying Guide

There are many types of hydroponic systems available on Hydrobuilder.com, each with their own pros and cons. You want to choose a hydroponic system that fits your space and growing style and experience level. From Deep Water Culture, Aeroponics, Ebb & Flow and more, you are sure to find something suitable for your garden that will deliver better results than soil!

Hydroponic System Tyoes


All hydroponic systems provide a faster rate of growth and superior nutrient uptake by plants due to the lack of a soil medium. Soil acts as a medium between the roots and your water and nutrient solution, whereas hydroponics allow the nutrient solution to be in direct contact with the roots. Because of this careful control of nutrient solutions, pH and temperature is essential for hydroponic systems to work well. Reservoirs should be drained and nutrient solutions replaced every 1-2 weeks for optimal plant growth.  Let's take a look at the various types of systems:


Ebb and Flow - Flood and Drain



Ebb and Flow systems are sometimes referred to as “flood and drain” systems as well. The principle is simple, a nutrient liquid solution is pumped from a reservoir into a tray or individual containers on a routine basis, often controlled by a timer. Unlike deep water culture systems, ebb and flow systems do not continuously submerge the roots and instead rely on the cycling of the solution to provide the aeration to the water. Because of this the liquid is not aerated as much as it would be in a deep water culture system, providing less oxygen through the liquid to the roots. Ebb-and-flow systems are also less expensive as the systems are less complex and utilize only a basic water pump and associated tubing.

Ebb-and-flow is a great choice for beginners as they are easy to setup and maintain, inexpensive, and come in a variety of sizes and styles to fit grow spaces of various sizes.

There are numerous types of ebb-and-flow systems, the most common uses a tray, reservoir and stand as shown in the diagram below. Alternative types look similar to deep water culture systems with individual growth modules, but follow the principle of ebb-and-flow and do not leave the roots fully submerged at all times. These systems utilize a reservoir of the same capacity as all of the growth modules to store the nutrient solution during the ebb cycle.

Ebb & Flow Diagram


Ebb and Flow Systems are recommended for those with the following:

  • Smaller overall grow space
  • A desire for a simple system setup and maintenance
  • A smaller budget

We recommend the ebb and flow systems by Titan Controls, Active Aqua and Super Closet for their ease-of-use and overall great quality of components. We have also created a number of ebb-and-flow packages that combine the parts you need to build your own system. You can view our entire selection of Ebb and Flow systems here, or check out a few examples below:


Deep Water Culture

Current Culture UC Pro System in use


Deep water culture hydroponic systems are great for larger grow spaces as they often provide individual containers per plant resulting in a larger overall system footprint. They completely submerge the roots of each plant in a highly aerated liquid solution providing ample oxygen while maintaining a wet environment that the roots will thrive in. Deep water culture systems utilize air pumps that produce small bubbles of air that bring oxygen into the nutrient solution and often water pumps that circulate the aerated liquid among the individual plant containers.



Deep Water Culture Systems are recommended for those with the following:

  • Ample space for a larger system and plants.
  • Budget for the higher up-front system cost.
  • A desire for large plant spacing and very rapid plant growth

We recommend the deep water culture systems by Current Culture as they are extremely well built, expandable, dependable, and have produced amazing results for our customers. You can view our entire selection of deep water culture systems here, or take a look at a few examples:


Aeroponic Systems



Aeroponic systems are complex and best suited for smaller plants due to the nature of their design. A liquid nutrient solution is sprayed onto the roots of each plant in the form of a mist providing nutrition and water as well as oxygen as the roots are suspended in the air within the plant containers. Because of this it is essential that the pump remain functioning as roots can dry out quickly if the pump fails. Aeroponics can be a great solution for starting clones or smaller plants as the plant’s small size and fragile nature is a perfect fit for most aeroponic systems.



Aeroponic Systems are recommended for those with the following:

  • A desire to grow numerous small plants
  • A desire for rapid root growth or starting clones
  • A limited space for growing

We carry a wide range of aeroponic systems and recommend those from General Hydroponics, and Super Closet. You can view our entire selection of aeroponic systems, or check out a few examples below:


Drip Systems



Drip systems are the simplest form of hydroponics utilizing a reservoir, a pump, and small drip irrigation fittings at each plant container. They can utilize containers with multiple plant locations easily and are quick and easy to setup. Because they are so simple they can range in size and style, offering many solutions for various grow room sizes. However, because drip systems rely on small lines and openings at the drip heads they can be prone to clogging and need to be monitored to ensure the lines remain clear and are functioning optimally. If you have hard water we recommend filtering it first before putting it into the reservoir for use.

Drip Systems are recommended for those with the following:

  • A limited budget
  • A desire for a very simple system to setup and maintain
  • Uses the least amount of water

We carry many drip hydroponics systems and recommend those from General Hydroponics. You can view our entire selection of drip systems, or check out a few examples below:


Hydroponic systems automatically feed and water plants offering a grower the ability to save time and energy over growing in soil. They are reliant on pumps and lines of tubing so the system must be monitored and maintained to ensure problems don’t arise. Leaks and clogs must be dealt with immediately to prevent damage to plants. Also, because the plant roots come into direct contact with liquid nutrient solutions small changes in pH and nutrient concentration can cause issues and must be avoided. There are many products to help with this such as pH sensors, automatic pH solution dosers, and environment monitors that can provide a wealth of information about system functionality. In general, hydroponic systems are more difficult to operate than growing in containers with soil but provide a tremendous increase in plant growth and productivity. If you want to grow giant healthy plants quickly there is no better way than hydroponics.

Learn more about the benefits of hydroponics over soil growing and the importance of pH maintenance.