While both soil and hydroponic gardening each have various pros and cons there is no denying that there is more equipment required when going the hydro route. Whether you’re diving straight into hydroponics with your first garden, or making the switch to hydro from soil, you may find yourself overwhelmed when trying to piece together a hydroponic setup. Rest assured, it is actually quite simple, and we are here to guide you through the process!
The reservoir is the most simple and easy to understand component in a hydroponic setup. It is a tank that stores your plant’s water or nutrient solution for their feedings. In an ebb/flow or drip setup, this reservoir would have a water pump submerged within it, set to turn on at precise intervals to transport the water to your plants when they need to be fed, typically any excess water runoff would then drain back to this reservoir.
In a deep water culture, or DWC, system, such as Current Culture’s UC4, this reservoir would act as a top-off supply for the grow modules and epicenter. As the plants consume the water in their modules, a float valve would trigger the reservoir to release more water into the epicenter, maintaining consistent water volume in the system and ensuring that your plants stay well fed.
You reservoir should be opaque, rather than clear and should have a well fitting lid as well. These specifications will help prevent the chances of any non-beneficial bacterial growth, as well as help keep the water or nutrient solution clean and free of contaminants.
We carry a wide variety of different shaped and sized reservoirs to suit any sort of situation or setup. All of these can be found here.
Maintaining an ideal water temperature within 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit is critical when gardening hydroponically. Once your water rises above this range, it becomes much more susceptible to issues such as root disease, and harmful bacteria. This is especially true if you are using a deep water culture set up, as the water is being circulated from one root zone to the next, which can make problems like root disease spread incredibly quickly.
Water chillers are meant to help avoid these complications by keeping the water being given to your plants at the perfect temperature. These are powerful and compact units rated in units of horsepower, small chillers can run at as low as 1/10hp while a larger, commercial unit may be running at as high as 2hp.
Water & Air Pumps
Water and air pumps are both needed for a well functioning hydro setup. Air pumps provide aeration for your water, which is key for healthy nutrient uptake, and water pumps are crucial as the entire systems revolves around water being moved from one place to another, whether that is from reservoir to plant, or from grow module to epicenter
Air pumps are used to push air through your diffusers or air stones, which sit within your reservoirs, and grow modules and keep your system’s water aerated. These pumps are typically rated in either LPM (liters per minute) or HP (horsepower). By connecting an air pump to a manifold, or splitter, you are able to power multiple air stones or diffusers. This is incredibly helpful as it helps you save both space, and money by only needing to run a single pump.
You can view all of our air pumps here.
You have a couple of different options when it comes to choosing a water pump for your system. The pumps pictured above are called “inline pumps”. These submersible devices sit within your reservoir, taking in water through the valve on their side, and pumping it through the valve on their top. Typically a length of irrigation tubing would be attached to that top valve to transport the pumped water to the desired location while the pump sits, submerged at the bottom of your reservoir.
These helpful pieces of equipment are also quite versatile, as they do not require being submerged in water to work. You can also operate them by having a length of irrigation tubing running from the side valve to take in water, as well as the tubing on the top valve to direct the pumped water, allowing the pump to stay out of your reservoir and remain completely dry and easily accessible. Some growers even use these pumps with no tubing, completely submerged in their reservoir, to help mix nutrients or pH adjusters evenly throughout their water, as well as helping increase aeration.
Sump pumps are the other option available to you, when choosing a water pump. These are typically larger in size, as well as more powerful than inline pumps. However these do need to be submerged, as the water is drawn in through the base of the pump, to be pumped through the valve that you attach tubing, hose, or pipe to. Since the water is being pulled through the pump’s bottom, these are able to reach much lower volumes of water than inline units. In fact the Little Giant 5-MSP 1200 GPH Pump pictured above is capable of pumping water all the way down to one-eighth of an inch!
You can view all of our water pumps here.
When it comes to picking a grow media to use for your setup, it is important to put some thought into your choice as this material will be the foundation upon which your plant’s roots will grow.
A fantastic medium for hydroponic growing, created from rocks being heated at an extreme temperature, then spun into a fibrous material. It’s lightweight which makes any transporting of plants very easy, and the cubes come in a variety of sizes, so when it’s time for transplant you can just stack the old block onto a larger new one, stake your plant and its roots will grow down into the new block. Seedling or clone starter Rockwool cubes are very popular for use in the propagation process, and also ensure a stress-free transplant process. This particular grow medium is well suited for Ebb & Flow, or drip system hydro setups.
Another popular option with many hydroponic gardeners due to their excellent ability of retaining water. These “pebbles” are small pieces of clay that have been exposed to extremely high temperatures so that they expand to form the small round clay pieces pictured above. This heating process also gives the pebbles a very porous quality which provides ample oxygen to your roots, as well as allowing for superb water retention. This grow media is an excellent choice for dwc or aeroponic growing where your plants sit within net pots.
Created from recycled glass, heated to a very high temperature. These light and porous rocks create the perfect environment for your roots. Their uneven surface makes it easy for roots to adhere to them, and they have excellent water retention, aeration, and drainage. Not only that, but they are lighter than clay pebbles, so they are much cheaper to ship which makes ordering online a very convenient option. These stones are useful with any hydro setup in which you are using net pots, such as DWC or aeroponics.
You can find all of these varieties of grow media here.
Being that water is essentially the life-blood of your hydro setup, making sure you have the best water possible should be your first priority. Water straight from your tap may have high levels of chlorine and other elements that could potentially hurt your plants. By running this water through a type of filtration first, you avoid inadvertently harming your plants.
To decide between installing a standard carbon and sediment filter setup such as the one pictured above or a full-on reverse osmosis system can be tough, but having some form of water filtration is critical to the success of your garden. As this can be a major purchase we want you to be as informed as possible, so if you aren’t sure which system is best for you, refer to our water filter buying guide found here! The guide details the advantages, and disadvantages of different systems and will help you make the best decision for your garden.
You can find all of the water filtration systems we carry here.
Hydroponic gardening may require more components and accessories than a typical soil garden but these investments are well worth the expense and in time will pay for themselves. By choosing the best parts for your system you will ensure healthy, fast, and vigorous growth of your plants with surprisingly large yields.
Still feeling a bit confused or unsure of what you need? No problem! Contact us at 888-815-9763 and any of our skilled professionals will be more than happy to chat with you about your garden and what is best suited for your unique situation.