How to Create a Small Scale Hydroponics System


Hydroponics has recently become a highly-sought-after method of farming, and the absence of soil with a water-based nutrient solution as its substitute has made it ever so popular. Since it requires only simple equipment that can easily be set up, hydroponics farming is idyllic for indoor gardening. As such, here are some manageable systems that you can DIY at home if you want to try your hand at hydroponics farming. These are systems that only require very accessible equipment that you can easily find at your local gardening or hardware shops.

System 1: Water Tank

The easiest set up that you can ever DIY at home only requires a simple pot to home your plant, a tank for your water reservoir, and a pump that is attached to your tank for steady water supply and occasional cleaning. You can even have real fishes in your fish tank! You simply have to place your plant in a pot with your growing medium contained inside and ensure that your pot has drainage holes at the bottom. Immerse your pot into the tank, and ensure that the roots have direct access to the water reservoir. Thereafter, attach a pump that can be easily purchased from stores to your tank and voila!it is as simple as that! Alternatively, if you do not have a mini fountain pump with you, you can use an airlift pump which may work even better since the chances of clogging are lower than that of the traditional fountain pumps. You can also change up the water reservoir by substituting normal water with a standard nutrient solution to help your plant grow faster. 

One of the benefits of this system is to use your hydroponic system as a way of filtering water for your fish. Even though this set up may seem incredibly simple with little equipment needed, it works perfectly well. Furthermore, the costs incurred from this set up are extremely minimal, and it may serve as a fun DIY-project for the younger ones. However, one problem with this set up is that if you have real fish in the tank, the fish waste may eventually accumulate inside the pump impeller, causing it to be less effective. Therefore, it is advisable to conduct occasional checks on the pump to ensure that it is working well.

System 2: Flood and Drain

To construct this system, you will need two Rubbermaid dish basins for your grow beds, and use a wooden frame built on an old fish stand as the support. Using a medium of your choice, fill your basins with a substantial amount of the medium, and sow your plants. Fit your basins with overflow risers to ensure that there is a limit to the maximum water level when the pumps are filling your basins. This is usually a piece of PVC pipe that extends from the drain hole into the pump to transport the excess solution back to the pump to avoid wastage. The lack of an overflow riser will result in unpleasant puddles around your system and unhappy plants that will not be able to grow well. To circulate the solution in the system, you can purchase a small pump at any of your gardening stores which are very affordable. The pumps usually come with a mechanical timer so you can adjust the water to be pumped at 40-minute intervals.

Essentially, the principle of the system is as follows: The timer will activate the pump to be switched on for about one to three minutes, and the nutrient solution will be pumped into the grow beds. The solution is filled until it reaches the brim of the overflow riser, and the excess solution will drain back down into the water reservoir until the pump is switched off by the timer. The roots will absorb the solution and simultaneously, the solution in both basins will drain out and flow back into the pump.

Though this method is relatively more expensive than the first set-up, doing it yourself will only set you back by about $100 in cash, helping you save a few hundred bucks as compared to spending on the ready-made drain and flood systems in gardening stores. However, some challenges that may arise is finding equipment that fits well together, since doing it yourself will mean sourcing for equipment from different places and risking components of your system that may be too big or too small.

System 3: Plastic Net Pots

Instead of using a large basin, you can grow your plants in plastic net pots that are comfortably wedged into the lengths of PVC pipes. Fill them with a medium like clay pebbles to easily allow the water solution to pass through, instead of compact and smaller mediums like sand or soil. Attach a pump to it and set it to 35-minute intervals. For the solution, you can use a standard growth formula that is easily accessible at local stores.

Though this system is also simple to set-up, it does come with several drawbacks. The system may work very well at first, but once the plants start growing, the roots may have a tendency to clog the space between the walls of the PVC pipe and the net pots, which may cause the nutrient solution to overflow and result in the system being less effective. Therefore, it is advisable to use a PVC pipe with a larger diameter or alternatively choosing smaller net pots to give the plants more room. Furthermore, if you mount the PVC directly to the lid of the reservoir, replenishing the solution may be a hassle. Also, if you do not paint your clear plastic reservoir containers with black paint, the transparent quality will cause algae growth.


Regardless of which system you choose to start with, it is advisable to do your research instead of blindly jumping into your project, You may find that certain plants may thrive better in specific systems as compared to the rest. Hydroponic gardening is extremely simple to set-up at home, and it only requires little effort for your system to work effectively and help your plants grow.


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