How to build a homemade hydroponic system step by step

How to build a homemade hydroponic system step by step
hydroponic system marijuana

It’s comparable to other professional systems I’ve seen, but this one looks even cooler because of the fluorescent green color.

During this course I will show you step by step what the system comes with, what each part does and how you can set it up.

Read it carefully, so you know how the system works and how to set things up yourself more easily.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask a fellow grower or expert on the forum.

The system

Bucket for hydroponic marijuana growing system

These are four 8 gallon buckets with a lid with a hole for the net pots. The plants will be placed in these buckets.

Header pot for hydroponic marijuana growing system
Header pot

This bucket contains the circulation pump that pumps the water around.

You can measure the EC and pH values of the water in this pot and adjust them or add water if needed.

Grommets and Straights for hydroponic marijuana growing system
Watertight connector

The buckets have holes. You put these grommets and connectors in there to connect the buckets with each other.

These are firm, rubber grommets that are watertight.

Water and Air hose for hydroponic marijuana growing system
Water hose and Air hose

You connect the buckets with each other by attaching a piece of hose to the connectors.

In this way, the water can be pumped all the way around.

Also, air needs to be pumped into each bucket, so the system also comes with an air hose.

Circulation Pump for hydroponic marijuana growing system
Water Pump

You place this water pump in the header pot and connect it with the other buckets. This pumps the water around the system.

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Air pump for hydroponic marijuana growing system
Air pump

The water needs oxygen, so every bucket is equipped with an airstone, connected to the air pump.

This also lowers the chance of harmful bacteria growing in your system.

Air Stones for hydroponic marijuana growing system
Air Stones

These are the airstones that are placed on the bottom of the bucket and provide oxygen to the water.

Water Reservoir for hydroponic cannabis growing system
Water Reservoir

You can connect this water reservoir to the header pot. The header pot comes with a float switch that will allow water in as soon as the water level in the system drops.

If your water reservoir contains nutrient water, you don’t have to add water to the system, since everything will go automatically.

I however always advise you to measure the values in the system, especially during the first couple of weeks. That’s at least what I’ll be doing.

Alien bubble buckets for hydroponic cannabis growing system

The set also comes with some net pots, connectors, hose and a cable cutter.

You’ll see that each system uses slightly different pieces, but the principle is always the same:

a bucket with oxygenated water that’s being pumped around and where the roots grow in.

How to install

This system is very easy to install and will take you less than an hour. It comes with a proper manual, but I’m going to show you how to install it anyway.

1. Start with two buckets. Put the grommets in the holes.

These will make sure the system is watertight. You have to push hard to get them into the holes.

2. To connect the buckets to each other you use straights or elbows and some 32 mm pipe.

Put an elbow on the back of each hole and a straight on the front of each hole. Now you have to connect them to each other.

3. Put the buckets where you want them to stand and measure the distance between the elbows.

This is about 20 inches in my 4 x 4 ft tent. The hose expands a bit when you heat it in hot water, which makes it easier to connect.

The hose will shrink again once it cools down, making it properly watertight.

4. Now connect the two other buckets. Measure the desired distance and cut the right size of the 32mm pipe.

Connect everything to each other. I now have blisters on my hands from connecting the grommets and straights.

It’s smart to wear gloves. But since it’s so tight, it’s completely watertight.

5. Now it’s time to connect the last two buckets to each other.

Connect the XL connectors to the pots with the 32-200mm tee in between.

In this way, the entire system connects to each other and the water can circulate through the entire system.

6. Now turn the system around and measure where the header pot needs to be.

The water pump will be placed in this and you can easily add water to it and regulate the pH and EC values.

Cut all equal pieces so the pot will stand up nice and straight.

7. Hook up the header pot to the connector pieces. Now connect the header pot to the tee you just installed on the other side of the system.

Now hook up the water pump and the water can circulate.

8. Connect the water pump to the hose. This pump draws in the water, thereby creating a water current at the bottom of the pots.

The water level remains the same in the pots, because it is distributed through the top holes.

Put the t-piece on the water pump so the water won’t shoot out the pot.

9. Now place and airstone at the bottom of every pot. Connect a piece of hose to it and connect it to the air hose through the mini connectors.

The air stones provide oxygen to the water. It also splashes a bit, so the bottom of the lid gets wet.

10. The air hose now has to be connected to the air pump. Use the connector piece and fixate the hose with the hose clamps.

The pressure on the hoses can get quite high, so those clamps are not a bad idea.

11. And that’s it! Now you have to test the system, provide your water with the right feed and pH level and put your plants in.

Testing the system

The system is now fully installed, so it’s time to test it. you need to fill it up with water to see if it’s leaking anywhere. This is the most important thing to do first.

Fill the system with water if you haven’t done it yet, turn on the water pump and air pump and put all lids on the pots.

Check if it’s leaking somewhere. If there’s a leak, it’s best to use Teflon tape to constrict the connection.

Let the system run for at least an hour to see if there are no super slow dripping leaks anywhere.

If the water isn’t leaking anywhere, you’re ready for the next step; adding the nutrients and lowering the pH of the water.

Since the plants don’t have many roots yet and can’t absorb a lot of water and nutrients, we start with an EC of 1.0.

I usually prepare the water in a separate tank, because it takes a long time for everything to dissolve and get distributed around the bubble bucket system.

You need about 32 gallons of water to fill the system.

Fill a reservoir or the system with tap water and measure the EC.

The EC of tap water is usually between 0.2 and 0.5. Keep adding fertilizer until you reach an EC of 1.0.

Now measure the pH of the water. This is probably higher than the desired value of 5.8.

Add a couple drops of pH down to the water and measure again. Keep adding drops until the pH level of the water is 5.8.

Now fill the system with your nutrient solution and turn on all pumps.

Measure the temperature of the water. Let it pump around for an hour and measure the values again.

The EC and pH levels should have remained the same.

The temperature of the water probably increased a bit, to about 65 degrees.

This is because the circulator pump generates heat, which is perfect, since the ideal water temperature lies between 65 and 70 degrees.

If the pH and EC values do differ from the desired 1.0 and 5.8, you can just modify these within the system.

Just take into consideration that it takes a while for everything to be properly mixed.

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Placing your plants

It’s a good idea to test all equipment at the same time to see what the climate in your grow room will be.

I usually let my system run for 24 hours to also see what the temperature will be with the lights on and off.

You might have to add an electric heater, or your extractor might be running too high.

If you’re satisfied with the climate in your grow room, it’s time to add your plants.

Have any doubts or questions? Just ask our growing experts on the forum.

Fill the pot with clay pellets to give the roots a bit of stability. Use clay pellets that are made for cultivating.

Ornamental clay pellets have a very thin shiny layer which could be harmful to your plants. Make sure you wash the clay pellets well before using them.

Lay down a thin layer of clay pellets in the pot and put the plant in. Now fill the pot with more clay pellets, so the plant is nice and stable.

Check again to see if the oxygen stone is placed in the middle of the bucket and put the pot in the hole.

Do the same with all of the pots and let them sit for an hour.

Water drops should be splashing against the pot and the roots, because of the oxygen stone on the bottom.

After an hour you can see if the bottom of the pots and the clay pellets are wet. if this is the case, you’re completely ready to start cultivating.

Spray your plants and the bottom and walls of your grow room to increase the humidity.

Place a fan that gently blows between the lamp and the plant. Hang the lamp up high in the room, so the cuttings can get used to the light.

It’s very important that you often check the temperature during the first days and to see if the bottom of the pot is wet.

Starting today I will keep a grow journal about the development of the plants and all actions I take.

I will make photos every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and write a little report.

In this way you can see exactly what you need to do and what your plants should look like.

If you have any questions, you can ask a fellow grower or one of our grow experts on the VIP forum.

Today is day 1 of the journal. Good luck and have fun!