Deep water culture system, commonly known as bubbler, is one of the easiest and preferred hydroponic growing system. In deep water culture, plants are suspended above the nutrient solution while the roots are submersed in a highly oxygenated nutrient solution to promote rapid plant growth.
Here is what you need to build a DIY deep water culture system:
- Reservoir (you can use fish tank, bucket or any water proof bin)
- Aquarium air stones
- Growing net pots
- Styrofoam (as floater to hold the plants)
- Air pump
- Growing mediums (recommended to use grow rocks or rockwool)
- Hydroponic nutrients
- Cutter or scissors
Step-by-step guide for building deep water culture system
1. Styrofoam is used as floater to support the plants above the nutrient solution. You have 2 options:
(a) Cut the Styrofoam with exact measurement of your reservoir and float the whole piece on top of the nutrient solution, or
(b) Cut the Styrofoam as individual floaters for the plants; so the individual floater will each supports a growing net pot.
2. If option (a) is used, transfer the measurement of reservoir’s length and width onto the Styrofoam. It should be cut about 1/4 inch smaller than the actual measurement. However, if the reservoir used is narrow at the bottom, it should be cut about 2 to 3 inch smaller.
3. Outline the growing net pots onto the Styrofoam. Cut out the marked area so that it securely holds the net pot halfway down the Styrofoam.
4. Fix the air pump at the bottom of the reservoir. Connect the tubing and air stones to the pump.
5. Transfer the germinated seeds into the growing net pots filled with growing mediums such as grow rocks or rockwools.
6. Fill the reservoir with hydroponic nutrients specifically for your plants. Prepare the nutrient solution following the instructions given by the type of fertilizer used.
7. Now, you can place the growing net pots into the holes on Styrofoam. Rest the Styrofoam on top of the nutrient solution.
8. Switch on the air pump to provide aeration to the nutrient solution.
Monitor the nutrient solution; make sure your plants are getting sufficient oxygenated nutrients to ensure rapid and healthy growth. The nutrient solution needs to be replaced every once a week with pH reading maintained between 5.5 and 6.5.
When replacing the hydroponic nutrients, make sure you wash the reservoir to get rid of any algae, mold, and / or other salt debris. The highly oxygenated environment in a deep water culture system will promote the growth of algae and mold inside the reservoir. Thus, you may consider blocking the light from penetrating the reservoir by painting it black. This will help preventing algae issue.
To achieve a healthy supply of oxygen in deep water culture system, you can either use aeration devices (like air stones in the example above), or the water from several buckets can be connected and re-circulated continuously through them using spray nozzles.
- Hydroponic System: Nutrient Film Technique (N.F.T)
- The Drip Hydroponic Growing System
- The Wick Hydroponic System