How to Build a Homemade Hydroponic System

Building your own hydroponic system is not overly difficult and is a lot of fun! If you are ready to build your own homemade hydroponics system and start growing plants, then you only need a few items to get going.

For this Hydroponic Setup You will need:

  • Air stones
  • Air lines or tubing
  • An air pump or external pump
  • A waterproof bin, fish tank, or bucket to use as a reservoir
  • Styrofoam
  • Net or mesh pots
  • A growing medium (like Rockwool or Grow Rocks)
  • A nutrient solution (fertilizer dissolved in water)
  • A sharp knife or box cutter or scissors
  • Black paint (only necessary if your reservoir is transparent)
  • A tape measure

If you are a minor, get help from an adult for the steps involving a sharp knife! Now, to get started with this hydroponic plan:

1.)Track down a good container to use as a reservoir. If the container that you find is transparent, like a glass fish tank, then you will need to spray paint the tank black to make it light proof, or put it inside a black trash bag or similar. If light is allowed into the reservoir tank, then it promotes the growth of algae, which you do not want. At this point, if you have painted your clear tank, then you can take your knife and score a straight line down the side of the reservoir tank. This can serve as a more accurate water level/ nutrient solution level indicator in addition to the floater you will make out of the Styrofoam.

2.)Use a tape measure to measure the length and width of your reservoir tank. Measure from the inside to get the dimensions, and once you have them, cut your piece of Styrofoam to one fourth of an inch (1/4th) smaller than the size of the reservoir so that it fits neatly inside and will still have enough room to float freely on top of the nutrient solution and adjust to water level changes. For example, if your reservoir tank is 38 inches by 22 inches, then you would cut the Styrofoam to 37 ¾ by 21 ¾ inches. NOTE: If your reservoir tapers down towards the bottom, then cut the Styrofoam 2 to 4 inches or more smaller than the reservoir so it can still move freely.

3.)Next up, it is time to cut holes for your net or mesh pots. Place each pot, evenly spaced out, on top of the Styrofoam, and use a pen to trace around each one and mark where you will need to cut. Make sure each is spaced far away from the other so that there is enough room for each and each will get enough sunlight. Once your marks are made, pull the pots back off and carefully cut the holes. Also make another hole on any end of the Styrofoam for the air line to pass through.

4.)Grab your air pump and connect the free end of the tubing to the air stone. The air line or tubing should be long enough to reach the bottom of the reservoir, or at least float somewhere in the middle of it, so that the air bubbles can get to the roots of your plants. The air pump needs to be the right size for the reservoir, so before buying, you may want to fill the tank up using a gallon bucket or bottle and count how much it takes to fill it.

5.)Now set it up! Fill the reservoir with the nutrient solution, run the tubing through the hole you made for it in the Styrofoam, and place the Styrofoam in the tank. Fill the net pots with the growing medium and put one plant in each. Put the net pots into the holes in the Styrofoam. Turn on the pump and you are all set!