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In indoor gardening, there are a lot of choices of grow mediums available in the market today. Over time, our method of cultivating plants had evolved. From traditional potting soils into a more modern approach called a hydroponic system.
If you wish to try out this new innovation in farming, there is one important item you need to learn most about. And, that is hydroponic reservoirs.
In this article, we have laid out everything you need to know about hydroponic reservoirs. Moreover, we will teach you how to choose the best one to buy for your grow rooms and tents.
- 1 What is a Hydroponic System?
- 2 What are the different types of reservoir setups?
What is a Hydroponic System?
Before we delve deeper into the topic, let us first discuss with you the basics of the hydroponic system.
So, what is a hydroponic system?
A hydroponic system is a method of cultivating plants without the use of soil. Instead, a nutrient-rich water-based solution serves as its main source of nutrients. In that manner, growers gain better control over their cultivation.
The system also uses inert mediums. These alternatives serve as the supporting structure of the plants root systems. While providing stability, this allows the tips of the roots to get soaked with the solution. Examples of these mediums are perlite, vermiculite, clay pellets, rockwool, and peat moss.
Why is the hydroponic reservoir important?
Hydroponic reservoirs act as the lifeline of your cultivars. This container holds the necessary nutrients needed for healthy plant growth. The water then transports and distributes this nutrition towards the cultivars.
In the hydroponic system, traditional soil is not part of the equation. As it is being replaced, it only makes sense to provide a constant source of nutrition instead. This is what makes your reservoirs important to your grow space.
How big should your hydroponic reservoir be?
Now that we already understand its importance, should its size matter too?
The answer to this question is a definite yes.
Think of it this way, the smaller the reservoir, the lesser it can supply nutrients and water to your plants. On the other side, the bigger the tank, the more it can accommodate as well.
As a rule of thumb, most growers follow these estimates below to serve as their basis or reference:
|Size of the Plant||Required Volume|
|One small plant||0.5 gallons|
|One medium plant||1 gallon to 1.5 gallons|
|One large plant||2 gallons|
Given the figures above, you can now somehow calculate how much capacity will you likely need. This will only depend on the sizes and the number of plants you wish to cultivate in your hydroponic system.
What are the different types of reservoir setups?
Hydroponic reservoirs come in plenty of varieties. Aside from the size and material used, it also comes in different setups. Here are the following:
Floating or Deep Water Culture
This is the most basic hydroponic setup for indoor growing. In this type, the reservoir allows the plants to float above. Meanwhile, its roots are completely submerged within the nutrient solution.
In deep water culture or DWC in short, there are three factors you need to consider. This includes oxygen, water, and nutrients. All three must be adequate to create a conducive environment for plant growth.
Our top picks for DWC system:
The hydroponic wick system is another basic type of setup. This uses an inert growing medium to hold the plants. As the name implies, a thick cotton rope or wick is being used in this method.
By the principle of capillary action, the rope aids in the distribution of the solution. The liquid it absorbs is then absorbed by the growing medium. The soaked medium is what keeps the cultivars hydrated and nourished.
Our top picks for a wicking system:
Top Feed or Drip
In this type of hydroponic setup, the reservoirs are most often at the bottom. The solution is being pumped towards the surface via the drip pipes and emitters. These tubing will then saturate the plants with the nutrients.
The top feed or drip systems are least likely to waste solution. Any excess liquid is being collected back into the reservoir for reuse. For that reason, this makes it one of the most cost-efficient options for growers.
Our top picks for a drip system:
Ebb & Flow
This hydroponic system is one of the preferred set up by professional growers. In this arrangement, the cultivars are laying on top of the plant trays. This will then get flooded with the nutrient solution. Thereafter, the liquid drains back to the reservoir. This cycle occurs about four times on a daily basis.
Our top picks for ebb & flow system:
Nutrient Film Technology
The nutrient film technology, or NFT in short, appears to be like the ebb and flow system. In both setups, the plants are sitting on trays as the nutrient solution is being pumped to the pipes.
The only difference in NFT is that there is no particular placement of the reservoirs. This is possible as long as the pump can function well enough to distribute the solution.
Here, the plant is able to absorb the nutrients through a thin film saturated with the solution. This unique technology is what makes this system different from other types.
Our top picks for NFT system:
Cover your reservoir with a lid
Remember to always put a lid on top of your reservoirs. This is necessary for avoiding untoward evaporation of the nutrient solution.
Covering the tanks also helps to prevent contamination of the solution. This keeps debris, pests, and other foreign objects from settling in the container. It is crucial since it can likely affect the health and growth of the cultivars.
Our top picks for reservoir lids:
Regulate water temperature
Every grower knows how critical it is to maintain the right temperature in every aspect. This also applies to the water and nutrient solutions you use. Before delivering it to the plants, make sure that it is neither too cold nor too warm for your plants.
Keeping the fluids within the optimal temperature promotes faster growth of the cultivars. In general, the recommended range is between 65°F up to 80°F. You can use a simple water thermometer to check the temperatures.
Our top picks for water thermometers:
Maintain proper pH levels
Aside from temperature, it is also vital to maintain the right pH of the nutrient solution. The pH level affects the ability of the plants to absorb nutrients. Thus, appropriate regulation is necessary to avoid the occurrence of deficiencies.
For example, a high pH or alkaline solution can hinder nutrient uptake. This often leads to malnutrition. Here are some of the most common manifestations of deficiencies:
In general, maintaining a pH level within the range of 5.5 to 6.5 is suitable for optimal absorption. Unlike the cultivars grown in soil, hydroponic plants are least likely to regulate pH on its own. The microorganisms and organic matter found in the dirt are not present here to help.
In that sense, constant monitoring and regulation are being called for in this case. You may use a pH monitoring device to help you keep track of the readings.
Our top picks for pH monitoring devices:
Clean your reservoir
As part of your maintenance, you have to perform regular cleaning of your reservoir. This routine is essential to inhibit the formation and build-up of toxins. The occurrence of such poses a potential risk that can harm your plants health.
This becomes even more significant when you suspect the presence of fungal infection. If so, alteration in the oxygen and pH levels are probable to take place. Thus, cleansing helps to keep both levels to remain stable.
To clean your reservoirs, you may use the following materials:
- Sponge with scrubber
- Stiff brush
- Long-handled brush
- Scissors and clippers
- All-purpose cleaner and degreasr
- Hydrogen peroxide (food-grade option)
If your hydroponic systems do not come with filters yet, now is the best time to install one. The main function of this is to prevent debris from mixing into your nutrient solution. Moreover, this also helps to block pests from entering your reservoir.
To prevent the build-up of unwanted fragments, it is best to include it in the routine cleaning too.
Our top picks for hydroponic filters:
Needless to say, the reservoir is an essential component in any hydroponic system. Thus, determining the right kind for your needs is a vital task for growers. This includes choosing the appropriate type, size, and the best equipment to use it with. Even up to its management and maintenance. We hope that this article has provided you with plenty of helpful ideas. Guidelines that aim to get you through your hydroponic cultivation with more ease.