A Hydroponic Reservoir: The Complete Buying Guide

Last Updated on April 25, 2022 by Gary Stephen

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, or a hydroponic reservoir.

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.

What is a Hydroponic Reservoir 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, rock wool, 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 toward 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?Hydroponic Reservoirs

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 hydroponic 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:

Viagrow 4 Site Hydroponic Deep Water Culture

Hydrofarm Root Spa Deep Water Culture Bucket System

H20ToGro Basic DWC Hydroponic Plant Growing Kit

Cultivation Rx Smart 6 Site DWC Hydroponic System

Atwater HydroPod DWC Garden System Kit

  • Wicking

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:

SmartFit Planter Gardening Container w/ Self-Watering Wicking System Reservoir

Yardwe Water Culture Square Baskets w/ Cotton Rope

RTWAY Garden PLastic Net Cup Pots w/ Self Watering Cotton Rope

WBFN Self Watering Hydroponic Flower Pot Planter

  • 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:

12 Plant Drip Grow Kit

General Hydroponics WaterFarm 8 Pack Grow System

Blumat 6 Pack Drip System

Orbit Adjustable Flow 8 Port Drip Irrigation

Rain Bird 1 Port Drip Irrigation

  • 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:

Viagrow Complete Ebb & Flow Hydroponic System

L.HPT 4 Pipes Ebb & Flow Hydroponic Grow Kit

ZBMZB 12 Pipes Hydroponic Grow Kit System

Hydrofarm MGSYS 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:

Opcom Farm Grow Wall 75 Pots Hydroponic Growing System

Fotcus DIY Hydroponic System NF T 12 Pcs Net Cap

Surpcos 4 Pipes 28 Sites Upgraded Hydroponic Grow Kit 

Gowe 36 Cups NFT Hydroponic System

Fotcus NFT Hydroponic System 21 Pcs Net Cap

  • 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:

Hydrofarm 25 Gallon Reservoir Cover

EZ Clone 32 Low Pro Lid & Reservoir

Dutch Bucket Lid Hydroponics

Quick CUre Bucket Lid w/ Electronic Hygrometer

EZ Stor 703994 Lid Brown

  • 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:

DDSKY Floating Water Thermometer

Antoble Large Floating Thermometer

SplashTech Pocket Reservoir Thermometer

Aquaneat Digital Thermometer

TDS Meter Digital Water Tester

  • Maintain proper pH levels in your hydroponic reservoir

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:

Deficiency Manifestations
  • Yellowing of older leaves.
  • Purpling of the stem, petioles, and lower leaves.
  • Older leaves become dull and dark green.
  • Purpling of stem and leafstalk.
  • Stunted growth due to delay in maturity.
  • Older leaves become dark and necrotic.
  • Weak stem and branches.
  • Yellowing of the entire leaf structure including the veins.
  • Curling of leaves downward.
  • Yellowing of the leaves excluding its veins.
  • Leaf cupping.
  • Burnt tips of the leaves.
  • Leave white scales on the inner walls of the reservoir due to calcium salt deposits.
  • Pale or yellowing of leaves in younger leaves.
  • Yellowing of the leaves.
  • Stunted growth.
  • Leaves turn bronze in color.
  • Thickening of the root especially near its tip.
  • Swollen and discolored root tips.
  • Prone to rotting due to fungal disease.
  • Distorted and wrinkled leaf margins.
  • Reduction in leaf size.
  • Darkening and twisting of younger leaves.
  • Stunted growth.
  • Yellowing of leaves excluding its veins.
  • Severe twisting of younger leaves.

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:

Bluelab pH Controller w/ Monitoring & Dosing

2-in-1 pH Temperature Continuous Monitor Meter Tester

Digital pH Meter Test

Ketotek Water Quality Test Meter

  • 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:

  1. Sponge with scrubber
  2. Stiff brush
  3. Long-handled brush
  4. Gloves
  5. Scissors and clippers
  6. All-purpose cleaner and degreaser
  7. Bleach
  8. Hydrogen peroxide (food-grade option)
  • Install filters

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:

One Stop Outdoor Drip Hydroponic Filter

Hydroponic Permeate Pumped Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System

Screen Irrigation Filter w/ Hose Threads

HydroLogic 150 GPD Stealth Reverse Osmosis Filter

Home Master HydroGardener Hydroponic Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

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.

Gary Stephen
Gary Stephen

Hi, I am Gary Stephen. I have been gardening for a long time. Gardening gives us much benefits and pleasure. Many of us desire to have a garden, but it cannot fulfill the desire for the proper guide or instruction of gardening. So, I am eager to help them. For this purpose, I have developed the MyGardenPlant.com website to make a garden with the proper guide. So, you will get me beside you if you want to know anything about gardening.