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Understanding bubblers

This is my take on what's needed to get a successful first crop from your bubbler . Hope some of you find it useful.

Deep water culture is simply letting the roots hang in nutrient enriched water with added oxygen so they don't drown. The bubbles from an airstone increase the dissolved oxygen (DO) levels when they break surface. Anything that makes the surface look jacuzzi-like will work, including aquarium powerheads. The bubbles rising from the bottom keeps the water moving, so it travels across the roots and lets them have fresh food. (Nutes.) The Quantum Hydro system lifts water and drops it for the same effect. If you want to start but can't afford an air pump yet, vigorously agitating the water a few times a day will keep them alive.

DO is one the limiting factors in hydroponics, so more is better, much better. With high DO levels things like an airline being split for 48hrs is an annoyance rather than a disaster.

Powerful airpumps use 50+watts and they can overheat if the backpressure from the airstones is too high. Use lots of airstones on a powerful pump, even for one plant. A huge pump with thermostatic control is now available from aquatics-online, starts around £120, best present you could buy yourself if you're after larger yields.

The standard dual output airpumps work well enough. To outperform soil, I'd suggest one or two per 400w of lighting. They only use ~4watts, so no big overheating problems due to backpressure. They make good aerocloners if you later upgrade to a bigger pump.

Can't vouch for any practical difference in blue or white airstones, the theory dictates small bubbles and lots of them.

I've found the cheaper airline better than the non-kink stuff which splits easily.

The container, or resevoir, can be anything inert, plastic is best. (Has to be lightproof.) The nutrients can rot it over the years, so plan to replace if they're cheapies. The lid is usually plastic that came with it. Make sure it'll hold the weight of your monstrous buds. I use plywood, it's been varnished, and gets a wipe with bleach before each grow. Supposed to be a no-no, but no problems from it, and it helps stop the heat getting in from the light.

Resevoir size is important. A largish plant can drink 2L in a day, more sometimes. If your res is 20L, 4 plants can easily halve that in 24 hrs, thereby doubling the strength of the nutrients. If they were high to start with, the plants are near enough dead.

A simple auto top-up system can be made with a float switch and an aquarium pump, but regular manual top-ups will keep them healthy.

A larger resevoir has fewer Ph swings and gives the grower an easier life.You'll never get the Ph to stay the same in hydro, but starting at 5.2 and not adjusting until it's 6.8 works just fine. With the right sized res, it'll stay within that range for 2 weeks, which is my changing schedule. I have 15L per plant, doesn't give me any hassle. (If the leaves go all "twisty", it's probably a Ph problem.)

Not a real consensus yet on the ideal distance from water level to bottom of the netpot, but I've found anything from 1" to 6" works.

For a medium gro-rocks (hydroton) are easily the best. Seeds can be started in perlite or Jiffy pellets.

Best water is reverse osmosis, but most tap water does the job, let it stand awhile to let the chlorine evaporate.

Root temperatures are vital in hydro. (Probably soil as well, but I wouldn't know.) Lower temps = slower growth, so a fish tank heater set to 68'F will stop that. An overheating room will soar the resevoir temps, and the invisible nasties will breed like crazy. The DO reduces with increased temperature, and the poor plant has to fight pathogens etc. while getting closer to drowning through lack of oxygen. This is part of the reason why a 400w with OK ventilation can outperform a 600w with inadaquate ventilation.

If it's a budget grow, the heater can be left till later, but the thermometer can't. If those roots temps can't be brought down, it's best to reduce the lighting.

If in doubt, just look at the roots. If they're beautiful angel white, no big problems.

My best results have come from Canna nutrients. With my tap water, it needs Ph UP, unlike the others I've tried. Aim for full (label) strength when 30"+ (Start new clones and 2 week old seedlings at 25% and build up gradually.)

That's about it. You can be really lazy and inattentive with bubblers, or you can fuss them getting extra grams of yield. Either way, they're great for small growers.

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hi strider i have been thinking about building a bubbler from looking at og. but the parts needed are all from usa where can we get the parts in uk ?? 1 opaque plastic tub

1 Rio 800 water powerhead

10 foot length PVC, 1/2-inch

8 slip-coupling PVC elbows (90 degree turns)

1 slip-coupling / threaded PVC T-adapter

1 threaded hose nozzle

8 180 degree jet sprayers (part 111B)

4 PVC to poly-tube adapters

2 feet flexible hose

1 roll 1/2-inch black poly-tubing

1 can white spray paint or coating...

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Most of what you need here.


I'm guessing you have been looking at an aeroponic set-up. They are (in theory) more efficient than bubblers. but it'll take a few years before your TOTAL harvests are better than starting with a simple bubbler.

When bubblers go wrong, the plants can die in a few days, with aero it's hours.

All you need is:

Container: Should be lightproof, but I've found dark and reasonably thick to give no probs. I've used black emulsion with OK results. No algae, no problem with colour.

Lid: Strong enough, non poisonous to plants.

Aeration: Your choice. Small airpump, big airpump, powerhead, whatever. Air (or froth) = Bud.

Airstones: Not too big, or small. (They don't last forever, keep in stock. 24hrs in bleach and a good rinse gets more life out of them.)

Airline: The cheapest, don't forget the Tees and straight connectors.

Netpots: diy or store bought.

Medium: Gro-rocks for growing and perlite or Jiffy pellets for seeds and cuttings. Rockwool can be used, but I dunno how.

Ph pen and adjuster: Vital. Get Ph neutral to adjust the meter as well.

Just add water, nutrients and genetics. (Light helps as well.) :wassnnme:

The results will surprise for the effort it takes. Try to avoid wierd plumbing first couple of grows. One leak and your crop is gone. Keep it topped up and at the right temperature for as easy a small grow as it gets.

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i did have a couple of questions i was gonna ask in a new topic but youve cleared them up for me already :bush:

nice one strider, keep up the good work ;)



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thanks for the link strider :blub:. i am definetley gonna try the bubbler thing as soon as i know enough. so to keep it simple with less plumbing and stuff what would suggest building. any links of ready made one to have a look at ?? thanks sonic..

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