Bubble bucket hydro method 101

Discussion in 'Hydroponic Growing' started by Big Poppa Puff, Feb 20, 2004.

  1. Its been a while since anyone has asked. Is there any interest out there on how to grow hydro by the bubble bucket method?

    I would just as soon do this one time and then make this a sticky at the top of the forum.
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  2. I am staring a bucket bubble grow myself. Using 4 5 gallon buckets connected to a controller. Homemade...under 770HPS. I have done one hydro grow before with many soil grows in between. Still a bit unsteady on the hydro so sure....start up!
  3. yes me too!!
    would appreciate detailled bubbler instructions
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  4. Alright, here goes. Only one room in my class: no cursing. I have a obscenity blocker on my computer that is unhackable and if you curse, it blocks from coming back to this thread.

    Today class we are going to start with the basics: Equipment. I am not going to discuss lights, fans, grow boxes, etc. Just the equipment to grow bubble bucket, herafter aka as BB. And this will be for a single bucket system.

    Get any type of plastic container/bucket you can that is fairly inexpensive, as long as it has a a fitted lid with it. The darker the color the bucket the better. 5 gallon buckets work fine, but so do smaller rubbermaid contianers sold at Wal Mart. 5 gallon capacity or larger is the right size for not having to fill it up as often, but most anysize works fine. Too big and its a pain to handle and dump, too small and you are constantly refilling it and you chemicals get out of whack earlier.

    You need to make sure your bucket is clean and didn't hold a bunch of funky chemicals before you got it.

    If you couldn't find an all black bucket you need to triple wrap your bucket in duct tape. Lighter color plastic allows light to pass through encouraging algal growth on the roots which is problem. Three layers of standard duct tape or 1 layer or mirrored reflective tape works fine. Cover the sides, and cover the top of the bucket as well. DO NOT tape your lid to the bucket.

    Air source: Go buy two relatively cheap aquarium pump at Wal MArt. Buy some air line while you are there and a couple of T-connectors. Cut a couple of short lengths of line, 6" should do, but its no big deal and hook up the two outlets of the air pump to the T so they form just 1 line. Then run the main line from each pump to your bucket. I am assuming that you know already where your system is going to be, etc.....

    Why two air pumps? More air the better the growth, and if one pump goes out, you still have a back-up so your plant doesn't die.

    You should drill a couple of holes into your bucket. Put them near the top so you don't lose any water. In a 5 gallon bucket, the best place is right beneath where the metal handle attahes to the bucket. That way you can pick your bucket up and dump it out without having to unhook the whole contraption.

    Run the air line inside your drilled holes and hook up a air stone to the end of the line. Some people glue the air stones down to the bottom of the bucket, but its personnel preference.

    So our equipment list for today is:

    bucket, with lid
    duct tape
    aquarium air pump
    air line
    air stones

    All of this can be picked up at Wal Mart for about $40. With the air pumps about $15 each.

    Next Lesson: meters, nutes, & recipes
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  5. Is the bubbling going to annoy me??

    no more than a fish tank :D

  6. I don't have any pics, but if you want some additional info you can always check out overgrow.com FAQ sections and look at their Hydro and deep water culture folders. Some of those have pics.

    Will the bubbles keep you awake? probably not but unless your sleep schedule is the same as a plant in the veg stage, 18 hours of HPS light will keep you awake at night.
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  7. Lesson #2

    Ok is everybody fixing their buckets up yet or have you decided its too much work? THis post will deal with a simple approach to the chemistry involved. Why simple? Becuase I'm not smart enough to make it hard, my young grasshoppers.

    To run a BB you absolutley have to have a pH meter. You can try to get by with a pH tester kit or pH strips, but in the long run a nice pH meter is worth the cash. look all around you wnat but www.colepalmer.com has plenty of meters, a $50 to $75 handheld meter is all you need.

    An EC meter is handy to have, but absolutely necessary. If you purge your nute reservoir on a regular schedule of 7 to 10 to 14 days, EC doesn't get out of hand. If you don't dump on a regular schedule or your bucket is too small, get a EC meter so you don't burn up your plants. Cole Palmer has them too for the same price range.

    The most important ingredient for a BB system is???? Anyone, anyone, anyone???


    Your water source you need to use should be clear, clean, and healthy. You can buy distilled water at the store, collect rainfall straight from the sky, melt snowfall, etc, etc. But make sure it is clean. Tap water is OK as long as you let it sit for a day or two to allow the chlorine to evaporate. Preferably, if you use tap water, run it through some type of filter like a Brita system to remove suspended solids and to remove impurities. In the beginning, you shouldn't use much water but as your plant grows, it drinks a bunch of water, up to 1 gallon a day.

    Nutes: IMHO, any type of hyrdo nutes work fune and whatever brand you choose will work with almost similiar results. Plenty of folks will argue this, but for the average grower, I see no difference between one nute brand and any other. The 3 part General Hydroponics is a good brand and there are plenty of nute recipes for it on the net. Try Highgrades recipe at the Grow FAQ at overgrow, it works as fine as any.

    Anyone not sure on a recipe, just ask up and we'll answer.

    And I just about forgot. All these recipes talk about 5 mil of this to 1 gal of water, etc.. How the ehck do you measure out the proper level of nutes? You need to get you hand on some type of syringe that is graduated into mils or cc'c. Most of them fit aquarium airline tubing perfectly, so you can suck up you nutes out of their bottles, measure out the right amount and then squirt it in your bucket.

    You will also need some pH up and pH down to maintian proper pH in your system. Proper pH is between 5.2 and 6.0 with 5.5 to 5.8 being optimum. It takes a while to get the hang of adjusting your pH, an extar syringe comes in handy here. A few drops at a time, measure pH, add a few more and stir measure pH, etc.... This is where a pH meter beats out test strips.

    OK where are we up to date? We covered buckets, pumps, water, meters, nutes. What next? the pot, rockwool, and stones.

    In a lot of hydro discussions, it refers to net pots. Net pots are just small plastic pots that are designed for orchad growth where the root system of a plant needs lots of air contact. You can buy a net pot for your growth, but any 6" nursery pot will work. Just clean it out thoroughly, and add a few more holes to the base. You need to cut a hole in your bucket lid that is bis enough to sit your net pot in, but not too big where it fall through. Put your pot on the lid, big side down and trace it out. Cut just inside your trace line and try fitting you pot. Be conservative on your first, and trim a little as you go till you have a good tight fit.

    Rockwool: I believe rockwool is a good invetsment. When you buy your nutes, spring the extra $ for some rockwool to start your seed or clones in. Rememeber to pre-soak your rockwool in an acidic solutio tp bring its pH down before putting in your seeds. Rockwool normally tuns a 10 pH which will burn your seedlings. Let it sit in a glass of water that is pH 5.2 overnight and it should be OK in 24 hours or while your seeds are germinating in a paper towell.

    OK, so after you clean and fix you net pot and your rockwool, put the rockwool inthe net pot and fill up the surrounding empty space with clean gravel. They make a special hydro gravel that you can use, but whay spend money when you can go out and find a clean gravel for free. Don't use limestone or sandstone gravel, a good clean quartz river rock is fine.

    Poke a small hole in your rockwool and drop a seed in about a 1/4 inch deep. Now here is where I'm different from everyone else. If you use a big bucket that is at least 5 gallons or larger, plant 3 seeds in your rockwool. One of them should be a female, and the bubble bucket system can support 3 plants thru the veg stage until the sexes appear. I wouldn't want you working all this hard for just one plant, And then it turns out to be a male. Plant yourself 3 plants to hedge against the males. And if you wind up with more than 1 female, you have the choice of killing the extra ones out, or working extra hard keeping an eye on the water level and nute level to support more than 1 plant in 1 bucket.

    Any questions
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  8. Hi there BPP best regards to you - great column and i am looking forward to building one of these as my next experiment.
    I currently favour NFT.
    One question so far regarding the DWC bubbler method.

    The airpump provides oxygen to the solution and serves no other purpose - correct?
    If this is the case - how does the plant remain watered? - is the net cup suspended IN the water with the grow rock / rockwool soaking up nutes through cappiliary action?
    If so - this would mean that during the initial stages the water level must be kept very high in the bucket whilst the plant develops a root system.

    Is my thinking right???

  9. Correct. Initially, you keep the water level just under the net pot so the bubbles from the circulating air keep a fine mist spraying on the pot. If your lights cause your grow area to be too hot and your rockwool starts to dry out, you can just get a cupful of your reservoir water and pour over the rockwool daily until the roots hit the water. Once the roots come on out and reach the water, you can ease up on the water level and watch your plants explode into growth.
  10. For the most part, this about covers bubble buckets. I discussed building your containers, equipment needed, nutes and recipes, a couple of tips on constructions, etc.

    A few other things I would like to add is this:

    Keep track of your growth and action on paper. Get you a notebook or a clipboard and record your actions to help you keep track of what you've done so it will help you as you grow. A simple word processing table with 5 columns indicating date, time, pH, EC, and notes such as plant growth, water change, adding extra water or nutes, etc is axtremely helpful in your project. You can track how fast your plant grows and anticipate when you need to do water changes and when to add nutes.

    Safety and security first. Always make sure your project is conducted ina safe manner. Keep your water away from electrical outlets and connections. Wire up everything in a safe manner up to code if possible so you don't burn you house down or eletrocute yourself in the process. Keep your mouth shut to everyone that you grow. More projects are busted by people running their mouth than by pure chance of running up on one. Your friend today who knows, may get busted tomorrow and will roll over your project to get himself out of a simple possession charge. Never tell anyone!! Loose lips sinks ships. If two people know a secret, then the whole world will too one day.

    How long does a grow go? From the time Ms. Sprout pokes his head up it should take a around 3 months till you cut her feet off. If you are going to go with back to back grows, start germing your next seeds about a week before you start the final flush. 3 weeks of germination and initial sprouting is about enought ime to finish your first one off and then to clean out your system for the next grow.
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  11. i like the 3 seed idea, novel way round doing clones for a small grow.

    i find hydroton is well worth the money for the results compared to gravel and it can b reused after propper cleaning cutting the cost. also if growing from clone, if the clone is done in a aero cloner (simple to make) or water then when the roots r long enough it can b "planted" straght into the hydroton saving the need and cost of rockwoll.

    i find a spare bucket the same as the 1 used in the BB is handy to mix up the nutes in, then i just swap the lid with the netpot and airline straght over. much safer and simpler than tryin to mix nutes in a bucket with a plant balanced on the top. my airline is run through the top of the bucket not the side. dont use clear airline tho.

    u say to keep the water level under the pot when rooting. i find that if the bottom of the pot sits in the water but not so deep as the rockwool is sodden that works best in rooting then as soon as "a few" roots come out the bottom of the pot by a few inches i drop the level just under the pot and dont let it drop more than 2 or 3 inch. just the way i do it and it works well.
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  12. I agree with your post. I think hydrotons are good but when you can get a truckload of gravel for next to nothing, why go out and buy hydrotons. But if you don't have access to good clean cheap gravel, then you gotta go with hydroton.

    I like the air line thru the side of the bucket just above or below the lid. That way when you pull the lid off and on checking nute levels, etc. its not in your way. But either way is no big deal. Clear airline is the only option for most people, but you can always add a bit of duct tape on it to block out the light.

    And everyone always needs and extra bucket or two with BB's. You can dump your old nutes in it, place your plant in it and then mix up your new nutes in your grow bucket , etc. lots of different configurations on how to set it up and everysone got to find the method that suits them best.
  13. id like to spit out a few comments.

    first...this sounds like fun. love to see ppl doing new grow methods.

    seems like alot of work. certainly not for the novice grower. one little mistake and ur plant is toast.

    which brings me to the question, what kind of growth increase are we talking about? 90 -120 days in soil gets me 1.5oz grow. i would hope for the work involved, u can speed that time up by??? 10% ? 20%?

    which brings me to the maturity question, are they as 'full bodied' at that same age?

    which brings me to my last question, what about taste? seems to me that it would take quite a few grows of the same variety for u to get ur food dialed in.

    anyhow, again sounds like fun and maybe ill have to give it a whorl sometime.

  14. for an established clone or seedling, time wise is a couple of weeks to veg, 8-10 weeks flowering.

    full-bodied? what do you mean...

    if you flush the last couple of weeks, the taste is ok. But a proper cure makes anything taste better
  15. full bodied = mature plant.

  16. yes id say so.

    id say it gave results 10 to 15% better than nft and 30%+ over soil. just a guess.

    personaly i dont think its worth the hassle for just 1 bucket but i have 4 that i use when i want to grow 4 bushes. my sog grows are done in soil or nft cus im still quite new to bubble buckets. i doubt i'll be useing soil for much longer tho, i am impressed with dwc. considering how easy and cheep it is to build a bucket i do think everyone shud try it.
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  17. thought this was a sticky...had to do a search for it......found it anyway.....got the buckets just got to get the air pumps and assemble....laters

    stuck for you my friend!!!!

  18. no sir all set on the info thanks to that godly little icon called the "Search" button ;)
  19. Papa,
    Thank you for the walk through.

    I have my seeds in the wake up stage and will be building out all as you instruct.

    I tend to miss things...So I have a couple of questions:

    1. Would it be helpful if I added O2 to the room.
    I don;t mean enough to explode the building but added 02 might it help my babies?

    2. C02 - would it help if i added C02 to the room during the Flowering stage.

    If either of the above are helpful what would be the timing.

    3. It is my understanding the general advantages of Hydro are speedier growth and High yield. Am I correct.

    In the past you had been bery helpful to MoW who lost his password so he figured out a very smart plan of becoming MoW2 LOL.

    It is time for me to start a grwo because the 2 LB's yield I got last time had been shrinking and It does appear ( although I have counted 10 times) there is less now then there was 6 months ago...GRIN.

    I did try a hydro grow once BUT it turned into a science experiement when i had to go into hospital for 3 weeks.
    This time I am in a little better shape and expect to be around till completion.

    I am looking for 3 Lb's.

    How many plants do you figire I need..,, I am thinking 6-8 but it will be 12 to be sure, I did get 1/2 yield from prior soil grow and if you recall my plants did show signs of radiation poisoning from too much light.
    At the about 1/2 way through the flowering stage they lost all their leaves. Didn;t hurt anything much exept everyone was rather comical abou the skinniest planets they have every seen. They looked like twings with Xmas balls on them.

    Also small note:
    I look forward to hermies: I get good seeds from them and some pretty good material although I am sure to seperate them from the girls..I do tend to believe the hermie seeds give me 99 if not 100% girls..

    Best wishes ...MoW and Mow2
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