Waterfarm Modifications Tutorial

Discussion in 'Growing Marijuana Indoors' started by WhobeBoo, Jun 4, 2009.

  1. #1 WhobeBoo, Jun 4, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2009
    General Hydroponics Waterfarm Modifications.

    The Waterfarm from General Hydroponics is a drip system that has been around for many years. A reservoir add-on is available along with a circulating system. This tutorial will show you how to make good system into a great system.

    Here is a picture of a single waterfarm unit.


    Here is General Hydroponics description of the Waterfarm unit.

    “The complete WaterFarm is designed to be a stand alone system and includes all the items listed below. This system is sized 1’ x 1’

    This system includes
    • 4-gallon reservoir
    • 2-gallon growing chamber
    • Pumping column
    • Column support tube
    • Drip ring
    • 1/2" grommet
    • Drain level tube
    • Elite® 800 air pump”

    It consists of an upper chamber that hold the grow medium (usually hydroton or something similar), a lower chamber that hold the nutrient mixture, and a tube that show you the level of nutrient in the lower chamber. Internally, there is percolator tube (just like the old coffee makers) that uses an air pump to bring the nutrient from the lower chamber to the drip ring on top.

    Here is a picture of 8 waterfarm 8-pack system.


    Here is General Hydroponics description of the 8-pack system.

    “The WaterFarm 8-pack is eight WaterFarm module units connected to one General Hydroponics Controller: and integrated 13 gallon reservoir and an 8 gallon controller unit. The Controller will keep each unit topped off with the correct level of nutrient for low maintenance. The kit is powered by GH’s Dual Diaphragm Air Pump, and includes all the necessary hardware…”

    Here is a picture from the instructions file that gives you a better idea of how the system works.


    Now for the modifications​

    Individual waterfarms.

    The first thing that you want to do is to drill out the holes in the upper chamber. They are too small and do not allow thr roots to get into the lower chamber. I drill them out to be slightly smaller than the hydroton (or whatever your using). This prevents the hydroton from falling into the lower chamber. This also allows the root system to get into the lower chamber.

    By adding an air stone to each waterfarm, they can become a DWC system when the roots get into the lower chamber. This combination of a drip system and DWC system provide lots of oxygen and nutrient to our babies. I normally use the drip system when they are little and switch to DWC when they get bigger.

    8-pack system

    One inherent problem with the 8-pack system is keeping the nutrients in each individual unit to the correct PH and PPM. You would have to check each unit, and both reservoirs. General Hydroponics realized this and created a circulation system kit. This system circulates the nutrient through all of the individual units and back into the lower reservoir chamber. The kit costs about $30, but can be created by purchasing the individual parts for much cheaper. The system uses the same percolation tube to circulate the nutrient as the individual waterfarms use to pull the nutrients into the drip ring. You can purchase the additional grommets, tubing and a waterfarm modular kit (that has the percolation tube) and do it yourself.

    Here is a picture of the General Hydroponic installation instructions for the circulation kit.

    The link for this pdf is located at the end of this tutorial.

    As you can see, the circulation kit is pretty simple to replicate for the DIYer. If you don't want to DIY, you can purchase this upgrade from any Hydro store, they may have to order it in.

    Now you have a system that will circulate the nutrients between each unit and the lower reservoir. I know of some growers that just use the lower reservoir at this point.

    I wanted to incorporate the upper reservoir into the system, but ran into a problem with the upper reservoir not having the same PH and PPM as the lower. So I needed to include the upper reservoir in the circulation system. To achieve this, I installed a small submersible pump in the lower reservoir that pumps into the upper reservoir. As the level in the lower reservoir goes down, the float valve opens and the contents of the upper reservoir drains into the lower reservoir. I placed the pump on a timer and it runs for two minutes every hour. You have to make sure that the pump doesn't work faster that the ability to drain from the upper reservoir into the lower.

    Update: I have been told that it is possible to use one of the waterfarm percolation tubes to circulate between the lower and upper reservoirs. I will be testing this on a modification that I will be doing for a friend in a couple of weeks. Doing this should preclude the need for a timer and small submersible pump. A second percolation tube can be had by purchasing an additional waterfarm module kit and should be cheaper than the pump and timer. Thanks for the information Dongle69

    Now I have achieved a system that incorporates all components of the Waterfarm system and circulates the nutrients between all reservoirs.

    With an air stone in each individual unit, I have created a drip/DWC system with a large reservoir capacity that circulates the nutrients through all components of the system.

    A couple of things to remember:

    Use dark tubing to prevent light from getting into your system. Light = algae.

    Make sure that the lower reservoir pump doesn't work faster that the gravity drain, otherwise the pump could run dry. This is why I only run my pump for a couple fo minutes each hour.

    :) Happy Growing! :)

    Here are some links to General Hydroponic pdf instruction files.

    General Hydroponics:

    Waterfarm Individual Instructions:

    Waterfarm 8-pack Instructions:

    Circulation Upgrade Kit Instructions:

    If anybody has any recommendation, additions, or deletions, please send them to me. This tutorial is a ‘work in progress’ and I’m always trying to improve it. I will be doing these modifications for a buddy in a couple of weeks and will add pictures to this tutorial.
  2. #2 The Green Man, Jun 5, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2009
    Nice tutorial dude, +reps to you it was very informative.

    Im a huge noob when it comes to hydro and was thinking of trying something similar to that for a few plants to see how well it works. I have a few of these 5 gallon buckets I got from work, these would work well for a DWC system correct? And how often do you have to change out your water in these buckets?

    Thanks for any replys. :smoke:
  3. Thanks G-Man..

    Yes... this could be used for a DWC system. Adding the air stones converts it from drip to DWC and you can run any number of buckets.

    Regarding the changing of nutes... there are some that change their nutes on a weekly basis and there are others that only change it when they are running a different mixture (like when you go into flowering). Since I do the lucas formula, I don't refresh my mixture at all (you just increase the amount of micro and bloom when going into flower), except if my PH or PPM gets so out of whack that it's easier to start over with a fresh mixture :(
  4. yes those 5 gallon buckets will work fine( unless they have held like transmission fluid or something). did you see Rumple's thread onthe bubble buckets ..itr is stickied, and those are pretty good for noobs. ( not saying the WF's aren't)

    and change water( rule of thumb here , so milage may vary) when you have added the same volume of pH'd water as you added originally of nute solution.

    for ease of making the buckets try these the 10 inchers work great .

    also of you feel the need to upgrade to a drip. the conversion from DWC to homemade WaterFarms ( like above), is only 11 bucks a unit ( look at buying the "WF Kit")

    good luck
  5. Check out Wharfrat's link to the Lucas Formula - it is very informative!!
  6. Thanks for the info guys. Nah the buckets I got just had garlic and other food stuff, I work in a kitchen. If the garlic smell is still present do I need to clean the buckets more or will it be fine?
  7. You may want to clean them out... or you could have some interesting tasting/smelling smoke :eek:
  8. Dam these garlic buckets lol, Ill just get some more mayonisse buckets. I left 2 of those garlic buckets in my car over the weekend and wow. Felt like I got punched in the nose when I opened my door lol, smell still won't come out of my car lol.

    Thanks again for the help guys, peace. :smoke:
  9. nice tutoral dude. i am new here and i just got a water farm 8-pack and doing my first grow. i don't use the big resevor only the little one. can I put the big one in place of the little one? that would give me a bigger reservor to work with.

    thanks man

  10. The little one's not a reservoir jly56... it's your controller. The big one is the reservoir, it hooks up to the controller to top it off.

    Excellent tutorial... everyone who has a water farm system needs to do this. It really makes the system. There's better mediums than hydroton as well... hydroton can cause pretty gnarly PH drift sometimes. Just a thought.

    A lot of people also like to drill out the hole in the bottom so they're a bit bigger, helps with circulation.
  11. Thanks Jerry. emrandel is correct. If you tried to use the reservoir as the controller, you would flood your buckets. Since water will always seek its own level, filling the reservoir and then connecting it to the buckets would create a big wet mess.

    Thanks for your comments. I need to update the tutorial with things that I have learned on this latest grow. Everything is a constant learning experience. This latest grow I mixed the hydroton with diatomite. It is a high silica medium. I was having problems with PH drift, as you mentioned. I even soaked the hydroton in 4.5 ph water for 72 hours before using. The plants seem to be happier and the PH stays more static.

    What medium do you recommend for the Waterfarms.

    Thanks again for everybodies input.

  12. #12 CL4P-TP, Jul 20, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2009
    higromite..prolly, 4 medium Whobe.

    hey this thread is coming along nicely BTW

    to add.. I have been trying to get rid of the airstones in flower by trimming the roots even with the pots as I go 12/12...so we will see... ( would be nice not to have to change my airstones midway thru flower..GH flora series is a bitch to airstones it seems)

    LMAO at green man..yup I feel ya .. cook and grower here also ( mine was pickle buckets..car smelled of vinegar for weeks)

    peace and keep it up

    PS the lucas link in my sig is to the old "floro formula" of lucas, but it makes a great base that new growers find very very hard to burn thier plants with.
  13. Thanks for your comments. I'll be doing a major update to the tutorial with things that I've learned from experience and from people's input.

    I just 'discovered' higromite. Mixed it 50-50 with hydroton on some little guys I put in a DIY aeroponic system. I like the added silica. Will probably go 100% when I am done with the current grow. I will like the fact that it doesn't whack out your PH like hydroton does. I've seen two or three different threads about PH issues and hydroton.

    I did find a place that sell the 2 and 4 gallon square buckets. Have some ordered that should show up today. They run about $10 for the pair. Even if I buy the Waterfarm kits (drip ring, perculation tube, etc - $10.95 at Discount-Hydro.com). I should be able to put a bucket together for around $21 in parts and cheap labor (me).

    Yes, Lucas formula has been modified for the FloraNova and other products. Rumor has it that the FloraNova Grow and Bloom were based on the Lucas variations. The main thing with GH (as I learned the hard way) is to run between 1/3 and 1/4 of the concentrations that they show in the nutrient calcualtors. I am currently running a formula that is 90% Lucas and 25% of the other additives in the Expert Recirculate program at the GH site. I add RO water to get the PPM down to the range I want (per the Lucas formula) The only variation of this variation is: I do not use the Floralicious Grow and Bloom, I replace it with the Floralicious Plus (using 25% of the amount in the Keep it Simple - Recirculate). I know that the whole idea of the Lucas formula is to keep it simple, but a grower that I highly respect uses the other Plant Enhancements (as GH calls them) and swear by them. He produces some fine, fine product. I want to be like him when I grow up:)cool:), so I am emulating (for the most part) what he does. I'm in the first grow with this modified Lucas formula and will be starting my transition week (between veg and flower) tonight when I get home. I am very pleased on how everything is going so far. I'll let you know in 8 - 10 weeks when I am done flowering. :)

    Again.. thanks for your input. When we pool our information, it only makes us smarter, better growers.
  14. Hey there WhobeBoo.....

    I have a general question Ive been looking for a straight answer to and I hope you may be able to help me out since you have experience with this very topic.

    I have just switched my grow system from a Rain Forest to the Water Farm system set up in a 6 pack configuration with the controller and all. Now my question seems to be a simple one but I cant get a straight answer.

    Do I just simply fill the top reservoir with full strength Lucas Formula? Is it really that easy? I had individual black DWC buckets at one point and it was a pain in the ass keeping everything in check and even daily testing was a killer so I guess Im having a hard time believing that the Water Farm system can truly be that easy.

    I monitor both the top reservoir and the controller for PH and PPM and both remain at acceptable levels and I do the occasional PH and PPM check in the individual buckets and all is well. I do have the circulation system in place and it seems to be doing what its suppose to but back to the main question at hand.

    I see in the Lucas formula there is 2 options of working with it.

    1. Addback Method
    2. Top Off Res with full strength Lucas Formula.

    So basically I just want to be sure I understand this correctly with option No. 2. Any input you can provide is greatly appreciated. :D
  15. Hi Still...

    This is the way that I do the Waterfarm and Lucas. I fill the reservoir with full strength Lucas formula and let it keep the controller up to level. I monitor the PH and PPM of the controller everyday. If the PPM starts to get high, then I add just plain RO water to the controller to bring the PPM back down. I will actually remove some of the nutirent from the controller and put it back in the reservoir (I have a valve between the resv and ctrl) so I have some room to add the RO water. If the PH is low, then I will either add RO water (it's at 7.0 ph) or PH Up. If the PH is high, then I add PD Down.

    If the PPM or PH get too out of control or I cannot keep them in kline with the above method, then I will do a flush of everything and start with fresh nutrients.

    This is how I do it.

  16. Thanks a million times over... Ive searched for someone with that exact scenario and no one seemed to have any input or help for that matter. I actually did a google search and came across your thread and ended up joining GrassCity just to ask you that. Well worth it. I come from the RIU Forums....

    It gives me some peace of mind knowing someone else has run the set up I have previously and that it works.

    My ppms fluctuate between 1100 and 1400 and all plants are loving it but I was worried that the mix I was using would cause a problem down the line.

    How many succesful grows under your belt using the Waterfarms with the Lucas Formula?

    Thanks once again Who! :hello:
  17. #17 WhobeBoo, Oct 23, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2009

    Click the Waterfarm link in my signature line. The one you have pulled up is an older version (June 2009). The new one (September 2009) has more information regarding what we have been discussing.

    Good Luck
  18. I got one of the waterfrm units given to me. I like the looks of it . It is similar to a system I used to use eons ago.
    The containers seem kind of small though. Will this system grow a large plant effectively? The Powergrower system looks better maybe? Larger containers = bigger plants right? I'd like to be able to support a 4-5 ft tall plant for longer flowering cycles (if necessary).
  19. Hi JMcG..

    I have never grown a plant to 5 feet tall, but you are correct.. bigger pot = bigger plant. The WF's are a 4 gallon bucket. You may want to consider one of Ruimpleforeskins bubble bucket that are 5 gallon. 25% larger than a W.F.

    Good Luck!
  20. Thanks Who
    I think that the 4 gallon will be fine for most of what I will be doing. My current grow room is still fairly small from back in the day when I was living in fear. Now I am a state approved medical mj provider for 3 patients and I will be expanding. I have used DWC methods in the past, and they worked well. I will probably end up moving the whole room to a larger area with 10 ft ceilings. looking forward to trying some crazy sativas!
    Who has the best price on the WF eight pak set up?

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