Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants in water, so there are things every hydroponic system must have to function. Here’s the most important equipment, no matter what type of hydroponic system it is.
A reservoir or tank is essential. Your hydroponic reservoir is where all the nutrient solution that you use to feed your plants is held. Of course, these are also often referred to as hydroponic tanks. The important thing is that the reservoir is large enough to support the rest of the system, and the plants you want to grow hydroponically.
A grow tray is the next important piece, and every hydroponic system needs one. The style and size of tray will vary depending on your system, although the main thing it should do is hold your plants (and growing medium) in place. Foam is one of the most popular options for growing trays, although some people also choose other materials based on preference.
No matter what type of hydroponic system setup you’re looking at, you need a pump. There are different types of pumps, and you’ll either need an air pump or a water pump. The water pump moves water through the hydroponic system. An air pump ensures that extra oxygen gets into the water.
In addition to your pump, you’ll need tubing to move air or water from the pump to the reservoir or the rest of your system. Tubing is one of the easiest things to get, so it’s okay to leave it for last- just don’t forget it altogether!
Nutrient solution is absolutely critical in any hydroponic system. If you can’t give your plants food, how can you expect them to grow, right? Nutrient solution can be purchased in premixed formulas, or you can choose to custom mix your own. However, many people just beginning a hydroponic system would agree, it’s easier to go with a ready made solution until you know more about N-P-K ratios.
To keep your plants healthy, you need to make sure you’re providing the right conditions. That’s why testing equipment is incredibly important. You need to monitor pH and EC within your nutrient solution. But you also need to keep an eye on temperature and humidity. While a thermometer and hygrometer will take care of monitoring heat and humidity, there are more options for testing pH and EC. You can choose drop kits, test strips, or even a digital pH and EC meter. There are meters that also monitor pH and EC simultaneously, which can be helpful for beginners.
It’s a good idea to keep a fan in your grow room. You may not always need to use it, but proper ventilation is important to keep temperature and humidity consistent. It’ll also help reduce the risk of developing fungal and bacterial issues for your plants. Having a fan in the grow room is also important when it comes time for pollination, since a gentle breeze can do most of the work for you.
The last piece of equipment every hydroponic system needs is lighting. Chances are your plants won’t get enough light if they’re indoors, even if they’re by a window for some supplemental light. HID is the traditional lighting choice, although CFL (fluorescent) and LED lights are also used.