First time DWC , please steer me the right direction

Long time soil grower here getting ready to try my first DWC grow. I’ve always wanted to try hydro but just never did, creature of habit I guess. Anyways I was bitten by the 420 bug and have several strains from ILGM I can’t wait to try and I figured the quickest way to do so was to either grow them hydroponically or buy more tents that I don’t have room for. I bought a couple 5 gallon buckets at Lowe’s, ordered 6” net pot bucket lids on Amazon then went to a pet store to get everything else so I would’ve have much into this new venture just to be cheap in case I don’t enjoy this type of grow.

Basically I’m just wondering if anyone who’s experienced in DWC (or hydro in general) has some basic pointers to help a newbie out that has zero experience with this type of grow and may come across issues they never thought of. I know trial and error is the best teacher but I’d prefer to have a successful first DWC grow. I’ll be growing two Gorilla Glue plants to start.

Thanks for your time


First off, ditch the buckets and get some yellow top totes. The largest that will fit.

Here’s the problem: buckets don’t hold enough liquid so later you will be mixing nutes daily. Adding water daily. Chasing big PH swings etc because of insufficient volume. Net pots must be 1 1/2-2" above liquid so buckets only hold 3.5 gallons each.

You will need a chiller to keep liquid below 70° F.


As was stated use the totes. For best results with totes make sure to buy the 27gal totes.
The smaller totes aren’t tall enough to give proper depth after net basket is installed.
I think they are black with yellow lid. Can purchase at lowes or home depot.

1 Like

Thank you so much! That’s the kind of advice I’m looking for so I don’t get frustrated, give up and go back to what I’m comfortable with. The buckets were cheap and a extra couple 5 gallon buckets around the house never hurts! I’ll go get some big totes that I can cut a hole in the lids and drop the 6” bucket tops into them.

Appreciate the input! After reading Myfriendis410’s post I had in mind a couple 18 gallon totes in my basement not being used. Now I’ll be going to find some larger ones because more volume/depth makes complete sense and that’s something someone like me would learn the hard way. Thank you!

You need a small pump to do a top feed until plants have reached the rez, a timer for same, a HUGE amount of air: I ran 2 2 X 4" blue airstones in each tote. Water temps really need to be below 70 to prevent root rot and to keep dissolved oxygen at high levels. I used a 950 gph pump for my setup. Doing RDWC may suit you better: look up descriptions of different systems and what their pros and cons are.


The yellow top totes work great. I reinforced the lids with thin plywood to ensure the net pot can fall through. This happened to me once with one of the typical thin lipped net pots. Plant got big and pushed it into the tote. Got it straight then reinforced.
I use 400 gpm pumps to push water into the top of the tote, and 2" PVC in the bottom to recycle the water back to the control res. I used Uniseals for the PVC and not bulkhead connectors which many have leak issues with.
I use a 400 gpm pump to top feed using an adapter to 3/8" line to each of four stations.
If you can afford it get a water chiller and RO system to top it all off. My control res and refill res both auto fill with RO between changes to keep water level perfect. I have two air pumps. 110 liter per minute for each of the hydro stations and a 45 liter per minute for the control and refill reservoirs. All on 2x4" air stones.
I run pretty much full time and only had the single leak. The silver is from emergency blankets spray glued on top of totes adn bubble wrap type insulation on the bottoms.


More good info! Thanks

I had a Lowes 27gal bottom crack. I would use what you got “5 gal bucket with an air pump” learn PH/PPM then use the totes for a RDWC that your really need to grow a good flowering plant no the next grow.
I like the 5-7 gal pots and use totes for reservoirs.


5 gallon buckets are nothing but trouble for a new grower. Larger standing containers means slower movement/change over time which (as you know) can kill a plant in 8 hours. Those trees you have pictured are drinking 2 gallons/day in a 3.5 gallon supply so very labor intensive.


I had a tote crack also, but it was because I would move it around and stress it. (I would lift one end to completely drain it out on change out day).
Once they are in use they should be left alone.

1 Like

Id say that is a lot of space foil on things. But it might work. Looks sharp and will get dirty after time. . But definitely looks likes a good setup. Im new to dwc too and i did the 5 gallon game , now 17 gallon with a 15 gallon res, into a min frig with a supercharger heat exchanger brick cooling things off. No problems yet. Temp did get up to 72 on todays temp. 95+ so . Keep trucking.

That makes complete sense! I’m aware of how much those girls can drink, especially when they start to stretch. I never thought about the work constantly mixing/refilling a 5 gallon bucket mostly full of roots. Plus I’m sure they consume more water in hydro than soil since it’s a endless supply. RDWC seems the way to go and pvc is cheap. I may grow a couple auto’s in buckets since I already have the supplies and to get my feet wet while constructing a RDWC system. Thanks for the heads up!

1 Like

Sometimes, a big bush is really nice! That’s looking good

1 Like

Sweet setup! Looks so clean

1 Like

You only get 2.5 gals in a 5 gal DWC with a flowering plant it’s going to be gone everyday with massive PH swings, that’s why i flower in a RDWC and grow in a DWC because each plant only take 2.5 gals of nutes “cheaper”. 90% of my energy goes into flowering, the DWC growing takes care of its self. If I was just doing DWC i’d use a totes. You can see people like their totes, i’m the odd man out.

1 Like

That all makes sense. If you google RDWC systems the majority of them use 5 gallon buckets with a large reservoir so the ones I already have won’t go to waste :wink:

I’ve always grown in soil because hydro seems like a lot more to mess with. Thinking about it though I’ve probably spent a lot more on good soil than I would’ve spent on nutes if I’d been growing hydroponically the entire time. I only grow for personal use so I’m going to start small by using the buckets for a couple auto’s to get the feel for everything and midway through if I’m enjoying the results I’ll construct a RDWC system unless I find a good setup that’s cheap beforehand.

1 Like

I’ve never used RDWC, mainly because of the cost to purchase. DWC I’ve done a lot of. And yes, a plant in a five gallon bucket will work. It’s great at first but becomes a chore down the road. Keep a close eye on the root rot.
I eventually went with an airoponics setup. It’s cheap to build and easy to use. It also frees up my time worrying about watering, and I can focus on trimming and training.
I’m not going to say it’s the best way out there. But it is relatively inexpensive to build.
The link is my grow journal. If you have any interest. Best of luck to you on your grow!