Soil Grower trying DWC for the first time

Greetings All…
I’ve been a soil guy for a long time…I hear great things about DWC so I’m pulling the trigger (finally),
Here is the set-up I bought:"
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01326JYTG/?tag=greenrel-20 Hydrofarm RS5GALSYS Root Spa Deep Water Culture Bucket System, 5 Gallon, black

I’m using a Mars Hydro FC-E6500 in a 4x4 tent.

Any suggestions for an Absolute Newbie to DWC?

Suggestions, Ideas ? Any information is greatly appreciated

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My setup:
MH FC-E6500, Portable AC (vented outside), two 6" extractors (1 vented outside and 1 I use as a scrubber), GH FloraNova line of Nutes.
Temps: 75f lights on, 68f lights out.
Humidity: 55% lights on and about 65-70% lights out (ordered a dehumidifier to bring Humidity down at night)…

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Sounds like you’re already pretty up to speed on the basics of germination in a starter cube of some kind and surrounding it with pebbles. Add water and nutes, EC and pH, and it’s about that simple.

A million ways to fine tune it though, so this is just what I’ve evolved to over the last few years of doing veggies and canna. I’ll try to be brief…

In the beginning, water level is pretty key. Soil transitions smoothly from wet to dry, but we don’t have that luxury. Without a way to top feed for the first couple weeks, the level will need to be high enough to ensure enough moisture up the pebbles to create a transition zone from the starter medium to the water, but not so high that the starter medium gets soggy. Same concepts as soil, just the mechanics are different. Once roots have established in the water, then the level can be lowered and allowed to drop and rise with a normal consumption pattern, and the top should be left completely dry.

This “transition zone” would be pretty limited in stagnant water, which is one reason a proper air stone is so important. I would really suggest getting a good 2" air stone and hanging it directly below the basket, then drilling a hole to run the air line through. Dissolved oxygen is going to be very important throughout the grow as well, and that system just doesn’t have a great air delivery method imo. The air stone will become completely encased in roots, and is why I prefer to run the airline through the lid instead of the upper bucket, so that I can lift the lid to check out the roots and the airline/stone comes with it, instead of trying to separate an air line from a ball of roots. But even if you do none of this… still get an air stone and plug it into the line running through the site tube into the bottom of the bucket. Also, putting a layer of mylar over the pebbles in the beginning is an option than can help hold in moisture from the air escaping from the air stone, which can be removed once the plant is established.

An alternative to starting directly in the bucket, would be to grow out a seedling separately in a starter block, getting long roots in something like a DIY aeroponic cloner bucket rig, then transplanting into the basket with the pebbles. This involves more equipment and does come with some transplant risk, since chunky pebbles bruise roots more easily than soil. Then it would just be a matter of mimicking the water level conditions on transplant, and lowering over a week or so until the desired “max level” is reached.

I hope that helped some. Good luck!

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Just did the same. 4 bucket system but starting just 2 to learn. Insulatiin going on reservoir and buckets monday. A chiller was also added for temps.

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Just so there’s no confusion, the system @Storm is using does incorporate a top feed system, technically making it an RDWC, only without the separate reservoir. Although they look similar, they are not. DWC has some unique characteristics that I outlined above. As a sidenote, most will say to stop top feeding after the roots establish in the water, to prevent damping off and salt buildup in the medium, as well as helping prevent pests that love moist surface mediums.

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I’m going to try 1st run without a chiller.
My weather is cooling off and my tent stays at 75f or below most of the time.
Chillers are Crazy expensive :moneybag: :moneybag:
I’m hoping to get by w/o chiller, I’ll just have to wait and see.

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I would get a cheap water temp meter . And get some hydroguard or another root protector. Expect water temps to run 3 - 4F above ambient air temp. My first run DWC as well. I ran a bunch of tests to see what to expect from my grow area.

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Frankly; you will regret it. 75F will almost always induce pythium (root rot) to go along with all of the other challenges DWC has. The largest detraction of this system for me is having to fill buckets daily in late veg/flower. Plants can consume 1 gallon of liquid per day which makes maintaining proper 2" distance to net pot impossible. Adding a reservoir eliminates that.

When adding air, get as much as you can. I run a 1,150 gph pump to four totes using blue airstones (much better than black or gray ones due to the bubble size produced).

You can also look into neoprene collars which many hydro growers swear by. I would not use anything larger than a 3" net pot either due to it’s dangling lower in your bucket.

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I’m going to go against the grain here (I seem to do that a lot). So let the reader decide if I make sense or am just batcrap crazy :laughing:

So 75 will be too warm for water. General Hydroponics even lists 75 as the cutoff point for their nutes. But in the winter, when temps are cooler (as you’re planning), you can keep the water under control. If you can utilize a cooler basement floor, preferably bare, but carpeted is ok, it will really help and is what I’m doing. During lights on, my air temps are mid 70’s -78 when my fan kicks on in the tent this bucket is in, and the temps this morning at lights on is reasonable (~70). I bought a pack of those stick-on aquarium thermometers. Not the greatest, but I’m just ballparking it when I run a DWC these days.

By definition, you can’t run a chiller in a DWC. If you do, it becomes RDWC, and then you might as well add a bucket and run a reservoir and go all the way.

Hydroguard or its Southern Ag alternative is a good suggestion, just realize it’s an inoculant, not a cure, so it’s all about prevention. If you wait until there’s a problem, then it would be hydrogen peroxide time instead.

I’ve never bought into the whole “water below the basket by X inches” concept. It makes no sense to me and have yet to see a good argument for it. Yes, I keep the water a few inches below the root crown, and never let the surface get wet once the plant is mature, but how many pebbles sit in the water is of little consequence in my book. Actually, I permanently run the bottom inch or so of my 6" baskets in the water in the RDWC in my journal. More water = more roots the way I see it. The water level in my RDWC is 5" below the top of the lid, so it could be a couple inches below a small basket, or it could be an inch or 2 above the bottom of a large basket.

Yes, DWC is one of the trickier ways to do hydroponics, but plenty of people do it, and I personally think it’s a great gateway to hydroponics, whether it ends successfully or not.

I don’t know if @ThatHydroCouple still frequents here, but he has some youtubes under that name you can check out. He has 16 I think now? DWC’s running in quite a pretty impressive setup.

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Now if you DID want to put a toe into RDWC, or go with a chiller, It wouldn’t take much besides another bucket, a $10 pump and a handful of fittings and tubes and you’d have a constant water level for the plant, a 2 day reservoir even at a gallon a day, easy access for maintenance, and even the opportunity for icing the res if it gets too warm. I can’t think of a better way to find justification for the exorbitant prices of chillers, than to go through a whole grow swapping out ice bottles 3 times a day :grin:

The biggest downside to a RDWC though, is the pump itself will generate enough heat to raise the water temps a few degrees, especially in a small volume environment like this. So it’s very location specific as to how effective it would be temp-wise without an actual chiller.

I just finished a grow using this setup and it worked great, but it was in the summer, so I did ice the res the whole grow. Definitely not something I’ll be doing next summer :thinking:


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Hey fellow hydro guys! Thanks for the tag. Currently running 32 five gallon individual buckets in my grow room. None of these have chillers. Never used a chiller since I started few years back. However growing in dwc can be rewarding if done right. First thing not to over look is make sure no light gets in there buckets!! That’s a must. Also I ran in the past a full run of hydrogaurd did the job. Did another run with hydrogen peroxide eh not a fan to say the least. This run I’ve started using ag southern and I highly recommend it. It’s a lot cheaper goes along way and roots still look great. There’s many of great hydro guys here to help and always welcome to check out my channel https://youtu.be/s5O0Bc02Pjo?si=2F-2Y2BiXo_43j2X

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Love to see how it goes. I wanted to try but I have spent soo much to establish organic grows. Not sure for me if it’s worth it.

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Sorry about my delay in answering…Close friend passed and it’s been a crazy month… :woozy_face:

Thanks everyone for the advice…My wife won’t let me open my DWC present Until Christmas. Another week to get things prepared.
I do have a concrete floor and block walls with a piece of marine-grade plywood on the floor.
I’m actually was worried more about temperature being too low. That room in the winter will get down to 45-50f. My Mars Hydro light puts out almost no heat.

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I’m way behind on my replies :slightly_frowning_face:
I did check out your channel….very well done, some really good information…Thanx
I subscribed so I’m looking forward to learning…
Thanx Again

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Apologies for the belated response…
I think I overwatered my seedling…
After transplanting into the bucket about a week ago, I’ve been top-watering about 4 oz a day…
Now it looks like I’m getting brown tips and a bit droopy.
I think it’s an overwatering issue…What do you think.


Thank You

Well I haven;t killed my girl yet…lol
Actually I’m very impressed with the growth rate…


I’m doing a defoliation tomorrow and putting her into flower the end the week.

I’m experiencing a bit of a learning curve with res changes, but I am learning…haha
With the explosive growth and the ease of maintenance I’m absolutely sold on DWC.

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I really wanna give it another shot. I had issues about 6 weeks in.

What kind of issues?
I’m at 5 weeks and getting ready to flip the end of the week.

Water temp issues causing bacteria

This is my first attempt at DWC…
My water temp stays between 68F and 72F. I can’t afford a chiller so I keep several water jugs in the fridge and use those to do a partial res change about once a week.
I use 5ml of hydrogen peroxide per gal at every top-off and so far :crossed_fingers: I haven’t had any major issues.
When I did the complete flush and change between veg and flower I noticed a few dark clumps in the middle of the rootball, so I put them into a clean bucket with H202 and rinsed the roots clean…

A week into flower and growing like crazy…
I’m absolutely sold on DWC

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