How to maintain a hydroponic system? To obtain good results with a Deep Water Culture system or any other hydroponic system, it is important to perform daily tasks such as inspecting the water temperature, environment; relative humidity; adjust pH, EC, change the water, among others.
Because if the metrics are not adjusted to the needs, the crop will probably die.
Hydroponic System Maintenance: Hydroponic Water
Water quality is the basis of hydroponic cultivation. For optimal hydroponic growth, you need quality water with the lowest possible number of dissolved particles.
What kind of water is best for hydroponics? Distilled water is ideal because its pH is neutral. Is tap water good for hydroponics? Using tap water directly in the system is not recommended as the levels of chlorine, chloramine, bacteria, etc. alter the pH. If you cannot distill the water, you can filter it.
How often should You Change the water in the Hydroponic System?
Particularly, changing the water is carried out to avoid fluctuations in pH and nutrients because the temperature and humidity of the environment, the size of the hydroponic system, type of crop, number of plant per container all influence water loss.
Generically, water should be completely changed every 2-3 weeks. For example, a 40 gallon system, to which approximately 2 gallons of water is added daily, should be completely changed after 20 days since the total water added is equal to the maximum capacity of the system.
Complete water changes should be performed if:
- Significant pH imbalance.
- Algae or pathogen contamination.
- Change of nutrient solution.
Best water temp for hydroponics
Optimal root zone temperature in hydroponics varies, depending on the plant species, but in general, ideal temperatures for most are 64.4 – 78.8 F (18-26 ˚C) and 69.8 – 82.4 F (21-28˚C).
Within these hydroponics water temp. ranges, the volatility of the acidity level in the water and oxygen are relatively balanced, minerals and microelements are consumed by the roots efficiently.
Below ideal temperatures, uptake is paused as cell membranes reduce their permeability and plants wilt. Also, the viscosity of water decreases, so the flow is affected.
Depth of the roots
Correspondingly for the depth of the roots, these should be 5 cm above the water level.
Hydroponic System Maintenance: pH hydroponic
pH is a measure of the level of acidity or alkalinity of a solution. In other words, the pH determines the availability of minerals for plants.
Basically, if a solution is too acidic, plants will absorb nutrients in a toxic form (copper, iron…). Likewise, if the solution is too alkaline, plants will be deficient in iron and will probably die.
Fluctuation of pH
In particular, fluctuation of pH has several causes: low or high temperature, contamination of the system, ion content, very concentrated nutrient solutions, etc.
At any rate, it is important to monitor the nutrient solution for changes in pH and EC levels. You can do this frequently or after adding the nutrient solution to the reservoir.
How to measure pH of hydroponic water?
Digital pH meters, drop test kits and test strips are available for testing. It should be noted that meters are the most expensive, but the fastest and most accurate means of measuring pH levels.
Best pH for hydroponics?
As a matter of fact, there is no ideal pH because each plant species reacts efficiently or inefficiently to some nutrients at a certain pH. As a general rule, a good pH for growing plants is 5.5 – 6.5.
So, you should adjust the pH when it is out of this range by adding products that increase or decrease the pH, as the case may be. Just be sure to follow the label instructions.
General Hydroponics pH Control Kit
All-in-one kit: Includes 8 oz. General Hydroponics pH Up Liquid, 8 oz. General Hydroponics pH Down Liquid, 1 oz. Test Indicator, test tube, dropper and pH level chart.
It is also easy to use: fill the test tube halfway with nutrients, add a few drops of pH test indicator and observe the coloration of the liquid.Amazon
Hanna Combo pH/EC/TDS/C/PPM
The waterproof multiparameter meter measures pH, electroconductivity (EC) and total dissolved solids (TDS). It also has a Cal-Check function to validate instrument performance and an LCD display.
Equally, this hydroponic pH controller has automatic temperature compensation (ATC) to eliminate the need for additional calculations.Amazon
Bluelab PENPH pH
This hydroponic tester has ATC which provides a constant reading regardless of temperature fluctuations. Also, it has calibration reminder.
Likewise, the double junction electrode has a longer life compared to standard probes. It also has automatic shut-off, low battery indicator, temperature units, calibration cord and calibration solution.Amazon
Hydroponic System Maintenance: EC (electrical conductivity) hydroponics
In short, EC is the measure that indicates the number of salts in a solution.
One of the factors that affect EC is high temperatures as they evaporate water from the nutrient solution. What happens if EC is too high in hydroponics? if EC is higher, plants will not be able to see the nutrients due to osmotic pressure. On the other hand, a very low level will seriously affect plant health and yield.
Ideal EC for hydroponics
An optimal EC range is 1.5 – 2.5 dS/m. You can measure the EC with a digital meter every day, every 2 days, whatever suits you best. Before testing, remember to calibrate the device frequently (every 10 days) and keep the system clean.
EC Meter hydroponics maintenance
Wash it gently with water (preferably distilled) and dry it thoroughly.
- You do not have to store it in direct sunlight or in a place above 86 F (30˚C).
- Try not to handle or touch the electrode.
Hydroponic System Maintenance: PPM hydroponics
It is the concentration of minerals and soluble matter per unit volume of water. In other words, it is the purity level of the water.
Similarly, one ppm is equal to 1 mg soluble per liter of water (0.26 gallon). In other words, an absolute fractional amount multiplied by one million.
How to Maintain your Hydroponic System: Hydroponics TDS Level
Total dissolved solids are minerals, nutrients and so on in the water. It refers to the level of cleanliness in the water. TDS is one of the best measures of dissolved substances in water. It is also measured in ppm. For example, If it is measured 820 ppm, it means that there are 820 milligrams in water per liter.
In general terms, the optimum range for many plants is 600 – 1000 ppm.
How to Maintain your Hydroponic System: Hidroponics chart
It is important to realize that there no exact metrics for specific plants, but a set of plants (same family, acidity and season) with similar needs that could benefit from nutrition. In this table, generic scores are shown for some plants.
Swipe to see >>
5.5 – 6.5
1.2 – 1.8
560 - 850
5.8 – 6.0
1.7 – 2.5
1200 - 1750
5.5 – 6.5
1.5 – 2.5
1450 - 3400
6.0 – 7.0
1.8 – 2.3
1260 - 1600
6.0 – 6.8
2.8 – 3.5
1950 - 2450
6.0 – 6.6
1.4 – 1.8
990 - 1260
6.0 – 6.8
1.6 – 2.2
850 - 1540
5.5 – 6.5
2.4 – 3.4
1750 - 2450
5.0 – 6.0
2.0 – 2.5
1400 - 1750
6.0 – 6.5
1.6 – 2.0
1130 - 1400
1.8 – 2.4
1260 - 1680
6.4 – 6.9
1.8 – 2.2
1760 - 2100
6.4 – 6.9
1.0 – 2.0
1060 - 2400
5.8 – 6.3
1.5 – 2.5
1400 - 2000
Hydroponic System Maintenance: Humidity for hydroponics
Relative humidity, which is the percentage of the amount of water the air can hold, allows processes such as transpiration to take place well.
For example, a RH of 60% at 86 F (30˚C), means that every part of the air in a specified area has 60% of the maximum amount of water it could hold at that temperature.
If there is a very high relative humidity, fungal growth may arise on plants. Likewise, if the relative humidity is low, growth slows and plants wilt.
Similarly, the range of relative humidity varies according to the phase of the hydroponic plant: these are generic percentages.
- Growth phase: 45-70%.
- Flowering phase: 40-60%.
By and large, hygrometers measure absolute and relative humidity. How to reduce humidity in hydroponics? If there is too much humidity, you can use a dehumidifier to remove that excess.
On the contrary, you could use a humidifier to increase humidity. Some advanced hygrometers have a hygrometer for desired levels and a timer to turn the device off at the right time.
How to Maintain your Hydroponic System: Ventilation
If you have ventilation system, periodically check each part (fan, components, etc.) to avoid the proliferation of pathogens.
How to Maintain your Hydroponic System: Hydroponic Plants
To produce good hydroponic plants, check them frequently to identify potential problems early. Therefore, you can inspect for bad odors, black or yellow colors, rotting roots, etc.
Pruning: pruning is basically removing leaves, roots, etc. in order to maintain nutrient flow, healthy root structure, control size, among others.
Harvest: Once you have the pruning shears and the bag or tray, cut the stems and the leaves. Handle the plant carefully to avoid crushing the leaves.
How much does it cost to run a hydroponic system?
The cost of hydroponic systems varies widely. An approximate would be between $50-200 per month.
How to lower temperature
Bottle with ice
On hot days, you can: Fill a large bottle about 3/4 full with water and freeze it overnight. The next day, place it in the reservoir. Then, you can repeat the process.
One of the most effective (and expensive) methods is to purchase a water cooler.
Hydroponic System Maintenance: Security in hydroponics
Blockages in pipes
Dead roots, algae overgrowth and other factors can clog pipes, making it difficult for nutrients and water to flow.
For this purpose, it is important to check the pipes frequently for possible blockages or leaks. For the latter, you can identify them by drips.
When disconnecting or connecting the pump to the outlet, make sure your hands are dry. If you are about to insert a hand or an electrically conductive object into the water tank, disconnect the electric pump.
- Pump plug
The pump plug must be protected against splashing water. Periodically check the pump power cord for damage or wear. If necessary, replace it.
Carefully read the safety instructions on nutrients and cleaning agents.
- Power outage
If there is a power outage and you don’t have a power generator, you could drain the water from the reservoir to the lower third to provide oxygen and nutrition to the roots. Also, you could provide light to the plants by means of high-powered flashlights, desk lamps, etc.