To Add or Not to Add Airstones to Ebb & Flow Buckets

I’ve recently run a grow through an ebb & flow system similar to one I’ve run in the past with much success. This time, instead of filling the buckets with hydroton, I used the bucket lid net pots, which use only a fraction of the hydroton and leaves tons of room for the roots.

Here’s a very basic diagram of the setup

So my question is, if I add air stones to each bucket and pump the air while the buckets are filling up, will this improve on what I’m already doing?

BTW - my nutes are very basic. I’m adding Cal-Mag Plus to RO water and feeding with GLN 2 part plus their Bud Explosion.

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Are you aerating your reservoir?

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Nope. The pumps I use to fill and drain do a great job of agitating the water when it goes into the reservoir and fill bucket. I used to have a pump constantly running in the res, but I pulled it out and never saw a difference.

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Not speaking from experience, but I suspect if you saw no difference when you pulled the aeration out of the reservoir, then you likely wouldn’t see any adding air to the bucket. The only ways I see that it might improve is by splashing the water up onto the roots if its not being flooded enough to reach them. Also, I could see it being beneficial if you were doing extended soaks, basically turning it into a system similar to rdwc.

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I would just put a big one in the reservoir … :sunglasses:

  • Oxygenate the Water

When you keep nutrient solution in a reservoir it is important to keep the water oxygenated. Water with a high level of Dissolved Oxygen helps to prevent bad bacteria and is great for the plants. For small tanks, up to about 30 gallons, air-pumps and air-stones provide adequate oxygenation.

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@ChronicMcBudz, I set my flood to reach about halfway up the net pot from day 1. By the end of the first week, the plants have put off new roots that reach at least 3/4 way down to the bottom of the bucket. By the end of the 2nd week, all plants have roots spiraling around the bottoms. When I filled the buckets with hydroton, I wouldn’t have this to worry about because I start the roots at the bottoms of the buckets and fill in the hydroton around them.

Yes, that was basically what I was picturing. Get the simplicity of an ebb and flow with the added benefit of DWC - or something like that :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Too easy, @George1961! Sometimes the easiest solution is the best one!

Now, should I use an an air pump/stone or a submersible pump? :thinking:

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Submersible pump, like this?

I’d say go for an airpump. It might be a bit louder, but you’d basically be using it for it’s intended function. The submersible pumps don’t add a whole lot of oxygen, my lizard brain tells me.

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I would say if your solution temps are stable between 68F-72F and your air pump does NOT add much heat, to the solution, run it either, on/off through the 24 hour cycle, monitoring your temps for a few days of running.
Solution rules hydro, temps, circulation, oxygen holding ability, proper nutrient load.
Just my $.02

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From my limited knowledge ebb and flow works like this, a tray filled with media and packed with plants is filled with nutrient solution for a short amount of time to feed the roots. Then its drained away, pulling oxygen into the media so they can breath. The media also blocks light from getting to the roots. So the variables would be wet time vs dry time. Adding an airstone would only be beneficial if the wet time is too long. If you add air to the water and see more growth, maybe make the nutrients stronger.

DWC is roots living in water all the time. Oxygen is needed because they get no dry time. The more oxygen the better.

The only issue I see with the setup you are looking at is light getting to the space between netcups. If you cover the whole thing, the roots should fill the space. The other thing might be stagnant air between cups. If its covered to keep the light out, the water drains away pulling air through the cups into the rest of the space. Hmmm, still should be good.

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