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Ebb and Flow Hydroponics DIY: 2 Popular System Builds

Ebb and Flow

Ebb and Flow Hydroponics DIY: Flooding Tray Build

Ebb and Flow Hydroponics DIY, also known as Flood and Drain systems are easier to build than you think. An ebb and flow system works by flooding an upper container or reservoir with nutrients and water and then allowing it to drain for a timed duration, only to repeat. This system is one of the easiest and most common Ebb and Flow Hydroponics DIY projects to build.

 

So how does it work? Nutrient water is pumped from a reservoir up into the tray. The water fills the tray until it reaches the height of an overflow drain pipe and continues to flood the tray until the pump timer turns off. While the tray is flooded all of the buckets or nursery pots will get flooded with nutrient water. Then the nutrient water drains through the supply line tubing and back through the pump back into the reservoir.

 

Need more info? Take a step back and learn more about the system or check out some other Ebb and Flow designs before you jump in to start your build.

 

Ebb and Flow Flood Tray
Ebb and Flow Flood Tray, GrowWithoutSoil.com

 

Materials

Main System Components

  • You will first need to Build or Buy a table for your System.
  • Select the proper Tray for your table.
  • Reservoir – Choose 1 of the following options
    • Non-transparent storage container or hydroponic Reservoir tank. The Size will depend on what is available, how much room you have, and your garden plan.  You need a container large enough to fill the tray at least 2/3 of the way up, by volume. Not sure? Use this nifty tank volume calculator to confirm your size.
    • You will always want to select a none transparent reservoir in order to limit light getting to your nutrient solution as this will cause algae growth.
  •  Bucket options – to place on the tray
  • Hydroton expanded clay pebbles – to fill each of the Nursery Pots, Net cups, or buckets
  • Submersible Water Pump
  • Repeat Timer to turn the water pump on and off
  • Aeration system (optional) The water draining back to the reservoir will add some oxygen to the water. However, if you choose you can add even more with an aeration system. More oxygen in the water will make for healthier happier plants!
    • Air pump (aquarium or other) This one comes with 2 air hoses, check valves, and air stones 
    • Air hose (Usually comes with the air pump)
    • Check valve (Comes with better quality air pumps)
    • Airstone (Comes with some air pumps. Get the biggest one your reservoir and air pump can handle)

 

General Plumbing

You can use either vinyl tubing or schedule 40 PVC here. Flexible tubing will be easier to cut, handle and set up.

 

Tools

 

 

Instructions

Table

  • Assemble the table as per manufacture instructions.

 

Reservoir

  • Clean the selected reservoir. Be careful with your cleaning solution here. Don’t use anything you would not use to clean your own drinking glass. We like to use clean water with a little Hydrogen peroxide. It’s best to follow the manufactures instructions as each bottle is sold with different strength percentages.

 

Tray

  • Clean and place the selected tray on the table

Cut

Most manufactures will label where to make the holes for the supply, overflow, and return line holes. There will be 2 holes drilled into the tray. 1 for the nutrient water supply line that fills the tray. 1 for the overflow pipe that will return excess water from the supply line back to the reservoir until the timer turns off

  • Layout, Measure, and cut or drill
    • (1) hole for the supply line fitting into the tray (The hole size will depend predominantly on the size of the supply line fitting that comes with the GROW1 Ebb & Flow Kit, Fill & Drain Set 1/2″ Fitting & 3/4″ Complete Kit BulkHead Flood Table kit.)
    • (1) hole for the overflow drain line fitting into the tray. This is usually indicated to be at the lowest point of the tray.  (Check the overflow fitting size from the kit)
    •  Drill 2 holes in the reservoir lid. 1 for the 1/2″ supply line tubing and 1 for the 3/4″ overflow tubing (Check the size of each piece of tubing)
  • Layout, Measure and Drill a 1/4″  Hole for the air hose in the reservoir lid (Optional)

Place

  • Place the reservoir in its permanent location
  • Push the 1/2″ supply line tubing through the 1/2″ hole in the reservoir lid.
  • Push the 3/4″ supply line tubing through the 3/4″ hole in the reservoir lid. make sure the hose hovers over the waterline and leaves an air gap for proper drainage.
  • Push the 1/4″ air hose through the 1/4″ hole in the reservoir lid.

 

Connect

At the Reservoir

  • Connect the end of the 1/2″ tubing to the water pump.
  • Connect the 1/4″ air hose to the airstone (Optional)

At the Tray

  • Apply Teflon tape or paste to the threads on all of the fittings
  • Feed the supply line fitting through the supply line fitting hole in the tray and attach with supplied seal and nut. Tighten until the seal is squished tight but do not overtighten.
  • Feed the overflow drain fitting through the overflow drain line fitting hole in the tray and attach with supplied seal and nut. Tighten until the seal is squished tight but do not overtighten.
  • Connect the other end of the 1/2″ tubing to the supply line fitting
  • Connect the other end of the 3/4″ tubing to the overflow drain line fitting

 

Fill

 

 

 

 

 

Ebb and Flow Hydroponics DIY: Surge Tank Build

When it comes to Ebb and flow Hydroponics DIY, the Surge Tank Build offers an immense amount of flexibility and portability. Plants can be changed from system to system with ease. This system requires a lot of effort. if you don’t feel up to the task perhaps you should research one of the other easier hydroponic systems or you can just buy one.

Ebb-and-Flow-Surge-tank
Ebb and Flow Surge tank, GrowWithoutSoil.com

 

 

Materials

Main System Components

  • Depending on where you place your system, you may need to Build or Buy a table.
  • Reservoir (Choose 1 of the following options)
    • 25 Gallon Garbage can or similar Non-transparent or translucent storage container (Size will depend on what is locally available, how much room you have, and your garden plan)
    • 50 Gallon Drum
  • Buckets (Choose 1 of the following options)
    • (6) Dutch buckets
    • (6) 5-gallon buckets with lids

General Plumbing

  • Return line
    • (1) 3’ section of 1″ flexible hose (not clear hose)
    • (4) Botanicare Ebb & Flow 1″ with Barbed Fitting
  • Supply line
    • (1) 3’ section of 1″ flexible hose (not clear hose)
    • (1) Botanicare Ebb & Flow Fitting Kit w/ 2 Extensions

 

 

Tools

  • Power drill
  • Hole saw (Match  the Botanicare Ebb & Flow Fitting size)
    • 1″
  • 1/4″ Drill bit  (for wood or plastic) 

 

 

 

Instructions

 

Learn more 

Ebb & Flow Designs

Buy this system

Build this system

 

Install your Accessories

Set up your system

 

 

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Bobby

HI! I'm Bobby, an entrepreneur, inventor, green builder and urban farmer. I've been a custom home builder since a kid and an avid gardener. The critters, bugs and climate outside our new home forced me to check out some new ideas in gardening. I found out about Hydroponics and have spent years learning the best techniques to build the best, most efficient, home hydroponics systems. I built one of the first ever, small scale, mobile hydroponic systems. Would you like to know how I did it?