Best Ebb and Flow System Reviews: 4 Systems

Ebb and Flow

This is our review of 4 of the Best Ebb and Flow System available

An Ebb and flow system is where you can start to see the most advanced workings that hydroponics has to offer.  As a result, we have four really cool systems for you to take a look at today and they all have a ton of variety. 



Sometimes system reviews boil down to numbers, price, or one small little feature, but we have some of the most unique selections you’ll likely ever see in a system review for you here today.  You’ll see prices, mod-ability, shapes, sizes, and more all across the board.



Due to this variety, it can be difficult to find the absolute best ebb and flow system, as consumers are as diverse as the systems themselves. 



With that in mind, our best ebb and flow system review will be highlighting all of the key features and a few disadvantages that come with each system so you can make an informed decision.

We tested 4 Ebb and Flow Systems and found Hydrofarm Active Aqua Grow Flow Ebb & GRO 12 Site 2Gal Hydroponic System to be the best, most complete, automated system for your money.

Despite difficulty finding the best ebb and flow system being mentioned from above, we must say we are really impressed by the Hydrofarm Active Aqua as it is so professional and moddable.  You can start with the kit of 12 pots or shrink that down to a mere 6 to start. then expand it all the way up to 48! – having that flexibility is what makes it so good.  See more in our expanded review below.

4 Best Ebb and Flow System Hydroponics Systems Reviewed

  • Cost: $$$$
  • Maintenance: Medium
  • Key feature: Best Ebb and Flow System Overall
  • Includes: 2-gallon system, controller unit, 12 pots, 55-gallon reservoir
  • Assembly required: very little, very low difficulty, programming the timers can be challenging for some ( how much, how easy, and some brief notes)
  • Container Material: Plastic
  • Comes with Lights: no
  • Reusable: yes
  • Best for: Medium-Large crop plants, larger ornamentals
  • Cool factor: Expandability
  • Meh (Cons): You can expect the ground to get a bit wet when using this product.

The Hydrofarm Active Aqua Grow Flow makes it in as the best ebb and flow system, again, for that expanda- (and shrinka-) -bility.  This is a system that can grow, or shrink, with you.  Wanting to dip your toes in with a very fancy, complete, system and then add to it later?  This one is for you!  Started out big, but have other projects holding you down and now want to cut back a bit on how big your system is?  This one is still for you!


Another great feature of this system is the nice pots that the system comes with.  They’re designed to work around YOUR space and don’t require you to build up your space around them like a lot of other systems.  It is very ‘plug and play’ for the plant world.  Another thing that I think works particularly well for them is the raised bottom part of the pots.  Not only does this allow for the water tubing to connect easily, but also for the pots to be put in place securely.


One thing that can be a downside for this system is that it can have the tendency to get water a bit everywhere, as if you were watering the plants yourself in a quick manner you might have if you were in, say, a greenhouse.  As a result, this system is best for your patio or greenhouse rather than strictly indoors.  For 90% of consumers who buy this, wanting a large and expandable system, this is not going to be an issue – making it the best ebb and flow system for them!


As an aside, if you are wanting to start out big, you can do so directly with this version of the kit:  Active Aqua EBB-12 Grow Flow Ebb & Gro 12 Site Hydroponic System + (12) Active Aqua EBB-EXP6 Expansion Pots with 57 Gallon Capacity

  • Cost: $$$
  • Maintenance: Medium
  • Key feature: Best Surge Tank System Controller
  • Includes: 7-gallon controller bucket with 10 outlet ports
  • Assembly required: Yes, add your buckets, attach pumps.
  • Container Material: Plastic
  • Comes with Lights:  No
  • Reusable:  Yes
  • Best for:  Medium-Large Plants, tomatoes, etc.
  • Cool factor:  Very smart controller unit!
  • Meh:  Tons of wires coming from the base of the unit.

This Go Hydro brand controller “brain” unit makes it here as the best ebb and flow system for those that want to set something up and then forget it!  There are so many cool tricks that you can come up with using this gadget, right down to the timing for watering and draining of everything in the system.  You’ll get the ability to set fill levels, optional air fill power options, and more.  This one also happens to be BYOB (bring your own bucket) so you can choose whatever bucket you prefer.  This is definitely for the tinkerer and hydroponics mastermind out there!


The only major downside to this system is the sheer amount of wires and tubes that come out of all sides of it along the bottom of the unit.  You’ll have water nozzles, electrical plugs, air tubes, etc. etc. coming out every which way from around the unit.  It doesn’t make it easy to place wherever and, if you’re like me, it can make you a bit nervous whenever there is a lot of water and electrical outlets in the same place.  Key an eye on this, though, and once you get everything set up you’ll be golden!

  • Cost: $$$$$
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Key feature: Best Full System Controller
  • Includes: 8 module units, 13-gallon reservoir, 8-gallon controller unit
  • Assembly required: Yes, but relatively easy.
  • Container Material: Plastic
  • Comes with Lights:  No
  • Reusable:  Yes
  • Best for:  Medium-Large Plants, tomatoes, etc.
  • Cool factor:  Controller keeps nutrient levels perfect!
  • Meh:  Expensive

This system is very workable with an absolutely great controller sure to keep your nutrient levels perfect.  This is the best ebb and flow system in that it has exactly what it needs, not going overboard with tubes, plugs, and attachments compared to similarly capable systems.  


In short, this system is way less fiddly than others and is the kind of system that will really appeal to those of you out there that don’t want to do a ton of thinking and rethinking and probably a bit of overthinking just for good measure.  If you’ve ever bought a sportswatch, gasped at the 8 to 10 page extra-wide unfoldable manual with the 6 point font type, and just immediately took back the thing… well, then, this style of system might just be for you.


One word of warning for this one – expect a few washers and smaller joint parts.  Don’t start building this system out in the lawn or you might easily lose time hunting for that one critical piece that got hidden in the grass!

Alright, we’ve finally made it to the best ebb and flow system for those that like just a bit of DIY work when they start working with hydroponics.  I know things are the sum of their parts, but since you’ll be getting several parts and you can see a lot more about the final product over on the build guide, let’s start by looking at each piece of the puzzle individually!



First, the Reaowazo table comes recommended for a reason.  This isn’t the wriggly wiggly table you might be expecting.  You can barely wiggle it at all, much less accidentally.  Additionally, the tray top is thick and not easily cracked.  You’ll definitely be keeping the area dry here!



The easy-to-clean Bonicare Tray fits perfectly on top of the stand and is a thick, durable, high-impact abs plastic. Sometimes you get what you pay for and this tray is a great example.



Ecoplus pumps come in at a reasonable price and get the job done.  What more needs to be said?



The TotalPond vinyl tubing is awesome in that it is made with plant safety in mind and is even built to be algae resistant.  (Read here for why you really don’t want algae in your system.)  You’ll also like how tough it is.  Once you’ve got it in place, you won’t be worrying about it wearing/thinning down over time.



The Botanicare Fitting Kit is what makes the ebb and flow system, well, the ebb and flow system!  This kit is particularly great because you can screw on the tube and gasket (as opposed to just jamming the tube on the nozzle) to make sure added pressure won’t blow out your system at this weak point somewhere down the line!



Lastly, the reservoir is awesome because of just how well its volume size fits with the Reaowazo table. The sum of the parts is a system you’re sure to be happy with.  It makes our list as the best ebb and flow system simply because of how nice it is to be able to comfortably replace parts around your system later on in your hydroponics career.  Try it out!



Note: This tray with the table is every bit of 3′ x 3′. So if you are planning on using a grow tent make sure you get a little larger size like a 4′ x 4′. 

Ebb and Flow System Hydroponics System Buying Guide

When selecting an Ebb and Flow System you’ll need to pay attention to several factors.



Is cost a factor? Fully packed and featured systems are not always the best system.



How much attention will you need to give your system? Will it need weekly or daily water changes? How difficult is it to clean? Will it potentially leak?


Key features

  • Automation- Are you always working and never home? Is automation important for you to have in your system?
  • Looks, labels, Markers
  • System Size for your location



Do you need a complete system or can you figure out how to add the missing pieces?


Assembly required

This is a big consideration for some and it may be why you are here trying to buy a system instead of making one for yourself.


Container Material

If you have kids or pets you understand that this is a big consideration, dependent on the location of your setup.


Comes with Lights

If your system does not come with any plant lights and you don’t have good sun exposure through your window where you are looking to set up your System will you be able to set up a plant light in that location?



How important is the sustainability of your system? Would you like to be able to reuse all the components each time you grow another round of plants? Is it important that the components are free of chemicals or pathogens? Is the manufacturing process of your new system eco-friendly?


Best for

Do you already know what you want to grow in your system? This is very important to keep in mind when selecting your new system as it will not be possible to grow some vining plants in any of these systems mentioned above.


Cool factor

Is the system going to be highly visible to house guests? Do you want to be able to brag about your cool new Ebb and Flow System when they come over or hide it in the pantry until they leave!?



All systems have cons. Keep a watchful eye on this category as it can easily be a purchase killer!



Learn more 

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John Alexander is a writer, English language educator, and plant enthusiast. After graduating from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, he began working in labs filled with plants - identifying their seeds, counting their pollen, extracting their DNA, and (of course!) watering them as needed. Nowadays, he is focused more on words and language, whether that be teaching or writing.