How To Build A 5 Gallon Hydroponic Bucket

The 5 gallon hydroponic bucket may be the most simple hydroponic system, both to make and take care of. I like to use my 5 gallon hydroponic bucket systems for plants that produce a lot of fruit, need a lot of water and/or get big. I usually use hydroponic buckets when growing vegetables like tomatoes, watermelons, cucumbers and pumpkins; and they grow big! A bubble Bucket is a form of deep water culture hydroponics. The plant roots are suspended in the nutrient-rich water that is pumped full of oxygen.

The 5 gallon hydroponic bucket is extremely easy to make! If you have an aquarium you probably already have many of the supplies needed around your house.

5 gallon hydroponic bucket

Supplies Needed To Make A 5 Gallon Hydroponic Bucket

5-gallon bucket – It’s important to get a bucket that’s a dark color, like black. This will keep the light from penetrating the bucket which would cause algae growth. B000KE6M6W View Product
Net Pot Bucket Lids– Using net pot bucket lids will save you a lot of headaches. The bucket lid gives the plant a wider, more sturdy base compared to a regular net pot in a bucket lid. B0049XIIGC View Product
Grow Medium – I prefer to use hydroton clay pebbles. B00GN9A6LK View Product
Aquarium Pump– I don’t recommend going with the smallest or cheapest air pump. As the roots grow large you’re going to need as many air bubbles as possible. When it comes to oxygen, the more the better. B01N5341FR View Product
Air Hose –  I’ve found there are two types of air hose. One is clear, a little thicker, and doesn’t bend as easy. The other is cloudy and more flexible. Either will work fine, but I prefer the clear for outdoors and cloudy for indoors. B000255NYQ View Product
Check Valve –  The check valve is important. It will help keep water from coming through the air hose and into the pump when the power is off. B00KFV8EIO View Product
Air Stone –  Stay away from the small air stones, as they won’t produce as many air bubbles. I prefer the 6-10 inch airstones, which reach more of the root system. B0002564ZI View Product

*The 5 gallon hydroponic bucket above also has a reservoir drain.

Deep Water culture

Steps To Making 5 Gallon Hydroponic Bucket

The first step is assembling the air system. Take your air hose and cut off a couple of inches. Connect this piece to your air pump. At the other end of this piece of air hose, you’re going to connect the check valve. You will need to connect the check valve a certain way or air won’t go through the valve. Many check valves have arrows letting you know the direction of air flow.

Next, take the remaining air hose and cut a piece long enough to go from the check valve and into the bottom of the 5 gallon bucket. This length can vary depending on the distance away from the hydroponic bucket you plan on keeping the pump. Keep in mind the longer the length of the air hose the less efficient your pump will be. I typically keep mine around the 5ft mark.

Now its time to get the net pot bucket lid ready. One thing to think of ahead of time, is that if you just place your air stone into the bucket, then the net pot on top, the lid is going to be sitting on the hose. This might start off fine, but the weight of the plant could eventually pinch the hose reducing air flow. To solve this you can do one of two things, drill a small hole in the bucket lid just enough to fit the air hose through the top or make a small notch at the top of the bucket. Next, connect the air hose to the air stone.

Now that you have the air system ready it’s time to add the grow medium to the net pot. If you have your plant ready you can add that as well. The only thing left to do is add water and mix your nutrient solution.

Making a hydroponic bucket is an easy DIY hydroponic system that will produce great results. It’s simple to use and doesn’t take up much space. Plants will grow big so make sure to provide support and trim them to control growth. 

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