The 5-gallon hydroponic bucket may be the most simple hydroponic system, both to make and take care of. They are pretty amazing!

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.

This 5-gallon hydroponic bucket is extremely easy to make and if you have an aquarium, you probably already have many of the supplies needed around your home.

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. View Product
Net Pot Bucket Lid– 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. View Product
Grow Medium – I prefer to use hydroton clay pebbles. 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. 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. 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. 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. View Product
*The 5 gallon hydroponic bucket above also has a reservoir drain.

Deep Water culture

Steps To Making 5 Gallon Hydroponic Bucket

Step 1. 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.

 

Step 2. 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.

Step 3. 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.

Step 4. 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.

Conclusion

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.

About the Author: NoSoilSolutions

My name is Michael and I'm all about simple how-to hydroponic gardening! I believe hydroponics gives anyone the opportunity to have a garden, no matter where they live.

15 Comments

  1. n August 24, 2019 at 9:21 am - Reply

    Thank you for this article
    I am searching for a way to use less nutrient solution in my recirculating DWC system.
    Each bucket needs around 3.5 gallon before the solution reach the basket.
    Multiplied by 6 buckets, that’s making a lot of water and in case of a spill or a leak, a lot of problems !

    Any idea about what could be used in the bottom of each bucket to use less water ?
    Plants would only need 1.5-2 gallons per bucket to be happy and grow slowly in vegetative state.

    • NoSoilSolutions August 26, 2019 at 12:14 pm - Reply

      Have you tried to use smaller buckets? I’m guessing your using 5 gallon buckets, what about using a 2 or 3.5 gallon bucket?

      • Barb Bongiovanni April 5, 2020 at 8:16 pm - Reply

        I saw one person who put a layer of gravel in the bottom. Fish tank gravel would be a good, if somewhat pricey option.

  2. Jenni August 8, 2020 at 10:13 am - Reply

    When setting up your 5 gallon bucket system outside, how to you keep the pump set up safe from rain? And do you keep the pump on at all times?

    • NoSoilSolutions August 10, 2020 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      Yes, I keep the pump on at all times. As far as keeping the pump safe from rain, I placed the pump and outlet in a 5 gallon bucket and cut some holes to run the hose and wires.

  3. Fred September 6, 2020 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    I am just wondering since I’ve read the instructions well, what is that dark hose sticking out of the bottom of the bucket?

  4. brett falgoust September 30, 2020 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    Do you need a filter for this setup or change the water out?

  5. Jack December 24, 2020 at 8:35 am - Reply

    When do you put callimagic in the solution for the tomato plants to grow better? Do you put in at time of putting them in the 5 gallon bucket or after a number of weeks?

    • NoSoilSolutions December 26, 2020 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      Some people add Calimagic before transitioning to flowering but personally, I start adding 5ml per gallon when shortly after plants start flowering.

      • Jack December 30, 2020 at 1:38 pm - Reply

        Thank you for the note, but the lower leaves were starting to show yellow on the tips. So I added the calimagic of 1 teaspoon per gallon per instructions. You had mentioned to 5ml per gallon. Why the difference?

  6. Jack January 14, 2021 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Do you add the liquid bloom 3-12-6 before my tomato plant flowers or after I see the first flowers? I am in the fifth week.

    • NoSoilSolutions January 16, 2021 at 10:41 pm - Reply

      When you start to see buds and you’re ready for flowers to form you switch over to bloom.

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