Hydroponic Bubbler





Introduction: Hydroponic Bubbler

I was in the market to buy a hydroponic bubbler to attempt to grow some fresh herbs for cooking. I saw several online and looked at a couple locally and figured I could make one of these. Either way here is how I made it, what you will need etc.

Step 1: What You Need

This is what you will need. Cost of materials was roughly $40.00 bucks. Average cost of typical bubblers is like 200 - 300 bucks so well worth it.

Step 2: Paint the Storage Tote.

You are going to want to paint the tote a solid black. (Hence the need for the paint). The reason for this is so that the bubbler does not become a breeding ground for various nasties.

Step 3: Cut the Holes

I was able to fit 10 1.25" holes in the top of my lid. After cutting the holes I had to recoat some areas that the paint peeled back on. So you may or may not wish wait to paint the top until after this step. Either way.

Step 4: Air Stones

Position the air stones where you want them.

Step 5:

Cut two holes in one of the sides of the storage tote. These holes need to be big enough to fit your tubing through. Hindsight being what it is...I actually cut these holes a little low. The splitter valve that I purchased was a little bigger than I initially thought. So you may wish to drill these a little higher than what I have here.

Step 6: Splitter Valve

Attache the splitter valve how ever you see fit. My personal opinion was to attach it with the hot glue gun. It holds pretty well. You wont be making too much movement in this area so it holds well.

Step 7: Run Your Tubing

At this point run your tubing into the storage tote and connect them to both the air stones and the two way valve. Connect the pump to the valve. Put in some water and then plug in the valve and watch the pretty bubbles.

Step 8:

At this point you can cut the foam to fit the holes. Some things to note. you will not be able to use the 1.25" hole bit for this. The cut out will not be large enough. So you either want to use a bigger bit (maybe 1.5") or manually cut them out. As you can see from the picture I went the manual route. I didnt have the larger bit on hand. I used the bottom of a shot glass that happened to be 1.5" in diameter. After you cut them out you need to make another cut on them that will allow you to insert the plants. Just a slit from edge to middle to make what can only be explained as little pac men.

Step 9:

Just a final word of thought on this. You really dont need to worry about putting too much water in the bubbler or having the tips of the roots in the bubbler either. As you can see from this picture taken about an hour after continuous running there is plenty of condensation on the bottom of the lid. And actually there was quite a bit more as well that ran off after I lifted the lid that is not visible here. So just have everything just above the surface of the water and you should be fine.



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    22 Discussions

    No they make about as much noise as a fish tank to be honest. It wasn't very loud at all. As for power same thing not very consumption heavy. My Kill-a-watt is currently pulling duty on another project or I would tell you the power draw of the one I am using, but it isnt much.

    Do these bubblers make a lot of noise or draw a lot of power? I'm trying to decide between a bubbling system, or trying to make a passive hydroponics system.

    very good, well written and good photos too. this is exactly like many cloning set ups. i would suggest using a colored tub rather than the paint so there aren't scratching problems. also you can change tub tops to accommodate plants that are bigger.

     I hate it when people say you cannot do something. They usually do not fully understand the parameters of what they are talking about.

    You do not have to run the pump continualy, unless the roots are in the solution.  In fact you will get higher yeilds and faster growth if you give the plants time without any water at all intermitedly through the course of the day. You should experiment to find out what is best for your plant type and growing medium.  If you are using rockwool... they need to have time without the water bubbling.

    And yes the roots can absolutely touch the water.  They are getting oxygen and and nutrients at the same time so there is no root rot.
    If the roots are in the water however you must always keep the pump going or set up an ebb and flow so that they do not.. Here's how.

    To whomever was interested in building one of these, do yourself a favor and do it right.
    The system I have built combines three techniqes very easily and cheaply.  Nutrient film, Flood and drain, and a bubbler.

    First get a dutch leach tray (online for ten bucks), then get two, three foot flexible airstones, (5 bucks a piece) for each tray you add. I run four trays with six plants in each tray.  Next get a large container for your res.  5 gal for one tray and equall for each tray you add.  You will need to outfit the container with a small pump that will fill your trays from the res.  
    Put your water pump and your air pump for the airstones on the same timer.
    On one side of the dutch tray the water comes in from a 90* angled coupler provided with the tray and then drains out on that same side, through a different hole with the same coupler.  This is how you can dial in your water level, by twisting the drain spout vertically to the level you want the water to be in the tray.
    The water level is arguable.  I keep mine right at the bottom of the roots to get the most out of the nutrients that usually float nearer to the surface, but your bubbling so dont worry, its fool proof! .  Then fashion a cover for the tray with holes where ever you wish and at the appropriate size for mesh pots that you will place your plants into. . I cut a six inch wide strip of 1/8 inch thick aluminum for my top ;-)  Put your mesh potted plants in, and thats it.... set your timer however you want as long as your cover is light tight.  I would recomend running it at least 50% of the time, but that is up to you and your medium.

    This is an expandable system also!  If your grow, grows, the system can grow with you.
    This is also the best of the best.  Only misters of foggers may produce better results but I doubt it.
    And its super cheap!  The system I just explained will cost you 50 dollars.  Ten for the tray, ten for the stones, five for the containers and about 25 for the two pumps and hoses from a pet store.  Depending on what your growing, you could have up to nine sites per tray!
    I havent seen any thing like this online but a similar system that is NOT expandable is around $300-$400 online.
    This is a very good system.  Its flawless and fast.
    Happy to share the info, and dont let anyone tell you, You can't do something!
    Best of luck!

    5 replies

     Oh, and DONT PAINT ANYTHING!!!!  Would you eat off a plate that was painted?  Or eat with a fork that was painted?  You can easily find tubs that are food certified and made of recycled plastic.  They do not have to be black, only light proof.  Dark greens and blues are more than fine.

    Growing hydroponically is an easy and rewarding system, however you can really screw things up with only a few bad moves.  Since there is no soil to act as a buffer and filter the plant will absorb everything it comes in contact with.
    Do Not Paint anything!!!
    Unless your using some hippydippy natural paint dont paint anything.  Paint is TOXIC!
    It takes up to a year to fully dry and that is without it holding water! LOl  
    Im sorry dude but your plants are drinking paint tainted water.  If you replicate your grow with a different resivoir next time, I promise you will have healthier plants and better yields! : )

     Now that you decided to get off your soap box maybe read the instructable.  I "suggested" painting the OUTSIDE of the container.  I only had a clear plastic tub, and i wanted it to be light proof.  The inside of the tube is unpainted...

    I wrote this instructable a while ago and don't feel inclined to read all my previous comments. Not exactly sure what you are getting at.  You mentioned that i said that the roots can't touch the water.  I was telling someone that planned on turning the system off that if you do turn it off you could drown the plant if it has roots in the water with no air.

    Hope you like the instructable.

     Oh and looking back it was bucklipe that said that.  He seems very knowledgable but very fundemental also.  I have used all of these system.  Ebb and flow, bubbler, and NFT.  They all work well with NFT and the bubbler working the best, but all of them having faults.  When I grew with ebb n flow I watered rarely.  Rockwool was my medium.  The result was incredibly thick stems.  NFT produced the densest flowering and bubblers the fastest growth.  I found a simple way to combine all three and get all the benifits while cutting out the faults by combining them.  I am not sure why the downtime without water helps so much, Im sure there is a scientific explanation, but it does.  As well as the constant flow of nutrient.  I think it assures that every plant gets everything it needs no matter what.  And the bubbler wands are amazing.  As long as you have the airpump to push them they get bubbles to every inch of every root.
    If you ever want to expand, please give this system a shot.  I promise it will be bigger, faster, and stronger.

     Im sorry you mis-understood me, or I didn't phrase it properly.
    I wasn't refering to you as the person who said the roots cant touch the water.  I didn't feel like looking back to see who said it, but I knew it wasn't you.  Sorry I didn't specify.
    If your system is in a closed area which most hydro systems are, there should not be any paint anywhere.  I liked your instructable very much, but I think for the sake of others you should have recomended a dark colored res instead of painting.  
    Im not sure what you mean about the "soap box" I don't think I was preaching?
    I also just jumped on here to help you and others build a much better system for the same amount of money.  
    I think everyone should be able to get the best info they can and your post was the best to elaborate on.  You already built the base and I just added on.
    I wanted to show while bubblers are maybe one of the best hydro systems, they have short commings.  
    The system I created adds two other elements that only increase yeild and grow time.  It is also much more flexible.  With the bubbler in a bucket you are limited by the surface area.  The system I am advising gives you much more flexability with the added benifit of a flowing nutrient for better dispersal and full drainage to give the plants time without any water. 
    You have never seen this with a bubbler before because they are always one unit.  Thats why they are always running.  The roots grow fast so the only way to keep them out of the water is to lower the water.  That seems backassward so nobody does it.   But from experience the down time without water does speed growth and increase yields.  
    I hope I didn't piss you off.  I don't believe I quoted you for saying the roots cant touch the water.
    Moreover I hope you try this system out.  It has many advantages for the same price.  I just want to help us all become self-reliable.
    Sorry I didn't give your instructional props.  I should have.  It was very good.  It was only others jumping in saying don't do this and don't do that, that I was responding to.


    I have several dozen of those cite little bins holding hacked parts in my evil laboratory. they do not "seal" in the hydro, in the system. they merely latch to the bottom half. i was wondering how much seepage/drainage/leakage you get from the edge of the lid down the sides of the tubs?

    1 reply

    The splitter valve... can you control in the airflow too, or just does it split one hose into 2 hoses? Thanks

    1 reply

    I love the way you have everything labeled out, and labeling the name and price.. thanks

    Hey Ruffyen, I just made a set up quite similar to yours. Attached a pic of it unfinished. The problem I am seeing is that I got two small bubblers in each bin, and they don't make too much disturbance in the solution. I am sure they will do fine with overall aeration, but as far as really moving water around, it's kinda weak. Do you foresee this being an issue, or think it will be sufficient? Also, the place where it is set up is right by the entertainment center, and I have figured on shutting it off while we watch a little tube. Judging from the comments above, this is not advisable, but do you think I'll find real issue with a 30 to 60 minute shut off once every few days? Thanks

    1 reply

    I dont think 30-60 mins every few days will be an issue. Run the system with no plants in it for a bout an hour first. See if you get a build up of condensation. If you do then it should be fine. If the plants roots start to grow down into the water then you may run into issues turning the bubbler off...as you could drown the plants, but still 30-60mins isnt that long really.

    Oxygen is important to the plant's roots. More bubbles oxygenating the nutrient solution is the way to go. The intermittent timing is for the type of hydroponics that irrigate and drain. In this one the roots are in the solution all the time.

    3 replies

    bucklipe, actually the plants should not be in the solution. Rather they should be a few cm above the water line. If you notice the last picture that I posted, I show what the top looks like after around 30 mins of running. I did this to show you that having the roots IN the water is unnecessary, as they will get plenty of water without being submerged.

    there are many ways to implement hydroponic systems. The one you are using is a mist system. Others have the roots in the solution; these are nutrient film technique or the type I have used where the solution is continually oxygenated with bubblers. Usually a mist system has a mist generator. Yours uses bubblers and they generate a mist with larger droplets than the mist generators. As you observed there is moisture all over the inside of the unit. It should still be sufficient for growth. When I read the question below I had not read the whole Instructable. Never the less the pump should still run continuously.

    Agreed, that was what I was trying to get across mostly, that the pump should remaint on :)