Aquarium Gravel For Hydroponics: What You Should Know

With Hydroponics, the soil is subtracted from the equation to be replaced by nutrient-rich water. The roots are generally embedded in a support medium, like Rockwool, expanded clay, or perlite and the nutrients are provided either by a drip or an ebb and flow system.

These support mediums are widely used and have varied price ranges, advantages and disadvantages. Part of their role is to support the plants themselves, aid in nutrient absorption and water retention, and assist in controlling the overall environment so that there are no ph fluctuations outside the accepted ranges in this enclosed ecosphere.

In the end, they can influence factors such as whether there will be a mediocre yield or an abundant harvest.

One media that is often overlooked is gravel. It is not the first choice of many a hydro culturist but it has many advantages, mainly its cost-effectiveness, ready availability, and its durability. Just for those reasons alone many hydroponic growers believe it is worth using as a substrate.

Gravel Advantages and Disadvantages for Hydroponics

The preferred support medium to use in hydroponics is one that does not absorb water, is ph neutral, is reusable and provides good aeration. Gravel ticks all these boxes and then some, coming in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

Gravel for hydroponics generally falls into two categories, “sharp” gravel or “pea” gravel, and whichever is chosen can sometimes just be a matter of preference. However, whatever type of gravel chosen it is advisable to wash thoroughly to eliminate any debris, dust or dirt particles that can perhaps clog any pumps used.

The distinction between the two is that one is rounded and the other has sharp edges, and a mixture of the two is ideally suited for use as a substrate, generally a mixture of 3/8 to 5/8.

Hydroponics Unearthed eBook

This screening mixture allows particles to filter through and pass their nutrients onto the hanging roots. If the gravel is too densely packed, it would prohibit the free flow of nutrients to the plants and literally starve the crops to death.

What the sharper pieces of gravel tend to do is hold on to nutrients as they flow over the surface areas. This is important because minute particles of nutrients become trapped between the small jagged crevices, and in between the irrigation, the cycle helps to sustain the plants.

Apart from that the rougher surface also provides the roots a better ability to anchor to for stability, where a smoother rock would not, and also the rougher surfaces stops the gravel itself from shifting whenever the water is flowing through and around it.

Occasionally the gravel itself will become soiled and need to be cleaned. Fortunately, unlike some other substrates which have to be thrown out and replaced, gravel can be extracted from the grow bed after harvesting, and any unwanted material that is adhering to surfaces can be washed free. Once free of any dead roots or debris, the now cleaned and sterilized gravel can be put back into position for the next planting session.

This process can be repeated indefinitely, saving a lot of time, money, and effort in transporting the aggregate from the store.

As you can imagine the weight of the gravel can be a disadvantage in transportation and installation and that will reflect in the structural considerations for the hydroponic setup.

Whatever planting structure is used to house the substrate and the hydroponics farm, has to be capable of supporting the weight of the gravel over a long period of time, as well as the weight of the water that also has to be factored into the weight baring equation.

Gravel In Hydroponics And The pH Level                                                                               

The ph level in both hydroponics and aquaponics is constantly requiring recalibration and monitoring to maintain the narrow range. This chemical reaction can occur depending on the type of gravel rock used and that can affect the ph level, raising it higher than the accepted range. If that happens it can interfere with the nutrient absorption as the water flows throughout the system, and adversely affect the plants.

Whether the water is alkaline or acidic can also play a major role in the ph stability ranges and how the gravel will interact within this biosystem. If the water has too much alkalinity, the ph levels can be difficult to stabilize even with the proper equipment and can work out to be a costly endeavor trying to maintain the equilibrium.

On the other hand, too acidic a water source can be aided by the gravel which will actually correct the imbalance.

Hydroponics Unearthed eBook

So, it pays to understand the type of water that is going to be used first in the hydroponic system in regards to its natural ph ratio, as that will help to decide the type of gravel to be selected to avoid any future problems.

Being nonporous, gravel does not have the ability to hold on to water itself. With a drip irrigation system that is not a problem as there is a fairly constant supply of water. However, if using the flood and drain method a back-up system may be required in case of a power cut, or one of the pipes becoming blocked.

And for this reason, with the use of gravel, the watering cycle needs to be more frequent or the roots will dry out and eventually die.

Another item of note to pay attention to is the depth of the gravel which can play a crucial role in the development of the roots. If the gravel is too shallow the roots will not be properly supported and anchored, which in turn will affect the root growing capacity.

If the gravel is too shallow there is also a risk that a layer of algae can form along the surface area which will attract fungi gnats that will revel in feasting on the roots of the crops.

Having a depth of at least 50mm will eliminate this potential build-up as light cannot penetrate to that depth and interact with the moisture to allow the algae to flourish.

The Gravel Truth in Hydroponics

Using gravel as a support medium is ideally suited to an ebb and flow watering system where the aggregate is watered several times a day. It does not absorb nor hold onto the water but its cost-effectiveness and the ability to source it locally offset this disadvantage.

It is important to note that the gravel selected needs to be chemically inert so does not alter the ph level unduly in the ecosystem, so limestone should be avoided. There’s nothing worse than opting for a cheaper support medium only to be committed to doing twice the work in constantly having to recalibrate the ph levels.

Growing crops hydroponically may be a soil-less endeavor but the gravel truth is that it could be the start of a new revolution in sustainable growing, ushering in a new way to feed the world.

And at the end of the day who wouldn’t want to be able to grow more food, faster, and in a completely controlled environment?

Hydroponics Unearthed eBook

8 Easy Herbs to Grow in Hydroponics (with pictures)

It doesn’t matter if you are growing herbs for culinary purposes or medicinal, hydroponics is a great way to grow them. There are some reasons for doing so, and the first is that they grow faster. You can then add to this they come with more aroma and flavor than soil-grown counterparts can. Research even shows, hydroponic herbs contain up to 40% more aromatic oils.

Not only this, but growers can have a range of herbs growing that they could otherwise struggle to grow in their region.

These are easy herbs to grow in hydroponics:

  • Basil
  • Chamomile
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Anise
  • Dill
  • Catnip

Like all plants, herbs care about temperature, light and water. If you swing too low or too high in either direction for any of these herbs, they will end up dying. Growing herbs using hydroponics helps you to keep yielding herbs no matter the season or the weather. Hydroponic growing just takes up less space and reduces water consumption.

While all herbs can be easy to grow, here are the top eight herbs to grow in a hydroponic system. We’ll go over the basics and the benefits of each one.


Basil is a popular choice for hydroponics because this herb is ideal when used fresh to hold on to the aroma and flavor. Dried basil loses these qualities. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to see restaurants and greenhouses using a hydroponics system for their basil herbs.

Altogether, there are 150 different species of basil, but the most common are:

  • Sweet Basil
  • Genovese Basil
  • Thai Sweet Basil
  • Purple Basil
  • Lemon Basil
  • Lime Basil
  • Lettuce Basil
  • Spicy Basil
Hydroponics Unearthed eBook

You can plant basil two ways, by germinating the seeds, or by planting cuttings, which form their roots within a week’s time. Basil is a warm-weather herb, so it’s best to maintain a temperature of between 70 – 80 Fahrenheit. Rockwool blocks are the most common medium used with growing basil in hydroponics. You can though use peat moss, coco coir, perlite and vermiculite, although these need sterilizing before use.

You should note that Pythium is a threat to basil seedlings. What is Pythium? Pythium is a fungus that will attack and spread disease against many herbaceous crops. The best way to avoid Pythium or other damping-off pathogens is to take great care with assuring your growing media surface is not too damp.

Once you come to harvest basil, you can remove the top 1/3 to 2/3’s of the upper foliage. The plant will continue to grow this back, where you can cut again. Basil can regrow up to 2 to 3 times before it’s recommended to replace the plant altogether and start fresh.

It is advisable to just cut the amount of basil you require, this saves the worry of trying to keep it in a good condition. Once you pick basil, the shelf life of basil is only a few days, so it can be better to leave it growing on the plant until required. You can check this video to see how easy it can be to grow perpetual basil in a hydroponic system.


If you’re a big fan of tea, you might like to know that you can grow your own chamomile, indoors with hydroponics. Chamomile has many amazing antioxidant properties that have been shown to lower the risk of diseases like heart disease and cancer. They also help with fighting insomnia and poor digestion issues.

Many will use a floating seed tray to help germinate chamomile seeds. After the seedlings grow to about 2 inches, you’ll want to get rid of the weakest ones so that there is only one strong seedling per cell in the tray. Germination of chamomile seeds can take up to 1-2 weeks. It’s recommended that chamomile receives up to 16 hours of light daily.

As it pertains to pH ranges, chamomile has broad compatibility. It can range anywhere from 5.6 to 7.5. Ideally, you’ll probably want to hit in the middle at 6.5 for optimal growing results. After about 8 weeks, you’ll be ready to harvest your chamomile flowers.

You can harvest the flowers by cutting up to 3 inches of the stem off and then drying them on a cloth in a shady area. You could make replanting much simpler by not harvesting all the flowers, which allows them to re-seed themselves. Store your chamomile in an airtight container in a dark and cool area for preservation. To see more of the Chamomile health benefits, you can read more here.


This Mediterranean herb is an evergreen, with needle-like leaves. The herb can dawn white, pink, purple, or sometimes blue flowers. You can use Rosemary as an aid for a wide variety of problems such as

  • Digestion issues
  • Heartburn
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Toothache
  • Insect repellent
  • And More

Growing rosemary hydroponically compared to other herbs can prove a much slower. You can expect a harvest time of up to 12 weeks, and the yields from seeds are always very low. Growing them hydroponically still proves much more efficient.

Hydroponics Unearthed eBook

These herbs are sensitive to fungal infections, powdery mildew, and mites. An NFT hydroponic setup is the most ideal for this herb, and they should be exposed to temperatures ranging from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit max.

Here are some quick tips for growing rosemary hydroponically.

  1. Keep the pH range between 5.5-7.0
  2. Humidity levels should remain average.
  3. Expose the herb to 11 hours of daylight as a minimum
  4. You can harvest 2-3 times per sowing, this can also be done all year round.


Oregano is a part of the mint family and they have used this herb for thousands of years for cooking and medicinal needs. The ancient Greeks used oregano to treat GI disorders, menstrual cramps, urinary tract infections, skin conditions, and dandruff. They have studied oregano many times for its antimicrobial activity that wards off Listeria pathogens.

Hydroponic Oregano will grow well in pH ranges between 6.0 and 9.0, for optimal results the range should fall between 6.0 and 8.0. It’s common to use Rockwool cubes to germinate the seeds which can take anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks. Some other common media are Oasis Root Cubes, Rapid Rooters, or Grodan Stonewool.

Oregano is a slow grower, and it will take up to 8 weeks after a transplant up to your first harvest. If you grow outdoors, oregano loves full sun, so when growing under lights, the exposure won’t be any different. T5 tubes are ideal to deliver the right light and to avoid drying or burning of the leaves, these should be around 2 to 4 inches from the plant tops.


From seed to harvest, you’re looking at about 50-55 days for cilantro when grown hydroponically. This herb choice is very low maintenances and doesn’t require trimming. They can be harvested partially or fully. 

If you’re a food lover, you already know what cilantro is great for. Toppings, garnishes, salsas, you name it. Although some people don’t prefer the taste of it, why? Many people experience the taste of cilantro differently. Some describe it as a fresh and cool taste while others think its tastes like soap. Here’s a scientific explanation of why that is.

A few tips for growing cilantro  hydroponically:

  • Temperatures can remain anywhere between 40 degrees Fahrenheit up to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, there are faster germination rates for temperatures in the 60s.
  • Watch out for powdery mildew and bacterial leaf spots, which are common with cilantro. High humidity levels and exposure to too much moisture cause these spots.

It will need plenty of water, yet it mustn’t be over-watered. Oscillating air is also recommended to replicate a sturdier outdoor habitat.


This uncommonly heard of herb has a licorice taste to it. It’s sometimes also referred to as aniseed. While Anise can fight off many common problems those, other herbs also help with like digestion issues, gas, cramps, and more.

While the licorice type taste can leave it unpopular with many, it proves resourceful for flavoring bread, sausages, cookies, and cakes. Anise seedlings are very delicate and hard to transfer, so it’s best to let the seeds germinate and grow in their respective containers without moving them. You’ll find that it can take up to 2 weeks for the seeds to germinate.

You’ll want to keep the pH range from around 5.5 to 6.5. Meeting in the middle at 6.0 is the most optimal for growth. The seedlings benefit most by having an oscillating fan gently stirring the wind for a couple of hours each day.

Anise is best harvested by cutting the plant as needed and place in a protected area free from direct sunlight in order to dry out. They can also be hung upside down. They are completely harvested as soon as the heads begin to appear brown. Store in an airtight container away from heat and light. Typically, anise will have a shelf life of up to 1 year.


Dill is a celery family herb that grows annually. It’s most commonly seen grown in Eurasia where it is used for flavoring foods. You can use fresh dill or dried dill in your recipes. When using fresh dill, the stems are not included. Growing dill hydroponically is quite simple, and it thrives in this type of growing environment.

Tips for growing dill hydroponically:

  • Place the seeds on a piece of Rockwool and press them in. Keep the Rockwool moist with water and nutrients waiting for the seeds to germinate? Germination can take 7-10 days but may happen sooner.
  • Allow for ample room to grow and remember that dill can actually grow as tall as three feet high sometimes.
  • Harvest by cutting only the leafy foliage and remove the stems when the seeds appear brown and ripe.

Culinary uses for dill include:

  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Dips
  • Casseroles
  • Pickles

Medicinal uses include:

  • Relieving stomach bloat and gas
  • Headaches
  • Cramping


If you have a cat, you might choose to hydroponically grow this herb mainly for their satisfaction and of course to provide some mild entertainment for yourself. Catnip though contrary to popular beliefs and the name itself is not just used for cats. Since the early 1700s, catnip has been documented for its ability to relieve cramps and indigestion when used in herbal teas.

Here are some tips for growing catnip hydroponically indoors:

  • You can easily propagate catnip by using leaf-tip cuttings or seeds.
  • Provide up to 5 hours of light daily.
  • Supply a steady amount of water with proper drainage. Catnip can be prone to root rot, so try to avoid too wet of an environment.
  • Watch out for mold growth, which can happen from too much misting.
  • Remove any infestations from pests, including aphids, mealybugs, scale, and whitefly.
  • Don’t let your cat come near your system!

Is it Better to Grow Herbs Hydroponically?

As always, hydroponic systems come out as top contenders do when it comes to efficiently growing plants and crops. Herbs will benefit most from the ability to receive a constant supply of nutrients and oxygen through the watering system. On average herbs, grow about 25 percent to 50 percent faster in a hydroponic environment, than an outdoor soil environment.

Additionally, some herbs are better off fresh. Hydroponic systems give restaurants, supermarkets, and commercial growers the ability to produce fresh herbs for their customers, which allows for greater flavor and cost-efficiency.

Consider these benefits of growing your herbs hydroponically:

  1. You don’t need soil. While some may love the naturistic appeal of getting your hands dirty with gardening out the sunshine, the fact of the matter is, some of us prefer not to have to go that route. Hydroponic growth really only requires water and some simple mediums.
  1. You’ll have larger yields and faster growths. As stated earlier, you will see 25 to 50 percent faster growth in a hydroponic system than you will as an outdoor crop. This faster growth means you can yield more in a smaller amount of time.
  1. Less maintenance. Most hydroponic systems run on autopilot, leaving you to only check on the pH balance and refresh the nutrient solution every week.
  1. Herbs most commonly fall prey to pests and insects. Having an indoor hydroponic system will eliminate those threats significantly.
  1. You will conserve more water. Hydroponics systems, on average, only use up to 10% of the water that outdoor soil plants require. The water gets filtered and reused continuously.
  1. You can control the environment. Is your area prone to flooding, storms, or even frigid temperatures? You don’t have to worry about this with an indoor hydroponic system that will always be in a tightly controlled environment and safe.  
  1. You need not use herbicides and insecticides, which means you can keep your herbs 100% organic and free of harmful chemicals.
  1. You will save a significant amount of space using hydroponic gardening. Systems can be customizable and even built vertically.
  1. Many claim that hydroponic gardening helps relieve stress. There’s also something about bringing a piece of your outdoor environment inside of your home. Having another living breathing piece of the environment near you can have positive effects on your mental health.
  1. It’s an all-around fun hobby to get into, what’s better than the satisfaction you get from knowing you grew a plant from start to finish, nurturing it every step of the way?  Whether or not you have a natural green thumb, hydroponics is straightforward, even for beginners!

What Different Types of Hydroponic Systems Can You Use?

Ebb & Flow Systems

Ebb & Flow systems use a water tank that is kept separate from where the herb containers are. A pump will pull the water into the herb containers so they can receive the needed water and nutrients then the water drains from the containers back into the main reservoir that is then properly pH balanced, filtered, and supplied with nutrients.

Deep Water Systems

They design these systems with the beginner in hydroponics in mind. With the use of a small pump, the water in this system remains oxygenated and circulated, which is optimal for herb growth.

Aeroponic Systems

For maximum oxygen exposure to herb roots, aeroponics systems are used. These systems use a misting spray method that allows the roots to get the needed water and nutrients but keep them exposed to the valuable oxygen in the air.

Drip Systems

For a sterile approach, drip systems will feed the water and nutrients into the containers of the herbs in smaller amounts; a timer keeps the drip system on schedule and running at specific intervals.

Hydroponics Unearthed eBook

The 7 Best Small Hydroponics Kits

While many individuals like building their own Hydroponics system, there are others who either don’t have space, or they want something that they can use in a corner, and they can have them up and running with little effort.

Because of this group of people, there are plenty of systems on the market which are available, but when you are a new grower, it can be hard to know which is the best system to choose. There are different types of hydroponic systems, and knowing which is the best for your space can quickly become overwhelming.

With this in mind, we will take a look at the top 7 small kits you can purchase that deliver fantastic results, and can have you well on your way to running a fully-fledged hydroponic system.

Before looking at these, we will go through a few sections because there is some consideration that could affect your purchasing choice.

Hydroponic Buying Guide

Here we will take a quick look at each type of system, in turn, what it offers and the pros and cons of each type of system.

DWC (Deep Water Culture)

This is one of the easiest systems you can have. In this, the plant roots will be suspended in highly-oxygenated water/ nutrients. To add the oxygen to the water, you will make use of an air pump and air stones. This dissolves the air into the water, and thus, it prevents your plants from drowning.

No matter how these systems are designed, they will have a reservoir where the plants sit suspended in net pots in the top of the tank.

Hydroponics Unearthed eBook

DWC Pros

  • Very easy to install, set up and maintain
  • Fast plant growth as roots can absorb massive amounts of oxygen
  • There are no moving parts so nothing can clog the system
  • DWC uses less water and nutrients
  • Organic nutrients can be used as they are unable to obstruct anything

DWC Cons

  • Point of failure is the air pump. If this fails plants can die in a couple of hours
  • Water temperature needs to stay under 70F. A water chiller can be used as required
  • Algae can be a problem if light penetrates the reservoir

Flood and Drain (Ebb and Flow)

This basically has two system areas. There will be a reservoir and a flood table. At set periods, the flood table will be filled with the water and nutrient mix. After a fixed period, the pump will turn off, and the water drains back to the reservoir.

With the use of a timer, this happens around the clock to make sure the plants receive all the water and nutrients they require.

Some plants do need spells of dryness to aid in the expansion of their roots. This flood and drain system is ideal for this. This does require a water pump and to gain the most benefit, it is hand to include an air pump.

Flood and Drain Pros

  • Fast plant growth
  • Easy to install, set up and maintain
  • Flooding the pots allows for high levels of nutrients to be taken by the plants
  • Less waste due to recycling of water
  • Fantastic for plants which thrive in dry and wet spells

Flood and Drain Cons

  • Constant checking of pH levels is required. These will change with the solution recycling
  • Point of weakness is the water pump, plants will die if there is no way of watering them due to failure
  • Some plants don’t like to stand in so much water (strawberries), this can be unsuitable for some plants
  • Pumps can become clogged due to debris flowing from the flood table into the reservoir

NFT (Nutrient Film Technique)

In this system, there is a stream of shallow water that runs along a channel. Here the roots sit in this stream taking up the water and nutrients. These channels slope downward, and gravity forces the water to the bottom where they are returned back to the reservoir. In this method, there is not much growing medium, and all that is required is something to support the plants inside the net pots.

While you may think the plants will drown in the water, it is only the tips which sit in the solution, and the rest of the root system sit in thin air. This enables them to take up more oxygen. The object of this system is to grow as many plants in the smallest amount of space.

NFT Pros

Hydroponics Unearthed eBook
  • Small amounts of growing medium required
  • Easy to maintain as nutrients and water is continually circulated around the system
  • Can produce its own oxygenated water, but there is no harm by adding an air pump
  • Fast plant growth due to highly oxygenated root systems

NFT Cons

  • There is limited space for large root masses. This limits the types of plants which can be grown
  • This continuous stream of water and nutrients is ideal for the early stages of plants growth, but not overly suitable for the flowering stages.
  • The main point of failure is the water pump. If this fails or clogs, then plants can die in a few hours

Drip Systems

In this system, there is a constant drip of water and nutrients into the bucket. This runs across the rooting system and works its way back to the reservoir by means of gravity. The plants can take all they need while still being able to absorb oxygen through the roots.

Drip Pros

  • Minimal components required
  • Easy to set up and maintain
  • Suitable for beginners or advanced growers
  • Ideal for plants which need a constant source of water

Drip Cons

  • Lines that drip the solution can easily clog
  • The main point of failure is the pump. Plants can die once the growing medium has dried
  • The pH levels can vary due to the recycling of the water and nutrients.

Wick Systems

This is the most basic of all hydroponic systems. It is the cheapest to run as there are no moving parts and all they rely on is water being sucked from the reservoir up to the growing medium. High draining growing mediums are advised, so they don’t become too waterlogged. Vermiculite and perlite are recommended.

Wick Pros

  • Very easy for new growers
  • Cheapest of all systems to purchase and to run
  • No moving parts that can become clogged
  • Fantastic for smaller plants such as herbs

Wick Cons

  • Not suitable for larger plants that need lots of feeding
  • Plant size is limited because there is less water available
  • EC levels require monitoring as water, and nutrient uptake will be uneven
  • There can be a buildup of mineral salts in the growing medium

It would have been nice to include the best wick kit. Unfortunately, the system is so simple that there are no retailers for this kind of system. Such is the ease of building one of these, you would be wasting money by purchasing one.

Best Hydroponic Kits

With that out of the way, we can now look at the best kits you can purchase.

Best DWC Kits

SavvyGrow 6 Site DWC System

This system has 6 sites and is very cheap. However, it does come with all you need to begin growing aside from your lighting. This system is ideal for herbs or smaller plants and can be placed in any sunny location.

Items included:

  • Water level indicator
  • Air pump for optimum water oxygenation
  • Starter pack of nutrients
  • Growing medium
  • Net Pots

Instructions are well laid out, but not as easy as we would have liked for very new growers. This system can boost growth along with the added air pump.

SavvyGrow Pros

  • Includes everything you need to begin growing, excluding seeds.
  • Very efficient air pump for oxygenating water
  • The self-watering system makes things even easier for new growers

SavvyGrow Cons

  • Instructions could have been easier to understand

Product Information

  • SavvyGrow Amazon rating 4.5
  • Number of customer reviews 24
  • Size 17.4 x 11.5 x 6.1 inches
  • Weight 6.15 lbs.

Best Drip Kit

General Hydroponics 706721 Eco Grower Drip Hydroponic System

This system comes from one of the biggest names in hydroponics. It is more than capable of growing plants which are nutrient-hungry.

Items included:

  • 17-gallon reservoir
  • Spider drip assembly
  • Pump column
  • 6 lid inserts and net pots
  • CocoTek liners
  • Air pump
  • Growing Medium
  • General Hydroponic Nutrients

Although not the cheapest, this is a budget system that is capable of producing large plants such as tomatoes. Nutrients are delivered to the plants steadily and are very efficient by the use of emitters that provide these nutrients directly to the roots.

General Hydroponics EcoGrower Pros

  • Ideal for larger plants – comes with 6 x 8-inch pots
  • Revolutionary drip system
  • Comes with the best nutrients you can buy

General Hydroponics EcoGrower Cons

  • Requires periodic checking to make sure there are no clogs
  • Needs placing close to a water source

Product Information

  • General Hydroponics Amazon rating 3.5
  • Number of customer reviews 23
  • Size 26 x 13 x 18 inches
  • Weight 30.5 lbs.

Best Flood and Drain Kit

Viagrow Complete Ebb & Flow Hydroponics System

This comes with a 20-gallon reservoir which is more than enough to cater for the 16 plants it can hold. Everything is automatic and will deliver the precise amount of water, nutrients while still allowing your plants the correct amount of oxygen.

Plants grow fast with high yields. The system is all metal apart from the flood bed and the reservoir.

Items included:

  • Flood and drain fitting kit
  • 50 liter of growing medium
  • Submersible pump
  • 16 x 1-gallon nursery pots

For a system that is so small, this is as close as you can get to a full sized system. It delivers results as much if you have the correct grow light hanging above it. It may be too large for some, but it can still fit into small areas.

Viagrow Complete Ebb and Flow System Pros

  • Can grow up to 16 plants
  • Very strong
  • Can easily be converted to a drip system

Viagrow Complete Ebb and Flow System Cons

  • 20-gallon tank should be 40 gallons for the size of the system
  • The two-inch overflow should ideally be four inches

Product Information

  • Viagrow Amazon rating 3.5
  • Number of customer reviews 17
  • Size 36 x 36 x 7 inches for the flood tray
  • Weight 100 lbs.

Best NFT Kit

DreamJoy Hydroponic Grow Kit 

This NFT kit can come to hold different numbers of plants. This ranges from 36 to 108. It uses food grade PVC  and will use less water and nutrients.

Items included

  • Water pump
  • 15.25ft hose
  • 8 pipes
  • 1 pipe holder
  • Seed sponges

This type of system is suitable for growing a high number of plants in a small footprint. It is economical to run and delivers some of the fastest growth rates while using hardly any growing medium. The most significant drawbacks are you need to fully assemble it yourself, and you need to purchase the reservoir separately.

Unlike other hydroponic kits, with this one, you get no nutrients, and it is basically the bare essentials to get you started.

DreamJoy NFT Pros

  • The fast growth of plants
  • 72 sites for plants
  • No growing medium required

DreamJoy NFT Cons

  • No reservoir needs purchasing separately
  • Not suitable for larger plants
  • Pump can clog
  • Hard to clean

Product Information

  • DreamJoy Amazon rating: 4
  • Number of customer reviews: 21
  • Size: 31 x 11 x 11 inches
  • Weight: 22.4 lbs.

Other Small Hydroponic Kits

These small kits are a far cry from the others listed above but for really new growers who don’t have space to cater for the systems mentioned. These are a good way of trying hydroponics in the smallest of footprints.

Miracle-Gro AeroGarden Ultra LED

This small hydroponic system is hugely popular. It delivers excellent results in the smallest of spaces. One thing with this little system is it comes with an LED grow light, so there really is nothing left to purchase.

Items included:

  • 7-pod gourmet herb seeds
  • LCD controlled growing unit
  • Nutrients

This system is capable of growing 7 small plants at a time. With the addition of the LCD control panel, it tells you when to add water, nutrients and also turns the light on and off as required.

To get started, it is as simple as filling with water and inserting the pods and hitting the on switch. The most significant drawback for this little system is when you want to go away from the Miracle-Gro pods or nutrients.

Miracle-Gro Pros

  • Small enough to fit on the countertop
  • Energy efficient
  • Already comes with all you need
  • Includes LED grow light

Miracle-Gro Cons

  • Small for some plants
  • You need to purchase patented seed pods and nutrients

Product Information

  • Miracle-Gro Amazon rating: 4.5
  • Customer reviews: 507
  • Size: 17.25 x 11.25 x 15-34 inches. Height adjustable for the lamp
  • Light: 30-watt full spectrum LED – 20,000-hour rating
  • Weight: 12.75 lbs.

AeroGarden Farm Plus Hydroponic Garden

This can be seen as the big brother of the previous system. This allows growers to fit in 24 seed pods compared to the 7 in the previous system.

It comes with the same control panel and functions, and simple 1,2,3 steps to get it up and running are precisely the same.

Now instead of being limited to growing plants under one light, there are now two LED’s included. This gives 60 watts of power for your healthy plants and vegetables.

Items included:

  • 24-pod salad bar seed pack
  • LCD controlled growing unit
  • Nutrients

Product Information

  • Miracle-Gro Amazon rating: 4.5
  • Customer reviews: 28
  • Size: 36 x 12 x 12 – 36 inches. Height adjustable for the lamp
  • Light: 60-watt full spectrum LEDs total – 20,000-hour ratings
  • Weight: 22 lbs.

This small powerhouse of a unit now comes with Wi-Fi so you can adjust settings from your phone while you are away from home.

Back to the Roots Water Garden 

Although isn’t strictly a hydroponic system, and it does err onto the side of aquaponics, it deserves a worthy mention because of the number of customer reviews. With over 1,000, and the majority being positive, there has to be something special about this quirky little system.

Items included:

  • 3-gallon fish tank
  • Wheatgrass and radish seeds
  • A coupon for the betta fish
  • Fish food
  • Fertilizer
  • Silent submersible pump
  • Gravel and growstones

To get this up and running, all you need to do is add your seeds and your water and fish and hit the switch for the pump. As long as it is in a well-lit area, you can watch the fish producing the right amount of fertilizer that is then fed to the plants. They are busy soaking up the nutrients and cleaning the water before it is passed back to the fish.

Product Information

  • Back to Roots Amazon rating: 3.5
  • Customer reviews: 1165
  • 13.3 x 9.4 x 13.3 inches
  • Weight: 3.2 lbs.


All of the above systems deliver the best in their respective system types and are configurable enough for any new grower to choose one which fits into their space.

While there are many others available, they are all variations of the ones listed above. While there are a couple of downsides to one or two, the plus points outweigh these by a considerable margin. The main thing with all of these systems is, they are more than capable of growing copious amounts of plants and vegetables.

Hydroponics Unearthed eBook

The 8 Best Hydroponic Books for Beginners

The rise of Hydroponics has caught the interest of many wannabe growers from all walks of like. Many urban dwellers are limited on space but see Hydroponics as a means of growing their own healthy vegetables, and it is something they wish to venture into.

To many newcomers, Hydroponics might be confusing, and they wish to read up on the subject before diving in and committing to building their own system. There are plenty of hurdles a new grower can face, and having a good understanding, or having the means of quickly finding the solution can make all the difference, and save hours of head scratching for a solution

The internet contains vast amounts of information on the subject. However, a lot of this is written with growers who have already started and already possess some knowledge of what they are doing. There is also the fact, some readers prefer a book to read rather than searching through websites to find the answer.

If you want to know how to get to the roots of Hydroponics, here are the top 8 books for beginners that can help you on your way. Once you finally decide to build your system, you will also have a quick reference point where to go, or jog your memory if there is something you are unsure about.

Is there One Book That Covers Everything?

Before checking out the list of books found that are helpful for beginners, it is worth noting, there is no “Bible of Hydroponics.” This is because all systems and growing areas are different, and can be affected by any slight change. Most books are general in their view, and even then it can take some experience to know what to use from the books, and how the content meets your needs.

It might be the case, some of the books delve into specific areas in depth, or their focus throughout is on one area of Hydroponics rather than a guide from start to finish.

Hydroponics Unearthed eBook

In many cases, you might need more than one book to get you started. Most of the books listed use the word “beginner” in very different terms, and if you already have some understanding of Hydroponics, then one or two from the list might be beneath your knowledge.


Since writing this article, I’ve compiled all the information I’ve learnt about hydroponics and smashed it into one huge ebook (PDF) which you can get here. Even better – it’s currently on sale!

I might be bias – but I think it’s the best all-round hydroponics book for anyone!

Hydroponic Books for Beginners

Hydroponics: Hydroponics Essential Guide

The Step-By-Step Hydroponic Gardening Guide to Grow Fruit, Vegetables, and Herbs at Home (Hydroponics for Beginners, Gardening, Homesteading, Home Grower)

This book was first published in 2016, and ranks highly in some of the categories it has been entered. It weighs in at 136 pages, and the author is Andy Jacobson.

While checking customer reviews, plenty state the author has made a great introduction into Hydroponics and covers the basics for individuals who know nothing about growing plants this way.

The author has included sections on the following:

  • What is Hydroponics?
  • Choosing a Hydroponic Medium
  • Types of Hydroponic Systems
  • Plant Nutrition – Learning and Selecting
  • Your Perfect Lighting Solution
  • The Growing Process
  • Creating Your Own Hydroponic System
  • Crops Most Suitable to Hydroponic Gardening
  • Pest Prevention and Troubleshooting
  • Conclusion: Last But Not Least
  • Bonus section: Starting a Hydroponics Business

The author of Hydroponics: Hydroponics Essential Guide, has done an excellent job on giving simple to understand diagrams and pictures. His explanations are clear, but a little text heavy in some sections. All in all, it is a good introduction, and when followed in the steps it is written, any grower can be up and running with the least amount of effort.

The book is available in electronic format, or for readers who prefer something they can hold for quick reference, it is also available in paperback.

How-To Hydroponics, Fourth Edition 4th Edition

This How-To Hydroponics is only available in paperback, and is well constructed and covers a lot of subjects. Although aimed at beginners, it is comprehensive and can be a good reference guide. It comes in at 101 pages, and the fourth edition was the last update which was back in 2003.

Hydroponics Unearthed eBook

This could leave some information a little outdated, but many areas covered will still be highly relevant. All chapters are broken down in the table of contents as you would expect from a paperback, and from here you can quickly find an area you wish to read.

The author (Keith Roberto) covers the following topics in his chapters:

  • What is Hydroponics?
  • Growing Mediums and Technology
  • Plant Nutrition
  • Lighting
  • Building your own system
  • Raft systems and Aeroponics systems
  • PVC systems and Dutch buckets
  • Indoor gardening

This is only a handful, and almost everything is covered with plenty of detailed instructions, steps by step plans and accompanying pictures and diagrams. Given the price of the book, for an introduction, it might be too much, and there are some not so favorable reviews. However, there is plenty of information that any new grower would be happy to know.

DIY Hydroponics: 12 Easy and Affordable Ways to Build Your Own Hydroponic System

(Urban Homesteading Book 2)

This is a very well thought out book and runs new growers through all they need to know about Hydroponics and how to build and maintain their own system. Richard Bray simply explains things with easy to understand diagrams of the six types of Hydroponic system. From this, he goes on to explain how growers can build a total of 12 different systems using around the house materials.

This DIY approach gives growers the chance to learn about Hydroponics as they build one of the simple systems, he also explains the components and how they affect the running of the system, and how plants will be affected by this.

Later book chapters cover growing medium, nutrients, and lighting, maintaining your system and potential problems a grower could face. All of this is explained in simple terms, and it should be easy for any new grower to understand.

DIY Hydroponics contains 147 pages and is available in eBook format or paperback. It also ranks at the top in three categories where it is entered. Customer reviews are also very favourable, and it receives four and a half stars out of five, and this is quite an achievement because the book was only published late in 2018.

For any grower who is contemplating building a Hydroponic system, this book can give some helpful insight on how the different types of system work, and how to maintain these once they are up and running. It will be more suited to would be growers who have very little or no understanding of Hydroponics. Individuals who have a little knowledge might find the book lacking in information, or that it is written too basic to offer them anything.

Hydroponics: The Definitive Beginner’s Guide to Quickly Start Growing Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs for Self-Sufficiency!

(Gardening, Organic Gardening, Homesteading, Horticulture, Aquaculture)

This book takes the angle of presenting Hydroponics as a means for growers to grow their own fresh produce. It gives a basic overview before heading into a soil vs. Hydroponics chapter. From then it gets into choosing a hydroponic system where it explains the six system types, and their components.

In the following chapter Michael Martinez the author explains how growers can build their own system. Unfortunately, he only offers one method, the drip method. For some new growers, this system type might not be what they intended, and they could be tempted to skip this.

The book then offers three cheat sheets for fruits vegetables and herbs before it explains how to plan your system, and then maintain it.

The last two chapters of Hydroponics: The Definitive Beginner’s Guide covers common mistakes that are made by new growers, and then how to troubleshoot problems in a system. One nice touch was he separated pests from mold and algae into different sections, and how to deal with both.

This book is quite well received and has over 70 customer reviews. While being available in both eBook format or paperback, it gives growers the option and can be good reading for anyone who is new to the world of Hydroponics. It crams in quite a lot of information into the 77 pages, but it does lack of diagrams and is mainly text-based. This could be a little too much for complete novices as they might not be able to relate to the parts and equipment described.

Hydroponics: From Beginner to Expert

Homegrown Organic Gardening Double Book Bundle – Ultimate Guide to Hydroponics & Organic Vegetable Gardening For … Aquaponics, Horticulture, Homesteading)

The author William Walsworth has done a good job of covering things in a very readable format and can be great for newer growers. He has actually made a double book deal so there is another book on Organic gardening which can be useful to read.

There are 204 pages between both books, and it is available in both eBook format, and also paperback with the price being more than reasonable for two books in the electronic version.

The good thing with the way this book is written, the author presents things slightly different. He begins with why choose Hydroponics, and then he describes the six system types. From here he moves onto hydroponic basics which covers hydroponic nutrients, water, growing media, plants, and hygiene.

The best parts are the following chapters where he takes each system type and goes into detail of the equipment needed, installing the system and how to grow in each model. This can save new growers time flicking backward and forward and searching for information which relates to their hydroponic system of choice.

The final chapter covers maintaining your garden and troubleshooting. This might focus more on how to support your system, and all of the problems are from the system and not from any outside pests.

The book comes with some images which enhance his writing, but are not enough information giving where they can be used for reference.

Customer reviews are favorable, and it receives almost top marks, but the number of reviews isn’t that high. All in all Hydroponics: From Beginner to Expert is a good read, and it is more geared toward new growers than leading them toward becoming an expert.

Hydroponics: Beginner’s Guide to Effective Hydroponic Gardening at Home

Gary Carter, the author of the Beginner’s Guide to Effective Hydroponic Gardening at Home has done an excellent job in outlining his information with simple and clear diagrams. He covers most topics which include:

  • Lighting – Artificial & Natural
  • The Nutrient System and The Climate
  • The Pests and Plant Growth – “Not Good”
  • Leaf Growth and The Seedlings

He begins with an introduction followed by the components of a system. This he follows by how you go about setting up a system in your home.

He then has a separate chapters for ‘Growing charts,’ which cover Herbs, Vegetables, and Fruits. He then explains the system equipment, with a final chapter about how to beautify your home.

The information contained is basic, and does explain much of what you need to get a system up and running. From that point, the book can leave you, and when it comes to maintaining your system, and what to do to fix problems, you might need another point of reference.

The author has done an excellent job in giving information to growers who are entirely new, and that is how the book needs to be received. Customer reviews all lead you to this conclusion, and for the electronic version compared to the paperback version, it could be worth the small price.

Hydroponics: Hydroponics Gardening For Beginners

A Simple User Guide To Grow Hydroponics Herbs And Vegetables At Home (Hydroponics, Hydroponics Gardening)

For very new users to Hydroponics, Sherry Forrest delivers what she says in the title of her book Hydroponics Gardening For Beginners, a simple user guide, and that is what you get. This is ideal for would-be growers who need to know the very basics of Hydroponics.

Sherry describes the basics of each component in a system and goes on to describe lighting and growing medium. She follows this by an explanation of each system type, and again goes a little further in depth about all of the growing mediums that can be used.

She then spends a chapter on water, lighting and nutrient temps, before following up with the secrets to growing herbs and vegetables. This chapter includes pH testing, sanitation, and pest control.

The final chapter gives some pro tips to beginners, and some mistakes to avoid.

The book is only 78 pages in length, but might be the ideal length for a basic introduction into Hydroponics. Customer reviews are favorable, and she gets 4 out of 5 for her effort. The book is available in both paperback and eBook format, and the latter version is the recommended one. For growers who are looking for a point of reference to solve issues, then this book isn’t the one to keep close in your growing room.

It does explain a few things in the purest form which can be a good start for users before they move onto more detailed information.

Hydroponics Beginners Gardening Guide

How to Start a Hydroponics Growing System Step by Step

The last book on the list happens to be the smallest and comes in at 66 pages. It is available in both paperback and eBook format so it can be handy to keep with you while you are in your growing space. Customer reviews give it 4 out of 5, so they are favorable.

Areas covered by the author are as his chapter headings:

  • Introduction
  • Growing medium
  • Water
  • Hydroponic Nutrients
  • Hydroponic Systems
  • Conclusion

The Hydroponics Beginners Gardening Guide  is a little light on diagrams which would have been useful for new growers, but it explains things simply, so it is an easy read without getting too heavy with information. Simon Hamilton, the author, claims new growers will gain enough knowledge of each system, and which one they will find best suited to their growing needs.

He also says growers will see how to set up their own system without spending a fortune. For a brief introduction, it is a quick read and can give some useful insight into the world of Hydroponics, but a reader who is keen on building a system will quickly outgrow the information it contains.


When taking a look at these books, you should find one which meets your needs. A lot does depend on your level of understanding and if you already have a good idea of how Hydroponic systems work.

The main criteria for choosing any of these books is how far you wish to go with your growing, and what type of system you want to build. Like anything related to Hydroponics, it is helpful to do some homework before committing to any of these books.

It might be the best book for you is one that is more comprehensive, and covers lots of topics like either Hydroponics: From Beginner to Expert or Hydroponics: The Definitive Beginner’s Guide. Both of these cover enough for your first steps, and they are handy for further points of reference later.

Either of these could be an excellent accompanying book to the DIY Hydroponics: 12 Easy and Affordable Ways to Build Your Own Hydroponic System. Although you might want to purchase a system you can have up and running, this book does a good job explaining the ins and outs of building your own system

Hydroponics Unearthed eBook