How to Build a Homemade Hydroponics System Cheaply

Not all hydroponic systems are good choices for a homemade system. Here is a cheap and reliable way with excellent results. It is a homemade ebb and flow.


  1. Note that one tote goes on the bottom and will be the nutrient reservoir. Run a couple of airstones from the air pump and keep them in here. Nutrient solution reservoirs should always be oxygenated in this way. The water pump also goes into this container.
  2. Note that the upper container will hold several plant containers, usually filled with expanded clay pellets. In the bottom of this container (out of the way of the plants), drill two 3/4 inch holes. In one hole you install the flood and drain fitting (the shorter of the two). In the other hole you install the overflow fitting.
  3. Run a short length of tube from your water pump to the flood and drain fitting above it. Plug your water pump into the timer to flood the upper tray for a half hour, four times per day while the lights are on. The upper container will flood from the shorter fitting, but never higher than the overflow. When the pump kicks off, the top container will drain back into the nutrient reservoir through the shorter fitting.
  4. Realize that a good system is only half the battle. How to grow hydroponically really means how to feed your plants right. You should know the nutrient requirements of the plants you grow, as well as know how to maintain a nutrient solution reservoir daily for success.


  • Maxsea 16-16-16 for veg and Maxsea 3-20-20 for flowering, when you add 1/4 teaspoon/gallon epsom salts for magnesium, is a complete and very effective fertilizer plan that also is very simple and that happens to cost much less than trying to buy all the right high-quality hydroponics fertilizers.


  • Getting a Ph meter and a TDS or EC meter and learning how to maintain your nutrient solution first will almost surely save you from failure.

Things You’ll Need

  • two cheap plastic storage totes (32 liter size)
  • aquarium air pump
  • aquarium water pump
  • set of flood and drain fitting (search google images)
  • short length of plastic tubing 1/2 inch ID
  • timer