Active hydroponic disaster prevention

Discussion in 'Hydroponics / Aeroponics' started by HydroLynx, Sep 6, 2017.


    HydroLynx Active Member

    Active hydroponics requires a pump to supply plants with hydration, duh. But I have killed so many crops that I have pretty good reasons why it happens. Sometimes the fault lies in the machine, but usually fault lies in man. So maybe others too can learn from my fuckups.

    · Never go a day without checking on the crop! Complacency syndrome is a killer. High performance hydroponics comes with high frequency checks.

    · Assumption is the mother of all fuckups. Never assume things are fine just because they were the last time you checked. That last time could have caused something to switch off. This has happened with every crop loss.

    · Flipping switches and settings are sacred events, they become like your basal life settings, each and every operational state must be minded with highest care. The “Oh fuck I forgot to switch the pump back on” can easily happen after tedious res changes.

    · Like piloting aircraft where people’s lives are at risk, you are piloting a hydrocraft where plant’s lives are at risk.

    · The pump is the greatest weakness. Of many possible factors, it takes only one to kill it: dodgy timer, loose connections and plugs, frozen impellor, blockage, are all things that have killed my crops.

    · The pump is like your heart, it dies, you die. A beating heart is the price for improved oxygenation.

    · Distraction is the father of all fuckups. Holidays, people, studies, work, personal issues etc. can undermine your mindfulness for plant-care.

    neckpod Well-Known Member

    Nailed it!!

    Check Check and Check AGAIN!

    i have done many of the things above and as i grow in rdwc it doesn't take long for things to fuck up, I once sent my nutes back to the main res for a mix up and forgot to send them back!!! Thank fuck i took a look in on them a few hour later as they had all drooped and wilted and was very close to death.
    also forgot to put the vital chiller back on a couple of times which is obviously the wife fault for distracting me hahah (this complaint didn't go down well)
    But by far the worst thing i have done is got Complacent and didn't realise that my roots had grown down a pipe and completely blocked a bucket! Being a recirculating system this was bad! all my pump did was kept the blocked bucket almost empty and with no cool nutes got root rot!!!

    Happy Growing
    Organic Miner and HydroLynx like this.

    Sureshot2 Well-Known Member

    The only thing worse than losing a crop to pump failures is having a pump failure because a fitting blew out and emptied the entire res on your floor. 30 gallons on your floor sure is a bitch, so make sure you use hose clamps and tighten them down. I avoid the nylon clamps now since that's what I had break on me, Stainless Steel all the way.

    I would also advise installing a water alarm or two, they are pretty cheap and can alert you to a problem before it gets too bad.
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    nxsov180db Well-Known Member

    I'd like to see an alarm that would go off if it doesn't detect water for more than an hour. Like some sort of sensor that if it doesn't get wet every so often it goes off.

    Sureshot2 Well-Known Member

    If you are knowledgeable in electronics it wouldn't be hard to convert a regular water alarm to do the same. That or use a float switch that triggers at a certain level? The float would be super simple if you want the alarm to go off if a reservoir gets too low.
    nxsov180db likes this.

    ttystikk Well-Known Member

    This is a great thread.

    Taking the aircraft analogy one step further, get in the habit of doing a 'preflight' check every time you step in the room;
    • Temps ok?
    • RH on point?
    • Timer working?
    • Switches and settings correct?
    • All lights, pumps and fans operating as they should?
    • Water levels?
    • Is the floor dry?
    • CO2 tank empty?
    • Plants look as they should?
    After awhile it becomes a habit to scan the room and run this mental checklist. I've even caught shit going wrong with other people's grows this way.

    ttystikk Well-Known Member

    One way to beat failure to the punch is to check the room at intervals short enough to catch problems before they become fatal. RDWC can stand a dead pump for a day or so, aeroponic gardens might need an electronic alarm, even something that sends an email to you.
    Jypsy Dog

    Jypsy Dog Well-Known Member


    OneHitDone Well-Known Member

    Buy the best pump you can afford too, not the cheapest! :hump:
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    nxsov180db Well-Known Member

    A float switch would be good for the reservoir. I grow in Aero so more or less what I was talking about would be some sort of sensor that has to stay wet into the aero chamber (4" PVC in my case).
    ttystikk likes this.

    HydroLynx Active Member

    For automation, I do have an Arduino with wifi and a liquid level sensor (etape), where my computer terminal prints a string of res level data in liters, which basically tells me if it's draining, and then filling back again, etc. That way I know the pump is actually pumping the grow tubes, and also if the res isn't emptying out somewhere onto the floor. Although it wasn't installed as I'm experimenting with a new hydro system first before I pimp it up :wall:

    But still even with automated aircraft etc, a new set of things can go wrong, esp when people assume automation will warn them or correct something. So automation should be a supplement to physical checks.
    BabyLobsterito and ttystikk like this.

    neckpod Well-Known Member

    Just get a Sonoff wifi switch with waterproof temp sensor and set alarms for high temps that way you know if its in chilled nutes or not.
    I used 2 sonoff's switches for both my lights, one of them does my nute temps and the other air temps and humidity, if the air temps get too high you can set limits to auto shut off one light or do it manually via the app. i can be at work and monitor water and air temps. all for under £20 each. bargain!!
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    J Henry

    J Henry Active Member

    A DWC Hydro pot grower must control the environment the res water quality. Must insure minimal safe res water quality 24/7 or the probability of sick and dying plants and Benny’s will be high… root suffocation, root death, root rot, fungal infestations, crop failure = try again and pay more attention next time, don’t make the same mistakes again and be successful next time.

    Plant and microbial death is the result of the growers’ failure to insure minimal life support/water quality requirements. What do you think is the most vital element required for a DWC aerobic plants and microbes?

    All you dudes check water pumps to see if they are pumping water, use thermometers to check air temps and res water temps, test pH, test this and that check switches, hope your timers work right and don’t fail and some have DO charts to insure no low oxygen crisis. All that is easy and very cheap to do. Cheap is popular, everyone loves cheap and easy including me.

    Many elements are important, but the most important and most vital element for all aerobic plants and microbes is elemental oxygen, O2, dissolved oxygen saturation. When the DO Saturation falls below the minimal "safe" oxygen range the sickness, dying, death and decay is imminent… low oxygen crisis are deadly for roots and microbes in all DWC pot operation whether growing 1 plant or 500 commercial plants.

    Testing and checking this and that is important.

    I see that none of you have mentioned testing dissolved oxygen saturation in res water, ever thought of testing DO Saturation? That’s a vital test to consider you know or probably don't know.

    How many of you have ever tested for elemental oxygen? Tested the DO Saturation in your res water? How many of you have ever thought of actually testing your res water DO Sat? Not many I bet,

    So how many of you actually have a DO Meter or DO Test strips and have used them to test your res water quality? 1 maybe 2… none of you?

    Does it seem logical to test the res water to confirm that you are within the “safe” DO range or not. If you are below the “safe” DO sat range, you have a low oxygen crisis in progress and that is often fatal if not corrected quickly especially when dissolved O2 is the most important and most vital element you must consider for all DWC hydro pot grows.

    Even if you do test the DO and discovered your DO Sat is below the “safe” range and your roots and microbes are suffocating (hypoxic).

    What in the world would you do after you have confirmed (with DO testing) your DO Saturation is low, unsafe and your plant roots were now suffocating?

    Would you add an extra water pump, pump more water, bubble more air with bigger air pump, add 10 more bubble rocks, add some H2K2 or O3 and poison all the microbes, add another water chiller, do nothing, PUNT, prey, deny that reality and say it’s not true or graciously just accept failure and start over again.

    rkymtnman Well-Known Member

    any pics of how you test your DO saturation in your dwc grows J Henry?

    you sound like you have never grown anything in hydroponics before. lots of useless info there.

    ttystikk Well-Known Member

    The glaring flaw in your logic is that it's very easy to fully saturate water with oxygen; if a running stream can do it without help then there's no point in expensive DO monitoring equipment.

    The key to increased oxygen saturation is as simple as colder water. That's why water chillers are the golden road to RDWC stability and yields.

    ttystikk Well-Known Member

    Agreed. Mountain out of a molehill going on here.
    horribleherk likes this.

    SwitchHitter Active Member

    68 degrees holds the most O2. I promise. Now go set your rez temp to 68 and have a good grow.

    ttystikk Well-Known Member

    Not strictly true; water holds more dissolved oxygen as temperatures fall, just as air holds more water vapor as temperatures go up. This is true all the way down to freezing.

    The lower constraint is where the roots get too cold for optimum growth.

    I do very well with 65F, YMMV.

    SwitchHitter Active Member

    Yeah, I hear you, ttystikk. What people neglect to realize, is each hydro system is unique. Feeding into coco that waters twice a day with 68* water will only drop the root zone temp to say 72-74 if the room environment is 76-78. It's literally is buffering the temp. Straight DWC hydro doesnt have any temp fluctuation. therefor running a chiller is advised. Rockwool, coco, clay pebbles, then yeah man, drop that temp to 65 and get that root zone back to chillin when you water. how much info did I forget to spill?
    horribleherk and ttystikk like this.
    J Henry

    J Henry Active Member

    Careful with your wild promises dude… 68 F H20 surely does not hold the most dissolved possible if the temp is stable by any stretch of the imagination. How about constant 105% DO super-saturation in 80F water, Bet you never thought of that did you. Plant root metabolism is far superior at constant 80 F than a cold 68 F.
    I bet the forum pseudo expert Rocketman has no concept of this Fact as he is always fixated in the other world. He’s such a trip, great comedy. This is not covered nor mentioned in the standard internet DO Chart which totally confuses most dudes which is beyond any possibility and surely beyond belief for many dudes.
    By the way, in your opinion, what do you consider the roots lower temperature restraint that negative effects optimal root metabolism? You got a number or even a guess or no?
    I would ask you what is the lower DO range in res water where root suffocation and root death begins, but clearly that question is clearly far beyond your scope of knowledge which is understandable.
    Do any of you other dudes here have any idea what DO is considered beyond the lower limits of safe oxygenation, where low oxygen, root suffocation and root death begins in res water?

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