Essential Hydroponic Gear: Items Needed for Hydroponic System

According to agriculture expert Alicia, “The essential items for a hydroponic system are a reservoir, pump, growing medium, lighting, and nutrients.” 

As someone who has built dozens of hydroponic systems over the years, I can tell you this method of soilless gardening opens up new possibilities for growing fresh produce and herbs right at home.

With just a few key supplies, you’ll be amazed at the bountiful, vibrant plants that can thrive in water alone.

Let me walk you through everything you need to get started – this guide has all the details to turn your hydroponics dreams into reality!


What are the items needed for hydroponic systems?

To set up a hydroponic system (1), you’ll need essential items such as grow trays, nutrient solution, water pumps, lighting, pH meters, and planting medium.

These components are crucial for creating a successful and thriving hydroponic garden.

Equipment for your Hydroponic Garden

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Whether you’re looking to start your first hydroponic system or expand an existing hydroponic garden, there are several BASIC COMPONENTS to consider for effectively growing plants without soil.

Everything from pots and trays to nutrients and lighting solutions must work harmoniously together.

Here’s a primer on the essential pieces.

Structures and Containers

A HYDROPONIC SYSTEM requires sturdy yet versatile CONTAINERS to house your plants and their ROOTS.

Some excellent options include using TRAYS, RACKS, or TABLES to provide sturdy BASES, as well as RESERVOIRS below to catch and recycle the NUTRIENT SOLUTION.

POTS and NET CUPS, or RAFT SYSTEMS, allow for roots to hang freely in the solution.

I’ve had great success with plastic or bamboo when starting my systems.

Water and Nutrition

Of course, to truly thrive, your plants need a STEADY SUPPLY of water rich in nutrients delivered directly to their ROOTS.

I recommend having TANKS or RESERVOIRS on hand to hold the large volumes, and monitor the ratios carefully with a reliable pH METER and pH-balancing SOLUTIONS.

Only use nutrients tailor-made for HYDROPONICS to ensure optimal uptake.

FANS will also keep the water oxygenated to maximize growth.

Proper watering and fertilizing techniques are fundamental to soilless GARDENING.

Lighting Your Hydroponic Plants

A hydroponic system is like an indoor GARDEN that never sees daylight, so GROW LIGHTS are needed to nurture your plants.

I’ve found LED and fluorescent OPTIONS to work well for most greens.

Full-spectrum LED GROW LIGHTS are an excellent choice to deliver the entire light spectrum effectively with minimal energy usage.

They come invarious sizes and intensities to suit anyGROWING SPACE.

I personally use 300-watt panels by Kind K5 LEDs for my kitchen garden.

FLUORESCENT TUBES equipped with specially formulated blubs also generate balanced light at a more affordable price point.

Many gardeners find success with T5 and T8 fittings suspended above plant racks or flood trays in a DIY NUTRIENT FILM TECHNIQUE setup.

Pair the fixtures with a TIMER to keep lights on the optimal photoperiod your crops require.

Pumps and Controls

Several types of PUMPS drive water and nutrients through the plumbing of a HYDROPONIC SYSTEM.

I preferentially use air PUMPS to oxygenate my DEEP WATER CULTURE reservoirs.

These pumps connect to airline tubing and STONE DIFFUSERS submerged below the water line.

SUBMERSIBLE water PUMPS also efficiently circulate NUTRIENT SOLUTIONS through EBB AND FLOW flood tables or NFT GUTTER systems controlled by FLOAT VALVES or IRRIGATION TIMERS.

Program the equipment with digital CONTROLLERS set to a repeatable schedule to ensure crops receive consistent watering rhythms indoors.

Precise equipment is important for thriving in a SOIL-LESS ENVIRONMENT.

Additional Supplies for your Hydroponic Garden

Items Needed for Hydroponic System 3

No HYDROPONICS system is complete without some extra pieces of EQUIPMENT.

A few standard tools can support your gardening needs and help plants thrive without soil.

A quality THERMOMETER allows monitoring of the water temperature, ensuring it stays within the optimal RANGE that PUMP roots prefer.

I like digital models that display both Celsius and Fahrenheit for easy reading.

NETTING, fishing line, or CLIPS provide structure to young seedlings and GREENS as they GROW UP without soil restraint.

The material should be strong but lightweight to guide PLANT ROOTS without damage.

And no gardener is without a pair of trusted SCISSORS to trim away old growth and unwanted foliage.

STAKES labeled with the VARIETY name also help keep trays organized for a HYDROPONIC GARDENER.

Whether starting seeds or taking cuttings, a set of basic supplies makes soil-less cultivation indoors much simpler.

Don’t forget to check nutrients and pH LEVELS regularly as part of your routine.

With diligence, even beginners can keep their first EBB AND FLOW SYSTEM or NFT set up running smoothly to enjoy a continuous harvest all season under LIGHTS!

Popular Hydroponic Growing Techniques

Items Needed for Hydroponic System 2

When starting your first HYDROPONIC garden (2), selecting the ideal SYSTEM TYPE depends on factors like space, budget, and plant selection.

Here are some commonly used methods to get crops growing without soil.

EBB AND FLOW systems are great for BEGINNERS, with a simple design of flooding TRAYS before draining the NUTRIENT SOLUTION back to the RESERVOIR.

This rhythmic watering from below keeps ROOTS well-supplied.

Another popular technique is NUTRIENT FILM TECHNIQUE (NFT), using gentle slopes or GUTTERS that maintain a shallow film of oxygenated water circulating past plant roots.

This allows for high-density cultivation, though PH LEVELS must be closely monitored.

DEEP WATER CULTURE (DWC) bubbles air through a RESERVOIR below the POT or RAFT holding the roots, keeping them immersed yet well-oxygenated at all times.

Demanding but efficient for fast VEGETATIVE growth when pairing with a floating RAFT SYSTEM.

WICK systems arise wherever DRAINAGE is a concern, with ABSORPTIVE MATERIAL like felt delivering water and nutrients vertically from a reservoir uphill to the root zone.

AEROPONIC systems are perhaps the most technical, spraying finely MICRONIZED water and nutrient droplets onto exposed roots without any growing medium.

Precise but very productive once MASTERED.

DRIP systems also provide localized moisture on demand, with tubing connected to EMITTERS or DRIPPLERS that slowly saturate the media.

Great for large plants like tomatoes.

Setting Up Your Hydroponic System

With the right PLANNING and PREPARATION, your soil-less garden setup will be prosperous for many harvests to come.

Consider location and starter tasks carefully.

Choosing Your Grow Location

Indoor HYDROPONIC rooms offer tight TEMPERATURE and humidity control year-round.

Outdoors works well too though, with protection from weather extremes.

Proper ACCESS to ELECTRICITY, WATER, and DRAINAGE are essential.

I situate my SMALL SYSTEM on a shelf near a window for additional NATURAL LIGHT.

Priming Your Water Reservoir

Initial reservoir SETUP requires some forethought as well.


Then FILL with cool, pH-balanced TAP WATER or collect RAINWATER if desired.

For the first NUTRIENT ADDING, follow brand instructions precisely.


Also critical are measuring WATER PPM with a TDS PEN and adjusting ph UP or DOWN with dilution until the levels are optimal for plant UPTAKE.

With the RESERVOIR primed, your crop is ready to be placed! Proper START conditions help your flowers and VEGETABLES get off to a healthy start indoors.

Planting and Starting Irrigation

Items Needed for Hydroponic System

With reservoirs PRIMED, it’s time to start your crop.

Decide whether growing from SEEDS, CUTTINGS or CLONES before planting in suitable MEDIA like ROCKWOOL, COCO COIR or directly on fertilized RAFTS.

Proper SPACING is key, whether sowing seeds or positioning cuttings in your chosen SYSTEM like DWC BUBBLE BEDS, NFT GUTTERS or EBB AND FLOW FLOOD TABLES.

I prefer starting greens and herbs in 4×4 inch ROCKWOOL cubes.

For DRIP or EBB/FLOW styles, connect TUBING from the RESERVOIR pump up to DISPERSION points using appropriately sized EMITTERS, DRIPPLERS or FLOOD VALVES matched to your needs.

PRIME lines by briefly turning equipment on before planting to remove any trapped air.

Double check for LEAKS.

Routine Care and Maintenance

Once in the system, closely MONITOR factors like pH, TEMPERATURE, PPM and ensure the water FLOWS as planned.

CLEANLINESS also prevents algae or disease – I sanitize my setups weekly.

Small HYDROPONIC gardeners must pay close attention to catch potential issues early like nutrient deficiencies or OVER-watering.

Be ready to remedy challenges by ADJUSTING recipes or repairing malfunctions before they impact yield.

Periods of STEADY growth are punctuated by timely HARVESTS.

Before replanting, thoroughly SCRUB all spaces and replace the NUTRITION-RICH water to encourage repeated bounty from your soil-less operation!

Tips for Success with your Hydroponic Garden

With some additional guidance, your soil-free crops can truly thrive.

Here are recommendations from years of HYDROPONIC experience.

Leafy GREENS, HERBS, and TOMATOES tend to grow best, with roots easily accessible to NUTRIENTS and aeration.

Look for varieties bred for compact indoor growth.

When using inert media like PERLITE or COIR, favor PH-balanced formulas without PHOSPHOROUS, which can build up harmfully without soil microbes.

For purer water, invest in a REVERSE OSMOSIS system.

Avoid TAP with excessive MINERALS that raise PH or harm plants over many water changes.

Integrated PEST control focuses on prevention through closed areas, weed removal, and attracting predators.

MONITOR daily to spot any issues early.

POSITION LIGHTS and TRAIN VINES upward periodically to fully illuminate all PLANT SURFACES.

This optimizes flowering and yields.

Consider AUTOMATION, with PROGRAMMABLE TIMERS and DRIP IRRIGATION supplying steady, measured nutrition on a set schedule.

This frees up your time.

Taking these researched CUES into account will lead to bountiful, healthy harvests from your hydroponic INDOOR garden for many seasons!

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of air pump should I use for my diy hydroponic system?

For a small DIY hydroponic system, you can use a small air pump that is suitable for an aquarium.

Air pumps help add air to the water reservoir so that the plant roots have oxygen.

You will also need an air stone attached to the end of the air pump tubing to break up the air bubbles for better oxygen distribution in the water.

How can I tell what type of hydroponic system is best for the plants I want to grow?

There are different types of hydroponics systems that work best for different types of plants.

Some systems like nutrient film technique (NFT) or deep water culture (DWC) are best for leafy greens that require lots of oxygen to the roots.

Other systems like drip systems or wick systems work better for vegetables or herbs that do not need as much oxygen.

You should research what systems are most suitable for the specific plants you want to grow.

What kind of grow light is needed for indoor hydroponic gardens?

If growing plants indoors, you will need an artificial grow light since sunlight will not be sufficient.

Good options for indoor grow lights include fluorescent lights, high pressure sodium (HPS) lights, or LED grow lights.

The grow light needs to be full-spectrum and placed close enough to the plants so that the light intensity meets the plants’ requirements.

Proper lighting is important for good plant growth.

Do I need to use net pots for my hydroponic system?

Net pots are not completely necessary but they are often used in hydroponic systems because they have benefits.

Net pots hold the plant and its root system above the water or nutrient solution in the reservoir.

They allow for good water and oxygen circulation to the roots.

Net pots also make it easier to change the water or nutrients and to manage the water level.

However, some growing systems like aeroponics do not require net pots since the roots are misted with nutrient rich water instead of being submerged.

How often do I need to change the water in my hydroponic system?

For most hydroponic systems, you should change out at least 25% of the nutrient solution every 1-2 weeks to provide the plants with fresh nutrients and to prevent any build up of harmful salts or diseases in the reservoir.

Commercial hydroponic farms that grow large volumes of plants may change the solution more often, even every 7-10 days.

The frequency of water changes also depends on factors like the type of hydroponics system, the plant types being grown, and overall water usage.

Frequent monitoring helps determine the best schedule for a particular system.

What are some pros and cons of building my own diy hydroponic system compared to buying a pre-made system?

There are benefits to both DIY systems and pre-made systems.

Some pros of building your own include lower costs than pre-built systems, customizing it exactly for your space and needs, and learning hydroponic techniques.

Cons can include greater time investment and potential for errors in design or assembly.

Pre-made systems have advantages of ease of set up, consistent performance, and technical support- but higher initial prices.

For a beginner, a pre-made system may be less complex, while a DIY project is a good choice for a more experienced grower interested in personalizing their system.

How can I control the temperature in my indoor hydroponic grow room?

Proper temperature control is important for optimal plant growth.

For an indoor grow room, you may need equipment like fans, dehumidifiers, venting systems or air conditioners depending on seasonal temperatures.

Hydroponic grow rooms need temperatures between 65-80°F/18-27°C for most plants.

You can use thermometers and temperature controllers connected to cooling or heating devices to monitor and regulate the grow room temperature.

Good ventilation is also key to prevent issues like mold from high humidity levels.

How do I fill the water reservoir in my hydroponic system?

To fill the water reservoir:

  1. Make sure your pump, piping, and any other components are secure and placed correctly before adding water.
  2. Select a storage container that is large enough to hold the volume of water your system requires. Food-grade plastic storage containers work well.
  3. Add your hydroponic nutrients to the water as directed on the packaging before placing it in the reservoir.
  4. Slowly pour or transfer the nutrient water mixture into the reservoir.
  5. Check the water level once filled and make sure it is covering any water pumps or airstones properly.
  6. Monitor water levels regularly and top off with fresh nutrient water as needed.

What essential hydroponic nutrients do plant roots need to grow well?

All plants require certain nutrients to thrive and grow proper.

In hydroponics, these nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and others – are dissolved in the water that reaches the roots.

A hydroponic nutrient formula includes all the macro and micronutrients that plant roots frequently absorb, including nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium, magnesium and others.

By keeping the nutrient water stocked with these essential elements, growers can help ensure maximum plant growth.

What are some commonly used hydroponic equipment, supplies and materials?

Some typical hydroponic equipment commercial growers and hobbyists commonly use includes grow lights, pumps, tubing, timers, nutrients, nets pots or grow rafts, and reservoirs.

Additional materials may be storage containers, ropes or hooks for plant support, thermometers, pH meters or controllers, and filters.

Hydroponic suppliers offer all kinds of systems, nutrients, and accessories to help with tasks like mixing solutions, transferring water, measuring pH and EC levels, and more.

Having the proper equipment makes hydroponic gardening much simpler.

Where is a good place to locate an indoor hydroponic system or grow room?

When choosing a location for an indoor hydroponic system, there are some factors to consider.

The area needs strong lighting, ventilation, and temperature control.

Basements or garages are often convenient, but produce areas are ideal since they provide dedicated light and space control.

Other suitable spots can be a section of a bedroom, workout room, dining room – really any location that meets lighting needs and allows grow tents, shelving or other arrangements to be set up efficiently without disturbing regular home activities.

Proper planning goes a long way.

Is it difficult to build a basic hydroponic system at home?

Building a basic hydroponic system at home is actually quite simple and inexpensive for any skill level.

There are lots of DIY tutorials and plans available online to help learn techniques.

Some basic hoop house designs or bucket systems for herbs and greens, for example, require only a few low-cost supplies that are widely available, like storage totes, air pumps, tubing, and nets pots.

With some careful reading, even beginners can construct efficient setups.

Having the right guidance makes hydroponics very approachable and affordable for anyone hoping to grow plants without soil.


As we’ve explored, a hydroponic system requires just a few key components to get up and running.

At its core, you need a reservoir, pump, growing medium, lighting rig, and nutrient solution.

By investing in high-quality materials, you’ll be rewarded with happy, thriving plants.

I hope this guide has demystified hydroponics for you.

With the right know-how, anyone can create their own soilless garden.

It’s an incredibly rewarding way to grow fresh, organic produce right at home.

And it’s fascinating to watch roots grow in water alone!

Now that you’re equipped with a parts list, it’s time to start building your system.

Refer back to this guide anytime you need a refresher.

Wishing you a bountiful, beautiful garden! 

Let me know how it goes in the comments.



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