Deepwater Culture Hydroponic Systems – Benefits & DIY Guide to build your own

What is a Deepwater Culture System (DWC)?

Deepwater Culture, also known as DWC is one of the easiest hydroponic and aquaponic methods of growing.  DWC consists of growing plants in a suspended state over oxygenated,  nutrient rich water.  It is a very popular method for good reason. It is easy to get started with and very little to maintain.  Also, the speed of plant growth is way faster using deepwater culture hydroponics over traditional growing and the plant yields tend to be much higher as well.

How does deep water culture systems work?

Deepwater culture systems basically consist of 3 things: a container, pump, and net pot.  The plant is grown in the net pot.  The net pot is suspended above the nutrient rich water where the roots of the plant will grown down into the water.  The pump is used to aerate the water to make sure the oxygen levels in the water stay good.

The plant roots are allowed to grow down into the nutrient rich water.  This allows the plants to get food directly from the water and in turn promotes faster and better growth of the plant.

Types of DWC systems:

  • Single Deepwater Culture
  • Recirculating Deep Water Culture
  • Bubbleponics

A typical system can be built as a stand alone system.  This would consist of just a container, pump and net pot.  It is possible to create a modular type system where you would have multiple containers.  You would then have just one water reservoir that circulates between all of the containers.  These types of systems are called Recirculating Deepwater Culture systems.  Bubbleponics is another variation on DWC systems.  It is basically a DWC system but has a water pump and drip lines added to the system.  This lines feed to the top of the plants and drip the nutrient rich water onto the roots.  This type of system helps speed up the germination and seed phase of the plant by directly feeding it rather than waiting for the roots to grow.

Benefits of DWC:

  • Extremely fast plant growth
  • Easy to setup and build
  • Low maintenance
  • Expandable so you can start with one and easily add more to the system.

Downsides of DWC systems:

  • pH levels can fluctuate greatly in small systems
  • Air pump failure can result in low oxygen water killing the plants
  • It can be difficult to maintain a constant water temperature in your buckets

What type of plants are good to grown with a DWC system?

There are many types of plants that are easy to grown with a DWC system.  Some plants that are great to grow with this type of hydroponic system are:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Beans

How to build a DWC system:

Building a simple DWC system is very easy.  This is a perfect project for a beginner getting into hydroponic growing.  There are many plans available on how to build one of these simple systems but here are the basics of what you need.

5 Gallon Bucket Part List:

  • 5 gallon bucket with lid (ie.  Home Depot bucket)
  • Aquarium air pump
  • Air stone
  • Net pot
  • Growing media

Other things for growing:

  • Nutrients for water
  • Ph measuring stick

DWC Assembly Instructions:

Assembly is very simple.  Connect the air pump to the tubing.  Connect the tubing to the airstone.  You will then fill up your bucket with your nutrient rich water.  At first, fill the bucket up to the base of your net pots so your plants will get have a good supply of food.  Once your plants start to germinate and roots begin to grow, you can lower the level of water in the bucket.

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