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RDWC build guide

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#11 bigbadbillybob


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Posted 23 January 2018 - 08:06 PM

Air pumps, there are many different types of airpump, some better than others

From the top,  the budget Piston driven pump , next is an example of a top class hi blo diaphragm and lastly on the right a range of budget Hailea Diaphragm operated type. Al of these can be used but I would keep away from the piston driven type unless you have earplugs and stay on top of a mountain, or deep, deep in the woods, cos they are fuckin noisy





the hi blo pumps are great, work well and are reliable too, I would recommend them, they are a little noisy but no where near the piston type. the bottom hailea is a smaller pump just punting out 10l/min, but would be enough for a small 2 pot system

All of these are noisy to an extent, but can be suspended in air, or placed on a square of acoustic matt, as used in sound booths, to deaden the noise a bit

So your plants  life require oxygen rich water in order to remain healthy and grow. Pumps are also handy to run air stones

An air pump can help by injecting air directly into the water via an airstone. 

Aeration is especially important in warm tents, when water holds much less oxygen. Altho this wont be a problem for you, because you WILL have a chiller, right/?

SPECIAL NOTE: when using more than one airpump in conjunction with a common manifold there can be a need to balance air distribution evenly, often still necessary when using stones of the same type and size.

This is very simple to achieve by the fitting of valved manifolds or single minature 4mm valves .....BUT.........I would not use these personally, as they put more strain on the pump, which will lead to its early failure. Instead, all I do is keep ALL of the airstone hoses the exact same length. This will ensure that each pot is receiving an equal amount of air to the root zone.

I ALWAYS  make sure to locate the airpump above the level of the nutrient in the totes. ALSO: If you have no choice other than to site the Air Pump at a level below that of the water in your pond remember you will need to fit non return valves. If at all possible i would advise to always try to site the pump at a higher level (above the water). Your pump will always perform better without non returns (They do add extra back pressure to the system) More back pressure = less air .

Where to site the Air Pump
I recommend to site the pump in a well ventilated dry and cool place., preferably outside of the tent.

Try wherever possible to site the pump so it draws in fresh air. If the pump is situated where high concentrations of Co2, say from flowering plants inside a tent, the co2  will inevitably be transfered to the water, and your plants root zone - not good.


There are no hard and fast rules on what size air pump to go for, but I like big ones, I like big air pumps too lol.

As an example I used a 60litre/min one in my 4 pot system and a 40l/min in my 2 pot system, but again, the more the merrier. 

I have used everything from 40l/min up to 180l/min pumps, all dependant on system size, but although nice to have and very much beneficial in plant development, you don't actually NEED  them with a recirc system like those described in my first post. they are beneficial tho, in that they keep the foots floating in the tote, and deliver dissolved oxygen enriched water directly to the root zone. If placed appropriately they can also help prevent roots migrating down return pipes.


. Next up, AIRSTIONES.


Again airtones  come in many different forms, here are a few varieties. See below. 

These are just tools to disperse the air within the pot/ tote, to distribute it in a more efficient way to the roots.








The bottom pic is not an airstone, it is an air diffuser, which provides micro bubbles, and is my favourite of them all, but they aint cheap, and they have to be "hard wired" to your tote, meaning cleaning them is a pain in the arse.

The other stones shown all have their merits, but I also preffer numbers 2 and 4 above, the toblerone shaped ones and the cylinder with square ends type. 

The discs I am not so keen on, because they lose half the surface area to plastic (on the bottom of the stone), and a weak pump will not pump air thru all of the stone, with more coming from the inlet side of the stone.

They all have their pros and cons,

Picture Number 1 - cylinder type XL stone, these are tricky to get standard hose on to, because the inlets are bigger than normal, but they work well, and are easily cleaned.

Number 2. toblerone type, provide a good spread of bubbles, and are good beside return outlest to keep roots at bay. down side is they break easily if disturbed

Number 3. classic disc type, ok, they do the job, but lose efficiency if the pump isn't up to it, but then they all do so maybe that's a bit unfair.

Number 4 Same benefits as No. 2, but can rattle in the totes, which is a pain if you are trying to sleep in the same room.

Number 5, Norres diffuser- the bollox for air bubbles, its like a Jacuzzi, downside is it needs a big airpump to run them properly (60l/min minimum for a 4 pot system.


There are other types, golf ball style, ring type etc etc, they all work to a degree.


I ALLWAYS ditch airstones after 3 grows, and I allways clean them after each and every grow, including the airlines. It doesn't take much (a warm water/ bleach mix, a new pot scrubber and / or some isoprpropyl, or Hydrogen peroxide does the job nicely.)


Like I said earlier, air pumps and stones aren't really a necessity for a simple recirc system, but if there is more DO on offer, it would be rude not to take advantage of it eh? in my opinion.


I'm no expert, and am willing to be corrected on anything which you may think is incorrect or misleading, or if you have anything to add, feel free. 

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#12 Nefarious Shenanigans

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 06:00 AM

I feel like I just got educated


much appreciated


nice thread Billy

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#13 bigbadbillybob


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Posted 08 March 2018 - 03:29 PM

coooooeeeeeee, I'm ba-aaaaack, as me old dear was fond of saying.

ive been busy sniffing glue today, but don't worry, I'm not about to dive headlong off a hi-rise tower block thinking I can fly, ive actually been glueing bits of pipe together.

Bits of pipe for .......................drumroll.............................my NEW SYSTEM !!!!


I started the day by going out to the garage to retrieve my stash of 84 litre really useful boxes from the loft. Easy for most, but not when your knees are as fuct as mine, but hey, lets not cry about it. Oh this will save me loads of time, because they are already drilled for 40mm returns and the spray bar holes are also done, at this rate i'll be in the pub spending my invisible money this afternoon. But as we all know, fate had other plans for me. 

SO I got them in, marked out a space on the spare room floor which is 2.4 by 1.2, and set them out. No sooner had I extended the tank connectors, did I realise that I don't have lids for these boxes, as the friendly neighbourhood arse patrol stole them. oh fuckety farts I thought, what now.  ?

I decided to use some boxes I bought ages ago, for a undercurrent system which never happened, because they leaked lkike sieves, due to the angle of the sides I couldn't get the pipes to seal when full of water, without thinking "this isn't going to end well"

So igot them out instead and started spacing them out. Ive been thinking for the past few days, "how many pots"?

2 big trees? 3 medium sized trees? or 4 scrogged shrubs? 3 would have been the magic number, but I don't like odd numbers, and I don't want to risk just 2 incase of any plant isues, so 4 ir is? they just fit inside the tent, allowing me to open the posh hinged lids. 

check them out

so this was the original I took a pic, but I preffer the new pots, they are higher (easier on the knees) and have bigger net pots (from a flood and drain inner pot
I also got the spray bars more or less finished, apart from the holes. I'm gonna do less holes this time but bigger, to try and penertrate the water a bit more for DO> 
These will run in series, and be fed from the centre of pots 2 and 3, to evenly distreibute the water.  Not sure which pump to get, I usually use hailea, HX 8860s but they scoop 140 odd watts, every hour of every day. Oh no no no, Billy is a tight arse isn't he, . I started shopping around and found a jebao 6500 litre one which uses 40 watts and claims to have almost the same head as the hailea. I'm thinking about ordering, but credit card on melt down. 
Well that's the plan, i'll post up some more when I'm nearer the finish line
I'm getting as excited as bus load of pensioners going to the bingo, cant wait. 
tood eloo for the noo, as the old dear used to say, (gawd I'm gonna have to open the window, I'm propoer buzzing with this glue. 



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#14 Special Branch

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Posted 16 March 2018 - 05:44 PM

excellent read billy, i came across 2 65ltr stackaway boxes from ¬£stretcher for ¬£10 but the lids are flimsey as, mind so are the sides  :wacko:  and they are light blue in colour, not very light proof..


I thought of doing 2 plants as i have pond solutions pump, net pots, bartol complete with 45 & 90's for corners but im running things threw my head what i could use for a sturdy lid  :huh:

i see some use the insulation boards but my luck it would buckle under the weight. :o  I cant for the life of me find where i can get some black totes like yours 'apart from ordering online'. look well sturdy the way they've been molded.



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#15 bigbadbillybob


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Posted 16 March 2018 - 09:34 PM

yes mate, the really useful boxes are great, and they are solid, with solid lids too.

They dont have to be the big 64 or 84 litre jobs, a 42 litre one s would do, The bigger ones keep the solution more stable tho)  and I did a 26 ounce plant in a 32 litre job, with a cheap air pump and 2 stones, but I had to top it up sometimes twice a day, which was a bit of a pain.

I wouldn't use the cheap boxes mate, much better investing a few quid  on decent ones, or pop into IKEA, if you have one local.  they do a nice line in plastic storage boxes with lids, ive used their stuff before, most of it is pretty well made.  they are also cheaper than really useful boxes, just make sure the boxes don't have drain holes in the middle because some do, which isn't any use for us. 

I wouldn't use insulation board for the lids either mate, too risky, and they get big, the plants, so a good chance of collapse.

Whats bartol?

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#16 Special Branch

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 02:47 AM

good shout on ikea mate, might take a run in there in future when i decide the exact plans.. bartol is the waste pipe for drainage around the house, sinks, washing machines etc 

yeah it was a stoner moment when i got the boxes outta pound stretcher, they would just about hold wet clothes lol.

thats not bad that mate, nearly an ounce per liter ratio  :pimped: 

ill bash away at the wilmas for now before i take the bigger plunge ill prob ping your window for some advice  :P


Cheers billybob  :leaf:

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#17 bigbadbillybob


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Posted 15 May 2018 - 06:31 PM

back again with a mini update.

I did set this  system up for my last grow, and heres some pics.


before that tho, today I spent making some flumes for the returns at the res.

this consists of two 90 bends, with a length of pipe -which slot into the return pipe at the tank connector.

I made the flooms for the tank connector  by slotting a length of return pipe lengthways with a grinder. this reduced the diameter of the pipe so that it squeezes together and fits inside the 40mm tank connector and inside the 40mm pipe just before the 90 bend.

does this make sense?. I dunno, I'm a bit baked,

look at this vid and its the same as this


I should have just posted this in the first place- Duh.

why floom?

becausein tests flooms create more DO than airstones. a 40l/min air pump produced 20 % less dissolved oxygen than a maxijet 1000l/min pump flooming the surface.

Mine obviously isn't pumped, it just relies on gravity fed returns, but it all helps, and pumps create more heat in the res, which I don't want.


I might not be able to grow, but I can still build stuff.



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#18 Stutter


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Posted 15 May 2018 - 06:44 PM

Teally nice well thought out set up

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#19 MDS


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Posted 15 May 2018 - 07:53 PM

Interesting stuff BBBB :)


Those piston air pumps should be able to be silenced fairly effectively if you think about it ;) Though I guess it depends if the air input to the pump is available to attach something to... Effectively they're a two stroke engine being driven by an electric motor, all the noise is generated by the continual "pops" as the piston uncovers the inlet port to the cylinder & sucks air in...

Effectively all you need to shut them up a fair bit is a silencer connected to the air inlet, or if you like an exhaust off of some cheap two stroke motorbike :D Obviously new or a secondhand one cleaned out properly...


Also now I think about it... Why don't you use the venturi effect to suck millions of tiny air bubbles into the water line from the pump to the spray bars? You seem to like lots of dissolved oxygen, that would give you vastly more without the need for an air pump feeding air stones... So bye bye air pump too, less noise & more DO for free ;)

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#20 bigbadbillybob


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Posted 15 May 2018 - 08:17 PM

You don't really need the air pump at all with a waterfall/ spray bar set up. 

It does help tho, more the merrier as far as dissolved oxygen is concerned.


You can also keep to keep pathogens at bay when you have  higher than ideal res temps with more air and water  movement, but I d not like to have to prove it, not worth the risk imo. 

chillers work, so use them, they will keep everything in line temperature wise.


As for the piston air pumps, you can keep them, they are loud as f*ck, and diaphragm ones aren't that much more expensive, and pump as much air.

The pythium and other root nasties are also air borne, and the airstones act as giant sponges for them to colonise, if it gets into your air input, given high enough temperatures and high humidity.

ive never really suffered pythium, but I think that is because I tend to keep my air movement up, my res temps under 22 degrees , and my humidity low (I cant really do much about my RH as I stay by the coast  at sea level, so it rarwely gets above 60%. But if your RH is generally high anyway it might be worth it to just use the spray bars


I have thought about venturis, and a mate is experimenting with them just now, but to be honest its got its downsides too -more heat (cos you need another water pump), and the flooms will produce more than enough DO to pump round the system I reckon. 

Saying all that, if my mate ends up growing kilo trees with his venturis, ill be straight on the bandwagon ha ha

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