Deep water culture in 5 gallon bucket

DWC in 5 gallon bucket

Many are surprised when they find out just how easy building a deep water culture system really is. In fact, it is by far the easiest hydroponic setup on the planet.

Deep water culture systems are characterized by the plant’s roots being constantly soaked in aerated water. You could build one of these out of tons of containers you can find around your house. In fact, the only items you need to purchase are an air pump, an air stone, and hydroponic nutrients. Commonly used containers are 18 gallon storage totes and 5 gallon buckets.

So how do you build it?


  • Air Pump
  • Air Stone
  • Hydroponic nutrients
  • 18 Gallon tote w/ lid
  • 6-12 3″ Net pots
  • Small river rocks

First things first, find the materials. You can find the air pump and air stone at most pet shops or online, you are going to need about a 3 watt air pump for an 18 gallon tote.
The hydroponic nutrient solution can be picked up at hydroponic stores or online. 3″ net pots can be bought online or can be made out of pudding containers with holes poked in them.
I recommend going for the net pots, but if you feel you can eat 12 cups of pudding in a short amount of time, have at it.

Next step is to drill holes in the lid of the tote. Use a marker to mark where you want your net pots to go. If you have a 3″ hole drill, use that to make the holes. If a hole drill isn’t available, make a 3″ circular cardboard cutout, trace around it over each mark, then use a razor to make the holes.

Wash the inside of the tote. You may either use soap and water or a small amount of bleach mixed with a lot of water.

Drill a small hole next to the tote handle. Make sure it is at the very top, as the tote will be completely filled with water, and will leak if the hole is too low. This is where your air pump tubing will go.

Fill the tote with water and add the air stones. Let the air pump run overnight, this will cause the chlorine from city water to evaporate.

Add the hydroponic nutrients. Follow the instructions on the container the hydroponic fertilizer came in. Do not over-fertilize

Finally, add the net pots to the tote and fill them with river rocks, make sure the bottom of the net pots are submerged in the water/nutrient solution.

There you have it, a fully functioning deep water culture setup.