Tag: Hydroponic nutrient solution

Nutrient Solution’s Worst Enemy – Light

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It seems crazy to say Light could be a bad thing for growing plants and Nutrient Solution’s Worse Enemy! As Light is extremely important to the whole growing process for plants. It provides the energy for plants to Photosynthesize which creates all the plant’s food simply. But just like it needs to be concentrated for the best growth effects, it needs to be completely KEPT AWAY FROM NUTRIENT SOLUTION!! If you do not listen to this warning, you are risking problems all the way to lose of your whole crop!

Importance of Light

The importance of light in the growth of all plants can’t be understated. It is absolutely vital and irreplaceable part of every plant’s food creation process. In most growing articles, light holds a very important place as a vital factor in success. It is so important that many grower invest large percentages of their equipment budgets into Lighting Systems to supplement or provide their plants all the light they need. Grow Lighting is easily multi-billion dollar industry!

Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can later be released to fuel the organism’s activities.

Photosynthesis Process Picture
Photosynthesis Process simply shown

What is the Big Deal if Light Does So Much Good?

When nutrient solution is exposed to light for long periods of time, it can have very bad effects for the Hydroponic grow. The highly rich solution can start to have algae growth when exposed to light. When exposure is limited, the algae does not have all the “factors” it needs to successful grow like your intended crops. So light exposure needs to be limited!

What is algae?

Algae picture in hydroponic system

Algae is a simple, nonflowering, and typically aquatic plant of a large group that includes the seaweeds and many single-celled forms. Algae contain chlorophyll but lack true stems, roots, leaves, and vascular tissue.

What Problems Can Algae Cause?

Algae causes many different issues in a hydroponic system which will range depending on type of system, how bad the algae bloom is, and more! Here are a few of the major issues below:

  • Messes with your Nutrient level ppm: Algae has its own nutrient needs. It will use the nutrients out of the nutrient solution which you intended for your plants. 
  • Affect your pH levels: Algae just like your plants will affect your pH levels making them fluxulate faster than normal. Out of range pH levels can really negatively affect your yield as your crops won’t uptake nutrients efficiently. 
  • Clogging Hydroponic nozzles, pumps, and plumbing: Algae can easily be sucked from your nutrient reservoir into your hydroponic plumbing. It can clog filters, piping, and nozzles depending on the type of hydroponic system. This is huge issues in Aeroponics! 
  • Encourage disease growth: Algae creates unclean growing conditions which can easily encourage fungi such as root rots. These diseases can QUICKLY destroy the whole hydroponic crop!

How to Prevent Algae:

Algae needs to be prevented at all costs as it can create way too many issues with your targeted crop! If you take away this one important environmental factor needed for growth, it will greatly slow and/or stop algae growth! That is the point of this article as the only one you can effectively take away is LIGHT.

Few Ways to Limit Light:

  • Use dark solid color nutrient reservoirs. NO CLEAR!! While clear makes it easy to see solution levels, it allows light to the nutrient solution encouraging algae growth. Dark colors do not allow light through or at least highly limit it.
  • Use dark solid color plumbing such as black pipe. No clear or white piping as it allows light to the nutrient solution. If you have to use white pipe, consider painting it a dark color. 
  • Use dark solid color root chambers. As above, consider painting any white chambers to attempt to exclude as much light as possible. 

Other Anti Algae Measures:

  • Cleanliness: This is your first line of defense! After ever crop rotation, a hydroponic system should be cleaned to kill off any startings of algae from previous grows. 
  • Aeration and/or Circulation: Aeration and general movement discourages algae growth along with other benefits to your hydroponic grow. 

In Conclusion

It is hard to believe light can be bad in a hydroponic grow, but that is why it is the #1 overlooked issues. Limiting light exposure to the nutrient solution is one the best way to control Algae growth. This needs to be considered from hydroponic system design all the way to its operation & on-going maintenance!

Check out all our many other articles such as about important environment factors OR about different types of hydroponic systems

Hydroponic Nutrient Solution Management Overview

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Nutrient Solution Management Introduction

The nutrient solution is what your plants’ root systems are being irrigated with to feed them. Having a quality solution that you keep maintained is a huge factor in the success of your hydroponic grow. You have to control the Fertilizer Level (ppM level of minerals in the solution), pH (Acidic or Netural), Temperature, Cleanliness, and Aeration of the Solution.  

Fertilizer Levels

Nutrient Solution Monitor
Nutrient Solution Monitor

Fertilizer Levels are measured normally in ppM (Parts Per Million). So depending on your crop, ppM measurements can range. Also some hydroponic systems require less ppM levels such as High Pressure Aeropoinics. 

Mixing is normally roughly done per bottle instructions of concentrate to distilled water ratios. It is normally done with measurement of ounces of concreate to gallons of water. If levels are not within a good growing range, plants could show signs of nutrient deficiency or fertilizer burn depending on levels. 

Distilled Water or RO system is important to getting a good ppM level. Well or Public Water can have heavy amounts of minerals that could throw the ppM level off.   

ppM can be measured with mechanical meters made for spot checking levels. But they can get advanced as “live” measurements and/or where it monitors to add additional nutrient concretrate into the solution as needed and automatically.. 

pH of the Nutrient Solution

Plant pH Nutrient Availability Chart
Plant pH Nutrient Availability Chart

pH of the nutrient solution is extremely important. Plants all have preferred pH level ranges. Why this is important is due to plants take up nutrients at certain pH ranges most efficiently, pH nutrient availability. If pH is too far out of the range, plants could actually stare even with nutrients there. This is due to pH nutrient availability range. Also why certain nutrient deficiencies are more common due to being on the edge of the pH range for a plant.  

pH is controlled with pH Up to increase pH level (Make more neutral)  and pH Down to lower pH levels (Make more acidic). There are cheap test strips, mechanical spot meters, and extremely advanced systems. The extremely advanced systems can provide “live” pH monitoring, automatic pH dosing, and more. Small residential grow generally monitor the levels with a meter and add pH solution to the nutrient solution manually. 

General Hydroponics pH Up & Down Solution
General Hydroponics pH Up & Down Solution

Temperature of the Solution

Temperature of the nutrient solution should be maintained within certain ranges. Room temperature is fine for hydroponic growing. Temperature issues are normally caused by growing being outside, greenhouse, or warmer climates. Temperature of the solution should be regularly monitored especially in a warmer growing conditions. Many small growers just check temperature and take action when they see an issue. Some more advanced systems will monitor temperature “live” and activate temperature controls. Temperature controls can be chillers or heaters depending on temperature range issue.   


Growing solution maintained to be clean for multiple reasons. Solution with cleanliness issue can be susceptible algae growth and root borne diseases. Algae is normally caused by too much light expose to the solution. Disease are normally caused by not changing out the nutrient solution on a regular basis. 

Algae issues depend a lot on the light level exposure. This can be controlled by having black or dark colored reservoir. Some people make the mistake of getting a white or clear reservoir which causes horrible algae issues. Algae can clog up hydroponic systems especially in Aeroponics with filters, mist nozzles, and etc. 

Root borne disease can be spread in hydroponic systems and take out whole crops. Many times they are caused by low cleanliness of hydropinic system (Should clean after every drop rotation) or not changing solution on a regular basis. You can maintain a reservoir of nutrient solution for up to few weeks in smaller systems. For many reasons, Low Pressure Aeroponic is normally best with “Drain to Waste” and not circulating like the other types.   

Aeration Level of the Solution

Air Pump with air stone in Hydroponic Solution

Aeration of the Nutrient Solution is important to hydroponics. It is accomplished in different ways depending on the type of hydroponic system you are using. Systems with lower/no water circulation such as DWC, require air pumps that add O2 to the nutrient solution. Other types of hydroponics with more water movement such as Aeroponics do not always require air pumps in their reservoirs. But if a larger reservoir is being used, air pumps are not a bad additional item even when not “needed.”

In Conclusion

In conclusion, this is basic hydroponic nutrient solution management. It is vital to success with your grow. Remember fertilizer and pH levels are very crop dependent so always do your research on what you are growing. Other factors are general in nature to good hydroponic growing.