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Could Air Stones Be Doing More Harm Than Good?

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How did your setup work out? Was the pump the right size? I've read many say keeping the water as dark as possible is important, did those yellow lids create any problems by letting too much light into the water?
Thanks in advance! Your setup looks solid!
system is working great, I did have to add a 1 inch pvc drain between each tote installed right at the water level I want to maintain. I had some water level rising issues due to roots blocking my 2 inch lines, and since im injecting water from the top for the water falls it would cause the tote with the obstructed lines to have to high of water levels, actually caused crown rot on a couple of plants. Now it is working great, here are some pics.
 
I decided to make this thread since I see a lot of people over think hydro. A lot of times "adding more" or "going bigger" is a solution to hopes of achieving those big tree dreams. In reality , could everything they are doing be setting them further back?

Halfway thru my last run I was doing some cleaning and/or general maintenance around my air pumps (still same size that came with my UC Double barrel 16) when I accidentally knocked off the hose that connected to the air stones. Now , I've felt this air before and knew it was hot. That was why Last year I replaced my metal air Manifolds that came from current culture with white plastic ones from the grow store. The plastic didn't heat up like the metal ones. I also replaced all the airline with blue aquatic airline to keep heat away.

This time I really thought about this super hot air. What good could air that is hot enough to be uncomfortable on my skin be for my roots . Skin is a protective layer that has been weathered by dirt, oxygen, sunlight, etc. If this air could do that to my thick skin l, what would it do to gentle sensitive sterile roots that have lived in water their entire lives which are more like our veins or organs rather than our skin.

I unplugged the air pump and left it off the rest of the entire run. Plants still thrived and produced the most fire flowers I've ever been able to accomplish. I feel the quality increase is mostly due to my switching to 600s from 1000s however not having any air stones roaring didn't hinder my success.

After every harvest I always toss my baskets, grow rocks, and airstones and replace them with new ones. Since I switched to 600s and lost yield I decided to cut costs and reuse my baskets and grow rocks and simply wash them. As for the air stones, i tossed them and decided to not replace them. I went ahead and removed all the airlines, air manifolds, and put the pump away into storage.

I made an educated hypothesis that the hot air blowing into my root mass was not only physically damaging from the force of the bubbles but also from the temperature. I also guessed that the hot air that comes up thru the water on its way to the surface is also exchanging heat with the water its directly in contact with this heating the system and being counter productive to a water chiller.

We know air bubbles don't oxygenate water unlike what most of us believed when we first got into hydro . Water takes in air from its surface area. The bubbles simply break up the waters surface exposing more of it to the air allowing more oxygen to be absorbed. So a standing calm glass of water will still take in oxygen just fine, and if you stir the water up it'll increase the surface area and take in more. You don't need roaring bubbles.

I figured with the AL15 still going in the Epi center and the waterfall effect in the epicenter from recirculating, id have plenty of DO.

So I took a batch of clones from my ez cloner and threw them into the system with no airstones.

View attachment 657059

I did water thru the top for first 3 days which also had me thinking that I plan to turn the rerun pvc into a feed and recirculate each bucket individually the way the epi center does. I'll just put the pump into the epi center and suck from the epi center and push thru the small pvc feed line and create a waterfall effect in each site.

Here they are 5 days into veg

View attachment 657060

Lights went out and here's a size comparison for you. 15 inches tall after only 5 days in the UC with no air stones.

View attachment 657061

And here are the roots after 5 days. Healthy and white. Lots of those little finger side growth where the bubbles would normally damage or rip those off. However, as you'll be able to notice there is a film starting to form at the top of the water from lack of agitation .

View attachment 657062

I only use RO and A+B so the water doesn't smell and it's not hurting my roots. I plan to change the system out every week until I can modify it for next run to waterfall in every bucket.

Hopefully this can help people cut costs and grow bigger , healthier plants.
Yes use a circulation pump. Air stones cause water to evap quicker thus raising ppm
 
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Why not run an air line coiled thru a bucket of ice water. This can and should drop water temps. I may give this a shot with my aero cloners this weekend. I have a strain that's very water temp picky.
 
So how did your setup work out? I'm in beginning phase, specking out my system, I'm wondering what size pump to get, I'll either go with 8 large sites or 12- 4 gallon sites, hoping to get a good waterfall effect in each site, but there are so many pumps out there! You speak of a 2700gph, that sounds way overkill, was it? Can you recommend a make n model? Are pool pumps useable? Should I go by horse power, thinking either 1/2 to 1 HP. Any thoughts?
i have now built 2 12 site systems . the 1st one is as stated above and is working very well. the second system i made a few modifications .1st i increased the pump size to 5500gph from 2700gph and 2nd the 3 x 2 "return lines feed into a single 3" pipe before returning to the rez. this system also works well but the increased pum size made it necessary for me to chill the system. i have definitely had a few issues with my transitions from clone chamber to the UC but after reading desertsquirles threads these issues seem to be resolved . thanks DS
 
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Why not run an air line coiled thru a bucket of ice water. This can and should drop water temps. I may give this a shot with my aero cloners this weekend. I have a strain that's very water temp picky.
Thats what I was about to say, I think if you coil up an extra 10 feet of extra hose per stone you can just plop it in your chilled reservoir.
someone told me if you grow in the garage you can tape the hoses to the floor and the concrete will do the same.
 
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Taking a little knowledge from HPA and bubblers/airstones, I experimented this grow with lpa using hpa mist heads + a deep cycle timer set at 2-3 minutes on/20-30 minutes off. Once seedlings/clones root systems get big enough I transfer into my mini-me F & D , though planning on also doing a top feed Hydro Halo tent too as I like feeding the roots closest to the main stalk
 
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I refuse to let it get shitted up.
heartfelt thanks from the reader. The mods here are the best - and often their work is what keeps me engaged with the site. There is a sense of community here and most folks are awesome resources of experience, kindness and passion. I do appreciate how the moderators handle the passion gone somewhat or very wrong. I had this stickied and was hoping it wouldn't get over fertilized. That never goes well.
 
I know this is old
I have also done away with air pumps in my res and replaced with a water pump for a water fall effect the biggest gain imho is no more messing with ph once it's set it doesn't need touching again I noticed with airstones the ph raises daily
Post but im about to start 3 uc systems. I can concure on sir stones raising ph. I ran an aeroflo system and had ph going up every day until i killed the air pump.
 
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I know this is old

Post but im about to start 3 uc systems. I can concure on sir stones raising ph. I ran an aeroflo system and had ph going up every day until i killed the air pump.
No idea why you are seeing that. The only thing I can think of is possibly a build up of carbonic acid is happening with the waterfall so your seeing the ph stay down?

What are you using for ph down? The only way I can see how the aeration would affect ph is carbonic acid and that would lead me to think of inadequate surface agitation from the way the waterfall was setup.

Waterfall at each site? Or just at the res?

Are you sure there was no difference in water supply or nutrients in ratio, brand or ppm or ph down used?

Poor root health will also lower ph. Additives like cal mag will also influence ph stability
 
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No idea why you are seeing that. The only thing I can think of is possibly a build up of carbonic acid is happening with the waterfall so your seeing the ph stay down?

What are you using for ph down? The only way I can see how the aeration would affect ph is carbonic acid and that would lead me to think of inadequate surface agitation from the way the waterfall was setup.

Waterfall at each site? Or just at the res?

Are you sure there was no difference in water supply or nutrients in ratio, brand or ppm or ph down used?

Poor root health will also lower ph. Additives like cal mag will also influence ph stability
I ran an aeroflo2 36 setup how it is supposed to. Gh down. Holland secret nutes. The ph would go up daily a lot like .5 was adding down everyday. I read either here or rollitup to try un plugging the air pump. I did and ph stayed at 6.1. Never had it go up like that again. Idk honestly what was going on.
I just cant imaging running uc systems without the air stones really.
 
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I ran an aeroflo2 36 setup how it is supposed to. Gh down. Holland secret nutes. The ph would go up daily a lot like .5 was adding down everyday. I read either here or rollitup to try un plugging the air pump. I did and ph stayed at 6.1. Never had it go up like that again. Idk honestly what was going on.
I just cant imaging running uc systems without the air stones really.
Both air stones and waterfalls work well. As long as they are adequate for the systems. I'm a bit puzzled on this one
 
Maybe it was covered in something I’ve never heard of them raising ph.
Maybe. It was one of those rubberized rings. Idk what could have been causing it but someone suggested removing the airstones and when i did the ph going up stopped. Tbh idk what exactly was making it do that. When i try to think back seems like at first it wasnt going up as much but i could be wrong. Ill have to go check my posts from that time.
 
If I understand correctly your control rez must stay open with the lid off so that the air can mix with the waterfall that returns to the control rez. Because if everything is sealed and there are no air holes or anything how does the air exchange happen. And one of the reasons to ditch the airpumps is cause they pump air pathogens into your rez but if your control rez is wide open for air exchange will the air pathogens not just fall in there....i'm confused
 
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air pumps work by sucking in ambient air, which of course has CO2, which is being injected into the rez 24/7, thereby raising pH.

Now, O2 will stay in suspension for 2-4 hours, depending on water temperature

That means you could put your air pump on a deep cycle timer, running it approximately 5 minutes per 2-4 hours, which effectively lessens the amount of CO2 being injected into your rez, or instead use a small submersible pump (still on deep cycle timer) place the riser above the water line, add 2 elbows so that when the pump is on, the water pumps above the water line splashing back into the rez adding O2 and of course 'some' CO2, but not much by comparison to the air pump

Where I live mosquitos often get into my home and they have radar to find open water to lay eggs. I had a HUGE problem with this, so I am forced to use lids, but small hole can be cut then put a screen over it

I am in the process of eliminating either and instead using an O2Grow


hth
 
It's probably important to point out that there will be a difference between people running standard dwc versus systems that include waterfalls (which create aeration themselves) - you really want some form of aeration even if it's only some.

pH's rising are a common occurrence, even in chemistry labs, when you're trying neutralise / pH adjust something. They occur often where ever you have a large amount of 'stuff' present that you want to change the pH of. For instance, when you add pH down to your nutrient, the pH will rapidly drop. If you leave it and come back to check it hours / a few days later, it will have gone back up again. That's totally normal. It occurs because when you originally check the pH you are measuring the pH before the acid has had time to fully distribute and react with everything in the liquid. It's common for people to assume things are fully mixed when they actually aren't. There are ~ten trillion, trillion molecules in a lite of water. It'll take a while for all those molecules of acid to actually drift around and interact with the others. This creates the 'pH bounce' effect, where the pH rises when left (back towards neutral); as the acid (phosphoric) drifts around reacting with 'stuff' (nutrient molecules for example), it 'consumes' the acidity of the acid (alters it's polarisation). The good news is, it's totally fine and will stop doing it eventually; you basically need to just keep adding pH down a little at a time and it should level it's self out once it's all fully mixed and reacted (once it's polarised / unpolarised everything that can be polarised / unpolarised in the feed). It also shows people are actually checking their pH, rather than setting and forgetting.

As to why the effect might seem more pronounced with an air stone running, an explanation for that may be that you're actually accelerating the mixing process (pumping air into water shouldn't really noticeably alter it's pH a whole lot, especially if actual liquid form acid has been added to it beforehand). A significant benefit with hydroponics (of all forms) is at least the molecules can move around fairly fast by comparison with soil and you can easily empty it out; it takes a lot longer for solid material (e.g. soil) to actually fully react to a pH change.

In terms of pathogens entering the system via the air stones / lines, that's a possibility; it's definitely worth giving everything (including your hands) a rinse (soak the stone in peroxide if you want to be extra careful / boil the hydroton in pan with a lid on it and keep the lid on it until ready for use, then immediately cover it, with foil for instance, once in the mesh pots - keep your hands clean when handling it / avoid over handling it). You shouldn't really get substantial amounts of contamination through the air flow itself.

The air stone doesn't need to be directly under the roots if you have a flowing system, so long as the water is moving past the roots and past a bubbler (you can put it in the reservoir).

Something worth considering with air stones and pathogens is that, if the water is still, it will tend to stagnate; both biologically and in terms of its distribution. If you check out page 15 of -> this link <- (the discussion section half way through on the left), they specifically mention controlling the mould Phytophthora (which attacks plant roots) using the aerobic bacteria Enterobacter aerogenes; it even has 'aero' in the name. The bacteria produces a form of exotoxin that appears to slow the growth of Phytophthora. You'll need some level of aeration to keep it happy.

The air stone, regardless of it's size / throughput, also provides another function in typical dwc in that it disturbs the 'boundary / depletion layer' around the roots; if the water is totally stationary, the plant will gradually deplete the nutrient close to the surface of it's roots (any form of movement, even from a tiny air stone, will dramatically improve that).

I've tried fog-ponics. It seems to work fine for smaller plants but as they get bigger the droplets can't make it through the root bundles so easily. Whereas with dwc, the nutrient can more readily move around the roots.

People have mentioned that they would expect aeration problems early on in the cloning process if they were going to occur due to a lack of air stone. However, oxygen depletion and anaerobic stagnation take time to occur.

Electrolysis is a neat idea for oxygen generation in situ but be careful using it in any kind of enclosed space as it also produces hydrogen gas; so if it's left running for long enough (in a cupboard say, or recirculating in a bedroom, garage or loft) it could potentially explode when something switches on or off (the same is also true of storing some solvents in the fridge / freezer).

I'm not saying anyone is wrong (e.g. if you have a waterfall it should be fine), but I doubt it's a good idea in the long run to switch off the air stone on a standard dwc. Plants don't usually like growing around still water in the wild.
 
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When using the O2G, the amount of H escaping during the electrolysis stage is quite low. Emitters are on only 30 minutes every 4 hours

Still water in the wild won't have sufficient DO in it to grow plants

My next grow will test some of the information stated above as my plan is to use only the emitters, no recirculation or agitation of the nutrients, though I think it would be a good idea to agitate the roots a bit. So, I have a small lpp to add if needed

FYI Im not planning on starting the O2G only grow here, but could change my mind is enough people let me know they are interestd
 
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It's probably important to point out that there will be a difference between people running standard dwc versus systems that include waterfalls (which create aeration themselves) - you really want some form of aeration even if it's only some.

pH's rising are a common occurrence, even in chemistry labs, when you're trying neutralise / pH adjust something. They occur often where ever you have a large amount of 'stuff' present that you want to change the pH of. For instance, when you add pH down to your nutrient, the pH will rapidly drop. If you leave it and come back to check it hours / a few days later, it will have gone back up again. That's totally normal. It occurs because when you originally check the pH you are measuring the pH before the acid has had time to fully distribute and react with everything in the liquid. It's common for people to assume things are fully mixed when they actually aren't. There are ~ten trillion, trillion molecules in a lite of water. It'll take a while for all those molecules of acid to actually drift around and interact with the others. This creates the 'pH bounce' effect, where the pH rises when left (back towards neutral); as the acid (phosphoric) drifts around reacting with 'stuff' (nutrient molecules for example), it 'consumes' the acidity of the acid (alters it's polarisation). The good news is, it's totally fine and will stop doing it eventually; you basically need to just keep adding pH down a little at a time and it should level it's self out once it's all fully mixed and reacted (once it's polarised / unpolarised everything that can be polarised / unpolarised in the feed). It also shows people are actually checking their pH, rather than setting and forgetting.

As to why the effect might seem more pronounced with an air stone running, an explanation for that may be that you're actually accelerating the mixing process (pumping air into water shouldn't really noticeably alter it's pH a whole lot, especially if actual liquid form acid has been added to it beforehand). A significant benefit with hydroponics (of all forms) is at least the molecules can move around fairly fast by comparison with soil and you can easily empty it out; it takes a lot longer for solid material (e.g. soil) to actually fully react to a pH change.

In terms of pathogens entering the system via the air stones / lines, that's a possibility; it's definitely worth giving everything (including your hands) a rinse (soak the stone in peroxide if you want to be extra careful / boil the hydroton in pan with a lid on it and keep the lid on it until ready for use, then immediately cover it, with foil for instance, once in the mesh pots - keep your hands clean when handling it / avoid over handling it). You shouldn't really get substantial amounts of contamination through the air flow itself.

The air stone doesn't need to be directly under the roots if you have a flowing system, so long as the water is moving past the roots and past a bubbler (you can put it in the reservoir).

Something worth considering with air stones and pathogens is that, if the water is still, it will tend to stagnate; both biologically and in terms of its distribution. If you check out page 15 of -> this link <- (the discussion section half way through on the left), they specifically mention controlling the mould Phytophthora (which attacks plant roots) using the aerobic bacteria Enterobacter aerogenes; it even has 'aero' in the name. The bacteria produces a form of exotoxin that appears to slow the growth of Phytophthora. You'll need some level of aeration to keep it happy.

The air stone, regardless of it's size / throughput, also provides another function in typical dwc in that it disturbs the 'boundary / depletion layer' around the roots; if the water is totally stationary, the plant will gradually deplete the nutrient close to the surface of it's roots (any form of movement, even from a tiny air stone, will dramatically improve that).

I've tried fog-ponics. It seems to work fine for smaller plants but as they get bigger the droplets can't make it through the root bundles so easily. Whereas with dwc, the nutrient can more readily move around the roots.

People have mentioned that they would expect aeration problems early on in the cloning process if they were going to occur due to a lack of air stone. However, oxygen depletion and anaerobic stagnation take time to occur.

Electrolysis is a neat idea for oxygen generation in situ but be careful using it in any kind of enclosed space as it also produces hydrogen gas; so if it's left running for long enough (in a cupboard say, or recirculating in a bedroom, garage or loft) it could potentially explode when something switches on or off (the same is also true of storing some solvents in the fridge / freezer).

I'm not saying anyone is wrong (e.g. if you have a waterfall it should be fine), but I doubt it's a good idea in the long run to switch off the air stone on a standard dwc. Plants don't usually like growing around still water in the wild.
Very good explanation.
 

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