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It really depends on a lot of factors, but probably most importantly, how much experience do you have and how much time do you have to devote to learning, designing and troubleshooting?


The premade systems can work fine if you have the money to invest in them and little experience. That being said, they are generally EXTREMELY expensive for what you get. With a few hours of research, some elbow grease, and a few hundred dollars (or less) in parts, you can generally build twice the system for half the cost.

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With a few hours of research, some elbow grease, and a few hundred dollars (or less) in parts, you can generally build twice the system for half the cost.


$30 and 15 minutes :)


Submitted By: bubblegrower Submitted On: Today, 10:44 PM Submitted In: Grow Room Tricks and Tips:Click here to go to tutorial





ok follks, here we go. simple to build, simple to operate, and VERY cheap to set-up. let's start with the parts. everything is from either meijer or wal-mart. if you click on each part, there will be a link to the EXACT same item i am using in this application. the only things not avaliable at meijer/wal-mart are a couple 5" net pots and some hydroton clay pebbles. you can pick those up at your local hydro store or online.



10-gallon Sterilte storage tote. the link is for a bulk purchase, but they are $3.49/each in the store. wal-mart.

20-60 gallon aquarium air pump. $8.99 in store. wal-mart.

meijer seems to have a janky online spread, and i can't find these items online, but they have these 2 items in the pet/fish dept. the air stones are $2.29 and 25ft of air line was $2.89 i believe.




and then as was stated, you will need to pick up two 5" net pots ($2.00) and a small bag of hydroton clay pebbles ($5) at the local hydro store.



so here is what our mess is looking like so far:






let's start with the hardest part first. the holes in the lid of the tote. and folks, it aint hard at all. ok, when using a 5" net pot, you want your hole to be about 4 3/4". we don't need the net pot falling through into the water/nutes below. i would recommend practicing real quick on a piece of cardboard before you actually cut the lid. just to be sure everything fits before you mess up a brand new tote. ok, 4 3/4" hole. you know what you have laying around the house that is perfectly 4 3/4" in diamater?




yup, a compact disc. ready-made template for your holes. now this isnt rocket science, just eyeball out a couple holes on the lid and trace the cd with a marker.




don't have a 4 3/4" hole saw? neither do i, a razor knife works fine. take your time, "score" the plastic a few times around..... you probably won't get it to just cut right out. but remember, this is by far the hardest part of the whole process, so concentrate on not slicing your fingers off, and when you get done, you have this:





hard part is over. i swear. ok, next step. we do need 2 more holes in our bubbletote, but they are kinda already there for us. in the model of sterilite brand tote i used here, there are pre-drilled drain holes in the handles:




but these holes aren't quite big enough to slip our aquarium air line through so we need to make them just a touch larger. sneak into the kitchen (hopefully the wife is on the couch and mesmorized by the new episode of Gray's Anatomy) and snag a steak knife. just kinda stick the tip in the hole and twist it around a few times.




ok, do both sides:





awesome. now we are getting somewhere. next cut off a section of air line..... 5 feet or so is good. i like to have enough excess air line that i can move my air pump well out of the way. run the air line through the hole you just widened:




and then attach one of your 6" air stones from meijer. i like these particular stones because they are fairly heavy and will stay on the bottom without help.





and then connect the other end of the air line to your new air pump.




and repeat the same process using the other hole/air stone and plug it into the other outlet on your air pump.





holy smokes folks........ i think we are on to something now :D let's fill this bad boy machine with some water now.




ok, this is kind of critical for down the road. i fill one gallon containers and dump them in. measuring how much water i add to get to "my point". that point is about 1/8 to 1/4 inch below the net pot. if you keep the water level about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch below the bottom of the net pot, you have reached the sweet spot. the air stone in the bottom of the bubbletote will shoot air bubbles upwards through the water. when these bubbles reach the surface they pop. the goal is to find the perfect level to where the net pot is not sitting in the water, but actually the bubbles are popping on the surface and just getting the bottom of the net pot wet. once the bottom of the net pot gets wet, it will transfer that moisture to the bottom layer of hydroton pebbles. the pebbles then transfer the perfect amount of water/air between themselves and eventually to the rockwool cube. the cube will stay damp, but not "soaked".


once the roots form and grow through the rockwool cube, they will continue growing through the clay pebbles, and then through the sides of the net pot, and ultimately down to thrive in the nute/air filled goodness of the solution.


this is a good time to take one of your net pots out of the lid so you can peek inside and get the water level just right.




once you hit your spot, i draw a line on the side of the tote. on the inside. with a magic marker. you could also use a piece of tape or something. since i kept track of how much i added, i know it took me EXACTLY 6 gallons of water to hit the spot. that will help down the road after doing flushes. after flushing you can just re-fill to your line and add nutes accordingly for 6 gallons of water. ;) here's our line:




well hell....... let's plug this puppy in and see some bubbles.




bubblegrower likes:



ok. let's grow something. got your clones rooted? me either, so let's pretend for a minute:




ok, i start with a thin layer of clay pebbles on the bottom of the net pot:




then set the clone/rockwool in the net pot and cover the rest of the way with the hydroton pebbles:




and then repeat of course, and folks, you have a built yourself a bubbletote:




and soon, you will have this:









this system will maintain 2 plants all the way to harvest. occasionally, depending on strain/veg time, a plant may "outgrow" the tote. well, not really outgrow it, but with larger strains, after sometime you may want to move them to one plant/ tote. it is very simple to move plants if you have to. just pull out the net pot and all the roots, and put into another tote. if you grow mostly indica strains, you will have no problem with 2 plants in one tote all the way to the end. some sativas that get long and lanky may want the whole space to themselves...........


peace, love, and BIG happy grows:


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nope, nothing but clean white roots. yes, the roots grow directly in the water. the bubbles keep it super-oxygenated.



Thanks man, I really appreciate it. You explained that so well in detail I think I am gonna give it a try here soon. I will be a first time grower, but not a first time gardener. What have some of your yields been with the bubbletote? I plan to use either a 400 or 600 watt metal halide for veg and a 1000 watt hps for flowering.

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What have some of your yields been with the bubbletote?

of course there are a ton of factors including strain and veg time............... but i have harvested 8-10oz plants with a 10 gallon tote with ease.


I plan to use either a 400 or 600 watt metal halide for veg and a 1000 watt hps for flowering.


sounds perfect!!

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here's a cheap/easy nute plan to use with the totes:




the "Lucas Method" is very simple, cheap, and it obviously works as is evident in the pics in this thread. we only need 2 kinds of nutes. General Hydroponic Flora Micro and General Hydroponic Flora Bloom.




here is the formula:


VEG: 5ml of Micro and 10ml of Bloom per gallon of water. (5-10) IF VEGGING UNDER CFL LIGHTS

VEG: 8ml of Micro and 16ml of Bloom per gallon of water. (8-16) IF VEGGING UNDER HID LAMPS

FLOWER: 8ml Micro and 16ml of bloom per gallon of water. (8-16)



there are a couple different methods on backfilling whatever the plants drink/what evaporates. i recommend backfilling with full strength nutes/water as needed to maintain the proper water level in the bucket/tote, and then doing two rez changes throughout the cycle. once at the switch to flower, and once after about 3-4 weeks of flower.



---and here is a "normal" schedule for a plant:


seedling/clone/veg 2-4 weeks. 8-16 nutes. 1/2 strength for first few days for seedlings. 5-10 nutes under flourescent lights

rez change

flip the lights to 12/12

flush (just plain ph'd water for 24-48 hours)

rez change and continue with 8-16 nutes

after a month i try to flush once again

then back to 8-16 nutes



after 6 weeks of flower, depending on the strain and how much longer it will need to finish, i have to make a decision. i "final flush" for a week minimum so if i am growing a 7-8 week strain i will go into final flush now. if it is a 8-12 week strain i will go back to 8-16 nutes for as long as needed and then into final flush for the last week or so.



also, another couple freebie tips. when adding the nutes, add the micro to the water first, and then the bloom. NEVER mix the 2 nutes together and then add the combination to water. this WILL promote lock-out.


after adding both nutes (separately of course) STIR/SHAKE WELL!! can't say it enough. make sure you have it all mixed up real good. don't rely on your bubbles to do the mixing for you.


the flora micro will stain carpet/clothes if not tended to right away ;)


assuming you are starting with r.o. water (ph7) the nutes will drop the ph to a perfect 5.5-6.0. i RARELY have to add ph down to maintain proper levels. at any rate, do whatever needs to be done to maintain a 5.5-6.0ph level. and i keep my water temps at 68-70 degrees.


also, for 99 cents ANYWHERE in the kitchen department. (target-walmart) this is my best friend. the turkey baster. perfect for measuring nutes out.





here are another couple ways to work with this formula:


1. Top off the reservoir daily using a pH corrected water solution as required to maintain full reservoir level. After adding back an amount of water equal to the amount of your reservoir capacity you should change the reservoir and put in fresh solution.


2. Top off the reservoir daily using a pH corrected 100% strength nutrient solution as required to maintain full reservoir level. Continue to use this nutrient solution without dumping the tank unless the PPM rises above acceptable levels.


Between vegetative and flowering cycles you should dump your nutrients, then flush (possibly with Clearex) to remove salt buildups, then change to the other feeding program. Always shake your GH nutrient bottles before using them!


For young plants, just transplanted into the hydro setup, give them 50% strength nutrient mix to prevent overfeeding them while their young. Gradually bring up the mix to full strength as they grow over the next few weeks or so.


The lucas formula is normally intended for use with RO or near 0 PPM water.


NOTE: The Lucas formula eliminates the need for Epsom salts to correct (Magnesium) Mg deficiencies in most normal feeding programs recommended by manufacturers. Cannabis needs a lot of Magnesium to thrive.


The Flora Micro is providing the Nitrogen and the Magnesium in the proper balance, thus there is no need for the Grow formula and little or no room under the maximum acceptable ppm limit of 1600 @ 0.7 conversion.


Calculated EC/TDS levels:


EC microsiemen:

0-4-8: 946 µS

0-5-10: 1184 µS

0-8-16: 1894 µS


TDS @ 0.5 conversion:

0-4-8 = 473 ppm

0-5-10 = 592 ppm

0-8-16 = 947 ppm


TDS @ 0.7 conversion:

0-4-8 = 663 ppm

0-5-10 = 829 ppm

0-8-16 = 1326 ppm


Addback Calculator - (For Advanced Users)


Say you were running the 0-8-16 formula, at 0.7 conversion with a 22 gallon res. When you first fill it up, your ppm will be around 1330.


Now you have been growing for a week, and some of the water has been taken up by the plants, some has evaporated, and now your res is at 947 ppm. You need to get your ppm from 947 to 1330. Here is the equation:


((target - current) / target) * 8 ml per gallon * res gallons = Flora Micro (ml) double this figure to get Flora Bloom (ml)




((1330 - 947) / 1330) * 8 * 22

(383 / 1330) * 8 * 22

0.3 * 8 * 22 = 53 ml Flora Micro


53 ml Flora Micro, double that and you get 106 ml Flora Bloom. So 53 ml Flora Micro and 106 ml Flora Bloom to add back to your 22 gallon res to get you from 947 to 1330.



One tip - do not pH down this stuff, the hard water micro will drop pH gradually over the next 24 hours, for example I mix up a batch, it is at like 6.2, the next day, its at 5.6-5.8 after running in the system for a while. If I pH downed that to 5.7 before putting it in the system, it ended up as low as 4.8-5.2 by the next day.




** major props and many thanks to Lucas. i have spent countless hours reading his charts and study logs. the man is brilliant.

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I have run a bubble tote (DWC) a few times and find it really effective and easy. The problem I aways ran into was supporting the plants from a tote. I ran 2 inch net cups and they would fall through the lid once the plants got some weight and started leaning over in one direction or the other.


One word of advice. Keep your air pump above the level of the water in your tote :)

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Is that Lucas Method posted somewhere permanently? I checked the tutorials and didn't see it. Did I just miss it?



there's links to basically every tutorial i have ever done for this site in the table of contents on page #1 of the help thread.


I have run a bubble tote (DWC) a few times and find it really effective and easy. The problem I aways ran into was supporting the plants from a tote. I ran 2 inch net cups and they would fall through the lid once the plants got some weight and started leaning over in one direction or the other.


One word of advice. Keep your air pump above the level of the water in your tote :)


yeah i use the 5" pots. much much MUCH more stable. never had one fall through.


good tip too :) always remember: "waist high and you wont die"

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im thinking about getting a few 35 gallon totes so I can have 3 plants in each tote. I will basically will be harvesting in groups of 3 and m hoping the tote will be big enough for the plants. I plan on have 2 tents going, 6 in each with half the plants in the flower room at the end of the harvest and the other half at the beginning. The dimensions of the tote is 32.5"L x 19.75"W x 18.63"H

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