DWC/Bubbleponics root problems(?)

Discussion in 'DWC/ Bubbleponics' started by Prismo, Nov 10, 2017.


    Prismo Member

    Hey guys. Sorry if this is going to be a wall of text for some of you but the harder I try to shorten what I write, the longer it gets, so bear with me here please. I'm gonna set a TL;DR at the end.

    A few weeks ago I made a thread asking about the quality of my water and if it would be suitable to use right from the tap. As it turns out (at least I think so), it's good to use as is, even though its "medium" with a rather high pH and ppm. I mentioned it since I would have just requested help in that thread, but I guess this topic is just too different and/or far away from the original point I had in the other thread.
    I was telling the people in the thread that I would be doing a journal, since it's my first DWC and my second grow in total, but I found out that I'm just a lazy bastard... again... sorry to anyone who was there reading this.

    Anyway, I'm at the end of week 3 now and I think it's time to ask you guys for some help and/or advice, since I think my ladies are developing some problems.
    I have 2 plants and as I said, they are at the end of week 3 today. I can't comment on the overall growth since I lack the experience to determine if they are growing well. I can just say that both are almost the exact same height, which is about 14cm.

    I'm using rather big plastic trash drums with lids that I wrapped thoroughly in tin foil. I went a bit overboard here, because I could fill up each of them with 35L of water. I'm using a 60L/min air compressor with 2 round 13cm air plates and by now (no idea why I just didn't check earlier) I know that these air plates can only handle about 2-4L/min of air output. The compressor is running quite hot, but I know that's totally normal and it also doesn't hurt my hand when I check the heat.
    The room temperature goes up to about 26C during this time of the year with lights on and close below 20C with them off. Unfortunately, the res temperature ranges from 22-24C, but I've been using hydroguard since day 1.
    A really bad thing is that I "assumed" the drums would not let light through or I was just not paying enough attention, I don't know... but the light leaked through quite a lot for about 1 and a half week until I realized the extent of it and wrapped the drums in tin foil. As much as I can check with the lids being slightly open, it seems to be near pitch black in there now.
    I'm using a 400W bulb and the distance to the top of my plants is about 40cm or 15 inches.

    Alright, so #1:
    Plant 2 started drooping about 1 week ago but the drooping is rather limited to the bottom nodes. Since drooping is only related to water intake as far as I know, this could have to do with the aeration. The air plates are working fine, but since the drums are not only rather high but also very wide, the bubbles are only covering the middle zone of the drums, about as wide as my net pots. This leads to the roots being "bubbled" away from the center and I don't know if this could be a problem. But since the plant is drooping, might this be the problem? I want to get the 20cm air plates asap, because they will almost cover the entire drum in width and they will also be able to get the maximum air output delivered by the compressor (20cm plates have up to 25L of air output per min).
    What are you guys thoughts here?

    Both plants are showing small signs of deficiencies, but neither has the exact same ones. I'm fairly certain that I neither overdosed on nutes nor used too few. There are no signs of classic nute burn and I'm already using half strength nutes at this point. about 500 ppm but my tap water already has ~180 ppm to begin with.
    My best guess is that this problem is related to #3.

    The most worrying one is that before I wrapped the drums in tin foil, I noticed "brown" speckles on the roots right below the net pot. This has been ongoing but at this point, the roots are more evenly colored (from the nutes maybe?) and the discoloration is pretty much limited to the roots above the water. The roots below the net pot started twisting at an early stage and now they are a few big twisted strands that only recently started to split up into an actual "mass" or "cluster" below the water surface. Those clusters are bright white but the big twisted strands got a bit darker over time. There are still brown speckles on the roots of both plants but those don't seem to have spread that much. Also, recently, I noticed a smell which went away overnight and then came back. The roots don't really smell that much themselves, but the res does. Smell is kind of changing between nute smell and water well smell, can't really categorize it.
    Could this smell be related to the beneficial bacteria from the hydroguard or could it be actual bad bacteria?
    And what could these brown speckles on the roots be? Is it just nute stains?
    Here are 2 pictures of the roots below the net pot and below the water surface. The roots of either plant looks almost exactly the same.
    1.jpg 2.jpg

    I hope you guys can give me some help/advice, I would really love to not lose the ladies and especially, the time. Thanks in advance!

    Deficiency symptoms, most probably related to root problems (if these exist), see pictures above.
    Air plates (2-4L/min) probably too small (13cm) for the drums (~34cm width) AND the air compressor (60L/min), can switch out asap for the 20cm ones (max. 25L/min); one plant drooping, maybe related to the lack of aeration due to these air plates?

    firsttimeARE Well-Known Member

    Roots look,fine bro. The specks is hydroton dust/particles most likely. Looks like what your using anyways.

    21cm thats like 9" you shohld be fine at 500ppm. Show us plant pictures with lights off if tou think,you have a nute deficiency.and we can see what you mean,by droop

    HydroRed Well-Known Member

    #1 - where your roots sit in the res shouldn't matter. As long as they find the res its good. Bubbling/roots not being centered in the bubbles etc is no issue and I wouldn't see this causing any issues unless the bubbling was so violent and destroying the roots but I really doubt thats the issue.
    Keep approx 1" or so between the bottom of the net pot and the top of the res water.

    #2 no pic of plants so we cant really comment on plant health etc. but the roots look ok.

    #3 The brown speckles could be decomposing root matter if you are only seeing it above the res water line. If it were nute stains it would mainly be below the water line.
    What kind of nutes are you using? Are you 3 weeks flower or veg?
    If you continue to have these spotting occourances along with a smell, I'd recommend running a sterile res (only if you dont use organic feed) with just water, synthetic nutes and h2o2 ( about 10ml of 3% per gallon). This will whiten your roots, get rid of smells and destroy decomposing root matter and bacteria. Add nutes to water first, then pH it to 5.8-6.3 once mixed and has sat for 10 min or so.
    Im with @firsttimeARE I'd like to see some pics of the plants as well.

    Prismo Member

    Hey dudes, thanks for answering.

    As you wished, here are a lot more pictures:

    Plant #2, the drooping one. The yellowing and crispy edges were soft and dark greenish/greyish before

    #1, the not so bushy one. Almost the same leaf symptoms as the other plant, not really that much drooping though compared to #2.

    Some more roots of #2:

    Here's the bubbling of res #2:

    Cont. since 10 images seems to be max per message.

    Prismo Member


    More bubbling from #2:

    I've made the next two to show how the air bubbling affects the roots, if that's in any way important:

    And here's both plants incl. light height:

    Yeah, I'm using hydroton. I really thoroughly rinsed them beforehand but I guess there were still particles. It just doesn't look like hydroton dust. Even though I was pumping water to the bottom of the net pot since day 1, objectively those speckles just don't look like dust, more like the speckles are (were) a part of the root with a different color. I don't know.

    Honestly, I thought at times that the bubbling was too intense and of course, the upgrade from the 13cm to the 20cm air plates would only increase this, but there seems to be no visual damage to the roots. How would it look if the bubbling was too intense? I just assumed it was too intense from the fact that the roots are being pushed out from the center from the air bubbles.
    Anyway, the space between the bottom of the net pot and the water surface when the res is full is about 10-11cm. Is that too much?

    I really don't hope that its decomposing matter but I guess that would be better than having root rot, huh...
    True, the nute stains would more likely be below the water, but someone told me that the method with pumping water to the bottom of the net pot could also lead to stains on the roots outside of the water. But yeah, they weren't and are still not entirely evenly colored. I'm using the GH Flora nutes and as of today I'm in week 4 of veg.
    Yeah, the smell is still there and I can't really categorize it. Smells unpleasant, like an old pond most likely.

    Wouldn't I run into some problems if I kill all bacteria since I'm also using Hydroguard? At this point I'm quite sure that Hydroguard really helps, since with the days of light leak and the constant high temperature of the res water, I guess without it I should have already lost both plants, not quite sure though. But if it persists, I'd rather go by your words, since I just lack the experience to make the proper decisions I think.

    HydroRed Well-Known Member

    Light height seems appropriate for a 400W.
    After seeing pics, it looks like the bubbles may actually be overkill for that bucket like you had initially thought.. Hard to say without being there in person, but from what I can gather is that maybe small particulates of the roots are getting knocked off from the turbulent bubbling. This may be the brown spots you are seeing on the roots above the water line. The smell you are getting may be the decaying root material.
    If you unplug the bubbler, do you have root matter floating around in the res or sticking to the walls of the bucket above the water line?
    As for the water, are you using tap or RO?
    Your plants look hungry and I believe thats what the yellowing is on the lowers. What ppm are you at now?

    Prismo Member

    Alright, I (tried to make) made a video. It's over here: https://ufile.io/2ll0x
    Sorry for the horizontal filming, but it should show the bubbling really well. What do you think?

    Also, I turned off the compressor and you're absolutely right. There are very small parts floating around, which is most likely dust but there are also a few 5-10mm long root parts floating around. Most of those parts seem to be white roots still but obviously, they will decay sooner or later and this has probably been going on for quite some time. The root parts being white probably also means that it's still ongoing. There is also quite the misting going on above the water surface and the underside of the lid of the drum is constantly very wet, as is the net pot and the hydroton. I turned off the pumps to the net pot to see if that would change anything for the roots above the water. I also don't really need them anymore, but will probably turn them back on if this changes nothing anyway...
    I don't know why it's so turbulent. My best guess is that my compressor is too strong for those weak air plates. But I also don't know if buying the 20cm ones would actually calm down the bubbling while also increasing the aeration area and the aeration itself. What are your thoughts?

    I'm using my tap water. It comes out with about 7,9 pH and 170-180 ppm. It's declared as "soft" by the provider, but it's very close to medium water. No chlorine.
    Yeah, they may be hungry, I could just misconstrue the signs. #2 has a ppm of ~490 and #1 has a ppm of ~630. #1 received some Cal-Mag since I initially thought that there was a magnesium deficiency. It seems that this is not the case, plant #1 is not really reacting it seems, but I'm not too sure about that. I'm using 22ml of every Flora nute per 35L drum right now which is about a quarter of the "official" recommended dosage on the GH chart. I've used a custom chart made by someone which treats those numbers different and more carefully.
    Custom chart here:

    HydroRed Well-Known Member

    Tap water is fine, but a pH of 7.9 is way too high so I'm hoping you adjust it down from there. Do you add the nutes then adjust pH? Whats the pH right now in the res?

    As for the bubble stone....
    I dont think I'd get another larger bubble stone, but maybe get an adjustable manifold for your pump so you can meter the air going to the stone. Basically just like an inline valve so you can dial the air back a bit and still use the bubble stones you already have. I know the stones are what like $20-30? The adjustable manifold or a valve would likely only be about $5-10 and it will control more than one stone/bucket. Lemme see if I can dig up a link for one.

    Prismo Member

    Yeah, I get the water, add it to the res via a small pump, add hydroguard, add nutes and then let it mix for ~10 min. After that I adjust with the liquid GH pH down to about 5.8. Next time it creeps up to 6.2-6.3, I re-adjust. pH right now is 6.0 and 6.2, so I'll prob have to re-adjust later or tomorrow.

    You're probably right with not getting a larger air plate. Why risk it...
    Your idea with the valve sounds good but wouldn't that increase the pressure and therefore the heat of the compressor? It's really hot already and the air it's pumping is also rather warm, heating up the res, too. I don't know. I'd rather just get a lower output compressor, since they are very cheap. Would that also be enough? Or should I just get a few (like 4?) of those smaller air stones?

    HydroRed Well-Known Member

    Could possibly use this one from Walmart at about $10?
    Dual diaphram, damn near silent, and no heat. They are what I use for my drip ring buckets. Been using them pretty much non-stop for over 2 yrs.

    drgreentm Well-Known Member

    Plants look burnt man back off the nutrients, your plants size and root size are not that of a plant that requires 500-700 ppms. I would run them on ph'd tap water for 48 hours and then start back on nutrients at a very LOW ppm.

    Here is a pic of one of my plants right now that was burned pretty bad about two weeks ago running at about your current ppm. I flushed and cut way back on nutes now the pic is current at about 650 ppm finally. Believe me less is more. Let them show you they are hungry don't assume it. I'm telling you hungry plants will be very light green before the tips are crusty and dry.

    Attached Files:


    Prismo Member

    Well, I don't live in the US, but don't worry, I have several different models in sight already, even before I started the current grow. But thanks anyway!
    And thanks for your help, I wouldn't have realized that there is dead root debris floating around without your hint. I would have had no reason to turn the compressor off, ever. Not even to check on things, that's just how my brain works. Don't shut off things that are essential to your plants, but I wasn't thinking about shutting it off just for checking things.

    Yeah, the ~700 ppm is way too high I think, I made a mistake there, but don't forget that my water comes out of the tap with 170-180 ppm.
    I'll switch out the water anyway, so I might aswell give it a shot with flushing and then adding nutes back in at a lower scale. What do you think the ppm should look like after I flushed and added the nutes back? 400-450? That would be less than quarter strength of the official recommended dosage.

    drgreentm Well-Known Member

    400 sounds about right considering what your tap water is. I would just use base nutes and your hydroguard, you should not be needing any calmag added. This chart I added notice something as simple as phosphorus excess manifests in the form of ca mg deficiency (not that there isn't enough but because it's locked out). Some strains are picky as fuck and will just stop and get sad at 100 ppm over what they want.

    Attached Files:


    Prismo Member

    Thanks for the chart, looks good!
    Yeah, I will prob not touch the CalMag again so soon or ever, have to see.

    By the way, the strain I'm growing is Sweet Afghani Delicious S1.

    Prismo Member

    Alright, guys. I've ordered a low power air pump now and it should be arriving in 2-3 days from now. Hopefully, it will tone down the bubble turbulence quite a bit. Am I okay with waiting these 2-3 days more to also switch out the water and cleaning the res? Also, is there any way to help the roots above the water surface recover in any way? I have 3% h2o2 solution, could I just spray the roots with it or do I just wait for them to recover when they don't get hurt by the bubbling anymore?

    HydroRed Well-Known Member

    Just continue to add it to the res at 10-15ml per gal. Dont put it directly on the roots.

    Prismo Member

    Thanks, will do. How long does the h2o2 last in the water or I mean, when do I need to refill? And how long will I have to do this? I don't want to kill the beneficials again when I refill the reservoirs in 2-3 days.

    HydroRed Well-Known Member

    H2o2 lasts for about 3 days.
    H2o2 will kill beneficials. Thats what running sterile is...when you kill off all the bacteria and any organics/decomposing matter.
    You can only run it one or the other. Either beneficials or H2o2.
    Roger A. Shrubber likes this.

    Prismo Member

    Indeed. I just want to get rid of the damaged/rotting roots now and then switch back to beneficials asap. Do you have any advice on how I can reliably check or make sure when I can stop using the h2o2 and go back to the Hydroguard with a fresh new reservoir?

    HydroRed Well-Known Member

    If there are no smells or abnormal discoloration, your probably good.
    You can change it up any time you want really, you just cant do both bennies/organics and h2o2.
    Im thinking once your bubbler situation is under control you could start back with the hydroguard.

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