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Are you a hydroponics beginner? If so, then this article is for you. When you’re starting out with hydroponic growing, it can be confusing knowing what to do. You may already understand that the nutrient reservoir, or tank, is one of the most important components to your indoor gardening setup. But maybe you’re not entirely certain how it works or what the upkeep is.

One of the first things you need to know is that your reservoir will need an air pump. Find out how the nutrient reservoir works, what an air pump does, and which air pump is right for your setup. Let’s dive in.

Here's how a nutrient reservoir works

Many of the essentials that your plants need to survive in a hydroponic system come from what you put into the nutrient reservoir. That includes fairly obvious things like water and nutrients, which when combined is called a nutrient solution. The reservoir pumps nutrient solution throughout the hydroponic system to reach the roots of the plants. This allows them to absorb necessary water and nutrients.

Another thing your plants absolutely need you to provide in their tank, though, is oxygen. Stagnant water is not well oxygenated, and that leads to a buildup of harmful pathogens and algae. To protect your plants, the water from the reservoir needs to have air flowing through it. The roots then use the oxygen to better absorb nutrients.

What the air pump does

Plants can drown without oxygen. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. Without enough oxygen, plants can’t take in enough nutrients and start exhibiting signs of stress. The roots are fine in water, however, if they get plenty of dissolved oxygen. And that’s where the air pump comes in. The air pump sits on the outside of your hydroponics nutrient reservoir, and it connects to the reservoir with a tube.

The pump pulls air from the room and forces it through the tube into the tank. In addition to adding oxygen to the system, it also keeps the fluids a more consistent temperature, which is usually about the temperature of the room air being pumped into the system.

Making sure you get the right air pump

Don’t worry. You’re not going to ruin the setup if you don’t have precisely the right size of air pump. That being said, your plants won’t reach their full potential if they’re not getting enough oxygen, so you want to make sure you pick a pump that is powerful enough for the size of your nutrient tank.

An often cited guideline is to get a pump with wattage equal to the number of gallons of nutrient solution in your tank. You may find, however, that is a bit excessive.

You can talk to our experienced team at Indoor Cultivator. We’re happy to help you pick an air pump that’s a good fit for your specific setup. To get the most of your air pump, you should also attach an air stone to the end of the pump’s tubing that is in the tank.