NFT is one of the most common hydroponic systems. This is due to its very high efficiency and relative simplicity.
You do not need an air pump for NFT. The water circulating through the system is saturated with oxygen naturally.
However, there are many advantages to having a pump in a hydroponic system. This is what we will talk about in this article.
What are the benefits of aeration NFT?
The water in the NFT is oxygenated as it moves through the system. The pump pumps the water into the pipes where the plants are located. Then the water flows and falls into the tank.
This way the water is saturated with oxygen. In addition, the plant roots are not completely submerged and have access to oxygen.
However, if the water is oxygenated with an air pump, there are many benefits.
The first is a larger crop. With a large number of fine oxygen particles in the water, you get an aeroponics effect. Aeroponics is known to be more productive than hydroponics.
The second is that in well-aerated water it is much more difficult for bacteria to develop. As a result, you will get healthy and large plants.
From all this, it follows that you might want to equip your NFT with additional aeration. This is what we will talk about next.
What kind of air pump does the NFT need?
In general, any aquarium air pump will do for the NFT. Even a small amount of extra oxygen in the water will give an advantage.
However, if you want the effect to be better and the pump to work longer, you need to choose a quality pump. One of these is the Active Aqua Air Pump.
In its basic version, it has two outlets and consumes 3 watts of electricity. It can provide 7.8 liters of oxygen per minute. That’s enough for a tank of several gallons.
There are also more powerful versions with 6 watts or more. There can be 4 or more outputs. You have to consider how big your tank is. The bigger it is, the more powerful the air pump should be.
You can go the other way and buy a professional air pump for commercial use. In this case, you can use it for larger systems if you ever decide to expand your hydroponic fields. In addition, these pumps have a much longer lifespan.
If the noise level is important to you, you can use quiet pumps. These models are almost inaudible during work, and this is especially important if the NFT is in your house.
Does NFT hydroponics need air stone?
The air pump alone is not enough to oxygenate the water well. You have to install air stones as well. Not all air stones are equally effective in the water, so let’s talk about that.
One of the best air stones is the Hydrofarm Active Aqua AS8RD Round. This stone is able to make very small bulbs which will have a good effect on the aeration of the water.
In addition, it is a very inexpensive product and everyone can afford it. If you use all the components of the same brand, the effect will be even better.
The Active Aqua AS8RD Round is 8 inches and is big enough for a few-gallon tank. For larger hydroponic systems, you will need two or more of these air stones.
As an alternative, you can use any air stones for the aquarium. However, in this case, you need to be prepared for the fact that their effectiveness may be lower.
What happens if you don’t aerate the NFT?
Oxygen deficiencies in the water can cause some problems in the NFT.
The first and most unpleasant thing that can happen is bacteria and rot. Oxygen is able to affect them and the plants will be less sick.
If there is not enough oxygen in the water, slime can form on the roots. As a result, the roots will lose access to air and root rot can develop.
Plants with root rot will stop their growth and some of them will die. If this happens in your NFT, pull out the diseased plants and remove the rotten roots. Then treat the wounds with hydrogen peroxide and put the plants back in place.
Water aeration alone is not enough to avoid root rot. You need to change the water in the system about twice a month. Also, be sure to keep the system clean. Every time you change the water, clean all the elements.
The second thing that can happen if the nutrient solution is poor in oxygen is a decrease in yield. Air is great for stimulating growth and fruiting. So don’t lose the opportunity to increase yields and install aeration in your NFT.
Also, the oxygenation of the water will not do much good if you do not make the right pH and EC. You should keep the average pH at 6.0 and the EC at 2.0-2.5. But it is best if you make these values most suitable for your particular plants.
What are the drawbacks of aerating NFT?
The first disadvantage of NFT aeration is the initial cost. You will need to buy additional equipment which will cost some money.
If you choose the pump and air stone I mentioned above, it will cost about $50. But if you decide to buy a professional pump, it can cost up to $100.
The second disadvantage is the additional cost of electricity. Although the power consumption of most inexpensive air pumps is not high, still your costs may go up a bit.
And last is the noise. Most air pumps are quite noisy. This is especially true for commercial models. So if you keep hydroponics in your house, use quiet models.
In spite of all the disadvantages, it is a very good solution to install aeration in the NFT because it allows you to get more benefits. In addition, the plants will be much healthier and larger.
The main thing is to choose the right air pump and air stones. Also, install them correctly to avoid breakage and malfunction.