How To Build A NFT Hydroponic System (PRO Guide)

The steps below will guide you through the process of building a simple, cheap and effective hydroponic system. 

This is the same type of system that I have used for years and it works great. I hope it serves you just as well!

How to Build & Set Up a NFT Hydroponic System
Key Takeaways from “How to Build a NFT Hydroponic System: Pro Guide”
Importance of choosing the right location for your hydroponic system.
Necessity of choosing the right materials for your system, like pipes and pumps.
Basic understanding of the role of nutrients and pH levels in the growth of plants.
Benefits of using a timer for your hydroponic system’s watering cycle.
Proper maintenance and cleaning of the system to avoid any problems.

Put Together Your Hydroponic System

Now that you’re familiar with the process and have a plan, it’s time to get started. In order to build an NFT hydroponic system, you will need:

  • A plastic bin (a Rubbermaid container works well)
  • A drill with a 1/2-inch bit
  • Aquarium tubing (1/2-inch outer diameter)
  • Aquarium sealant or silicon (not necessary but highly recommended)

Decide On The Size Of The Trays

Once you know what your growing needs are and have decided on a style of system, you can decide on the size of your trays. 

The size of the tray depends on how many plants you want to grow, how much space you have available for the system, and how much water you want to use.

In most cases, it’s best to begin with a small system that has an area no larger than 12″ x 12″. You’ll find this easier to manage than larger systems because it will require less attention and maintenance than larger hydroponic systems do.

When it comes to hydroponics, adding the right nutrients is key for the proper growth of your plants. Follow our expert advice to learn about the different types of nutrients and how to add them to your hydroponic system.

Build The Hydroponic Tray

Your next step is to build the hydroponic tray.

Make sure it’s strong enough to hold your plants. If you use a flimsy material, like plastic or foam, it won’t be able to take the weight of the plants and might break during watering.

Make sure it’s waterproof so that water doesn’t leak out between layers of dirt and into other areas of your house where mold could grow on the walls.

Make sure it’s easy for you to clean out each time you need to change out dirt or add fertilizer so that there aren’t too many germs growing inside the system when it’s not being used!

Connect The Partitioning Pieces

You will now attach the partitioning pieces to the tray. You might need an extra pair of hands for this step if you have not yet attached them before, as they can be a bit tricky. 

Make sure that there are no gaps between the pieces, as this will allow water to evaporate and cause your plants to wilt quickly. 

Use a good quality sealant to ensure that it is completely sealed around all edges, and make sure that it is not toxic so you don’t end up poisoning yourself or anyone else in your household when using it!

It’s important to keep the pH levels in your hydroponic system balanced, as they affect the absorption of nutrients by your plants. If you need to bring your pH levels down, check out our easy guide for effective ways to do so.

Make A Water Reservoir

To make a water reservoir, you will need:

A clean and dry plastic container. You should not use any sort of metal or glass materials that could corrode with the acidity of your nutrient solution.

A lid to keep it fresh and prevent contamination from airborne bacteria.

A pump to move the water through the system in order to maintain circulation through all parts of it. 

The pump should be fitted with a pipe that leads directly into this container; otherwise, it can become clogged by debris over time if there is no way for air bubbles (which carry much of this debris) out of its way before they reach this portion of your NFT hydroponic system!

Fix In The Pump System

The pump system is the most important part of your hydroponic system. You must make sure that you use the right kind of pump for your hydroponic setup. The two main types are submersible pumps and jet pumps.

Submersible pumps fit inside your reservoir, so they need to be able to handle both air and water pressure without exploding or getting damaged in any way. 

Jet pumps are external and draw water from above or below the surface level depending on where they’re placed (if you don’t know which one to use, just choose an aquarium pump). 

Powerhead pumps (also known as waterfall pumps), fountain pumps, and aquarium pumps should never be used because they produce too much noise for a closed system like this one!

Interested in starting your own hydroponic garden indoors, but not sure how to begin? Our easy-to-follow guide has got you covered, with step-by-step instructions and helpful tips to get you started on the right foot.

Ensure That The Drains Are Properly Connected

First, make sure that the drain is properly connected to the pump. If it doesn’t fit tightly, use a hose clamp to secure the pipe. 

Next, secure the drain pipe to your tray with another hose clamp or two if needed. Finally, attach a third hose clamp around where you’ll be connecting your water pump (usually near an air stone) and where you’re attaching your drain line from above; this will help ensure that there’s no leaking!

Table: Importance of Properly Connecting Drains in Your Hydroponic System

Prevents Water LeaksProperly connecting the drains to the pump helps to prevent the water from leaking out of the system, which can damage your plants and equipment.
Ensures Proper Water FlowThe proper connection of drains to the pump ensures that there is a steady water flow, providing nutrients and oxygen to your plants.
Reduces Risk of CloggingIf the drain is not properly connected, it may cause the nutrients to clog up the system, leading to potential damage or a poor harvest.
Prevents Air PocketsProperly connecting the drains helps to prevent the formation of air pockets, which can interfere with the water flow and cause your plants to become oxygen-deprived.
Provides Stable EnvironmentKeeping the drains properly connected provides a stable environment for your hydroponic system, promoting healthy plant growth and a thriving crop.

Install A Filtration Device

The best filter is one with a screen.

However, if you want to go the extra mile for your plants, you can also use a filter with a pad. This is more expensive than using just a screen but it will help keep more debris from getting into your system and clogging everything up so that the water doesn’t flow through properly.

Another option is to use a sponge instead of both the pad and the mesh/screen combo it’s not as good at keeping out larger particles like stems or leaves but it does have some benefits over both those options when it comes down to maintenance costs since sponges need less frequent changing than other types of filters do (this may vary depending on which type of filter you choose). 

If you want something that will last longer than anything else without costing too much up front though then I would recommend going with mesh instead because mesh lasts longer than any other material used here today (as long as there isn’t any kind of damage done during installation process).

Hydroponic tower gardens are a great way to maximize space and grow a variety of plants all in one compact unit. If you’re interested in building one yourself, our step-by-step guide has everything you need to know to get started.

Add A Nutrient Solution Control System

Add a nutrient solution control system.

How to do it:

Find the right place for your controller. You’ll want it close enough that you can easily access it, but far enough away that it doesn’t get in the way of your plant’s roots.

What to look for: The best controller on the market is an auto-doser system—a device that measures out precise amounts of nutrients, so you don’t have to worry about measuring or keeping track of what’s in your tank at all times.

Fit In Water Level Control Devices

You can also fit in water level control devices. These are not just for aesthetic purposes, but help safeguard your plant from damage and maintain the PH balance of the nutrient solution.

There are two types of water level control systems: automatic and manual. Automatic systems have sensors that detect when you have topped up the reservoir and then activate pumps to bring more water into it. 

Manual systems require you to switch on a pump by hand whenever there’s an overflow problem or if you wish to add more nutrients.

Automatic watering systems offer convenience because they automatically refill your reservoir when necessary, but in some cases this can lead to overfilling which may cause excess build-up of debris at the bottom of your tank – especially if there is insufficient drainage capacity in place! 

In these situations, manual models may be preferable since they prevent overfilling by shutting off once maximum capacity has been reached (usually around 80%).

This is why it’s important that all hydroponic hobbyists thoroughly understand how their system works before setting up any plants inside it – otherwise there could be serious consequences down the line!

Want to try hydroponics, but concerned about the cost? Our easy guide can help you build a budget-friendly hydroponic setup with simple materials that you might even have lying around your house.

Add In An Air Supply System

One of the most important parts of your hydroponic system is the air supply system. It will ensure that your plants have a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients, keeping them healthy and acting as a filter for harmful gases.

The air pump pushes air into the reservoir, where it flows through tubes to all parts of your hydroponic system. 

The roots absorb oxygen from this stream of bubbles, which helps them grow stronger by providing more nutrients than they would get from soil alone.

Table: Benefits of Adding an Air Supply System to Your Hydroponic System

Improved OxygenationAn air supply system helps to provide improved oxygenation for your plants, which is essential to their growth and overall health.
Reduces Risk of Root RotBy continuously circulating the water in your hydroponic system, the air supply system helps to reduce the risk of root rot, a common problem in hydroponics.
Promotes Nutrient AbsorptionAdequate oxygen levels in the water help to promote the absorption of nutrients by your plants, leading to healthier and faster-growing plants.
Filters Out Harmful GasesThe air supply system can also act as a filter for harmful gases, helping to improve the air quality in your grow space.
Helps Maintain pH LevelsProper oxygenation can help to prevent pH imbalances in your hydroponic system, which can negatively impact plant growth.


Once you have built the hydroponic system, it is time to install it. The first step is to fill in the trays with growing media so that they can hold water and nutrients. 

You should then fit in drain pipes at the bottom of each tray so that excess water can be drained off into a container placed below them. 

If you do not have enough space in your house or garage, consider buying one of those outdoor sheds where you can store all your gardening equipment as well as an indoor garden area with lights for year-round use.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources for learning about NFT hydroponic systems:

How to NFT Hydroponics – A guide that covers the basics of setting up an NFT hydroponic system, including construction, nutrient management, and troubleshooting.

How to Build a NFT Hydroponic System – A step-by-step guide to building an NFT hydroponic system with PVC pipes and other common materials, along with tips for optimizing plant growth.

How Hydroponics Can Be Done DIY Guide – A comprehensive guide covering all aspects of hydroponic gardening, including system design and construction, water management, and plant selection.


What is an NFT hydroponic system?

An NFT (nutrient film technique) hydroponic system is a type of hydroponic system that utilizes a thin film of nutrient-rich water flowing over the roots of the plants. This system is known for its efficiency and is popular among hydroponic growers for growing a variety of plants in a small space.

What are some advantages of using an NFT hydroponic system?

NFT hydroponic systems offer several benefits, including reduced water usage, improved nutrient uptake by plants, and increased crop yields. Additionally, NFT systems are relatively easy to construct and manage, and require minimal maintenance.

What types of plants are suitable for NFT hydroponic systems?

Most leafy greens, herbs, and small fruiting plants like strawberries are suitable for growing in NFT hydroponic systems. However, larger fruiting plants like tomatoes or peppers may require a more robust system to support their weight and height.

What nutrients are needed for an NFT hydroponic system?

Plants grown in NFT hydroponic systems require the same essential nutrients as plants grown in soil, including nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. These nutrients are typically added to the water solution in the form of a fertilizer, with the specific ratio depending on the type of plants being grown.

How do you prevent algae growth in NFT hydroponic systems?

Algae growth in NFT hydroponic systems can be controlled by limiting the amount of light exposure to the nutrient solution, maintaining proper levels of pH and nutrient concentration, and regularly cleaning the system to remove any buildup of debris or algae.