Paint & hyroponics

bruce432February 7, 2009

I have an outdoor hydroponics garden consisting of over 120 white homemade bato buckets (5 gal buckets) where I grow vegetables using wood chips along with pvc piping and a Rubbermaid reservoir. Last summer I had a big problem with algae clogging my drippers. I was told that I should either paint or cover my piping, reservoir and buckets in order to discourage the algae growth. I really don't think covering them with foil is the way to go. Then again if I paint them on the outside is there a concern with the paint leaching into the nutrient solution? Do you folks have any suggestions? Should I paint them black and then coat them with white to keep the heat level down? What type of paint should I use? Thanks.

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I had the same thing with my last years hydro DW garden. I grow indoors, and found that algae grew at scary rates inside my white buckets and lids.

This year I bought black buckets and lids. I started this years hydro garden in December of 2008, and so far with the black buckets and lids, no algae.

However, not everyone can afford to buy new buckets so if money is an issue, I saw a posting where a guy bought reflective tape (looked like shinny aluminum) and put it on the lids and bucket sides.

Another suggestion, would be to try using hydrogen peroxide in your water system. Some guys say that they flush / rinse their system with it, others say they keep about 1 -2 tablespoons per gallon in their solution at mix up time. I have not had any luck using it as it affects the plants I grow in DW.

One more suggestion would be to use the roof paint, that is reflective or white in color. That stuff is thick and significantly reduces UV penetration (what it is designed for).

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 12:07AM
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freemangreens(Zone 10 CA)

I've used both aluminum foil and peroxide. To use the foil, just spray the outside of your buckets or pipes with spray-on glue, then wrap the piece with foil; shiny side out. This will reflect both heat and light and will to some extent reflect light up under your plants' leaves.

I use 20-volume (20%) hydrogen peroxide. I get it at the local beauty supply store. I mix it at 1 tsp per gallon and it seems to abate the algae. I also soak used perlite in it before reusing it and it makes that pristine white color return.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 12:53AM
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Several studies have also shown hypochlorite to be effective against algae and not detrimental to plant growth. I recently wrote a blog post about this , check it out here . I also wrote one about hydrogen peroxide if you are interested !

Here is a link that might be useful: Everything about Hydroponics

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 9:59AM
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If I decide to use the paint what type of paint is safest and best?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 3:59PM
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Hey guys,

I have tried Hydrogen Peroxide on my plants and it kills them (the plants). I have tried all kinds and types of Hydrogen Peroxide, in all kinds of quantities. I get the same effect every time. The plant just wilts in a matter of seconds, and looks like it ran out of water.

Maybe because I am doing DW, and I have tons of aeration?

I read the article above and it talks about Sodium Hydrochloride. I realize this is different than peroxide.

I know my municipal tap water has Fluoride and Sodium Hydrochloride in it, and my plants do not seem bothered by it. I also know that it evaporates pretty quickly (less than 4 hours) from the water.

I just cannot figure out why peroxide is killing my stuff when others swear by it.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 4:40PM
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I have tried hydrogen peroxide this past summer to control the algae growth. It really did help however I had to dilute it quite a bit. It takes quite a bit of hydrogen peroxide for 120 buckets though. That's why I"m considering the use of paint to cover the buckets, pvc and reservoirs. What paint would be best?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 8:23PM
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Does anyone out there paint their buckets, pvc, and reservoirs in order to keep algae growth down? If so does it work? What color and kind of paint do you use? Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 10:59PM
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What ever you decide to coat/paint the buckets and piping with, I would supplement your system with Hydrogen Peroxide. It's H2O2 (water with an extra oxygen molecule) a very safe means of controlling algae and anaerobic bacteria, there are formulas out there for quantities verses strength. I use a 35% percent blend; 50ml for 30 gallon reservoir. There is no physiological reason why Hydrogen Peroxide would kill/wilt plants within seconds....

Good Luck

Here is a link that might be useful: My Lettuce Project Aero2-36

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 12:31AM
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I would paint the exterior of the buckets and the pipes with white latex paint. It seems to be the best at keeping light from reaching the algae and maintaining the plant root system fresh, as painting black would cause the buckets to heat excessively with sunlight.

Regarding hydrogen peroxide, it is not as friendly as most would think. It is a powerful oxidant and it does not discriminate root from pathogen. As it can eat down algae it can eat down roots. Low concentrations must be used in order to prevent damage, although it has been found in studies that crop productivity reductions of up to 20% can be had without the grower noticing any ill effects.

Here is a link that might be useful: Everything Hydroponics

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 5:40AM
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freemangreens(Zone 10 CA)


Golly! I've never seen a cleaner growing area in all my life! Good job!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 11:44AM
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Thanks freemangreens...

It's my work office I have visitors.. I have to keep in clean...

Thanks again... I'll keep posting new pics on my web site. I'm still very much a rookie, this is such a great hobby. We eat a VERY fresh salad greens daily...

Here is a link that might be useful: My Letuce

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 11:54PM
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On the topic of paint: I would say you have three choices. Black, black, or black. It has to block light and nothing blocks light as well as black. This will mean that it absorbs a lot more light as well, which can make things hotter so you might want to top it off with a coat of white or another light color.

But a light colored paint won't block light.

Other options include foil (not ideal since it can create hot-spots and burn your plants), thick tarps, and the like.

Absolute darkness is the goal, but it's not strictly necessary. The darker it gets the slower any nasties can grow.

For the type of paint you want to make sure you get something that stands up to direct sunlight, heat, and will stay stuck to whatever you're painting. Plastics can be tricky but Krylon is pretty good for them.

Black trashbags can be a simple and cheap way to get it done, though certainly not very fashionable.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 12:50PM
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I would suggest painting it with white roofing paint / sealer. It's expensive, but it will not come off easily, will reflect light and not allow it to penetrate into the plastic.

If you want a brand, just do a Search on the Internet (I find Yahoo works great if your searching on something to buy).

(danielfp) Thanks for the suggestion on using Sodium Hydrochloride (Bleach). I have tried 5 drops per gallon in my water every three days and it works very nice. Plants do not seem to notice or care, and the algae I had in two white buckets are gone. 

I water my plants at their current stage every day, but I only add the bleach drops every three days to the water I add to top off my DW buckets.
    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 4:27PM
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I used 5 ml of hydrogen peroxide per gallon (of 29% solution) and that was too much. I got plant wilt and my nutrient solution went from its usual coral color (from the GH brand Floramicro solution) to clear. I then used advice I found to use a smaller amount (2 ml per gallon) and add it to the new water in the reservoir before adding the nutrient. I let this circulate through my system for an hour or so and then add the nutrients. This has worked out well.

I read that hydrogen peroxide needs to be replenished about every 4 days so I plan on adding the 2 ml per gallon amount every 5 days.

On the issue of the color of the Bato buckets, I have black ones and am having trouble with them heating my nutrient solution too much. I am trying to also decide on painting or covering them. I also plan on covering the tops and am looking for lids. I have expanded clay pebbles as my media, and these are heating up as well.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 11:42AM
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I had a similar problem, when I was growing indoors in my garage, I thought I knew it all. I was getting outside filtered light from a window , so I thought with additional lighting I could get away from having a balck container.
What happened I was getting all sorts of bad things happening including mould , and even mosquitos breeding in the tank. after painting no plants were lost , drained the whole messy lot out including the mosquito larvae
I painted my white container with black spray paint and even though it stank for a while it was fine.
I see lots of white containers in this forum and I believe all are in for a bad time with mould etc, in short keep it black.
I had a large old fish tank and covered it in black plastic as the reservoir, it is outside and has given me no problem, as for foil I have never used, all my other containers are black, but once I stepped outside of this , was when the problem occurred.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 8:53PM
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