Small time DWC setup / First grow - Any advise is appreciated


New grower
Jan 26, 2015
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I have been enjoying bud for over 20 years but never have grown my own. That changes now! Hope this new hobby can help make myself sustainable. I came to this site to learn more and hear what input you all might have for me. The whole growing process fascinates me and I'm really looking forward to see if I can pull this off with I'm working with/in.

About the grow : Now, the box I'm using is kinda small but I have plans to upgrade my grow area once these are complete. This is more of a test run in which I'm trying to be hopefully optimistic. Will be using White Widow feminized seeds from CKS (came recommended from a trusted source). Ordered 5 and got 8 (took about 6 days), which is nice but I have read online that many places do this and others giving out even more freebies... but I'm not complaining.

List of items used w/set-up :
3 - 6500k CFL Grow Bulbs
3 - 2700k CFL Flowering Bulbs
2 gallon reservoir
2 net cups
2 organic starter plugs
3 outlet adapters
2 Power strips
Hydrofarm ASCM Medium Active Aqua Air Stone
Air Pump/2 line - Danner Aqua Supreme
Air Line - 25 Foot, Black (cut to desired lengths)
Timer (for lights)
80 CFM fan system with carbon protected intake/outake areas
Digital Thermometer
2 Speed Clip Fan, 6-Inch (doesn't actually fit into box but is used to take the excess heat out)
Starting out with 10 gallons of reverse osmosis (RO) water
2 White Widow female seeds
Advanced Nutrients pH Perfect Grow / Micro / Bloom Kit
Advanced Nutrients Hobbyist Bundle
-Voodoo Juice
-Big Bud

Day 1 : Germination began! Two of the WW seeds were put into a glass of normal tap water for about 12 hours and then put into the starter plugs. Despite knowing that the seeds do not need nutrients at this time, I have been told this will not hurt them either. I decided to go ahead and add them anyway but went easy - added 1 TBSP of each base nutrient (separately) to the RO water and a 1/2 TBSP of Voodoo Juice (based on the instructions given). Box is on and running. Seedlings are covered so that they stay in the dark. Lights on a 18/6 cycle. Box temp is steady around 75 with lights on and 67 with lights off. Water temp is 69.

Day 2 : Changed light cycle to 20/4. From what I have read online this is the best. I also have read leaving the lights on 24 hrs straight is better but the box I have can get too hot and those 4 hours of lights off help keep the box/water cooler. Seeds still covered. Can see something starting to happen with both seedlings. Water temp is 71.

Day 3 : Sticking with 20/4 for the time being. Let there be light! Uncovered the seedlings... not sure if this is the best time or not. I read multiple websites and forums stating that with CFLs I should get the light on them ASAP and I think I'm still sticking with the 20/4 cycle. Added about one cup of RO water - poured the water directly on the seeds, it soaked through and went into the reservoir. Things seem to be going in the right direction. Water temp is 68.

Day 4 : Impressive growth for only 4 days in. Added another 1/4 cup of RO water, which I again poured half on one and half on the other. The level is now exactly where I want it going forward. Won't be adding anymore water this week but will be changing out the res on day 6. I want to add more lighting but think what I have is adequate for now (any advice?). Water temp is 69.

I'll be back tomorrow with some pics and more to come...

Thanks MP for having a place where people can come together and discuss things like this.
Aug 22, 2006
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I know you are not like to hear the things I have to say, but I see a lot wrong with your plan. Unfortunately, there is a reason that cannabis is is difficult and expensive to grow. I can see that you have spent a lot of time researching and don't know where exactly you have been researching, but there is a lot on your list that is going to need upgrading to take a plant to harvest.

The first is your lighting. Do not use CFLs--they are absolutely the worst of all the lights we use to grow. There are a whole bunch of down sides, but the major one is that it takes a whole bunch of CFLs to get to proper lumens. And when you do this, you will be spending about 2-3 times as much in electricity every single month, they put out way more heat, and then at the end of those 4 or so months, you will have substantially less bud to show for it.

You need a dedicated space for your plants that is enclosed and sized to the lights you have. And we really need to know the dimensions of the proposed permanent space so we can advise on lighting and fan options. Your space will need to be kept 100% dark during lights out and you need to be able to control the environment--temps, RH, air exchange. I do not know what size the CFLs are (equivalent wattage is immaterial) or how many lumens they put out, but that is critical information that we do need. You need a minimum of 3000 lumens (6500K) per sq ft for vegging and a minimum of 5000 lumens (2700K) per sq ft for flowering. Lights should be running 24/7--more about that later. There is no advantage to making sure the seedlings are in the dark. I am going to recommend other lighting when I know the size of your space.

Next, you are under a huge misconception if you believe that giving nutes too early will not hurt--it can kill your plants in a matter of hours. If you did not injure them, you are quite lucky. I have seen hydro plants curl up and fry from nutes too early. Whoever told you this will not hurt should not be trusted as a good source of information (sorry, but this is true). Hydro plants will need food a bit sooner than soil plants, but do not feed too early or too much.

You will also find that a 2 gal res is not going to be big enough for even one plant. A single plant can drink up 3 gals of nutrients on its own if it is a thirsty girl. It is also harder to keep your pH and PPMs in check with such a small res. It will do for a few weeks, but be prepared to go at least a 5 gal res for each plant with DWC. I recommend that you look into making some of your own DWC containers out of 5 gal buckets or totes.

Unfortunately, your exhaust fan is proving inadequate already and you are most likely underlit with the lights too far away. If the fan cannot keep it cool enough to run your lights 24/7, you do need to address that right away. It is only going to get worse as you add more light.

I always run 2 air stones per res as they can clog up and quit working. Unless your water is quite high in dissolved solids, I would not use distilled water. Regular water that is not too high in DO does have things that are beneficial to plants. You will also need a good quality pH meter, pH up and down, a PPM meter and calibration fluids for both. I have not used AN nutes as I find them overpriced and overhyped. I have tried several of their additives (Big Bud, overdrive, and B-52) without seeing any increase in anything. I put these additives in the "snake oil" category. You may have different results.


Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2014
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You should check into a grow tent there reasonable an easy to setup for grow space. Goddess pretty much nailed it light, ventilation, food an water! Theres alot of good help here read up an ask questions or search, youll find everything you need here. Its an awesome hobby but its time consuming an expensive. Green mojo to ya. BtL


Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2014
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I'll chime in as someone who's used CFLs in small grows for years, they can get the job done for a small (~2-3 sq ft) scrog style setup, and they have the upside of being cheap and easily rearranged to get the light where you want it. My last grow in 2012 (before kids were born and I took a hiatus from the hobby), I got 4.5 oz from a low yielding sativa in a 12" x 26" screen under about 250w of CFLs. So not mind blowing yields, but I had enough and then some for my own use.

That being said, for anything larger than that, you'd be better off going with HID lights, and obviously if that's in your budget then they will almost always produce better results for you in any size setup. So I'm not disagreeing that HID is better, just saying CFLs will work for very small scale operations as long as yield isn't your top priority.