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I was interested to hear the Guru had purchased a Hydrolock system and was looking to run it his next grow. I was one of the first adopters of the Hydrolock system, and it is a great system, but there are some tweaks and hacks that really take it to the next level. Although my purchase of the system was spurred by convenience, it really can add a lot to a grow be ensuring even watering and automation. When I was first looking for any tips on improving the system, I was disappointed by how few people had the same system and some of these hacks are the result of years of trial and error. Here are the best mods that I have found: 

  • Use a rigid, dark-sided garbage can for a reservoir. figure out your volume marks and mark them. the collapsible, soft-sided ones get bugs and they don’t come out.  
  • For the inlet into the pump, don’t use either a garden hose or vinyl hose. A proper seal on a garden hose is hard to keep without positive pressure, and a vinyl hose wants to float and is subject to collapsing under the vacuum. get a section of ¾ silicone tube they use for home brewing. it is only a little bit more expensive than vinyl and will stay submerged, not collapse from the pressure, and if anything grows in it, can be boiled safely to clean it. 
  • After the pump, add a 220 micron inline filer (cannabis irrigation supply), and after that add a ball valve. this is the biggest hack I have added to this system. shut off the valve after the filter and open the one at the bottom of the filter back into the reservoir and now your pump is on in “recirculation” mode and the reservoir is being recirculated with just the pump and the system is easier to prime this way also. the last added benefit of adding this filter with a valve at the bottom is that with a system for a 5×5 or anything smaller than 16 sites, the pump is too powerful and will cause the pump to constantly cycle on and off to keep the pressure. with this setup, you can open the bottom valve enough to keep the tank recirculating and the pump doesn’t have to constantly cycle.  
  • Finally, I have ran recharge through the system with no problem. what I do is mix up say 5 gallons of just recharge and water and then put on another gallon or so of fresh water to clean the lines. I have never had anything in the filter and the sprayers have never clogged.  

I looked through some photos of my grows and pieced some together of my system. I started out with 2 custom 700 watt HLG fixtures with 4ft uv bars and far red initiators on them. I have recently added two more HLG 600 R specs and another grow tray for a bit more space. I have a 40 gallon res and last October had the system optimized and programed enough that I could walk away for 10 days for a vacation to Costa Rica in week 6 of flower and only had to have a friend come over to add just water to get it the last few days until I got home.