HydroBuddy’s Online Hydroponic Formulation Database

There are certainly thousands of different ways in which a hydroponic nutrient solution can be prepared. You can make a solution schedule to closely follow the environmental and growing conditions of a certain crop – like tomatoes – or you can simply make up a generic formulation to use within all your hydroponic plants. Besides this we also have an incredible amount of commercial formulations you would perhaps like to imitate and a ton of ways in which you can experiment with nutrient ratios to improve things such as the flavor, size and production of your crops. Since there are so many ways in which we can prepare nutrient solutions I have decided to create an Online Nutrient Database we can use to store and easily access all this information.

My hydroponic nutrient calculator – a.k.a HydroBuddy – has the ability to save and load formulations for the creation of almost any hydroponic nutrient solution. Since the calculator has the ability to grab external files and load them into its internal database I saw no reason why we couldn’t create an online database in which we could keep a global record of all the formulations we find and develop. The calculator – since v 0.95 – includes a “download online database” button which downloads all the formulations kept within the online database to the grower’s HydroBuddy program. This way the user doesn’t have to keep on downloading the database manually but simply by pressing a button all the information is automatically re-downloaded and updated. Added to this is the benefit that the users other loaded formulations remain intact as the calculator detects which formulations are downloaded and which ones were created by the local user.

The idea of this online database is to put all the information available about nutrient formulations into one place so that people all around the world can benefit and experiment with different setups. Added to this is the ability to make the imitation of commercial formulations even easier since the formulations can be kept within the online database. So in my mind it is a win-win situation for everyone, we get to have the opportunity to create a unique database filled with information about solutions from both empirical, commercial and academical sources while we retain the flexibility to use them or modify them within HydroBuddy as we please. This also makes the standardization of formulation use much easier since you can easily tell people what HydroBuddy database formulation you are using and they can easily then reproduce what you have or change it slightly to fit the nutrients available in different regions of the world.

How can you contribute to this database ? In order to add a file to the database you need to send me an email to dfernandezp(at)unal.edu.co , you need to include the name of the formulation you are adding, its intent and source (what plant or if its an imitation of what commercial fertilizer) and a file created by HydroBuddy with the necessary information. In order to create this file just save the formulation on the “Desired Formulation” tab then send me the file created within HydroBuddy’s directory. After you send me your contribution I will add it to the Online Database so that everybody will be able to download it with the click of a button.If you want to send many files just put them all within a zip files so that they will be easier to download from my email client, include in the body of the email the necessary descriptions for each file as detailed above.

So if you have been waiting for an opportunity to contribute to HydroBuddy feel free to share with me any formulations you might have found or created that you would consider useful for someone. If you have spent a lot of time taking the formulations of commercial nutrients and translating them into HydroBuddy you can now share this knowledge with the rest of the world. I will also do my fair share to add new formulations to the online database, particularly regarding academic sources since most people do not have access to the research databases where the articles detailing them can be found.

If you want to contribute and support HydroBuddy but you do not want to send any formulations feel free to donate using the paypal donate button on the left hand sidebar :o)

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  1. praveen says:

    Dear Mr Daniel Fernandez,
    First of all i would like to thank you for this web site that you have created for all hydroponic growers. It is simply great. I am just a biginner as far as Hydroponics are concerned. I stubmled on your site just today. I do have a lot of queries. Please send me a generic formulation for growing vegetables. And i would also like to know how to view specific formulations for specific plants.

    • David says:

      Hi Daniel, Thanks for your previous reply. Question, Could you please tell me of nutrient friendly products to increase and lower the nutrient PH. I have been using Caustic Soda and Muriatic Acid which I think is upsetting the formula.The garden is not too healthy. Thanks again David.

      • admin says:

        Hi David,

        Thank you for your reply :o) Caustic Soda and Muriatic acid are not good choices for pH adjustment since they add sodium and chloride respectively. Try getting potassium hydroxide (also known as caustic potash) and nitric acid which will allow you to adjust your pH while only contributing small amounts of nitrogen and potassium. You might also want to try potassium carbonate and ammonium nitrate as milder pH down/up alternatives as well (although you need to adequately monitor how much ammonium and carbonate you’re adding). I hope this helps !

        Best Regards,


  2. syed says:

    i am glad to know that you habe web site for freating hydroponic nutranint i hope you will help me in the formulaions of some vegitable plant specialy tomato and spanich

  3. ObjectiveVP2020 says:

    I love the program. Nutrients and Additives are by far my biggest expense right now and I feel like somebody’s laughing at me every time I leave the store. I am curious on which tab/page you find the screenshot above. I haven’t been able to find that on my version, the page I feel it probably is on looks like this [IMG]http://i54.tinypic.com/2v3kbvs.jpg[/IMG]. Thank you for writing this program, its a great help and as I get more experience in mixing I hope to get even more out of your software.

    • admin says:

      Hello Objective,

      Thank you for your comment :o) This part of the program was eliminated as the online database never progressed (people didn’t collaborate with it) however right now the program has the capability to update its formulation database via the update program (preserving any ones you might have added) so from the next update you will have a comprehensive nutrient formulation database for several plants automatically loaded and updated on every program start. Thanks again for your comment,

      Best regards,


      • Aleece B. Landis says:

        It is disappointing that you eliminated that feature.
        Do you have the formulations posted somewhere? I accidentally deleted one from the database and it doesn’t seem to be re-loading it so I think I need to put it back in manually. I’m looking for the tropical lettuce formula in particular.

  4. David says:

    Daniel, Could you please give me the correct % input values of the following product to put into the Substance Database, product as listed below.
    This below is written on the packaging.
    CALCIUM NITRATE Total Nitrate (n) 15.5%
    Nitrate Nitrogen 14.5%
    Ammonium Nitrogen 1.0%
    Total water soluable
    Calcium (ca)
    Expressed as elements 19.6%
    Expressed as CaO 27.5% Thanks David.

    • admin says:

      Hello David,

      Thank you for your comment :o) Just assign N(NO3-) a value of 14.5, N(NH4+) a value of 1 and Ca a value of 19.6. I hope this helps,

      Best Regards,


  5. Chris says:

    I installed Hydrobuddy on a Vista machine and began to enter the nutrients I use in the database. It seemed fine, but the second time I loaded it my file was corrupted and so I had to uninstall it and then install it again later.

    The second time it seemed to run well. However, when I entered the data, I accidentally entered one with two decimals — I believe it was 1.6.3 instead of 1.63. I don’t remember the exact wording of the error, but it told me that it couldn’t use that data and that it would corrupt the file if I didn’t cancel it. I canceled it, but it still corrupted the file.

    • admin says:

      Hi Chris,

      Thank you for reporting :o) I will add a check against this on the next version,

      Best Regards,


  6. Bill says:


    One of the requests above was for nutrient friendly products for adjusting pH. I have been using potassium hydroxide for pH up and vinegar for pH down. Is there a problem with vinegar (it’s a mild acid and the anion doesn’t precipitate out calcium)?


    • admin says:

      Hi Bill,

      Thank you for your post :o) Vinegar is NOT a good pH down for hydroponics as acetic acid – its active ingredient – is also a plant excretion product that can become phytotoxic even at relatively low concentrations (like those necessary for pH adjustment). It is much better to use nitric or phosphoric acids as pH down solutions. I hope this helps,

      Best Regards,


  7. Charles says:

    Love your program, please add cobalt as a lot of formulations contain it, also consider adding vitamin c, as it’s now a proven REQUIRED nutrient for plants to grow past the seedling stage. http://tinyurl.com/3bx2wfr <- article.

    • admin says:

      Hi Charles,

      Thank you for your comment :o) In my view there is no point in adding cobalt as it is inevitably included in necessary amounts as an impurity within manganese salts and adding more could have detrimental effects. You should also read the full journal article regarding vitamin C. They created plants through genetic engineering which could not produce it by themselves (in order to study the absence of this vitamin on plants). Plants can evidently produce their own Vitamin C (otherwise they would not even grow in hydroponics without it) and generally require no supplementation (they just showed that their innate production of vitamin C is essential to their survival by making plants that could not produce it beyond seedling stage). So what they did was simply prove that the vitamin production ALREADY present in plants is essential to their survival. Please remember to read the full journal publication before coming to hasty conclusions :o) Thanks again for commenting,

      Best Regards,


      • James says:

        Waw.. you are the boss, men! xD

        How the hell do you know so much about hydroponics?
        (Am a hobbist, but amazed for “your intelectual precision”)

        Nice to enjoy reading “your thoughts” ;)

  8. Charles says:

    I understand the cobalt issue, thank you for that.

    As per the vitamin c my personal observation is contrary to your conclusion, I had plants in severe nutrient burn and added 500 mg, then 1000 mg after the 500 proved safe, and the plants rebounded within a few days, not weeks. So it’s my opinion that vitamin c supplementation aids the plant in that it does not had to produce its own.

    It was my understanding from the excerpt that they modified it to not produce the enzyme required for its own internal vitamin c production at which point they concluded it was essential, then they added vitamin c to that same plant without the enzyme and it grew as normal was my understanding, that would seem to indicate that supplementation even if you had a working enzyme would be actively absorbed. I could be completely wrong as I don’t have access to the actual journal.

    • admin says:

      Hi Charles,

      Thank you for your reply :o) Yes, as I said before the journal article simply proves that the already produced vitamin C is essential for plant growth. It has been known for a while that plants will absorb hydro soluble molecules like vitamin C quite easily so the article does not prove that (it was already known that plants can absorb it). There is no study that proves that vitamin C supplementation is beneficial which doesn’t mean this can’t be the case but there is simply no reliable evidence about this fact (what you offer is simply anecdotal evidence which we know not to trust in a scientific environment as variables are not adequately controlled). So to sum it up, we know vitamin C is absorbed and we know that the already produced amounts within plants are essential. Is supplementation beneficial on normal crops? This is a question for a follow up study. My experience however tells me that that study is needed before saying that this is “good for plants” since it could prove to be just a waste of money (unnecessary addition). As I said before I will only include additives on hydrobuddy which have been proved to increase yields under controlled conditions as I do not want to encourage unnecessary practices. Thanks again for posting,

      Best Regards,


      PS: If you find any studies which have vitamin C supplementation of normal plants examining plant yields please do let me know!

  9. Charles says:

    Small note, when you use tab to scroll through the element list to quickly change the figures, it does so perfectly except that it skips right over the Mn element, making it so you always have to mouse up to it and manually change it, not a major issue but certainly something easily fixable. Thanks in advance from me and everyone else.

  10. Rai says:

    Daniel re vitamin C – this may interest you.

    The University of California has shown certain benefits of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) on plant health and growth. 1 “There seems to be multiple benefits of increasing the level of vitamin C in plants, including improving their tolerance to smog/ozone, improving photosynthesis, and improving their nutritional value. ( Zhong Chen and Daniel R. Gallie* (2005) Increasing Tolerance to Ozone by Elevating Foliar Ascorbic Acid Confers Greater Protection against Ozone Than Increasing Avoidance)

    Like you I think its far too early days but the science does seem to be beginning to find additional vit c may ???? be of benefit.

  11. Brian says:

    Downloaded and unable to install Hydrobuddy on Mac.

    Appreciate any info to help the installation.



  12. Nice job!

    On the results page .. the weight units is always shown as grams regardless of whether you have asked for oz or not.

    I’m running into a problem where Hydrobuddy program will fail on opening the substances_used.dbf file. Workaround is to reload hydrobuddy. Looking for a problem on my side, but wanted to report this… don’t know if the file is being corrupted somehow or another, or I am missing some prereq, or system configuration item.

  13. Rob (IN) says:

    Hi Daniel,

    A couple of quick questions. I downloaded the HydroBuddy for Windows, and it worked the first time, but after closing and opening the program I obtain an error “Unable to open file “D:\Program Files\Hydrobuddy\substances_used.dbf.” The program terminates after this message. I have tried to uninstall and reinstall with same error. Just thought the exact error message might be helpful.
    I am running some hydroponics system for a couple of years for my veggies and have been using the Botanicare Pure Blend formula, but as a scientist I have been interested in formulating my own. I know how we obtain excipients at work (Fisher Sci), but what vendor do you typical use to create your nutrients?


    • admin says:

      Hi Rob,

      Thank you for posting :o)

      1. Please read the comments on the program’s download page, you’ll get the solution to your query there.
      2. I don’t live in the US so my answer is most likely irrelevant, I obtain my chemical supplies from local agrochemical companies. You should not get supplies from regular lab suppliers as their purity is most probably too high for your needs in hydroponics (therefore cost is unnecessarily high), try agrochemical suppliers.

      I hope this helps,

      Best Regards,


  14. Duke says:

    your website and nutrient calculator are both absolutely fabulous… kudos to you for making your mark on the world. As for myself… Well I keep scratching but it’s difficult from the other side of the world (I have been living in China for the last 6 years). In the near future i will learn to create my own nutrient formulas using your HYDROBUDDY, as for now I am currently using advanced nutrients (micro, grow, bloom) which I had sent from Oregon. With a $700 express shipping fee and a layover in Chinese customs that lasted nearly a month, it was almost more than i could endure… and now to find out that my order was not complete.
    So, this is where i was hoping you could help. The product that I’m lacking is not actually nutrients but a flush. The product label lists the ingredients but no percents or ratios. Aquiring reagent grade EDTA and Citric Acid was extremely easy (there are 3 fully stocked chem shops within walking distance from my house) but how much to use is unbeknownst to me.
    here is the link to the product label in question (–links are automatically removed–)

    Thank for your support,

  15. Duke says:

    Dear Daniel,
    I humbly request your reply…
    Thank you to the utmost,

  16. Maria says:

    I really like your program, but I have to reinstall it everytime, it says it is unable to retrieve substances used file. I have windows 7. Is there a solution to this problem?

  17. mark says:

    I love your program but after it opens the first time on my computer it will never open again. Every time after that it pops up a window that says cannot open sustancesused.dbf and when i press cancel to ignore it closes the whole program. The only way i can use your program is by unistalling it and then reinstalling it every time. Any input on this issue would be greatly appreciated.

  18. Felix says:

    Querido Daniel,

    Me encanta tu programa, pero tengo un problema con el y es, si fuera posible, tener la occion de intalar en espaƱol, seria maravilloso para muchos.

    comentar al problema que tienen muchos usuarios de windows que cuando quieren lanzar el programa le da el error del archivo substances_used.dbf, deben de abrir el programa como administrador y funciona perfecto.

    Gracias por tan buen aporte de esta fabulosa calculadora gratis.

  19. Courage says:

    Hello Dan,
    I just came across your page and it is great. Please, maybe my question is very basic and might have been asked already. Also it might take me hours to get comments that respond specifically to my need. Please, I want to begin a hydroponic farm and I would like to recycle the nutrient solution. How do I know when to renew my nutrient solution? Thanks in advance. or maybe you can refer me to any useful page for beginners.

    • Jennifer Martin says:

      Beginners can’t really recycle nutrient solutions because it takes a lot of ongoing testing of individual element quantities, along with microbes, and other contaminants. It’s extremely tricky also due to the fact that plants store certain elements and not others. For example, your nutrient solution might test low for N, but your plants are loaded with it. You add more N to compensate, and then you toxify your plants with N. It’s not worth it unless you have a couple hundred thousand bucks to throw at it.

  20. Greg Martin says:


    How do I access the online formulation database?

    I’m gradually working my way thru hydrobuddy, and can’t seem to find this feature (downloading the web formulation database). I have the latest version 1.40, and don’t find the above dialogue.

    I realize you have an automatic update feature for the program, and perhaps the database is automatically refreshed as well – but I haven’t found you to say so. If so, the database seems very small, with only about 20 published formulations.

    Thanks – Greg.

    • Dirt Boy says:

      I’d like to second Greg’s question.
      I have installed v1.40 but can’t find the “Download database” button anywhere. The visible formulations list is only 20 or so long, so that makes be think that not everything has been downloaded.
      Could you please specify on what tab the download button is?

      • admin says:

        this button is no longer available (as the online database project is no longer operational). The 20 or so formulations are all the ones available in the program.

  21. mak says:

    Can someone direct me on what are the basic chemicals i have to find and buy to get me started.
    Second can someone tell me where i can learn the chemistry basics before i start mixing any nutrients.

    Thank You All

    • Jaime says:

      This are the chemicals I’m using to replicate nutrient formulas of GH, Dyna and G&H… It’s for nutrients only, not for supplements.

      Fe EDTA
      Cu EDTA
      Zn EDTA
      Mn EDTA

      You can get them with local agrochemical companies, like Daniel mentioned before…


  22. Charles says:

    I, just downloaded the program today (07/12/2013) v1.5. I was very excited about the program, until I, read that the database project is no longer operational, this was the heart of the download. Most program that are free when they collect enough data, for a large database then they cut the heart(database)out, and begin to sell it for profit.
    I, hope that this database will be downloadable again, for knowledge is what makes us progress and become a better person with the world.
    When it free all can enjoy(to have the full and satisfying use or benefit of something).

  23. Huge says:

    Since the online database is no longer a feature, can you add a note to the top of this page explaining the change. It took a while to find these comments explaining this feature had been removed. A note might save some frustration.

    Have you considered adding the formulation ‘save’ feature back, so groups of users can save/share/discuss formulations manually?

  24. Josh says:

    Hello Mr Fernandez I was curious into know where else could I purchase some of the compound I noticed that cropking only carries so much Thanks and take care

  25. Kieren says:

    Hi Daniel, I would like to achieve 200ppm of calcium without any nitrogen and no more than 100ppm of Phosphorus (Direct addition into 1000L). There is no chlorine in the water.

    I am assuming that i would use a combination of Cal Chloride, Cal sulphate, and Tri Cal phosphate. Can you please recommend me your preferred way of doing this?

    is it possible to dissolve the super phos in hot water without changing the chemical composition?

    Are there any tricks for using any of these chemicals in hydroponics? i can only access super phos locally for an agro chemical supplier, do agro chem suppliers also sometimes sell the other two chems or are they sold only for food manufacture’s?

  26. D says:

    I would pay up to 5$ for Android version, a lot of my fellow growers would. So would University of Maryland agricultural school students.

  27. DevG says:

    Dear Mr Daniel Fernandez,

    Thanks a lot for the software you made. I would require your help on following two inputs:
    1) From where I can get the target chemicals to be used in tomato and lettuce cultivation in Dutch bucket system and NFT
    2) What would the chemical composition of Miracle grower’s tomato formula and to validate is it came out correctly in this system.

    This will really help me greatly to proceed further.

  28. Frikkie says:

    Awesome app
    How to add water ppm in calculation

    Adding acid control would also help


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