Hydroponics basin

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Hydroponics basin

Hydroponics basin

An artificial nutrient bath for growing plants. The nutrients pumps must work continuously; the plants will die if power is cut.

Base Stats

Market Value
230 Silver [Note]
Path Cost


1 × 4
pass through only
Cover Effectiveness
Blocks Wind
Terrain Affordance
-70 W


Required Research
Skill Required
Construction 4
Work To Make
2,800 ticks (46.67 secs)
Resources to make
Steel 100 + Component 1
Deconstruct yield
Steel 50 + Component 0 - 1
Destroy yield
Steel 25 + Component 0 - 1

A hydroponics basin is a production building that provides a highly fertile area for growing crops fast and in areas that otherwise would not support them.


Hydroponics basins can be constructed once the hydroponics research project has been completed. Each requires Steel 100 Steel, Component 1 Component, 2,800 ticks (46.67 secs) of work modified by the construction speed of the builder, and a construction skill of 4.

Once constructed, they cannot be re-installed, they can only be deconstructed.


A powered hydroponics basin acts as a terrain with 280% soil fertility, twice that of rich soil. The exact speed boost depends on the Fertility Sensitivity of the plant in question. For example, rice gets the full 280% effect, while potatoes won't benefit nearly as much.

Hydroponics basins are placed on the ground, and work both indoors and outdoors. In order to function, they require 70 watts of power, day and night. This is absolutely critical, as when unpowered, its plants will wither very quickly. They can't be uninstalled, only deconstructed for half their value as usual. They do not short circuit in the rain.

Each hydroponics basin is considered dirty with a Cleanliness of −3, applied to the bottom-left-most tile from the player's perspective, regardless of orientation. This reduces the average cleanliness of the room it occupies.

Hydroponics only provides soil fertility, so all other plant growth conditions must be met. This isn't a problem in the growing season while outdoors, but in order to regulate temperature, you must grow indoors, under a mostly complete roof, and use buildings like a heater. The sun lamp is required to provide light in the absence of sunlight (due to the roof). Note that standing lamps aren't suitable for crop growth: plants require at least 51% light, while standing lamps provide a maximum of 50% lighting and do not "stack".

Colonists will automatically plant only 1 type of plant per basin. By default, this is rice. The following plants can be grown in hydroponics basins:


Hydroponics Basins placed on |Polluted Ground Content added by the Biotech DLC provide no protection to plants from the pollution, meaning that crops except for psychoid plants and toxipotato plants Content added by the Biotech DLC will rapidly die. The 280% fertility of Hydroponics Basins is unchanged- this only benefits growing Psychoid as Toxipotatoes have a fertility sensitivity of 0% and grow no faster in hydroponics than they do in the ground.


Hydroponics are most useful if you have limited fertile grow space - whether your colony is inside a mountain, or in an extreme biome like a desert or ice sheet. If there's plenty of fertile soil, then hydroponics can be useful, but more limited in scope.

In terms of yield, 1 tile of hydroponics is equivalent to 2.8 tiles of regular soil. Since soil is free, it is usually more cost effective to plant in more soil (when available) rather than build hydroponics. Once cost doesn't matter, hydroponics can be used in any biome to save space and therefore walking distance. See #Indoors for more analysis.

Not all crops may grow in hydroponics. Besides trees and decorative plants, the following plants can't be grown in a hydroponics basin:

Power is absolutely critical to use, as plants will quickly die without it. It is recommended to have batteries and/or alternative power sources in the case of breakdowns and conduit explosions. A long solar flare will kill all hydroponic crops, though colonists can harvest crops to prevent a total loss.


24 hydroponics basins inside a sun lamp.
Full hydroponics setup vs 3 sun lamps, including power & resources.
Resource cost includes generators and batteries shown
(but not heaters / coolers or power conduits).

When making a "greenhouse", you must consider other plant needs. Sun lamps are required to grow crops in a roofed room. You need a mostly roofed room in order to control the temperature for heaters and possibly coolers. Sun lamps, consuming 2900 W of power for 13 hours, are very power demanding. You also need to power the hydroponics themselves. A sun lamp and 24 hydroponics set up would cost 4580W at day and 1680W at night. Given that sun lamps are on only 13.2 hours a day, this equates to an average of 1595w for a sunlamp and 3275w for a sun lamp + 24 basins.

For indoor farming, hydroponics should be compared to placing extra sun lamps and building generators. Hydroponics can be used to grow crops with a sun lamp, but a lamp can also be used to grow indoors without hydroponics. You can fit up to 24 basins per sun lamp, for a total of 280% growth for 1 sun lamp. Alternatively, you could place 2 more sun lamps, for a total of 300% growth (relative to 1 sun lamp).

  • 24 hydroponics basins would cost Steel 2400 Steel, Component 24 Components and 1680 W.
  • 2 extra sun lamps would cost Steel 80 Steel for the lamps, and Steel 400 Steel, Component 12 Components for 4 solar generators used to power the lamp. Outside of the planet's poles, these generators are enough to power 2 sun lamps with a battery or two.

As 3 sun lamps are much less expensive than 1 sun lamp with a full hydroponics set up, placing sun lamps will be the preferred option for many stages of the game. Even considering the cost of extra batteries and heaters, this is still cheaper.

In the late game, when steel and components are trivial to obtain, then hydroponics have a few key advantages over sun lamps. They take up less space, meaning they are easier to defend. As they take up less space, colonists will need to walk less, which increases efficiency. Because hydroponics isn't dirt, it can save on cleaning time. Finally, hydroponics are more stable - if a blight takes out the greenhouse, then only 1.98 days of growth is lost. Even when considering solar flares, rice in hydroponics grows so fast that it remains a consistent source of food.


  • The DLC-exclusive plants fibercorn Content added by the Ideology DLC and nutrifungus Content added by the Ideology DLC do not require a sun lamp to grow indoors, but their extremely low Fertility Sensitivity means that building hydroponics basins provides a minimal benefit.
  • It is possible to leave up to 25% of a room unroofed, which lets sunlight through, without needing a sun lamp, whilst allowing temperature control. However, this is inefficient for temperature.


Hydroponics are not limited to indoor farming. As mentioned previously, it is usually better to grow in more soil than it is to build hydroponics. But if soil is limited, and temperature permits - namely in a desert - then hydroponics can be viable as a farming tool.

Note that hydroponics basins can be destroyed by raiders. You may want to build a hydroponics room, and just leave it unroofed. You could roof it in later in case of an event like toxic fallout or cold snap.

Plant choice[edit]

Since they have a unique use cotton plant, healroot, smokeleaf plant and tinctoria are all excellent choices for hydroponics basins. The same is true for hop plant, psychoid plant, fibercorn Content added by the Ideology DLC and toxipotato plant,Content added by the Biotech DLC their fertility sensitivity of 70% to 0% respectively means the advantage of growing them in hydroponics basins compared to less fertile soil is rather limited, however.

When it comes to growing food, consider the following:

Rice plants will provide the best crop yields. Lit with a sunlamp in optimal temperatures, a hydroponics basin will yield 24 Rice rice every 1.98 days, or 12.12 food per day (assuming a 100% mutiplier from difficulty). The exact amount may vary due to sowing and harvesting times, as well as external factors like power outages and solar flares. In spite of this, rice remains the crop with the greatest yield potential.
Strawberry plants provide the second highest crop yields, producing 32 Berries berries every 3.03 days (assuming a 100% mutiplier from difficulty) under a sunlamp and optimal temperatures. This works out to about 10.56 food per hydroponics basin per day. This is 87.13% of what a crop of hydroponic rice would yield in the same time-frame. However, berries have the advantage of being suitable for consumption immediately, without the need for cooking.
Potato plants are the least tile-efficient crop to grow. Their fertility sensitivity of 0.4 prevents them from gaining the full benefit from hydroponics. A hydroponics basin will yield 44 Potatoes potatoes every 6.23 days, or 7.08 food per day (assuming a 100% mutiplier from difficulty). That is only 58.42% of what a crop of hydroponic rice would yield the same time-frame, they are technically the most work-efficient crop in hydroponics, however. If you happen to be starved on grower time, then potatoes have a small niche – but a colony using hydroponics is unlikely to be starved on grower time.
Nutrifungus Content added by the Ideology DLC might be a viable option if your ideoligion Content added by the Ideology DLC prefers eating raw fungus. A hydroponics basin will yield 44 Raw fungus raw fungus every 8.72 days, or 5.04 food per day (assuming a 100% multiplier from difficulty). That is only 41.58% of what a crop of hydroponic rice would yield the same time-frame, but with a potential mood buff Content added by the Ideology DLC.

See also[edit]

Version history[edit]

  • 0.0.245 - Balanced down hydroponics growth rate.
  • 0.3.410 - Fertility increase and requires power or the plants die. You can also now set what to grow on them.
  • Beta 19 - now requires components to build, and the default crop was changed to rice (from potatoes). It also received a remodel.
  • 1.4.3523 - Fix exploit: Growing multiple plants in single spot in hydroponics basin.
  • 1.4.3641 - Fix: Gauranlen and polux seeds can be planted on hydroponics basins.