I found two 5 gallon plastic water jugs in the trash some time back. Now I could have simply returned them for the deposit at the store, but that wouldn't have been fun or original. Instead, seeking to furnish my home (a bit of a man cave, occupied by my teenaged son & me) and bring a bit of the outdoors inside, I turned these jugs into something completely different and unique.
This project uses the "body" of the water jug as an aquarium, while using the neck of the water jug to mount a lamp. Inside the aquarium is an undergravel filter using a silicone baking pan as the filter base and PVC pipe as the riser tube. The PVC tube continues above the aquarium section of the water jug and conceals the wiring for the lamp, which is mounted to a large PVC pipe bushing that fills the neck of the water jug. The lamp makes use of conventional lamp socket and wiring.
The following is list of things you need for one aquarium/lamp:
5 gallon water jug
1 1/4" slip in-glue on X 1/2" threaded female PVC bushing
9" round silicone flat bottom baking (cake) pan
Approximately 15" of 3/4" PVC water pipe
1" X 1" X 3/4" PVC tee fitting
3/4" X 3/4" X 3/4" X 3/4" PVC cross fitting
3/4" X 3/4" X 3/4" PVC tee fitting
3/4" to 1/2" PVC reducer fitting
1/2" threaded male to 1/8" threaded female reducer bushing - either galvanized or brass
1/8" close (short) threaded nipple - brass
lamp socket with switch
lamp shade harp
3 or 4 6" plastic cable ties
airline tubing (standard aquarium type)
small airstone (standard aquarium type for undergravel filters, sized to fit into 3/4" PVC pipe)
aquarium air pump
List of tools needed:
Dremel tool with rotary file or sanding drum
hole saw set - 4" hole saw, 1" hole saw (DON'T make a major investment in a hole saw set - I purchased mine on eBay for less than $12)
3/16" or 1/8" drill bit
some tool to cut PVC pipe - either a ratcheting pipe shears or a hacksaw
Step 1: Modify the water jug
Prepare your water jug by using the 4" hole saw and electric drill: bore a hole immediately below the neck of the jug and above the "body" of the jug. This hole will provide access to the inside of the water, so you want it as high on the jug below the neck of the jug as possible. IMPORTANT: avoid drilling through the jug "seam" so to avoid weakening the water jug.
Now the slow and tedious part of this project: prepare the 1 1/4" PVC bushing to "plug" the neck of the bottle (and eventually mount the lamp) by fitting the bushing to fit inside the neck of the water jug. Using your Dremel (or other rotary) tool and sanding drums, sand/grind away on the outside of the 1 1/4" bushing until the bushing fits snugly inside the neck of the jug. You don't want to make the bushing so tight that you have to force it: you don't want to accidentally split the neck of your jug, but you want a good snug fit. Take your time - taper the end of the bushing, until you can push it by hand into the neck of the water jug.
BEFORE finally inserting the bushing, thread the 1/2" threaded male to 1/8" threaded female reducer bushing into the threaded hole of the 1 1/4" PVC bushing; then thread the lamp harp base onto the bottom of the 1/8" close (short) threaded nipple; then thread the nipple into the reducer bushing. This will provide the "mount" for the lamp socket when this project is finished.