Introduction: The Basics of Fountain Making

About: I have a basic understanding of wood and plastics, but long to graduate to metalwork, hydroponics and that home bar system I STILL haven't got round to making!

When I was younger, I'd always wanted a few water features to place around the house. The sound of them can be somewhat relaxing, and themed installations would have been great for parties. Here's three examples, made from recycled junk with very few tools. A little research may be required for obtaining some parts, but it's well worth it and the great thing about ol' fish tank parts is that they're "push fit" and easy to use.

You'll have to excuse the strange colour schemes in some of my examples, yet to paint 'em :-)

Step 1: Basic Components

Parts List
1) Straight Connectors
2) 'Elbow' Connectors
3) 6mm Sleeved Grommets (PVC)
4) Suction cup & Pipe Clips
5) A Submersible Pump
6) Foliage

Optional Extras
Airline tubing (Inner diameter of 4mm, 6mm Outside Diameter),
10mm PVC Tubing
Glass Pebbles or Decorative stones

Step 2: What Pump?

For our purposes, it’s best to use a small submersible pump; nothing too feisty. I understand that choosing the right pump for the job can be tricky, but this guy has summed it up quite nicely:

Choosing a pump - Aron Stock

Just to reiterate what he’s saying here, the things to consider are:

A) The Watts/Power Consumption: This isn't something I worry about, because my indoor fountains will be only be powered for short periods of time. But if you're planning on making something that'll be running continuously then it might be worth considering this.

B) Litres/Gallons per hour (Lph/Gph): I use a 300 lph pump on its lowest setting. S'probably a little too strong in some cases, but I wouldn't go any higher. The lph or gph measurement is also a way of identifying pumps, making the research stages of a project a little easier for you.

C) The Setup (Optional): The plumbing of your water feature can have an effect on the 'pumping capacity' of your pump, so you might need something stronger if you plan to send the water seven ways since sunday. Also, consider the height you would like the water to travel. I imagine that my little pump would have no place in an outdoor feature that's a few feet deep.

Step 3: Desktop Fountain

Pretty simple huh? So much so that I'm not even sure why I did a CAD for it, but hey, the oonly' factors to consider here are:

A Vessel: Airtight, deep enough to submerge the pump and large enough to contain the ornaments; it's for this reason that it's probably best to purchase this last. I tend to go for decorative planters made from soft plastic- cheap and easy to modify.

(1)Bubbling fish tank ornaments: These are good, because they usually have an internal pipe for air to travel through. A few straight and elbow connectors have been added to direct the water where I want it to go.

Step 4: Indoor Water Feature

Slightly more detailed than the last one. The ceramic skull I used is actually a money box, so the flap in its base came in handy.

(1) I've sawn a straight connector in half so it'll act like a plug. From here the water will drizzle down the sides of the skull and collect in the vessel. A little 'Poppy Red' food colouring in the water supply can create a bleeding effect.

(2) An additional dish: I didn't have enough 'decorative' stones to fill the vessel, so a dish (supported by little blocks) gives the illusion of height. Purchasing stones' sounds bizarre to me, so I collected them from a fast flowing stream near my home.

(3) Construction Blocks

Step 5: Bubbling Water Feature

A length of 10mm PVC tubing has been fitted to the pump, with a bung at its end. By use of a bung, the water is redirected through the holes to provide a bubbling effect. Perhaps a similar setup can be used to create a 'bubbling cauldron' halloween prop?

(1)Pump Support/The Bottle: This isn't entirely necessary because most submersible pumps have suckers so you can seal them to the vessel. But it seemed like a neat way of supporting all the cables and tubing, as one unit that can be removed easily. The bottle is filled with glass pebbles and a little water, to weigh it down and prevent topple.
(2)Cable tie
(3)10mm PVC Tubing
(5)Recycled Fish tank Filter: By removing all the filter media, I gained a little pump that can be used for small features. If you have an old filter then I'd recommend this, but if not, buy a genuine fountain pump because they're soooo much cheaper!

Suction cup & Pipe Clips: These are meant for securing tubing around fish tanks, but I've found that you can also use them to support little branches of foliage. For the suction cups to work they have to be below the surface of the water, but they're really strong.

6mm Sleeved Grommets (PVC): Cords and tubing can often be nuisance and snag on other components. These little grommets keep them neatly tucked away and provide a 'cushion' for rough, jagged holes in the vessel.

Step 6: Helpful Tools

Here's a few tools that are ideal if you're working with plastics.

Soldering Iron: Alternatively and if you don't have onea these, you could always heat an ol' screwdriver over the hob. Not the safest or cleanest way to pop a hole, but if you do, it's worth having a little block of something non-flammable nearby; to rest the screwdriver's handle on. Flick a little water on the blade, if it sizzles then it's hot enough.

Mini Hacksaw: Fine tooth blades are best for plastic.

Wet 'n' dry: Great for sanding and polishing. Start with a rough grade, then gradually work your way to the finer grades.


Home made files
Lengths of Wet 'n' dry secured to ice cream sticks with double sided tape. If you or one of your relatives accidentally mistakes these for nail files then no worries! They work quite well for that too.

Step 7: End

As always, feel free to drop a comment if you have any suggestions. Ta :-)