Fountain Making Advice and Consultation

Every week we receive many questions from customers who want to know more about fountain making. We have prepared the following information to assist you in the selection and assembly of your fountain making project.

1.  Selecting a fountain pump
2.  Fountain base
3.  The fountain

Selecting a fountain pump

In order to achieve the desired effect for your table top fountain, you will need to select a good submersible pump. There are plenty of small water pumps on the market but how does one know which to choose? First, some general submersible pump information may help. A submersible pump refers to a pump that must be underwater in order to operate. This is the most popular type of water pump for fountain making. These fountain pumps are inexpensive and contain no oils as they are water cooled. Because they are water cooled you must NEVER operate a submersible water pump out of the water. Doing so will cause immediate and permanent damage.

Your fountain pump will be rated in GPH which stands for gallons per hour flow. This is the amount of water that the pump will circulate each hour without being pumped to any elevation. NOTE: To a new fountain maker or pump buyer these GPH ratings often sound high. For example: A 120 GPH pump is most often used in a fountain that is two foot tall. We have heard of customers who have mistakenly bought this pump to power a 4 to 5 foot tall waterfall in their 600 gallon pond! The correct size pump for that type of water feature would be about 2000 GPH!

A submersible fountain pump will also be rated with a maximum head height. This term refers to the very highest level to which a pump will raise water. At a pumps max. head, it will yield only a fraction of the flow and will not be viable at that height for fountain making. You must purchase your water garden pump with a max. head higher than you wish to pump to. EXAMPLE: If your fountain needs water pumped up 2 foot then you would want to use a fountain pump that has a 3 foot or higher max. head.

The outlet size of your table top fountain pump is also important. You will need to use a tube for your fountain that is as large as the outlet size of the submersible pump. Many fountain pumps have an outlet size of 1/2 inch. If you tried to run this pump hooked up to a 1/4 inch tube, you will not only reduce the pumps flow by 75% but you will cause a serious strain on the pump and greatly shorten its life.

Most small water pumps will come with an adjustable flow control that will allow you to adjust the flow of he fountain pump to meet the requirements of your table top fountain. It is important to note that if you restrict the flow of the pump by 75% or more, you will cause the same strain on the pump as using too small of a tube.

COPPER FOUNTAIN NOTE: We have found that many fountain makers fail to plan ahead when making copper tube fountains. They will often use the rigid but small 1/4 inch tubing for their fountains regardless of the size. They then have trouble when they go to attach a fountain pump that has a 1/2 inch outlet. Even worse, if the fountain is 4 to 6 foot tall they may have to use a large fountain pump that has a 3/4 inch outlet. Now they have reduced the flow from the submersible pump by 66% and greatly shortened its life.

To view our submersible pumps that are perfect for table top fountain making, please select from the links below.

Fountain base

Next lets talk about the fountain base. This is also known as the fountain basin, water garden container, fountain container or "that thing that is full of water the fountain sits in".

You have several choices available for a fountain base. Pottery, plastic, ceramic, stone, poly resin, glass and cement are among the most popular. Any type of container that holds water may be used. It is important to remember that if using a pottery or ceramic container, you will want to make sure that it is glazed or sealed. A pottery glaze may be obtained from most craft stores. Failure to use a glazed pottery or ceramic basin will result in water seeping through the pores and causing a mess.

The basin that you select should also fit the style of your fountain. A pink art deco glass basin with a hand carved lava rock fountain. A seashell fountain will look pretty good in many glass, poly resin or pottery fountain bases but may not look so good in a ceramic basin with duckies and bunnies on it.

The depth of our water garden container is also important. It should be deep enough to cover the pump and the bottom of your fountain but not so deep that half the fountain disappears. HINT: If you have a fountain base that you really like but it is too deep you can try raising the fountain inside using flat stones or an artificial riser. A riser can be constructed by using one or more pieces of evenly cut PVC tube (2-4 inch diameter) with a plastic or glass plate laid across the top. Now you may place the fountain on the riser. Make sure that you do not have the riser so high as you can see if from outside the basin. Small rocks can surround the fountain to help cover the rest of the riser.

The fountain

Now that we have covered the basins and the pumps lets take a look at the fountain media. Just like the basins there are several types that are often used. These include carved lava rock, river rocks, carved marble (and other type stones), copper and other metals, sea shells, ceramic, or bamboo.

You will need to decide which media you will use. If carving stone, using metal or bamboo then your fountain will most likely rise above the fountain base. If using seashells or river rock only then the table top fountain may be flush with or even below the rim of the water garden container.

Carved stone fountains will often use smaller stones around the base of the main rock for added effect.

Many types of stone fountain media may be obtained at your local landscaping or garden center. Seashells and stones can often be picked up by hand depending upon your location.

Our favorite type of fountain has always been the carved lava rock fountains. We have carved this media into castles, pagodas, Roman ruins and more. SAFETY NOTE: Lava rock contains silica chips that can be sharp. To prevent custs or scratches, please wear hand and eye protection. When drilling and cutting lava or other type stone, it is also important to wear a mask over nose and mouth.

For additional fountain making information and a list of definitions used in fountain making, please visit  FOUNTAIN MAKING FAQ'S, TERMS & DEFINITIONS..

After viewing this information, if you still need assistance in the selection of the right items for your fountain, please go to  FREE FOUNTAIN MAKING CONSULTATION.

For all our fountain supplies including mist makers and underwater lights, please see here  FOUNTAIN SUPPLY.

Fountain pumps and fountain supplies may be viewed at the links below
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