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Table top fountains, or water sculptures, are very popular right now, and for good reason. Fountains not only beautify the indoor environment, they also clean and humidify the air, and the sound provides a soothing stress relief. Because of their popularity, good fountains are also expensive, running anywhere from $60 to $200. You can build one yourself, however, for about half that price.

The parts you’ll need are: A bowl, a pump, some filler rocks, and a fountainhead.

Your bowl should be at least 2-1/2 to 3 inches deep, and at least seven or eight inches in diameter. The only other requirement is that it be water tight. Choose any bowl from your kitchen that you rarely use, purchase a used bowl at Goodwill, or select a fancier planter (no drainage holes) from a garden shop. The choice is up to you and your budget.

The pump can be found at most any hobby, aquarium, or garden shop. For a small table-top fountain, one with ratings of .08 amps, 6 watts is plenty. You should be able to find a good pump for about $20. For larger fountains you will want rubber suction cups to secure the pump to the bottom of the bowl.

Polished river rocks make a nice filler. About four or five pounds should be plenty for a medium sized bowl. You can also use lava rocks, slate, or other clean, hard substitutes such as marbles or beach glass. If you collect the rocks yourself be sure they’re well cleaned as any debris could clog up your pump. Seashells for the top layer are a nice accent. The important thing is that it is something pleasing to your eye.

The fountainhead can be as simple as a few inches of rubber tubing (1/2" diameter) from the hardware store, to bamboo piping, to a larger rock with 1/2" diameter hole drilled through it. Once again, the choice is up to your own aesthetic sense, budget, and craft skills. If you’re a ceramics artist, try creating your own. For a funkier look, use a small copper elbow or T pipe from the hardware store.

The first step in assembling these pieces is testing your pump in the bowl filled only with water. Learn how strong it is, and experiment with controlling the flow (most pumps have a little adjuster knob on the side). Once you have the flow you want, start filling with rocks carefully, pausing to recheck the flow periodically. Attach the fountain head and finish filling.

Now that your fountain is complete, you can accent it with small plant clippings, votive candles, driftwood, ceramic animals, or what ever items you like. Personalizing your fountain like this is part of the joy of creating your own rather than buying one off the shelf.

Carefully monitor the water level for the first several days, adding whenever necessary. To keep the fountain clean add a couple of drops of bleach about once every month.

Almost immediately you’ll begin enjoying the health benefits of having an indoor fountain, from cleaner air, to increased concentration and a lower stress level. The white noise created by fountains also provides helpful relief for Tinnitus sufferers.

In summary, for about half the cost of manufactured fountain, anybody can create their own beautiful water sculpture in under two hours.