PVC Pipe in Aquarium – Can You Put Those in Your Fish Tank?

Updated on by Patrice Alsteen | Affiliate links may be present.

PVC pipe is inexpensive and easy to use. Most of us probably have a piece or two laying around, anyway. It would make sense to use PVC to enhance an aquarium.

Is it safe to use PVC around fish? Which type of PVC should be used? What’s the best way to use PVC in an aquarium? Let’s find out!

Is PVC Pipe Safe to Use in Aquariums?

PVC stands for Polyvinyl Chloride. This material is used to make sturdy, inexpensive pipes. PVC pipe that is intended for irrigation will also be safe for your fish. Just look for a potable rating. If it is safe for you to drink from, it will be safe for your fish to swim with.

What Kind of PVC Pipe Should Be Used in Aquariums?

Look for potable PVC pipes. This includes PVC pipes for irrigation, sewer, or vacuum systems. PVC pipes come in many diameters and lengths. Elbows and joints make fabulous playgrounds for our fish friends.

Can Glue Be Used on PVC Pipes in Aquariums?

Specific PVC glue is available. I do not recommend using PVC glue in an aquarium. Instead, see if you can construct your PVC pipe creation with fittings and elbows. These fittings are designed to fit tightly together. This will eliminate the need for glue.

If you are constructing a project that needs an adhesive, use an aquarium-safe silicon. This type of adhesive is non-toxic to your fish. Always make sure the silicon is dry before you place the PVC pipe in the aquarium.

Does PVC Pipe Need to Be Cleaned First?

You never know what dirt and germs will be on the pipe when you buy it! After all, it has been sitting in the open air at the store. In order to keep your aquarium life healthy, clean all the pipes thoroughly before placing them in the tank.

If you cut or sand your PVC pipe, make sure to clean all dust and particles off of the pipes before you place them in the tank. Your fish may eat any floating particles, which could harm them.

What Can I Make for My Aquarium with PVC Pipe?

You are only limited by your imagination! There are so many possibilities, both fun and practical, that can be constructed for your aquarium with PVC pipe.

You can add color with aquarium-safe paint like Krylon Fusion spray paint or latex-based acrylic paints like this one (here’s how to thin them before applying). Make sure any paint you choose is water-based and non-toxic. Allow the paint to dry completely before you place the PVC pipes in the aquarium.


Fish need a space to shelter and rest. You can create caves for them out of PVC pipe. Form a freestanding cave.  Cut a large PVC pipe in half and place it on the floor of the aquarium. If there are any sharp or rough edges on the pipe after cutting, use a fine grain piece of sandpaper to smooth out the edges.

If you want to camouflage the exterior of the cave, coat the outside of the pipe with aquarium-safe silicone, then roll the pipe in aquarium rocks. Add other rocks or decorations to the outside as desired.

Some creative aquarium owners have constructed a cave or reef wall on the back wall of the aquarium with PVC pipe sections and rocks. This is perfect for an aquarium environment that includes eels.


Your fish will enjoy darting through PVC tunnels in the aquarium! A PVC tunnel can be as simple as a straight piece of PVC placed on the bottom of the aquarium.

Use elbows and fittings to make complex tunnel systems. Try cutting different-sized openings in the sides of your tunnels. Don’t forget to sand any rough edges! These tunnels are easy to take apart, clean, and rearrange when you or your fish need a change of scenery.

Aquarium Overflow System

An aquarium overflow allows the water to overflow from the tank and directs it to an external pump. An overflow system with an external pump allows for more circulation of water, and the system is out of sight.

PVC is the perfect material for an overflow system. It is water-tight, non-toxic, and inexpensive. This is a relatively simple DIY project to upgrade your aquarium.


Save money with a DIY PVC aquarium filter! Making your own filter is a great way to customize your filter to your tank.

Final Thoughts

PVC Pipe is a great material to liven up your fish tank! Use your creativity to enhance your aquarium on a budget with PVC pipe. You and your fish will enjoy the new accessories in your aquarium.

About Patrice Alsteen

Patrice has been an animal lover, right from her childhood. She's currently enjoying the company of her cat, dog, aquarium fishes, and a few small furry companions.

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