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Can I Use PVC Pipe in Aquarium?

If you are like me, you are always trying to find new ways to improve the life and enjoyment of your aquarium fish. Recently, I have been thinking of how to make it more entertaining for me to watch and maybe adding some extra things for the fish to have fun and hide in if need be. Like most homeowners, I have some PVC piping in the garage and that could make for an interesting addition to my tank.

You can use PVC pipe in an aquarium if it is rated as potable. To a human potable means safe to drink. In a fish tank, being potable means safe for the inhabitants of the tank. The PVC pipe will not leak toxins into the tank. PVC glue is safe for a fish tank once the glue has dried. 

PVC piping can be purchased in many different types. It can be purchased for irrigation, flue gas vent pipe, perforated and solid drainage pipe, gas vent PVC pipe and so on. There are multiple types of fittings to purchase as well, 90-degree elbows, T Y’s and so on, just like fittings you would purchase for plumbing ABS pipe.

If you go to your local home building supply store, you will be pleasantly surprised with all the options available. You are only limited by your imagination. I am sure you have some more questions regarding PVC piping, so I have tried to come up with answers proactively for this article. Please keep reading if you want to learn more about PVC piping in an aquarium.

What PVC Pipe Should You Use in an Aquarium?

I would stay away from using PVC gas vent pipe because of its markings and an off color. I don’t know if this pipe is potable or not. It just doesn’t look safe to use.

Any PVC pipe that is potable which are usually irrigation PVC pipes and their fittings would work fine. Irrigation PVC will be potable.

There are also PVC central vacuum pipes and fittings that would be good. That is what I am using. Honestly, it’s about the best size and color of white I could find.

If you just want a short piece of PVC pipe, maybe going with a large 3” coupling or elbow might be all you need at first. Have a look at PVC fittings and see for yourself. They just look like they were made for fish to have fun in.

PVC sewer pipe can be purchased with pre-drilled holes. That might make for an interesting feature.

How to Connect PVC Pipe in Aquarium So Its Not Toxic

I mentioned previously that if you are using PVC fittings like 90-degree elbows, you don’t really need to use a glue or silicone to attach them.

These fittings are manufactured to be a snug fit with the pipe.

If you are doing something where it would be absolutely necessary to use an adhesive, luckily you can without harming your fish. If you plan on cutting and gluing pieces together to create something special, you just might need to use an adhesive.

Use aquarium safe silicone instead of PVC glue if you want to be certain it’s not toxic. Make sure it is dry before placing the pipe into the tank.

How to Clean PVC Pipe for Aquarium?

I would recommend washing all the PVC you plan on placing into your aquarium.

Just because you can’t see anything on the PVC, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

If you plan on doing any drilling or cutting into the PVC, make sure you file or sand the burred edges to take off any small pieces that can eventually dislodge and cause harm to your fish if they eat those small pieces.

Having an unfinished edge can also cause harm to your fish, if they happen to rub up against it. This alone should be your primary reason for ensuring all pieces of PVC are fish safe.

If there is print on the pipe from the manufacturer, you can sand that off or use a Dremel tool. Again, just make sure there are no loose or rough pieces left.

Is Black PVC Pipe Aquarium Safe?

PVC pipe is PVC pipe so whether it is colored white or black, it’s okay to use.

I haven’t actually seen any black PVC pipe at my local Home Depot but will have to go and check for some.

What might look really nice is if you mixed the white and black pipe and fittings together.

Can ABS Pipe be Used in an Aquarium?

ABS pipe, which is typically colored black, is safe for use in aquariums from what I understand.

Some manufacturers use it as a material in their canister filters so I will assume I can use an ABS fitting in my fish tank for my fish.

If you want to be 100% sure, you could reach out to an ABS manufacturer and ask them if their pipe leeches any toxins. Make sure to explain that you want to use it in a fish tank.

Does PVC Pipe Float in Water?

The answer is yes and no.

PVC pipe will float if it is not a dense PVC. Some PVC pipes are denser than others and they will sit on the bottom of a tank.

Funny as it seems, smaller diameter pipe tends to sink better than larger diameter pipe.

Unfortunately, you will have to experiment to see what works for you. Sometimes drilling holes into the top of the pipe helps to keep it down in the water.

Conclusion

As short as it was, this article was fun to write and really got me thinking on what I can do in my tanks going forward to offer some fun for my fish and my family when we watch them swimming in and out of the PVC.

I’m thinking of using two 90-degree elbows with a short piece of pipe. Twisting them opposite of each other so one elbow is laying on the bottom of the tank and the other is up in the air off the bottom of the tank. Once I do that, I will post a picture of it here.

My rule of thumb when it comes to selecting a safe PVC for a fish tank is to choose one that has a bit of a shine to it. It appears those pipes and fittings are safe to use. Some PVC pipe used for gas venting just aren’t safe for an aquarium application. Remember that cleaning it well beforehand is very important.

Good luck with using PVC piping in your tanks. I am sure your fish will enjoy it immensely.

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