How to Build a Vivarium Waterfall

Updated February 21, 2017

Waterfalls can be a beautiful addition to any home vivarium, which is a tank that mixes both land and water elements and is ideal for newts, salamanders, frogs, and anoles. Vivariums are very popular with those looking to emulate the look and feel of a tropical rainforest. Luckily, those wanting natural-looking waterfalls in their vivariums do not have a difficult task before them, as they can be constructed with a little bit of ingenuity.

Using the box cutter, fashion a hole in the bottom of the foam block big enough to fit the water pump inside.

With the screwdriver, carve a tunnel up through the centre of the foam block big enough for the plastic tubing.

Near the top of the foam block, cut a horizontal tunnel that intersects the vertical tunnel.

Connect the plastic tubing to the output of the water pump so water from the tank will be pumped up through it.

Guide the tube through the vertical tunnel in the foam block and set the water pump in the cut-out portion of the block.

Place the block in the tank with the water pump fully submerged and plug it in. The pump should start pumping water up through the tube and out through the hole at the top of the foam block.


These instructions have been for a very basic waterfall, but feel free to decorate it and give it a more naturalistic appearance. Carve it with the box cutter to give it a rougher, more rocky appearance; cover it with plastic plants; or even paint it with water-safe green and brown paint to give it a more natural colour.


The foam will act as a filter, so it will inevitably need to be cleaned once in awhile to prevent build-up of toxic organic chemicals. To do this, simply take out the foam, run it under a freshwater faucet and thoroughly ring it out.

Things You'll Need

  • Water pump
  • Plastic tubing
  • Foam block
  • Screwdriver
  • Box cutter


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About the Author

Brenton Shields began writing professionally in 2009. His work includes film reviews that appear for the online magazine Los Angeles Chronicle. He received a Bachelor of Science in social science and history from Radford University.