Lily Pipes for your Aquarium - Planted Tank Mates
Different types of glass outflow pipes and their placement relative to the water line.

Lily Pipes for your Aquarium


Selecting Lily Pipes for your aquarium is like selecting fish.  They can make a great addition to the community tank or simply disappear.  It’s an automatic upgrade to your set up without looking too clunky or distracting.  If you’re looking into glass pipes for your next set up then you probably want both; to look good and not be distracting.

Glass pipes are a great alternative to plastic parts generally used.  Inspired by Takashi Amano, the outflow pipe got its name from the shape of a lily pedal.  Lily pipes have become a generic speaking term for glassware, but it actually refers to a specific outflow device.  Two different pipes used to create a steady flow in your aquarium.  An inlet pipe takes the water from your aquarium to clean in the filter.  The outlet pipe releases clean water from the filter back into the aquarium.  These pipes are normally used with a canister filter where it can connect to hose tubing.  Unfortunately, you cannot use glass pipes for sponge or hang-on-back type filters.

Types of Outflow

In today’s market, there are so many different types of outflow pipes to select from it can get a bit confusing.  Outflow pipes control the way water is released into your aquarium.  How you position your pipe can increase surface agitation and promote gas exchange.  You should consider these strategies along with your aquarium set up when selecting an outflow pipe.  Do you have a nano cube aquarium?  Do you have a 20 gallon long tank?  Is your tank heavily planted?  Do you have fish that prefer slow moving waters?

Different types of glass outflow pipes and their placement relative to the water line.
Glass Outflow Pipe Placement Strategies

Lily Pipe

The notorious Lily Pipe continues to remain one of the most popular ones in the market.  It has a wide opening that reduces pressure and allows water to softly flow into your tank.  Placing it halfway at the waterline can create moderate surface agitation that helps with oxygenating the water.  They’re extremely versatile and can be used for small and large aquariums.  Before making your purchase, remember to check the diameter and hose size.

Glass lily pipe side by side with a lily flower.
Glass Lily Outflow Pipe – available on Amazon

The Violet pipe is great for long or wide tanks.  The outlet points slightly downward and helps circulate water to the deepest corners of your tank.  It’s designed to be fully submerged below the waterline, but this placement can sacrifice surface agitation.  A common strategy you’ll hear is to move the pipe up to the waterline at night to get that gas exchange.  Just don’t oversize your canister filter and create too strong of a flow.  These pipes should promote slow water movement that fish and shrimp can tolerate.  

Glass violet side by side with violet flower.
Glass Violet Outflow Pipe – available on Amazon

The Peony / Poppy pipe is specifically designed to sit right beneath the waterline.  You can use these pipes for smaller tanks where plants or fish require soft water movement.  The large bulb mixes the water and points upward to agitate the surface and create a bubbling effect.  

Glass peony or poppy pipe side by side with flower.
Glass Peony | Poppy Outflow Pipe – available on Amazon

The Spin pipe is also designed to be placed right beneath the waterline.  It not only circulates water inside the ring but outside as well.  This is another great pipe for smaller tanks where you want to keep water movement at a minimum.  A great use for this is a nano tank showcasing a betta fish!

Glass spin outflow pipe for freshwater aquarium.
Glass Spin Outflow Pipe – available on Amazon

A Jet pipe as the name suggests, creates strong water movement and flow.  Keeping the narrow opening near the waterline promotes a lot of surface agitation and gas exchange.  While this is a great strategy for heavily planted tanks, it can be bad for labyrinth fish like gourami’s and bettas.

Glass jet outflow pipe for freshwater aquarium.
Glass Jet Outflow Pipe – available on Amazon

All Things Considered

Don’t be too concerned when selecting lily pipes for your aquarium.  Selecting the right pipe can be a trial and error process, but that’s OK.  You may even find yourself transitioning to a different pipe type as you change your set up.  As with anything glass, these pipes can be fragile so have a spare one handy.  The last thing you want is a broken piece when the local fish stores are closed for the evening.  Also, like the glass on your aquarium these pipes are susceptible to algae, so have the spring loaded brushes ready.  

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