1. Choose a container. Use a clean bowl, preferably between 3-1/2 and 4 inches high, or taller, and 8 to 12 inches wide. Place a submersible pump in the center, off-center if you'd like the flow to come in at an angle.
2. Add water to cover the top of the pump. The quality of water is important. Distilled is best; next best is filtered. Don't use tap water. Distilled or filtered water will keep bacteria levels down, increasing the life expectancy of your pump.
3. Try out the pump. Experiment with the flow height, regulating it by turning the knob located on the side of the pump. Start with the knob in a horizontal position and slowly turn, being careful not to turn it too high as some pumps can shoot a stream of water as high as two feet when in the vertical position.
4. Add marble chips. Rinse them well, as dirt is apt to clog the pump. When they are clean, place chips around the pump's base in the bowl. Put them up against the pump to hold it firmly in place.
5. Choose decorative stones to go around the pump. Think about the appropriate scale when choosing stones; don't use ones that are too large for the size of the container. There are endless ways to create a pleasing visual and aural environment, depending on the size and arrangement of the stones. Put the more colorful stones in last so they'll be the most visible. Try using polished river stones, sea glass, or quartz crystals that match or coordinate with the bowl and the room in which it will be placed. Consider all pink, green, or blue stones, for instance.
6. Choose water additives, if desired. Tabletop fountains need little care beyond adding more water every few days, and keeping the water clean. To prevent bacteria or algae from growing, add a few drops of liquid bleach, or change the water more often. For fragrance, add a few drops of a scented oil or perfume. Use a kitchen baster to remove dirty water before adding clean, or before transporting the fountain to another location so water doesn't spill.
7. Add plants if desired. If the fountain won't be turned on all the time, attach air plants (Tillandsia ionantha) to a dry area. Otherwise, ask at a nursery about small, water-tolerant plants.