How to Choose the Best Aquarium Water Pump?

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Setting up an aquarium is not hard for both beginners and experienced aquarist. The basics are getting a water tank, a fish of your choice for your aquarium from any pet store, water plants to keep the aquarium beautiful, air pump and water pump.

However, choosing the right water pump for your aquarium, can be hard and a confusing decision to make.

With the many types of water pumps available in pet stores and the market in general, you can be bombarded with many ideas that it gets very hard for you to pick the right one.

Choosing the Best Aquarium Water Pump

Why do You Need a Water Pump?

Whether you have experiences in fish keeping, or this is your first time as an aquarist, you want the best for your aquatic life. Your main goal is to keep a healthy, comfortable and happy aquatic life. You want to replicate the natural habitat of the fish to keep it as natural as you can.

To achieve this you need a water pump. A water pump circulates water in the aquarium through a filter to keep the aquarium clean. It is very possible to have an aquarium that has algae, dirty smelly water and full of food particle remains. This can happen in a span of hours if you do not have the right water pump for your aquarium. Fish, in such conditions will get stressed, develop decreased immunity levels, get sick and ultimately can lead to death.

To avoid such incidences, get a water pump for your aquarium. There are several aquarium water pumps that have different filtration schemes. The type of filter needed dictates the type of water pump you will need. Below are factors that you should put into consideration when choosing the right type of filtration for your aquatic life, which will then dictate the type of water pump that you should acquire.

Flow Rate

The fish that you obtain from a pet store, originated from somewhere. There are those that came from fresh water streams, others from salty oceans and seas and others from water puddles. In all those natural habitat, the flow rate is different. Therefore, while choosing a water pump for your aquarium, consider the flow rate that your fish needs in the aquarium.

There are fish that needs high water flow while others needs low water flow rates. A water pump of your choice should be able to maintain reasonable water flow rate in the aquarium.

A general rule on water flow is, salty water fish live and thrive well in high water flow rates while fresh water fish need low water flow rates. Do your research on what your fish needs then get a water pump that will offer you surety of an ideal water flow in the aquarium.

Design and Setting Up

The second factor to consider is the design of the water pump to dictate the kind of set up you will need beforehand. A water pump has accompanying components such as a water filter, water pipes and electrical cables. Find out the size of the water pump so that you can know whether you will need to create additional space in your house for the pump. How far does the water pump need to be away from the aquarium?

Where will the water filtration system be positioned? Do you want it at the basement of your house because your aquarium is big? Or can it be positioned next to the aquarium?

In summary, find out the distance that is required between the water pump and the aquarium so that you can get the necessary arrangement and plumbing done.

Size of the Aquarium

The size of your aquarium will also help you to decide on the type of water pump that you need. Of course, small aquarium with fewer fish will not need a big, very powerful water pump compared to a big aquarium that has several fish in it. A small aquarium does not need much cleaning because it is only one or two fish in it, but a fish tank with many fish will need a stronger and bigger filtration system which will determine the type of water pump you get.

Additional Devices

Fish, whether from fresh or salty water, are very sensitive living things. A slight change in their water conditions, gets them stressed. A stressed fish will not feed normally, it may swim rapidly causing injury to itself, or settle at the bottom of the aquarium, stress will cause colour change and mood swings, decreased immunity levels and prolonged stress can lead to death.

Therefore, while choosing a water pump, consider the additional devices of the pump. Does it make too much noise? Does it alter the water temperature? Does it provide additional lighting in the aquarium?

In addition, you should check whether the water pump is able to accommodate other essential aquarium systems such as temperature control, UV sterilizers, additional lighting, protein skimmers and chillers.

Types of Water Pumps

Having mentioned the factors that you need to consider when picking a water pump, the next big decision you will need to make is picking the right type of water pump for your aquarium. However, if you have considered all the factors above, then picking the ideal type of water pump for your aquarium should be easy. You have a choice to pick between a submersible or in line water pump.

– Submersible Water Pump

As the name suggests, a submersible water pump is fully submerged into the aquarium. It functions while under water by pulling water into the pump, through a filter then it is pushed out to the surface. It is important to note, to avoid accidents to both the aquatic life and the home users, the submersible water pump should be completely submerged into the water.

Advantages of a submersible water pump

  1. It is quiet. It pumps water through a filtration system without making any noise.
  2. It is easy to install and no drilling is required. All you are needed to do is submerge it into the water.
  3. There are versatile types of submersible water pumps. There are those that can handle both solids and liquids and liquids only water pumps.
  4. It is very efficient because it does not need a lot of energy to pump water rather depends on water pressure.

Disadvantages of a submersible water pump

  1. It alters water temperature. A submersible water pump depends on the water as cooling system. This may end up heating the water in the aquarium.
  2. Its seal gets corroded over time causing water to seep through to the motor, rendering it useless until repaired.
  3. The water proof seal that helps prevent corroding can make it hard to repair and maintain the pump

– Inline Water Pump

Unlike the submersible water pump, an inline water pump functions outside the water. The pump is placed away from the aquarium and water is circulated into the aquarium and water filter through inlet and an outlet hose. This water pump functions using the same concept as a swimming pool pump.

Advantages of an inline water pump

  1. It does not alter water temperature of the aquarium. This is because it depends on air for cooling.
  2. It has a strong pumping systems. Therefore it is ideal for big fish tanks because it is able to pump more gallons of water per hour compared to a submersible water pump.
  3. It does not displace water in the aquarium. A submersible water pump means some water is displaced in the aquarium to create space for the pump.
  4. It is easy to repair and maintain in comparison with a submersible water tank.
  5. It is more pocket friendly. It does not need additional waterproof casing that a submersible water pump requires.

Disadvantages of an inline water pump

  1. It is very noisy. The solution is to keep the water pump away from the aquarium. You can keep it in the basement of the house or in a less frequented room.
  2. It requires more energy to pump water through the filter and into the aquarium, compared to a submersible water pipe.

It is important to note, with advancement in technology, new water pumps, with new designs and systems, keep popping up in the market today. However, while purchasing a water pump for your aquarium, get a pump that is recommended for aquatic life and from a reputable brand.

Water pumps are essential systems for any aquarium. They have a filtration systems to keep the aquarium clean and the pump maintains the right flow rate. Getting the right water pump for your aquarium is a decision that you should pay more attention to.

Having the wrong water pump can cause accidents leading to healthy or fatal issues, not only for your fish but also for the home owners. On the other hand, getting the right water pump for your aquarium will enhance a healthy, clean and comfortable living environment for your aquatic life.



This is George, the Aquaman, editor at AquaMantra. I'm a water quality analyst by profession, and used to work at one of the largest water bottler company.
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