AQUARIUM PUMPS
The heart of every aquarium system
CIRCULATION
Pumps are needed to transfer fluids between the aquarium display and the filtration system. A pump used in this application is called a return pump. Choose a flow rate that will allow the aquarium volume to turnover 7 to 10 times per hour. For a 100 gallon aquarium, you would want 700 to 1000 GPH (gallons per hour).

Many HOB (hang on back) and canister filters and all-in-one systems already have a pump integrated to achieve circulation.
FLOW
Fish live in oceans, rivers, and bodies of water that have natural currents which constantly distribute food, nutrients, and oxygen. All aquariums benefit from flow by helping the inhabitants stay healthy and stimulated.

Laminar flow can be achieved by placing the filtration system intake and return at opposite ends of the aquarium. For some freshwater aquariums, this is sufficient. More flow is usually needed for saltwater aquariums since ocean waters are naturally very turbulent. Good flow is paramount for a reef aquarium since coral rely on currents to deliver their food and remove waste.

Wavemakers or powerheads are submersible pumps that are placed at various angles and intensities to generate random water movement inside an aquarium.

A secondary plumbing system can be used with a pump to move water out of and into the aquarium to create flow without passing through the filter. A pump used in this application is called a closed loop pump - usually required for large reef aquariums more than around 200 gallons.

Designing a flow system depends on the requirements of the residents. Choose flow rates that will allow for the aquarium volume to turnover 10 to 30 times per hour and use several pumps to minimize stagnant areas in larger aquariums.
UTILITY PUMPS
While not required, portable utility pumps simplify water changes and other maintenance tasks like mixing salt. They have a variety of uses and can also be used as return pumps for small filtration devices.
AC versus DC
AC (alternating current) is the long established tech. DC (direct current) is more advanced, allowing for smaller, quieter, and more powerful pumps that conserve energy and generate less heat. DC pumps can have controllable flow rates, so GPH is usually a range and one pump will work for many applications. AC pumps are only slightly adjustable, if at all, so the correct size pump must be used for each application.

RECOMMENDED PUMPS

ECOTECH VECTRA SERIES
EcoTech Marine built these controllable DC pumps from the ground up using a revolutionary electronic driver system that allows for extra smooth and quiet flow. They make great return pumps and closed loop pumps and can even be submerged if configured properly.
MORE DC PUMPS
SICCE SYNCRA SERIES
An affordable and reliable AC pump that comes in a variety of sizes. Perfect as a return pump for smaller aquariums or a heavy duty utility pump.
MORE AC PUMPS
ECOTECH VORTECH WAVEMAKERS
Another revolutionary design concept from EcoTech Marine, these controllable DC wavemakers use magnetic couplings to eliminate the need for a cord inside the aquarium. The clever design, thoughtful aesthetic, and good flow characteristics make this a winning pump for flow.
MORE WAVEMAKERS
COBALT MJ SERIES
Available in a variety of sizes, these AC utility pumps are great to power small filtration devices and make handy service pumps for any water transfer application.
MORE AC PUMPS
GYRE WAVEMAKERS
These controllable DC wavemakers from Maxspect use turbines to create a sheet of flow, compared to the cone shape produced by propellers in most pumps.
MORE WAVEMAKERS