Different Types of Aquarium Pumps

When it comes to maintaining a healthy environment within your aquarium, there are fewer things more important than the aquarium pumps.

Filters, heaters, and substrates all play an important role, but the aquarium pump is primarily responsible for the upkeep and circulation of the water, the very medium in which your fish exist.

That makes it one of, if not the, most important aspects to consider when setting up your aquarium.

Related Review: Best Pond Pump

aquarium pump

Aquarium Pumps – Size and Type

There are many different sizes and types of aquarium water pumps available on the market today.

The differentiating factors for many of them are what type of filtration method they use, what flow rate they have, their size, and any additional hardware they may bundle in with the pump hardware.

Let me share with you some of these factors.

Filtration Type

The filter selection you make will play an important part in the water pump selection, since many styles are incompatible with various types of aquarium pumps.

Make sure you select your filter type based on the needs of your fish, then choose a water pump that is compatible with your selected filter; do not leave anything to chance.

Most items will have their pertinent information listed on the box they come in.

If there is no information on the box, or not enough information, check out the manufacturer’s website.

Failing that, there is always Google to help you find the answers you need.

Flow Rate

Different types of aquarium pumps will produce different flow rates.

Again, it would be wise to read up on the types of fish you select to see what, if any, water circulation requirements they might have.

Typically speaking, saltwater fish will want a higher flow rate while freshwater fish might like less circulation, and therefore a lower flow rate.

aquarium water pumps

Size Matters

Of course you will need to get the proper size water pump for your aquarium.

The obvious first rule would be to get one that is small enough to fit within the tank itself (assuming you are not using an external solution – more on that in a moment).

You would be surprised how many times a novice fish owner selects a high powered water pump only to find out it will not fit in his tank!

Have an idea of your fish tank size (and the immediate surroundings) before you purchase a water pump.

Will there be any fancy plumbing?
Are there any tight corners that will have to be accounted for?
Will the filtration system be connected directly to the water pump or contained elsewhere?

Remember that the farther the water is to be pumped, the higher power pump you will need.

Attachments – Everything AND the Kitchen Sink

Many modern aquarium pumps do one thing and one thing only:  pump water.

However, a new breed of aquarium pumps has hit the store shelves.

Water pumps with additional equipment on board.

To name just a few examples, water pumps now can come with more advanced filtration or temperature regulation hardware, specialized sterilizers (including UV sterilization), chemical skimmers (such as protein skimmers) and even water chillers.

Some water pumps can even assist with draining and refilling your aquarium to assist with cleaning, while others can even mix saltwater in holding tanks to prepare it for a water change.

Decide if you want to have extra components to take care of all of these various needs or if you need a water pump that can pump water and worry about the other items at a later time.

aquarium pumps

Aquarium Pumps – Submersible vs. Inline

The two main types of water pumps are submersible and inline.

Some new models allow you to choose their configuration by offering submerged or inline modes of operation.

Submersible water pumps, as their name gives away, are meant to run inside your aquarium, below the water line.

They will typically draw water across a filter to clean it then force new water into the aquarium.

Some even have inline heaters which allow the pump to clean and heat at the same time.

While they are relatively easy to install and maintain, one drawback is that they are water cooled.

This in turn means that they introduce additional heat into your aquatic environment.

Inline pumps sit outside of the aquarium and are connected to the tank via inlet and outlet tubing.

These are nice since the heat they dissipate will not be sunk into the water of the tank; however, be wary of kids or small animals who might like to play with the tempting water lines.

All You Need To Know

There you have it. All the things that you need to know about aquarium pumps and why it is important for you to choose the right one for your aquarium tank.

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