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If you want a pond that not only thrives but stays healthy, the most important thing to do is to keep the pond water aerated and circulating, either by artificial means or naturally.
These pumps will not only keep your pond aerated, but they’ll also help to stop mosquitoes that love to lay their eggs on still pond surfaces, assist in reducing rampant algae growth, and will have more than enough pressure to be able to power your waterfall and stream displays.
Quick look at my favorite pumps for ponds and water features:
- HI-BLOW (HP 80): considered industry standard, best in class, but expensive
Homasy400GPH: inexpensive, but still well regarded, high qualitymodel
- VIVOSUN 950: better for smaller ponds and aquariums
- Hydrofarm Active Aqua 1000: submersible pump, very quiet and decent water flow
- Alpine Cyclone PAL8000: heavy duty pump, suitable for larger ponds and waterfalls, expensive compared to other models
Pumps are a vital addition to your pond. Besides recirculating water, it will help to distribute the beneficial nutrients in the water to all of the aquatic life living in the pond. Running water is crucial for preventing stagnation because it ensures that the level of oxygen in the pond will be evenly distributed. Water circulation fights what is known as pond turnover, which happens whenever the water’s uppermost layers drop suddenly in temperature and start to mix in with deeper water levels that have been depleted of oxygen. This results in an overall oxygen loss for all aquatic life (including fish) and can lead to pond kills.
Even if the pond is merely ornamental, you will still need a pump to prevent stagnation, inhibit insect pests of all kinds, restrict the growth of algae, and to keep power flowing to your decorative water display. You will avoid your pond acquiring an unpleasant, distinctive odor as well. Waterfalls, streams, spitters, and fountains all need a pump.
Why You Need a Pump for Your Pond
Pumps are necessary to keep pond water clean and full of oxygen, which is essential for any pond containing fish that actively produces nitrogen-rich waste material. It’s vital to circulate water found in the deepest part of a pond so that it will break down any organic compounds and provide better water quality, especially during warmer weather. Whenever a pond bottom is exposed to water that is oxygen-rich, you will be encouraging aerobic bacteria (which uses oxygen) to break down any organic matter, which will, in turn, reduce any foul pond odors.
Because oxygen can only be absorbed through the water’s surface, it’s very likely that you might have a surplus of plants in your pond. If the pond’s total surface area is covered up by water lilies or any other type of surface plants, little or no gas exchange can occur unless there’s a waterfall or large fountain present. Perhaps you’ve been told that you will create more oxygen in your pond if you increase the number of underwater plants in it. This will add a little oxygen during the daytime, but the primary function of marine plants is to starve out algae by using up the available nutrients.
A pump becomes necessary when the amount of fish in it increases. Fish population increase causes problems with both fish health and the water quality. It is particularly important to use a pump during the warmer months since, the hotter water becomes, the less oxygen that it will be able to hold. Cold water, on the other hand, holds on to a more considerable amount of oxygen and combined with the slow respiration rate of fish in wintertime you probably won’t need to add any additional aeration to your pond.
A pump failure in sweltering weather is a very rapid way to kill off your fish. The best way to ward off this possible disaster is to maintain a second aeration pump. A backup pump, even if you don’t operate it continuously, can save your fish if your primary pump fails. Remember, a pump failure in very hot weather can kill off the fish after only a few hours.
How Big of a Pump Do I Need?
There are 3 important factors to consider when choosing a pond pump – the total spillway width, dynamic head pressure, and the total amount of gallons of water held in the pond. If you select a pump that’s too small for any of these applications, you might end up with insufficient circulation, which in turn can cause stagnant pools of water, too low oxygen levels, and below par living conditions for the fish.
There are online calculation tools that will help to steer you to the right size pump based on total gallons and pump head pressure. The general recommendation is that your pond pump will need to circulate all the water contained in the pond a minimum of once every 2 hours. Today, less expensive, more energy efficient pumps are available, and it’s recommended that circulating the pond water once an hour or more will provide cleaner and healthier ponds.
If you have a small fish pond, then we recommend that you purchase the smallest pump possible, keeping in mind that a pump’s filtration capabilities may very possibly do damage to the fish. You’ll also need to take into consideration whether you have any noxious odors coming out of the pond, or if you’ve noticed the fish spending lots of time at the surface gulping air. Those are 2 signs that your pond probably doesn’t have enough circulation. If your fountain or waterfall isn’t adding enough circulation it might be time to purchase a larger pump.
You should also take into consideration whether the pump will be used for recirculation, to power any water-displays for an ornamental pond, or for filtration. Choosing the proper pump and filtration system for the pond will recirculate pond water adequately. Using a pump for decorative water displays will slightly recirculate pond water, but it might not be adequate to distribute nutrients appropriately or to prevent stagnation, turnovers, and thermal stratification.
Pump for Ponds
Any pond that contains fish will need to have a continuous-duty pump (a pump that is specifically designed to function continuously). You’ll find that adding any size of aeration pump should increase the water’s gas exchange.
Pump for Waterfall or Fountain
It’s necessary to determine the width of a waterfall, how many feet of tubing will lie between a pond pump and a waterfall, and how high up the waterfall starts from the pond surface when sizing a pump. You should choose a pump that can move 100 gallons an hour for each inch of the width of the waterfall. An 18″ waterfall is perfect for an 1800 gallon-per-hour pump.
Optimal fountain pumps should move between 70 and 400 gallons-per-hour to cover a range from tabletop fountains to huge 4-tier fountains. They should be magnetic drive and an adjustable flow and have at least a 6′ long power cord.
Difference Between a Pump Vs Pond Air Aeration
Aeration systems are available for ponds and are called variable pond aerators, air compressors, or air pumps. A fountain aerator is usually a floating water pump with a nozzle that can spray water up into the air. It operates by sucking in the water that’s surrounding the pump. This pump is useful for ponds no deeper than 5 feet. For ponds that are 6′ or more, you can use a diffused pond-aeration system, which uses tubing, an air compressor, and a diffuser or air bubbler on the bottom.
Pond aerators can aerate ponds as small as 500 gallons to basins as large as 20,000 gallons, depending on what size the compressor is. They tend to be quiet, energy efficient, and require little maintenance. What is the difference between a traditional pond pump and a pond aerator? Pond aerators recirculate pond water and therefore increase oxygen that is suspended in the water. They also make sure that the majority of the pond’s oxygen and heat stay near the water’s surface. Pond pumps with filtration systems are useful for fish ponds where this is a buildup of ammonia in the water coming from fish waste. If your pond is man made you will not need the benefits of pond aeration and oxygenation.
Types of Water Pumps
There are two main types of pumps – those that can work underneath pond water, and those that can be mounted on the outside of a pond. There are also direct drive pumps, and magnetic drive pumps to choose from. A pump with a magnetic drive (sometimes called a mag-drive) is usually your best choice for ponds. The electricity drawn from your outlet will create an electromagnet that will drive a magnetic shaft and an impeller, causing them to spin and push water through the pump outlet. This energy efficient method may cost a little more but will be worth it in the long run because of their extreme efficiency.
Magnetic drive pumps are the best choice of fish ponds because there isn’t a chance of an oil leak. These pumps are totally sealed and don’t need lubricating oil. Replacement parts are readily available for them and usually, consist of replacing the impeller and magnetic shaft. The bad side of a mag-drive pump is that they can only push water to any significant head height, they’re not able to self-prime, and they can’t draw any water to them.
Direct drive pumps can power any water feature to an appreciable head height. These pumps use electricity to power a motor that physically turns an impeller and shaft. These pumps aren’t suitable for ponds that are stocked with fish since there’s a contamination danger from oil. The newer direct drive pumps are starting to use different forms of lubrication rather than oil, so they’re more fish friendly.
Submersible Pond Pumps
Submersible pond pumps are more subtle, and they frequently are used for aesthetic reasons – because it’s not visible, it provides a prettier effect. These pumps are specifically designed to be installed completely beneath the water surface and are placed in the deepest parts of a pond. Make sure that the cord length is long enough to reach an outlet that has a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter). They are a snap to install – just put the pump (and filter, if it has one) into the water. Maintaining a submersible pump pond is more difficult because you must regularly pull it out of the water to clean its screen or pre-filter.
External Pond Pumps
External pond pumps are safer to use, mainly if there are fish in the pond. An external pump prevents any possible injury to fish, whose delicate parts can be sucked up inside a submersible pump’s intake portions. They are more challenging to install since they sit outside a pond, and the in-line pumps (or external pumps) need more time and effort. However, they are convenient and will require a lot less regular maintenance than submersible pumps.
Remember that external pumps may need to be camouflaged or hidden if you’re looking for a more natural-looking pond area that doesn’t have any visible equipment. You might also want your pump to be self-priming (which means that it can draw water to itself). If your pump isn’t self-priming, there’s a chance that it may burn up when the power source turns off and on. The solution to this is to dig a hole to put the pump below water level, or to install a check-valve which can stop the pump from starting to run dry. This may eliminate the necessity of getting a self-priming pump. Finally, external pumps aren’t quiet – quite the opposite, in fact – and could disturb any outdoor activities.
How Much Should I Expect to Pay?
The different types of pumps reviewed range in price from around $25-35 to $299. The kind of pump you choose should be based on the size of your pond, the number of aquatic creatures it sustains, and whether you have a water feature full of mosquito larvae and algae. It also depends on whether you have a fountain or a waterfall or some other type of water feature that doesn’t have live inhabitants. The smaller price tag will cover pond pumps for the smaller fish-free water features. Pond pumps for larger, fish-filled ponds will range in price from about $200 to $400.
How to Maintain Your Pump
Your pond pump will need periodic attention so that it will keep operating efficiently and safely for many years to come. The most important thing is not to worry about getting your hands wet. About once a month (or more, if necessary) check out your pond pump to make sure that no leaves or debris is blocking the inlets. If there is give it a rapid cleaning and try to reposition the pump into an area that might have less debris.
When the temperature starts to drop, you’ll need to check the water level of your pond once a week. If the level is low fill it up to normal. The last thing you want is for your pump to burn out by sucking air. Check that no sand has been whipped up by wind in the water. Sand will break down an impeller over time and will eventually lead to you having to replace the impeller.
Double check that your pump cable isn’t sitting directly in the sun. Too much sunlight can damage the wire, and without that cable there won’t be any pumping. If you’re using the pump in a water feature or fountain make sure that you never put any chlorine into the water. Chlorine will break down any plastic in the pump as well as in the cable. If you must treat the water, purchase an algae controller instead of chlorine. Another important tip is not to turn the pump off and on too much – just let it run. You will save on electricity as well.
When cleaning a submersible pond pump, remember these steps:
- Switch off the pump and unplug it
- Pull the pump out of the water by a string tied around its handle, NOT by the wires
- Dismantle all parts and clean with fresh water. Do NOT use detergents. Clean filters as well
- Check cables for signs of damage and check the hose for blockages.
- Lubricate if called for
Pond Pump Reviews
1) HI-BLOW (Hp 80) Linear Air Pond Pump
- Considered by many to be the industry standard that offers flawless operation for many years
Veryeconomical price tag
- Environmentally safe and clean
- This unit is slightly louder than advertised
The HI-BLOW (HP 80) Linear Air Pump is considered to be one of the best quality air pumps used with aerobic septic systems on the market today. These pumps feature quiet operation, low power consumption, low pulsation
The HP-80 HI-BlOW Linear Air Pump Pond Aeration Septic Aerator weighs 7 pounds and measures 9.3″ x 7.1″ x 7.8″. It provides 3.6 PSI (Pound Per Square Inch) of maximum continuous operating pressure, 80 liters of APM (Air Per Minute) and 4.2 CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute) maximum air flow. This clean oil-less air pump is 120VAC, 71 watts, 60 Hz (Hertz of 1 cycle per second), and comes with a 90-degree rubber elbow plus alarm connection fitting. It is the most used aerator pump on 500 gallons-per-day systems.
This pump is septic UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approved and provides excellent septic tank aeration. It is durable, simple to install, and comes with spare parts and a manual. It can be run off a solar system using a 9″ diffuser. Many air pumps in the market must replace their diaphragms about every 18 months, but this HI-Blow pump should last at least 4-6 years before diaphragm replacement is required.
2) Homasy 400GPH Submersible Water Pump
- Excellent fountain pump produces the correct volume of water and is very easy to install
- Does everything as advertised and creates lots of pressure for a 5′ fountain
- Quiet, convenient, and simple to maintain
Cordis too short
- Should unplug pump for several seconds daily to make sure that the debris pressed up against the inlet can clear
This pump weighs only 1.4 pounds and measures 6.1″ x 3″ x 4.5″. It features 2 nozzles – a 0.51″ and a 0.62″ with threaded fittings for added stability. It has a stainless steel impeller shaft for corrosion resistance and a longer lifespan and 4 powerful suction cups located on the pump bottom to help it stay in place – either horizontally or vertically on the right-hand side of the aquarium. It’s 5.9′ cable is the perfect length for easy installation, and its high-efficiency 25W motor provides quiet operation.
The Homasy 400GPH aerates and circulates the water, which makes the pond more attractive to turtles and fish. This very inexpensive product provides fish with a clean, near-natural environment for smaller ponds, medium-sized aquariums, desktop water fountains, and water gardens. It comes with a 12-month warranty and a guarantee of professional after-sale service beginning within 24 hours of purchase.
3) VIVOSUN Commercial Air Pump
- Easily handles 6 or more hydro buckets
- Creates a bubble blizzard in a 120-gallon fish tank
- Runs longer than 24 hours without needing a thermal shutdown
- Runs hot and is fairly loud
- 6-way valve piece is cheaply constructed and can be broken easily
This commercial unit has been specially designed to furnish oxygen for fish farms, aquariums, inflation, dusting, manufacture, and so much more. It turns out 950 GPH, uses 32 watts 60 liters per minute, and its chrome air manifold ranges from 1-6 outlets.
This commercial air pump is made of aluminum and copper alloy, its shipping weight is 3.75 pounds, and its package height is 5.51″ x 6.61″ x 17.99″. The pistons and cylinders are strong and durable, and it has no problem running multiple air stones or several water farms at the same time. This product comes with 1 air pump, air manifold, outlet nozzle, and additional pipe, and also comes with a user manual.
The Vivosun Air Pump 950 GPH has performed well on tournament regulation weigh-in tanks, 120-gallon fish tanks, an indoor Deep Water Culture System (DWC), as well as a typical small goldfish pond. This pump generates enough air to be able to aerate a 275-gallon tank containing 25 fish. For its size, it has a considerable amount of power and output. The unit does heat up after days of continual work, but you can avoid burning your hand by touching only the handle when it gets hot. Another suggestion is to purchase a small fan and keep it turned on at all times near the pump.
4) Active Aqua Submersible Water Pump
- Completely silent pump that provides 900 GPH
- The water flow it generated to a patio fountain reminded the owners of sitting beside a babbling brook
- Works perfectly during freezing weather
Coveris a little tricky to remove, and cordisn’t long enough
- O-rings don’t fit correctly, and the water pump force lessens after a few hours
The Active Aqua 1000 GPH Submersible Water Pump has been specially constructed to run beneath the waterline. It features a variety of different sized hose fittings so a perfect fit can be achieved every time. It also comes with removable foam filters, rubber mounting-feet for vibration reduction, impellers, and a heavy duty 10-foot power cord. This pump is UL-listed, has 92 watts / 120 VAC, and comes with a 1-year warranty.
The Active Aqua Submersible Water Pump is plastic, weighs 4.3 pounds, and measures 5.2″ x 5.51″ x 9.49″. It has been used successfully to recirculate water in a 250-gallon Aquaponic setup, to push water vertical a minimum of 6′ high, to operate a fountain, and to pump water out of a water-collection tank into a low-pressure water inlet valve. Some buyers don’t use a bucket and merely throw this pump into a pond and let it do its job, and then remember to clean the debris out of the grate every so often.
This water pump is powerful and very reasonably priced, a win-win combination. Its several different fittings allow the user to match it up easily with any existing lines. Customers report complete success with using it for a 1000-gallon koi pond, a 400-gallon goldfish pond, a tetra pond filler, stream, and waterfall, and for pumping 10 feet uphill into an aquaponics system.
5) Alpine Cyclone 8000GPH Waterfall & Pond Pump
- Heavy duty pump moves 3,500 gallons of water in a pond approximately 17″ in width and length
2,000 gallonpond can be pumped out in 15 minutes
- Helped rid a 3.5-acre lake of algae
- Cover on intake end doesn’t clip on tightly and falls off too easily
- Protective impeller housing strainer is poorly constructed
The Alpine Cyclone 8000GPH is a
The Alpine Cyclone Pond and Waterfall Pump weighs 14 pounds and measures 10″ x 6″ x 7″. It has a specially designed vortex impeller that is perfect for low power consumption and maximum water output. It also features a pre-filter anti-clog cage screen that provides very low maintenance and handling of solids up to approximately 1/4″.
The Alpine Cyclone Pump provides a maximum flow rate of 8000 GPH and a maximum head pressure of 26′. It has 700 watts, a 33′ power cord, and comes with a 3-year warranty. These pumps are designed for heavy duty filter systems or waterfalls and have the horsepower necessary to move large amounts of water continuously.
This pump must only be operated when water is running through it, and must not be operated dry. The pump must also be primed before it is turned on by feeding water into the tubing both outside and inside the pump to create the correct suction effect for drawing water from its source.
After careful consideration of a large number of external and submersible pond pumps, my choice is the Hi_Blow (HP 80) Linear Air Pump. Most users consider this machine to be the industry standard for pumps that perform reliably year after year.
This lightweight unit is easy to service, has a long operating life, and features low vibration, pulsation, and power consumption. It is simple to install, durable and comes with a manual and spare parts. It is highly recommended as a well-functioning, no-nonsense pond pump that will fill the requirements of most people seeking an excellent, efficient piece of equipment.