Water Pump Specifications, Tips, Recommendations, Limitations
For Aquariums, Ponds, Fountains or Other Water Features
Need Help Finding a Pump, See: Pump Specifications Table
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We no longer are using flow charts, as with medication charts there are too many variables that often make these inaccurate, which could then inadvertently mislead a potential purchaser of one of our water pumps/power heads or others as well.
- Generally what a pump is rated for flow (such as 100 gph) is only achieved at 0 Head Pressure meaning right out of the pump with no devices added, no lifting, and no water pressure.
Impeller design such as a closed will maintain a higher flow rate as head pressure is added over th more common standard impeller designs.
To measure you actual "real world" flow rate; simply disconnect or slip a bucket, pitcher, or other measuring device where your water flows out back into your pond, aquarium, fountain, etc. Then measure the time to fill this container.
For instance if 1 gallon were filled in 10 seconds, this would be 6 gallons per minute or 360 gph.
For higher head/back pressure applications or when flow rate is of lower importance than head pressure, a closed impeller design such as that of the Rio HF Series Pumps is best.
For more about calculating Head Pressure in water pumps, please see this "Aquarium & Pond Answers article:
Head Pressure in Aquarium and Pond Water Pumps
- With most water pumps, adapting the inlet or outlet to fit your application is OK and often necessary.
I do not recommend restricting inlet size more than 25% or outlet size more than 50%.
For instance a Rio HF Pump with a 1 inch outlet can easily be fitted to a 3/4 inch pipe/tubing if this is what is already in use with your application (if you are building this application from start, matching pump & pipes is best whenever possible, but with established applications such as pond, this is not always possible without great expense and labor).
Generally I will use PVC Reducing Bushings or Reducing Hose Barbs to make these fits.
- Increasing pipe/tubing size is also helpful for increased flow and especially head pressure. This is even more important with light duty impeller designs as the open impeller of this design (which is employed by 90% of water pumps sold, not just those sold here), simply will not push water through a small pipe, even if a larger flow pump is purchased as the impeller design simply allows water to flow back when the pressure is too great.
- It is also noteworthy that even for in-line pump applications (many of the pumps we sell can work both submersed or in-line), that for in-line applications, ANY in-line pump must be placed below the top water level WITHOUT a siphon in the middle, and this includes ponds; in other words the water should flow level or better, down hill to the pump without Any obstructions/impediments on the way to the pump.
Any and all pumps MUST be able to draw the water in before the pump can expel the water under pressure, REGARDLESS of pump size, pump flow, or head pressure
All pumps must have water either primed by gravity or another method for initial start up and must be able to keep this siphon in the event of a power failure, if not possible, you need to re-evaluate your pump plumbing placement.
It is for this reason, which includes my own practical experience, I usually do not recommend an inline pump for an aquarium or pond.
As well make sure all connections into the pump are air tight, otherwise if the pump "sucks air", this can damage your pump. After the pump the water can be restricted if needed and travel "uphill"
As well, despite some claims to the contrary, most magnetic drive aquarium, pond, fountain pumps are designed to be run UNDER WATER unless otherwise specifically noted by the manufacturer.
While many will run pumps such as the Rio Pump Line inline out of the water (but at least below the water level), the design is not such that these pumps will stay adequately cool, often resulting in warping of the impeller well.
In my 100s of applications I have seen in my years of aquarium/pond maintenance and design, when installed out of the water, these pumps would often fail much sooner than pumps run under water.
The exceptions are pumps specifically designed for this which are quite rare of late and much more heavy duty and pricey.
An example is the SunSun JAP Series Amphibious Pumps.
Even then, my experience has shown that running magnetic drive pumps "in-line" out of the water shortens their life span, so wherever possible, these should be run under water with as much pre-filtration as possible!
- All pumps listed here are compatible for both saltwater and freshwater
LIGHT DUTY APPLICATIONS (with some head pressure)
Most Aquarium and light duty aquarium pumps have a standard open impeller such as the one pictured to the left (from a SunSun HJ-1542).
There are of coarse differences in these impellers of this basic design (of which from our extensive real time use with our aquarium and pond maintenance company) have shown the SunSun (formally via Aqua) Power Head series to among the best, most reliable pumps for most applications that require a durable water pump with reasonable head pressure.
However their "more heavy duty" design is not best for wave makers, for these consider the Seio Propeller pumps.
More secure magnet
The SunSun Economy line such as the SunSun HJ-411, JP-033 JP-054, JP-065, JP-066 are a good choice for most light duty applications, simply choosing the flow rate of the four models we sell is all that is necessary.
All of these pumps employ impellers that have the second two bullet points noted above for impellers. The design provides for good life in most light duty applications and the noise level is low to moderate (more noise with larger models)
Models we sell:
Rio Plus Pumps; Models: 90, 200, 600, 1000
VERY LIGHT DUTY VARIATIONS
The Seio Propeller, Perfect (SunSun, also sold under other brand names), Hydor Koralia, or Ecotech Marine Vortech Pump utilize a very light duty but extremely energy efficient impeller (propeller) design.
As well, Propeller Pumps in general provide a much "Softer" water flow rather than the more harsh and directed flow of traditional Power Head Water Pumps. The flow in these pumps provide nice spread of the water volume so as to provide good circulation without strong streams of underwater current (I have found the Seio best here); this is particularly desirable in planted freshwater (even more so Amazon River set ups) and reef saltwater aquariums
The impellers used by propeller pumps do not need to have the head pressure (which is part of the reason they are energy efficient and light duty in design), as these pumps are simply designed to create currents and not really "lift" water, making these excellent to increase flow and current in reef tanks or plugged into "wave maker" devices.
However there are differences that are worth of note in design as some (in particular Hydor Koralia) has a propeller/impeller that is so light that they are easily broken, including by debris that may get caught up in the water column.
Another use for these propeller pumps is for use as wave makers, as their design lends well to the constant on/off of a wave maker where more heavy duty power head water pump that is designed for more head pressure (such as the Via Aqua 1300) is not a good choice.
Light to some Moderate Duty Applications
The Via Aqua and ReSun Power Head line both provide designs that still employ the basic impeller design plus often have a ceramic shaft which adds to durability and slightly decreases noise. As well the design is lightly more "beefed up" and these pumps/power heads are much more versatile than the Economy line in that these pumps can be installed inline, used as a power head, and are available with more parts and application possibilities/variations.
Models we sell (not an exhaustive list):
Rio Plus 1100 & 1700
SunSun HQB-3000 Water Circulation PumpSunSun HQB-3000 Pump
It is noteworthy as to the design of the above Via Aqua Power Head Line that Via Aqua often employs the same "shell" design for more than one models and then increases the power for higher flow rate, however this does not always increase head pressure, especially in moderate duty applications and in a few cases does not allow for as long of pump or impeller life. The Via Aqua 2300 and even more so the Via 4900 are examples of this and is why we do not sell these models
MODERATE TO HEAVY DUTY APPLICATIONS
These types of pumps are generally best for pond applications or for moderate to heavy applications where water is often lifted to much more "elevation" such as 1 foot vs. 10 feet, and/or where other applications such as pressurized filters or even large UV Sterilizers are added.
These utilize a sealed impeller such as the one pictured to the left which is a better choice for these more demanding applications. This type of design does not allow for the back flow under pressure that the more common impeller design allows.
This design is generally better for ponds with larger/higher water falls or even where water is require to "shoot" out of the opening of the pipe or other device at not necessarily higher volume, but more pressure/power (think of a pressure washer).
Most very heavy duty pond pumps such as the SunSun HL Series Direct Shaft Centrifugal Pumps or the Pentair SeaHorse Self Priming Pond/Spa Pumps utilize this impeller design as well, except these are in a direct shaft instead of a magnetic impeller design.
For these ultra heavy duty applications with head pressure much over 20 feet and flow rates much over 4500 gph, the submersible/magnetic water pump design really reaches its limits and a Direct Shaft Centrifugal Pump will provide a much longer life for its owner with generally less problems.
It is noteworthy that most companies do not manufacturer magnetic drive pumps much past before noted 4500 gph (17000 lph) limit for this reason, likely due to higher failure rates where by the magnet disintegrates.
My suggestion is where one's budget cannot afford these direct drive pumps, I would consider simply utilizing two magnetic drive pumps (separate lines would work best). Both should still have good pre-filtration (do not count on built in strainers) and by having two, you also get better redundancy should one fail.
The exception here has been that direct shaft pumps have not in my experience had long lives when used in submersible/sump applications, rather these are best in out of the water large pond/pool/spa applications (plumbed in-line at or below the water feature water line).
A few pumps that we sell that have this impeller design or variations there of:
Via Aqua DP-18000 Multi Duty Pond Pump
SunSun JTP-12000 High Output/Efficiency Pond Pump
SunSun JAP Amphibious Pond, Aquarium System Pumps
Rio 20 HP Water Pump
Rio 26 HP Water Pump
Rio 32 HP Water Pump
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A FEW AQUARIUM POND PUMP RESOURCES;
Unique plumbing products for aquarium and pond applications
SunSun JP-033, JP-054, JP-065 Water Pumps
Three of the most popular "economy" water pumps for aquariums, fountains that are also reliable
SunSun JP-66 Powerhead Pumps
Excellent Economy Aquarium, Sump, Fountain Pumps for those who need a little more power
SunSun JQB-3500 & HQB-3000 Water Pump
Excellent Light to Medium Duty Aquarium, Pond or Fountain Pumps where higher flow rates are required
Rio Plus Pumps
Models 90, 200, 600, 1000, 1100, 1700; Proven and Versatile Rio Aquarium, Fountain Water Pumps, Powerheads
Seio Premium Propeller/Circulation Water Pump
The best value in magnet mounted propeller water pumps for reef or similar applications
Hydor Smart Wave Controller
THE BEST Wave Controller to use with your Premium Seio or Value SunSun Circulation/Propeller Pump
Adds natural currents that promote healthy reef aquariums.
Rio 20HF, 26HF, & 32HF Water Pumps
The best in sealed impeller high pressure/flow water pumps
An excellent pump choice for applications needing higher water pressure, but necessarily "super high" water flow (rates (gph)
Heavy Duty Pond Pumps
A best value in high performance pond or aquarium system pumps
SunSun Power Head
Sunsun JP-23, 264 GPH PowerHead; Compare to Marineland Penguin or Maxi Jet, however a more reliable impeller with a much better price!
Flow Pump Demo
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