The 10 Best Pond Pumps
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in March of 2016. If you want the fish and plants in your pond to stay healthy, you've got to keep the water aerated by ensuring it's circulating, either naturally or artificially. These pumps can tackle that job for you and, in the process, they'll help to minimize algae growth, prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs, and produce enough pressure to power your stream and waterfall displays. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
September 24, 2020:
These pond pumps will help your fish and plants stay healthy by keeping the water aerated. In doing so, they’ll also help minimize the growth of algae and prevent pests like mosquitoes from laying their eggs nearby. We rounded out the list a bit today by adding in a solar-powered pump, the Solariver Kit. It’s an energy-efficient way to provide ample circulation without your needing to plug into the grid. It’s known for its quiet operation, and works well with ponds, streams, waterfalls, fountains, animal troughs, hydroponic gardens, greenhouses, and more. Note that due to its relying on solar power, it can only operate during the day, and can run a bit sluggishly on cloudy days. For an energy-efficient electrical choice, look to the newly added Airmax CrystalClear, which is compact in size and runs on as little as four watts. It’s got an adjustable output via the control valve and a diaphragm compressor. It can be purchased with either two or four air stones and comes with 120 feet of airline.
We’re still partial to the Tetra Debris-Handling which, true to its name, does a stellar job of keeping dirt and foreign objects from affecting its performance. This low-maintenance choice is also resistant to corrosion and wear and tear, so it should serve you well for quite a while. Another durable design that receives high marks all around is the versatile AquaScape AquaSurge, which can be used in either a horizontal or a vertical orientation. It’s made with safety in mind, thanks to a cooling port that prevents overheating and rubber feet to absorb vibrations. To make room for today’s two new selections, we removed the Laguna PowerJet 600, which is not as robust as many others, as well as the MDM Sequence 4000 Series, which does not feature a self-priming design.
On a safety-related note, submersible pumps designed for ponds should never be used in any body of water where people will be swimming or wading. Before performing any maintenance in a pond where a pump is present, you should turn off the electricity to the pump. When using an electric pond pump, be sure to plug it into a ground fault circuit interrupter receptacle, which prevents electrocution by cutting off the power when water comes into contact with electricity.
May 08, 2019:
At this time, the Tetra Debris-Handling remains the one to beat when it comes to pond pumps, for a number of reasons. These include its superior ability to manage clogs and its energy-efficient performance. And, considering its overall ruggedness, it's priced appropriately and so is within the reach of most homeowners. Strong alternatives include the AquaScape AquaSurge, Little Giant Wet Rotor, and Danner Magnetic Drive. Out of these, the AquaScape model is the most expensive, but considering that it is feature-heavy and designed for professional landscapers as well as casual hobbyists, this seems appropriate. For those whose needs are smaller, the Homasy Fountain is worth a look, although it doesn't have the clog-prevention features of bigger models. You'll want to monitor it carefully. Finally, we decided to remove the Pondmaster PM24, which isn't known for lasting more than one or two seasons of use.
Why Add A Backyard Pond
In a time when much of the natural world is being cut down and destroyed for development, ponds offer local wildlife a refuge.
One of the main reasons most people decide to add a pond to their outdoor space is because of the visual appeal. A pond can instantly enhance any outdoor space, making it more interesting and more inviting. Features such as rock borders, waterfalls, and brightly colored fish can be eye-catching. Plus it allows for one to grow a range of new plants and flowers that the environment may not have otherwise supported.
It is no secret that curb appeal can increase a property's resale value and having a visually appealing outdoor space in the backyard can have the same effect. A well laid out and manicured backyard with a properly installed and self-maintaining pond can enhance the appeal of your house and sometimes be the tipping point for potential buyers.
Having a pond doesn't just offer aesthetic benefits. Water features are known to improve feng shui, providing one with a sense of peace and tranquility. Regularly spending time outdoors in a relaxing area is known to reduce stress, which is linked to the six leading causes of death.
In addition to offering a range of personal benefits, installing a pond in one's backyard is beneficial for the environment as well. Ponds are incredibly useful for a variety of wildlife including spiders, dragonflies, butterflies, reptiles, birds, and small mammals. In a time when much of the natural world is being cut down and destroyed for development, ponds offer local wildlife a refuge. They often become a sanctuary for the indigenous wildlife in your area to breed, which is needed as many amphibian species around the world are showing a dramatic decline.
How To Pick The Right Size Pond Pump
The three most important factors that must be taken into account when picking a pond pump are the total gallons of water in the pond, the total dynamic head pressure, and the spillway width. Picking a pump that is too small for any of these needs can result in insufficient circulation causing low oxygen levels, pools of stagnant water, and unhealthy living conditions for fish.
The total gallons of a pond can be determined by using one of the following two formulas:
For circular and oval ponds: 3.14 x radius x radius x average depth x 7.5. For square and rectangular ponds: length x width x average depth x 7.5.
The final measurement that needs to be considered is the spillway width.
It is recommended that a pond pump should be able to circulate all of the water in the pond at least once every two hours. So no matter how small of a pump the next two figures determine you need, if it is not rated to circulate all of your pond's water at least this quickly, you should pick a larger pump.
Once the total gallons of the pond is determined, the next step is to figure out the total dynamic head pressure. This is dictated by the height of the waterfall, the length of tubing used, the tubing diameter, and the number of bends, reducers, and special fittings. Measure the total vertical height of the waterfall in feet from the top of the water level. This will be measurement A. Then calculate the total distance of tubing in feet used. This will be measurement B. Then count the number of 90 degree bends and reducers. This is measurement C. Finally count the number of additional adapters, such as bulkheads and ball valves. This is measurement D. With these measurements, the following formula can be used to determine the total dynamic head pressure.
A + (B / 10) + (C / 2) + (D / 4) = Approximate Head Pressure
The higher the number, the more pressure the pump will be under at the head. All pond pumps should have a flow chart that tells the total number of gallons pumped at a specific height. A pond pump that needs to push 725 GPH at six feet, will need to be more powerful than one that needs to push 725 GPH at three feet.
The final measurement that needs to be considered is the spillway width. This is the width of the sheet of water falling over the waterfall. The wider the spillway width, the more powerful the pump needs to be. Gallons per hour (GPH) requirements for spillway width can be easily figured out with the following formula.
1" = 125 GPH
So to put all of this into perspective, if one has a pond that is a total of 360 gallons with a dynamic head pressure of 10 feet and a spillway width of 8 inches, they would need a pond pump that is rated for 1000 GPH at 10 feet.
Pond Building Tips
Building a pond is an uncomplicated endeavor that the average homeowner can accomplish on their own. It just takes a bit of time, sweat, and determination. Before you start digging your pond, or any deep holes in your yard, call your local city department to see if they need to come out and check for any underground gas, water, or electric lines. Many cities have a "call before you dig" policy.
When picking the location of your pond, you should ideally look for a place that is very noticeable. This can be along a pathway, in-view from the patio, or just somewhere that can be seen as soon as one steps out to the backyard. Ideally it should also be visible from within your house when looking out a window. One should also take into consideration the areas where their kids or pets play and steer clear of them.
This way, when the pond water freezes, it pushes up and out instead of against the sides and potentially stretching or tearing the liner.
Another smart idea is to keep clear of mature trees with major root systems. Not only will a large root system make it hard to dig, you could potentially damage the tree by hacking through them. Plants and fish inside of a pond also require some sunlight, so ensure that your pond's sun won't be blocked all day by a canopy of trees.
It is also vital that one place their pond within reach of a grounded exterior outlet. Pond pumps may come with a power cord anywhere from 6 to 25 feet, and will rarely exceed that. Most manufacturers also recommend not using an extension cord with their pumps for safety reasons.
If one has the space, a pond should be a minimum of 40 cubic feet. This helps it self-regulate and, with the addition of plants, fish, and a pump filter, it should be able to keep itself clean. Just inside of the perimeter, one should create a shallow terrace. This allows for the placement of small rocks to conceal the pond liner. Another deeper terrace should be built moving towards the center of the pond. This is where living plants can be placed to help maintain a pond's ecosystem.
If one lives in areas that experiences temperatures cold enough to freeze water, a pond's sides should be sloped. This way, when the pond water freezes, it pushes up and out instead of against the sides and potentially stretching or tearing the liner. No matter where one lives, a pond should have a minimum depth of 18 inches to 24 inches for goldfish, and over 3 feet for Koi or other larger fish. This prevents drastic changes in water temperature and also gives the fish deeper water to escape to when predators are around.